The following data is extracted from Arkansas Slave Narratives.
Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor Person interviewed: Frank Williams County Hospital, ward eleven, Little Rock, Arkansas Age: 100, or more
"I'm a hundred years old. I know I'm a hundred. I know from where they told me. I don't know when I was born.
"I been took down and whipped many a time because I didn't do my work good. They took my pants down and whipped me just the same as if I'd been a dog. Sometimes they would whip the people from Saturday night till Monday morning.
"I run off with the Yankees. I was young then. I was in the Civil War. I don't know how long I stayed in the army. I ain't never been back home since. I wish I was. I wouldn't be in this condition if I was back home.
"Mississippi was my home. I come up here with the Yankees and I ain't never been back since. Laconia, Mississippi was the place I used to be down there. I been wanting to go home, but I couldn't git off. I want to git you to write there for me. I belong to the Baptist church. Write to the elders of the church. I belong to the Mission Baptist Church on the other side of Rock Creek here.
"They just lived in log houses in slave time.
"I want to go back home. They made me leave Laconia.
"Pateroles!! Oh, my God!!! I know 'nough 'bout them. Child, I've heard 'em holler, 'Run, nigger, run! The pateroles will catch you.'
"The jayhawkers would catch people and whip them.
"I would be back home yet if they hadn't made me come away.
"They didn't have no church in slavery time. They jus' had to hide around and worship God any way they could.
"I used to live in Laconia. I ain't been back there since the war. I want to go back to my folks."
Frank Williams is like a man suffering from amnesia. He is the first old man that I have interviewed whose memory is so far gone. He remembers practically nothing. He can't tell you where he was born. He can't tell you where he lived before he came to Little Rock. Only when his associates mention some of the things he formerly told them can he remember that little of his past that he does state in any remote approach to detail.
There is a strong emotional set which relates to his slave time experiences. The emotion surges up in his mind at any mention of slave time matters. But only the emotion remains. The details are gone forever. Names, times, places, happenings are gone forever. He does not even recall the name of his father, the name of his mother, or the name of any of his relatives or masters, or old-time friends. No single definite thing rises above the horizon of his mind and defines itself clearly to him.
And always after every sentence he utters, there rises the old refrain: "I want to go back home. I wouldn't be in this condition if I was back home. I live in Laconia. They made me come away." And that is the substance of the story he remembers.
Source: Arkansas Slave Narratives