The following data is extracted from Arkansas Slave Narratives.
Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden Person interviewed: Robert Wilson 811 West Pullen Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas Age: 101
"My name is Robert Wilson. I was born in Halifax County, Virginia. How old am I? Accordin' to my recollection I was twenty-three years old befo' the war started. Old master tole me how old I was. I'm a hundred and one now. Yes'm I knows I am.
"Yes'm I been sold. They put us up on the auction block jest like we was a hoss. They put me up and white man ax 'Who want to buy this boy?' One man say 'ten dollars' and then they run it up to a hundred. And they buy a girl to match you and raise you up together. When you want to get married you jump over the broomstick. I used to weigh one hundred and fifty-six pounds and a half, standin' weight. I could pick four and five hundred pounds of cotton in a day.
"When the Yankees come, old master make us boys take the sack of money and hide it in the big pond. Yes'm, we drove the buggy right in the water.
"Durin' the time of the war I used to ride 'long side of the Yankees. They give me a blue coat with brass buttons and a blue cap and brass-toed boots. I used to saddle and curry the bosses. I member Company Fifth and Sixth.
"They tole us the war was to make things better. We didn't know we was free till 'bout six months after the war was over. I didn't care whether I was free or not.
"'Bout slavery-well, I thinks like this. I think they fared better then. They didn't have to worry 'bout spenses. We had plenty chicken and everything. Nowdays when you pay the rent you ain't got nothin' left to buy somethin' to eat.
"Yes'm, I been to school. I'se a preacher (showing me his certificate of ordination). I lives close to the Lord. The Lord done left me here for a purpose.
"When we used to pray we put our heads under the wash pot to keep old master from hearin' us. Old master make us put the chillun to bed fo' dark. I 'member one song he make us sing-
'Down in Mobile, down in Mobile How I love dat pretty yellow gal, She rock to suit me--; Down in Mobile, down in Mobile.' "You 'member when Grant took the fort at Vicksburg? I 'member he and that general on the white hoss-yes'm, General Lee, they eat dinner together and then after dinner they go to fightin'.
"Oh lord! Don't talk about them Ku Klux.
"Cose I believes in spirits. Don't you? Well you ain't never been skeered.
"After freedom my folks refugeed from Virginia to Tennessee so I went to Memphis. We got things from the Bureau. Yes, Lord! I had everything I wanted. I wouldn't care if that time would come back now.
"'Did you ever vote?' Me? Yes'm I voted. Never had no trouble 'tall. I voted for Garfield. I 'member when Garfield was shot. I was settln' out in the yard. The moon was in the 'clipse. I'll never forget it.
"I think the colored folks should have a legal right to vote, cause if ever they come another war-now listen-them darkies ain't never goin' to France again. The nigger ain't got no country-this is white man's town.
"What I been doin' since the war? Well, I'm a good cook. When I puts on the white apron, I knows what to do. Then I preaches. The Lord done revealed things to me.
"I'll tell you 'bout this younger generation. They is goin' to destruction. They is not envelopin (developing) their education.
"Well I done tole you all I know. Guess I tole you 'bout a book, ain't I?"
Source: Arkansas Slave Narratives