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Henry Russell

From: Arkansas

Interviewer: Thomas Elmore Lucy
Person interviewed: Henry Russell, Russellville, Arkansas
Age: 72

"My father's name was Ed Russell, and he was owned by Dr. Tom Russell,
de first pioneer settler of Russellville--de' man de town got its name

"My name is Henry, and some folks call me 'Bud.' I was born at Old
Dwight de 28th of October, 1866. Yes suh, dat date is correct.

"I was too young to remember much about happenings soon after de War,
but I kin ricollect my father belongin' to de militia for awhile during
de Reconstruction days. Both Negroes and whites were members of de

"My folks come here from Alabama, but I don't know much about them
except dat my grandmother, Charlotte Edwards, give me an old wash pot
dat has been in de family over one hundred years. Yes suh, it's out here
in de ya'd now. Also, I owns an old ax handle dat I keep down at de
store jist for a relic of old days. It's about a hundred years old, too.

"My wife was Sallie Johnson of Little Rock, and she was a sister of Mrs.
Charley Mays, de barber you used to know, who was here sich a long time.

"For a long time I worked at different kinds of odd jobs, sometimes in
de coal mines and sometimes on de farms, but for several years I've run
a little store for de colored folks here in Russellville. Ain't able to
do very much now.

"I remember very well de first train dat was ever run into Russellville.
Must have been 68 or 69 years ago. A big crowd of people was here from
all over de country. Of course dere was only a few families living in de
town, and only one or two families of colored folks. People come in from
everywhere, and it was a great sign. Little old train was no bigger dan
de Dardanelle & Russellville train. (You remember de little old train
dey used to call de 'Dinkey' don't you?) Well, it wasn't no bigger dan
de Dinkey, and it didn't run into de depot at all, stopped down where de
dump is now. Sure was a sight. Lot of de folks was afraid and wouldn't
go near it, started to run when two men got off. I saw only two man
working in front of it, but I remember it very plain. Dey was working
with wheelbarrows and shovels to clear up de track ahead.

"Another thing I remember as a boy was de 'sassination of President
Gyarfield. I can't read or write but very little, but I remember about
dat. It was a dull, foggy mornin', and I was crossin' de bayou with Big
Bob Smith. (You remember 'Big Bob' dat used to have the merry-go-'round
and made all de county fairs.) Well, he told me all about de killing of
de President. It was about 1881 wasn't it?

"I think times was better in de old days because people was better. Had
a heap more honor in de old days dan dey have now. Not many young folks
today have much character.

"All right. Come back again. Whenever I kin help you out any way, I'll
be glad to."

NOTE: Henry Russell is quite proud of the fact that his ancestors were
the first families of Russellville. He is a polite mulatto, uneducated,
and just enough brogue to lend the Southern flavor to his speech, but is
a fluent conversationalist.

Next: Katie Rye

Previous: Casper Rumple

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