The following data is extracted from Arkansas Slave Narratives.
Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson Person interviewed: Anna Williamson, Holly Grove, Arkansas Age: Between 75 and 80
"Grandma come from North Carolina. Her master was Rodes Herndon, then Cager Booker. He owned my mama. My name is Anna Booker. I married Wes Williamson.
"My papa's master was Calvin Winfree. He come from Virginia. Me and Bert Winfree (white) raised together close to Somerville, Tennessee.
"Grandma and grandpa was named Maria and Allen. Her master was Rodes Herndon. I was fourth to the oldest of mama's children. She give me to grandma. That who raised me. Mama took to the field after freedom. Mama had seven or eight children.
"Mama muster been a pretty big sorter woman when she young. A ridin' boss went to whoopin' her once and she tore every rag clothes he had on offen him. I heard em say he went home strip start naked. I think they said he got turned off or quit, one.
"When mama was in slavery she had three girl babies and long wid them she nursed some of the white babies. She cooked some but wasn't the regular white folks' cook. Another black woman was the regular cook. I heard her say she was a field hand mostly durin' slavery.
"Folks was free two or three years fore they knowed it. Nobody told em.
"I used to have to go up the road to get milk for the old mistress. She boxed my ears. That when I was a child reckly after the war.
"They had a latch and a hart bar cross the door. I never was out but once after dark. I never seen no Ku Klux. My folks didn't know they was free.
"Dr. Washington lived in Somerville, Tennessee and brought us to Arkansas to farm. He owned acres and acres of land here. I was grown and had a house full of children. I got five living now.
"I don't vote. I don't know who to vote for. I would vote for the worst kinder officers maybe and I wouldn't wanter make times harder on us all 'an they is.
"I been cookin' and farmin' all my life. Now I get $10 a month from the Sociable Welfare.
"I used to pick up chips at Mrs. Willforms-pick up a big cotton basket piled up fore I quit. I seen the Yankees, they camped at the fair grounds. I thought they wore the prettiest clothes and the brass buttons so pretty on the blue suits. I hear em beat the drum. I go peep out when they come by.
"My old mistress slapped me till my eye was red cause one day I says 'Ain't them men pretty?' They camped at what is now the Fair Grounds at Somerville, Tennessee, at sorter right of town. My papa was a ox driver. That is all he done bout. Seem like there was haulin' to be done all the time.
"The folks used to be heap better than they is now. Some of the masters was mean to the slaves but they mortally had plenty to eat and wear and a house to live in. Some of the houses was sorry and the snow come in the cracks but we had big fire places and plenty wood to cook and keep warm by. The children all wore flannel clothes then to keep em warm. They raised sheep.
"It is a shame what folks do now. These young darky girls marries a boy and they get tired each other. They quit. They ain't got no sign of divorce! Course they ain't never been married! They jes' take up and live together, then they both go on livin' with some other man an' woman. It ain't right! Folks ain't good like they used to be. We old folks ain't got no use for such doin's. They done too smart to be told by us old folks. I do best I can an' be good as I knows how to be.
"The times is fine as I ever seen in my life. I wish I was young and strong. I wouldn't ask nobody for sistance. Tey ain't nuthin' wrong wid this year's crop as I sees. Times is fine."
Source: Arkansas Slave Narratives