Whitfield, J. W.
The following data is extracted from Arkansas Slave Narratives.
Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor Person interviewed: J.W. Whitfield 3100 W. Seventeenth Street, Little Rock, Arkansas Age: About 60 Occupation: Preacher
"My father's name was Luke Whitfield. He was sixty-three years old when he died in 1902. He was twenty-six years old when the Civil War ended. He was a slave. There were three other boys in the family besides him. No girls.
"His old mars' name was Bill Carraway. They lived at Nubian [HW: New Bern], North Carolina.
"My father said that his work in slavery time was blacksmithing. He had to fix the wagons and the plow too. He said that was his work during the Civil War too. He worked in the Confederate army too.
"I remember him saying how they whipped him when he ran off. The overseer got after him to whip him and he and one of his friends ran off. As they jumped over the fence to go into the woods the old mars hit my daddy with a cat-o-nine tails. You see, they took a strap of harness leather and cut it into four thongs and then they took another and cut it into five thongs, and they tied them together. When you got one blow you got nine and when you got five blows you got forty-five. As his old mars hit him, he said. 'I got him one, sir; it was a good one too, sir, and a go-boy.'[HW: ?] But it was nine.
"My father told me how they married in slavery times. They didn't count marriage like they do now. If one landowner had a girl and another wanted that girl for one of his men, they would give him her to wife. When a boy-child was born out of this marriage they would reserve him for breeding purposes if he was healthy and robust. But if he was puny and sickly they were not bothered about him. Many a time if the boy was desirable, he was put on the stump and auctioned off by the time he was thirteen years old. They called that putting him on the block. Different ones would come and bid for him and the highest bidder would get him.
"My father spoke of a pass. That was when they wanted to see the girls they would have to get a pass from the old mars. My father would speak to his mars and get a pass. If he didn't have a pass, the other mars would give him a whipping and sent him back. I told you about how they whipped them. They used to use those cat-o-nine tails on them when they didn't have a pass.
"They lived in a log cabin dobbed with dirt and their clothes were woven on a loom. They got the cotton, spun it on the spinning-wheel, wove it on the loom on rainy days. The women spun the thread and wove the cloth. For the boys from five to fifteen years old, they would make long shirts out of this cloth. The shirts had deep scallops in them. Then they would take the same cloth and dye it with indigo and make pants out of it. The boys never wore those pants in the field. No young fellow wore pants until he began to court.
"My mother was a girl that was sold in Lenoir County, near Kenston, [HW: Kinston?] North Carolina. My father met her in a place called Buford, [HW: Beaufort? Carteret Co.] North Carolina. My father was sold several times. The owner sold her to his owner and they jumped over a broomstick and were married. My daddy's mars bought my mother for him. Her name was Penny."
Source: Arkansas Slave Narratives