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Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person Interviewed: Carrie Bradley Logan Bennett
Age: 79 plus
Location: Helena, Arkansas
“I was born not a great piece from Mobile but it was in Mississippi in the country. My mother b’long to Massa Tom Logan. He was a horse trader. He got drowned in 1863—durin’ of the War, the old war. His wife was Miss Liza Jane. They had several children and some gone from home I jus’ seed when they be on visits home. The ones at home I can recollect was Tiney, John, Bill, and Alex. I played wid Tiney and nursed Bill and Alex was a baby when Massa Tom got drowned.
“We never knowed how Massa Tom got drowned. They brought him home and buried him. His horse come home. He had been in the water, water was froze on the saddle. They said it was water soaked. They thought he swum the branch. Massa Tom drunk some. We never did know what did happen. I didn’t know much ’bout ’em.
“He had two or three families of slaves. Ma cooked, washed and ironed for all on the place. She went to the field in busy times. Three of the men drove horses, tended to ’em. They fed ’em and curried and sheared ’em. Ma said Massa Tom sure thought a heap of his niggers and fine stock. They’d bring in three or four droves of horses and mules, care fer ’em, take ’em out sell ’em. They go out and get droves, feed ’em up till they looked like different from what you see come there. He’d sell ’em in the early part of the year. He did make money. I know he muster. My pa was the head blacksmith on Masaa Tom’s place, them other men helped him along.
“I heard ma say no better hearted man ever live than Massa Tom if you ketch him sober. He give his men a drink whiskey ’round every once in awhile. I don’t know what Miss Liza Jane could do ’bout it. She never done nothin’ as ever I knowed. They sent apples off to the press and all of us drunk much cider when it come home as we could hold and had some long as it lasts. It turn to vinegar. I heard my pa laughing ’bout the time Massa Tom had the Blue Devils. He was p’isoned well as I understood it. It muster been on whiskey and something else. I never knowed it. His men had to take keer of ’em. He acted so much like he be crazy they laughed ’bout things he do. He got over it.
“Old mistress—we all called her Miss Liza Jane—whooped us when she wanted to. She brush us all out wid the broom, tell us go build a play house. Children made the prettiest kinds of play houses them days. We made the walls outer bark sometimes. We jus’ marked it off on the ground out back of the smokehouse. We’d ride and bring up the cows. We’d take the meal to a mill. It was the best hoecake bread can be made. It was water ground meal.
“We had a plenty to eat, jus’ common eatin’. We had good cane molasses all the tine. The clothes was thin ’bout all time ‘ceptin’ when they be new and stubby. We got new clothes in the fall of the year. They last till next year.
“I never seed Massa Tom whoop nobody. I seen Miss Liza Jane turn up the little children’s dresses and whoop ’em with a little switch, and straws, and her hand. She ‘most blister you wid her bare hand. Plenty things we done to get whoopin’s. We leave the gates open; we’d run the calves and try to ride ’em; we’d chunk at the geese. One thing that make her so mad was for us to climb up in her fruit trees and break off a limb. She wouldn’t let us be eating the green fruit mostly ’cause it would make us sick. They had plenty trees. We had plenty fruit to eat when it was ripe. Massa Tom’s little colored boys have big ears. He’d pull ’em every time he pass one of ’em. He didn’t hurt ’em but it might have made their ears stick out. They all had big ears. He never slapped nobody as ever I heard ’bout.
“I don’t know how my parents was sold. I’m sure they was sold. Pa’s name was Jim Bradley (Bradly). He come from one of the Carolinas. Ma was brought to Mississippi from Georgia. All the name I heard fer her was Ella Logan. When freedom cone on, I heard pa say he thought he stand a chance to find his folks and them to find him if he be called Bradley. He did find some of his brothers, and ma had some of her folks out in Mississippi. They come out here hunting places to do better. They wasn’t no Bradleys. I was little and I don’t recollect their names. Seem lack one family we called Aunt Mandy Thornton. One was Aunt Tillie and Uncle Mack. They wasn’t Thorntons. I knows that.
“My folks was black, black as I is. Pa was stocky, guinea man. Ma was heap the biggest. She was rawbony and tall. I love to see her wash. She could bend ’round the easier ever I seed anybody. She could beat the clothes in a hurry. She put out big washings, on the bushes and a cord they wove and on the fences. They had paling fence ’round the garden.
“Massa Tom didn’t have a big farm. He had a lot of mules and horses at times. They raised some cotton but mostly corn and oats. Miss Liza Jane left b’fore us. We all cried when she left. She shut up the house and give the women folks all the keys. We lived on what she left there and went on raising more hogs and tending to the cows. We left everything. We come to Hernando, Mississippi. Pa farmed up there and run his blacksmith shop on the side. My parents died close to Horn Lake. Mama was the mother of ten and I am the mother of eight. I got two living, one here and one in Memphis. I lives wid ’em and one niece in Natches I live with some.
“I was scared to death of the Ku Klux Klan. They come to our house one night and I took my little brother and we crawled under the house and got up in the fireplace. It was big ‘nough fer us to sit. We went to sleep. We crawled out next day. We seen ’em coming, run behind the house and crawled under there. They knocked about there a pretty good while. We told the folks about it. I don’t know where they could er been. I forgot it been so long. I was ‘fraider of the Ku Klux Klan den I ever been ’bout snakes. No snakes ’bout our house. Too many of us.
“I tried to get some aid when it first come ’bout but I quit. My children and my niece take keer or me. I ain’t wantin’ fer nothin’ but good health. I never do feel good. I done wore out. I worked in the field all my life.
“A heap of dis young generation is triflin’ as they can be. They don’t half work. Some do work hard and no ‘pendence to be put in some ’em. ‘Course they steal ‘fo’ dey work. I say some of ’em work. Times done got so fer ‘head of me I never ‘speck to ketch-up. I never was scared of horses. I sure is dese automobiles. I ain’t plannin’ no rides on them airplanes. Sure you born I ain’t. Folks ain’t acting lack they used to. They say so I got all I can get you can do dout. It didn’t used to be no sich way. Times is heap better but heap of folks is worse ‘an ever folks been before.”