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Biographical Sketch of Ethel Ray Green Grimes

Ethel Ray Green, born near Vinita, November 25, 1892 was a daughter of Joseph and Margarette A. (Scrimsher) Green. She was educated at the Female Seminary at Tahlequah; Married at McAlester, Oklahoma Decemberr 23, 1917, Grady L. Grimes. They now members of the Methodist Church. Grimes is a Mason, and is an automobile...

Slave Narrative of Martha King

Person Interviewed: Martha King Location: McAlester, Oklahoma Age: 85 They hung Jeff Davis to a sour apple tree! They hung Jeff Davis to a sour apple tree! They hung Jeff Davis to a sour apple tree! While we go marching on!” Dat was de song de Yankees sang when they marched by our house. They didn’t harm us in any way. I guess de war was over then ’cause a few days after dat old Master say, “Matt”. and I say. “Suh?” He say, “Come here. You go tall Henry I say come out here and to bring the rest of the niggers with him.” I went to the north door and I say, “Henry, Master Willis say ever one of you come out here.” We all went out side and line up in front of old Master. He say, “Henry”. Henry say, “Yes sah”. Old Master say, “Every one of you is free, as free as I am. You all can leave or stay ’round here if you want to.” We all stayed on for a long time ’cause we didn’t have no other home and didn’t know how to take keer of ourselves. We was kind of scared I reckon. Finally I heard my mother was in Walker County, Alabama, and I left and went to live with her. My mother was Harriet Davis and she was born in Virginia. I don’t know who my father was. My grandmother was captured in Africa when she was a little girl. A big boat was down at the edge of a bay an’ the people was all excited about...

Slave Narrative of Eliza Evans

Person Interviewed: Eliza Evans Location: McAlester, Oklahoma Age: 87 I sho’ remember de days when I was a slave and belonged to de best old Master what ever was, Mr. John Mixon. We lived in Selma, Dallas County, Alabama. My grandma was a refugee from Africa. You know dey was white men who went slipping ’round and would capture or entice black folks onto their boats and fetch then over here and sell ’em for slaves. Well, grandma was a little girl ’bout eight or nine years old and her parents had sent her out to get wood. Dey was going to have a feast. Dey was going to roast a baby. Wasn’t that awful! Well, they captured her and put a stick in her mouth. The stick held her mouth wide open so she wouldn’t cry out. When she got to de boat she was so tired out she didn’t do nothing. They was a lot of more Colored folks on de boat. It took about four months to get across on de boat and Mr. John Mixon met the boat and bought her. I think he gave five hundred dollars for her. She was named Gigi, but Master John called her Gracie. She was so good and they thought so much of her dat they gave her a grand wedding when she was married. Master John told her he’d never sell none of her chillun. He kept dat promise and he never did sell any of her grandchillun either. He thought it was wrong to separate famblys. She was one hundred and three years old when she...

Slave Narrative of Matilda Poe

Person Interviewed: Matilda Poe Location: McAlester, Oklahoma Age: 80 I was born in Indian Territory on de plantation of Isaac Love. He was old Master, and Henry Love was young Master. Isaac Love was a full blood Chickasaw Indian but his wife was a white woman. Old Master was sure good to his slaves. The young niggers never done no heavy work till day was fully grown. Dey would carry water to de men in de field and do other light jobs ’round de place. De Big House set way back from de road ’bout a quarter of a mile. It was a two-story log house, and the rooms was awful big and they was purty furniture in it. The furniture in de parlor was red plush and I loved to slip in and rub my hand over it, it was so soft like. The house was made of square logs and de cracks was filled out even with the edges of de logs. It was white washed and my but it was purty. They was a long gallery clean across de front of de house and big posts to support de roof. Back a ways from de house was de kitchen and nearby was de smokehouse. Old Master kept it well filled with meat, lard and molasses all de time. He seen to it that we always had plenty to eat. The old women done all de cooking in big iron pots that hung over the fire. De slaves was all served together. The slave quarters was about two hundred yards back of de Big House. Our furniture...

Slave Narrative of Morris Hillyer

Person Interviewed: Morris Hillyer Location: Alderson, Oklahoma Age: 84 My father was Gabe Hillyer and my mother was Clarisay Hillyer, and our home was in Rose, Georgia. Our owner was Judge Hillyer. He was de last United States senator to Washington, D. C., before de war. My mother died when I was only a few days old and the only mother I ever knew was Judge Hillyer’s wife, Miss Jane. Her nine children were all older than I was and when mother died Miss Jane said mother had raised her children and she would raise here. So she took us into her house and we never lived at de quarters any more. I had two sisters, Sally and Sylvia, and we had a room in de Big House and sister Sally didn’t do nothing else but look after me. I used to stand with my thumb in my mouth and hold to Miss Jane’s apron while she knitted. When Judge Hillyer was elected be sold out his farm and gave his slave a to his children. He owned about twelve or fourteen slaves at this time. He gave me and my sister Sylvia to his son, Dr. Hillyer, and my father to another one of his sons who was studying law. Father stayed with him and took care of him until he graduated. Father learned to be a good carpenter while he lived with George Hillyer. George never married until after de war. Dr. Hillyer lived on a big plantation but he practiced medicine all de time. He didn’t have much time to look after de farm but he...

Slave Narrative of Della Fountain

Person Interviewed: Della Fountain Location: McAlester, Oklahoma Age: 69 I was born after de war of de Rebellion but I ‘member lots o’ things dat my parents told me ’bout slavery. My grandmother was captured in Africa. Traders come dere in a big boat and day had all sorts of purty gew-gaws — red handkerchiefs, dress goods, beads, bells, and trinkets in bright colors. Dey would pull up at de shore and entice de colored folks onto de boat to see de purty things. Befo’ de darkies realized it dey would be out from shore. Dat de way she was captured. Fifteen to twenty-five would pay dem for de trip as dey all brought good prices. I was born and raised in Louisiana, near Winfield. My mother’s Master was John Rogers and his wife was Miss Millie. Dey was awful good to deir slaves and he never shipped his grown niggers. I ‘member when I was a child dat we didn’t have hardly anything to keep house wid, but we got along purty well I guess. Our furniture was home-made and we cooked on de fireplace. We saved all our oak-wood ashes, and would out a barrel on a slanting scaffold and put sticks and shucks in de bottom of de barrel and den fill it wid de ashes. We’d pour water in it and let it drip. Dese drippings made pure lye. We used dis wid cracklings and meat scraps to make our soap. Father took a good-sized pine long and split it open, plumed it down smooth and bored holes in de bottom and drove pegs in...

Slave Narrative of Lizzie Farmer

Person Interviewed: Lizzie Farmer Location: McAlester, Oklahoma Age: 80 “Cousin Lizzie!” “What.” “I’se seventy years old.” And I say, “Whut’s you telling me for.” I ain’t got nothing to do with your age!” I knowed I was one year older than she was and it sorta riled me for her to talk about it. I never would tell folks my age for I knowed white folks didn’t want no old woman working for ’em and I just wouldn’t tell ’em how old I really was. Dat was nine years ago and I guess I’m seventy five now. I can’t work much now. I was born four years before de war. “The one what set the cullud folks free.” We lived on a big plantation in Texas. Old Master’s name was John Booker and he was good to us all. My mammy died just at de close of de war and de young mistress took me and kept me and I growed up with her chillun I thought I was quality sure nuff and I never would go to school ’cause I couldn’t go ‘long to de same school with de white chillun. Young mistress taught me how to knit, spin, weave, crochet, sew and embroider. I couldn’t recollect my age and young Mistress told me to say, “I’se born de second year of de war dat set de cullud folks free,” and the only time she ever git mad at me was when I forget to say it jest as she told me to. She take hold of me and shook me. I recollects all it, all de time....

Slave Narrative of William Curtis

Person Interviewed: William Curtis Location: McAlester, Oklahoma Age: 93 “Run Nigger, run, De Patteroll git ye! Run Nigger, run, He’s almost here!” Please Mr. Pateroll, Don’t ketch me! Jest take dat nigger What’s behind dat tree.” Lawsy, I done heard dat song all my life and it warn’t no joke wither. Do Patrol would git ye too if he caught ye off the plantation thout a pass from your Master, and he’d whey ye too. None of we doesn’t save without a pass. We chillen sung lots of songs and me played marbles, mumble pog, my town call. In de winter we would set around de fire and listen to our mammy and Pappy tell host tales and witch tales. I don’t guess dey was sho’ off so, but we all thought fey was. My Mammy was bought in Virginia by our Master, Hugh McKeown. He owned a big plantation in Georgia. Soon after she come to George A she married my pa. Old Master was good to us. We lived for a while in the quarters behind the Big House, and my marry was de house woman. Somehow, in a trade, or maybe my pa was mortgaged, but anyway ld Master let a man in Virginia have him and we never see him no more ’till after the war. It nigh broke our hearts when he had to leave and old Master who’ done ever’thing he could to make it up to us. There was four of us chillun. I didn’t do no work ’till I was about fifteen years old. Old Master bought a tavern and mammy...

Slave Narrative of Mary Frances Webb

Location: McAlester, Oklahoma Age: 92 (deceased) Occupation: Field Hand Mary Frances Webb, grand daughter of Sarah Vest, aged 92, (deceased) McAlester, Okla. I’ve heard my grandmother tell a lot of her experiences during slavery. She remembered things well as she was a grown woman at the time of the war of the Rebellion. Her home was at Sedalia, Mo., and her owner was Baxter West, a prominent farmer and politician. He was very kind and good to his slaves. He provided them with plenty of food and good clothes. He would go to town and buy six or eight bolts of cloth at a time and the women could pick out two dresses apiece off it. These would be their dresses for dressing up. They wove the cloth for their everyday clothes. The men wore jeans suits in winter. He bought shoes for all his slaves, young and old. He had about twenty slaves counting the children. My grandmother was a field hand. She plowed and hoed the crops in the summer and spring, and in the winter she saved and cut cord wood just like a man. She said it didn’t hurt her as she was as strong as an ox. She could spin and weave and sew. She helped make all the cloth for their clothes and in the spring one of the jobs for the women was to weave hats for the men. They used oat-strew, grass, and cane which had been split and dried and soaked in hot water until it was pliant, and they wove it into hats. The women wore a cloth tied...

Slave Narrative of Tom W. Woods

Person Interviewed: Tom W. Woods Location: Alderson, Oklahoma Place of Birth: Florence, Alabama Age: 83 Lady, if de nigger hadn’t been set free dis country wouldn’t ever been what it is now! Poor white folks wouldn’t never had a chance. De slave holders had most of de money and de land and dey wouldn’t let de poor white folks have a chance to own any land or anything else to speak of. Dese white folks wasn’t much better off dan we was. Dey had to work hard and dey had to worry ’bout food, clothes and shelter and we didn’t. Lots of slave owners wouldn’t allow den on deir farms among deir slaves without orders from de overseer. I don’t know why, unless he was afraid dey would stir up discontent among de niggers. Dere was lots of “underground railroading” and I rekon dat was what Old Master and others was afraid of. Us darkies was taught dat poor white folks didn’t amount to much, Course we knowed dey was white and we was black and dey was to be respected for dat, but dat was about all. White folks as well as niggers profited by Emancipation. Lincoln was a friend to all poor white folks as well as black ones and if he could a’ lived things would a’been different for ever’body. Dis has been a good old world to live in. I always been able to make a purty good living and de only trouble I ever had has been sickness and death. I’ve had a sight of dat kind of trouble. I’ve outlived two wives and...
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