Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Betty Krump,
[Date Stamp: MAY 31 1938]
"Mother come to Helena, Arkansas from Lake Charles, Louisiana. I was
born here since freedom. She had twelve children, raised us two. She
jus' raised me en my sister. She lives down the street on the corner.
She was a teacher here in Helena years and years. I married a doctor.
I never had to teach long as he lived, then I was too old. I never
keered 'bout readin' and books. I rather tomboy about. Then I set up
housekeepin'. I don't know nothin' 'bout slavery. I know how they come
here. Two boats named Tyler and Bragg. The Yankees took 'em up and
brought 'em up to their camps to pay them to wait on them. They come.
Before 'mancipation my mammy and daddy owned by the very same old
fellar, Thomas Henry McNeil. He had a big two-story stone house and
big plantation. Mother said she was a field hand. She ploughed. He
treated 'em awful bad. He overworked 'em. Mother said she had to work
when she was pregnant same as other times. She said the Yankees took
the pantry house and cleaned it up. They broke in it. I'm so glad the
Yankees come. They so pretty. I love 'em. Whah me? I can tell 'em by
the way they talk and acts. You ain't none. You don't talk like 'em.
You don't act like 'em. I watched you yeste'd'y. You don't walk like
'em. You act like the rest of these southern women to me.
"Mother said a gang of Yankees came to the quarters to haul the
children off and they said, 'We are going to free you all. Come on.'
She said, 'My husband in the field.' They sent for 'im. He come hard
as he could. They loaded men and all on them two gunboats. The boat
was anchored south of Tom Henry McNeill's plantation. He didn't know
they was gone. When they got here old General Hindman had forty
thousand back here in the hills. They fired in. The Yankees fired! The
Yankees said they was goin' to drive 'em back and they scared 'em out
of here and give folks that brought in them gunboat houses to live in.
Mammy went to helping the Yankees. They paid her. That was 'fore
freedom. I loves the Yankees. General Hindman's house was tore down up
there to build that schoolhouse (high school). The Yankees said they
was goin' to water their horses in the Mississippi River by twelve
o'clock or take hell. I know my mammy and daddy wasn't skeered 'cause
the Yankees taking keer of 'em and they was the ones had the cannons
and gunboats too. I jus' love the Yankees fer freeing us. They run
white folks outer the houses and put colored folks in 'em. Yankees had
tents here. They fed the colored folks till little after 'mancipation.
When the Yankees went off they been left to root hog er die. White
folks been free all der lives. They got no need to be poor. I went to
school to white teachers. They left here, folks didn't do 'em right.
They set 'em off to theirselves. Wouldn't keep 'em, wouldn't walk
'bout wid 'em. They wouldn't talk to 'em. The Yankees sont 'em down
here to egercate us up wid you white folks. Colored folks do best
anyhow wid black folks' children. I went to Miss Carted and to Mrs.
Mason. They was a gang of 'em. They bo'ded at the hotel, one of the
hotels kept 'em all. They stayed 'bout to theirselves. 'Course the
white folks had schools, their own schools.
"Ku Klux--They dressed up and come in at night, beat up the men 'bout
here in Helena. Mammy washed and ironed here in Helena till she died.
I never did do much of that kinder work. I been housekeeping purty
near all my days.
"Mammy was Fannie Thompson in Richmond, Virginia. She was took to New
Orleans on a boat and sold. Sold in New Orleans. She took up wid
Edmond Clark. Long as you been going to school don't you know folks
didn't have no marryin' in slavery times? I knowed that. They never
did marry and lived together all their lives. Preacher married
me--colored preacher. My daddy, Edmond Clark, said McNeil got him at
"I done told you 'nough. Now what are you going to give me? The
gover'ment got so many folks doin' so much you can't tell what they
after. Wish I was one of 'em.
"The present times is tough. We ain't had no good times since dem
banks broke her. Three of 'em. Folks can't get no credit. Times ain't
lack dey used to be. No use talking 'bout this young generation. One
day I come in my house from out of my flower garden. I fell to sleep
an' I had $17.50 in little glass on the table to pay my insurance. It
was gone when I got up. I put it in there when I lay down. I know it
was there. It was broad open daytime. Folks steals and drinks whiskey
and lives from hand to mouth now all the time. I sports my own self.
Ain't nobody give me nothin' since the day I come here. I rents my
houses and sells flowers."
This old woman lives in among the white population and rents the house
next to her own to a white family. The lady down at the corner store
said she tells white people, the younger ones, to call her Mrs. Krump.
She didn't pull that on me. She once told this white lady storekeeper
to call her Mrs. No one told me about her, because the lady said they
all know she is impudent talking. She is old, black, wealthy, and
arrogant. I passed her house and spied her.
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