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Rachel Harris




From: More Arkansas

DEC 21 1937
Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: Rachel Harris
8161/2 E. Fifth, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Age: 90


"I reekolect when the war started. I was big enuf to be totin' water,
sweepin', feedin' chickens. I was a big chap when it started. I went
with the white chillun and watched the soldiers marchin'. The drums was
playin' and the next thing I heered, the war was gwine on. You could
hear the guns just as plain. The soldiers went by just in droves from
soon of a mornin' till sundown. They said they was goin' to head off the
Yankees. Dis fore the war ended I heered en say they was gwine to free
the colored folks. That was in Mississippi.

"My old master was Jim Smith and old mistress' name was Louisa Smith.

"I had many a whip put on me. When they wasn't whippin' me the chillun
was. They whipped my mother and everybody.

"My brother Lewis went plum through the war till surrender. He waited on
a Rebel soldier--cooked and washed for him. I never did see no white
Yankee soldiers but I seed the colored soldiers with the blue suits. I
stood out many a night and day and heered them guns.

"Jim Smith had near bout a hundred head of colored folks on his place.
He didn't go to war--he just seed that all the white women had plenty to
eat while their men folks was away.

"My mother was sold away from my father long 'fore I was born. He used
to come to visit, but a little while 'fore I was born they stopped him
and wouldn't let him come no more.

"After surrender one of my brothers come home and say the war was over.

"We stayed there three years after surrender. They paid my mother and
stepfather but they wouldn't pay us chillun nothin', so my mother sent
me to town to live with my sister.

"I hired out as a nurse girl and them white folks just as good to me as
could be. She paid me $3 a month and give me all my clothes. I was young
and didn't have no sense, but all I didn't spend on candy I sent to my
mother.

"In slavery times the white folks had a servant to comb the hair and
lift up the dress. Yes ma'm, they had servants. I sho was glad they had
that war and freed me.

"Yes, Jesus, I seen them Ku Klux. I member once we had a big ball. We
was cuttin' a dash that night. The Ku Klux come and made out they was
dead. Some of the folks run they was so scared, but one woman come out
and said she knowed every one of the men. She knowed em by their hosses.
Next mornin' we went by old Purvis Newman's house and it looked like
they was a hundred saddles layin' out in the yard. I was a young woman
then and sparkin' fit to kill. Yes ma'm I member all about it. I
reekolect it just as well as I can walk out that door.

"My son wrote me bout eight years ago and say, 'Mama, you is might near
a hunderd.' My daughter, my baby chile, is bout sixty-three.

"About this younger generation, I don't know what to think. Some say the
devil loose 'for a season.' I say if he ain't loose, he tied mighty
slack."





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