The following data is extracted from Arkansas Slave Narratives.
Interviewer: Bernice Bowden Person interviewed: Ella Pittman 2409 West Eleventh Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas Age: 84
"Yes ma'm, I was born in slavery days. I tell you I never had no name. My old master named me-Just called me 'Puss? and said I could name myself when I got big enough.
"My old master was named Mac Williams. But where I got free at was at Stricklands. Mac Williams' daughter married a Strickland and she drawed me. She was tollable good to me but her husband wa'nt.
"In slavery times I cleaned up the house and worked in the house. I worked in the field a little but she kept me busy in the house. I was busy night and day.
"No ma'm, I never did go to school-never did go to school.
"After I got grown I worked in the farm. When I wasn't farmin' I was doin' other kinds of work. I used to cut and sew and knit and crochet. I stayed around the white folks so much they learned me to do all kinds of work. I never did buy my children any stockins-I knit 'em myself.
"After old Master died old Miss hired us out to Ben Deans, but he was so cruel mama run away and went back to old Miss. I know we stayed at Ben Deans till they was layin the crop by and I think he whipped mama that morning so she run away.
"Yes ma'm, I sho do member bout the Klu Klux-sho do. They looked dreadful-nearly scare you to death. The Klu Klux was bad, and the paddyrollers too.
"I can't think of nothin' much to tell you now but I know all about slavery. They used to build 'little hell', made something like a barbecue pit and when the niggers didn't do like they wanted they'd lay him over that 'little hell'.
"I've done ever kind of work-maulin rails, clearin up new ground. They was just one kind of work I didn't do and that was workin' with a grubbin' hoe. I tell you I just worked myself to death till now I ain't able to do nothin'."
Ella Pittman's son, Almira Pittman was present when I interviewed his mother. He was born in 1884. He added this information to what Ella told me:
"She is the mother of nine children-three living. I use to hear mama tell about how they did in slavery times. If she could hear good now she could map it out to you."
I asked him why he didn't teach his mother to read and write and he said, "Well, I tell you, mama is high strung. She didn't have no real name till she went to Louisiana."
These people live in a well-furnished home. The living room had a rug, overstuffed furniture and an organ. Ella was clean.
Source: Arkansas Slave Narratives