The following data is extracted from Arkansas Slave Narratives.
[HW: Ex-slave] Name of Interviewer: Irene Robertson Subject: Ex-Slave-Herbs "Hant" experiences Story:-Information
This information given by: Mary Williams Place of Residence: Hazen, Arkansas Occupation: Field Worker Age: 69 [TR: Information moved from bottom of first page.]
Mary Williams mother's name was Mariah and before she married her master forced her to go wrong and she had a son by him. They all called him Jim Rob. He was a mulatta. Then Mariah married Williams on General Garretts farm. The Rob Roy farm and the Garrett farm joined. Mary was born at Rob Roy, Arkansas near Humphrey. Mary said the master married her mother and father after her mother was stood up on a stump and auctioned off. Her mother was a house girl. Soon there were rumors of freedom but their family lived on where they were. Her father said when he was a boy he attended the draw bars and met the old master to get a ride up behind him.
Once when her father was real small he was eating biscuit with a hole in it made by a grown person sticking finger down in it, then fill the hole with molasses. That was a rarity they had just cooked molasses. He was sitting in front of the fire place. Big White Bobby stuck his nose and mouth to take a bite of his bread. He picked the cat up and threw it in the fire. The cat ran out, smutty, just flying. The old mistress came in there and got after him about throwing the cat in the fire.
One time when my father was going to see my mother. Before they got married, across the field. He had a bag of potatoes. He felt something, felt like some one had caught his bag and was pulling him back. He was much off a man and thought he could whip nearly every body around but he was too scared to run and couldn't hardly get away.
Mary's mother, Mariah two children had been gone off. They were coming in on the boat some time in the night. The master sent two of the big boys down to build a fire and wait at the landing till they came. They went in the wagon. There was an old empty house up on the hill. So they went up there and built a fire and put their quilts down for pallets by the fire place. They heard hants outside, they peeped out the log cracks. They saw something white out there all the doors were buttoned and propped. When the boat came it blew and blew. The master wondered what in the world was the matter down there. The captian said he hated to put them out and nobody to meet them. It was after midnight. So some of the boat crew built them a fire and next morning when they got up on the hill they noticed somebody asleep as they peeped through the cracks and called them. Saw their wagon and knew it too. They said they was afraid of them hants around the house, too afraid to go down to the boat landing if they did hear the boat. Hants can't be seen in daytime only by people "what born with veils over their faces."
Her father was going to mill to have corn ground. It was before day light. He was driving an ox wagon.
In front of him he saw a sweet maple limb moving up and down over the road in front of him. He went on and the ox butted and kicked at it and it followed them nearly to the mill. It sounded like somebody crying. It turned and went back still crying. Her father said there were hants up in the tree and cut the limb off and followed him carrying it between themselves so he couldn't see what they looked like.
It is a sign of death for a hoot owl to come hollow in your yard.
Source: Arkansas Slave Narratives