The following data is extracted from Arkansas Slave Narratives.
Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden Person interviewed: Mary Williams 409 North Hickory, Pine Bluff, Arkansas Age: 82
"Yes mam, I sure would be glad to talk to you 'bout slavery times. I can sure tell about it-I certainly can, lady.
"I am so proud 'bout my white folks 'cause they learned me how to work and tell the truth. I had a good master and mistress. Yes'm, I sure did.
"I was borned in middle Georgia and I just love the name of Georgia. I was the second born of 'leven children and they is all dead 'cept me-I'm the only one left to tell the tale.
"When the ginnin' started I was always glad 'cause I could ride the crank they had the mules hitched to. And then after the cotton was ginned they took it to the press and you could hear that screw go z-m-m-m and dreckly that 'block and tickle' come down. Yes mam, I sure did have good times.
"You ain't never seen a spinnin' wheel has you? Well, I used to card and spin. I never did weave but I hope dye the hanks. They weaved it into cloth and called it muslin.
"I can 'member all I want to 'bout the war. I 'member when the Yankees come through Georgia. I walked out in the yard with 'em and my white people just as scared of 'em as they could be. I heered the horses feet, then the drums, and then 'bout twenty-five or thirty bugles. I was so amazed when the Yankees come. I heered their songs but I couldn't 'member 'em.
"One thing I 'member jest as well as if 'twas this mornin'. That was the day young master Henry Lee went off to war. Elisha Pearman hired him to go and told him that when the war ceasted he would give him two or three darkies and let him marry his daughter. Young master Henry (he was just eighteen) he say he goin' to take old Lincoln the first thing and swing him to a limb and let him play around awhile and then shoot his head off. But I 'member the morning old mistress got a letter that told how young master Henry was in a pit with the soldiers and they begged him not to stick his head up but he did anyway and they shot it off. Old mistress jest cry so.
"One thing I know, the Yankees took a lot of things. I 'member they took Mrs. Fuller to the well and said they goin' hang her by the thumbs-but they just done it for mischievous you know. They didn't take nothin' from my white people 'cept some chickens and a hog, and cut down the hams. They put the old rooster in the sack and he went to squawkin' so they took him out and wrung his neck.
"My white people used to carry me with 'em anywhere they go. That's how come I learn so much. I sure did learn a heap when I was small. I 'member the first time my old mistress and my young mistress carried me to church. When the preacher got through preachin' (he was a big fine lookin' man with white gray hair) he come down from the pulpit and say 'Come to me, you sinners, poor and needy.' And he told what Jesus said to Nicodemus how he must be born again. I wanted to go to the mourners' bench so bad, but old mistress wouldn't let me. When I got home I told my mother to borned me again. You see I was jest little and didn't know no better.
"I never seen no Ku Klux but I could have. They never bothered us but they whipped the shirttails off some of 'em. Some darkies is the meanest things God ever put breath in.
"Most generally the white folks was good to their darkies. My young master used to sneak out his Blue Back Speller and learned my father how to read, and after the war he taught school. He started me off and then a teacher from the North come down and taught us.
"I've done pitty near every kind a work there is to do. There is some few white people here can identify me. I most always work for 'ristocratic people. It seems that was just my luck.
"I don't think nothin' of this here younger generation. They ain't nothin' to 'em. They say to me 'Why don't you have your hair straightened' but I say 'I've got along this far without painted jaws and straight hair.' And I ain't goin' wear my dresses up to my knees or trail 'em in the mud, either.
"I been married four times and every one of 'em is dead and buried. My las' husband was in the Spanish-American War and now I gets a pension. Yes'm it sure does help.
"I only had two children is all I is had. They is both dead and when God took my last one, I thought he wasn't jest but I see now God knows what's best cause if I had my grandchildren now I'd sure beat 'em. I'd love 'em, but I sure wouldn't let 'em run around.
"The biggest part of these niggers puts their mistakes on the white folks. It's easier to do right than wrong cause right whips wrong every time into a frazzle.
"I don't read much now since my eyes ain't so good but tell me whatever become of Teddy Roosevelt?
"I'm sorry I can't offer you no dinner but I'm just cookin' myself some peas.
"Well, lady, I sure am glad you come. I jest knew the Lord was goin' send somebody for me to talk to. I loves to talk so well. Good bye and come back again sometime."
Source: Arkansas Slave Narratives