Quinn, Doc (story)
The following data is extracted from Arkansas Slave Narratives.
Texarkana District FOLKLORE SUBJECTS Name of Interviewer: Mrs. W.M. Ball Subject: Anecdotes of an Aged Ex-Slave. Subject: Superstitious Beliefs Among Negroes. (Negro lore) Story:-Information:
Information given by: Doc Quinn Place of Residence: 12th & Ash Sts., Texarkana, Ark. Occupation: None (Ex-Slave) Age: 92 [TR: Information moved from bottom of second page.] [TR: Repetitive information deleted from subsequent pages.]
"Mah young marster wuz Joe Ogburn. Me and him growed up togedder an' I wuz his body guard durin' de wahr. Many's de day I'ze watched de smoke ob battle clear away an' wait fo' de return ob mah marster. All de time I felt we wuz born to win dat wahr, but God knowed bes' an' you know de result.
"Three years ago I went to Little Rook wid Mr. Fisher. Lac' all folks whut goes to dis city, we wend our way to de Capitol to see de Governor. Gov. Futtrell sittin' bac' in his great fine office, saw me and jined me in conversation. De fus' question he axed me wuz 'whut party does yo' 'filiate wif?' I sez, 'de Democrat-de party whut's a frien' to de nigger.' De Governor axed me how does I lac' dis life? I sez 'very well, tho' things has changed since slavery days. Those wuz good ole days for de black man; didn't hafter worry about nuthin'. Now, I sho' does mah share ob worryin'. I worries from one meal to de odder, I worries about whure I'ze gwine get some mo' clothes when dese wears out?'
"I tole de Governor mah 'sperience wif de Republican Party durin' de wahr. I been hung fo' times in mah life an' one ob de times by de Republicans. Long time ago, Mr. Roy Nash an' Mr. Hugh Sutton wuz a settin' ovah de ballot box on 'lection day, when I voted 80 Democrats. Yas, suh; I jus' marches 'em in an' tells 'em how to cas' dey vote. Dat night, on mah way home frum de votin', goin' down de lonely road, I wuz stopped an' strung up to a tree by de neck. Dey 'splained dat I wuz too 'fluential wid de niggers. When I wuz hangin' dere I did some manful howlin'. Dat howlin' sho brought de white folks. When dey see mah distres' dey 'leased de rope an' I wuz saved. Dat is when I 'pealed to Col. Baker for 'tection. He wuz mah frien' as long as he lib, and he wuz a good frien' ob de South 'cause he saved lots ob white folks frum de wrath ob de mean niggers."
(Note: The Col. Baker referred to was Cullen Baker, the leader of a ruthless gang of bushwhackers that operated in this section shortly after the Civil War.)
Doc Quinn tells a "ghost story" connected with the old church at Rondo, built in 1861.
"De Masonic Hall wuz built up ovah dis buildin' an' ever month dey had dey meetin'. One night, when dey was 'sembled, two men wuz kilt. Dat sho' did scatter dat lot ob Masons and frum dat time on de spirits ob dese men roamed dis chu'ch. Sometime in de dead ob night, dat bell wud ring loud an' clear, wakin' all de folks. Down dey wud come, clos' like, to de chu'ch,-but scared to go closer. Mr. Bill Crabtree, a rich man an' a man whut wuz scared too, offered anybody $100.00 to go inside dat chu'ch an' stay one hour. Didn't nobody need dat $100.00 dat bad!"
The old negro tells the following grave yard story:
"One dark, drizzly night, de niggers wuz out in de woods shootin' craps. I didn't hab no money to jine in de game. One nigger say, "Doc, effen you go down to de cemetey' an' bring bac' one ob dem 'foot boa'ds' frum one ob dem graves, we'll gib yo' a dollar." I ambles off to de cemete'y, 'cause I really needed dat money. I goes inside, walks careful like, not wantin' to distu'b nuthin', an' finally de grave stone leapt up in front ob me. I retches down to pick up de foot boa'd, an' lo! de black cats wuz habin' a meetin' ovah dat grave an' dey objected to mah intrudin', but I didn't pay 'em no mind; jus' fetched dat boa'd bac' to dem niggers, an'-bless de Lawd,-dey gib me two dollars!"
Superstitious Beliefs Among Negroes
Some aged Negroes believe that many of the superstitious ideas that are practiced by their race today had their origin in Africa. A practice that was quite common in ante bellum days was for each member of the family to extract all of their teeth, in the belief that in doing so the family would never disagree. Fortunately, this and similar practices of self mutilation have about become extinct.
An old custom practiced to prevent the separation of a husband and wife was to wrap a rabbit's forefoot, a piece of loadstone, and 9 hairs from the top of the head in red flannel, and bury it under the front door steps.
As a preventitive against being tricked or hoo-dooed, punch a hole through a dime, insert a string through the hole, and tie it around the left ankle.
To carry an axe or hoe into the house means bad luck. An itching nose indicates some one is coming to see you, while an itching eye indicates you will cry.
Source: Arkansas Slave Narratives