The following data is extracted from Arkansas Slave Narratives.
Interviewer: Irene Robertson Subject: NEGRO LORE Story:-Information
This information given by: Charlie Vaden Place of Residence: Hazen, Green Grove, Ark. Occupation: Farming Age: 77 [TR: Information moved from bottom of first page.]
Charlie Vaden's father ran away and went to the war to fight. He was a slave and left his owner. His mother died when he was five years old but before she died she gave Charlie to Mrs. Frances Owens (white lady). She came to Des Arc and ran the City Hotel. He never saw his father till he was grown. He worked for Mrs. Owens. He never did run with colored folks then. He nursed her grandchildren, Guy and Ira Brown. When he was grown he bought a farm at Green Grove. It consisted of a house and forty-seven acres of land. He farmed two years. A fortune teller came along and told him he was going to marry but he better be careful that they wouldn't live together or he might "drop out." He went ahead and married like he was "fixing" to do. They just couldn't get along, so they got divorced.
They had the wedding at her house and preacher Isarel Thomas (colored) married them and they went on to his house. He don't remember how she was dressed except in white and he had a "new outfit too."
Next he married Lorine Rogers at the Green Grove Church and took her home. She fell off the porch with a tub of clothes and died from it just about a year after they married.
He married again at the church and lived with her twenty years. They had four girls and four boys. She died from the change of life.
The last wife he didn't live with either. She is still living.
Had another fortune teller tell his fortune. She said, "Uncle, you are pretty good but be careful or you'll be walking around begging for victuals." He said it had nearly come to that now except it hurt him to walk. (He can hardly walk.) He believes some of what the fortune tellers tell comes true. He has been on the same farm since 1887, which is forty-nine years, and did fine till four years ago. He can't work, couldn't pay taxes, and has lost his land.
He was paralized five months, helpless as a baby, couldn't dress himself. An herb doctor settled at Green Grove and used herbs for tea and poultices and cured him. The doctors and the law run him out of there. His name was Hopkins from Popular Bluff, Missouri.
Charlie Vaden used to have rheumatism and he carried a buckeye in each pants pocket to make the rheumatism lighter. He thought it did some good.
He has a birthmark. Said his mother must have craved pig tails. He never had enough pig tails to eat in his life. The butchers give them to him when he comes to Hazen or Des Arc. He said he would "fight a circle saw for a pig tail."
He can't remember any old songs or old tales. In fact he was too small when his mother died (five years old).
He believes in herb medicine of all kinds but can't remember except garlic poultice is good for neuralgia. Sassafras is a good tea, a good blood purifier in the spring of the year.
He knows a weather sign that seldom or never falls. "Thunder in the morning, rain before noon." "Seldom rains at night in July in Arkansas."
He has seen lots of lucky things but doesn't remember them. "It's bad luck to carry hoes and rakes in the living house." "It's bad luck to spy the new moon through bushes or trees."
He doesn't believe in witches, but he believes in spirits that direct your course as long as you are good and do right. He goes to church all the time if they have preaching. Green Grove is a Baptist church. He is not afraid of dead people. "They can't hurt you if they are dead."
Source: Arkansas Slave Narratives