The following data is extracted from Arkansas Slave Narratives.
Interviewer: S.S. Taylor Person interviewed: Rachel Fairley 1600 Brown St. Little Rock, Ark. Age: 75 Occupation: General Housework [Jan 23 1938]
[HW: Mother Stole to Get Food]
"My mother said she had a hard time getting through. Had to steal half the time; had to put her head under the pot and pray for freedom. It was a large pot which she used to cook in on the yard. She would set it aside when she got through and put it down and put her head under it to pray.
"My father, when nine years old, was put on the speculator's block and sold at Charlottesville, North Carolina. My mother was sold on the same day. They sold her to a man named Paul Barringer, and refugeed her to a place near Sardis, Mississippi, to the cotton country. Before he was sold, my father belonged to the Greers in Charlottesville. I don't know who owned my mother. I never did hear her say how old she was when she was sold. They was auctioned off just like you would sell goods. One would holler one price and another would holler another, and the highest bid would get the slave.
"Mother did not go clear to Sardis but to a plantation ten miles from Sardis. This was before freedom. We stayed there till two years after freedom.
"I remember when my mother moved. I had never seen a wagon before. I was so uplifted, I had to walk a while and ride a while. We'd never seen a wagon nor a train neither. McKeever was the place where she moved from when she moved to Sardis.
"The first year she got free, she started sharecropping on the place. The next year she moved. That was the year she moved to Sardis itself. There she made sharecrops. That was the third year after freedom. That is what my father and mother called it, sharecropping. I don't know what their share was. But I guess it was half to them and half to him.
"I do general housework. I been doing that for eleven years. I never have any trouble. Whenever I want to I get off.
"The slaves used to live in one room log huts. They cooked out in the yard. I have seen them huts many a time. They had to cook out in the yard in the summertime. If they didn't, they'd burn up.
"My mother seen her master take off a big pot of money to bury. He didn't know he'd been seen. She didn't know where he went, but she seen the direction he took. Her master was Paul Barringer. That was on McKeever Creek near Sardis. It was near the end of the war. I never heard my mother say what became of the money, but I guess he got it back after everything was over.
"They had to work all the time. When they went to church on Sunday, they would tell them not to steal their master's things. How could they help but steal when they didn't have nothin'? You didn't eat if you didn't steal.
"My mother never would have been sold but the first bunch of slaves Barringer bought ran away from him and went back to the places where they come from. Lots of the old people wouldn't stay anywheres only at their homes. They would go back if they were sold away. It took a long time because they walked. When my mother and father were sold they had to walk. It took them six weeks,-from Charlottesville, North Carolina to Sardis, Mississippi.
"In Sardis my father was made the coachman, and mother was sent to the field. Master was mean and hard. Whipped them lots. Mother had to pick cotton all day every day and Sunday. When I first seen my father to remember him, he had on a big old coat which was given to him for special days. We called it a ham-beater. It had pieces that would make it set on you like a basque. He wore a high beaver hat too. That was his uniform. Whenever he drove, he had to dress up in it.
"My mother tickled me. She said she went out one day and kill a billygoat, but when she went to get it it was walking around just like the rest of them. My mother couldn't eat hogshead after freedom because they dried them and give them to them in slave time. You had to eat what you could git then.
"My mother said you jumped over a broomstick when you married.
"My father and mother were not exactly sold to Mississippi. My father was but my mother wasn't. When Paul Barringer lost all of his niggers, what he first had, his sister give him my mother and a whole lot more of them. I don't know how many he had, but he had a great many. My father went alone, but all my mother's people were taken-four sisters, and three brothers. They were all grown when I first seen them. I never seen my mother's father at all.
"There was a world of yellow people then. My mother said her sister had two yellow children; they were her master's. I know of plenty of light people who were living at that time.
"My mother had two light children that belonged to her sister. They were taken from her after freedom, and were made to cook and work for their sister and brother (white). All the orphans were taken and given back to the people what owned them when freedom came. My mother's sister was refugeed back to Charlottesville, North Carolina before the end of the war so that she wouldn't get free. After the war they were set free out there and never came back. The children were with my mother and they had to stay with their master until they were twenty years old. Then they would be free. They wouldn't give them any schooling at all. They were as white as the white children nearly but their mother was a colored woman. That made the difference.
"My mother said that the Ku Klux used to come through ridin' horses. I don't remember her saying what they wore.
"When the Yanks came through, they took everything. Made the niggers all leave. My mother said they just came in droves, riding horses, killing everything, even the babies.
"I was born in Sardis, Mississippi, Panolun (?) County, April 10, 1863."
Source: Arkansas Slave Narratives