The following data is extracted from Arkansas Slave Narratives.
Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson Person interviewed: John Wells, Edmondson, Arkansas Age: 82
"I was born down here at Edmondson, Arkansas. My owner was a captain in the Rebel War (Civil War). He run us off to Texas close to Greenville. He was keeping us from the Yankees. In fact my father had planned to go to the Yankees. My mother died on the way to Texas close to the Arkansas line. She was confined and the child died too. We went in a wagon. Uncle Tom and his wife and Uncle Granville went too. He left his wife. She lived on another white man's farm. My master was Captain R. Campbell Jones. He took us to Texas. He and my father come back in the same wagon we went to Texas in. My father (Joe Jones Wells) told Captain R. Campbell Jones if he didn't let him come back here that he would be here when he got here-beat him back. That's what he told him. Captain brought him on back with him.
"What didn't we do in Texas? Hooeee! I had five hundred head of sheep belonging to J. Gardner, a Texan, to herd every day-twice a day. Carry 'em off in the morning early and watch 'em and fetch 'em back b'fore dark. I was a shepherd boy is right. I liked the job till the snow cracked my feet open. No, I didn't have no shoes. Little round cactuses stuck in my feet.
"I had shoes to wear home. Captain Jones gave leather and everything needed to Uncle Granville. He was a shoemaker. He made us all shoes jus' before we was to start back. Captain Jones sent the wagon back for us. My father come back right here at Edmondson and farmed cotton and corn. Uncle Tom and Uncle Granville raised wheat out in Texas. They didn't have no overseer but they said they worked harder 'an ever they done in their lives, 'fore or since.
"My father went to war with his master. Captain Jones served 'bout three years I judge. My father went as his waiter. He got enough of war, he said.
"Captain R. Campbell Jones had a wife, Miss Anne, and no children. I seen mighty near enough war in Texas. They fit there. Yes ma'am, they did. I seen soldiers in Greenville, Texas. I seen the cavalry there. They looked so fine. Prettiest horses I ever seen.
"Freedom! Master Campbell Jones come to us and said, 'You free this morning. The war is over.' It been over then but travel was slow. 'You all can go back home, I'll take you, or you can go root hog or die.' We all got to gatherin' up our belongings to come back home. Tired of no wood neither, besides that hard work. We all share cropped with Captain R. Campbell Jones two years. I know that. We got plenty wood without going five or six miles like in Texas. After freedom folks got to changing 'bout to do better I reckon. I been farmin' right here all my life. We didn't have a lot to eat out in Texas neither. Mother was a farm woman too.
"I never seen a Ku Klux. Bad Ku Klux sound sorter like good Santa Claus. I heard 'em say it was real. I never seen neither one.
"I did own ten acres of land. I own a home now.
"My father drove a grub wagon from Memphis to Lost Swamp Bottom-near Edmondson-when they built this railroad through here.
"Father never voted. I have voted several times.
"Present times is tougher now than before it come on. Things not going like it ought somehow. We wants more pension. Us old folks needs a good living 'cause we ain't got much more time down here.
"Present generation-they are slack-I means they slack on their parents, don't see after them. They can get farm work to do. They waste their money more than they ought. Some folks purty nigh hungry. That is for a fact the way it is going.
"Master Henry Edmondson owned all the land to the Chatfield place to Lehi, Arkansas. He owned four or five thousand acres of land. It was bottoms and not cleared. They had floods then, rode around in boats sometimes. Colored folks could get land through Andy Flemming (colored man). Mr. Henry Edmondson and whole family died with the yellow fever. He had several children-Miss Emma, Henry, and Will I knowed. It is probably his father buried at far side of this town. A rattlesnake bit him. Lake Rest or Scantlin was a boat landing and that was where the nearest white folks lived to the Edmondsons. I worked for Mr. Henry Edmondson, the one died with yellow fever. He was easy to work for. Land wasn't cleared out much. He was here before the Civil War. Good many people, in fact all over there, died of yellow fever at Indian Mound. Me and my brother waited on white folks all through that yellow fever plague. Very few colored folks had it. None of 'em I heered tell of died with it. White folks died in piles. Now when the smallpox raged the colored folks had it seem like heap more and harder than white folks. Smallpox used to rage every few years. It break out and spread. That is the way so many colored folks come to own land and why it was named Edmondson. Named for Master Henry-Edmondson, Arkansas.
"Mrs. Cynthia Ann Earle wrote a diary during the Civil War. It was partly published in the Crittenden County Times-West Memphis paper-Fridays, November 27 and December 4, 1936. She tells interesting things happening. Mentions two books she is reading. She tells about a flood, etc. She tells about visiting and spending over a thousand dollars. Mrs. L.A. Stewart or Mrs. H.E. Weaver of Edmondson owns copies if they cannot be obtained at the printing office at West Memphis."
Source: Arkansas Slave Narratives