The following data is extracted from Arkansas Slave Narratives.
[HW: Hot Springs] Interviewer: Mary D. Hudgins Person interviewed: Anna Woods, 426 Grand Avenue
"Yes ma'am. Come on in. Is you taking lists of folks for old age pensions? Can you tell us what we going to get and when it's going to come? No? Then-Oh, I see you is writing us up. Well maybe that will help us to get attention. Cause we sure does need the pension.
To be sure I remembers slave days. My grandmother-she was give away in the trading yard. She was aflicted. What was the matter with her? Was she lame? No ma'am, she had the scrofula. So her mother was sold away from her, but she was give away. She was give away to a woman named Glover.
Mrs. Glover was a old woman when I knowed her. She was an old, old woman. She sort of studied before she'd say anything. She was a pretty good old woman though, Mrs. Glover was. She wouldn't let her colored folks be whipped. She wouldn't let me work in the field. Old Donovan wanted me to work in the field-but she wouldn't let him make me. Donovan was Mary's husband. Mary was Mrs. Glover's girl's girl. Mrs. Glover's girl was named Kate.
Mrs. Glover had a whole flock of slaves. My mother and another woman named Sallie cooked and did the washing. Fannie, she was my sister, was old Mrs. Glover's maid. Robert and Sally and Lucy-they was my brother and sisters-all of them worked in the field. They had to begin early and work late. They got them out way fore day. They worked them til dark.
I remembers that Sally and Lucy used to wear boots and roll their skirts up nearly to their waistses. Why-well you see sometimes it was muddy. Did we raise rice-No, ma'am. We mostly raised corn and cotton, like everybody else.
We lived near Natchez. No ma'am, I never see but one colored person whipped. His name was Robert. They laid him down on his stomach to whip him. Never did hear what he had done. Maybe he run off. They usually whipped them for that. No ma'am. I was right. Mrs. Glover didn't let her colored folks be whipped. Robert, you see, was Donovan's man. He didn't belong to Mrs. Glover. Her folks never got whipped.
Maybe Robert run off. I don't know. The folks did one thing special to keep them from running. They fastened a sort of yoke around they necks. From it there run up a sort of piece and there was a bell on the top of that. It was so high the folks who wore it couldn't reach the bell. But if they run it would tinkle and folks could find them. I don't quite know how it worked-I just slightly remembers.
No, ma'am, I was just sort of a little girl before the war. You might say I was never a slave. Cause I didn't have to work. Mrs. Glover wouldn't let me work in the field and I didn't have much work to do in the house either. Mrs. Glover was an old widow woman, but she was shore good. Miss Kate was her onliest child. Kate's daughter was named Mary.
Was I afraid of the soldiers? No ma'am. I wasn't.
Lots of them that came through were colored soldiers. I remember that they wore long tailed coats. They had brass buttons on they coats. But we had to move from Natchez.
First the soldiers run us off to Tennisaw Parish-an island there." (A check on maps in the atlas of Encyclopedia Britannica reveals a Tenses Parish, Louisiana-across the river and a few miles north of Natchez.) "We couldn't even stay there. They drove us along, and finally we wound up in Texas.
We wasn't there in Texas long when the soldiers marched in to tell us that we was free. Seems to me like it was on a Monday morning when they come in. Yes, it was a Monday. They went out to the field and told them they was free. Marched them out of the fields. They come a'shouting. I remembers one woman, she jumped up on a barrell and she shouted. She jumped off and she shouted. She jumped back on again and shouted some more. She kept that up for a long time, just jumping on a barrell and back off again.
Yes ma'am, we children played. I remembers that the grown folks used to have church-out behind an old shed. They'd shout and they'd sing. We children didn't know what it all meant. But every Monday morning we'd get up and make a play house in an old wagon bed-and we'd shout and sing too. We didn't know what it meant, or what we was supposed to be doing. We just aped our elders.
When the war was over my brother, he drove the carriage, he drove the white folks back to Natchez. But we didn't go-my family. We stopped part way to Natchez. Never did see Miss Kate or Mrs. Glover again. Never did see them again. Lots later my brother learned where we was. He came back for us and took us to Natchez. But we never did see Mrs. Glover again.
I lived on in Natchez. I worked for white folks-cooked for them. I did a lot of traveling. Even went up into Virginia. Traveled most of the time. I'd go with one family and when we'd get back, there'd be another one who wanted me to go and take care of their children.
Been in Hot Springs since 1905. Worked for Dr. ---- first. Stayed right in the house. Never did see such fine folks as Dr. ---- " (prominent local surgeon) "and his wife. Then I worked for Mr. ---- " (prominent realtor) "Yes, and I's worked at the Army and Navy Hospital too. Mighty nice up there. Worked in the officer's mess-finest place up there. I's worked for the officers too. Then I's worked for the Levi Hospital. Worked for lots of folks.
I's worked for lots of folks and in lots of places. But I haven't got anything now. How soon do you think they will begin paying us? I get just $10 from the county every month. $5 of that goes for my house. Folks gives me clothes, but if they'd only give me groceries too, I could get along. When do you think they will begin to pay us?
Source: Arkansas Slave Narratives