Douglas, Sarah & Tom (2nd interview)
The following data is extracted from Arkansas Slave Narratives.
Interviewer: Mrs. Carol Graham Person interviewed: Tom & Sarah Douglas Resident: El Dorado, Arkansas Age: 90 and 83
This is a second interview with Uncle Tom and Aunt Sarah Douglas. The first was sent to your office in September 1936 from interview by Mrs. Mildred Thompson, El Dorado, Arkansas. Mrs. Thompson is not now with the Project. Mrs. Carol Graham made the second interview.
Tom Douglas-Ex-slave. I was a slave boy till I was eighteen. Was born in 1847, 'mancipated in '65. No, my master did not give me forty acres of land and a mule. When we was 'mancipated my master came took us outside the gate across the road and told us we was freed. "You are free to work for anybody you want to." We set there a while then we went whare ol' master was and he tol' us if we wanted to stay wid him and finish the crop he would provide our victuals and clothes. The next year we worked for him on the halves, and continued to do so for four or five years. 'F we didn' eat an' wear it up he would give us the balance in money an we of'en had as much as fifty dollars when the year was over.
My ol' master was S.B. [TR: in two previous interviews, B.B. Thomas] Thomas. The young master was Emmett Thomas. Mr. Emmett was his son. Dey was near Marion, Louisiana, then I worked fuh his brother-in-law 'Lias George. His wife was Susan George. I tell you the fact, these times is much bettuh than slave times. If I'm hungry an' naked, I'm free. I'm crazy 'bout liberty.
I've heard of the Ku Klux Klan but never did see none of 'em. Have seen where they is been but nevuh did see 'em.
We voted several years. Was considered citizens-voted an' all that sort of thing. I think if we pay taxes we ought to vote for payin' taxes makes us citizens don' it? I used to be a big politics man-lost all I had house, forty acres, a good well an' stock an' ever'thing. I was tol' one day that the Ku Kluxes was comin' to my house that night an' I got on my horse at sundown an left an aint nevuh been back. I was a big politics man then-lost all I had and quit politics. I'm ninety years old and fifteenth of next September. Looks like the old might get pensions if old has anything to do with it I ought to get a pension but us ol' folks that is gettin' long an has a place to stay an' somethin' to eat they say don' get none.
I come to El Dorado January 3, 1893. This place was in the woods then. I bought 120 acres from Mr. Dave Armstrong at five dollars per acre and in nine years I had it all paid for. It was after I got tired of workin' on the halves that I bought me a place.
Worked at a sawmill four years beginnin in 1897 or 98. Than I jobbed aroun' town three years doin' this an' that an' the other. Carried $25 with me when I moved to town and brought $28 back with me. Cleared $1 a year an' got tired of that.
Am livin' off my land. Have sol' some an' am sellin some now but times is hard and folks can't pay. I takes in from $18 to $25 per month.
The young folks is gone to destruction. Aint nothin' but destruction. You is young your self but you can tell times aint the same as they was ten years back. Young folks is goin' to destruction. Me, I'm goin' home. Goin' back 80 years an comin' up to day I is seen a mighty big change. Me, I'm goin' home. Don't know what you young folks going to see eighty years from now. Everybody is trying to get something for nothing.
We use to sing "Gimme this Old Time Religion, It's Good enough for me". An' we sung "I'm a Soldier of the Cross" an lots of others. We don' live right now, don' serve God. Pride, formality an love of money keeps folks from worshipping an' away from the ol' time religion. You know that ol' sayin: "Preacher in the pulpit preachin' mighty bold; All for your money an' none for your soul." Seems like its true now days.
You ask does I have stripes on my back from bein beat in slave'y times? No maam. I was always a good boy and smart boy raised in the same yard with the little white chillun. You says Sarah told you that las' year? Missy you mus' be mistaken. I was whipped once or twice but I needed it then or ol' master wouldn't a whipped me an he never did leave no stripes on me. My old master was good to all his niggers and I'm tellin you I was raised up with his chullun an him and old mistress was good to me. All we little black chillun et out of the boilin' pot an every Sunday mornin' we had hot biscuit and butter for breakfact. No maam my old master was always good to his niggers.
(Above is as exactly told by Tom Douglas with the exception that he used the word Marster, for master; wuz for was, tuh for to; ah for I and other quaint expressions-these were omitted because of instruction in Bulletin received August 7th, 1937.)
Taken down word for word. August 11, 1937.
Source: Arkansas Slave Narratives