Smith, Henrietta E.
The following data is extracted from Arkansas Slave Narratives.
Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor Person interviewed: Henrietta Evelina Smith 1714 Pine Street, Little Rock, Arkansas Age:
"I was born in Louisiana in East Felicie Parish near Baton Rouge on the twenty-eighth day of December. My mother's name was Delia White. Her maiden name was Delia Early. My father's name was Henry White. My mother's father was named Amos Early. My mother's mother's name was Julia. My father's father was named Tom White and his mother was named Susan.
"My father and mother both belonged to the Eason's. I don't know how they spelled it. Eason's daughter married Munday and my uncle bought this white man's place years after freedom. That is not far from Clinton-about four or five miles. It is three miles from Ethel, Louisiana.
"Amos, my grandfather, was the wagoneer on the old place. Father, he used to drive the wagon too. He'd haul cotton to Baton Rouge and things like that. He would run off and stay five or six months. I have heard them talk about how he used to come back and bring hogs and one thing and another that he had found out in the woods. He would run off because the overseer would whip him. But he was such a good working man that once or twice, the boss man turned off his overseer on account of him. There wasn't nothing against his work. He just wouldn't take a blow. Most of the times after he had been out a while the boss man would tell the hands to tell Amos that if he would come on home they wouldn't whip him for running off.
"My grandmother's mother on my father's side was named Melissa. I think that was her name. My father's mother was named Susan like I told you.
She was part Indian-better work hand never was. But she wouldn't be conquered neither. When they got ready to whip her, it would be half a day before they could take her. When they did get her, they would whip her so they would have to raise her in a sheet. The last time they whipped her, it took her nearly a year to get over it. So the white man just turned her loose and told her she was free. She went on off and we never did know what became of her.
"The Easons were farmers and they had a large plantation. I don't know just how many slaves they owned.
"My father and mother were fed like pigs. They had an old woman that did the cooking. She was broke down from work. They would give the slaves greens and the children pot-liquor. My parents were field hands. My mother was too young to carry a row when she was freed, but she worked on an older person's row. They worked from can till can't. You know what I mean, from the time they could see till the time they couldn't. Reb time was something like the penitentiary now. It never got too cold nor too hot to work. And there wasn't any pay. My parents never were given any chance to earn any money. I heard that my grandpa used to make a little something. He was a wagoneer you know. He would carry a little extra on his load and sell it. His old master never did find it out. People knew he had stole it, but they would buy it just the same.
"The old boss man came down in the quarters and told them they were free when freedom came. Right after freedom they stayed there on the old place for a year or more. My mother wasn't grown and she and my father married after that. Afterwards they had kind of a fight to get away from the old man. He was carrying them the same way he was going before the War and they had a row (quarrel), and left him. I don't know just what terms they worked on. I don't think they did themselves. They took just what they could get and didn't know just how they was paid.
"If a man made a good crop, they would run him away and make him leave his crops behind.
"My folks continued to farm all their lives. They had trouble with the night riders. They had to vote like they were told. If you voted the wrong way they would get behind you and run you off. There were some folks who would take pay for voting and then vote different, and when the night riders found it out, there would be trouble. I don't believe in taking money for voting, and I don't believe in lying.
"My mother and father didn't get any schooling. That was allowed after slavery, but it wasn't allowed in slavery time. They learned a little from other people. They would slip and learn to read.
"My great-grandmother was considered pretty when she was young. She had glossy black hair and was a little short. She was brownskin and had big legs. Her master would take her out behind the field and do what he wanted. When she got free, she gave both of her children away. She had two children by him-a boy named Eli and a girl named Anna. She didn't want them 'round her because they reminded her of him."
The subject did not wish to state her age. It is probably around sixty-five. Her mother was married shortly after freedom. And eight years is probably a liberal allowance for the distance of her birth from emancipation.
Source: Arkansas Slave Narratives