The following data is extracted from Arkansas Slave Narratives.
Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson Person interviewed: Ida Rigley, Forrest City, Arkansas Age: 82
"I was born in Richmond, Virginia. Colonel Radford and Emma Radford owned my mother. They had a older girl, Emma and Betty and three boys. I called her Miss Betty.
"My mother was Sylvia Jones and she had five children. Bill Jones was my father. He was a born free man and a blacksmith at Lynchburg, Virginia in slavery times.
"He asked Colonel Radford could he come to see my mama and marry her. They had a wedding in Colonel Radford's dining room and a preacher on the place married them. They told me. My father was a Presbyterian preacher. I heard papa preach at Lynchburg. He had a white principle but no white blood. I never knew him very much till long after freedom.
"Miss Betty Radford was raising me for a house girl. I was younger than her children. Mother was a weaver for all on the place. Old aunt Caroline was the regular cook but my mother helped to cook for hands he hired at busy seasons of the year. My sisters lived in the quarters and mama slept with them. She helped them. They worked in the field some. They was careful not to overwork young hands. They cooked down at the quarters. They had a real old man and woman to set about and see after the children and feed them. The older children looked after the babies. When Miss Betty went off visiting she would send me down there. I did love it.
"Emma and Betty went to school at Richmond in a buggy. They had a colored boy driver. He was the carriage driver. Emma and Betty would play with me too. Miss Betty fed me all the time. She made me a bonnet and I can't get shed of my bonnet yet. I got four bonnets now.
"When the white folks had a wedding it lasted a week. They had a second day dress and a third day dress and had suppers and dinner receptions about among the kin folks. They had big chests full of quilts and coverlets and counterpanes they been packing back. Some of them would have big dances. A wedding would last a week, night and day.
"They had a farm right. We had peacocks, white guinea and big black turkeys, cows, sheep, goats, hogs; he had deer. He kept their horns cut off and some of the cow's horns were off. We had a acre in a garden and had roses and all kinds of flowers. I like flowers now. Tries to have 'em. They had a gin on the place. He raised corn, rye, cotton, and tobacco. The hands got their supplies on Saturday. On rainy days all the women would knit, white and colored both. Miss Betty knitted some at night in winter. They had a shop to sharpen and keep all the tools in. A particular old man made the brooms and rakes.
"It seem like there wasn't so many flies. Miss Betty mixed up molasses and flour and poison and killed flies sometimes. She spread it on brown paper. We had fly weed tea to set about too sometimes. We didn't have to use anything regular. We didn't have no screens. We had mighty few mosquitoes. We had peafowl fly brushes. They was mighty pretty.
"One thing we had was a deep walled well and an ice-house. They cut ice in blocks and put it up for winter[HW:?]. We had one spring on the place I know.
"They kept hounds. Colonel Radford's boys and the colored boys all went hunting. We had 'possum and potatoes all along in winter; 'possum grease won't make you sick. Eat all you want. I'd hear their horn and the dogs. They would come in hungry every time. I never seen no whiskey. He had his cider and vinegar press and made wine. We had cider and wine all along. Colonel Radford was his own overseer and Charlie his oldest boy. They whooped mighty little. They would stand up and be whooped. Some of the young ones was hard-headed and rude. He advised them and they minded him pretty well.
"Our yards was large and beautiful; some had grass and some clean spots about in the shade. Friday was wash day. Saturday was iron day. Miss Betty would go about in the quarters to see if the houses was scrubbed every week after washing. They had to wear clean clothes and have clean beds about her place. She'd shame them to death.
"Colonel Radford had a colored church for us all. It was a log house and he had a office for his boys to read and write and smoke cob pipes in. The white folks' church was at the corner of his place. I went there most. They shouted and pat their hands. Colonel Radford was a Baptist.
"Nearly every farm had a fiddler. Ever so often he had a big dance in their parlor. I'd try to dance by myself. He had his own music by the hands on his place. He let them have dances at the quarters every now and then. Dancing was a piece of his religion.
"I don't think our everyday frocks was stiffened but our dress up clothes was. It was made out of flour-boiled flour starch. We had striped dresses and stockings too. We had checked dresses. We had goobers and a chestnut grove. We had a huckleberry patch. We had maple sugar to eat. It was good. We had popcorn and chinquapins in the fall of the year, I used to pick up chips to use at the pot. I had a little basket. I picked up corn cobs. They burnt them and made corn cob soda to use in the bread and cakes. We parched peeled sweet potatoes slice thin and made coffee.
"The Civil War was terrible. One morning before we was all out of bed the Yankees come. It was about daylight. He and the three boys were there. They didn't burn any houses and they didn't hesitate but they took everything. They took all Miss Betty's nice silverware. They took fine quilts and feather beds. That was in the fall of the year. They drove off a line of our slaves (a block long) fer as from me to that railroad. Made them go. They walked fast in front of the cavalrymen. They took mama and my sisters. She got away from them with her girls and found her way back to papa at Lynchburg.
"Colonel Radford went and took some of the slave men and his boys. They brought home plenty beds and a barrel of salt. He brought back plenty. He sent his slave man to town any time. They had no notion leaving.
"One time some Yankees come. I run hid around Miss Betty's long dress. She was crying. They was pulling her rings off her fingers. I told them to quit that. One of the mean things said, 'Little nigger, I shoot your head off.' They took all her nice clothes. They said they took all niggers. I sassed them. They went in another room. I shot under Miss Betty's big skirt. They looked about for me but they thought I run off to my mama. She was gone but they didn't know it. I seen my best times then. We had a good time there. Miss Betty was good and kind to me. Good as I wanted. I wish I had that good now.
"The soldiers come and I knowed it was the Yankees I hated. They took all they could find and wasted a lot of it. I was scared. I kept hid about. The slaves put their beds and clothes up on the wagons and went off behind them and some clumb up in the wagons. I heard Miss Betty say, 'They need not follow them off, they are already free.' The way she said it, like she was heart broken, made me nearly cry and I remember her very words till this day. She was a good woman.
"Mama come and got me long time after that and I didn't want to go nor stay neither. It was like taking me off from my own home. Papa was freeborn and freedom I couldn't understand till I was long grown. I never got a whooping in my life. I was taught politeness.
"During slavery we bought mighty little. Flour in barrels, salt. We had Maple sugar and sorghum molasses in bounty. We was happy and had plenty to eat and wear.
"I learned to make the fine cakes from a Jew woman (Jewess), Mrs. Isaac. I've been called a cook here in Forrest City. I was taught by Mrs. Isaac to make angel food, coffee cake, white bread and white cakes. From that I made the other kinds my own self."
People in Forrest City send for Ida and keep her a week or two baking Christmas and wedding cakes.
Source: Arkansas Slave Narratives