The following data is extracted from Arkansas Slave Narratives.
Interviewer: Pernella M. Anderson Person interviewed: Sarah Douglas Route 2, Box 19-A, El Dorado, Arkansas Age: 82?
[TR: Original interview where photograph inserted notes photograph of "Sarah and Sam Douglas." The Library of Congress photo archive notes "'Tom' written in pencil above 'Sam' in title."]
"I was born in Alabama. I don't know when though. I did not find out when I was born because old miss never told me. My ma died when I was real small and my old miss raised me. I had a hard time of my life. I slept on the floor just like a cat-anywhere I laid down I slept. In winter I slept on rags. If I got sick old miss would give me plenty of medicine because she wanted me to stay well in order to work. My old master was name John Buffett and old misses name was Eddie Buffett. She would fix my bread and licker in a tin lid and shove it to me on the floor. I never ate at the table until I was twelve and that was after freedom.
"To whip me she put my head between the two fence rails and she taken the cow hide whip and beat me until I couldn't sit down for a week. Sometimes she tied our hands around a tree and tie our neck to the tree with our face to the tree and they would get behind us with that cow hide whip with a piece of lead tied to the end and lord have mercy! child, I shouted when I wasn't happy. All I could say was, 'Oh pray, mistress, pray.' That was our way to say Lord have mercy. The last whipping old miss give me she tied me to a tree and oh my Lord! old miss whipped me that day. That was the worse whipping I ever got in my life. I cried and bucked and hollered until I couldn't. I give up for dead and she wouldn't stop. I stop crying and said to her, 'Old miss, if I were you and you were me I wouldn't beat you this way.' That struck old miss's heart and she let me go and she did not have the heart to beat me any more.
"I did every kind of work when I was a little slave; split rails, sprouted, ditched, plowed, chopped, and picked and planted.
"I remember young master going to war and I remember hearing the first gun shoot but I did not see it. I saw the smoke though.
"I never went to school a day in my life. The white folks said we did not need to learn, if we needed to learn anything they could learn us with that cow hide whip.
"We went to the white folks' church, so we sit in the back on the floor. They allowed us to join their church whenever one got ready to join or felt that the Lord had forgiven them of their sins. We told our determination; this is what we said: 'I feel that the Lord have forgiven me for my sins. I have prayed and I feel that I am a better girl. I belong to master so and so and I am so old.' The white preacher would then ask our miss and master what they thought about it and if they could see any change. They would get up and say: 'I notice she don't steal and I notice she don't lie as much and I notice she works better.' Then they let us join. We served our mistress and master in slavery-time and not God.
"I recollect miss died just after the War. Old miss was very strict on us and after she died we was so glad we had a big dance in miss's kitchen and old miss came back and slapped one of the slaves and left the print of her hand on her face. That white hand never did go away and that place was forever haunted after that.
"Now I don't know how to tell you to get after my age but I was twelve years old two years after surrender."
Source: Arkansas Slave Narratives