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قراءة كتاب Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves, Arkansas Narratives, Part 4

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‏اللغة: English
Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves, Arkansas Narratives, Part 4

Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves, Arkansas Narratives, Part 4

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 8

buying over the country. They come in thick wood doors with iron nails bradded through, fastened on big hinges, fastened it with chains and iron bars. The house was a big red brick house. We didn't get none too much to eat at that place. I reckon one side was three hundred yard long of the wall and the house was that long. Some of them in there cut their hands off with a knife or ax. Well, they couldn't sell them. Nobody would buy them. I don't know what they ever done with them. Plenty of them would cut their hand off if they could get something to cut with to keep from being sold.

"We stayed in that place till Wyley Lions [Lyons?] come and got us in wagons. He kept us for Master Cupps. Mother was a house girl in Virginia. She was one more good cook. I started hoeing and picking cotton in Virginia for master. When I was fourteen years old I done the same in Mississippi with Wiley Lyons in Mississippi close to Canton. In Canton, Mississippi Wiley Lyons had the biggest finest brick house in that country. He had two farms. In Bolivar County was the biggest. I could hear big shooting from Canton fifteen miles away. He wasn't mean and he didn't allow the overseers to be mean.

"Hilliard Christmas [a neighbor] was mean to his folks. My father hired his own time. He raised several ten acre gardens and watermelons. He paid Mr. Cupp in Virginia. He come to see our folks how they was getting along.

"A Negro on a joining farm run off. They hunted him with the dogs and they found him at a log. Heap his legs froze, so the white doctor had to cut them off. He was on Solomon's farms. After that he got to be a cooper. He made barrels and baskets—things he could do sittin' in his chair. They picked him up and made stumps for him. Some folks was mean.

"My mother was Rachel and my father was Andrew Jackson. I had three brothers fought in the War. I was too young. They talked of taking me in a drummer boy the year it ceased. My nephew give me this uniform. It is warm and it is good. My breeches needs some repairs reason I ain't got them on. [He has worn a blue uniform for years and years—ed.]

"There was nine of us children. I got one girl very low now. She's in Memphis. I been in Arkansas 45 years. I come here jes' drifting looking out a good location. I never had no dealings with the Ku Klux. I been farming all my life. Yes, I did like it. I never owned a home nor no land. I never voted in my life. I had nine children of my own but only my girl living now.

"Nine or ten years ago I could work every minute. Times was good! good! Could get plenty work—wood to cut and ditching. It is not that way now. I can't do a day's work now. I'm failing fast. I feel it.

"Young folks can make a living if they work and try. Some works too hard and some don't hardly work. Work is scarcer than it ever was to my knowledge. Times changed and changed the young folks. Mother died two or three years after the War. My father died first year we come to Mississippi.

[We went by and took the old Negro to West Memphis. From there he could take a jitney to Memphis to see his daughter—ed.]

"I ain't never been 'rested. I ain't been to jail. Nearly well be as so confined with the mud. [We assured him it was nicer to ride in the car than be in jail—ed.]

"I couldn't tell how many I ever seen sold. I seen some sold in Virginia, I reckon, or Maryland—one off the boats. They kept them tied. They was so scared they might do anything, jump in the big waters. They couldn't talk but to some and he would tell white folks what he said. [They used an interpreter.] Some couldn't understand one another if they come from far apart in the foreign country. Slavery wasn't never bad on me. I never was sold off from my folks and I had warmer, better clothes 'an I have now. I had plenty to eat, more'an I has now generally. I had better in slavery than I have now. That is the truth. I'm telling the truth, I did. Some didn't. One neighbor got mad and give each hand one ear of corn nine or ten o'clock. They take it to the cook house and get it made up in hominy. Some would be so hungry they would parch the corn rather 'an wait. He'd give 'em meal to make a big kettle of mush. When he was good he done better. Give 'em more for supper.

"Freedom—soldiers come by two miles long look like. We followed them. There was a crowd following. Wiley Lyons had no children; he adopted a boy and a girl. Me and the boy was growing up together. Me and the white boy (fifteen or sixteen years old, I reckon we was) followed them. They said that was Grant's army. I don't know. 'That made us free' they told us. The white boy was free, he just went to see what was happening. We sure did see! We went by Canton to Vicksburg when fighting quit. Folks rejoiced, and then went back wild. Smart ones soon got work. Some got furnished a little provisions to help keep them from starving. Mr. Wiley Lyons come got us after five months. We hung around my brother that had been in the War. I don't know if he was a soldier or a waiter. We worked around Master Lyons' house at Canton till he died. I started farming again with him.

"I get $8 a month pension and high as things is that is a powerful blessing but it ain't enough to feed me good. It cost more to go after the commodities up at Marion than they come to [amount to in value]."

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Virginia Jackson,
Helena, Arkansas
Age: 74
[Date Stamp: MAY 31 1938]

"Mother said I was born the same year peace was declared. I was born before the Civil War close, I reckon. I was born in Tunica, Mississippi. Mother belong to Mistress Cornelia and Master John Hood. He come from Alabama in wagons and brought mother and whole lot of 'em, she said, to Tunica, Mississippi. My mother and father never sold. They told me that. She said she was with the master and he give her to father. He ask her did she want him and ask him if he want her. They lived on joint places. They slept together on Wednesday and Saturday nights. He stayed at Hood's place on Sunday. They was owned by different masters. They didn't never say 'bout stepping over no broom. He was a Prince. When he died she married a man named Russell. I never heard her say what his name was. My father was Mathew Prince. They was both field hands. I never knowed my father. I called my stepfather popper. I always did say mother.

"Mother said her master didn't tell them it was freedom. Other folks got told in August. They passed it 'round secretly. Some Yankees come asked if they was getting paid for picking cotton in September. They told their master. They told the Yankees 'yes' 'cause they was afraid they would be run off and no place to go. They said Master Hood paid them well for their work at cotton selling time. He never promised them nothing. She said he never told one of them to leave or to stay. He let 'em be. I reckon they got fed. I wore cotton sack dresses. It wasn't bagging. It was heavy stiff cloth.

"Mother and her second husband come to Forrest City. They hoped they could do better. I come too. I worked in the field all my whole life 'cepting six years I worked in a laundry. I washed and ironed. I am a fine ironer. If I was younger I could get all the mens' shirts I could do now. I do a few but I got neuralgia in my arms and shoulders.

"I don't believe in talking 'bout my race. They always been lazy folks and smart folks, and they still is. The present times is good for me. I'm so thankful. I get ten dollars and some help, not much. I don't go after it. I let some that don't get much as I get have it. I told 'em to do that way."