Slave Narratives: a Folk History of Slavery in the United States From Interviews with Former Slaves. - Texas Narratives, Part 2
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Transcriber's Note: I. Inconsistent punctuation and capitalisation has been silently corrected throughout the book. II. Clear spelling mistakes have been corrected however, inconsistent language usage (such as 'day' and 'dey') has been maintained. Inconsistent spelling of place names and personal names has also been retained. A list of corrections is included at the end of the book. III. Handwritten corrections have been incorporated within the text. Exceptions are notes which were just question marks or were followed by question marks: these have been explicitly included as 'Handwritten Notes'. IV. The numbers at the start of each interview were stamped into the original work and refer to the number of the published interview in the context of the entire Slave Narratives project.


A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves


Illustrated with Photographs





Prepared by the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration for the State of Texas


Easter, Willis 1

Edwards, Anderson and Minerva 5

Edwards, Ann J. 10

Edwards, Mary Kincheon 15

Elder, Lucinda 17

Ellis, John 21

Ezell, Lorenza 25

Farrow, Betty 33

Finnely, John 35

Ford, Sarah 41

Forward, Millie 47

Fowler, Louis 50

Franklin, Chris 55

Franks, Orelia Alexie 60

Frazier, Rosanna 63

Gibson, Priscilla 66

Gilbert, Gabriel 68

Gilmore, Mattie 71

Goodman, Andrew 74

Grant, Austin 81

Green, James 87

Green, O.W. 90

Green, Rosa 94

Green, William (Rev. Bill) 96

Grice, Pauline 98

Hadnot, Mandy 102

Hamilton, William 106

Harper, Pierce 109

Harrell, Molly 115

Hawthorne, Ann 118

Hayes, James 126

Haywood, Felix 130

Henderson, Phoebe 135

Hill, Albert 137

Hoard, Rosina 141

Holland, Tom 144

Holman, Eliza 148

Holt, Larnce 151

Homer, Bill 153

Hooper, Scott 157

Houston, Alice 159

Howard, Josephine 163

Hughes, Lizzie 166

Hursey, Moses 169

Hurt, Charley 172

Ingram, Wash 177

Jackson, Carter J. 180

Jackson, James 182

Jackson, Maggie 185

Jackson, Martin 187

Jackson, Nancy 193

Jackson, Richard 195

James, John 198

Johns, Thomas 201

Johns, Mrs. Thomas 205

Johnson, Gus 208

Johnson, Harry 212

Johnson, James D. 216

Johnson, Mary 219

Johnson, Mary Ellen 223

Johnson, Pauline, and Boudreaux, Felice 225

Johnson, Spence 228

Jones, Harriet 231

Jones, Lewis 237

Jones, Liza 241

Jones, Lizzie 246

Jones, Toby 249

Kelly, Pinkie 253

Kilgore, Sam 255

Kinchlow, Ben 260

Kindred, Mary 285

King, Nancy 288

King, Silvia 290


Facing page

Anderson and Minerva Edwards 5

Ann J. Edwards 10

Mary Kincheon Edwards 15

John Ellis 21

Lorenza Ezell 25

Betty Farrow 33

Sarah Ford 41

Louis Fowler 50

Orelia Alexie Franks 60

Priscilla Gibson 66

Andrew Goodman 74

Austin Grant 81

James Green 87

O.W. Green and Granddaughter 90

William Green, (Rev. Bill) 96

Pauline Grice 98

Mandy Hadnot 102

William Hamilton 106

Felix Haywood 130

Phoebe Henderson 135

Albert Hill 137

Eliza Holman 148

Bill Homer 153

Scott Hooper 157

Alice Houston 159

Moses Hursey 169

Charley Hurt 172

Wash Ingram 177

Carter J. Jackson 180

James Jackson 182

Martin Jackson 187

Richard Jackson 195

John James 198

Gus Johnson 208

James D. Johnson 216

Mary Ellen Johnson 223

Pauline Johnson and Felice Boudreaux 225

Spence Johnson 228

Harriet Jones 231

Harriet Jones with Daughter and Granddaughter 231

Lewis Jones 237

Lizzie Jones 246

Sam Kilgore 255

Ben Kinchlow 260

Mary Kindred 285




WILLIS EASTER, 85, was born near Nacogdoches, Texas. He does not know the name of his first master. Frank Sparks brought Willis to Bosqueville, Texas, when he was two years old. Willis believes firmly in "conjuremen" and ghosts, and wears several charms for protection against the former. He lives in Waco, Texas.

"I's birthed below Nacogdoches, and dey tells me it am on March 19th, in 1852. My mammy had some kind of paper what say dat. But I don't know my master, 'cause when I's two he done give me to Marse Frank Sparks and he brung me to Bosqueville. Dat sizeable place dem days. My mammy come 'bout a month after, 'cause Marse Frank, he say I's too much trouble without my mammy.

"Mammy de bes' cook in de county and a master hand at spinnin' and weavin'. She made her own dye. Walnut and elm makes red dye and walnut brown color, and shumake makes black color. When you wants yallow color, git cedar moss out de brake.

"All de lint was picked by hand on our place. It a slow job to git dat lint out de cotton and I's gone to sleep many a night, settin' by de fire, pickin' lint. In bad weather us sot by de fire and pick lint and patch harness and shoes, or whittle out something, dishes and bowls and troughs and traps and spoons.

"All us chillen weared lowel white duckin', homemake, jes' one garment. It was de long shirt. You couldn't tell gals from boys on de yard.

"I's twelve when us am freed and for awhile us lived on Marse Bob Wortham's place, on Chalk Bluff, on Horseshoe Bend. After de freedom war, dat old Brazos River done change its course up 'bove de bend, and move to de west.

"I marries Nancy Clark in 1879, but no chilluns. Dere plenty deer and bears and wild turkeys and antelopes here den. Dey's sho' fine eatin' and wish I could stick a tooth in one now. I's seed fifty antelope at a waterin' hole.

"Dere plenty Indians, too. De Rangers had de time keepin' dem back. Dey come in bright of de moon and steals and kills de stock. Dere a ferry 'cross de Brazos and Capt. Ross run it. He sho' fit dem Indians.

"Dem days everybody went hossback and de roads was jes' trails and bridges was poles 'cross de creeks. One day us went to a weddin'. Dey sot de dinner table out in de yard under a big tree and de table was a big slab of a tree on legs. Dey had pewter plates and spoons and chiny bowls and wooden dishes. Some de knives and forks was make out of bone. Dey had beef and pork and turkey and some antelope.

"I knows 'bout ghostes. First, I tells you a funny story. A old man named Josh, he purty old and notionate. Every evenin' he squat down under a oak tree. Marse Smith, he slip up and hear Josh prayin, 'Oh, Gawd, please take pore old Josh home with you.' Next day, Marse Smith wrop heself in a sheet and git in de oak tree. Old Josh come 'long and pray, 'Oh, Gawd, please come take pore old Josh home with you.' Marse say from top de tree, 'Poor Josh, I's come to take you home with me.' Old Josh, he riz up and seed dat white shape in de tree, and he yell, 'Oh, Lawd, not right now, I hasn't git forgive for all my sins.' Old Josh, he jes' shakin' and he dusts out dere faster den a wink. Dat broke up he prayin' under dat tree.

"I never studied cunjurin', but I knows dat scorripins and things dey cunjures with am powerful medicine. Dey uses hair and fingernails and tacks and dry insects and worms and bat wings and sech. Mammy allus tie a leather string round de babies' necks when dey teethin', to make dem have easy time. She used a dry frog or piece nutmeg, too.

"Mammy allus tell me to keep from bein' cunjure, I sing:

"'Keep 'way from me, hoodoo and witch, Lend my path from de porehouse gate; I pines for golden harps and sich, Lawd, I'll jes' set down and wait. Old Satan am a liar and cunjurer, too— If you don't watch out, he'll cunjure you.'

"Dem cunjuremen sho' bad. Dey make you have pneumony and boils and bad luck. I carries me a jack all de time. It em de charm wrop in red flannel. Don't know what am in it. A bossman, he fix it for me.

"I sho' can find water for de well. I got a li'l tree limb what am like a V. I driv de nail in de end of each branch and in de crotch. I takes hold of each branch and iffen I walks over water in de ground, dat limb gwine turn over in my hand till it points to de ground. Iffen money am buried, you can find it de same way.

"Iffen you fills a shoe with salt and burns it, dat call luck to you. I wears a dime on a string round de neck and one round de ankle. Dat to keep any conjureman from sottin' de trick on ma. Dat dime be bright iffen my friends am true. It sho' gwine git dark iffen dey does me wrong.

"For to make a jack dat am sho' good, git snakeroot and sassafras and a li'l lodestone and brimstone and asafoetida and resin and bluestone and gum arabic and a pod or two red pepper. Put dis in de red flannel bag, at midnight on de dark of de moon, and it sho' do de work.

"I knowed a ghost house, I sho' did. Everybody knowed it, a red brick house in Waco, on Thirteenth and Washington St. Dey calls it de Bell house. It sho' a fine, big house, but folks couldn't use it. De white folks what owns it, dey gits one nigger and 'nother to stay round and look after things. De white folks wants me to stay dere. I goes. Every Friday night dere am a rustlin' sound, like murmur of treetops, all through dat house. De shutters rattles—only dere ain't no shutters on dem windows. Jes' plain as anything, I hears a chair, rockin', rockin'. Footsteps, soft as de breath, you could hear dem plain. But I stays and hunts and can't find nobody nor nothin' none of dem Friday nights.

"Den come de Friday night on de las' quarter de moon. Long 'bout midnight, something lift me out de cot. I heared a li'l child sobbin', and dat rocker git started, and de shutters dey rattle softlike, and dat rustlin', mournin' sound 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 like de beatin' of wings. I jes' froze. I couldn't move.

"Dat woman jes' melted out de window at de end of de hall, and I left dat place!


ANDERSON AND MINERVA EDWARDS, a Negro Baptist preacher and his wife, were slaves on adjoining plantations in Rusk County, Texas. Anderson was born March 12, 1844, a slave of Major Matt Gaud, and Minerva was born February 2, 1850, a slave of Major Flannigan. As a boy Andrew would get a pass to visit his father, who belonged to Major Flannigan, and there he met Minerva. They worked for their masters until three years after the war, then moved to Harrison County, married and reared sixteen children. Andrew and Minerva live in a small but comfortable farmhouse two miles north of Marshall. Minerva's memory is poor, and she added little to Anderson's story.

"My father was Sandy Flannigan and he had run off from his first master in Maryland, on the east shore, and come to Texas, and here a slave buyer picked him up and sold chances on him. If they could find his Maryland master he'd have to go back to him and if they couldn't the chances was good. Wash Edwards in Panola County bought the chance on him, but he run off from him, too, and come to Major Flannigan's in Rusk County. Fin'ly Major Flannigan had to pay a good lot to get clear title to him.

"My mammy was named Minerva and her master was Major Gaud, and I was born there on his plantation in 1866. You can ask that tax man at Marshall 'bout my age, 'cause he's fix my 'xemption papers since I'm sixty. I had seven brothers and two sisters. There was Frank, Joe, Sandy and Gene, Preston and William and Sarah and Delilah, and they all lived to be old folks and the younges' jus' died last year. Folks was more healthy when I growed up and I'm 93 now and ain't dead; fact is, I feels right pert mos' the time.

"My missy named Mary and she and Massa Matt lived in a hewed log house what am still standin' out there near Henderson. Our quarters was 'cross the road and set all in a row. Massa own three fam'lies of slaves and lots of hosses and sheep and cows and my father herded for him till he was freed. The government run a big tan yard there on Major Gaud's place and one my uncles was shoemaker. Jus' 'bout time of war, I was piddlin' 'round the tannery and a government man say to me, 'Boy, I'll give you $1,000 for a drink of water,' and he did, but it was 'federate money that got kilt, so it done me no good.

"Mammy was a weaver and made all the clothes and massa give us plenty to eat; fact, he treated us kind-a like he own boys. Course he whipped us when we had to have it, but not like I seed darkies whipped on other place. The other niggers called us Major Gaud's free niggers and we could hear 'em moanin' and cryin' round 'bout, when they was puttin' it on 'em.

"I worked in the field from one year end to t'other and when we come in at dusk we had to eat and be in bed by nine. Massa give us mos' anything he had to eat, 'cept biscuits. That ash cake wasn't sich bad eatin' and it was cooked by puttin' cornmeal batter in shucks and bakin' in the ashes.

"We didn't work in the field Sunday but they have so much stock to tend it kep' us busy. Missy was 'ligious and allus took us to church when she could. When we prayed by ourse'ves we daren't let the white folks know it and we turned a wash pot down to the ground to cotch the voice. We prayed a lot to be free and the Lord done heered us. We didn't have no song books and the Lord done give us our songs and when we sing them at night it jus' whispering to nobody hear us. One went like this:

"'my knee bones am aching, my body's rackin' with pain, i 'lieve i'm a chile of god, and this ain't my home, 'cause heaven's my aim.'

"Massa Gaud give big corn shuckin's and cotton pickin's and the women cook up big dinners and massa give us some whiskey, and lots of times we shucked all night. On Saturday nights we'd sing and dance and we made our own instruments, which was gourd fiddles and quill flutes. Gen'rally Christmas was like any other day, but I got Santa Claus twict in slavery, 'cause massa give me a sack of molasses candy once and some biscuits once and that was a whole lot to me then.

"The Vinsons and Frys what lived next to massa sold slaves and I seed 'em sold and chained together and druv off in herds by a white man on a hoss. They'd sell babies 'way from the mammy and the Lord never did 'tend sich as that.

"I 'lieve in that hant business yet. I seed one when I was a boy, right after mammy die. I woke up and seed it come in the door, and it had a body and legs and tail and a face like a man and it walked to the fireplace and lifted the lid off a skillet of 'taters what sot there and came to my bed and raised up the cover and crawled in and I hollers so loud it wakes everybody. I tell 'em I seed a ghost and they say I crazy, but I guess I knows a hant when I sees one. Minerva there can tell you 'bout that haunted house we lived in near Marshall jus' after we's married." (Minerva says, 'Deed, I can,' and here is her story:)

"The nex' year after Anderson and me marries we moves to a place that had 'longed to white folks and the man was real mean and choked his wife to death and he lef' the country and we moved in. We heered peculiar noises by night and the niggers 'round there done told us it was hanted but I didn't 'lieve 'em, but I do now. One night we seed the woman what died come all 'round with a light in the hand and the neighbors said that candle light the house all over and it look like it on fire. She come ev'ry night and we left our crop and moved 'way from there and ain't gone back yit to gather that crop. 'Fore we moved in that place been empty since the woman die, 'cause nobody live there. One night Charlie Williams, what lives in Marshall, and runs a store out by the T. & P. Hospital git drunk and goes out there to sleep and while he sleepin' that same woman come in and nigh choked him to death. Ain't nobody ever live in that house since we is there."

Anderson then resumed his story: "I 'member when war starts and massa's boy, George it was, saddles up ole Bob, his pony, and lef'. He stays six months and when he rid up massa say, 'How's the war, George?' and massa George say, 'It's Hell. Me and Bob has been runnin' Yankees ever since us lef'.' 'Fore war massa didn't never say much 'bout slavery but when he heered us free he cusses and say, 'Gawd never did 'tend to free niggers,' and he cussed till he died. But he didn't tell us we's free till a whole year after we was, but one day a bunch of Yankee soldiers come ridin' up and massa and missy hid out. The soldiers walked into the kitchen and mammy was churnin' and one of them kicks the churn over and say, 'Git out, you's jus' as free as I is.' Then they ramsacked the place and breaks out all the window lights and when they leaves it look like a storm done hit that house. Massa come back from hidin' and that when he starts on a cussin' spree what lasts as long as he lives.

"'bout four year after that war pappy took me to Harrison County and I've lived here ever, since and Minerva's pappy moves from the Flannigan place to a jinin' farm 'bout that time and sev'ral years later we was married. It was at her house and she had a blue serge suit and I wore a cutaway Prince Albert suit and they was 'bout 200 folks at our weddin'. The nex' day they give us an infair and a big dinner. We raises sixteen chillen to be growed and six of the boys is still livin' and workin' in Marshall.

"I been preachin' the Gospel and farmin' since slavery time. I jined the church mos' 83 year ago when I was Major Gaud's slave and they baptises me in the spring branch clost to where I finds the Lord. When I starts preachin' I couldn't read or write and had to preach what massa told me and he say tell them niggers iffen they obeys the massa they goes to Heaven but I knowed there's something better for them, but 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 I started the Edward's Chapel over there in Marshall and pastored it till a few year ago. It's named for me.

"I don't preach much now, 'cause I can't hold out to walk far and I got no other way to go. We has a $14.00 pension and lives on that and what we can raise on the farm.


ANN J. EDWARDS, 81, was born a slave of John Cook, of Arlington County, Virginia. He manumitted his slaves in 1857. Four years later Ann was adopted by Richard H. Cain, a colored preacher. He was elected to the 45th Congress in 1876, and remained in Washington, D.C., until his death, in 1887. Ann married Jas. E. Edwards, graduate of Howard College, a preacher. She now lives with her granddaughter, Mary Foster, at 804 E. 4th St., Fort Worth, Texas.

"I shall gladly relate the story of my life. I was born a slave on January 27th, 1856, and my master's name was John J. Cook, who was a resident of Arlington County, Virginia. He moved to Washington, D.C., when I was nearly two years old and immediately gave my parents their freedom. They separated within a year after that, and my mother earned our living, working as a hairdresser until her death in 1861. I was then adopted by Richard H. Cain, a minister of the Gospel in the African Methodist Church.

"I remember the beginning of the war well. The conditions made a deep impression on my mind, and the atmosphere of Washington was charged with excitement and expectations. There existed considerable need for assistance to the Negroes who had escaped after the war began, and Rev. Cain took a leading part in rendering aid to them. They came into the city without clothes or money and no idea of how to secure employment. A large number were placed on farms, some given employment as domestics and still others mustered into the Federal Army.

"The city was one procession of men in blue and the air was full of martial music. The fife and drum could be heard almost all the time, so you may imagine what emotions a colored person of my age would experience, especially as father's church was a center for congregating the Negroes and advising them. That was a difficult task, because a large majority were illiterate and ignorant.

"The year father was called to Charleston, South Carolina, to take charge of a church, we became the center of considerable trouble. It was right after the close of the war. In addition to his ministerial duties, father managed a newspaper and became interested in politics. He was elected a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of South Carolina in 1868. He was also elected a Republican member of the State Senate and served from 1868 to 1872. Then he became the Republican candidate for the United States Representative of the Charleston district, was elected and served in the 45th Congress from March 4, 1877 to March 3, 1879.

"You can imagine the bitter conflict his candidacy brought on. A Negro running for public office against a white person in a Southern state that was strong for slavery does not seem the sensible thing for a man to do, but he did and was, of course, successful. From the moment he became delegate to the Constitutional Convention a guard was necessary night and day to watch our home. He was compelled to have a bodyguard wherever he went. We, his family, lived in constant fear at all times. Many times mother pleaded with him to cease his activities, but her pleadings were of no avail.

"In the beginning the resentment was not so pronounced. The white people were shocked and dejected over the outcome of the war, but gradually recovered. As they did, determination to establish order and prosperity developed, and they resented the Negro taking part in public affairs. On the other side of the cause was the excess and obstinate actions of some ignorant Negroes, acting under ill advice. Father was trying to prevent excesses being done by either side. He realized that the slaves were unfit, at that time, to take their place as dependable citizens, for the want of experience and wisdom, and that there would have to be mental development and wisdom learned by his race, and that such would only come by a gradual process.

"He entered the contest in the interest of his own race, primarily, but as a whole, to do justice to all. No one could change his course. He often stated, 'It is by the Divine will that I am in this battle.'

"The climax of the resentment against him took place when he was chosen Republican candidate to the House of Representatives. He had to maintain an armed guard at all times. Several times, despite these guards, attempts were made to either burn the house or injure some member of the family. If it had not been for the fact that the officials of the city and county were afraid of the federal government, which gave aid in protecting him, the mob would have succeeded in harming him.

"A day or two before election a mob gathered suddenly in front of the house, and we all thought the end had come. Father sent us all upstairs, and said he would, if necessary, give himself up to the mob and let them satisfy their vengeance on him, to save the rest of us.

"While he was talking, mother noticed another body of men in the alley. They were certainly sinister looking. Father told us to prepare for the worst, saying, 'What they plan to do is for those in front to engage the attention of ourselves and the guard, then those in the rear will fire the place and force us out.' He was calm throughout it all, but mother was greatly agitated and I was crying.

"The chief of the guard called father for a parley. The mob leader demanded that father come out for a talk. Then the sheriff and deputies appeared and he addressed the crowd of men, and told them if harm came to us the city would be placed under martial law. The men then dispersed, after some discussion among themselves.

"Father moved to Washington, took the oath of office and served until March 4th, 1879. He then received the appointment of Bishop of the African Methodist Church and served until his death in Washington, on Jan. 18th, 1887.

"I began my schooling in Charleston and continued in Washington, where I entered Howard College, but did not continue until graduation. I met James E. Edwards, another student, who graduated in 1881, and my heart overruled my desire for an education. We married and he entered the ministry and was called to Dallas, Texas. He remained two years, then we were called to Los Angeles. The Negroes there were privileged to enter public eating establishments, but a cafe owner we patronized told us the following:

"'After a time, I was compelled to refuse service to Negroes because they abused the privilege. They came in in a boisterous manner and crowded and shoved other patrons. It was due to a lack of wisdom and education.'

"That was true. The white people tried to give the Negro his rights and he abused the privilege because he was ignorant, a condition he could not then help.

"My husband and I were called to Kansas City in 1896 and from there to many other towns. Finally we came to Waco, and he had charge of a church there when he died, in 1927. We had a pleasant married life and I tried to do my duty as a pastor's wife and help elevate my race. We were blessed with three children, and the only one now living is in Boston, Massachusetts.

"I now reside with my granddaughter, Mary Foster, and this shack is the best her husband can afford. In fact, we are living in destitute circumstances. It is depressing to me, after having lived a life in a comfortable home. It is the Lord's will and I must accept what is provided. There is a purpose for all things. I shall soon go to meet my Maker, with the satisfaction of having done my duty—first, to my race, second, to mankind.

* * * * *

Note: The biography of Richard H. Cain is published in the Biographical Directory of the American Congress.


MARY KINCHEON EDWARDS says she was born on July 8, 1810, but she has nothing to substantiate this claim. However, she is evidently very old. Her memory is poor, but she knows she was reared by the Kincheons, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and that she spoke French when a child. The Kincheons gave her to Felix Vaughn, who brought her to Texas before the Civil War. Mary lives with Beatrice Watters, near Austin, Texas.

"When I's a li'l gal my name Mary Anne Kincheon and I's born on the eighth of July, in 1810. I lives with de Kincheon family over in Louisiana. Baton Rouge am de name of dat place. Dem Kincheons have plenty chillen. O, dey have so many chillen!

"I don't 'member much 'bout dem days. I's done forgot so many things, but I 'members how de stars fell and how scared us was. Dem stars got to fallin' and was out 'fore dey hits de ground. I don't knew when dat was, but I's good size den.

"I get give to Massa Felix Vaughn and he brung me to Texas. Dat long 'fore de war for freedom, but I don't know de year. De most work I done for de Vaughns was wet nuss de baby son, what name Elijah. His mammy jes' didn't have 'nough milk for him.

"Den I knit de socks and wash de clothes and sometimes I work in de fields. I he'ped make de baskets for de cotton. De man git white-oak wood and we lets it stay in de water for de night and de nex' mornin' and it soft and us split it in strips for makin' of de baskets. Everybody try see who could make de bes' basket.

"Us pick 'bout 100 pound cotton in one basket. I didn't mind pickin' cotton, 'cause I never did have de backache. I pick two and three hunnert pounds a day and one day I picked 400. Sometime de prize give by massa to de slave what pick de most. De prize am a big cake or some clothes. Pickin' cotton not so bad, 'cause us used to it and have de fine time of it. I gits a dress one day and a pair shoes 'nother day for pickin' most. I so fast I take two rows at de time.

"De women brung oil cloths to de fields, so dey make shady place for de chillen to sleep, but dem what big 'nough has to pick. Sometime dey sing

"'O—ho, I's gwine home, And cuss de old overseer.'

"Us have ash-hopper and uses drip-lye for make barrels soap and hominy. De way us test de lye am drap de egg in it and if de egg float de lye ready to put in de grease for makin' de soap. Us throwed greasy bones in de lye and dat make de bes' soap. De lye eat de bones.

"Us boil wild sage and make tea and it smell good. It good for de fever and chills. Us git slippery elm out de bottom and chew it. Some chew it for bad feelin's and some jes' to be chewin'.

"Sometimes us go to dances and missy let me wear some her jewl'ry. I out dances dem all and folks didn't know dat not my jewl'ry. After freedom I stays with de Vaughns and marries, but I forgit he name. Dat 'fore freedom. After freedom I marries Osburn Edwards and has five chillen. Dey all dead now. I can still git 'round with dis old gnarly cane. Jes' you git me good and scared and see how fast I can git 'round!"


LUCINDA ELDER, 86, was born a slave of the Cardwell family, near Concord Deport, Virginia. She came to Texas with Will Jones and his wife, Miss Susie, in 1860, and was their nurse-girl until she married Will Elder, in 1875. Lucinda lives at 1007 Edwards St., Houston, Texas.

"You chilluns all go 'way now, while I talks to dis gen'man. I 'clares to goodness, chilluns nowadays ain't got no manners 'tall. 'Tain't like when I was li'l, dey larnt you manners and you larnt to mind, too. Nowadays you tell 'em to do somethin' and you is jes' wastin' you breath, 'less you has a stick right handy. Dey is my great grandchilluns, and dey sho' is spoilt. Maybe I ain't got no patience no more, like I use to have, 'cause dey ain't so bad.

"Well, suh, you all wants me to tell you 'bout slave times, and I'll tell you first dat I had mighty good white folks, and I hope dey is gone up to Heaven. My mama 'long to Marse John Cardwell, what I hear was de riches' man and had de bigges' plantation round Concord Depot. Dat am in Campbell County, in Virginny. I don't 'member old missy's name, but she mighty good to de slaves, jes' like Marse John was.

"Mama's name was Isabella and she was de cook and born right on de plantation. Papa's name was Gibson, his first name was Jim, and he 'long to Marse Gibson what had a plantation next to Marse John, and I knows papa come to see mama on Wednesday and Sat'day nights.

"Lemme see, now, dere was six of us chilluns. My mem'ry ain't so good no more, but Charley was oldes', den come Dolly and Jennie and Susie and me and Laura. Law me, I guess old Dr. Bass, what was doctor for Marse John, use to be right busy with us 'bout once a year for quite a spell.

"Dem times dey don't marry by no license. Dey takes a slave man and woman from de same plantation and puts 'em together, or sometime a man from 'nother plantation, like my papa and mama. Mamma say Marse John give 'em a big supper in de big house and read out de Bible 'bout obeyin' and workin' and den dey am married. Course, de nigger jes' a slave and have to do what de white folks say, so dat way of marryin' 'bout good as any.

"But Marse John sho' was de good marse and we had plenty to eat and wear and no one ever got whipped. Marse John say iffen he have a nigger what oughta be whipped, he'd git rid of him quick, 'cause a bad nigger jes' like a rotten 'tater in a sack of good ones—it spoil de others.

"Back dere in Virginny it sho' git cold in winter, but come September de wood gang git busy cuttin' wood and haulin' it to de yard. Dey makes two 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, but jes' as good. Marse John have lots of sheep and when dey go through de briar patch de wool cotch on dem briars and in de fall de women folks goes out and picks de wool off de briars jes' like you picks cotton. Law me, I don't know nothin' 'bout makin' quilts out of cotton till I comes to Texas.

"Course I never done no work, 'cause Marse John won't work no one till dey is fifteen years old. Den dey works three hours a day and dat all. Dey don't work full time till dey's eighteen. We was jes' same as free niggers on our place. He gives each slave a piece of ground to make de crop on and buys de stuff hisself. We growed snap beans and corn and plant on a light moon, or turnips and onions we plant on de dark moon.

"When I gits old 'nough Marse John lets me take he daughter, Nancy Lee, to school. It am twelve miles and de yard man hitches up old Bess to de buggy and we gits in and no one in dat county no prouder dan what I was.

"Marse John lets us go visit other plantations and no pass, neither. Iffen de patterroller stop us, we jes' say we 'long to Marse John and dey don't bother us none. Iffen dey comes to our cabin from other plantations, dey has to show de patterroller de pass, and iffen dey slipped off and ain't got none, de patterroller sho' give a whippin' den. But dey waits till dey off our place, 'cause Marse John won't 'low no whippin' on our place by no one.

"Well, things was jes' 'bout de same all de time till jes' 'fore freedom. 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 work 'less we git paid for it.' She sho' was right, 'cause Marse John calls all us to de cookhouse and reads de freedom papers to us and tells us we is all free, but iffen we wants to stay he'll give us land to make a crop and he'll feed us. Now I tells you de truth, dey wasn't no one leaves, 'cause we all loves Marse John.

"Den, jus' three weeks after freedom mama dies and dat how come me to leave Marse John. You see, Marse Gibson what owns papa 'fore freedom, was a good marse and when papa was sot free Marse Gibson gives him some land to farm. 'Course, papa was gwine have us all with him, but when mamma dies, Marse Gibson tell him Mr. Will Jones and Miss Susie, he wife, want a nurse girl for de chilluns, so papa hires me out to 'em and I want to say right now, dey jes' as good white folks as Marse John and Old Missy, and sho' treated me good.

"Law me, I never won't forgit one day. Mr. Will say, 'Lucinda, we is gwine drive you over to Appomatox and take de chilluns and you can come, too.' Course, I was tickled mos' to pieces but he didn't tell what he gwine for. You know what? To see a nigger hung. I gettin' long mighty old now, but I won't never forgit dat. He had kilt a man, and I never saw so many people 'fore, what dere to see him hang. I jes' shut my eyes.

"Den Mr. Will he take me to de big tree what have all de bark strip off it and de branches strip off, and say, 'Lucinda, dis de tree where Gen. Lee surrendered.' I has put dese two hands right on dat tree, yes, suh, I sho' has.

"Miss Susie say one day, 'Lucinda, how you like to go with us to Texas?' Law me, I didn't know where Texas was at, or nothin', but I loved Mr. Will and Miss Susie and de chilluns was all wrop up in me, so I say I'll go. And dat how come I'm here, and I ain't never been back, and I ain't see my own sisters and brother and papa since.

"We come to New Orleans on de train and takes de boat on de Gulf to Galveston and den de train to Hempstead. Mr. Will farm at first and den he and Miss Susie run de hotel, and I stays with dem till I gets married to Will Elder in '75, and I lives with him till de good Lawd takes him home.

"I has five chilluns but all dead now, 'ceptin' two. I done served de Lawd now for 64 years and soon he's gwine call old Lucinda, but I'm ready and I know I'll be better off when I die and go to Heaven, 'cause I'm old and no 'count now.


JOHN ELLIS, was born June 26, 1852, a slave of the Ellis family in Johnson County near Cleburne, Texas. He remained with his white folks and was paid by the month for his labor for one year after freedom, when his master died and his mistress returned to Mississippi. He worked as a laborer for many years around Cleburne, coming to San Angelo, Texas in 1928. He now lives alone and is very active for his age.

John relates:

"My father and mother, John and Fannie Ellis, were sold in Springfield, Missouri, to my marster, Parson Ellis, and taken away from all their people and brought to Johnson County, Texas.

"My marster, he was a preacher and a good man. None of de slaves ever have better white folks den we did.

"We had good beds and good food and dey teaches us to read and write too. De buffalo and de antelope and de deer was mos' as thick as de cattle now, and we was sent out after dem, so we would always have plenty of fresh meat. We had hogs and cattle too. Any of dem what was not marked was just as much ours as iffen we had raised dem, 'cause de range was all free.

"Some of de fish we would catch out of dat Brazos River would be so big dey would pull us in but finally we would manage to gits dem out. De rabbits and de 'possum was plentiful too and wid de big garden what our marster had for us all, we sho' had good to eat.

"I's done all kinds of work what it takes to run a fa'm. My boss he had only fourteen slaves and what was called a small fa'm, compared wid de big plantations. After our days work was done we would set up at night and pick de seed out of de cotton so dey could spin it into thread. Den we goes out and gits different kinds of bark and boils it to git dye for de thread 'fore it was spinned into cloth. De chillun jes' have long shirts and slips made out of dis home spun and we makes our shoes out of rawhide, and Lawdy! Dey was so hard we would have to warm dem by de fire and grease dem wid tallow to ever wear dem 'tall.

"We had good log huts and our boss had a bigger log house. We never did work long into de night and long 'fore day like I hear tell some did. We didn' have none of dem drivers and when we done anything very bad old marster he whoop us a little but we never got hurt.

"I didn' see no slaves sold. Dat was done, I hear, but not so much in Texas. I never did see no jails nor chains nor nothin' like dat either, but I hears 'bout dem.

"We never worked Sat'days and de colored went to church wid de whites and jine de church too, but dey never baptized dem so far as I knows.

"We had lots to eat and big times on Christmas, mos' as big as when de white folks gits married. Umph, um! One of de gi'ls got married once and she had such a long train on dat weddin' gown 'til me and my sister, we have to walks along behind her and carry dat thing, all of us a-walkin' on a strip of nice cloth from de carriage to de church. We sho' have de cakes and all dem good eats at dem weddin' suppers.

"I nev'r hear tell of many colored weddin's. We jes' jumps over de broom an' de bride she has to jump over it backwards and iffen she couldn' jump it backwards she couldn't git married. Dat was sho' funny, seein' dem colored gi'ls a tryin' to jump dat broom.

"Our boss, he tells us 'bout bein' free and he say he hire us by de month and we stays dere a year and he dies, den ole miss she go back to Mississippi and we jes' scatter 'round, some a workin' here and some a workin' yonder, mos' times for our victuals and clothes. I couldn' tell much difference myself 'cause I had good people to live wid and when it was dat way de whites and de colored was better off de way I sees it den dey is now, some of dem.

"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 waste tea for de measles am all de doctoring we gits when we was slaves and dat done jes' as well.

"My wife she been dead all dese years an' I jes' lives here alone.

"Chillun? No mam, I never had no chillun 'fore I was married an' I only had twelve after I was married; yes mam, jes' nine boys and three girls, but I prefers to live here by myself, 'cause I gits along alright."


LORENZA EZELL, Beaumont, Texas, Negro, was born in 1850 on the plantation of Ned Lipscomb, in Spartanburg County, South Carolina. Lorenza is above the average in intelligence and remembers many incidents of slavery and Reconstruction days. He came to Brenham, Texas, in 1882, and several years later moved to Beaumont, where he lives in a little shack almost hidden by vines and trees.

"Us plantation was jes' east from Pacolet Station on Thicketty Creek, in Spartanburg County, in South Carolina. Dat near Little and Big Pacolet Rivers on de route to Limestone Springs, and it jes' a ordinary plantation with de main crops cotton and wheat.

"I 'long to de Lipscombs and my mama, Maria Ezell, she 'long to 'em, too. Old Ned Lipscomb was 'mongst de oldest citizens of dat county. I's born dere on July 29th, in 1850 and I be 87 year old dis year. Levi Ezell, he my daddy, and he 'long to Landrum Ezell, a Baptist preacher. Dat young massa and de old massa, John Ezell, was de first Baptist preacher I ever heered of. He have three sons, Landrum and Judson and Bryson. Bryson have gif' for business and was right smart of a orator.

"Dey's fourteen niggers on de Lipscomb place. Dey's seven of us chillen, my mamma, three uncle and three aunt and one man what wasn't no kin to us. I was oldest of de chillen, and dey called Sallie and Carrie and Alice and Jabus and Coy and LaFate and Rufus and Nelson.

"Old Ned Lipscomb was one de best massa in de whole county. You know dem old patterrollers, dey call us 'Old Ned's free niggers,' and sho' hate us. Dey cruel to us, 'cause dey think us have too good a massa. One time dey cotch my uncle and beat him most to death.

"Us go to work at daylight, but us wasn't 'bused. Other massas used to blow de horn or ring de bell, but massa, he never use de horn or de whip. All de man folks was 'lowed raise a garden patch with tobaccy or cotton for to sell in de market. Wasn't many massas what 'lowed dere niggers have patches and some didn't even feed 'em enough. Dat's why dey have to git out and hustle at night to git food for dem to eat.

"De old massa, he 'sisted us go to church. De Baptist church have a shed built behind de pulpit for cullud folks, with de dirt floor and split log seat for de women folks, but most de men folks stands or kneels on de floor. Dey used to call dat de coop. De white preacher back to us, but iffen he want to he turn 'round and talk to us awhile. Us mess up songs, 'cause us couldn't read or write. I 'member dis one:

'De rough, rocky road what Moses done travel, I's bound to carry my soul to de Lawd; It's a mighty rocky road but I mos' done travel, And I's bound to carry my soul to de Lawd.'

"Us sing 'Sweet Chariot,' but us didn't sing it like dese days. Us sing:

'Swing low, sweet chariot, Freely let me into rest, I don't want to stay here no longer; Swing low, sweet chariot, When Gabriel make he las' alarm I wants to be rollin' in Jesus arm, 'Cause I don't want to stay here no longer.'

Us sing 'nother song what de Yankees take dat tune and make a hymm out of it. Sherman army sung it, too. We have it like dis:

'Our bodies bound to morter and decay, Our bodies bound to morter and decay, Our bodies bound to morter and decay, But us souls go marchin' home.'

"Befo' de war I jes' big 'nough to drap corn and tote water. When de little white chillen go to school 'bout half mile, I wait till noon and run all de way up to de school to run base when dey play at noon. Dey sev'ral young Lipscombs, dere Smith and Bill and John and Nathan, and de oldest son, Elias.

"In dem days cullud people jes' like mules and hosses. Dey didn't have no last name. My mamma call me after my daddy's massa, Ezell. Mamma was de good woman and I 'member her more dan once rockin' de little cradle and singin' to de baby. Dis what she sing:

"Milk in de dairy nine days old, Sing-song Kitty, can't you ki-me-o? Frogs and skeeters gittin' mighty bol! Sing-song, Kitty, can't you ki-me-o?


Keemo, kimo, darro, wharro, With me hi, me ho; In come Sally singin' Sometime penny winkle, Lingtum nip cat, Sing-song, Kitty, can't you ki-me-o?

Dere a frog live in a pool, Sing-song, Kitty, can't you ki-me-o? Sure he was de bigges' fool, Sing-song Kitty, can't you ki-me-o?

For he could dance and he could sing Sing-song, Kitty, can't you ki-me-o? And make de woods aroun' him ring Sing-song, Kitty, can't you ki-me-o?'

"Old massa didn't hold with de way some mean massas treat dey niggers. Dere a place on our plantation what us call 'De old meadow.' It was common for runaway niggers to have place 'long de way to hide and res' when dey run off from mean massa. Massa used to give 'em somethin' to eat when dey hide dere. I saw dat place operated, though it wasn't knowed by dat den, but long time after I finds out dey call it part of de 'Underground railroad.' Dey was stops like dat all de way up to de north.

"We have went down to Columbia when I 'bout 11 year old and dat where de first gun fired. Us rush back home, but I could say I heered de first guns of de war shot, at Fort Sumter.

"When Gen'ral Sherman come 'cross de Savannah River in South Carolina, some of he sojers come right 'cross us plantation. All de neighbors have brung dey cotton and stack it in de thicket on de Lipscomb place. Sherman men find it and sot it on fire. Dat cotton stack was big as a little courthouse and it took two months' burnin'.

"My old massa run off and stay in de woods a whole week when Sherman men come through. He didn't need to worry, 'cause us took care of everythin'. Dey a funny song us make up 'bout him runnin' off in de woods. I know it was make up, 'cause my uncle have a hand in it. It went like dis:

'White folks, have you seed old massa Up de road, with he mustache on? He pick up he hat and he leave real sudden And I 'lieve he's up and gone.


'Old massa run away And us darkies stay at home. It mus' be now dat Kingdom's comin' And de year of Jubilee.

'He look up de river and he seed dat smoke Where de Lincoln gunboats lay. He big 'nuff and he old 'nuff and he orter know better, But he gone and run away.

'Now dat overseer want to give trouble And trot us 'round a spell, But we lock him up in de smokehouse cellar, With de key done throwed in de well.'

"Right after dat I start to be boy what run mail from camp to camp for de sojers. One time I capture by a bunch of deserters what was hidin' in de woods 'long Pacolet River. Dey didn't hurt me, though, but dey mos' scare me to death. Dey parole me and turn me loose.

"All four my young massas go to de war, all but Elias. He too old. Smith, he kilt at Manassas Junction. Nathan he git he finger shot at de first round at Fort Sumter. But when Billy was wounded at Howard Gap in North Carolina and dey brung him home with he jaw split open, I so mad I could have kilt all de Yankees. I say I be happy iffen I could kill me jes' one Yankee. I hated dem 'cause dey hurt my white people. Billy was disfigure awful when he jaw split and he teeth all shine through he cheek.

"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 us select us homes and move to it. Us folks move to Sam Littlejohn's, north of Thickettty Creek, where us stay two year. Den us move back to Billy Lipscomb, de young massa, and stay dere two more year. I's right smart good banjo picker in dem day. I kin 'member one dem songs jes' as good today as when I pick it. Dat was:

'Early in de mornin' Don't you hear de dogs a-barkin'? Bow, wow, wow!


'Hush, hush, boys Don't make a noise, Massa's fast a-sleepin'. Run to de barnyard Wake up de boys Let's have banjo pickin.'.

'Early in de mornin' Don't you hear dem roosters crowin'? Cock-a-doodle-do.

"I come in contac' with de Klu Klux. Us lef' de plantation in '65 or '66 and by '68 us was havin' sich a awful time with de Klu Klux. First time dey come to my mamma's house at midnight and claim dey sojers done come back from de dead. Dey all dress up in sheets and make up like spirit. Dey groan 'round and say dey been kilt wrongly and come back 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 for water and he jes' kept pourin' it in. Us think he sho' must be a spirit to drink dat much water. Course he not drinkin' it, he pourin' it in a bag under he sheet. My mama never did take up no truck with spirits so she knowed it jes' a man. Dey tell us what dey gwine do iffen we don't all go back to us massas and us all 'grees and den dey all dis'pear.

"Den us move to New Prospect on de Pacolet River, on de Perry Clemmons' place. Dat in de upper edge of de county and dat where de second swarm of de Klu Klux come out. Dey claim dey gwine kill everybody what am Repub'can. My daddy charge with bein' a leader 'mongst de niggers. He make speech and 'struct de niggers how to vote for Grant's first 'lection. De Klu Klux want to whip him and he have to sleep in a holler log every night.

"Dey's a old man name Uncle Bart what live 'bout half mile from us. De Klu Klux come to us house one night, but my daddy done hid. Den I hear dem say dey gwine go kill old man Bart. I jump out de window and cut short cut through dem wood and warn him. He git out de house in time and I save he life. De funny thing, I knowed all dem Klu Klux. Spite dey sheets and things, I knowed dey voices and dey saddle hosses.

"Dey one white man name Irving Ramsey. Us play fiddle together lots of time. When de white boys dance dey allus wants me to go to play for dey party. One day I say to dat boy, 'I done knowed you last night.' He say, 'What you mean?' I say, 'You one dem Klu Klux.' He want to know how I know. I say, 'Member when you go under de chestnut tree and say, "Whoa, Sont, whoa, Sont, to your hoss?" He say, 'Yes,' and I laugh and say, 'Well, I's right up in dat tree.' Dey all knowed I knowed dem den, but I never told on dem. When dey seed I ain't gwineter tell, dey never try whip my daddy or kill Uncle Bart no more.

"I ain't never been to school but I jes' picked up readin'. With some my first money I ever earn I buy me a old blue-back Webster. I carry dat book wherever I goes. When I plows down a row I stop at de end to rest and den I overlook de lesson. I 'member one de very first lessons was, 'Evil communications 'rupts good morals.' I knowed de words 'evil' and 'good' and a white man 'splain de others. I been done use dat lesson all my life.

"After us left de Pacolet River us stay in Atlanta a little while and den I go on to Louisiana. I done lef' Spartanburg completely in '76 but I didn't git into Texas till 1882. I fin'lly git to Brenham, Texas and marry Rachel Pinchbeck two year after. Us was marry in church and have seven chillen. Den us sep'rate. I been batching 'bout 20 year and I done los' track mos' dem chillen. My gal, Lula, live in Beaumont, and Will, he in Chicago.

"Every time I tells dese niggers I's from South Carolina dey all say, 'O, he bound to make a heap.' I could be a conjure doctor and make plenty money, but dat ain't good. In slavery time dey's men like dat 'garded as bein' dangerous. Dey make charms and put bad mouth on you. De old folks wears de rabbit foot or coon foot and sometime a silver dime on a fishin' string to keep off de witches. Some dem old conjure people make lots of money for charm 'gainst ruin or cripplin' or dry up de blood. But I don't take up no truck with things like dat.


BETTY FARROW, 90, now living with a son on a farm in Moser Valley, a Negro settlement ten miles northeast of Fort Worth on Texas Highway No. 15, was born a slave to Mr. Alex Clark, plantation owner in Patrick Co., Virginia.

"I's glad to tell what I knows, but yous have to 'scuse me, 'cause my 'collection am bad. I jus' don' 'member much, but I's bo'n on Masta Alex Clark's plantation in Patrick County, Virginny, on June 28th, 1847. Dat's what my mammy tol' me. You see, we cullud folks have no schoolin' dem days and I can't read or write. I has to depen' on what folks tells me.

"Masta Clark has right smart plantation in ole Virginny and he owns 'bout twenty other slaves dat wo'ked de big place. He had three girls and four boys and when I's a chile we'uns played togedder and we'uns 'tached to each other all our lives.

"In mammy's family dere was five boys and four girls. I don' 'member my pappy. When I's 'bout ten, I's set to work, peddalin' 'round de house.

"'bout three years 'fore de war marster sol' his plantation for to go to Texas. I 'members de day we'uns started in three covered wagons, all loaded. 'Twas celebration day for us chillun. We travels from daylight to dark, 'cept to feed and res' de mules at noon. I don' rec'lec' how long we was on de way, but 'twas long time and 'twarn't no celebration towards de las'. After while we comes to Sherman, in Texas, to our new farm.

"When we was dere 'bout a year, dere am heaps of trouble. Dere was a neighbor, Shields, he's drivin' wood to town and goes n'cross masta's yard and dey have arg'ments. One day we chillen playin' and masta settin' on de front porch and Shields come up de road. Masta stops him when he starts to cross de yard and de fust thing we knows, we hears 'bang' and dat Shields shoot de masta and we sees him fall. Dey sen's young Alex for de doctor and he makes dat mule run like he never run 'fore. De doctor comes in de house and looks at de masta, and listens to his heart and says, 'He am dead.' Dere was powerful sorrow in dat home.

"After dat, Masta Alex takes charge, and in 'bout one year, he says, 'We'uns goin' to Fort Worth.' So we goes, and if I rec'lec's right, dat year de war started. After dat, dere was times dere wasn' enough to make de clothes, but we'uns allus had plenty to eat, and we gives lots of feed to de army mans.

"I don' 'member bein' tol' I's free. We'uns stayed right dere on de farm 'cause it was de only home we knew and no reason to go. I stays dere till I's twenty-seven years ole, den I marries and my husban' rents land. We'uns has ten chillun and sometimes we has to skimp, but we gets on. When my husban' dies fifteen years ago, I comes here. I's allus been too busy tendin' to my 'sponsibilities for to git in de debilmen' and now I's happy, tendin' to my great gran'chile.


JOHN FINNELY, 86, was born a slave to Martin Finnely, in Jackson Co., Alabama. During the Civil War ten slaves escaped from the Finnely plantation. Their success led John to escape. He joined the Federal Army. John farmed from 1865 until 1917, then moved to Fort Worth, Tex., and worked in packing plants until 1930. He now lives at 2812 Cliff St., Fort Worth, his sole support a $17.00 monthly pension.

"Alabama am de state where I's born and dat 86 year ago, in Jackson County, on Massa Martin Finnely's plantation, and him owns 'bout 75 other slaves 'sides mammy and me. My pappy am on dat plantation but I don't know him, 'cause mammy never talks 'bout him 'cept to say, 'He am here.'

"Massa run de cotton plantation but raises stock and feed and corn and cane and rations for de humans sich as us. It am diff'rent when I's a young'un dan now. Den, it am needful for to raise everything yous need, 'cause dey couldn't 'pend on factory made goods. Dey could buy shoes and clothes and sich, but we'uns could make dem so much cheaper.

"What we'uns make? 'Low me to 'collect a li'l. Let's see, we'uns make shoes, and leather and clothes and cloth and grinds de meal. And we'uns cures de meat, preserves de fruit and make 'lassas and brown sugar. All de harness for de mules and de hosses is make and de carts for haulin'. Am dat all? Oh, yes, massa make peach brandy and him have he own still.

"De work am 'vided 'twixt de cullud folks and us allus have certain duties to do. I's am de field hand and befo' I's old 'nough for to do dat, dey has me help with de chores and errands.

"Us have de cabins of logs with one room and one door and one window hole and bunks for sleepin'. But no cookin' am done dere. It am done in de cookhouse by de cooks for all us niggers and we'uns eats in de eatin' shed. De rations am good, plain victuals and dere plenty of it and 'bout twict a week dere somethin' for treat. Massa sho' am 'ticular 'bout feedin', 'specially for de young'uns in de nursery. You see, dere am de nursery for sich what needs care while dere mammies am a-workin'.

"Massa feed plenty and him 'mand plenty work. Dat cause heap of trouble on dat plantation, 'cause whippin's am given and hard ones, too. Lots of times at de end of de day I's so tired I's couldn't speak for to stop de mule, I jus' have to lean back on de lines.

"Dis nigger never gits whupped 'cept for dis, befo' I's a field hand. Massa use me for huntin' and use me for de gun rest. When him have de long shot I bends over and puts de hands on de knees and massa puts his gun on my back for to git de good aim. What him kills I runs and fotches and carries de game for him. I turns de squirrels for him and dat disaway: de squirrel allus go to udder side from de hunter and I walks 'round de tree and de squirrel see me and go to massa's side de tree and he gits de shot.

"All dat not so bad, but when he shoots de duck in de water and I has to fotch it out, dat give me de worryment. De fust time he tells me to go in de pond I's skeert, powe'ful skeert. I takes off de shirt and pants but there I stands. I steps in de water, den back 'gain, and 'gain. Massa am gittin' mad. He say, 'Swim in dere and git dat duck.' 'Yes, sar, massa,' I says, but I won't go in dat water till massa hit me some licks. I couldn't never git use to bein' de water dog for de ducks.

"De worst whuppin' I seed was give to Clarinda. She hits massa with de hoe 'cause he try 'fere with her and she try stop him. She am put on de log and give 500 lashes. She am over dat log all day and when dey takes her off, she am limp and act deadlike. For a week she am in de bunk. Dat whuppin' cause plenty trouble and dere lots of arg'ments 'mong de white folks 'round dere.

"We has some joyments on de plantation, no parties or dancin' but we has de corn huskin' and de nigger fights. For de corn huskin' everybody come to one place and dey gives de prize for findin' de red ear. On massa's place de prize am brandy or you am 'lowed to kiss de gal you calls for. While us huskin' us sing lots. No, no, I's not gwine sing any dem songs, 'cause I's forgit and my voice sound like de bray of de mule.

"De nigger fights am more for de white folks' joyment but de slaves am 'lowed to see it. De massas of plantations match dere niggers 'cording to size and bet on dem. Massa Finnely have one nigger what weighs 'bout 150 pounds and him powerful good fighter and he like to fight. None lasts long with him. Den a new niggers comes to fight him.

"Dat fight am held at night by de pine torch light. A ring am made by de folks standin' 'round in de circle. Deys 'lowed to do anything with dey hands and head and teeth. Nothin' barred 'cept de knife and de club. Dem two niggers gits in de ring and Tom he starts quick, and dat new nigger he starts jus' as quick. Dat 'sprise Tom and when dey comes togedder it like two bulls—kersmash—it sounds like dat. Den it am hit and kick and bite and butt anywhere and any place for to best de udder. De one on de bottom bites knees or anything him can do. Dat's de way it go for half de hour.

"Fin'ly dat new nigger gits Tom in de stomach with he knee and a lick side de jaw at de same time and down go Tom and de udder nigger jumps on him with both feets, den straddle him and hits with right, left, right, left, right, side Tom's head. Dere Tom lay, makin' no 'sistance. Everybody am saysin', 'Tom have met he match, him am done.' Both am bleedin' and am awful sight. Well, dat new nigger 'laxes for to git he wind and den Tom, quick like de flash, flips him off and jump to he feet and befo' dat new nigger could git to he feet, Tom kicks him in de stomach, 'gain and 'gain. Dat nigger's body start to quaver and he massa say, 'Dat 'nough.' Dat de clostest Tom ever come to gittin' whupped what I's know of.

"I becomes a runaway nigger short time after dat fight. De war am started den for 'bout a year, or somethin' like dat, and de Fed'rals am north of us. I hears de niggers talk 'bout it, and 'bout runnin' 'way to freedom. I thinks and thinks 'bout gittin' freedom, and I's gwine run off. Den I thinks of de patter rollers and what happen if dey cotches me off de place without de pass. Den I thinks of some joyment sich as de corn huskin' and de fights and de singin' and I don't know what to do. I tells you one singin' but I can't sing it:

"'De moonlight, a shinin' star, De big owl hootin' in de tree; O, bye, my baby, ain't you gwineter sleep, A-rockin' on my knee?

"'Bye, my honey baby, A-rockin' on my knee, Baby done gone to sleep, Owl hush hootin' in de tree.

"'She gone to sleep, honey baby sleep, A-rockin' on my, a-rockin' on my knee.'

"Now, back to de freedom. One night 'bout ten niggers run away. De next day we'uns hears nothin', so I says to myself, 'De patters don't cotch dem.' Den I makes up my mind to go and I leaves with de chunk of meat and cornbread and am on my way, half skeert to death. I sho' has de eyes open and de ears forward, watchin' for de patters. I steps off de road in de night, at sight of anything, and in de day I takes to de woods. It takes me two days to make dat trip and jus' once de patters pass me by. I am in de thicket watchin' dem and I's sho' dey gwine search dat thicket, 'cause dey stops and am a-talkin' and lookin' my way. Dey stands dere for a li'l bit and den one comes my way. Lawd A-mighty! Dat sho' look like de end, but dat man stop and den look and look. Den he pick up somethin' and goes back. It am a bottle and dey all takes de drink and rides on. I's sho' in de sweat and I don't tarry dere long.

"De Yanks am camped nere Bellfound and dere's where I gits to. 'Magine my 'sprise when I finds all de ten runaway niggers am dere, too. Dat am on a Sunday and on de Monday, de Yanks puts us on de freight train and we goes to Stevenson, in Alabama. Dere, us put to work buildin' breastworks. But after de few days, I gits sent to de headquarters at Nashville, in Tennessee.

"I's water toter dere for de army and dere am no fightin' at first but 'fore long dey starts de battle. Dat battle am a 'sperience for me. De noise am awful, jus' one steady roar of de guns and de cannons. De window glass in Nashville am all shoke out from de shakement of de cannons. Dere am dead mens all over de ground and lots of wounded and some cussin' and some prayin'. Some am moanin' and dis and dat one cry for de water and, God A-mighty, I don't want any sich 'gain. Dere am men carryin' de dead off da field, but dey can't keep up with de cannons. I helps bury de dead and den I gits sent to Murphysboro and dere it am jus' de same.

"You knows when Abe Lincoln am shot? Well, I's in Nashville den and it am near de end of de war and I am standin' on Broadway Street talkin' with de sergeant when up walk a man and him shakes hands with me and says, 'I's proud to meet a brave, young fellow like you.' Dat man am Andrew Johnson and him come to be president after Abe's dead.

"I stays in Nashville when de war am over and I marries Tennessee House in 1875 and she died July 10th, 1936. Dat make 61 year dat we'uns am togedder. Her old missy am now livin' in Arlington Heights, right here in Fort Worth and her name am Mallard and she come from Tennessee, too.

"I comes here from Tennessee 51 year ago and at fust I farms and den I works for de packin' plants till dey lets me out, 'cause I's too old for to do 'nough work for dem.

"I has eight boys and three girls, dat make eleven chillen, and dey makin' scatterment all over de country so I's alone in my old age. I has dat $17.00 de month pension what I gits from de State.

"Dat am de end of de road.


SARAH FORD, whose age is problematical, but who says, "I's been here for a long time," lives in a small cottage at 3151 Clay St., Houston, Texas. Born on the Kit Patton plantation near West Columbia, Texas, Aunt Sarah was probably about fifteen years old when emancipated. She had eleven children, the first born during the storm of 1875, at East Columbia, in which Sarah's mother and father both perished.

"Law me, you wants me to talk 'bout slave times, and you is cotched me 'fore I's had my coffee dis mornin', but when you gits old as I is, talk is 'bout all you can do, so 'scuse me whilst I puts de coffee pot on de fire and tell you what I can.

"Now, what I tells you is de truth, 'cause I only told one little lie in my whole life and I got cotched in it and got whipped both ways. Oh, Lawd, I sho' never won't forget dat, mama sho' was mad. Mama sends me over to Sally Ann, the cow woman, to get some milk and onions. I never did like to borrow, so I comes back with the milk and tell mama Sally Ann say she ain't got no onions for no Africans. Dat make mamma mad and she goes tell dat Sally Ann Somethin'. She brung back de onions and say, 'You, Sarah, I'll larn you not to tell no lie.' She sho' give me a hidin'.

"Now, I tells you 'bout de plantation what I's born on. You all knows where West Columbia is at? Well, dat's right where I's born, on Massa Kit Patton's Plantation, dey calls it de Hogg place now." (Owned by children of Gov. Will Hogg.)

"Mamma and papa belongs to Massa Kit and mama born there, too. Folks called her 'Little Jane,' 'cause she's no bigger'n nothing.

"Papa's name was Mike and he's a tanner and he come from Tennessee and sold to Massa Kit by a nigger trader. He wasn't all black, he was part Indian. I heared him say what tribe, but I can't 'lect now. When I's growed mama tells me lots of things. She say de white folks don't let de slaves what works in de field marry none, dey jus' puts a man and breedin' woman together like mules. Iffen the women don't like the man it don't make no diff'rence, she better go or dey gives her a hidin'.

"Massa Kit has two brothers, Massa Charles and Massa Matt, 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 real wife or not, but all de slaves has to call her 'Miss Rachel.' But iffen a bird fly up in de sky it mus' come down sometime, and Rachel jus' like dat bird, 'cause Massa Kit go crazy and die and Massa Charles take over de plantation and he takes Rachel and puts her to work in de field. But she don't stay in de field long, 'cause Massa Charles puts her in a house by herself and she don't work no more.

"If us gits sick us call Mammy Judy. She de cook and iffen you puts a sugar barrel 'long side her and puts a face on dat barrel, you sho' can't tell it from her, she so round and fat. Iffen us git real sick dey calls de doctor, but iffen it a misery in de stomach or jus' de flux, Mammy Judy fix up some burr vine tea or horsemint tea. Dey de male burr vine and de female burr vine and does a woman or gal git de misery, dey gives 'em de female tea, and does a man, or boy chile git it, dey gives him de male vine tea.

"Scuse me while I pours me some coffee. It sho' do fortify me. You know what us drink for coffee in slave times? Parched meal, and it purty good iffen you know's how.

"Us don't have much singin' on our place, 'cepting at church on Sunday. Law me, de folks what works in de fields feels more like cryin' at night. Us chillen used to sing dis:

"'Where you goin', buzzard, Where you gwine to go? I's goin' down to new ground, For to hunt Jim Crow.'

"I guess Massa Charles, what taken us when Massa Kit die, was 'bout de same as all white folks what owned slaves, some good and some bad. We has plenty to eat—more'n I has now—and plenty clothes and shoes. But de overseer was Uncle Big Jake, what's black like de rest of us, but he so mean I 'spect de devil done make him overseer down below long time ago. Dat de bad part of Massa Charles, 'cause he lets Uncle Jake whip de slaves so much dat some like my papa what had spirit was all de time runnin' 'way. And even does your stomach be full, and does you have plenty clothes, dat bullwhip on your bare hide make you forgit de good part, and dat's de truth.

"Uncle Big Jake sho' work de slaves from early mornin' till night. When you is in de field you better not lag none. When its fallin' weather de hands is put to work fixin' dis and dat. De woman what has li'l chillen don't have to work so hard. Dey works 'round de sugar house and come 11 o'clock dey quits and cares for de babies till 1 o'clock, and den works till 3 o'clock and quits.

"Massa Charles have a arbor and dat's where we has preachin'. One day old Uncle Law preachin' and he say, 'De Lawd make everyone to come in unity and on de level, both white and black.' When Massa Charles hears 'bout it, he don't like it none, and de next mornin' old Uncle Jake git Uncle Law and put him out in de field with de rest.

"Massa Charles run dat plantation jus' like a factory. Uncle Cip was sugar man, my papa tanner and Uncle John Austin, what have a wooden leg, am shoemaker and make de shoes with de brass toes. Law me, dey heaps of things go on in slave time what won't go on no more, 'cause de bright light come and it ain't dark no more for us black folks. Iffen a nigger run away and dey cotch him, or does he come back 'cause he hongry, I seed Uncle Jake stretch him out on de ground and tie he hands and feet to posts so he can't move none. Den he git de piece of iron what he call de 'slut' and what is like a block of wood with little holes in it, and fill de holes up with tallow and put dat iron in de fire till de grease sizzlin' hot and hold it over de pore nigger's back and let dat hot grease drap on he hide. Den he take de bullwhip and whip up and down, and after all dat throw de pore nigger in de stockhouse and chain him up a couple days with nothin' to eat. My papa carry de grease scars on he back till he die.

"Massa Charles and Uncle Jake don't like papa, 'cause he ain't so black, and he had spirit, 'cause he part Indian. Do somethin' go wrong and Uncle Big Jake say he gwine to give papa de whippin', he runs off. One time he gone a whole year and he sho' look like a monkey when he gits back, with de hair standin' straight on he head and he face. Papa was mighty good to mama and me and dat de only reason he ever come back from runnin' 'way, to see us. He knowed he'd git a whippin' but he come anyway. Dey never could cotch papa when he run 'way, 'cause he part Indian. Massa Charles even gits old Nigger Kelly what lives over to Sandy Point to track papa with he dogs, but papa wade in water and dey can't track him.

"Dey knows papa is de best tanner 'round dat part de country, so dey doesn't sell him off de place. I 'lect papa sayin' dere one place special where he hide, some German folks, de name Ebbling, I think. While he hides dere, he tans hides on de sly like and dey feeds him, and lots of mornin's when us open de cabin door on a shelf jus' 'bove is food for mama and me, and sometime store clothes. No one ain't see papa, but dere it is. One time he brung us dresses, and Uncle Big Jake heered 'bout it and he sho' mad 'cause he can't cotch papa, and he say to mama he gwine to whip her 'less she tell him where papa is. Mama say, 'Fore God, Uncle Jake, I don't know, 'cause I ain't seed him since he run 'way,' and jus' den papa come 'round de corner of de house. He save mama from de whippin' but papa got de hot grease drapped on him like I told you Uncle Big Jake did, and got put in de stockhouse with shackles on him, and kep' dere three days, and while he in dere mama has de goin' down pains and my sister, Rachel, is born.

"When freedom come, I didn't know what dat was. I 'lect Uncle Charley Burns what drive de buggy for Massa Charles, come runnin' out in de yard and holler, 'Everybody free, everybody free,' and purty soon sojers comes and de captain reads a 'mation. And, Law me, dat one time Massa Charley can't open he mouth, 'cause de captain tell him to shut up, dat he'd do de talkin'. Den de captain say, 'I come to tell you de slaves is free and you don't have to call nobody master no more.' Well, us jus' mill 'round like cattle do. Massa Charley say iffen us wants to stay he'll pay us, all 'cepting my papa. He say, 'You can't stay here, 'cause you is a bad 'fluence.'

"Papa left but come back with a wagon and mules what he borrows and loads mama and my sister and me in and us go to East Columbia on de Brazos river and settles down. Dey hires me out and us have our own patch, too, and dat de fust time I ever seed any money. Papa builds a cabin and a corn crib and us sho' happy, 'cause de bright light done come and dey no more whippin's.

"One night us jus' finish eatin supper and someone holler 'Hello.' You know who it was holler? Old Uncle Big Jake. De black folks all hated him so dey wouldn't have no truck with him and he ask my papa could he stay. Papa didn't like him none, 'cause he done treat papa so bad, but de old devil jus' beg so hard papa takes him out to de corn crib and fix a place for him and he stay most a month till he taken sick and died.

"I stays with papa and mama till I marries Wes Ford and I shows you how de Lawd done give and take away. Wes and I has a cabin by ourselves near papa's and I is jus' 'bout to have my first baby. De wind start blowin' and it git harder and harder and right when its de worst de baby comes. Dat in '75 and whilst I havin' my baby, de wind tear de cabin where mama and papa is to pieces and kilt 'em. My sister Rachel was with me so she wasn't kilt.

"Well, I can't complain, 'cause de Lawd sho' been good to me. Wes and all 'cept four my chillen is dead now. I has six boys and five gals. But de ones what is alive is pore like dey mammy. But I praises de Lawd 'cause de bright light am turned on.


MILLIE FORWARD, about 95 years old, was born a slave of Jason Forward, in Jasper, Texas. She has spent her entire life in that vicinity, and now lives in Jasper with her son, Joe McRay. Millie has been totally blind for fifteen years and is very deaf.

"Us used to live 'bout four mile east of Jasper, on de Newton Highway. I reckon I's 'bout 95 year old and I thank de Lawd I's been spared dis long. Some my old friends say I's 100, and maybe I is. I feels like it.

"I's born in Alabama and mammy have jus' got up when de white folks brung us out west. Pappy's name Jim Forward and mammy name Mary. Dey lef' pappy in Alabama, 'cause he 'long to 'nother massa.

"My massa name Jason Forward and he own a lot of slaves. I work as housegirl and wait on de white women. Missus name am Sarah Ann Forward. Massa Jason he own de fust drugstore in Jasper. I have de sister, Susan, and de brudder, Tom. Massa and missus, dey treats us jes' like dey us pappy and mammy.

"Us have more to eat den dan us do now. Us never was knowed to be without meat, 'cause massa raise plenty pigs. Us have fish and possum and coon and deer and everything. Us have biscuits and cake, too, but us drink bran meal coffee. Massa and missus has no chillen and dey give us feast and have biscuits and cake. Befo' Christmas massa go to town and buy all kinds candy and toys and say, 'Millie, you go out on de gallery and holler and tell Santy not forgit fill your stockin' tonight.' I holler loud as I can and nex' mornin' my stockin' chock full.

"After freedom come, us stays right on with massa and missus. Massa teach school for us at night. Us learn A B C and how spell cat and dog and nigger. Den one day he git cross and scold us and us didn't go back to school no more. Us didn't have sense 'nough to know he tryin' do us good.

"Den missus git sick, but she dat good, dat when one cullud man git drown in de 'river she sit up in bed and make he shroud and massa feed de whole crowd de two days dey findin' de body. After him bury, missus git worse and say, 'Jason, pull down de blind, de light am so bright it hurt my eyes.' Den a big, white crane come light on de chimney and us chillen throw rocks at him, but he jes' shake he head and ruffle he feathers and still sit dere. I tells you dat de light of Heaven shinin' on missus and iffen ever a woman went dere, she did. She de bes' white woman I ever see. De day she die, I cry all day.

"When de sojers go to de war, every man take a slave to wait on him and take care he camp and cook. After de end of war, when de sojers gwine home, don't know how many Yankees pass through Jasper, but it sound like de roar of a storm comin'. Every officer have he wife ridin' right by he side. Dey wives come to go home with dem. Dey thousands bluecoats, ridin' two abreas'.

"When I young lady, dey have tourn'ments at Adrian Ryall place west of Jasper and de one what cotch de hoss bridle de most times, git crown queen. I gits to be queen every time. I looks like a queen now, doesn't I?

"After us git free a long time, me and Susan and Tom us work hard and buy us de black land farm. But de deed git' burnt up and us didn't know how to git 'nother deed, and a young nigger call McRay, he come foolin' 'round me and makin' love to me. He find out us don't have no deed no more and he claim dat farm and take it 'way from us and leave me with li'l baby boy what I names Joe Millie McRay. But never 'gain. I never marries.

"Us done work in de cotton field and wash many a long day to pay for dat farm. But dat boy growed to be a good man and I live with him and he wife now. And he boy, Bob, am better still. He jes' work so hard and he buy fine li'l home in Jasper and marry de bes' gal, mos' white. Dey have nice fur'ture and gas and lights and everything.

"Dey treat us purty good in slavery days but I'd rather be free, but it purty hard to be blind so long and most deaf, too, but I thank de Lawd I's not sufferin'. I gits de pension of 'leven dollars a month. I's so old I can't 'member much, only sometime, things comes to me I thought I forgot long time ago. I's had it purty hard to pay for de farm and den have it stoled from me when I's old and blind, but de good Lawd, he know all 'bout it and we all got to stand 'fore de jedgment some day soon.


LOUIS FOWLER, 84, was born a slave to Robert Beaver, in Macon Co., Georgia. Fowler did not take his father's name, but that of his stepfather, J. Fowler. After he was freed, Louis farmed for several years, then worked in packing plants in Fort Worth, Tex. He lives at 2706 Holland St., Fort Worth.

"Dis cullud person am 84 years old and I's born on de plantation of Massa Robert Beaver, in old Georgia. He owned my mammy and 'bout 50 slaves. Now, 'bout my pappy, I lets you judge. Look at my hair. De color am red, ain't it? My beard am red and my eyes is brown and my skin am light yellow. Now, who does you think my pappy was? You don't know, of course, but I knows, 'cause on dat plantation am a man dat am over six feet tall and his hair as red as a brick.

"My mammy am married to a man named Fowler and he am owned by Massa Jack Fowler, on de place next to ours. Our place am middlin' big and fixed first class. He has first-class quarter for us cullud folks. De cabins am two and some three rooms and dey all built of logs and chinked with a piece of wood and daubed with dirt to fill de cracks. De way we'uns fix dat dirt am take de clay or gumbo which am sticky when it am wet. Dat dirt am soaked with water till it stick together and den hay or straw am mixed with it. When sich mud am daubed in de cracks it stay and dem cabins am sho' windproof and warm.

"De treatment am good and Massa Beaver have de choice name 'mong he neighbors for bein' good to he niggers. No work on Sunday, no work on Saturday evenin's. Dem times was for de cullud folks to do for demselves. Massa Beaver have it fixed disaway, he 'low each family a piece of groun' and dey can raise what dey likes.

"De rations am measure out and de massa allus 'low plenty of meat and we has wheat flour. Mos' de niggers don't have wheat flour, but massa raises de wheat and we gits it. We kin have 'lasses and brown sugar but one thing we'uns has to watch am de waste, 'cause massa won't stand for dat.

"De meat am cured with de hick'ry wood smoke and if you could git jus' one taste dat ham and bacon you'd never eat none of this nowadays meat. It sho' have a dif'rent taste.

"We makes de cloth and de wool and I could card and spin and weave 'fore I's big 'nough to work in de field. My mammy larned me to help her. We makes dye from de bark of walnut and de cherry and red oak trees, and some from berries but what dey is I forgit. Iffen we'uns wants clay red, we buries de cloth in red clay for a week and it takes on de color. Den we soaks de cloth in cold salt water and it stays colored.

"Massa builded a log church house for we'uns cullud folks for to go to God. Dat nigger named Allen Beaver am de preacherman and de leader in all de parties, 'cause him can play de fiddle. No, Allen am not educated, but can he preach a pow'ful sermon. O, Lawd! He am inspire from de Lawd and he preached from his heartfelt.

"Dere am only one time dat a nigger gits whupped on dat plantation and dat am not given by massa but by dem patterrollers. Massa don't gin'rally 'low dem patterrollers whup on his place, and all de niggers from round dere allus run from de patterrollers onto massa's land and den dey safe. But in dis 'ticlar case, massa make de 'ception.

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