Person Interviewed: Annie Hawkins
Location: Colbert, Oklahoma
I calls myself 90, but I don’t know jest how old I really am but I was a good sized gal when we moved from Georgia to Texas. We come on a big boat and one night the stars fell. Talk about being scared! We all run and hid and hollered and prayed. We thought the end of the world had come.
I never had no whitefolks that was good to me. We all worked jest like dogs and had about half enough to eat and got whupped for everything. Our days was a constant misery to us. I know lots of niggers that was slaves had a good time but we never did. Seems hard that I can’t say anything good for any of ‘em but I sho’ can’t. When I was small my job was to tote cool water to the field to the hands. It kept me busy going back and forth and I had to be sho’ my old Mistress had a cool drink when she wanted it, too. Mother and my sister and me worked in the field all day and come in time to clear away the things and cook supper. When we was through in the kitchen we would spin fer a long time. Mother would spin and we would card.
My old Master was Dave Giles, the meanest man that ever lived. He didn’t have many slaves, My mammy, and me, and my sister, Uncle Bill, and Truman. He had owned my grandma but he give her a bad whupping and she never did git over it and died. We all done as much work as a dozen niggers, we knowed we had to.
I seen old Master git mad at Truman and he buckled him down across a barrel and whupped him till he cut the blood out of him and them he rubbed salt and pepper in the raw places. It looked like Truman would die it hurt so bad. I know that don’t sound reasonable that a white man in a Christian community would do such a thing but you can’t realize how heartless he was. People didn’t know about it and we dassent tell for we knowed he’d kill us if we did. You must remember he owned us body and soul and they wasn’t anything we could do about it. Old Mistress and her three girls was mean to us too.
One time me and my sister was spinning and old Mistress went to the well-house and she found a chicken snake and killed it. She brought it back and she throwed it around my sister’s neck. She jest laughed and laughed about it. She thought it was a big joke.
Old Master stayed drunk all the time. I reckon that is the reason he was so fetched mean. My, how we hated him! He finally killed hisself drinking and I remember Old Mistress called us in to look at him in his coffin. We all marched by him slow like and I jest happened to look up and caught my sister’s eye and we both jest natchelly laughed, Why shouldn’t we? We was glad he was dead. It’s a good thing we had our laugh fer old Mistress took us out and whupped us with a broomstick. She didn’t make us sorry though.
Old Master and Mistress lived in a nice big house on top of a hill and us darkies lived in log cabins with log floors. Our dresses was made out of coarse cloth like cotton sacking and it sho’ lasted a long time. It ort to been called mule-hide for it was about that tough.
We went to church sometimes. They had to let us do that or folks would have found out how mean they was to us. Old Master’d give us a pass to show the patroller. We was glad to git the chance to git away and we always went to church.
During the war we seen lots of soldiers. Some of them was Yankees and some were Sesesh soldiers. My job every day was to take a big tray of food and set it on a stump about a quarter of a mile from our house. I done this twice a day and ever time I went back the dishes would be empty. I never did see nobody and didn’t nobody tell me why I was to take the food up there but of course it was either for soldiers that was scouting ’round or it may been for some lowdown dirty bushwhacker, and again it might a been for some of old Master’s folks scouting ’round to keep out of the army.
We was the happiest folks in the world when we knowed we was free. We couldn’t realize it at first but how we did shout and cry for joy when we did realize it. We was afraid to leave the place at first for fear old Mistress would bring us back or the pateroller would git us. Old Mistress died soon after the war and we didn’t care either. She didn’t never do nothing to make us love her. We was jest as glad as when old Master died. I don’t know what become of the three gals. They was about grown.
We moved away jest as far away as we could and I married soon after. My husband died and I married again. I been married four times and all my husbands died. The last time I married it was to a man that belonged to a Indian man, Sam Love. He was a good owner and was one of the best men that ever lived. My husband never did move far away from him and he loved him like a father. He always looked after him till he died. My husband has been dead five years.
I have had fifteen children. Four pairs of twins, and only four of then are living. The good Lawd wouldn’t let me keep them. I’se lived through three wars so you see I’se no baby.