McKinney, Warren (2nd interview)
The following data is extracted from Arkansas Slave Narratives.
Little Rock District FOLKLORE SUBJECTS Name of Interviewer: Irene Robertson Subject: Ex-Slave-History Story-Information
This Information given by: Warren McKinney Place of Residence: Hazen, Green Grove Settlement, Arkansas Occupation: Farming Age: 84 [TR: Information moved from bottom of first page.]
Warren McKinney was born in Edgefield County, South Carolina. He was born a slave. His master was George Strauter. He had a big plantation and worked twenty-five or thirty work hands. There were twenty-five or thirty children too small to work in the field. They raised cotton, corn, oats, and wheat. His mother washed and ironed and cooked. He was small but well remembers once when his mother had been sick and had just gotten out. George Strauter whipped her with a switch on her legs. Warren did not approve of it. Rocks were plentiful and he began throwing at him. He said Mr. George took out after him but didn't catch or whip him.
George Strauter tried to teach them all how to be good farmers and be saving. Warren knew war was going on but he didn't see any of it. His father came home several times. He was off building forts. He said he remembered a big "hurly-burly" and he heard 'em saying, "Thank God I'ze free as a jay bird." He didn't know why they were fighting so he didn't know then why they were saying that.
George Strauter had a shop at the fork of the roads. He had his own gin. They sold cotton and bought provisions at Augusta, Georgia. They made some of their meal and flour and raised all their meat and made enough lard to do the year around.
He heard them talking about the "Yankees" burning up Augusta, but he saw where they had burned Hamburg, South Carolina or North Augusta they call it.
After they were free he remembers his mother bundling up her things and her family and them all going in an ox cart to Augusta to live. Warren's mother washed, cooked and ironed for a living. Her husband went off and lived with another woman after freedom. Warren was about eleven years old then. The Government furnished food for them too. One thing that distressed Warren was the way people died for more than a year. He saw five or six coffins piled up on a wagon being taken out to be buried. He thought it was changing houses and changing ways of living. They didn't have shoes and warm clothes and weren't fed from white folks smoke house. Lots of the slaves had Consumption and died right now. Stout men and women didn't live two years after they were freed. Lots of them said they didn't like that freedom and wanted to go back but the masters were broke and couldn't keep many of them if they went back.
When Warren was about fifteen years old, there was a white man or two, but colored leaders mostly got about a thousand colored people to start for the West walking. Warren had sisters and brothers who started on this trip. Warren had some fussy brothers, his mother was afraid would get in jail. They kept her uneasy. They shipped their "stuff" by boat and train. He never saw them any more but he heard from them in Louisiana. Louisiana had a bad name in those days.
When Warren was about fourteen and fifteen, his mother had them on a farm, farming near Hamburg.
When he was sixteen or seventeen, his mother and the other children came on the train to about where Carlisle now is but it wasn't called by that name. There were very few houses of any kind. Mr. Emerson had a big store and lots of land. He worked black and white. Mr. Emerson let them have seven or eight mules and wagons and they farmed near there. He remembers pretty soon there was a depot where the depot now stands, a bank, a post office, and two or three more stores, all small buildings. He liked coming to Arkansas because he got to ride on the train a long ways. It was easy to live here. There were lots of game and fish.
Warren never shot anything in his life. He was no hunter. Nats were awful. Warren made smoke to run the nats from the cows. Four or five deer would come to the smoke. Cows were afraid of them and would leave the smoke. When he would go the deer would leap four or five feet in the air at the sight of him.
When Warren lived in Augusta, Georgia, they had schools a month at a time but Warren never did get to go to any, so he can't read or write. But he learned to save his money. He joined a church when he was twelve years old in South Carolina and belongs to the Baptist church at Green Grove now.
The old master in South Carolina persuaded his mother to come back. They all went back four or five years before his mother died. While Warren was there he married a woman on a joining farm.
Source: Arkansas Slave Narratives