Roger, Oscar J.
The following data is extracted from Arkansas Slave Narratives.
Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson Person interviewed: Oscar James Rogers, Wheatley, Arkansas Age: Up in 70's
"I come to dis state in 1885. I run off from my parents back in North Carolina. They was working in a turpentine forest there.
"When freedom was declared my folks heard 'bout a place where money was easy to make. So they walked from down close to Charleston up there and carried the children. I was 'bout nine or ten years old. I liked the farm so I left the turpentine farm. I got to rambling round and finally got to Arkansas. I run off from my folks cause they kept staying there. I was a child and don't recollect much 'bout slavery. I was at the quarters wid all the children. My mother b'longed to Bob Plat and my father to a man named Rogers. My father could get a pass and come to see us every Sunday providin' he didn't go nowhere else or stop long the road. He came early and stay till bedtime. We all run to meet him. He kiss us all in bed when he be leavin'.
"I heard them say they 'spected a home and freedom but when the time come they master forgot 'bout home cause they just took the few clothes in bundles and left. Then they had a hard time 'cause they never thought how freedom would be. They never axed for nothin' and they never got nothin'. They didn't understand how to hustle lest somebody tell them what to do next. They did have a hard time and it was cold and rocky up in North Carolina to what they had been used to down close to Charleston.
"When I got out to Arkansas I like it better than any country I seed and I say 'I'm stayin' here.' I meant to go back but I married and didn't get no money ahead for a long time. Then I had a family of 11 children. Jes' 'fore I married I got to go to school four months' close to Cotton Plant, where I married.
"When I was young I sho could knock off de work. I cummulated 80 acres land in Lee County. I paid $900 for it, got in debt and had let it fur 'bout ($247.50) Two hundred forty-seven and a half dollars. All I got outen it. I had a bad crop and had a little provision bill. I made on time, man agreed to run me on then took it 'bout all.
"Then I still was a strong man an' we bought 40 acres 14 miles from Cotton Plant and I had it 27 years. Then lost it.
"My second wife owned a house and garden at Wheatley half a mile or so from town. We live over there. Our children all gone. She say she cooked and washed and farmed for it. It cost $100.00.
"I could do heap work if I could get it. Old man can't get 'nuff regular work to cover my house or buy me a suit closes. The Government gives me $10.00 a month. That's a help out but it don't go fir high as provisions is. Me an' the old woman both too feeble to do much hard work. I gets all the odd jobs the white folks give me. Misses, I ain't lazy, I jess gettin' old and not able to hold out to do much. Whut I could do they give it to the young fellows cause they do it in a hurry.
"I used to vote right smart when they needed me to help out. I voted for Hoover. Don't think it right the way the men settin' round and deir wives workin' fer livin' and votin'. The women can vote if they want to but I don't think it right. Seems lack the cart in front ob de horse now.
"It wouldn't do no more good to vote in the Primary than it do in the General election. It don't do much good nohow.
"Fur as I ever knowed the slaves had no uprisin's. They thought well enough of their masters. Everybody worked then hard as they could. The master he worked all time in the shop making things jess like he needed, boards and handles, plows and things. Missus, everybody worked hard dem days, both black and white, and that is the reason folks had plenty. The old grandmas done work whut suited them and helped out. Now lack me, I can't get the right work whut I able to do 'nuff to keep me livin'. It is bad.
"If times was bad as they was few years ago all old folks done been rotten, starved to death. Times is better but they sho ain't all right yet.
"This young generation livin' so fast they stop thinkin'. They do well to keep livin' their selves. They wastes a heap they outer save fur rainy days. They ain't takin' no advice from old folks. I don't know whut goiner become of them."
Source: Arkansas Slave Narratives