Davis, Mary Jane D.
The following data is extracted from Arkansas Slave Narratives.
Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden Person interviewed: Mary Jane Drucilla Davis 1612 W. Barraque, Pine Bluff, Arkansas Age: 73
"'Little baby's gone to heaven To try on his robe Oh, Lord, I'm most done toiling here Little baby, m-m-m-m-m-m.' "Oh, it was so mournful. And let me tell you what they'd do. They'd all march one behind the other and somebody would carry the baby's casket on their shoulder and sing that song. That's the first song I remember. I was three years old and now I'm seventy-three and crippled up with rheumatism.
"My mother had a garden and they went 'round that way to the graveyard and I thought they was buryin' it in the garden. That was in Georgia.
"In the old days when people died they used to sit up and pray all night, but they don't do that now.
"I was married young. I don't love to tell how old but I was fifteen and when I was seventeen I was a widow. I tried and tried to get another husband as good as my first one but I couldn't. I didn't marry then till I was thirty some.
"My parents brought me from Georgia when I was five years old and now I ain't got no blood kin in Pine Bluff.
"Do I believe in signs? Well, let me tell you what I do know. Before my house burned in 1937, I was sittin' on my porch, and my mother and sister come up to my house. They come a distance to the steps and went around the house. They was both dead but I could see 'em just as plain. And do you know in about two or three weeks my house burned. I think that vision was a sign of bad luck.
"And another time when I was havin' water put in my house, I dreamed that my sister who was dead told a friend of mine to tell me not to sign a contract and I didn't know there was a contract. And that next day a man come out for me to sign a contract and I said, 'No.' He wanted to know why and finally I told him, and he said, 'You're just like my mother.' It was two days 'fore I'd sign. The men had quit work waitin' for me to sign. But let me tell you when they put the water in and when they'd flush the pipes my tub overflowed. The ground was too low and I never could use the commode. Now don't you think that dream was a warning?
"Just before I had this spell of sickness I dreamed my baby-he's dead-come and knocked and said. 'Mama.' And I said, 'Yes, darlin', God bless your heart, you done been here three times and this time mama's comin'. I really thought I was goin' to die. I got up and looked in the glass. You know you can see death in the eyes, but I didn't see any sign of death and I haven't gone yet.
"Last Saturday I was prayin' to God not to let me get out of the heart of the people. You see, I have no kin people and I wanted people to come to my rescue. The next day was Sunday and more people come to see me and brought me more things.
"I been in the church fifty-seven years. I'm the oldest member in St. John's. I joined in May 1881.
"I went to school some. I went as far as the fourth grade."
Source: Arkansas Slave Narratives