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Maggie Stenhouse




From: Arkansas

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person Interviewed: Maggie Stenhouse,
(a mile down the railway track),
Brinkley, Arkansas
Age: 72?


"Mama was owned by Master Barton. She lived on the line of North
Carolina and South Carolina. Her husband was sold away from her and two
children. She never seen him no more. Rangments was made with Master
Barton to let Master Liege Alexander have her for a cook. Then she went
to Old Pickens, South Carolina. Liege Alexander had a white wife and by
her he had two girls and a boy. He had a black cook and by her he had
two boys and a girl. One of these boys was my papa and I told you the
old man bought my mama from Master Barton for his colored son. My papa
never was sold you see cause he was the old white man's boy. After his
white wife died his two girls married and the boy left Old Pickens, and
they told his colored wife and her two boys and girl if they would stay
and take care of him as long as he lived they could have the property.
My papa went off five or six miles and built him a log house.

"The old man--Master Liege Alexander--was blind when his wife died and
he had to be tended to like a child. He would knock his stick on the
wall and some of the small children would lead him about where he wanted
to go. His white children didn't like the way he had lived so they
didn't want to be bothered with him.

"My parents' names was Cheney Barton and Jim Alexander. Papa was medium
dark and so was his own brother but their sister was as white as the
woman's two girls and boy.

"After the railroads sprung up the town moved to New Pickens.

"Master Liege Alexander had lots of slaves and land. I reckon the white
wife's children fell heir to the farm land.

"My aunt and grandma cooked for him till he died. They kept him clean
and took care of him like as if his white wife was living. The colored
wife and her girl waited on the white wife and her children like queens.
That is what papa said.

"Durin' slavery there was stockmen. They was weighed and tested. A man
would rent the stockman and put him in a room with some young women he
wanted to raise children from. Next morning when they come to let him
out the man ask him what he done and he was so glad to get out. Them
women nearly kill him. If he said nothin' they wouldn't have to pay for
him. Them women nearly kill him. Some of the slave owners rented these
stockmen. They didn't let them work in the field and they kept them fed
up good.

"Fore the Civil War broke out mama said Master Barton hid a half bushel
solid gold and silver coins over the mountains. He had it close to the
spring awhile. Mama had to go by it to tote water to the house. She said
she never bothered it. He said he could trust her and she wouldn't
tell a lie. He took another sack of money over the mountains and the
silverware. His wife died during the war. A lot of people died from
hearing of the war--heart failure. I don't know what become of his
money. He lost it. He may forgot where he hid it. It was after his wife
died that he sold mama to Jim Alexander's papa.

"The Yankees rode three years over the country in squads and colored
folks didn't know they was free. I have seen them in their old uniforms
riding around when I was a child. White folks started talking about
freedom fore the darkies and turning them loose with the clothes they
had on and what they could tote away. No land, no home, no place; they
roamed around.

"When it was freedom the thing papa done was go to a place and start out
share croppin'. Folks had no horses or mules. They had to plough new
ground with oxen. I ploughed when I was a girl, ploughed oxen. If you
had horses or mules and the Yankees come along three or four years after
the war, they would swap horses, ride a piece, and if they had a chance
swap horses again. Stealing went on during and long after the war.

"The Ku Klux was awful in South Carolina. The colored folks had no
church to go to. They gather around at folks' houses to have preaching
and prayers. One night we was having it at our house, only I was the
oldest and was in another room sound asleep on the bed. There was a
crowd at our house. The Ku Klux come, pulled off his robe and door face,
hung it up on a nail in the room, and said, 'Where's that Jim Jesus?' He
pulled him out the room. The crowd run off. Mama took the three little
children but forgot me and run off too. They beat papa till they thought
he was dead and throwed him in a fence corner. He was beat nearly to
death, just cut all to pieces. He crawled to my bed and woke me up and
back to the steps. I thought he was dead--bled to death--on the steps.
Mama come back to leave and found he was alive. She doctored him up and
he lived thirty years after that. We left that morning.

"The old white woman that owned the place was rich--big rich. She been
complaining about the noise--singing and preaching. She called him
Praying Jim Jesus till he got to be called that around. He prayed in
the field. She said he disturbed her. Mama said one of the Ku Klux she
knowed been raised up there close to Master Barton's but papa said he
didn't know one of them that beat on him.

"Papa never did vote. I don't vote. I think women should vote much as
men. They live under the same law.

"I come to Arkansas about forty-five years ago. Papa brought us to a new
country, thought we could do better. I been farming, cooking, washing. I
can't do my own cooking and washing now. I got rheumatism in my joints,
feet, knees, and hands. We don't get no help of no kind.

"My daughter is in Caldwell, New Jersey at work. She went there to get
work. She heard about it and went and haven't come home. I jes' got one
child."





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