The following data is extracted from Arkansas Slave Narratives.
Interviewer: Mrs. Zillah Cross Peel Person interviewed: Doc Flowers Age: 85? Home: Lincoln, Arkansas
Everybody calls him Uncle Doc. His name is Doc Flowers, and he lives in the last house on a street that is just part of a road in the town of Lincoln, Arkansas.
When you stop in front of the house you will find there is no path. One has to watch his step owing to the fact that there is a zigzaggy branch hidden by the tangle of weeds.
If old Aunt Jinney is on the porch she will say, "Sorry, honey, but de path done growed up."
Uncle Doc is six feet two and as strong as a lion. Whether he is 80 or if he is 90, he is young-looking for his age.
"No'm lady, I'se jes' don' know how old I is. Back in dem days didn't keep up with our ages. No record of the born. Yes'm I was a pretty good chunk of a boy when de war started."
Doc belonged to Edward Choate, who lived on Barron Forks, near Dutch Mills in the Southwest corner of Washington County. Barron Forks is made up from Fly Creek and the River Jordan Creek.
About 1849 Edward Choate came from Tennessee to Arkansas, where he had bought Aunt Marie [TR: 'a slave' marked out here] and her three sons, Doc, Abe, and Dave.
"Yes'm, we had a 100 acres or better all along the banks of de river and good valley land where we raised corn, potatoes, wheat, oats, an' 'bacco. Master Choate had three sons, I recollect, Jack, Sam, and Win. He had a lot of slaves. Some of dem was good, some was bad. An' old Mister Choate had a cat-a-nine-tails. He never did have to whup me, some of dem darkies did get whupped. Dar was one who was always dressing up in wimmins clothes and go walking down by de river.
"My mother was Maria. She worked part time in de kitchen and part time in de field. My mother had three boys and I 'member one of my sisters was sold as a slave. We darkies had cabins all along de river bank.
"During de War we all jes' stayed on de place. Mister Choate and Old Missy stayed too. After peace was made my mother and all of we went up to Prairie Grove to live.
"Yes'm, I voted every chance I got. I voted for Harrison for President. No'm, I don't know which Harrison. Yes'm, I vote Republican.
"I can't say much for these young darkies these times.
"I ben 'roun' some. I went to Caldwell, Kansas, two times. Farming is my occupation. Now we jes' live. I get $10 a month from the state. Yes'm, that there Jinney is my wife. Her mother Celia and she belonged to the Ballards of Cincinnati.
"No'm, I jes' can' tell how old I is. I know I was quite a chunk of a boy when de War started. Me and Mister Win, one of Mister Choate's boys, was 'bout de same age." (Winston Choate died in the spring of 1935 at the age of 94 years, according to a niece.)
The Choate place down on Barron Forks is still owned by one of the Choates, a grandson of the first owner, Edward Choate.
A granddaughter of Mr. Choate lives in Fayetteville and said that there are four or five graves on the old place where Negro slaves who belonged to her grandfather were buried, and the children on the place would never go near these graves. They thought they were haunted.
So when one asks Uncle Doc how old he is he will say, "I know I was jes' a chunk of a boy when de War started so I mus' be 'bout 83 nex' spring."
Aunt Jinney, his wife, sat on the porch and just rocked back and forth while Uncle Doc was talking. She didn't speak while Doc was speaking.
"Law, honey, I had good white folks. None of dem never struck their colored folks. No'm. Me an' my mother Celia belonged to Mister Ballard at Cincinnati. Old Missey's name was Miss Liza, an' she kept my ma in de house wid her to wait on her. Yes'm all de white folks always kept a little darkey in de house to wait on all of dem. Dem was good times 'fo' de War. Yes'm good times-plenty to eat. Good times. I was jes' a baby crawling on de flo' when de War come."
The interviewer didn't ask Uncle Doc when and why he went to Caldwell, Kansas the two times. She knew that Uncle Doc, big and strong, took another Negro's wife away from him and ran off with her to Kansas and there left her. Later he brought her to Arkansas. Jinney was his wife and took Uncle Doc back, but Gate-eye didn't take his wife back. Nor did the interviewer tell Uncle Doc that she had been to see old Gate-eye Fisher and had heard the long ago story of Uncle Doc taking his wife, and what a worrysome time he had. In an old record marked "Miscellaneous" in the Washington County Courthouse at Fayetteville, Arkansas, one can find this Emancipation paper:
"For and in consideration of the love and affection of my wife for my little Negro girl (a slave) named Celia, about two years old, I do by these presents henceforth and forever give to said Celia her liberty and freedom, and through fear of some mistake, mishap or accident, I now hereby firmly bind myself, heirs and representatives forever in accordance with this indenture of emancipation.
"In testimony whereof witness my hand and seal this 26th day of January 1846.
Signed: Thomas B. Ballard
Witnesses: Charles Baylor Sumet Mussett" Jinney, wife of Doc Flowers, is the daughter of the said Celia. "Yes'm," said Jinney, "Miss Liza, my old Missy, always had my mother right by her side all the time to wait on her. She were always good to all her colored folks. No'm she'd never let anybody be mean to her colored folks."
Jinney must have learned the art of house keeping from Miss Liza, for her little three-room home that she and Doc rent for $4 a month is spotless. Maybe the "path is growed up with weeds," but one just can't blame that on Jinney.
Source: Arkansas Slave Narratives