The following data is extracted from Arkansas Slave Narratives.
Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson Person interviewed: Mary Teel Holly Grove, Ark. Age: 74
"Our Masters was Wade and Curls. Miss Fannie was Master Wade's wife. They was kin somehow. I heard Ma say they wouldn't let their boys work. We girls growd up together. They called Ma 'Cousin'.
"Ma say she come from Marshal County Tennessee to Holly Springs Mississippi. She never did see her pa. My papa's papa was a white man. My pa was Lewis Brittman. He was a carriage driver. He made and mended shoes. My Ma was a fine cook. She had nine children but jes three living now. One of the girls-Miss Fannie's girls-married bout when I did. We jes growd up lack that. I left the girls at Mt. Pleasant, Mississippi. I stayed on their place a while. I wish I had money to go back to my old home and see all 'em livin'. I never heard 'em say if they give 'em somepin. Pa lernt us to do all kinds of work. He knowd how to do nearly everything cause he was brought up by white folks. Measles broke out, then small pox and the white folks put us in a room all together at the white house so we could be seen after. We lay on the same beds. My brother would whistle. I was real little but I member it well as yesterday. Ma say stop whistlin' in that bed and Miss Fannie say let him whistle I want to hear him cause I know he better. They say it bad luck to sing in bed or look in the lookin'-glass (mirror) if you in the bed. We all got over it.
"Pa made us go clean. He made me comb and wrop my hair every night. I had prutty hair then. I had tetter and it all come out. I has to wear this old wig now. When I was young my eye-sight got bad, they said measles settled in em and to help em Ma had these holes put in em (in her ears). I been wearin' earbobs purt nigh all my life.
"The Ku Klux never bothered us. They never come nigh our house no time. Pa died and Ma married a old man. They stayed in the same place a while. When Pa died he had cattle and stock that why I don't know if he got somepin at Freedom. He had plenty.
"We lived at Holly Springs (Miss.) when they started the first colored schools. There was three lady teachers. I think a man. One of the white teachers boarded at my Ma's. On Saturday the other two eat there. I recollect Ma cooking and fixing a big dinner Saturday. No white folks let em stay with em or speak to em. They was sent from up north to teach the darky chaps. I was one went to school. They wasn't nice like my white folks then neither. They paid high board and white folks sent em to Ma so she get the money. I was 14 years old when I married. I lived wid my husband more an 50 years. We got long what I'ze tellin' you. This young set ain't got no raisin' reason they cain't stand one nother. I don't let em come in my yard. I cain't raise no children, I'm too old and they ain't got no manners and the big ones got no sense. Jes wild. They way they do. They live together a while and quit. Both them soon livin' wid somebody else. That what churches fer, to marry in. Heap of em ain't doin' it. No children don't come here tearin' up what I work and have. I don't let em come in that gate, I have to work so hard in my old days. I picked cotton. I can, by pickin' hard, make a dollar a day. I cooked ten years fore I stopped, I cain't hold up at it. I washed and ironed till the washing machines ruined that work fer all of us black folks. Silk finery and washin' machines ruint the black folks.
"Ma named Elsie Langston and Lewis Langston. They took that name somehow after the old war (Civil War), I recken it was her old master's name.
"After I was married and had children I was hard up. I went to a widow woman had a farm but no men folks. She say, 'If you live here and leave your little children in my yard and take my big boys and learn em to work, I will cook. On Saturday you wash and iron.' She took me in that way when my color wouldn't help me. I stayed there-between Memphis and Holly Springs.
"I live hard the way I live. I pick cotton when I can't go hardly. They did give me a little commodity but I lose half day work if I go up there and wait round. Don't know what they give me. I don't get a cent of the penshun."
Source: Arkansas Slave Narratives