"When freedom come old massa he done broke down and cry, so my daddy stay with him. He stay a good many year, till both us chillen was growed. Us have de li'l log house on de place all dat time. Dey 'nother old cullud man what stay, name George Whitehouse. He have de li'l house, too. He stay till he die.
"Dey was tryin' to make a go of it after de war, 'cause times was hard. De white boys, dey go out in de field and work den, and work hard, 'cause dey don't have de slaves no more. I used to see de purty, young white ladies, all dress up, comin' to de front door. I slips out and tell de white boys, and dey workin' in de field, half-naked and dirty, and dey sneak in de back door and clean up to spark dem gals.
"I been marry to dat Henry in dere sixty year, and he was a slave in Little Rock, in Arkansas, for Anderson Jones. Henry knowed de bad, tejous part of de war and he must be 'bout 96 year old. Now he am in pain all de time. Can't see, can't hear and can't talk. Us never has had de squabble. At de weddin' de white folks brung cakes and every li'l thing. I had a white tarleton dress with de white tarleton wig. Dat de hat part what go over de head and drape on de shoulder. Dat de sign you ain't never done no wrong sin and gwinter keep bein' good.
"After us marry I move off de old place, but nothin' must do but I got to keep de house for Mister Benny. I's cleanin' up one time and finds a milk churn of money. I say, 'Mr. Benny, what for you ain't put dat money in de bank?' He say he will. De next time I cleanin' up I finds a pillow sack full of money. I says, 'Mr. Benny, I's gwineter quit. I ain't gwineter be 'sponsible for dis money.' He's sick den and I put de money under he pillow and git ready to go. He say, 'You better stay, or I send Andrew, de sheriff, after you.' I goes and cooks dinner and when I gits back dey has four doctors with Mr. Benny. He wife say to me, 'Liza, you got de sight. Am Benny gwineter git well?' I goes and looks and I knowed he gwine way from dere. I knowed he was gone den. Dey leant on me a heap after dat.
"It some years after dat I leaves dem and Henry and me gits married and us make de livin' farmin'. Us allus stays right round hereabouts and gits dis li'l house. Now my son and me, us work de field and gits 'nough to git through on.
LIZZIE JONES, an 86 year old ex-slave of the R.H. Hargrove family, was born in 1861, in Harrison County, Texas. She stayed with her owner until four years after the close of the Civil War. She now lives with Talmadge Buchanan, a grandson, two miles east of Karnack, on the Lee road.
"I was bo'n on the ole Henry Hargrove place. My ole missus was named Elizabeth and mammy called me Lizzie for her. But the Hargroves called me 'Wink' since I was a chile, 'cause I was so black and shiny. Massa Hargrove had four girls and four boys and I helped tend them till I was big enough to cook and keep house. I wagged ole Marse Dr. Hargrove, dat lives in Marshall, round when he was a baby.
"I allus lived in de house with the white folks and ate at their table when they was through, and slep' on the floor. We never had no school or church in slavery time. The niggers couldn' even add. None of us knowed how ole we was, but Massa set our ages down in a big book.
"I 'member playin' peep-squirrel and marbles and keepin' house when I was a chile. Massa 'lowed the boys and girls to cou't but they couldn' marry 'fore they was 20 years ole, and they couldn' marry off the plantation. Slaves warn't married by no Good Book or the law, neither. They'd jes' take up with each other and go up to the Big House and ask massa to let them marry. If they was ole enough, he'd say to the boy, 'Take her and go on home.'
"Mammy lived 'cross the field at the quarters and there was so many nigger shacks it look like a town. The slaves slep' on bunks of homemade boards nailed to de wall with poles for legs and they cooked on the fireplace. I didn' know what a stove was till after de War. Sometime they'd bake co'nbread in the ashes and every bit of the grub they ate come from the white folks and the clothes, too. I run them looms many a night, weavin' cloth. In summer we had lots of turnips and greens and garden stuff to eat. Massa allus put up sev'ral barrels of kraut and a smokehouse full of po'k for winter. We didn' have flour or lard, but huntin' was good 'fore de war and on Sat'day de men could go huntin' and fishin' and catch possum and rabbits and squirrels and coons.
"The overseer was named Wade and he woke the han's up at four in the mornin' and kep' them in the field from then till the sun set. Mos' of de women worked in de fields like de men. They'd wash clothes at night and dry them by the fire. The overseer kep' a long coach whip with him and if they didn' work good, he'd thrash them good. Sometime he's pretty hard on them and strip 'em off and whip 'em till they think he was gonna kill 'em. No nigger ever run off as I 'member.
"We never have no parties till after 'mancipation, and we couldn' go off de place. On Sundays we slep' or visited each other. But the white folks was good to us. Massa Hargrove didn' have no doctor but there wasn' much sickness and seldom anybody die.
"I don' 'member much 'bout de War. Massa went to it, but he come home shortly and say he sick with the 'sumption, but he got well real quick after surrender.
"The white folks didn' let the niggers know they was free till 'bout a year after the war. Massa Hargrove took sick sev'ral months after and 'fore he did he tell the folks not to let the niggers loose till they have to. Finally they foun' out and 'gun to leave.
"My pappy died 'fore I was bo'n and mammy married Caesar Peterson and 'bout a year after de war dey moved to a farm close to Lee, but I kep' on workin' for de Hargroves for four years, helpin' missus cook and keep house.
TOBY JONES was born in South Carolina, in 1850, a slave of Felix Jones, who owned a large tobacco plantation. Toby has farmed in Madisonville, Texas, since 1869, and still supports himself, though his age makes it hard for him to work.
"My father's name was Eli Jones and mammy's name was Jessie. They was captured in Africa and brought to this country whilst they was still young folks, and my father was purty hard to realize he was a slave, 'cause he done what he wanted back in Africa.
"Our owner was Massa Felix Jones and he had lots of tobacco planted. He was real hard on us slaves and whipped us, but Missie Janie, she was a real good woman to her black folks. I 'members when their li'l curlyheaded Janie was borned. She jus' loved this old, black nigger and I carried her on my back whole days at a time. She was the sweetes' baby ever borned.
"Massa, he lived in a big, rock house with four rooms and lots of shade trees, and had 'bout fifty slaves. Our livin' quarters wasn't bad. They was rock, too, and beds built in the corners, with straw moss to sleep on.
"We had plenty to eat, 'cause the woods was full of possum and rabbits and all the mud holes full of fish. I sho' likes a good, old, fat possum cooked with sweet 'taters round him. We cooked meat in a old-time pot over the fireplace or on a forked stick. We grated corn by hand for cornbread and made waterpone in the ashes.
"I was borned 'bout 1850, so I was plenty old to 'member lots 'bout slave times. I 'members the loyal clothes, a long shirt what come down below our knees, opened all the way down the front. On Sunday we had white loyal shirts, but no shoes and when it was real cold we'd wrap our feet in wool rags so they wouldn't freeze. I married after freedom and had white loyal breeches. I wouldn't marry 'fore that, 'cause massa wouldn't let me have the woman I wanted.
"The overseer was a mean white man and one day he starts to whip a nigger what am hoein' tobacco, and he whipped him so hard that nigger grabs him and made him holler. Missie come out and made them turn loose and massa whipped that nigger and put him in chains for a whole year. Every night he had to be in jail and couldn't see his folks for that whole year.
"I seed slaves sold, and they'd make them clean up good and grease their hands and face, so they'd look real fat, and sell them off. Of course, most the niggers didn't know their parents or what chillen was theirs. The white folks didn't want them to git 'tached to each other.
"Missie read some Bible to us every Sunday mornin' and taught us to do right and tell the truth. But some them niggers would go off without a pass and the patterrollers would beat them up scand'lous.
"The fun was on Saturday night when massa 'lowed us to dance. There was lots of banjo pickin' and tin pan beatin' and dancin', and everybody would talk 'bout when they lived in Africa and done what they wanted.
"I worked for massa 'bout four years after freedom, 'cause he forced me to, said he couldn't 'ford to let me go. His place was near ruint, the fences burnt and the house would have been but it was rock. There was a battle fought near his place and I taken missie to a hideout in the mountains to where her father was, 'cause there was bullets flyin' everywhere. When the war was over, massa come home and says, 'You son of a gun, you's sposed to be free, but you ain't, 'cause I ain't gwine give you freedom.' So, I goes on workin' for him till I gits the chance to steal a hoss from him. The woman I wanted to marry, Govie, she 'cides to come to Texas with me. Me and Govie, we rides that hoss most a hundred miles, then we turned him a-loose and give him a scare back to his house, and come on foot the rest the way to Texas.
"All we had to eat was what we could beg and sometimes we went three days without a bite to eat. Sometimes we'd pick a few berries. When we got cold we'd crawl in a breshpile and hug up close together to keep warm. Once in awhile we'd come to a farmhouse and the man let us sleep on cottonseed in his barn, but they was far and few between, 'cause they wasn't many houses in the country them days like now.
"When we gits to Texas we gits married, but all they was to our weddin' am we jus' 'grees to live together as man and wife. I settled on some land and we cut some trees and split them open and stood them on end with the tops together for our house. Then we deadened some trees and the land was ready to farm. There was some wild cattle and hawgs and that's the way we got our start, caught some of them and tamed them.
"I don't know as I 'spected nothin' from freedom, but they turned us out like a bunch of stray dogs, no homes, no clothin', no nothin', not 'nough food to last us one meal. After we settles on that place, I never seed man or woman, 'cept Govie, for six years, 'cause it was a long ways to anywhere. All we had to farm with was sharp sticks. We'd stick holes and plant corn and when it come up we'd punch up the dirt round it. We didn't plant cotton, 'cause we couldn't eat that. I made bows and arrows to kill wild game with and we never went to a store for nothin'. We made our clothes out of animal skins.
"We used rabbit foots for good luck, tied round our necks. We'd make medicine out of wood herbs. There is a rabbit foot weed that we mixed with sassafras and made good cough syrup. Then there is cami weed for chills and fever.
"All I ever did was to farm and I made a livin'. I still makes one, though I'm purty old now and its hard for me to keep the work up. I has some chickens and hawgs and a yearling or two to sell every year.
AUNT PINKIE KELLY, whose age is a matter of conjecture, but who says she was "growed up when sot free," was born on a plantation in Brazoria Co., owned by Greenville McNeel, and still lives on what was a part of the McNeel plantation, in a little cabin which she says is much like the old slave quarters.
"De only place I knows 'bout is right here, what was Marse Greenville McNeel's plantation, 'cause I's born here and Marse Greenville and Missy Amelia, what was his wife, is de only ones I ever belonged to. After de war, Marse Huntington come down from up north and took over de place when Marse Greenville die, but de big house burned up and all de papers, too, and I couldn't tell to save my life how old I is, but I's growed up and worked in de fields befo' I's sot free.
"My mammy's name was Harriet Jackson and she was born on de same plantation. My pappy's name was Dan, but folks called him Good Cheer. He druv oxen and one day they show me him and say he my pappy, and so I guess he was, but I can't tell much about him, 'cause chillen then didn't know their pappys like chillen do now.
"Most I 'members 'bout them times is work, 'cause we's put out in de fields befo' day and come back after night. Then we has to shell a bushel of corn befo' we goes to bed and we was so tired we didn't have time for nothin'.
"Old man Jerry Driver watches us in de fields and iffen we didn't work hard he whip us and whip us hard. Then he die and 'nother man call Archer come. He say, 'You niggers now, you don't work good, I beat you,' and we sho' worked hard then.
"Marse Greenville treated us pretty good but he never give us nothin'. Sometime we'd run away and hide in de woods for a spell, but when they cotch us Marse Greenville tie us down and whip us so we don't do it no more.
"We didn't have no clothes like we do now, jes' cotton lowers and rubber shoes. They used to feed us peas and cornbread and hominy, and sometime they threw beef in a pot and bile it, but we never had hawg meat.
"Iffen we took sick, old Aunt Becky was de doctor. They was a building like what they calls a hospital and she put us in there and give us calomel or turpentine, dependin' on what ailed us. They allus kep' the babies there and let de mammies come in and suckle and dry 'em up.
"I never heered much 'bout no war and Marse Greenville never told us we was free. First I knows was one day we gwine to de fields and a man come ridin' up and say, 'Whar you folks gwine?' We say we gwine to de fields and then he say to Marse Greenville, 'You can't work these people, without no pay, 'cause they's as free as you is.' Law, we sho' shout, young folks and old folks too. But we stay there, no place to go, so we jes' stay, but we gits a little pay.
"After 'while I marries. Allen Kelley was de first husban' what I ever owned and he die. Houston Edmond, he the las' husban' I ever owned and he die, too.
"Law me, they used to be a sayin' that chillen born on de dark of de moon ain't gwineter have no luck, and I guess I sho' was born then!"
SAM KILGORE, 92, was born a slave of John Peacock, of Williams County, Tennessee, who owned one of the largest plantations in the south. When he was eight years old, Sam accompanied his master to England for a three-year stay. Sam was in the Confederate Army and also served in the Spanish-American War. He came to Fort Worth in 1889 and learned cement work. In 1917 he started a cement contracting business which he still operates. He lives at 1211 E. Cannon St., Fort Worth, Texas.
"You asks me when I's born and was I born a slave. Well, I's born on July 17, 1845, so I's a slave for twenty years, and had three massas. I's born in Williamson County, near Memphis, in Tennessee. Massa John Peacock owned de plantation and am it de big one! Dere am a thousand acres and 'bout a thousand slaves.
"De slave cabins am in rows, twenty in de first row and eighteen in de second and sixteen in de third. Den dere am house servants quarters near de big house. De cabins am logs and not much in dem but homemade tables and benches and bunks 'side de wall. Each family has dere own cabin and sometimes dere am ten or more in de family, so it am kind of crowded. But massa am good and let dem have de family life, and once each week de rations am measure out by a old darky what have charge de com'sary, and dere am allus plenty to eat.
"But dem eats ain't like nowadays. It am home-cured meat and mostly cornmeal, but plenty veg'tables and 'lasses and brown sugar. Massa raised lots of hawgs, what am Berkshires and Razorbacks. Razorback meat am 'sidered de best and sweetest.
"De work stock am eighty head of mules and fifty head of hosses and fifteen yoke of oxen. It took plenty feed for all dem and massa have de big field of corn, far as we could see. De plantation am run on system and everything clean and in order, not like lots of plantations with tools scattered 'round and dirt piles here and there. De chief overseer am white and de second overseers am black. Stien was nigger overseer in de shoemakin' and harness, and Aunty Darkins am overseer of de spinnin' and weavin'.
"Dat place am so well manage dat whippin's am not nec'sary. Massa have he own way of keepin' de niggers in line. If dey bad he say, 'I 'spect dat nigger driver comin' round tomorrow and I's gwine sell you.' Now, when a nigger git in de hands of de nigger driver it am de big chance he'll git sold to de cruel massa, and dat make de niggers powerful skeert, so dey 'haves. On de next plantation we'd hear de niggers pleadin' when dey's whipped, 'Massa, have mercy,' and sich. Our massa allus say, 'Boys, you hears dat mis'ry and we don't want no sich on dis place and it am up to you.' So us all 'haves ourselves.
"When I's four years old I's took to de big house by young Massa Frank, old massa's son. He have me for de errand boy and, I guess, for de plaything. When I gits bigger I's his valet and he like me and I sho' like him. He am kind and smart, too, and am choosed from nineteen other boys to go to England and study at de mil'tary 'cademy. I's 'bout eight when we starts for Liverpool. We goes from Memphis to Newport and takes de boat, Bessie. It am a sailboat and den de fun starts for sho'. It am summer and not much wind and sometimes we jus' stand still day after day in de fog so thick we can't see from one end de boat to de other.
"I'll never forgit dat trip. When we gits far out on de water, I's dead sho' we'll never git back to land again. First I takes de seasick and dat am something. If there am anything worser it can't be stood! It ain't possible to 'splain it, but I wants to die, and if dey's anything worser dan dat seasick mis'ry, I says de Lawd have mercy on dem. I can't 'lieve dere am so much stuff in one person, but plenty come out of me. I mos' raised de ocean! When dat am over I gits homesick and so do Massa Frank. I cries and he tries to 'sole me and den he gits tears in he eyes. We am weeks on dat water, and good old Tennessee am allus on our mind.
"When we gits to England it am all right, but often we goes down to de wharf and looks over de cotton bales for dat Memphis gin mark. Couple times Massa Frank finds some and he say, 'Here a bale from home, Sam,' with he voice full of joy like a kid what find some candy. We stands round dat bale and wonders if it am raised on de plantation.
"But we has de good time after we gits 'quainted and I seed lots and gits to know some West India niggers. But we's ready to come home and when we gits dere it am plenty war. Massa Frank jines de 'Federate Army and course I's his valet and goes with him, right over to Camp Carpenter, at Mobile. He am de lieutenant under General Gordon and befo' long dey pushes him higher. Fin'ly he gits notice he am to be a colonel and dat sep'rates us, 'cause he has to go to Floridy. 'I's gwine with you,' I says, for I thinks I 'longs to him and he 'longs to me and can't nothing part us. But he say, 'You can't go with me this time. Dey's gwine put you in de army.' Den I cries and he cries.
"I's seventeen years old when I puts my hand on de book and am a sojer. I talks to my captain 'bout Massa Frank and wants to go to see him. But it wasn't more'n two weeks after he leaves dat him was kilt. Dat am de awful shock to me and it am a long time befo' I gits over it. I allus feels if I'd been with him maybe I could save his life.
"My company am moved to Birmingham and builds breastworks. Dey say Gen. Lee am comin' for a battle but he didn't ever come and when I been back to see dem breastworks, dey never been used. We marches north to Lexington, in Kentuck' but am gone befo' de battle to Louisville. We comes back to Salem, in Georgia, but I's never in no big battle, only some skirmishes now and den. We allus fixes for de battles and builds bridges and doesn't fight much.
"I goes back after de war to Memphis. My mammy am on de Kilgore place and Massa Kilgore takes her and my pappy and two hundred other slaves and comes to Texas. Dat how I gits here. He settles at de place called Kilgore, and it was named after him, but in 1867 he moves to Cleburne.
"Befo' we moved to Texas de Klu Kluxers done burn my mammy's house and she lost everything. Dey was 'bout $100 in greenbacks in dat house and a three hundred pound hawg in de pen, what die from de heat. We done run to Massa Rodger's house. De riders gits so bad dey come most any time and run de cullud folks off for no cause, jus' to be orn'ry and plunder de home. But one day I seed Massa Rodgers take a dozen guns out his wagon and he and some white men digs a ditch round de cotton field close to de road. Couple nights after dat de riders come and when dey gits near dat ditch a volley am fired and lots of dem draps off dey hosses. Dat ended de Klux trouble in dat section.
"After I been in Texas a year I jines de Fed'ral Army for de Indian war. I's in de transportation division and drives oxen and mules, haulin' supplies to de forts. We goes to Fort Griffin and Dodge City and Laramie, in Wyoming. Dere am allus two or three hundred sojers with us, to watch for Indian attacks. Dey travels on hosses, 'head, 'side and 'hind de wagon. One day de Sent'nel reports Indians am round so we gits hid in de trees and bresh. On a high ledge off to de west we sees de Indians travelin' north, two abreast. De lieutenant say he counted 'bout seven hundred but dey sho' missed us, or maybe I'd not be here today.
"I stays in de service for seven years and den goes back to Johnson County, farmin' on de Rodgers place, and stays till I comes to Fort Worth in 1889. Den I gits into 'nother war, de Spanish 'merican War. But I's in de com'sary work so don't see much fightin'. In all dem wars I sees most no fightin', 'cause I allus works with de supplies.
"After dat war I goes to work laborin' for buildin' contractors. I works for sev'ral den gits with Mr. Bardon and larns de cement work with him. He am awful good man to work for, dat John Bardon. Fin'ly I starts my own cement business and am still runnin' it. My health am good and I's allus on de job, 'cause dis home I owns has to be kept up. It cost sev'ral thousand dollars and I can't 'ford to neglect it.
"I's married twict. I marries Mattie Norman in 1901 and sep'rates in 1904. She could spend more money den two niggers could shovel it in. Den I marries Lottie Young in 1909, but dere am no chillens. I's never dat lucky.
"I's voted ev'ry 'lection and 'lieves it de duty for ev'ry citizen to vote.
"Now, I's told you everything from Genesis to Rev'lations, and it de truth, as I 'members it.
BEN KINCHLOW, 91, was the son of Lizaer Moore, a half-white slave owned by Sandy Moore, Wharton Co., and Lad Kinchlow, a white man. When Ben was one year old his mother was freed and given some money. She was sent to Matamoras, Mexico and they lived there and at Brownsville, Texas, during the years before and directly following the Civil War. Ben and his wife, Liza, now live in Uvalde, Texas, in a neat little home. Ben has straight hair, a Roman nose, and his speech is like that of the early white settler. He is affable and enjoys recounting his experiences.
"I was birthed in 1846 in Wharton, Wharton County, in slavery times. My mother's name was Lizaer Moore. I think her master's name was Sandy Moore, and she went by his name. My father's name was Lad Kinchlow. My mother was a half-breed Negro; my father was a white man of that same county. I don't know anything about my father. He was a white man, I know that. After I was borned and was one year old, my mother was set free and sent to Mexico to live. When we left Wharton, we was sent away in an ambulance. It was an old-time ambulance. It was what they called an ambulance—a four-wheeled concern pulled by two mules. That is what they used to traffic in. The big rich white folks would get in it and go to church or on a long journey. We landed safely into Matamoros, Mexico, just me and my mother and older brother. She had the means to live on till she got there and got acquainted. We stayed there about twelve years. Then we moved back to Brownsville and stayed there until after all Negroes were free. She went to washing and she made lots of money at it. She charged by the dozen. Three or four handkerchiefs were considered a piece. She made good because she got $2.50 a dozen for men washing and $5 a dozen for women's clothes.
"I was married in February, 1879, to Christiana Temple, married at Matagorda, Matagorda County. I had six children by my first wife. Three boys and three girls. Two girls died. The other girl is in Gonzales County. Lawrence is here workin' on the Kincaid Ranch and Andrew is workin' for John Monagin's dairy and Henry is seventy miles from Alpine. He's a highway boss. This was my first wife. Now I am married again and have been with this wife forty years. Her name was Eliza Dawson. No children born to this union.
"The way we lived in those days—the country was full of wild game, deer, wild hogs, turkey, duck, rabbits, 'possum, lions, quails, and so forth. You see, in them days they was all thinly settled and they was all neighbors. Most settlements was all Meskins mostly; of course there was a few white people. In them days the country was all open and a man could go in there and settle down wherever he wanted to and wouldn't be molested a-tall. They wasn't molested till they commenced putting these fences and putting up these barbwire fences. You could ride all day and never open a gate. Maybe ride right up to a man's house and then just let down a bar or two.
"Sometime when we wanted fresh meat we went out and killed. We also could kill a calf or goat whenever we cared to because they were plenty and no fence to stop you. We also had plenty milk and butter and home-made cheese. We did not have much coffee. You know the way we made our coffee? We just taken corn and parched it right brown and ground it up. Whenever we would get up furs and hides enough to go into market, a bunch of neighbors would get together and take ten to fifteen deer hides each and take 'em in to Brownsville and sell 'em and get their supplies. They paid twenty-five cents a pound for them. That's when we got our coffee, but we'd got so used to using corn-coffee, we didn't care whether we had that real coffee so much, because we had to be careful with our supplies, anyway. My recollection is that it was fifty cents a pound and it would be green coffee and you would have to roast it and grind it on a mill. We didn't have any sugar, and very rare thing to have flour. The deer was here by the hundreds. There was blue quail—my goodness! You could get a bunch of these blue top-knot quail rounded up in a bunch of pear and, if they was any rocks, you could kill every one of 'em. If you could hit one and get 'im to fluttering the others would bunch around him and you could kill every one of 'em with rocks.
"We lived very neighborly. When any of the neighbors killed fresh meat we always divided with one another. We all had a corn patch, about three or four acres. We did not have plows; we planted with a hoe. We were lucky in raisin' corn every year. Most all the neighbors had a little bunch of goats, cows, mares, and hogs. Our nearest market was forty miles, at old Brownsville. When I was a boy I wo'e what was called shirt-tail. It was a long, loose shirt with no pants. I did not wear pants until I was about ten or twelve. The way we got our supplies, all the neighbors would go in together and send into town in a dump cart drawn by a mule. The main station was at Brownsville. It was thirty-five miles from where they'd change horses. They carried this mail to Edinburg, and it took four days. Sometimes they'd ride a horse or mule. We'd get our mail once a week. We got our mail at Brownsville.
"The country was very thinly settled then and of very few white people; most all Meskins, living on the border. The country was open, no fences. Every neighbor had a little place. We didn't have any plows; we planted with a hoe and went along and raked the dirt over with our toes. We had a grist mill too. I bet I've turned one a million miles. There was no hired work then. When a man was hired he got $10 or $12 per month, and when people wanted to brand or do other work, all the neighbors went together and helped without pay. The most thing that we had to fear was Indians and cattle rustlers and wild animals.
"While I was yet on the border, the plantation owners had to send their cotton to the border to be shipped to other parts, so it was transferred by Negro slaves as drivers. Lots of times, when these Negroes got there and took the cotton from their wagon, they would then be persuaded to go across the border by Meskins, and then they would never return to their master. That is how lots of Negroes got to be free. The way they used to transfer the cotton—these big cotton plantations east of here—they'd take it to Brownsville and put it on the wharf and ship it from there. I can remember seeing, during the cotton season, fifteen or twenty teams hauling cotton, sometimes five or six, maybe eight bales on a wagon. You see, them steamboats used to run all up and down that river. I think this cotton went out to market at New Orleans and went right out into the Gulf.
"Our house was a log cabin with a log chimney da'bbed with mud. The cabin was covered with grass for a roof. The fireplace was the kind of stove we had. Mother cooked in Dutch ovens. Our main meal was corn bread and milk and grits with milk. That was a little bit coarser than meal. The way we used to cook it and the best flavored is to cook it out-of-doors in a Dutch oven. We called 'em corn dodgers. Now ash cakes, you have your dough pretty stiff and smooth off a place in the ashes and lay it right on the ashes and cover it up with ashes and when it got done, you could wipe every bit of the ashes off, and get you some butter and put on it. M-m-m! I tell you, its fine! There is another way of cookin' flour bread without a skillet or a stove, is to make up your dough stiff and roll it out thin and cut it in strips and roll it on a green stick and just hold it over the coals, and it sure makes good bread. When one side cooks too fast, you can just turn it over, and have your stick long enough to keep it from burnin' your hands. How come me to learn this was: One time we were huntin' horse stock and there was an outfit along and the pack mule that was packed with our provisions and skillets and coffee pots and things—we never did carry much stuff, not even no beddin'—the pack turned on the mule and we lost our skillet and none of us knowed it at the time. All of us was cooks, but that old Meskin that was along was the only one that knew how to cook bread that way. Sometimes we would be out six weeks or two months on a general round-up, workin' horse stock; the country would just be alive with cattle, and horses too. We used to have lots of fun on those drives.
"I tell you, I didn't enjoy that 'court' at night. They got so tough on us you couldn't spit in camp, couldn't use no cuss words—they would sure 'put the leggin's on you' if you did!"
Uncle Ben hitched his chair, and with much chuckling, recalled the "kangaroo court" the cowboys used to hold at night in camp. These impromptu courts were often all the fun the cowboys had during the long weeks of hunting stock in the open range country.
"Oh, it was all in fun. Just catch somebody so we could hold court! They would have two or three as a jury. They would use me as sheriff and appoint a judge. The prisoner was turned over to the judge and whatever he said, it had to be carried out exactly. The penalty? Well, sometimes—it was owing to the crime—but sometimes they would put it up to about twenty licks with the leggin's. If they was any bendin' trees, they would lay you across the log. They got tough, all right, but we sure had fun. We had to salute the boss every mornin', and if we forgot it...! They never forgot it that night; you'd sure get tried in court.
"We camped on the side of a creek one time, and we had a new man, a sort of green fellow. This new man unsaddled his horse by the side of the creek and he lay down there. He had on a big pair of spurs, and I was watchin' him and studyin' up some kind of prank to play on 'im. So I went and got me a string and tied one of his spurs to his saddle and then I told the boss what I'd done and he had one of the fellows put a saddle on and tie tin cups and pots on it and then they commenced shootin' and yellin'. This man with the saddle on went pitchin' right toward that fellow, and that man got up, scared to death, and started to run. He run the length of the string and then fell down, but he didn't take time to get up; he went runnin' on his all-fours as fur as he could, till he drug the saddle to where it hung up. He woulda run right into the creek, but the saddle held 'im back. We didn't hold kangaroo court over that! Nobody knowed who did it. Of course, they all knowed, but they didn't let on. But nobody ever got in a bad humor; it didn't do no good.
"I've stood up of many a bad night, dozin'. It would be two weeks, sometimes, before we got to lay down on our beds. I have stood up between the wagon wheel and the bed (of the wagon) and dozed many a night. Maybe one or two men would come in and doze an hour or two, but if the cattle were restless and ready to run, we had to be ready right now. Sho! Those stormy nights thunderin' and lightnin'! You could just see the lightnin' all over the steers' horns and your horse's ears and mane too. It would dangle all up and down his mane. It never interfered with you a-tall. And you could see it around the steer's horns in the herd, the lightnin' would dangle all over 'em. If the hands (cowboys) or the relief could get to 'em before they got started to runnin', they could handle 'em; but if they got started first, they would be pretty hard to handle.
"The first ranch I worked on after I left McNelly was on the Banqueta on the Agua Dulce Creek for the Miley boys, putting up a pasture fence. I worked there about two months, diggin' post holes. From there to the King Ranch for about four months, breaking horses. I kept travelin' east till I got back to Wharton, where my mother was. She died there in Wharton. I didn't stay with her very long. I went down to Tres Palacios in Matagorda County. I did pasture work there, and cattle work. I worked for Mr. Moore for twelve years. Then he moved to Stockdale and I worked for him there eight years. From there, after I got through with Mr. Moore, I went back to Tres Palacios and I worked there for first one man and then another. I think we have been here at Uvalde for about twenty-three years.
"I've been the luckiest man in the world to have gone through what I have and not get hurt. I have never had but two horses to fall with me. I could ride all day right now and never tire. You never hear me say, 'I'm tired, I'm sleepy, I'm hongry.' And out in camp you never see me lay down when I come in to camp, or set down to eat, and if I do, I set down on my foot. I always get my plate in my hand and eat standin' up, or lean against the wagon, maybe.
"When Cap'n. McNelly taken sick and resigned, I traveled east and picked up jobs of work on ranches. The first work after I left the Rio Grande was on the Banqueta, and then I went to work on the King Ranch about fifty miles southeast (?) of Brownsville. It wasn't fixed up in them days like it is now. But the territory is like it was then. They worked all Meskin hands. They were working about twenty-five or thirty Meskins at the headquarters' ranch. And the main caporal was a Meskin. His wages was top wages and he got twelve dollars a month. And the hands, if you was a real good hand, you got seven or eight dollars a month, and they would give you rations. They would furnish you all the meat you wanted and furnish you corn, but you would have to grind it yourself for bread. You know, like the Meskins make on a metate. You could have all the home-made cheese you want, and milk. In them days, the Meskins didn't have sense enough to make butter. I seen better times them days than I am seein' now. We just had a home livin'. You could go out any time and kill you anything you wanted—turkeys, hogs, javalinas, deer, 'coons, 'possums, quail.
"I'll tell you about a Meskin ranch I worked on. It was a big lake. It covered, I reckin, fifty acres, and these little Meskin huts just surrounded that big lake. And fish! My goodness, you could just go down there and throw your hook in without a bait and catch a fish. That was what you call the Laguna de Chacona. That was out from Brownsville about thirty-five miles. That ranch was owned by the old Meskin named Chacon, where the lake got its name.
"It seems funny the way they handled milk calves—you know, the men-folks didn't milk cows, they wouldn't even fool with 'em. They would have a great big corral and maybe they would have fifteen or twenty cows and they would be four or five families go there to milk. Every calf would have a rawhide strap around his neck about six foot long. Now, instead of them makin' a calf pen—of evenin's the girls would go down there and I used to go help 'em—they would pull the calf up to the fence and stick the strap through a crack and pull the calf's head down nearly to the ground where he couldn't suck. Of course, the old cow would hang around right close to the calf as she could git. When they let the calf suck, they'd leave 'im tied down so he couldn't suck in the night. They always kep' the cows up at night and they'd leave the calves in the pen with 'em, but tied down. But buildin' just what you call a calf pen, they'd set posts in the ground just like these stock pens at the railroad and lay the poles between 'em. Then again, they would dig a trench and set mesquite poles so thick and deep, why, you couldn't push it down!
"Now, in dry times, they would have a banvolete (ban-bo-la-te). Hand me two of them sticks, mama. Now, you see, like here would be the well and you cut a long stick as long as you could get it, with a fork up here in this here pole, and have this here stick in the fork of the pole. They'd bolt the cross piece down in the fork of the pole that was put in the ground right by the well, and have it so it would work up and down. They'd be a weight tied on the end of the other pole and they could sure draw water in a hurry. I made one out here on the Anderson Ranch. Just as fast as you could let your bucket down, then jerk it up, you had the water up. The well had cross pieces of poles laid around it and cut to fit together.
"Now, about the other way we had to draw water. We had a big well, only it was fenced around to keep cattle from gettin' in there. The reason they had to do that, they had a big wheel with footpieces, like steps, to tread, and you would have the wheel over the well and they had about fifteen or twenty rawhide buckets fastened to a rope (that the wheel pulled it went around), and when they went down, they would go down in front of you. You had to sit down right behind the wheel, and you would push with your feet and pull with your hands, and the buckets came up behind you and as they went up, they would empty and go back down. They had some way of fixin' the rawhide. I think they toasted it, or scorched the hide to keep it hard so the water wouldn't soak it up and get it soft. That was on that place, the Chacona Lakes. That old Meskin was a native of the Rio Grande and run cattle and horses. In them days, you could buy an acre of land for fifty cents, river front, all the land you wanted. Now that land in that valley, you couldn't buy it for a hundred dollars an acre.
"Did I tell you about diggin' that pit right in the fence of our corn patch to catch javalines? The way we done, why, we just dug a big pit right on the inside of the field, right against the fence, and whenever they would go through that hole to go in the corn patch, they would drop off in that hole. I think we caught nine, little and big, at one trappin' once. It was already an old trompin' place where they come in and out, and we had put the pit there. But after you use it, they won't come in there again.
"You see, I tell you about them brush fences. The deer had certain places to go to that fence to jump it, and after we found the regular jumpin' place, we would cut three sticks—pretty good size, about like your wrist, about three foot long—and peel 'em and scorch 'em in the fire and sharpen the ends right good and we would go to set our traps. We would put these three sharp sticks right about where the forefeet of the deer would hit. You'd just set the sticks about four inches from where his forefeet would hit the ground, and you'd set the sticks leanin' towards the brush fence, and they would be one in the center and two on the side and about two inches apart. When he jumped, you would sure get 'im right about the point of the brisket. He'd hardly ever miss 'em, and you'd find 'im right there. Oh, sometimes he'd pull up a stick and run a piece with it, but he didn't run very far.
"I been listenin' to the radio about Cap'n McNelly and I tell you it didn't sound right to me. In what way? Why, they never was no cattle on the steamboats down the Rio Grande. I just tell you they was no way of shippin' cattle on a steamboat. They couldn't get 'em down the hatch and they couldn't keep 'em on deck and they wasn't no wharf to load 'em, either. I was there and I seen them boats too long and I know they never shipped no cattle on them steamboats. After they crossed the Rio Grand into Mexico, they might have been shipped from some port down there, but all them cattle they crossed was swum across. They was big boats, but they wasn't no stock boats. They shipped lots of cotton on them steamboats, but they wasn't fixed to ship no cattle. They was up there for freight and passengers. The passengers was going on down the Gulf, maybe to New Orleans. They would get on at Brownsville. The steamboats couldn't go very fur up the river only in high water, but they could come up to Brownsville all the time.
"I was in the Ranger service for about a year with Captain McNelly, or until he died. I was his guide. I was living thirty-five miles above Brownsville. I was working for a man right there on the place by the name of John Cunningham. It was called Bare Stone. You see, hit was a ranch there. McNelly was stationed there after the government troops moved off. They had 'em (the troops) there for a while, but they never did do no good, never did make a raid on nothin'. I was twenty or twenty-one. How come me to get in with McNelly, they had a big meadow there, a big 'permuda' (Bermuda) grass meadow. Me and another fellow used to go in there, and John Cunningham furnished Cap'n McNelly hay for his horses. That's how come me to get in with 'im. Fin'ly, he found out I knew all about that country and sometimes he would come over there and get me to map off a road, though they wasn't but one main road right there. So, one day I was over in the camp with 'im and I say, 'Cap'n, how would you like to give me a job to work with you?' He said, 'I'd like to have you all right, but you couldn't come here on state pay, and under no responsibility.' I told 'im that was all right. I knew how I was going to get my money, 'cause I gambled. Sometimes I would have a hundred or a hundred, twenty-five dollars. Durin' the month I would win from the soljers dealin' monte or playin' seven-up. They wasn't no craps in them days. We played luck too; we never had no shenanigans, a-stealin' a man's money. If you had a good streak o' luck, you made good; if you didn't, you was out o' luck. Sometimes, I had up as high as twenty-five or thirty dollars.
"One thing about the cap'n, he'd tell his men—well, we had a sutler's shop right across from our camp, all kinds of good drinks—and he would tell his men he didn't care how much they drank but he didn't want any of 'em fighting'. He kep' 'em under good control.
"You see, they was all dependin' on me for guidin'. There was no way for them cow rustlers or bandits to get to the cow ranches after they crossed the river (Rio Grande) excep' to cross that road for there was no other way for 'em to get out there. You see, there was where it would be easy for me, pickin' up a trail. I would just follow that road on if I had a certain distance to go, and if I didn't find no trail I would come back and report, and if I would find a trail he would ask me how many they was and where they was goin', and I would tell 'im which way, 'cause I didn't know exactly where they was goin' to round-up. He would always give 'em about two or three days to make the round-up from the time that trail crossed. And we always went to meet 'em, or catch 'em at the river. We got into two or three real bad combats.
"The worst one was on Palo Alto Prairie, one of Santa Anna's battle grounds. About twelve or fifteen miles east of old Brownsville. They was sixteen of the bandits and they was fifteen of 'em killed—all Meskins excep' one white man. One Meskin escaped. The cap'n just put 'em all up together in a pile and sent a message to Brownsville to the authorities and told 'em where they was at and what shape they was in. They must have had two hundred or two hundred and twenty-five head (of cattle) with 'em. It was open country and they would get anybody's cattle. They just got 'em off the range.
"They mostly would cross that road at night, and by me gettin' out early next mornin' and findin' that trail, I could tell pretty much how old it was. I reckon that place wasn't over thirteen miles from Brownsville and our camp was thirty-five miles, I guess it must have been twenty-five miles from our camp to where we had that battle. We sure went there to get 'em. I trailed them horses and I knowed from the direction they was takin' that they was goin' to those big lakes called Santa Lalla. They was between Point Isabel and Brownsville and that made us about a forty-five mile ride to get to that crossin', to a place called Bagdad, right on the waters of the Rio Grande.
"We got our lunch at Brownsville and started out to go to this crossin'. I knowed right about where this crossin' was and I says to the cap'n, 'Don't you reckon I better go and see if they was any sign?' We stayed there about three hours and didn't hear a thing. And then the cap'n said, 'Boys, we better eat our lunch'. While we was eatin', we heard somebody holler, and he said, 'Boys, there they are.' And he said to me, 'Ben, you want to stay with the horses or be in the fun?' And I said, 'I don't care.' So he said, 'You better stay with the horses; you ain't paid to kill Meskins! I went out to where the horses were. The rangers were afoot in the brush. It was about an hour from the time we heard the fellow holler before the cattle got there. When the rangers placed themselves on the side of the road, the Meskins didn't know what they was goin' to get into!
"The Meskins was all singin' at the top of their voices and they was comin' on in. The cap'n waited till they went to crossin' the herd, he waited till these rustlers all got into the river behind the cattle, and then the cap'n opened fire on the bandits. They didn't have no possible show. They was in the water, and he just floated 'em down the river. They was one man got away. I saw 'im later, and he told me about it. The way he got away, he says he was a good swimmer and he just fell off his horse in the water and the swift water took 'im down and he just kep' his nose out of the water and got away that way. They was fo'teen in that bunch, I know.
"The echo of the shootin' turned the cattle back to the American side. The lead cattle was just gettin' ready to hit the other side of the river when the shootin' taken place and the echo of the shootin' turned 'em and they come back across. Now, in swimmin' a bunch of cattle, if you pop your whip, you are just as liable to turn 'em back, or if you holler the echo might turn 'em back. It'll do that nearly every time.
"After the fight, the cap'n says to the boys, 'Well, boys, the fun is all over now, I guess we'd better start back to camp.' And they all mounted their horses and begun singin':
"O, bury me not on the lone prairie-e-e Where the wild coyotes will howl o'er me-e-e, Right where all the Meskins ought to be-e-e!"
MARY KINDRED was a slave on the Luke Hadnot plantation in Jasper, Texas. She does not know her age but thinks she is about 80. She now lives in Beaumont, Texas.
"My mind don't dwell back. The older I gits the lessen I thinks 'bout the old times. I ain't gittin' old. I's done got old. I not been one of them bad, outlawed fellers, so de good Lawd done 'low me live a long time. Some things I knows I heered from my mother and my grandma. They so fresh to them in that time, though, I mostly sure they's truth.
"My mother name was Hannah Hadnot and my daddy was Ruffin Hadnot and he used to carry the mail from Weiss Bluff to Jasper. They waylay him 'long the road in 1881 and kill him and rob the mail.
"Luke Hadnot was our old massa. He good to my grandma and give her license for a doctor woman. Old massa must of thought lots of her, 'cause he give her forty acres of land and a home fer herself. That house still standin' up there in Jasper, yet.
"Grandma used to sing a li'l song to us, like this:
"'One mornin' in May, I spies a beautiful dandy, A-rakin' way of de hay. I asks her to marry. She say, scornful, 'No.' But befo' six months roll by Her apron strings wouldn't tie She wrote me a letter, She marry me then, I say, no, no, my gal, not I.'
"Grandma git de bark offen de thorn tree and bile it with turpentine for de toothache. She used herbs for de medicine and they's good.
"Old missy was tall and slim, a rawbone sort of woman. Her name was Matilda Hadnot. Massa have as big a still as ever I seed and dey used to make everything there. They has it civered with boards they rive out the woods. There wasn't no revenuers in dem days.
"Us gits de groceries by steamboat and the wagons go down the old Bevilport Road to the steamboat landin'. That the Ang'leen River. One the biggest boats was own by Capt. Bryce Hadnot, the 'Old Grim.'
"I 'member back durin' the war the people couldn't git no coffee. They used to take bran and peanuts and okra seed and sich and parch 'em for coffee. It make right drinkable coffee. They gits sugar from the store or the sugar cane. When they buy it, it's in a big, white lump what they calls 'sugar loaf.' When they has no sugar they uses the syrup to sweeten the coffee and they call syrup 'long sweetenin' and sugar, 'short sweetenin'.
"Us has lots of dances with fiddle and 'corjum player. Us sing, 'Swing you partner, Promenade.' Another li'l song start out:
"'Dinah got a meat skin lay away, Grease dat wooden leg, Dinah. Grease dat wooden leg, Dinah. Shake dat wooden leg, Dinah, Shake dat wooden leg, Dinah.'
I 'members this song:
"'Down in Shiloh town, Down in Shiloh town, De old grey mare come Tearin' out de wilderness. Down in Shiloh town, O, boys, O, O, boys, O, Down in Shiloh town.'
"I's seed lots of blue gum niggers and they say iffen they bite you dey pizen you. They hands diff'rent from other niggers. Now, my hand's right smart white in the inside, but blue gum nigger hand is more browner on the inside.
"I used to have a old aunt name Harriett and iffen she tell you anythin' you kin jes' put it down it gwineter come out like she say. She have the big mole on the inside her mouth and when she shake her finger at you it gwine happen to you jes' like she say. That what they call puttin' bad mouth on them and she sho' could do it.
"I's had 12 chillen. My first husban was Anthony Adams and the last Alfred Kindred. I only got three chillen livin' now, though. One of the sons am the outer door guard of the lodge here in Beaumont.
NANCY KING, 93, was born in Upshur County, Texas, a slave of William Jackson. She and her husband moved to Marshall, Texas, in 1866. Nancy now lives with her daughter, Lucy Staples.
"I was borned and raised on William Jackson's place, jus' twelve miles east of Gilmer. I was growed and had one child at surrender, and my mother told me I was a woman of my own when Old Missie sot us free, jus' after surrender, so you can figurate my age from that.
"My first child was borned the January befo' surrender in June, and I 'members hoeing in the field befo' the war come on. Massa William raised lots of cotton and corn and tobacco and most everything we et. I never worked in the field, 'cept to chase the calves in, till I was most growed. Massa was good to us. Course, I never went to school, but Old Missie sent my brother, Alex, two years after the war, with her own chillen.
"I was married durin' the war and it was at church, with a white preacher. Old Missie give me the cloth and dye for my weddin' dress and my mother spun and dyed the cloth, and I made it. It was homespun but nothin' cheap 'bout it for them days. After the weddin' massa give us a big dinner and we had a time.
"Massa done all the bossin' his own self. He never whipped me, but Old Missie had to switch me a little for piddlin' round, 'stead of doin' what she said. Every Sat'day night we had a candy pullin' and played games, and allus had plenty of clothes and shoes.
"I seed the soldiers comin' and gwine to the war, and 'members when Massa William left to go fight for the South. His boy, Billie, was sixteen, and tended the place while massa's away. Massa done say he'd let the niggers go without fightin'. He didn't think war was right, but he had to go. He 'serts and comes home befo' the war gits goin' good and the soldiers come after him. He run off to the bottoms, but they was on hosses and overtook him. I was there in the room when they brung him back. One of them says, 'Jackson, we ain't gwine take you with us now, but we'll fix you so you can't run off till we git back.' They put red pepper in his eyes and left. Missie cried. They come back for him in a day or two and made my father saddle up Hawk-eye, massa's best hoss. Then they rode away and we never seed massa 'gain. One day my brother, Alex, hollers out, 'Oh, Missie, yonder is the hoss, at the gate, and ain't nobody ridin' him.' Missie throwed up her hands and says, 'O, Lawdy, my husban' am dead!' She knowed somehow when he left he wasn't comin' back.
"Old Missie freed us but said we had a home as long as she did. Me and my husban' stays 'bout a year, but my folks stays till she marries 'gain.
"My brother-in-law, Sam Pitman, tells us how he put one by the Ku Kluxers. Him and some niggers was out one night and the Kluxers chases them on hosses. They run down a narrow road and tied four strands of grapevine 'cross the road, 'bout breast high to a hoss. The Kluxers come gallopin' down that road and when the hosses hit that grapevine, it throwed them every which way and broke some their arms. Sam used to laugh and tell how them Kluxers cussed them niggers.
"Me and my husban' come to Marshall the year after surrender, and I is lived here every since. My man works on farms till he got on the railroad. I's been married four times and raised six chillen. The young people is diff'rent from what we was, but diff'rent times calls for diff'rent ways, I 'spect. My chillen allus done the best they could by me.
SILVIA KING, French Negress of Marlin, Texas, does not know her age, but says that she was born in Morocco. She was stolen from her husband and three children, brought to the United States and sold into slavery. Silvia has the appearance of extreme age, and may be close to a hundred years old, as she thinks she is, because of her memories of the children she never saw again and of the slave ship.
"I know I was borned in Morocco, in Africa, and was married and had three chillen befo' I was stoled from my husband. I don't know who it was stole me, but dey took me to France, to a place called Bordeaux, and drugs me with some coffee, and when I knows anything 'bout it, I's in de bottom of a boat with a whole lot of other niggers. It seem like we was in dat boat forever, but we comes to land, and I's put on de block and sold. I finds out afterwards from my white folks it was in New Orleans where dat block was, but I didn't know it den.
"We was all chained and dey strips all our clothes off and de folks what gwine buy us comes round and feels us all over. Iffen any de niggers don't want to take dere clothes off, de man gits a long, black whip and cuts dem up hard. I's sold to a planter what had a big plantation in Fayette County, right here in Texas, don't know no name 'cept Marse Jones.
"Marse Jones, he am awful good, but de overseer was de meanest man I ever knowed, a white man name Smith, what boasts 'bout how many niggers he done kilt. When Marse Jones seed me on de block, he say, 'Dat's a whale of a woman.' I's scairt and can't say nothin', 'cause I can't speak English. He buys some more slaves and dey chains us together and marches us up near La Grange, in Texas. Marse Jones done gone on ahead and de overseer marches us. Dat was a awful time, 'cause us am all chained up and whatever one does us all has to do. If one drinks out of de stream we all drinks, and when one gits tired or sick, de rest has to drag and carry him. When us git to Texas, Marse Jones raise de debbil with dat white man what had us on da march. He git de doctor man and tell de cook to feed us and lets us rest up.
"After 'while, Marse Jones say to me, 'Silvia, am you married?' I tells him I got a man and three chillen back in de old country, but he don't understand my talk and I has a man give to me. I don't bother with dat nigger's name much, he jes' Bob to me. But I fit him good and plenty till de overseer shakes a blacksnake whip over me.
"Marse Jones and Old Miss finds out 'bout my cookin' and takes me to de big house to cook for dem. De dishes and things was awful queer to me, to what I been brung up to use in France. I mostly cooks after dat, but I's de powerful big woman when I's young and when dey gits in a tight [Handwritten Note: 'place?'] I helps out.
"'Fore long Marse Jones 'cides to move. He allus say he gwine git where he can't hear he neighbor's cowhorn, and he do. Dere ain't nothin' but woods and grass land, no houses, no roads, no bridges, no neighbors, nothin' but woods and wild animals. But he builds a mighty fine house with a stone chimney six foot square at de bottom. The sill was a foot square and de house am made of logs, but dey splits out two inch plank and puts it outside de logs, from de ground clean up to de eaves. Dere wasn't no nails, but dey whittles out pegs. Dere was a well out de back and a well on de back porch by de kitchen door. It had a wheel and a rope. Dere was 'nother well by de barns and one or two round de quarters, but dey am fixed with a long pole sweep. In de kitchen was de big fireplace and de big back logs am haul to de house. De oxen pull dem dat far and some men takes poles and rolls dem in de fireplace. Marse Jones never 'low dat fire go out from October till May, and in de fall Marse or one he sons lights de fire with a flint rock and some powder.
"De stores was a long way off and de white folks loans seed and things to each other. If we has de toothache, de blacksmith pulls it. My husband manages de ox teams. I cooks and works in Old Miss's garden and de orchard. It am big and fine and in fruit time all de women works from light to dark dryin' and 'servin' and de like.
"Old Marse gwine feed you and see you quarters am dry and warm or know de reason why. Most ev'ry night he goes round de quarters to see if dere any sickness or trouble. Everybody work hard but have plenty to eat. Sometimes de preacher tell us how to git to hebben and see de ring lights dere.
"De smokehouse am full of bacon sides and cure hams and barrels lard and 'lasses. When a nigger want to eat, he jes' ask and git he passel. Old Miss allus 'pend on me to spice de ham when it cure. I larnt dat back in de old country, in France.
"Dere was spinnin' and weavin' cabins, long with a chimney in each end. Us women spins all de thread and weaves cloth for everybody, de white folks, too. I's de cook, but times I hit de spinnin' loom and wheel fairly good. Us bleach de cloth and dyes it with barks.
"Dere allus de big woodpile in de yard, and de big, caboose kettle for renderin' hawg fat and beef tallow candles and makin' soap. Marse allus have de niggers take some apples and make cider, and he make beer, too. Most all us had cider and beer when we want it, but nobody git drunk. Marse sho' cut up if we do.
"Old Miss have de floors sanded, dat where you sprinkles fine, white sand over da floor and sweeps it round in all kinds purty figgers. Us make a corn shuck broom.
"Marse sho' a fool 'bout he hounds and have a mighty fine pack. De boys hunts wolves and painters (panthers) and wild game like dat. Dere was lots of wild turkey and droves of wild prairie chickens. Dere was rabbits and squirrels and Indian puddin', make of cornmeal. It am real tasty. I cooks goose and pork and mutton and bear meat and beef and deer meat, den makes de fritters and pies and dumplin's. Sho' wish us had dat food now.
"On de cold winter night I's sot many a time spinnin' with two threads, one in each hand and one my feets on de wheel and de baby sleepin' on my lap. De boys and old men was allus whittlin' and it wasn't jes' foolishment. Dey whittles traps and wooden spoons and needles to make seine nets and checkers and sleds. We all sits workin' and singin' and smokin' pipes. I likes my pipe right now, and has two clay pipes and keeps dem under de pillow. I don't aim for dem pipes to git out my sight. I been smokin' clost to a hunerd years now and it takes two cans tobaccy de week to keep me goin'.
"Dere wasn't many doctors dem days, but allus de closet full of simples (home remedies) and most all de old women could git med'cine out de woods. Ev'ry spring, Old Miss line up all de chillen and give dem a dose of garlic and rum.
"De chillen all played together, black and white. De young ones purty handy trappin' quail and partridges and sech. Dey didn't shoot if dey could cotch it some other way, 'cause powder and lead am scarce. Dey cotch de deer by makin' de salt lick, and uses a spring pole to cotch pigeons and birds.
"De black folks gits off down in de bottom and shouts and sings and prays. Dey gits in de ring dance. It am jes' a kind of shuffle, den it git faster and faster and dey gits warmed up and moans and shouts and claps and dances. Some gits 'xhausted and drops out and de ring gits closer. Sometimes dey sings and shouts all night, but come break of day, de nigger got to git to he cabin. Old Marse got to tell dem de tasks of de day.
"Old black Tom have a li'l bottle and have spell roots and water in it and sulphur. He sho' could find out if a nigger gwine git whipped. He have a string tie round it and say, 'By sum Peter, by sum Paul, by de Gawd dat make us all, Jack don't you tell me no lie, if marse gwine whip Mary, tell me.' Sho's you born, if dat jack turn to de laft, de nigger git de whippin', but if marse ain't makeup he mind to whip, dat jack stand and quiver.
"You white folks jes' go through de woods and don't know nothin'. Iffen you digs out splinters from de north side a old pine tree what been struck by lightnin', and gits dem hot in a iron skillet and burns dem to ashes, den you puts dem in a brown paper sack. Iffen de officers gits you and you gwine have it 'fore de jedge, you gits de sack and goes outdoors at midnight and hold de bag of ashes in you hand and look up at de moon—but don't you open you mouth. Nex' mornin' git up early and go to de courthouse and sprinkle dem ashes in de doorway and dat law trouble, it gwine git tore up jes' like de lightnin' done tore up dat tree.
"De shoestring root am powerful strong. Iffen you chews on it and spits a ring round de person what you wants somethin' from, you gwine git it. You can git more money or a job or most anythin' dat way. I had a black cat bone, too, but it got away from me.
"I's got a big frame and used to weigh a hunerd pounds, but day tells me I only weighs a hunerd now. Dis Louis Southern I lives with, he's de youngest son of my grandson, who was de son of my youngest daughter. My marse, he knowed Gen. Houston and I seed him many a time. I lost what teeth I had a long time ago and in 1920 two more new teeth come through. Dem teeth sho' did worry me and I's glad when dey went, too.
List of Transcriber's Corrections:
List of Illustrations: 285 (#290#)
Page 2: come (wooden dishes. Some de knives and forks was make out of bone. Dey had beef and pork and turkey and some antelope.)
Page 4: bit (all through dat house. I takes de lantern and out in de hall I goes. Right by de foot de stairs I seed a woman, big as life, but she was thin and I seed right through her. She jes' walk on down dat hall and pay me no mind. She make de sound)
Page 7: was that a (slavery, 'cause massa give me a sack of molasses candy once and some biscuits once and that was a whole lot to me then.)
Page 9: kepps (daren't tell them 'cept on the sly. That I done lots. I tells 'em iffen they keeps prayin' the Lord will set 'em free. But since them days I's done studied some and I preached all over Panola and Harrison County and)
Page 18: bit (piles, one for de big house and de bigges' pile for de slaves. When dey git it all hauled it look like a big woodyard. While dey is haulin', de women make quilts and dey is wool quilts. Course, dey ain't made out of shearin' wool,)
Page 19: sich (Course, I hears some talk 'bout bluebellies, what dey call de Yanks, fightin' our folks, but dey wasn't fightin' round us. Den one dey mamma took sick and she had hear talk and call me to de bed and say, 'Lucinda, we all gwine be free soon and not)
Page 24: neber ("I seem jes' punyin' away, de doctors don' know jes' what's wrong wid me but I never was use to doctors anyway, jes' some red root tea or sage weed and sheep)
Page 29: was ("After war was over, old massa call us up and told us we free but he 'vise not leave de place till de crop was through. Us all stay. Den)
Page 30: suddent (for justice. One man, he look jus' like ordinary man, but he spring up 'bout eighteen feet high all of a sudden. Another say he so thirsty he ain't have no water since he been kilt at Manassas Junction. He ask)
Page 42: (what lives at West Columbia. Massa Kit on one side Varney's Creek and Massa Charles on de other side. Massa Kit have a African woman from Kentucky for he wife, and dat's de truth. I ain't sayin' iffen she a)
Page 43: goiin' (Where you gwine to go? I's goin' down to new ground, For to hunt Jim Crow.')
Page 71: hus' ("We lived in a log house with dirt floors, warm in winter but sho' hot in summer, no screens or nothin', jus' homemade doors. We had homemade beds out of planks they picked up around. Mattresses nothin', we had shuck beds.)
Page 72: bit (whole sack of pure gold and silver, and say bury it in de orchard. I sho' was scart, but I done what she said. Dey was more gold in a big desk, and de Yanks pulled de top of dat desk and got de gold. Miss Jane had a purty gold ring on)
Page 79: of (the place, they still go up to the big house for a pass. They jus' can't understand 'bout the freedom. Old Marse orMissus say, 'You don't need no pass. All you got to do is jus' take you foot in you hand and go.')
Page 84: ahd ("They had a church this side of New Fountain and the boss man 'lowed us to go on Sunday. If any of the slaves did join, they didn')
Page 99: of (cornmeal mush and corn hominy and corn grits and parched corn for drink, 'stead of tea or coffee. Us have milk and 'lasses and brown sugar, and some meat. Dat all raise on de place. Stuff for to eat and wear, dat)
Page 114: Pennslyvania (my sister and got in the soldier business. The gov'ment give me $30.00 a month for drivin' a four-mule wagon for the army. I druv all through Pennsylvania and Virginia and South Carolina for the gov'ment. I was a——what)
Page 116: Sue ("My mother sold into slavery in Georgia, or round dere. She tell me funny things 'bout how dey use to do up dere. A old white man think so much of)
Page 123: turpentime (doctor. When us chillun git sick dey git yarbs or dey give us castor oil and turpentine. Iffen it git to be a ser'ous ailment dey sen' for de reg'lar doctor. Dey uster)
Page 130: Missisippi (Hedwig, Bexar Co., Texas, the son of slave parents bought in Mississippi by his master, William Gudlow.)
Page 133: Hallejujah! (crossin' and walkin' and ridin'. Everyone was a-singin'. We was all walkin' on golden clouds. Hallelujah!)
Page 140: tey ("I's too old to make any more visits, but I would like to go back to Old Georgia once more. If Missy Mary was 'live, I'd try, but she am dead, so I tries to wait for old Gabriel blow he horn. When he blow he)
Page 141: 1959 ("When I's a gal, I's Rosina Slaughter, but folks call me Zina. Yes, sar. It am Zina dat and Zina dis. I says I's born April 9, #1859#, but I 'lieve I's older. It was somewhere in Williamson County, but I don't)
Page 145: mercy me (when we got a chance to see young folks on some other place. The patterrollers cotched me one night and, Lawd have mercy on me, they stretches me over a log and hits thirty-nine licks with a rawhide loaded with rock, and every time they hit)
Page 147: ot ("I's farmed and makin' a livin' is 'bout all. I come over here in Madison County and rents from B.F. Young, clost to Midway and gits me a few cows. I been right round here ever since. I lives round with my chillen now,)
Page 158: Whnen ("When surrender come massa calls all us in de yard and makes de talk. He tells us we's free and am awful sorry and show great worryment. He say)
Page 166: live (is cared for by a married daughter, who lives on Lizzie's farm.)
Page 171: nand (to tell the people to be prepared, 'cause the tides of war is rollin' this way, and all the thousands of millions of dollars they spend agin it ain't goin' to stop it. I live to tell people the word Gawd speaks through me.)
Page 195: wuarters ('bout fightin' and the overseer allus tended to her. One day he come to the quarters to whip her and she up and throwed a shovel full of live coals from the fireplace in his bosom and run out the door. He run her all over)
Page 199: tann ("After breakfast I'd see a crew go here and a crew go dere. Some of 'em spin and weave and make clothes, and some tan de leather or do de blacksmith work, and mos' of 'em go out in de field to work. Dey works till dark and den)
Page 200: botin' ("No, I's never voted, 'cause I done heared 'bout de trouble dey has over in Baton Rouge 'bout niggers votin'. I jus' don't like trouble, and for de few years what am left, I's gwine keep de record of stayin' 'way from it.)
Page 221: be ("Old massa he never clean hisself up or dress up. He look like a vagrant thing and he and missy mean, too. My pore daddy he back allus done cut up from the whip and bit by the dogs. Sometime when a woman big)
Page 235: stockn's (and I come in with two li'l pickininnies for flower gals and holdin' my train. I has on one Miss Ellen's dresses and red stockin's and a pair brand new shoes and a wide brim hat. De preacher say, 'Bill, does you take dis woman to be you lawful)
Page 236: dey (jes' kep' right on livin' in de old home after freedom, like old Marse done 'fore freedom. He pay de families by de day for work and let dem work land on de halves and furnish dem teams and grub and dey does de work.)
Page 242: iplot ("My daddy am de gold pilot on de old place. Dat mean anything he done was right and proper. Way after freedom, when my daddy die in Beaumont,)
Page 254: wat ("I never heered much 'bout no war and Marse Greenville never told us we was free. First I knows was one day we gwine to de fields and a man)
Page 258: Bermingham ("My company am moved to Birmingham and builds breastworks. Dey say Gen. Lee am comin' for a battle but he didn't ever come and when I been back)
Page 258: to (a three hundred pound hawg in de pen, what die from de heat. We done run to Massa Rodger's house. De riders gits so bad dey come most any time and run de cullud folks off for no cause, jus' to be orn'ry and plunder de home. But one)
Page 273: coudn't (through a crack and pull the calf's head down nearly to the ground where he couldn't suck. Of course, the old cow would hang around right close)
Page 278: McNeely ("I was in the Ranger service for about a year with Captain McNelly, or until he died. I was his guide. I was living thirty-five miles)
Page 287: whay (have the big mole on the inside her mouth and when she shake her finger at you it gwine happen to you jes' like she say. That what they call puttin' bad mouth on them and she sho' could do it.)