The following data is extracted from Arkansas Slave Narratives.
Interviewer: Irene Robertson Subject: Ex-slave Information given by: Callie Donalson, Biscoe, Arkansas
I wasn't born in slavery but I was born in the white folks kitchen. Bob Walker was ma mother's Master and James Austin ma father's Master. They said he wasn't good to none of dem, he was mighty tight. Now ma mothers white folks was sho good to her. When de war was all over me family jined and worked fer people not berry far from ma mother's masters. There was two brothers and a sister older than me. She thought her white folks do better by her than anybody so she went back to em during her pregnancy and thats how come I was born in der kitchen a white mid-wife tended on er. I never will forget her. She was named Mrs. Coffee. There wasn't many doctors in the whole country then. I was born in Haywood county Tennessee in 1866. No'm I tell you when you first come I wasn't born in slavery. My white mistress named me, the young mistress, she named me Callie. Bob Walkers girl married Ben Geeter. I was right in Ben Geeters kitchen when Miss Sallie named me. They seemed proud of the little black babies.
Ma mother was a field hand and she washed and ironed. She was a good spinner. She carded and wove and spun all. She knitted too. She knitted mostly by nite. All the stockings and gloves had to be knit. She sewed and I learned from her. We had to sew with our fingers.
When I was a little girl I just set around, brought in wood. Yes maam we did play and I had some dolls, I was proud of my dolls, just rag dolls. We use to drive the calves up. If they didn't come up they sent the dog fur de cows. One of dem wore a bell. They had shepherd dogs, long haired, gentle dogs, to fetch the cows when they didn't come.
Ma folks farmed in Tennessee till I married and den we farmed. Agents jess kept comin after us to get us to come to this rich country. They say: hogs jess walking round with knife and forks stickin in der backs beggin somebody to eat em over in Arkansas.
No'm I aint seed none lack dat, I seed em down in the swamps what you could saw a good size saplin down wid der backbones. I says I mean I seed plenty raysor back hogs, and long noses and long straight ears. I show have since I come here. The land was so poor in Tennessee and this was uncleared land so we come to a new country. It show is rich land. They use guano back in Tennessee now or they couldn't raise nuthin. Abe Miller an old slave owner what we worked wid come out here. He was broke and he paid our way. We come on the Josie Harry boat. Der was several families sides us come wid him. He done fine out here-we got off the boat at Augusta and I worked up there in Woodruff county till ma husbands brother's wife died and he had a farm his own. We raised his boys and our family till dey was ob age. I left em. They went in big business here in Biscoe and lost de farm and everything. Ma husband died I lives with ma girl. I got one boy married lives in Chicago, and a girl up there too. No'm dey aint rich. Dem his children come home wid ma daughters on a visit-Little Yankees ain't got no manners.
I voted one time in ma life, in 1933, for Hoover. I don't know nothing about voting. I can read. I reads ma Bible. Ma young mistress learnt me to read. I never got to go to school much. Whut my young mistress learnt me was ma A B C's and how to call words. Yes maam I can write ma name but I forgot how to write, been so long since I wrote a letter.
All the songs I ever sung was "In Dixie" "Little Brown Jug" an mostly religious songs, Lawd I forgot em now. I never knowd about no slave uprisings-white folks alway good to us. We misses em now. Times not lack dey use to be.
Dese young generations don't take no interest in nothin no mo. Its kinder kritical. No use trying to tell em nuthin. Dey's getting an education I don't know whut thell do with it. If dey had somebody to manage fur them seem like they kaint kandle no business without getting broke. They work hard and make some seems lack they jes kaint keep nuthin. No'om I don't think they are so bad.
In 1893 me and ma husband worked on our own place till we come down here we sold it and went on his brothers place. I owns ma house thats all. Ma daughters help me and we get a little provisions and clothes along from the relief. If I could work I wouldn't ax nobody for no help. I jess past working much.
I jess don't know what is going to become of the present generation. The conditions are better than they use to be, heap better. They have no education and don't have to work as hard as we use to. They seems so restless and don't take no interest in nothin. They are all right. It is jess the times an the Bible full filling fast as it can.
Source: Arkansas Slave Narratives