Slave Narrative of Emmett Beal

Discover your
family's story.

Enter a grandparent's name to get started.

choose a state:
Start Now

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person Interviewed: Emmett Beal
Age: 78
Location: Biscoe, Arkansas

“I was born in Holloman County, Bolivar, Tennessee. Master Dr. Jim May owned my set er folks. He had two girls and two boys. I reckon he had a wife but I don’t recollect seeing her. Ma suckled me; William May with me. Ely and Seley and Susie was his children.

“I churned for mama in slavery. She tied a cloth around the top so no flies get in. I better hadn’t let no fly get in the churn. She take me out to a peach tree and learn me how to keep the flies outen the churn next time.

“Mama was Dr. May’s cook. We et out the dishes but I don’t know how all of ‘em done their eating. They eat at their houses. Dr. May had a good size bunch of hands, not a big crowd. We had straw beds. Made new ones every summer. In that country they didn’t ‘low you to beat yo’ hands up. I heard my folks say that more’n one time.

“Dr. May come tole ‘em it was freedom. They could get land and stay—all ‘at wanted to. All his old ones kept on wid him. They sharecropped and some of them got a third. I recollect him and worked for him.

“The Ku Klux didn’t bother none of us. Dr. May wouldn’t ‘low them on his place.

“Mama come out here in 1880. I figured there better land out here and I followed her in 1881. We paid our own ways. Seem like the owners ought to give the slaves something but seem like they was mad ’cause they set us free. Ma was named Viney May and pa, Nick May.

“Pa and four or five brothers was sold in Memphis. He never seen his brothers no more. They come to Arkansas.

“Pa and Dr. May went to war. The Yankees drafted pa and he come back to Dr. May after he fit. He got his lip split open in the War. Dr. May come home and worked his slaves. He didn’t stay long in war.

“I reckon they had plenty to eat at home. They didn’t run to the stores every day ’bout starved to death like I has to do now. Ma said they didn’t ‘low the overseers to whoop too much er Dr. May would turn them off.

“Er horse stomped on my foot eight years ago. I didn’t pay it much ‘tention. It didn’t hurt. Blood-p’ison come in it and they took me to the horsepital and my leg had to come off, (at the knee).

“We have to go back to Africa to vote all the ‘lections. Voting brings up more hard feelings.”

MLA Source Citation:

Federal Writers' Project. WPA Slave Narratives. Web. 2007. Web. 27 January 2015. - Last updated on May 6th, 2012

Categories: , ,
Locations: , , ,
Surnames: ,

Contribute to the Conversation!

Our "rules" are simple. Keep the conversation on subject and mind your manners! If this is your first time posting, we do moderate comments before we let them appear... so give us a while to get to them. Once we get to know you here, we'll remove that requirement.

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Newsletter Signup

We currently provide two newsletters. Why not take both for a run?

Genealogy Update: We send out this newsletter whenever we feature a new, or significantly updated, collection or database on our website.

Circle of Nations: We send out this newsletter whenever we feature a new (or significantly updated) Native American collection or database on our website.

Once you've clicked on the Subscribe button above you'll receive an email from us requesting confirmation. You must confirm the email before you will be able to receive any newsletter.

Connect With Us!

Pin It on Pinterest


Share This

Share this post with your friends!