Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person interviewed: Senia Rassberry
810 Catalpa Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
"Yes'm, I know what I hear em say. Well, in slavery times I helped make
the soldiers' clothes.
"I was born on the old Jack Hall place on the Arkansas River in
"I know I was 'leven years old when peace declared. I reckon I can
member fore the War started. I know I was bastin' them coats and pants.
"My old master's name was Jack Hall and old mistress' name was
Priscilla. Oh, yes'm, they was good to me--just as good to me as they
could be. But ever' once in awhile they'd call me and say, 'Senia.' I'd
say, 'What you want?' They say, 'Wasn't you out there doin' so and so?'
I'd say, 'No.' They say, 'Now, you're tellin' a lie' and they'd whip me.
"I was the house girl, me and my sister. My mammy was the cook.
"Old master had two plantations. Sometimes he had a overseer and
sometimes he didn't.
"Oh, they had plenty to eat, hog meat and cracklin' bread. Yes ma'am. I
loved that, I reckon. I et so much of it then I don't hardly ever want
it now. They had so much to eat. Blackberry cobbler? Oh Lawd.
"How many brothers and sisters? Me? My dear, I don't know how many I had
but I heard my mother say that all the chillun she did have, that she
had 'leven chillun.
"Our white folks took us to Texas durin' of the War. I think my old
master said we stayed there three years. My mother died there with a
"We come back here to Arkansas after freedom and I think my father
worked for Jack Hall three or four years. He wouldn't let him leave. He
raised my father and thought so much of him. He worked on the shares.
"After freedom I went to school. I learnt to read and write but I
just wouldn't do it. I learnt the other chillun though. I did
that. I was into ever'thing. I learnt them that what I could do.
Blue Back? Them's the very ones I studied.
"In slavery times I had to rise as early as I could. Old master would
give me any little thing around the house that I wanted. They said he
was too old to go to war. Some of the hands run off but I didn't know
where they went to.
"Some of the people was better off slaves than they was free. I don't
study bout things now but sometimes seems like all them things comes
"I used to hear em talkin' bout old Jeff Davis. I didn't know what they
was talkin' bout but I heered em.
"I was sixteen when I married and I had eleven chillun. All dead but
"Yes'm, I been treated good all my life by white and black. All of em
loved me seemed like.
"I been livin' in Arkansas all my life. I never have worked in the
field. I always worked in the house. I always was a seamstress--made
pants for the men on the place.
"After I come here to Pine Bluff I worked for the white folks. Used to
cook and wash and iron. Done a lot of work. I did that.
"I been blind 'leven years but I thank the Lord I been here that long.
Glory to Jesus! Oh, Lord have mercy! Glory, glory, glory to Jesus!"
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