The following data is extracted from Arkansas Slave Narratives.
Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor Person interviewed: Richard Crump 1801 Gaines Street, Little Rock, Arkansas Age: 82
[HW: Father Takes a "Deadening"]
"I was born right here in Aberdeen, Mississippi about five miles from the town on the east side of the Tom Bigbee River in Monroe County, Mississippi.
"My father's name was Richard Crump. My mother was named Emily Crump. My grandmother on my father's side was named Susan Crump. My mother came from Middleton, Tennessee. But I don't know nothing about any of her people. My father said he come from South Carolina when he was a boy eight or ten years old. That was way before I was born. They brought him to Mississippi from South Carolina.
"My father's master was old man Johnnie Crump. My mistress was named Nina Crump. That was Johnnie Crump's wife. My mars had four boys to my remembrance. One was named Wess, one was named Rufe, one was named Joe, and one was named Johnnie. He had a girl named Annie and one named Lulu.
"My mother was the mother of thirteen children. I am the onliest one living, that I know of. The way they gwine with us now, I ain't goin' a be here long. Just got four dollars to pay rent and bills and git somethin' to eat for a month. You don't git nothin' much when you git the commodities-no grease to cook with.
"We never had no trouble much when I was coming along. My mars was a pretty good old man. He didn't allow no overseer to whip his slaves. The overseer couldn't whip my old mother anyhow because she was a kind of bully and she would git back in a corner with a hoe and dare him in. And he wouldn't go in neither.
"My grandmother had three or four sons. One was name Nels Crump, another was named Miles and another was named Henry and another Jim. She had two or three more but I can't think of them. They died before I was old enough to know anything. Then she had two or three daughters. One was named Lottie. She had another one but I can't think of her name. I was so little. All of them are dead now. All of my people are dead but me. They are trying to find a sister of mine, but I ain't found her yet. She oughter be down here by Forrest City somewheres. But there ain't nobody here that I know about but me. And the way they're carryin' them now I ain't goin' to be here long. All of them people you hear me talk about, they're supposed to be dead.
"I was born in 1858. At least the old man told me that. I mean my father of course. The first thing I knowed anything about was picking cotton. I was a little bitty old fellow with a little sack hangin' at my side. I was pickin' beside my mother. They would grab us sometimes when we didn't pick right. Shake us and pull our ears.
"I didn't know anything about sellin' and buying. I never was sold.
"The next thing I remember was being told I was free. My daddy said old mars told them they were free. I didn't hear him tell it myself. They come 'round on a Monday morning and told papa and the rest that they were free as he was and that they could go if they wanted to or they could stay, 'cause they were free as he was and didn't have no master no more, didn't have no one to domineer over them no more.
"Right after freedom, my folks worked on old man Jim Burdyne's farm. That is the first place I remember after freedom. Father taken a little deadening. You don't know what a deadening is? That's a lease. He cleaned up some land. We boys were just gettin' so we could pick up brush and tops of trees-and burn it, and one thing and another. Two years after the War was over, I got big enough to plow. I was plowing when I was nine years old. We had three boys and four girls older than me. The balance of them was born after freedom. We made crops on shares for three years after freedom, and then we commenced to rent. Shares were one-third of the cotton and one-fourth of the corn. They didn't pay everything they promised. They taken a lot of it away from us. They said figures didn't lie. You know how that was. You dassent dispute a man's word then. Sometimes a man would get mad and beat up his overseer and run him away. But my daddy wouldn't do it. He said, 'Well, if I owe anything I'll pay it. I got a large family to take care of.'
"I never got a chance to go to school any. There was too much work to do. I married when I was twenty-one. I would go off and stay a month or two and come back. Never left home permanent for a long while. Stayed 'round home till I was forty years old. I come to Arkansas in 1898. I made a living by farming at first.
"I didn't shoot no craps. I belong to the church. I have belonged to the church about forty years or more. I did play cords and shoot craps and things like that for years before I got religion.
"I come to Little Rock in 1918 and been here ever since. I worked 'round here in town first one thing and then another. Worked at the railroad and on like that.
"We used to vote right smart in Mississippi. Had a little trouble sometimes but it would soon die down. I haven't voted since I been here. Do no good nohow. Can't vote in none of these primary elections. Vote for the President. And that won't do no good. They can throw your ballot out if they want to.
"I believe in the right thing. I wouldn't believe in anything else. I try to be loyal to the state and the city. But colored folks don't have much show. Work for a man four or five years and go back to him and he don't know nothin' about you. They soon forget you and a white man's word goes far.
"I was able to work as late as 1930, but I ain't been no 'count since to do much work. I get a pension for old age from the Welfare and commodities and I depend on that for a living. Whatever they want to give me, I'll take it and make out with it. If there's any chance for me to git a slave's pension, I wish they would send it to me. For I need it awful bad. They done cut me way down now. I got heart trouble and high blood pressure but I don't give up.
"My mother sure used to make good ash cake. When she made it for my daddy, she would put a piece of paper on it on top and another on the bottom. That would keep it clean. She made it extra good. When he would git through, she would give us the rest. Sometimes, she wouldn't put the paper on it because she would be mad. He would ask, 'No paper today?' She would say, 'No.' And he wouldn't say nothin' more.
"There is some of the meanest white people in the United States in Mississippi up there on the Yellow Dog River. That's where the Devil makes meanness.
"There's some pretty mean colored folks too. There is some of them right here in Little Rock. Them boys from Dunbar give me a lot of trouble. They ride by on their bicycles and holler at us. If we say anything to them, they say, 'Shut up, old gray head.' Sometimes they say worse. I used to live by Brother Love. Christmas the boys threw at the house and gave me sass when I spoke to them. So I got out of that settlement. Here it is quiet because it is among the white folks."
Source: Arkansas Slave Narratives