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Josephine Hamilton

From: More Arkansas

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Josephine Hamilton
Hazen, Arkansas
Age: 77

"I was born near Houston, Mississippi, in 1860. We lived about three
miles north when I can first recollect. My mistress was named Frankie
Hill and my master was Littleton Hill. I had some sisters and brothers
dead but I had four brothers and one sister that got up grown. The first
house I remembers living in was a plank house. Then we lived in a log
house wid a stick-and-dirt chimney. I was wid my old master when he died
of heart trouble. She lack to died too. We setting by de fire one night
and he held the lamp on one knee and reading out loud. It was a little
brass lamp with a handle to hook your finger in. He was a Baptist. He
had two fine horses, a big gray one and a bay horse. Joe drove him to
preaching. Miss Frankie didn't go. He said his haid hurt when dey went
to eat dinner and he slept all the evening. He et supper and was
reading. I was looking at him. He laid his haid back and started
snoring. He had long white hair. I say 'Miss Frankie, he is dieing.'
Cause he turned so pale. He was setting in a high back straight chair.
We got him on the bed. He could walk when we held him up. His brother
was a curious old man. He et morphine a whole heap. He lived by himself.
I run fast as my legs would take me. Soon as I told him he blowed a long
horn. They said it was a trumpet. You never seen such a crowd as come
toreckly. The hands come and the neighbors too. It being dot time er
night they knowed something was wrong. He slept awhile but he died that
night. I stayed up there wid Miss Frankie nearly all de time. It was a
mile from our cabin across the field. Joe stayed there some. He fed and
curried the horses. Nom I don't remember no slave uprisings. They had
overseers on every farm and a paddyroll. I learned to sew looking at the
white folks and my ma showed me about cutting. There wasn't much fit
about them. They were all tollerably loose. We played hiding behind the
trees a heap and played in the moonlight. We played tag. We picked up
scaley barks, chestnuts, and walnuts. Miss Frankie parched big pans of
goobers when it was cold or raining. Some of the white folks was mean.
Once young mistress was sick. She had malaria fever. I was sitting down
in the other room. Young master was lying on de bed in the same room. A
woman what was waiting on her brought the baby in to put a cloth on him.
He was bout two months old, little red-headed baby. He was kicking and I
got tickled at him. Young master slapped me. The blood from my nose
spouted out and I was jess def for a long time. He beat me around till
Miss Polly come in there and said 'You quit beating that little colored
girl. You oughter be ashamed. Your wife in there nearly dead.' 'Yes
maam, she did die.' I never will forgit Miss Polly. I saved one of the
young mistress little girl bout seven or eight years old. Miss Frankie
raised a little deer up grown. It would run at anybody. Didn't belong at
the house. It got so it would run me. It started at the little girl and
I pulled her in on the porch backwards and in a long hall. Her mama show
was proud. Said the deer would paw her to death.

"I remembers everybody shouting and so glad they was free. It was a
joyful time. If they paid my folks for work I didn't know it. We stayed
on with Miss Frankie till I was grown and her son Billy Hill took her to
Houston, Texas to live. Miss Sallie and Miss Fannie had been married a
long time. We always had a house to live in and something to eat.

"I show never did vote. I would not know nothing about it. I think the
folks is getting wiser and weaker. Some of us don't have much as we need
and them that do have wastes it. I always lived on the farm till eight
years ago when my husband died. I wasn't able to farm by myself. I
didn't have no children. I come to Hazen to live wid dese here girls I
raised. (Two girls.) They show is good to me. No maam I ain't never got
no old age pension. They won't give it to me. We come to Arkansas in
1918. We lived down around Holly Grove. We had kin folks wrote about out
here and we wanted to change. Long as I was able I had a good living but
since I been so feeble I have to make out wid what the children bring
me. I don't know if de times is getting any better, don't seem lack the
people training their children a tall. They say they kaint do nothing
wid em. I allus could do something wid dem I raised. I used to look at
them and they minded me. The trouble is they ain't learning to work and
won't do nothing less they going to get big pay. Then they run spend it
fast as they can go for fool-bait."

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