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George Conrad

From: Oklahoma

Oklahoma Writers' Project
[Date stamp: NOV 5 1937]

Age 77 yrs.
Oklahoma City, Okla.

I was born February 23, 1860 at Connersville, Harrison County,
Kentucky. I was born and lived just 13 miles from Parish. My mother's
name is Rachel Conrad, born at Bourbon County, Kentucky. My father,
George Conrad, was born at Bourbon County Kentucky. My grandmother's
name is Sallie Amos, and grandfather's name is Peter Amos. My
grandfather, his old Master freed him and he bought my grandmother,
Aunt Liza and Uncle Cy. He made the money by freighting groceries from
Ohio to Maysville, Kentucky.

Our Master was named Master Joe Conrad. We sometimes called him "Mos"
Joe Conrad. Master Joe Conrad stayed in a big log house with weather
boarding on the outside.

I was born in a log cabin. We slept in wooden beds with rope cords for
slats, and the beds had curtains around them. You see my mother was
the cook for the Master, and she cooked everything--chicken, roasting
ears. She cooked mostly everything we have now. They didn't have
stoves; they cooked in big ovens. The skillets had three legs. I can
remember the first stove that we had. I guess I was about six years

My old Master had 900 acres of land. My father was a stiller. He made
three barrels of whisky a day. Before the War whisky sold for 12-1/2c
and 13c a gallon. After the War it went up to $3 and $4 per gallon.
When War broke out he had 300 barrels hid under old Master's barn.

There was 14 colored men working for old Master Joe and 7 women. I
think it was on the 13th of May, all 14 of these colored men, and my
father, went to the Army. When old Master Joe come to wake 'em up the
next morning--I remember he called real loud, Miles, Esau, George,
Frank, Arch, on down the line, and my mother told him they'd all gone
to the army. Old Master went to Cynthia, Kentucky, where they had
gone to enlist and begged the officer in charge to let him see all of
his boys, but the officer said "No." Some way or 'nother he got a
chance to see Arch, and Arch came back with him to help raise the

My mother cooked and took care of the house. Aunt Sarah took care of
the children. I had two little baby brothers, Charlie and John. The
old Mistress would let my mother put them in her cradle and Aunt Sarah
got jealous, and killed both of the babies. When they cut one of the
babies open they took out two frogs. Some say she conjured the babies.
Them niggers could conjure each other but they couldn't do nothing to
the whitefolks, but I don't believe in it. There's an old woman living
back there now (pointing around the corner of the house where he was
sitting) they said her husband put a spell on her. They call 'em
two-headed Negroes.

Old Master never whipped any of his slaves, except two of my
uncles--Pete Conrad and Richard Sherman, now living at Falsmouth,

We raised corn, wheat, oats, rye and barley, in the spring. In
January, February and March we'd go up to the Sugar Camp where he had
a grove of maple trees. We'd make maple syrup and put up sugar in
cakes. Sugar sold for $2.5O and $3 a cake. He had a regular sugar
house. My old Master was rich I tell you.

Whenever a member of the white family die all the slaves would turn
out, and whenever a slave would die, whitefolks and all the slaves
would go. My Master had a big vault. My Mistress was buried in an iron
coffin that they called a potanic coffin. I went back to see her after
I was 21 years old and she look jest like she did when they buried
her. All of the family was buried in them vaults, and I expect if
you'd go there today they'd look the same. The slaves was buried in
good handmade coffins.

I heard a lot of talk 'bout the patrollers. In them days if you went
away from home and didn't have a pass they'd whip you. Sometimes
they'd whip you with a long black cow whip, and then sometime they'd
roast elm switches in the fire. This was called "cat-o-nine-tails",
and they'd whip you with dat. We never had no jails; only punishment
was just to whip you.

Now, the way the slaves travel. If a slave had been good sometimes old
Master would let him ride his hoss; then, sometime they'd steal a hoss
out and ride 'em and slip him back before old Master ever found it
out. There was a man in them days by the name of John Brown. We called
him an underground railroad man, 'cause he'd steal the slaves and
carry 'em across the river in a boat. When you got on the other side
you was free, 'cause you was in a free State, Ohio.

We used to sing, and I guess young folks today does too:

"John Brown's Body Lies A 'moulding In the Clay."


"They Hung John Brown On a Sour Apple Tree."

Our slaves all got very good attention when they got sick. They'd send
and get a doctor for 'em. You see old Mistress Mary bought my mother,
father and two children throwed in for $1,100 and she told Master Joe
to always keep her slaves, not to sell 'em and always take good care
of 'em.

When my father went to the army old Master told us he was gone to
fight for us niggers freedom. My daddy was the only one that come back
out of the 13 men that enlisted, and when my daddy come back old
Master give him a buggy and hoss.

When the Yanks come, I never will forget one of 'em was named John
Morgan. We carried old Master down to the barn and hid him in the hay.
I felt so sorry for old Master they took all his hams, some of his
whiskey, and all dey could find, hogs, chickens, and jest treated him
something terrible.

The whitefolks learned my father how to read and write, but I didn't
learn how to read and write 'til I enlisted in the U. S. Army in

They sent us here (Oklahoma Territory) to keep the immigrants from
settling up Oklahoma. I went to Fort Riley the 1st day of October
1883, and stayed there three weeks. Left Fort Riley and went to Ft.
Worth, Texas, and landed in Henryetta, Texas, on the 14th day of
October 1883. Then, we had 65 miles to walk to Ft. Sill. We walked
there in three days. I was assigned to my Company, Troop G. 9th
Calvary, and we stayed and drilled in Ft. Sill six months, when we was
assigned to duty. We got orders to come to Ft. Reno, Okla., on the 6th
day of January 1885 where we was ordered to Stillwater, Okla., to move
five hundred immigrants under Capt. Couch. We landed there on the 23rd
day of January, Saturday evening, and Sunday was the 24th. We had
general inspection Monday, January 25, 1885. We fell in line of
battle, sixteen companies of soldiers, to move 500 immigrants to the
Arkansas City, Kansas line.

We formed a line at 9:00 o'clock Monday morning and Captain Couch run
up his white flag, and Colonel Hatch he sent the orderly up to see
what he meant by putting up the flag, so Captain Couch sent word back,
"If you don't fire on me, I'll leave tomorrow." Colonel Hatch turned
around to the Major and told him to turn his troops back to the camp,
and detailed three camps of soldiers of the 8th Cavalry to carry
Captain Couch's troop of 500 immigrants to Arkansas City, Kansas.
Troop L., Troop D., and Troop B. taken them back with 43 wagons and
put them over the line of Kansas. Then we were ordered back to our
supply camp at Camp Alice, 9 miles north of Guthrie in the Cimarron
horseshoe bottom. We stayed there about three months, and Capt. Couch
and his colony came back into the territory at Caldwell, Kansas June

I laid there 'til August 8, then we changed regiments with the 5th
Calvary to go to Nebraska. There was a breakout with the Indians at
Ft. Reno the 1st of July 1885. The Indian Agency tried to make the
Indians wear citizens' clothes. They had to call General Sheridan
from Washington, D. C., to quiet the Indians down. Now, we had to make
a line in three divisions, fifteen miles a part, one non-commissioned
officer to each squad, and these men was to go to Caldwell, Kansas and
bring him to Ft. Reno that night. He came that night, so the next
morning Colonel Brisbane and General Hatch reported to General
Sheridan what the trouble was. General Sheridan called all the Indian
Chiefs together and asked them why they rebelled against the agency,
and they told them they weren't going to wear citizen's clothes.
General Sheridan called his corporals and sergeants together and told
them to go behind the guard house and dig a grave for this Indian
agent in order to fool the Indian Chiefs. Then, he sent a detachment
of soldiers to order the Indian Chiefs away from the guard house and
to put this Indian agent in the ambulance that brought him to Ft. Reno
and take him back to Washington, D. C., to remain there 'til he
returned. The next morning he called all the Indian Chiefs to the
guard house and pointed down to the grave and said that, "I have
killed the agent and buried him there." The Indians tore the feathers
out of their hats rejoicing that they killed the agent.

On the 12th of the same July, we had general inspection with General
Foresides from Washington, then we was ordered back to our supply camp
to stay there 'til we got orders of our change. On August 8, we got
orders to change to go to Nebraska, to Ft. Robinson, Ft. Nibrary, and
Ft. McKinney, and we left on the 8th of August.

This is my Oklahoma history. I gave this story to the Daily Oklahoman
and Times at one time and they are supposed to publish it but they

Now you see that tree up there in front of my house? That tree is 50
years old. It is called the potopic tree. That was the only tree
around here in 1882. This was a bald prairie. I enlisted over there
where the City Market sets now. That was our starting camp under Capt.
Payne, but he died.

I joined the A. M. E. Methodist Church in 1874. I love this song
better than all the rest:

"Am I a Soldier of the Cross?"

Abraham Lincoln was a smart man, but he would have done more if he was
not killed. I don't think his work was finished. I'll tell you the
truth about Booker T. Washington. He argued our people to stay out of
town and stay in the country. He was a Democrat. He was a smart man,
but I think a man should live wherever he choose regardless. I never
stopped work whenever I'd hear he was coming to town to speak. You
know they wasn't fighting for freeing the slaves; they was fighting to
keep Kansas from being a slave State; so when they had the North
whipped, I mean the South had 'em whipped, they called for the Negroes
to go out and fight for his freedom. Don't know nothing 'bout Jeff
Davis. I've handled a lots of his money. It was counterfeited after
the War.

I've been married four times. I had one wife and three women. I mean
the three wasn't no good. My first wife's name: Amanda Nelson. 2nd:
Pocahuntas Jackson. 3rd: Nannie Shumpard. We lived together 9 years.
She tried to beat me out of my home.

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