The following data is extracted from Arkansas Slave Narratives.
Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor Person interviewed: Henry Waldon 816 Walnut Street. North Little Rock, Arkansas Age: 84
"I was plowing when they surrendered. I had just learned to plow, and was putting up some land. My young master come home and was telling me the War was ended and we was all free.
"I was born in Lauderdale County, Mississippi. I think it was about 1854. My father's name [HW: was] ----, my mother's [HW: was] ----, I knew them both.
"My mother belonged to Sterling and my father belonged to a man named Huff-Richmond Huff.
"We lived in Lauderdale County. Huff wouldn't sell my father and my people wouldn't sell my mother. They lived about a mile or so apart. They didn't marry in them days. The niggers didn't, that is. Father would just come every Saturday night to see my mother. His cabin was about three miles from her's. We moved from Lauderdale County to Scott County, Mississippi, and that separated mama and papa. They never did meet again. Of course, I mean it was the white people that moved, but they carried mama and us with them. Papa and mama never did meet again before freedom, and they didn't meet afterwards.
"My mother had twelve children-eight girls and four boys. She had one by a man named Peter Smith. She was away from her husband then. She had four by my father-two boys and two girls; my father's name was Peter Huff. My mother's name was Mary Sterling. I never did see my father no more after we moved away from him.
"My father made cotton and corn, plowed and hoed in slavery time. His old master had seventy-five or eighty hands. His old master treated him pretty rough. He whipped them about working. He never hired no overseer over them. When he whipped them he took their shirts off and whipped them on their naked backs. He cut the blood out of some of them. He never did rub no salt nor vinegar in their wounds. His youngest son done his overseeing. He would whip them sometime but he wasn't tight on them like some that I knowed.
"A fellow by the name of Jim Holbert was mean to his slaves as a man could be. He would whip them night and day. Work them till dark; then they would eat supper. Cook their own supper. Had nothing to cook but a little meat and bread and molasses. Then they would go back and bale up three or four bales of cotton. Some nights they work till twelve o'clock then get up before daylight-'round four o'clock-and cook their breakfast and go to work again. That was on Jim Holbert and Lard Moore's place. Them was two different men and two different places-plantations. They whipped their slaves a good deal-always beating down on somebody. They made their backs sore. Their backs would be bleeding just like they cut it with knives. Then they would wash it down with water and salt.
"On my master's farm, each one cooked in his own cabin. While the hands were working, my master left one child, the largest, stay there and taken care of the little ones.
"They had bloodhounds too; they'd run you away in the woods. Send for a man that had hounds to track you if you run away. They'd run you and bay you, and a white man would ride up there and say, 'If you hit one of them hounds, I'll blow your brains out.' He'd say 'your damn brains.' Them hounds would worry you and bite you and have you bloody as a beef, but you dassent to hit one of them. They would tell you to stand still and put your hands over your privates. I don't guess they'd have killed you but you believed they would. They wouldn't try to keep the hounds off of you; they would set them on you to see them bite you. Five or six or seven hounds bitin' you on every side and a man settin' on a horse holding a doubled shotgun on you.
"My old miss's sister hired slave women out to old Jim Holbert once. One of them was in a delicate state, and they dug a hole and put her stomach down in it and whipped her till she could hardly walk.
"Holbert lived to see the niggers freed. All of his slaves left him pretty well when freedom come. He managed to hold on to his money. He didn't go to the War. He was pretty old. He had two sons in the War-his wife had one in there and he had one. One of them got wounded but he didn't die.
"My mistress's oldest son, Ed Sterling, got shot in the Civil War. He got shot right in the side at Franklin, Tennessee. It tore his whole side off-near about killed him. But he lived to ride paterole. He was mean. Catch a man in bed with his wife at night, he'd whip him and make him go home. He was the meanest man in the world. All the other sons were better than he was. His name was Ed Sterling.
"The first thing I remember was work. You weren't allowed to remember nothing but work in slave times and you got whipped about that. You weren't allowed to go nowhere but carry the mules out to the pasture to eat grass. Sometimes they jump the fence and go over in the field and eat corn. Me and another fellow named Sandy used to watch them all day Sunday. Watching the mules and working in the fields through the week was the first work I remember. Me and my sister worked on one row. The two of us made a hand. She is down in Texas somewheres now. They taken her from old lady Sterling's place. She give them to her son and he carried them down in Texas. He had a broken leg and never did go to the war. If he did, I never knowed nothing about it.
"None of the masters never give me anything. None of them as I knows of never give anything to any of the slaves when they freed 'em. Never give a devilish thing. Told them that they was free as they was and that they could stay there and help them make crops if they wanted to. The biggest part of them stayed. The rest went away. Their husbands taken them away.
"Right after the war my mother married an old fellow who used to be old Holbert's nigger driver. He stayed on Sterling's place one night. He stayed there a year. Then he married my mother and went to old Holbert's place and of course, we had to go too. I stayed there and worked for him. And my mama too and the two youngest sisters and the youngest brother stayed with me. I run away from him in '86. I went down the railroad about five miles and an old colored fellow give me a job. He used to belong to the railroad boss.
"I worked nearly two years on that railroad; then I left and come on down to Arkansas. I have been right here on this spot about forty years. I don't know how long it is been since I first come here, but it is been a long time ago. I paid fire insurance on this place for thirty-nine years. I lived over the river before I came to North Little Rock. I worked for the railroad company thirty-eight years. It's been fifteen years since I was able to work-maybe longer.
"I belong to Little Bethel Church (A.M.E.) here in North Little Rock. I been a member of that church more than thirty-five years.
"I have been married twice, and I am the father of three children that are living and two that dead-Tommy, Jim, Ewing, Mayzetta, and the baby. He was too young to have a name when he died.
"I think things is worse than they ever was. Everything we get we have to pay for, and then pay for paying for it. If it wasn't for my wife I could hardly live because I don't get much from the railroad company."
Source: Arkansas Slave Narratives