The following data is extracted from Arkansas Slave Narratives.
Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor Person interviewed: Ishe Webb 1610 Cross Street, Little Rock, Arkansas Age: 78, or more
"I was born October 14. That was in slavery time. The record is burnt up. I was born in Atlanta, Georgia. My father's master was a Webb. His first name was Huel. My father was named after him. I came here in 1874, and I was a boy eleven or twelve years old then.
"My father was sold to another man for seventeen hundred dollars. My mother was sold for twenty hundred. I have heard them say that so much that I never will forget it. Webb sold my father and bought him back. My mother's folks were Calverts. The Calverts and the Webbs owned adjoining plantations.
"My grandmother on my mother's side was a Calvert too. Her first name was Joanna. I think my father's parents got beat to death in slavery. Grandfather on my mother's side was tied to a stump and whipped to death. He was double jointed and no two men could whip him. They wanted to whip him because he wouldn't work. That was what they would whip any one for. They would run off before they would work. Stay in the woods all night.
"My Grandma Calvert was buried over here in Galloway on the Rock Island road on the John Eynes plantation.
"My folks' masters were all right. But them nigger drivers were bad, just like the county farm. A man sitting in the house and putting you over a lot of men, you gwinter go up high as you want to.
"My father was a blacksmith and my mother was a weaver. There was a lot of those slavery folks 'round the house, and they tell me they didn't work them till they were twenty-one, they put them in the field when they were twenty-two. If you didn't work they would beat you to death. My father killed his overseer and went on off to the War.
"The pateroles used to drive and whip them. They would catch the slaves off without a pass and whip them and then make the boss pay for them when they took them back. I never seen the pateroles but I have seen the Ku Klux and they were the same thing.
"The jayhawkers would catch you when the pateroles didn't. They would carry you to the pateroles and get pay for you, and the pateroles would turn you over to the owners. You had to have a pass. If you didn't the pateroles would catch you and wear you out, keep you till the next morning, and then send you home by the jayhawkers. They didn't call them that though, they called them bushwhackers.
"The Ku Klux came after the War. They was the same thing as the pateroles-they come out from them. I know where the Ku Klux home is over here on Eighteenth and Broadway. That is where they broke up. It ain't never been open since. (Not correct-ed.)
"I saw the Yankees come in the yard on the Webb place. That was in the time of the War. The old man got on his horse and flew. The Yankees went in the smokehouse, broke it open, got all the meat they wanted. They didn't pay you nothing in slavery time. But what meat the Yankees didn't take for themselves, they give to the niggers.
"My folks never got anything for their work that I know of. I heard my mother say that nobody got paid for their work. I don't know whether they had a chance to make anything on the side or not.
"The Yankees, when they come in the yard that morning, told my father he was free. I remember that myself. They come up riding horses and carryin' long old guns with bayonets on them, and told him. They rode all over the country from one place to another telling the niggers they were free. Master didn't get a chance to tell us because he left when he saw them comin'.
"When my mother and father were living on the plantation, they lived in an old frame building. A portion of it was log. My father stayed with the Calverts-his wife's white folks. At first old man Webb sold him to them; then he bought him back and bought my mother too. They were together when freedom came. You know they auctioned you off in slavery time. Every year, they would, they put you up on the auction block and buy and sell. That was down in Georgia. We was in Georgia when we was freed-in Atlanta. My father and mother had fourteen children altogether. My mother died the year after we came out here. That would be about 1875. I never had but three children because my wife died early. Two of them are dead.
"Right after freedom, my father plaited baskets and mats. He shucked mops, put handles on rakes and did things like that in addition to his farming. He was a blacksmith all the time too. He used to plait collars for mules. He farmed and got his harvests in season. The other things would be a help to him between times.
"My father came here because he thought that there was a better situation here than in Georgia. Of course, the living was better there because they had plenty of fruit. Then he worked on a third and fourth. He got one bale of cotton out of every three he made. The slaves left many a plantation and they would grow up in weeds. When a man would clear up the ground like this and plant it down in something, he would get all he planted on it. That was in addition to the ground that he would contract to plant. He used to plant rice, peas, potatoes, corn, and anything else he wanted too. It was all his'n so long as it was on extra ground he cleared up.
"But they said, 'Cotton grows as high as a man in Arkansas.' Then they paid a man two dollars fifty cents for picking cotton here in Arkansas while they just paid about forty cents in Georgia. So my father came here. Times was good when we come here. The old man cleared five bales of cotton for himself his first year, and he raised his own corn. He bought a pony and a cow and a breeding hog out of the first year's money. He died about thirty-five years ago.
"When I was coming along I did public work after I became a grown man. First year I made crops with him and cleared two bales for myself at twelve and a half cents a pound. The second year I hired out by the month at forty-five dollars per month and board. I had to buy my clothes of course. After seven years I went to doing work as a millwright here in Arkansas. I stayed at that eighteen months. Then I steamboated.
"We had a captain on that steamboat that never called any man by his name. We rolled cotton down the hill to the boat and loaded it on, and if you weren't a good man, that cotton got wet. I never wetted my cotton. But jus' the same, I heard what the others heard. One day after we had finished loading, I thought I'd tell him something. The men advised me not to. He was a rough man, and he carried a gun in his pocket and a gun in his shirt. I walked up to him and said, 'Captain, I don't know what your name is, but I know you's a white man. I'm a nigger, but I got a name jus' like you have. My name's Webb. If you call Webb, I'll come jus' as quick as I will for any other name and a lot more willing. If you don't want to say Webb, you can jus' say "Let's go," and you'll find me right there.' He looked at me a moment, and then he said, 'Where you from?' I said, 'I'm from Georgia, but I came on this boat from Little Hock.' He put his arm around my shoulder and said, 'Come on upstairs.' We had two or three drinks upstairs, and he said, 'You and your pardner are the only two men I have that is worth a damn.' Then he said, 'But you are right; you have a name, and you have a right to be called by it.' And from then on, he quit callin' us out of our names.
"But I only stayed on the boat six months. It wasn't because of the captain. Them niggers was bad. They gambled all the time, and I gambled with them. But they wouldn't stop at that. They would argue and fight and cut and shoot. A man would shoot a man down, and then kick him off into the river. Then when there was roll call, nobody would know what became of him. I didn't like that. I knew that I was goin' to kill somebody if I stayed on that boat 'cause I didn't intend for nobody to kill me. So I stopped.
"After that, I went back to the man that I worked for the month for and stayed with him till I married. I took care of the stock. I was only married once. My wife died the fourteenth of October. We had three children, and I have one daughter living.
"I have voted often. I never had no trouble. I am a colored man and I ain't got nothin' but my character, but I take care of that. I let them know I am in Arkansas. I ain't been out of Arkansas but to Memphis and Vicksburg, and I took them trips on the boat I was working on. I was a good man then.
"I can't say nothing about these wild-headed young people. They ain't got no sense. Take God to handle them.
"Some parts of politics are all right and some are all wrong. It is like Grant. He was straddled the fence part of the time. I believe Roosevelt wants eight more years. Of course, he did a great deal for the people but the working man isn't getting enough money. Prices are so high and wages so low that a man keeps up to the grindstone and never gets ahead. They don't mean for a colored man to prosper by money. Senator Robinson said a nigger wasn't worth but fifty cents a day. But the nigger is coming anyhow. He is stinching hisself and doing without. The young folks ain't doing it though. These young folks doing every devilishment on earth they can. Look at that boy they caught the other day who had robbed twenty houses. This young race ain't goin' to stan' what I stood for. They goin' to school every day but they ain't learning nothin'. What will take us through this tedious journey through the world is his manners, his principle, and his behavior. Money ain't goin' to do it. You can't get by without principles, manner, and good behavior. Niggers can't do it. And white folks can't either."
Source: Arkansas Slave Narratives