The following data is extracted from Arkansas Slave Narratives.
Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson Person interviewed: Fanny Finney, Brinkley, Arkansas Age: 74 plus
"I was born in Marshall County, Mississippi. Born during slavery. I b'long to Master John Rook. He died during the Civil War. Miss Patsy Rook raised me. I put on her shoes, made up her bed, fetched her water and kindling wood.
"My parents named Catherine and Humphrey Rook. They had three children.
"When Master John Rook died they divided us. They give me to Rodie Briggs. John and Lizzie was Master John's other two children. He had three children too same as ma. My young master was a ball player. I'd hear them talk. Ma was a good house girl. They thought we'd all be like 'er. When I was three years old, I was the baby. They took ma and pa off keep the Yankees from stealing then. Miss Patsy took keer me. When ma and pa come home I didn't know them a tall. They say when they come back they went to Louziana, then 'bout close to Monticello in dis state, then last year they run 'em to Texas.
"Pa was jus' a farmer. Gran'ma lived down in the quarters and kept my sisters. I'd start to see 'em. Old gander run me. Sometimes the geese get me down and flog me wid their wings. One day I climbed up and peeped through a crack. I seen a lot of folks chopping cotton. It looked so easy. They was singing.
"Betsy done the milking. I'd sit or stand 'round till the butter come. She ax me which I wanted, milk or butter. I'd tell her. She put a little sugar on my buttered bread. It was so good I thought Sometimes she'd fill my cup up with fresh churned milk.
"I et in the kitchen; the white folks et in the dining-room. I slep' in granny's house, in granny's bed, in the back yard. Granny's name was 'Aunt' Hannah. She was real old and the boss cook on our place. She learnt all the girls on our place how to cook. Kept one or two helping her all the time. It was her part to make them wash their faces every morning soon as they started a fire and keep their hands clean all the time er cooking. Granny wore her white apron around her waist all time. Betty would make them help her milk. They had to wash the cows udder before they ever milked a drop. Miss Patsy learnt her black folks to be clean. Every one of them neat as a pin sure as you born.
"I was so little I couldn't think they got whoopings. I never heard of a woman on the place being whooped. They all had their work to do. Grandma cut out and made pants for all the men on the whole farm.
"Old man Rook raised near 'bout all his niggers. He bought whiskey by the barrel. On cold mornings they come by our shop to get their sacks. I heard them say they all got a drink of whiskey. His hands got to the field whooping and singing. The overseers handed it out to them. The women didn't get none as I knowed of.
"The paddyrollers run 'em in a heap but Master John Rook never let them whoop his colored folks.
"We lived six miles from Holly Springs on the big road to Memphis. Seem like every regiment of Yankee and rebel soldiers stopped at our house. They made a rake-off every time. They cleaned us out of something to eat. They took the watches and silverware. The Yankees rode up on our porch and one time one rode in the hall and in a room. Miss Patsy done run an' hid. I stood about. I had no sense. They done a lot every time they come. I watched see what all they would do. They burnt a lot of houses.
"A little white boy said, 'I tell you something if you give me a watermelon.' The black man give the boy a big watermelon. He had a big patch. The boy said, 'My papa coming take all your money away from you some night.' He fixed and sure 'nough he come dressed like a Ku Klux. He had some money but they didn't find it. One of the Ku Kluxes run off and left his spurs. The colored folks killed some and they run off and leave their horses. They come around and say they could drink three hundred fifteen buckets of water. They throw turpentine balls in the houses to make a light. They took a ball of cotton and dip it in turpentine, light it, throw it in a house to make a light so they could see who in there. A lot of black folks was killed and whooped. Their money was took from them.
"The third year after the War ma and pa come and got me. They made a crop for a third. That was our first year off of Rook's place. I love them Rook's girls so good right now. Wish I could see them or knowd where to write. I had to learn my folks. I played with my sisters all my life but I never had lived with them. When pa come for me they had my basket full of dresses and warm underclothes, clean and ironed. They sent ma some sweet potatoes and two big cakes. One of them was mine. Miss Patsy said, 'Let Fannie come back to see my girls.' I went back and visited. Granny lived in her house and cooked till she died. I had a place with granny at her house. We went back often and we helped them after freedom. They was good white folks as ever breathed. There was good folks and bad folks then and still is.
"Times is hard. I was raised in the field. I made seven crops here-near Brinkley-with my son. I had two girls. One teaches in Brinkley, fourth or fifth grade; one girl works for a family in New York. My son fell off a tall building he was working on and bursted his head. He was in Detroit. Times is hard now. The young folks is going at too fast a gait. They are faster than the old generation. No time to sit and talk. On the go all the time. Hurrying and worrying through time. Hard to make a living."
Source: Arkansas Slave Narratives