The following data is extracted from Arkansas Slave Narratives.
Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson Person interviewed: Warren McKinney, Hazen, Arkansas Age: 85
I was born in Edgefield County, South Carolina. I am eighty-five years old. I was born a slave of George Strauter. I remembers hearing them say "Thank God Ize free as a jay bird." My ma was a slave in the field. I was eleven years old when freedom was declared. When I was little, Mr. Strauter whipped my ma. It hurt me bad as it did her. I hated him. She was crying. I chunked him with rocks. He run after me, but he didn't catch me. There was twenty-five or thirty hands that worked in the field. They raised wheat, corn, oats, barley, and cotton. All the children that couldn't work stayed at one house. Aunt Mat kept the babies and small children that couldn't go to the field. He had a gin and a shop. The shop was at the fork of the roads. When de war come on my papa went to build forts. He quit ma and took another woman. When de war closed ma took her four children, bundled em up and went to Augusta. The government give out rations there. My ma washed and ironed. People died in piles. I don't know till yet what was de matter. They said it was the change of living. I seen five or six wooden, painted coffins piled up on wagons pass by our house. Loads passed every day lack you see cotton pass here. Some said it was cholorea and some took consumption. Lots of de colored people nearly starved. Not much to get to do and not much house room. Several families had to live in one house. Lots of the colored folks went up north and froze to death. They couldn't stand the cold. They wrote back about them dieing. No they never sent them back. I heard some sent for money to come back. I heerd plenty bout the Ku Klux. They scared the folks to death. People left Augusta in droves. About a thousand would all meet and walk going to hunt work and new homes. Some of them died. I had a sister and brother lost that way. I had another sister come to Louisiana that way. She wrote back.
I don't think the colored folks looked for a share of land. They never got nothing cause the white folks didn't have nothing but barren hills left. About all the mules was wore out hauling provisions in the army. Some folks say they ought to done more for de colored folks when dey left, but dey say dey was broke. Freeing all de slaves left em broke.
That reconstruction was a mighty hard pull. Me and ma couldn't live. A man paid our ways to Carlisle, Arkansas and we come. We started working for Mr. Emenson. He had a big store, teams, and land. We liked it fine, and I been here fifty-six years now. There was so much wild game living was not so hard. If a fellow could get a little bread and a place to stay he was all right. After I come to dis state I voted some. I have farmed and worked at odd jobs. I farmed mostly. Ma went back to her old master. He persuaded her to come back home. Me and her went back and run a farm four or five years before she died. Then I come back here. I first had 300 acres at Carlisle. I sold it and bought 80 acres at Green Grove. I married in South Carolina. We had a fine weddin, home weddin. Each of our families furnished the weddin supper. We had 24 waiters. That is all the wife I ever had. We lived together 57 years. It is hard for me to keep up with my mind since she died. She been dead five years nearly now. I used to sing but I forgot all the songs. We had song books. I joined the church when I was twelve years old.
I think the times are worse than they use to be. The people is living mighty fast I tell you. I don't get no help from the government. They won't give me the pension. I can't work and I can't pay taxes on my place. They just don't give me nothing but a little out of the store. I can't get no pension.
Source: Arkansas Slave Narratives