The following data is extracted from Arkansas Slave Narratives.
Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden Person interviewed: Mary Shaw 1118 Palm Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas Age: 77 Occupation: Laundry work
"I was born in Bolivar County, Mississippi. My mother didn't know how old I was but after freedom I went by Miss Ann Blanchet's-that was my mother's old missis-and she said I was born in 1861.
"But I don't know nothin' 'bout slavery or the War. I was born and bred in the desert and my mother said it was a long time after freedom 'fore she knowed anything about it. She said there was just lots of the folks said, to their knowin', they had been free three years 'fore they knowed anything about it.
"My husband brought me to Arkansas when I was 35 and I been workin' in the same family, Captain Jeter's family, ever since-forty odd years.
"I always have worked hard. I've had the flu only reason I'm sittin' here now. If I had to sit and hold my hands very long, they'd have to take me to Little Rock.
"I been married twice. My last husband was Sam Shaw. He was a great whiskey man and when whiskey went out, he went to bootleggin' and they got behind him and he left.
"He wrote me once and said if I'd borrow some money on my home and send it to him, he'd come back. I wrote and told him just like I'm tellin' you that after I had worked night and day to pay for this house while he was off tellin' some other woman lies just like he told me, I wasn't goin' to send him money. So I ain't seen him since.
"I ain't never been to school much. When schools got numerous in Mississippi they had me behind a plow handle.
"Mrs. Jeter made me mad once and I quit. My first husband was a porter on the railroad and I got on the train and went to Memphis with him.
"One time he come back from a trip to Pine Bluff and handed me a little package. I opened it and it was a note from Mrs. Jeter and a piece of corn bread. She said, 'Now, Mary, you see what I've had to eat. I want you to come back.' So I went back and stayed 'til she died. And now I'm workin' for her daughter, Mrs. McEwen. Mrs. Jeter used to say, 'Mary, I know you're not a Arkansas woman 'cause you ain't got a lazy bone in your body.'"
Source: Arkansas Slave Narratives