The following data is extracted from Arkansas Slave Narratives.
Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor Person interviewed: Leonard Franklin Temporary: 301 Ridgeway, Little Rock, Arkansas Permanent: Warren, Arkansas Age: 70
[HW: Mother Whipped Overseer]
"I don't know exactly the year I was born. But my father told me I was born since the Civil War. I am seventy years old. They always tell me when my birthday come 'round it will be in January-the eighteenth of January.
"My father's name was Abe Franklin and my mother's name was Lucy Franklin. I know my father's mother but I didn't ever know his father. His mother's name was Maria Franklin. My mother's father was Harris Pennington. I never did see her mother and never did see her.
"I was born in Warren, Arkansas. My mother and father were born in Warren. That is on the outer edge of Warren. My mother's slavery farm was on what they called Big Creek. It is named Franklin Creek. Two or three miles of it ran through Franklin's Farm.
"My father's master was Al Franklin. And my mother's master's name was Hill Pennington. One of Hill Pennington's sons was named Fountain Pennington. He lives about five miles from Warren now on the south highway.
"My mother had about three masters before she got free. She was a terrible working woman. Her boss went off deer hunting once for a few weeks. While he was gone, the overseer tried to whip her. She knocked him down and tore his face up so that the doctor had to 'tend to him. When Pennington came back, he noticed his face all patched up and asked him what was the matter with it. The overseer told him that he went down in the field to whip the hands and that he just thought he would hit Lucy a few licks to show the slaves that he was impartial, but she jumped on me and like to tore me up. Old Pennington said to him, 'Well, if that is the best you could do with her, damned if you won't just have to take it.'
"Then they sold her to another man named Jim Bernard. Bernard did a lot of big talk to her one morning. He said, 'Look out there and mind you do what you told around her and step lively. If you don't, you'll get that bull whip.' She said to him, 'Yes, and we'll both be gittin' it.' He had heard about her; so he sold her to another man named Cleary. He was good to her; so she wasn't sold no more after that.
"There wasn't many men could class up with her when it come to working. She could do more work than any two men. There wasn't no use for no one man to try to do nothin' with her. No overseer never downed her.
"They didn't kill niggers then-not in slavery times. Not 'round where my folks were. A nigger was money. Slaves were property. They'd paid money to git 'im and money to keep 'im and they couldn't 'ford to kill 'em up. When they couldn't manage them they sold them and got their money out of them.
"The white people started to Texas with the colored folks near the end of the war and got as far as El Dorado. Word come to 'em that freedom had come and they turned back.
"A paterole come in one night before freedom and asked for a drink of water. He said he was thirsty. He had a rubber thing on and drank two or three buckets of water. His rubber bag swelled up and made his head or the thing that looked like his head under the hood grow taller. Instead of gettin' 'fraid, mother threw a shovelful of hot ashes on him and I'll tell you he lit out from there and never did come back no more.
"Right after the war my folks went to work on the farm. They hired out by the month. [HW: My father] didn't never say how much he got. When they had a settlement at the end of the year, the boss said his wages didn't amount to nothing because his living took it up. Said he had ate it all up. After that, he took my mother's advice and took up part of his wages in a cow and so on, and then he'd always have something to show for his work at the end of the year when it come settling up time. It was ten years before he got a start. It was hard to get ahead then because the niggers had just got free and didn't have nothin' and didn't know nothin'. My father had two brothers that just stayed on with the white folks. They stayed on till they got too old to work, then they had to go. Couldn't do no good then. My father was always treated well by his master.
"I got my schooling at Warren. I went to the tenth grade. Could have gone farther but didn't want to. I was looking at something I thought was better than education. When I got of age, I come up here and just run about. I was what you might say pretty fine. I was looking so high I couldn't find nothing to suit me. I went 'round to a number of places and none of them suited me. So I went on back home and been there ever since.
"I married once in my life. My wife is still living. My wife is a good woman. No, if I got rid of this one, wouldn't do to take another one. I am the father of ten living children. I made a living by doing anything that come up-housework, gardening, anything.
"I don't get no government help. I don't want none yet. God has seen me this far. I think He'll see me to the end. He is good to me; He's given me such a good time I couldn't help but serve Him. Only been sick once in seventy years.
"I belong to the Baptist church. God is my boss now. He has brought me this far and He's able to carry me across"
Source: Arkansas Slave Narratives