The following data is extracted from Arkansas Slave Narratives.
Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor Person interviewed: Evelina Morgan 1317 W. Sixteenth Street, Little Rock, Arkansas Age: App. 81 [TR: Original first page moved to follow second page per HW: Insert this page before Par. 1, P. 3]
"I was born in Wedgeboro, North Carolina, on the plantation of-let me see what that man's name was. He was an old lawyer. I done forgot that old white man's name. Old Tom Ash! Senator Ash-that's his name. He was good to his slaves. He had so many niggers he didn't know them all.
"My father's name was Alphonso Dorgens and my mother's name was Lizzie Dorgens. Both of them dead. I don't know what her name was before she married. My pa belonged to the Dorgens' and he married my ma. That is how she come to be a Dorgen. Old Man Ash never did buy him. He just visited my mother. They all was in the same neighborhood. Big plantations. Both of them had masters that owned lots of land. I don't know how often he visited my mother after he married her. He was over there all the time. They were right adjoining plantations.
"I was born in a frame house. I don't know nothin' about it no more than that. It was j'ined to the kitchen. My mother had two rooms j'ined to the kitchen. She was the old mistress' cook. She could come right out of the kitchen and go on in her room.
"My father worked on the farm. They fed the slaves meat and bread. That is all I remember-meat and bread and potatoes. They made lots of potatoes. They gave 'em what they raised. You could raise stuff for yourself if you wanted to.
"My mother took care of her children. We children was on the place there with her. She didn't have nobody's children to take care of but us.
"I was six years old during of the War. My ma told me my age, but I forgot it; I never did have it put down. The only way I gits a pension, I just tells 'em I was six years old during of the War, and they figures out the age. Sorta like that. But I know I was six years old when the Rebels and the Yankees was fighting.
"I seed the Yankees come through. I seed that. They come in the time old master was gone. He run off-he run away. He didn't let 'em git him. I was a little child. They stayed there all day breaking into things-breaking into the molasses and all like that. Old mistress stayed upstairs hiding. The soldiers went down in the basement and throwed things around. Old master was a senator; they wanted to git him. They sure did cuss him: 'The ----, ----, ----, old senator,' they would say. He took his finest horses and all the gold and silver with him somewheres. They couldn't git 'im. They was after senators and high-ups like that.
"The soldiers tickled me. They sung. The white people's yard was jus' full of them playing 'Yankee Doodle' and 'Hang Jeff Davis on a Sour Apple Tree.'
"All the white people gone! Funny how they run away like that. They had to save their selves. I 'member they took one old boss man and hung him up in a tree across a drain of water, jus' let his foot touch-and somebody cut him down after 'while. Those white folks had to run away.
"I used to hear them all talk about the patrollers. I used to hear my mother talking about them. My ma said my master wouldn't let the patrollers come on his place. They could go on anybody else's place but he never did let them come on his place. Some of the slaves were treated very bad. But my ma said he didn't allow a patroller on the place and he didn't allow no other white man to touch his niggers. He was a big white man-a senator. He didn't know all his Negroes but he didn't allow nobody to impose on them. He didn't let no patroller and nobody else beat up his niggers.
How Freedom Came
"I don't know how freedom came. I know the Yankees came through and they'd pat we little niggers on the head and say, 'Nigger, you are just as free as I am.' And I would say, 'Yes'm.'
Right After Freedom
"Right after the War my mother and father moved off the place and went on another plantation somewheres-I don't know where. They share cropped. I don't know how long. Old mistress didn't want them to move at all. I never will forget that.
Present Occupation and Opinions
"I used to cook out all the time when I got grown. I couldn't tell you when I married. You got enough junk down there now. So I ain't giving you no more. My husband's been dead about seven years. I goes to the Methodist church on Ninth and Broadway. I ain't able to do no work now. I gets a little pension, and the Lord takes care of me. I have a hard time sometime.
"I ain't bothered about these young folks. They is somethin' awful. It would be wonderful to write a book from that. They ought to git a history of these young people. You could git a wonderful book out of that.
"The colored folks have come a long way since freedom. And if the white folks didn't pin 'em down they'd go further. Old Jeff Davis said when the niggers was turned loose, 'Dive up your knives and forks with them.' But they didn't do it.
"Some niggers was sharp and got something. And they lost it just like they got it. Look at Bush. I know two or three big niggers got a lot and ain't got nothin' left now. Well, I ain't got no time for no more junk. You got enough down there. You take that and go on."
During the interview, a little "pickaninny" came in with his mother. His grandmother and a forlorn little dog were also along. "Tell grandma what you want," his mother prompted. "Is that your grandson?" I interrupted. "No," she said, "He ain't no kin to me, but he calls me 'ma' and acts as if I was his grandma." The little fellow hung back. He was just about twenty-two months old, but large and mature for that age.
"Tell 'ma' what you want," his grandmother put in. Finally, he made up his mind and stood in front of her and said, "Buh-er." His mother explained, "I've done made him some corn bread, but he ain't got no butter to put on it and he wants you to give him some."
Sister Morgan sat silent awhile. Then she rose deliberately and went slowly to the ancient ice-box, opened it and took out a tin of butter which she had evidently churned herself in some manner and carefully cut out a small piece and wrapped it neatly and handed it to the little one. After a few amenities, they passed out.
Even with her pitiful and meagre lot, the old lady evidently means to share her bare necessities with others.
The manner of her calculation of her age is interesting. She was six years old when the War was going on. She definitely remembers seeing Sherman's army and Wheeler's cavalry after she was six. Since they were in her neighborhood in 1864, she is undoubtedly more than eighty. Eighty-one is a fair estimate.
Source: Arkansas Slave Narratives