The following data is extracted from Arkansas Slave Narratives.
STATE-Arkansas NAME OF WORKER-Samuel S. Taylor ADDRESS-Little Rock, Arkansas DATE-December, 1938 SUBJECT-Ex-slave [TR: Repetitive information deleted from subsequent pages.]
Circumstances of interview
1. Name and address of informant-Laura Shelton, 1518 Pulaski Street, Little Rock, Arkansas.
2. Date and time of interview interview-
3. Place of interview-1518 Pulaski Street, Little Rock, Arkansas.
4. Name and address of person, if any who put you in touch with informant-
5. Name and address of person, if any, accompanying you-
Description of room, house, surroundings, etc.-
Personal History of Informant
1. Ancestry-mother, Susan Barnett; father, Ben Bearden; grandfather, Harvey Barnett.
2. Place and date of birth-Arkansas, 1878
3. Family-Three children.
4. Education, with dates-
5. Places lived in with dates-Jerome, Arkansas and Little Rock. No dates.
6. Occupations and accomplishments, with dates-Farmed, wash and iron.
7. Special skills and interests-
8. Community and religious activities-Belongs to Baptist Church.
9. Description of informant-
10. Other points gained in interview-
Text of Interview (Unedited)
"My mother used to sit down and talk to us and tell us about slavery. If she had died when I was young I wouldn't have known much. But by her living till I was old, I learned a lot.
"My mother's old master was Tom Barnett, so she said. No, not 'so she said' because I have seed him. He give her her age and all at that time. I have it in my Bible. He said that she was twelve years old the Christmas before the surrender. The surrender was in May, wasn't it?
"My mother's name was Susan Bearden. She married Ben Bearden. She worked in Tom Barnett's house. She milked and churned and 'tended to the children and all such as that. He never allowed her to go to the field. Neither her mother, my grandmother. She was the cook. My mother's name before she married was Susan Barnett.
"An old colored lady that they had there seed after the colored children. She looked after my mother too. She was so old she couldn't do nothin' so they had her to look after the children. My grandmother was kept busy because she had the white folks to cook for and she had all the colored folks to cook for too.
"There is an old lady down on Spring Street that can give you a lot of information about slavery times.
"A boy was telling her that somebody was going 'round asking questions about slavery and she said she wished he would come and see her.
"My mother never had any chance to go to school before freedom and she never had any chance to go afterwards because she didn't have any money. When they turned them loose the white folks didn't give 'em anything, so they had to work. They didn't allow them to pick up a piece of paper in slave time for fear they would learn.
"My mother remembered the pateroles. She said they used to catch and whip the colored men and women when they would get out.
"My mother's old master was the one that told mama she was free. He told her she was free as he was. After they learned that they were free, they stayed on till Christmas.
"After Christmas, they went to another plantation. My gran'pa, he come and got them all to come. My gran'pa's name was Harvey Barnett. His old master's son had married and he had been staying with him. That made him be on another place. There was a good many of the children in my grandmother's family. Mama had a sister named Lucy, one named Lethe, one named Caroline, one named Annie, and one named Jane. She had two boys-one named Jack, and one named Barnett. She had another sister named-I don't remember her name.
"After freedom, we sharecropped for a number of years up until my father died. He died about twenty-four years ago.
"After that mama washed and ironed for about ten or twelve years. Then she got too old to work and we took care of her. My mother died last March on the ninth day. She always had good health for an old lady. Never got so she couldn't get up and do her light work such as dress herself, cooking, sweeping, and so on. She would even do her own washing and ironing if we would let her. She would hide from us and pick cotton till we stopped her.
"She was sick only one week and the doctor said she died of old age. He said it was just her time. She didn't have nothin' the matter with her but jus' old age he said so far as he could find. Dr. Fletcher was our doctor. She died in Jerome, Arkansas about sixteen miles from the Louisiana line. Leastwise, they tell me it's about sixteen miles from the line. She always told us that she had her business fixed with the Lord and that when she taken sick, It wouldn't be long. And sure 'nough, it wasn't.
"I farmed until my mother and brother died. Then I came up here with my sister as I had no children living. I jus' wash and iron now whenever I can get somethin' to do.
"I have been married once. I had three children. All of them are dead. My children are dead and my husband is dead.
"I belong to the Baptist church down on Spring Street. I always unite with the church whenever I go to a place. I don't care whether I stay there or not.
"My mama's master was good as far as white folks generally be in slavery times. He never whipped my grandmother nor my mother. He was good to the field hands too. He never whipped them. He would feed them too. He had right smart of field hands but I don't know just how many. I don't think he ever sold any of his slaves. I think he come by them from his father because I have heard them say that his father told him before he died never to 'part with Black Mammy. That was what he called her. And he kept them altogether jus' like his father told him to. His father said, 'I you to keep all my Negroes together and Black Mammy I don't want you let her be whipped because she nursed all of you.' She said she never was whipped 'cept once when she got a cockle berry up her nose and he got it out and gave her a little brushing-not as much as grandma would have given her.
"He kept them all in good shoes and warm clothes and give them plenty to eat. So many of the slaves on other plantations didn't have half enough to eat and were half naked and barefooted all the time."
Source: Arkansas Slave Narratives