The following data is extracted from Arkansas Slave Narratives.
Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson Person interviewed: Cal Woods; R.F.D., Biscoe, Arkansas Age: 85?
"I don't know zactly how old I is. I was good size boy when the war come on. We all belonged to a man named John Woods. We lived in South Carolina during slavery. Slavery was prutty bad itself but the bad time come after the war. The land was hilly some red and some pore and sandy. Had to plough a mule or horse. Hard to make a living. Some folks was rich, had heap of slaves and some bout one family. Small farmer have 160 acres and one family of slaves. When a man had one or two slave families he treated em better an if he had a great big acreage and fifteen or twenty families. The white folks trained the black man and woman. If he have so many they didn't learn how to do but one or two things. Mas generally they all worked in the fields in the busy seasons and sometimes the white folks have to work out there too. Sometimes they get in debt and have to sell off some slave to pay the debt.
"Things seemed heap mo plentiful. Before the war folks wore fine clothes. They go to their nearest tradin point and sell cotton. They had fine silk clothes and fine knives and forks. They would buy a whole case o cheese at one time and a barrel of molasses. Folks eat more and worked harder than they do now.
"Some folks was mean to their slaves and some slaves mean. It is lack it is now, some folks good no matter what dey color, other folks bad. Black folks never knowed there was freedom till they was fighting and going to war. Some say they was fightin to save their slaves, some say the Union broke. The slave never been free since he come to dis world, didn't know nuthin bout freedom till they tole em bout it.
"I recollect bout the Ku Klux after the war. Some folks come over the country and tell you you free and equal now. They tell you what to do an how to run the country and then if you listen to them come the Ku Klux all dressed half mile down the road. That Ku Klux sprung up after the war bout votin an offis-holdin mong the white folks. The white folks ain't then nor now havin no black man rulin over him. Them Ku Klux walked bout on high sticks and drink all the water you have from the spring. Seem lack they meddled a whole heap. Course the black folks knowed they was white men. They hung some slaves and white Yankees too if they be very mean. They beat em. Hear em hollowing and they hollow too. They shoot all directions round and up an down the road. That's how you know they comin close to yo house. If you go to any gatherins they come break it up an run you home fast as you could run and set the dogs on you. Course the dogs bite you. They say they was not goiner have equalization if they have to kill all the Yankees and niggers in the country. The masters sometime give em a home. My mother left John Woods then. The family went back. He give her an my papa twenty acres their lifetime. Where dey stayed on the old folks had a little at some places. They didn't divide up no plantations I ever heard of. They never give em no mules. If some tole em they would I know they sho didn't. Didn't give em nuthin I tell you. My mother's name was Sylvia and papa's name was Hack Woods.
"I come to Arkansas so my little boys would have a home. I had a little home an sold it to come out here. Agents come round showin pictures how big the cotton grow. They say it grow like trees out here. The children climb the stalks an set on the limb lack birds to pick it. They show pictures like that. Cotton basket way down under it on the ground. See droves of wild hogs coming up, look big as mules. Men ridin em. No I didn't know they said it was so fine. We come in freight cars wid our furniture and everything we brought. We had our provision in baskets and big buckets. It lasted till we passed Atlanta. We nearly starved the rest of the way. When we did stop you never hear such a hollein. We come two days and nights hard as we could come. We stayed up and eat, cooked meat an eggs on the stove in the store till daybreak. Then they showed us wha to go to our places the next day. I been here ever since.
"I hab voted. I done quit lettin votin bother me up. All I see it do is give one fellow out of two or three a job both of them maybe ought to have. The meanest man often gets lected. It the money they all after not the work in it. I heard em say what all they do and when they got lected they forgot to do all they say they would do.
"I never knowed bout no slave uprisins. Thed had to uprose wid rocks an red clods. The black man couldn't shoot. He had no guns. They had so much work they didn't know how to have a uprisin. The better you be to your master the better he treat you. The white preachers teach that in the church."
Source: Arkansas Slave Narratives