The following data is extracted from Arkansas Slave Narratives.
"I was born in Helena, Arkansas. Grandma raised me mostly. She was born up in Virginia. Her name was Mariah Bell.
"Grandmother was sold more than once. When she was small she and her mother were sold together to different buyers. The morning she was sold she could see her mother crying through the crowd, and the last she ever seen her mother she was crying and waving to her. She never could forget that. We all used to sit around her and we would all be crying with her when she told that so many, many times. Grandmother said she was five years old then and was sold to a doctor in Virginia. He made a house girl of her and learned her to be a midwife.
"She told us about a time when the stars fell or a time about like it. Her master got scared in Virginia. His niece killed herself 'cause she thought the world was coming to on end. Mama of the baby was walking, crying and praying. Grandmama had the baby. She said it was a terrible morning.
"When grandmama was sold away from her own mother she took the new master's cook for her mother. I live to see her. Her name was Charity Walker. She was awful old. Grandmama didn't remember if her mother had other children or not. She was the youngest.
"Grandmama was sold again. Her second master wasn't good as her doctor master. He didn't feed them good, didn't feed the children good neither. He told his slaves to steal. Grandmama had two children there. She was pregnant again. Grandpa stole a shoat. She craved meat. Meat was scarce then and the War was on. Grandpa had it cut up and put away. Grandmama had the oldest baby in the box under her bed and the youngest child asleep in her bed. She was frying the meat. She seen the overseer across the field stepping that way. Grandpa left and grandmama put the skillet of meat in the bed with the baby and threw a big roll of cotton in the fire. The overseer come in and looked around, asked what he smelled burning. She told him it was a sack of motes (cotton lumps). Grandpa was Jim Bell. His master learnet him to steal and lie. He got better after freedom.
"Grandmama never would let us have pockets in our aprons and dresses. Said it was a temptation for us to learn to steal. She thought that was awful and to lie too.
"Grandmama and grandpa and mama and her sister, the baby, died. Come with soldiers from Virginia to Helena, Arkansas on a big boat. They nursed soldiers in the hospital in the last of the War. Grandpapa died in 1895. He had heart trouble. He was seventy-five years old then. Grandmama died in 1913. She was awful, awful old. Grandmama said they put her off on College and Perry streets but that wasn't the names of the streets then. She wore a baggin dress and brogan shoes. Brass-toed shoes and brass eyelets. She would take grease and soot and make shoe polish for them. We all wore that dress and the shoes at times. I wore them to Peabody School in Helena and the children made so mich fun of their cry (squeaking) till I begged them to get me some better looking shoes for cold rainy spells of weather. I wore the dress. It was strong nearly as leather.
"When she was sold the last time she got a marble box and it had a small lock and key. It was square and thick, size of four men's shoe boxes. When she come to Arkansas she brought it filled with rice on the boat. She kept her valuable papers in it. Our house burned and the shoes and box both got away from me. Her oldest girl died after the surrender and was never married. Never had children.
"On College and Perry streets the hospital was cleared away and grandpa bought the spot. It has had two houses rot down of his own on it. It has been graded down and a big brick house stands there now.
"She used to tell how when meat was so scarce she'd be cooking. She'd wipe her girls' faces with the dishrag. One of them would lick her lips. Make other children hungry for meat to see them so greasy. They hadn't had any meat.
"Grandmama told me her doctor master bought them shoes for her, and I think they gave her the marble box. The children teased me so much grandmama bought me some limber sole shoes.
"Auntie was good they said and mama was mean so they said. Auntie died after surrender. We'd tell grandmama she ought to put the skillet on mama. She said the good Lord took care of her baby that time. Mama would get so mad. She would whoop us for saying she ought to put the hot skillet on her.
"Grandmama was a midwife with black and white for forty-five years in Helena. She worked for Joe Horner, Mr. Leifer, Mrs. E.M. Allen. Mama had seven children, and grandmama raised Will Marshal (colored). He works at D.T. Hargraves & Sons store now in Helena. He started a delivery boy but now he is their main repair man.
"Grandmama was a strong woman. Mama worked out at some places I told you. Grandmama worked. Grandmama always had a pretty flower yard. She did love pretty flowers.
"Mama minded grandmama like one of us. She was a good woman. None of us, not even the boys, ever had pockets in our clothes. Grandmama made them for us. She taught us not to lie and steal. She thought it was the worse thing you could do. She was loved and respected by white and black till she died down at Helena in 1913. They are all buried down there."
Source: Arkansas Slave Narratives