The following data is extracted from Arkansas Slave Narratives.
[HW: High] STATE-Arkansas NAME OF WORKER-Blanche Edwards ADDRESS-Lonoke, Arkansas DATE-October 20, 1938 SUBJECT-An Old Slave
[TR: Repetitive information deleted from subsequent pages.]
Circumstances of Interview
1. Name and address of informant-Mrs. John G. High [TR: Emiline Waddell], living nine miles north of Lonoke, Arkansas.
2. Date and time of interview-October 20, 1938.
3. Place of interview-At the home of Mrs. John G. High, nine miles north of Lonoke.
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-
6. Description of room, house, surroundings, etc.
Text of Interview
Emiline Waddell, a former slave of the L.W. Waddell family, lived to be 106 years old, and was active up to her death.
She was born a slave in 1826 at Haben county, Georgia, a slave of Claybourne Waddell, who emigrated to Brownsville, in 1851, in covered wagons, oxen drawn.
Her "white folks" were three weeks making the trip from the ferry across the Mississippi to old Brownsville; after traveling all day through the bad and boggy woods, at the end of their rough journey at eventide, the movers dismounted and began hasty preparations for the night. While the men were feeding the stock and providing temporary quarters, the women assisted the slaves in preparing the evening meal, of hoe-cake, fried venison and coffee. Then the women and children would sleep in the wagons while the men kept watch for wild life.
Mammy Emiline was a faithful old black mammy, true to life and traditions, and refused her freedom, at the close of the war, as wanted to stay and raise "Old Massa's chilluns," which she did, for she was nursing her sixth generation in the Waddell family at the time of her death. Even to that generation there was a close tie between the southern child and his or her black mammy. A strange almost unbelievable thing happened to Emiline; she was born a deaf mute, but her hearing and speech was restored many years before her death, when lightening struck a tree under which she was standing.
Superstitious beliefs were strong in her and her tales of "hants" were to "her little white chilluns", really true but hair-raising. Then she would talk and live again the "days that are no more", telling them of the happy prosperous, sunny land, in her negro dialect, and then tell of the ruin and desolation behind the Yankees; the hard times my white folks had in the reconstruction days-negro and carpetbag rule; then give them glimpses of good-much courage, some heart and human feeling; perhaps ending with an outburst of the negro spiritual, her favorite being, "Swing low, sweet chariot, coming for to carry me home."
After a faithful service of 106 years, Emiline died in 1932 at the home of Mrs. John G. High, a great-granddaughter of L.W.C. Waddell living nine miles north of Lonoke, and the grown up great-great-grandchildren still miss Mammy.
Source: Arkansas Slave Narratives