The following data is extracted from Arkansas Slave Narratives.
Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson Person interviewed: Maggie Wesmoland, Brinkley, Arkansas Age: 85
"I was born in Arkansas in slavery time beyond Des Arc. My parents was sold in Mississippi. They was brought to Arkansas. I never seed my father after the closing of the war. He had been refugeed to Texas and come back here, then he went on back to Mississippi. Mama had seventeen children. She had six by my stepfather. When my stepfather was mustered out at De Valls Bluff he come to Miss (Mrs.) Holland's and got mama and took her on wid him. I was give to Miss Holland's daughter. She married a Cargo. The Hollands raised me and my sister. I never seen mama after she left. My mother was Jane Holland and my father was Smith Woodson. They lived on different places here in Arkansas. I had a hard time. I was awfully abused by the old man that married Miss Betty. She was my young mistress. He was poor and hated Negroes. He said they didn't have no feeling. He drunk all the time. He never had been used to Negroes and he didn't like em. He was a middle age man but Miss Betty Holland was in her teens.
"No, mama didn't have as hard a time as I had. She was Miss Holland's cook and wash woman. Miss Betty told her old husband, 'Papa don't beat his Negroes. He is good to his Negroes.' He worked overseers in the field. Nothing Miss Betty ever told him done a bit of good. He didn't have no feeling. I had to go in a trot all the time. I was scared to death of him-he beat me so. I'm scarred up all over now where he lashed me. He would strip me start naked and tie my hands crossed and whoop me till the blood ooze out and drip on the ground when I walked. The flies blowed me time and again. Miss Betty catch him gone, would grease my places and put turpentine on them to kill the places blowed. He kept a bundle of hickory switches at the house all the time. Miss Betty was good to me. She would cry and beg him to be good to me.
"One time the cow kicked over my milk. I was scared not to take some milk to the house, so I went to the spring and put some water in the milk. He was snooping round (spying) somewhere and seen me. He beat me nearly to death. I never did know what suit him and what wouldn't. Didn't nothing please him. He was a poor man, never been used to nothin' and took spite on me everything happened. They didn't have no children while I was there but he did have a boy before he died. He died fore I left Dardanelle. When Miss Betty Holland married Mr. Cargo she lived close to Dardanelle. That is where he was so mean to me. He lived in the deer and bear hunting country.
"He went to town to buy them some things for Christmas good while after freedom-a couple or three years. Two men come there deer hunting every year. One time he had beat me before them and on their way home they went to the Freemens bureau and told how he beat me and what he done it for-biggetness. He was a biggity acting and braggy talking old man. When he got to town they asked him if he wasn't hiding a little Negro girl, ask if he sent me to school. He come home. I slept on a bed made down at the foot of their bed. That night he told his wife what all he said and what all they ask him. He said he would kill whoever come there bothering about me. He been telling that about. He told Miss Betty they would fix me up and let me go stay a week at my sister's Christmas. He went back to town, bought me the first shoes I had had since they took me. They was brogan shoes. They put a pair of his sock on me. Miss Betty made the calico dress for me and made a body out of some of his pants legs and quilted the skirt part, bound it at the bottom with red flannel. She made my things nice-put my underskirt in a little frame and quilted it so it would be warm. Christmas day was a bright warm day. In the morning when Miss Betty dressed me up I was so proud. He started me off and told me how to go.
"I got to the big creek. I got down in the ditch-couldn't get across. I was running up and down it looking for a place to cross. A big old mill was upon the hill. I could see it. I seen three men coming, a white man with a gun and two Negro men on horses or mules. I heard one say, 'Yonder she is.' Another said, 'It don't look like her.' One said, 'Call her.' One said, 'Margaret.' I answered. They come to me and said, 'Go to the mill and cross on a foot log.' I went up there and crossed and got upon a stump behind my brother-in-law on his horse. I didn't know him. The white man was the man he was share croppin' with. They all lived in a big yard like close together. I hadn't seen my sister before in about four years. Mr. Cargo told me if I wasn't back at his house New Years day he would come after me on his horse and run me every step of the way home. It was nearly twenty-five miles. He said he would give me the worst whooping I ever got in my life. I was going back, scared not to be back. Had no other place to live.
"When New Year day come the white man locked me up in a room in his house and I stayed in there two days. They brought me plenty to eat. I slept in there with their children. Mr. Cargo never come after me till March. He didn't see me when he come. It started in raining and cold and the roads was bad. When he come in March I seen him. I knowed him. I lay down and covered up in leaves. They was deep. I had been in the woods getting sweet-gum when I seen him. He scared me. He never seen me. This white man bound me to his wife's friend for a year to keep Mr. Cargo from getting me back. The woman at the house and Mr. Cargo had war nearly about me. I missed my whoopings. I never got none that whole year. It was Mrs. Brown, twenty miles from Dardanelle, they bound me over to. I never got no more than the common run of Negro children but they wasn't mean to me.
"When I was at Cargo's, he wouldn't buy me shoes. Miss Betty would have but in them days the man was head of his house. Miss Betty made me moccasins to wear out in the snow-made them out of old rags and pieces of his pants. I had risings on my feet and my feet frostbite till they was solid sores. He would take his knife and stob my risings to see the matter pop way out. The ice cut my feet. He cut my foot on the side with a cowhide nearly to the bone. Miss Betty catch him outer sight would doctor my feet. Seem like she was scared of him. He wasn't none too good to her.
"He told his wife the Freemens Bureau said turn that Negro girl loose. She didn't want me to leave her. He despised nasty Negroes he said. One of them fellows what come for me had been to Cargo's and seen me. He was the Negro man come to show Patsy's husband and his share cropper where I was at. He whooped me twice before them deer hunters. They visited him every spring and fall hunting deer but they reported him to the Freemens Bureau. They knowed he was showing off. He overtook me on a horse one day four or five years after I left there. I was on my way from school. I was grown. He wanted me to come back live with them. Said Miss Betty wanted to see me so bad. I was so scared I lied to him and said yes to all he said. He wanted to come get me a certain day. I lied about where I lived. He went to the wrong place to get me I heard. I was afraid to meet him on the road. He died at Dardanelle before I come way from there.
"After I got grown I hired out cooking at $1.25 a week and then $1.50 a week. When I was a girl I ploughed some. I worked in the field a mighty little but I have done a mountain of washing and ironing in my life. I can't tell you to save my life what a hard time I had when I was growing up. My daughter is a blessing to me. She is so good to me.
"I never knowed nor seen the Ku Klux. The Bushwhackers was awful after the war. They went about stealing and they wouldn't work.
"Conditions is far better for young folks now than when I come on. They can get chances I couldn't get they could do. My daughter is tied down here with me. She could do washings and ironings if she could get them and do it here at home. I think she got one give over to her for awhile. The regular wash woman is sick. It is hard for me to get a living since I been sick. I get commodities. But the diet I am on it is hard to get it. The money is the trouble. I had two strokes and I been sick with high blood pressure three years. We own our house. Times is all right if I was able to work and enjoy things. I don't get the Old Age Pension. I reckon because my daughter's husband has a job-I reckon that is it. I can't hardly buy milk, that is the main thing. The doctor told me to eat plenty milk.
"I never voted."
Source: Arkansas Slave Narratives