Foster, Emma (interview)
The following data is extracted from Arkansas Slave Narratives.
Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden Person interviewed: Emma Foster 1200 N. Magnolia, Pine Bluff, Arkansas Age: 80
"Yes'm, I was born in time of slavery-seven years before surrender. No'm, I wasn't born in Arkansas. Born in Claiborne Parish, Louisiana.
"I remember hearin' the big guns shoot. I was small and I didn't know what it was only by what they told me.
"My parents belonged to the Harts. My mother run off and left me, a year-old baby.
"I remember better when I was young than I do now.
"After I got big enough-you know, a little old nasty somethin' runnin' around in the yard-after I got big enough, they took me in the house to rock the cradle, and I stayed there till I was twenty-three. I would a stayed longer but they was so cruel to me.
"I didn't know nothin'. I run off and stayed with a colored preacher and his family not far away. You know I was crazy. One day the preacher said some of his members was objectin' to me stayin' there and he was goin' to tell my white folks where I was. And sure enough, he did, and one morning I was out in the field and I saw the son-in-law comin'. So I went back and worked for him and his wife.
"Me? All I did do was farmin' when I was young.
"Oh, I been in Arkansas 'bout fifty years. My oldest boy was fourteen when I come here and he is sixty-four now.
"No, honey, I can't cook now. I'd burn it up. I used to cook. It's a poor dog that won't wag its own tail.
"All I know is I had a hard time, I been married three times. My last husband was a preacher and he was so mean I left him. I told him if all preachers was like him, hell was full of 'em.
"I went to Chicago and lived with my son a while but I didn't like it, so I come back here and I been here right in the yard with Mrs. O'Neal eight years washin' and ironin'-anything come to hand.
"Now if there's goin' to be a death in my family, I can see that 'fore it happens. I was out in the potato patch one day and it started to rain and I come in and somethin' just bore down on me and I started to cry. I didn't know why. I thought, 'Oh, Lord, is somethin' goin' to happen to my son?' But instead it was my grandson. He got killed that evenin'."
Source: Arkansas Slave Narratives