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Ky Hezekiah Steel




From: Arkansas

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: Ky (Hezekiah) Steel
West Fifth Avenue (rear), Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Age: 85
Occupation: Yard man


"What is it you want to know? Well, I was born in North Carolina. I know
they brought me here from North Carolina in slavery times. I couldn't
keep no count of it, lady, 'cause I didn't know. I know I was big enough
to walk behind the wagon pickin' up corn. I know that. That was in
slavery times.

"Mr. June Ingraham's father brought me here.

"Oh, that's a long time ago. Mr. June and I was boys together. I was
born in the Ingraham family.

"They carried me from here to Texas. I stayed there till I was grown and
married. Then I come back to Arkansas I got with Mr. June's son and I
been here since.

"Never have gone to school a day. Can't read but I can spell a little.

"I've done most all kinds of work--split rails, cut wood, farm work, and
railroad work on the section.

"Ku Klux come out there where I was in Texas. Didn't bother me--they was
just around first one place, then another.

"I voted once. I guess it was Republican. I don't remember now who I
voted for. I didn't take much interest in politics--only just what I'd
hear somebody say.

"Yankees was camped near us in Texas to keep the wild Indians back. That
was after the War. Yes'm, sure was.

"I know the very night old missis told us we was free. Called all us
slaves up there together. Told us we was just as free as she was. I
always will remember that.

"I stayed there till we got through the crop. Then I went to
Paris, Texas and portered in a little hotel there. Then I went
wagonin'--haulin' stuff.

"They used to whip me in slavery times when they got ready. Need it?
well, they said I did. Hurt my feelin's and hurt my hide too, but they
raised me to do whatever they said.

"This younger generation ain't no good--they ain't raised up like I was.
Things is a whole lot different than they used to be. The folks ain't
prayin' to God like they used to. Ain't livin' right.

"I had two brothers killed in time of the War. That's what the old
people told me after I come back from Texas.

"Yes'm, I've had plenty to eat all my life--up until now; I ain't got so
much now.

"I keep the rheumatism pretty much all the time but I ain't never been
down sick so I couldn't help myself.

"I'm telling you just what I know and what I don't know I couldn't tell
you. Good-bye."





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Previous: Isom Starnes



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