The following data is extracted from Arkansas Slave Narratives.
Interviewer: Bernice Bowden Person interviewed: Virginia Sims 1121 N. Magnolia Pine Bluff, Ark. Age: 93 Occupation: Retired Midwife
"I was born in 1844. I was twenty when peace was declared. I was born in Virginia. Yes ma'am, but I was sold, put up on a stump just like you sell hogs to the highest speculator. I was sold with my mother from a man named Joe Poindexter and bought by Tom Murphy and brought to Arkansas. My God, every Murphy round here knows me. Yes'm, my mother and me was sold. Papa wasn't sold, but he come here the second year after surrender.
"I was old enough to spin twelve cuts a day-had it to do. And I could weave cloth just like they do now.
"Had seven brothers and I'm the onliest girl.
"I can recollect when Miss Mary Poindexter died. They said I was two.
"My mistis in Arkansas was Mrs. Susan Murphy. That was out on the plantation, we didn't live in no city-my God, no!
"The way my people acts now, they looks foolish. I never heard a person curse till I come up here. I was a grown young lady nineteen years old when our master lowed us to get out and cote. You better not. The first husband I married I was nineteen goin' on twenty. My husband fought on the Southern side. His master sent him as a substitute.
"My master put good clothes on me, I'd say. 'Master. I wants a dress like so and so, and I wants a pair of shoes.' Yes ma'am, and he got em for me. I was forty-three and married to a nigger fore I knowed what twas to cry for underwear.
"I member they was a white man called Dunk Hill and he said, 'Virginia, who freed the niggers?' I said, 'God freed the niggers.' He said, 'Now, Virginia, you goin' be just as free as I am some day!'
"General Shelby's troops was comin' on this side the ribber. That's one time I was scared. Never seed so many men in my life. They wanted something to eat. Mama cooked all night. They was nine hundred and somethin'. I toted canteens all night long.
"I member when they had that Marks Mill battle. My husband was there and he sent word for me to come cause he had the measles and they had went in on him. I had to put on boots and wade mud. Young folks now ain't got no sense. I see so many folks now with such dull understanding. Marks Mill was the onliest part of the war I was in.
"General Shelby and Captain Blank, they whetted their swords together when peace was declared. Captain said, 'General, I'm not crazy and neither am I a coward. I looked up and seem like a man was comin' out the clouds, and so I'm goin' to surrender.'
"Them cavalry men-they'd say, 'Ride!' and how they'd go.
"I seen em when they was enlistin'. Said they was goin' to whip the Yankees and be back for breakfast in the morning.
"Marse Ben was goin' and Miss Susan say, 'Virginia, if you think he ain't goin' come back you ought to kiss him goodbye.' I said, 'I ain't goin' to kiss no white man.'
"Miss Fanny went up the ladder and sot rite on the roof and watched the soldiers goin' by. Yes'm. Old master whipped me with a little peach stick cause I let Frankie-we called her Frankie-go up the ladder. I said I couldn't stop her cause she said if I told her papa, she and Becky goin' to whip me. He whipped Miss Fanny. Old miss come in and say, 'Ain't you goin' whip this nigger?' She was mean as the devil. Oh, God, yes. She so mean she didn't know what to do. But old master kep her down. You know some of these redheaded women, they just as devilish as they can be. We had some neighbors, Mrs. Davis and Mrs. Daniels and old miss would be out there on the lawn quarrelin' till it was just like a fog. Us niggers would be out there listenin'.
"But I was always treated good. You know if I had been beat over the head I couldn't recollect things now. My head ain't been cracked up. Nother thing. I always been easy controlled.
"I never went to school a day. After we was freed we stayed right on the Murphy place. They paid us and we worked on the shares. That's the reason I say I done better when I was a slave."
Source: Arkansas Slave Narratives