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Harry Johnson




From: Texas

HARRY JOHNSON, 86, whose real name was Jim, was born in Missouri,
where he was stolen by Harry Fugot, when about twelve years old,
and taken to Arkansas. He was given the name of Harry and remained
with Fugot until near the close of the Civil War. Fugot then sold
him to Graham for 1,200 acres and he was brought to Coryell Co.,
Texas, and later to Caldwell Co. He worked in Texas two years
before finding out the slaves were free. He later went to McMullen
Co. to work cattle, but eventually spent most of his time rearing
ten white children. He now lives in Pearsall, where he married at
the age of 59.


"I come from Missouri to Arkansas and then to Texas, and I was owned by
Massa Louis Barker and my name was Jim Johnson. But a white man name
Harry Fugot stoled me and run me out to Arkansas and changed my name to
Harry. He stoled me from Mississippi County in de southern part of
Missouri, down close to de Arkansas line, and I was 'bout 12 year old
then.

"My mama's name was Judie and her husban' name Miller. When I wasn't big
'nough to pack a chip, old Massa Louis Barker wouldn't take $400 for me,
'cause he say he wants to make a overseer out of me. My daddy went off
durin' de war. He carried off by sojers and he never did come back.

"Dey 'bout 30, 40 acres in Massa Barker's plantation in Missouri. He
used to hire me out from place to place and de men what hires me puts me
to doin' what he wanted. I was stole from my mammy when I's 'bout 10 or
12 and she never did know what become of me.

"O, my stars! I seed hun'erds and hun'erds of sojers 'fore I stole from
Missouri. Dey what us call Yankees. I seed 'em strung out a half-mile
long, goin' battle two and three deep. Dey never did destroy any homes.
Dey took up a little stuff. I had five sacks of meal one day and was
goin' to de mill and de sojers come along and taken me, meal and all. De
maddes' woman I ever saw was dat day. De sojers come and druv off her
cows. She told 'em not to, dat her husban' fightin' and she have to make
de livin' off dem cows, but dey druv de cows to camp and kilt 'bout
three of 'em. Dey done dat, I knows, 'cause I's with 'em.

"But down in Arkansas I seed de southern sojers and I's plowin' for a
old lady call Williams, and some sojers come and goes in de house. I
heered say dey was Green's men, and dey taken everything dat old woman
have what dey wants, and dey robs lots of houses.

"It don't look reas'able to say it, but it's a fac'--durin' slavery
iffen you lived one place and your mammy lived 'cross de street you
couldn't go to see her without a pass. De paddlerollers would whip you
if you did. Dere was one woman owns some slaves and one of 'em asks her
for a pass and she give him de piece of paper sposed to be de pass, but
she writes on it:

"'His shirt am rough and his back am tough,
Do, pray, Mr. Paddleroller, give 'im 'nough.'

"De paddlerollers beat him nearly to death, 'cause that's what's wrote
on de paper he give 'em.

"I 'member a whippin' one slave got. It were 100 lashes. Dey's a big
overseer right here on de San Marcos river, Clem Polk, him and he massa
kilt 16 niggers in one day. Dat massa couldn't keep a overseer, 'cause
de niggers wouldn't let 'em whip 'em, and dis Clem, he say, 'I'll stay
dere,' and he finds he couldn't whip dem niggers either, so he jus'
kilt 'em. One nigger nearly got him and would have kilt him. Dat nigger
raise de ax to come down on Polk's head and de massa stopped him jus' in
time, and den Polk shoots dat nigger in de breast with a shotgun.

"Dey had court days and when court met, dey passed a bill what say,
'Keep de niggers at home.' Some of 'em could go to church and some of
'em couldn't. Dey'd let de cullud people be baptized, but dey didn't
many want it, dey didn't understan' it 'nough.

"After de war ends, Massa Fugot sells me to Massa Graham for 1,200 acres
of land, and I lives in Caldwell County. He was purty good to he slaves
and we live in a li'l old frame house, facin' west. I sleeps in de same
house as massa and missus, to guard 'em. One night some men came and
wake me up and tells me to put my clothes on. Missus was in de bed and
she 'gin cryin' and tell 'em not to take me, but dey taken me anyway. We
called 'em Guerrillas and dey thieves. Dey white men and one of 'em I
had knowed a long time. I's with dem thives and hears 'em talk 'bout
killin' Yankees. Dey kep' me in de south part of Missouri a long time. I
didn't do anything but sit 'round de house with dem.

"When I's sold to Massa Graham I didn't have to come to Texas, 'cause
I's free, but I didn't know dat, and I's out here two years 'fore I
knowed I's free. Down in Caldwell County is where de bondage was lifted
offen me and I found out I's free. I jus' stays on and works and my
massa give me he promise I's git a hoss and saddle and $100 in money
when I's 21 year old, but he didn't do it. He give me a li'l pony and a
saddle what I sold for $3.00 and 'bout eight or nine dollars in money.
He had me blindfolded and I thought I gwine git a good hoss and saddle
and more money.

"I looks back sometimes and thinks times was better for eatin' in
slavery dan what dey is now. My mammy was a reg'lar cook and she made me
peach cobblers and apple dumplin's. In dem days, we'd take cornmeal and
mix it with water and call 'em corn dodgers and dey awful nice with
plenty butter. We had lots of hawg meat and when dey kilt a beef a man
told all de neighbors to come git some of de meat.

"Right after de war, times is pretty hard and I's taken beans and
parched 'em and got 'em right brown, and meal bran to make coffee out
of. Times was purty hard, but I allus could find somethin' to work at in
dem days.

"I lived all my life 'mong white folks and jus' worked in first one
place and then 'nother. I raised ten white chillen, nine of de Lowe
chillen, and dey'd mind me quicker dan dey own pappy and mammy. Dat in
McMullin County.

"De day I's married I's 59 year old and my wife is 'bout 60 year old
now. De last 20 years I's jus' piddled 'round and done no reg'lar work.
I married right here in de church house. I nussed my wife when she a
baby and used to court her mammy when she's a girl. We's been real happy
together.





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Previous: Gus Johnson



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