Solomon P Pattillo
Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor
Person interviewed: Solomon P. Pattillo
1502 Martin Street, Little Rock, Arkansas
Occupation: Formerly farmer, teacher, and small dealer--now blind
"I was born November 1862. I was three years old at the time of the
surrender. I was born right here in Arkansas--right down here in Tulip,
Dallas County, Arkansas. I have never been out of the state but twice.
"My daddy carried me out once when they took him to Texas during the war
to keep the Yanks from setting him free.
"Then I went out once long after slavery to get a load of sand. On the
way back, my boat nearly sank. Those are the only two times I ever left
"My father's name was Thomas Smith, but the Pattillos bought him and he
took the name of Pattillo. I don't know how much he sold for. That was
the only time he was ever sold. I believe that my father was born in
North Carolina. It seems like to me I recollect that is where he said he
"My mother was born in Virginia. I don't know how she got here unless
she was sold like my father was. I don't know her name before she got
married. Yes, I do; her name was Fannie Smith, I believe.
"We lived in old log cabins. We had bedsteads nailed to the wall. Then
we had them old fashioned cordboard springs. They had ropes made into
springs. That was a high class bed. People who had those cord springs
felt themselves. They made good sleeping. My father had one. Ropes were
woven back and forth across the bed frame.
"We had those old spinning wheels. Three cuts was a day's work. A cut
was so many threads. It was quite a day to make them. They had hanks
too. The threads were all linked together.
"My mother was a spinner. My father was a farmer. Both of them worked
for their master,--old Massa, they called him, or Massa, Mass Tom, Mass
John or Massta.
"I remember during the war when I was in Texas with a family of Moody's
how old Mistiss had me packing rocks out of the yard in a basket and
cleaning the yard. I didn't know it then, but my daddy told me later
that that was when I was in Texas,--during the war. I remember that I
used to work in my shirt tail.
"The soldiers used to come in the house somewhere and take anything they
could get or wanted to take.
"When I was a boy they had a song, 'Run, Nigger, run; The Pateroles will
get you.' They would run you in and I have been told they would whip
you. If you overstayed your time when your master had let you go out, he
would notify the pateroles and they would hunt you up and turn you over
"Way long then, my father and mother used to say that man doesn't serve
the Lord--the true and living God and let it be known. A bunch of them
got together and resolved to serve Him any way. First they sang in a
whisper, 'Come ye that love the Lord.' Finally they got bold and began
to sing in tones that could be heard everywhere, 'Oh for a thousand
tongues to sing my Great Redeemer's praise.'
After the War
"After the war my father fanned--made share crops. I remember once how
some one took his horse and left an old tired horse in the stable. She
looked like a nag. When she got rested up she was better than the one
that was took.
"His first farm was down here in Dallas County. He made a share crop
with his former master, Pattillo. He never had no trouble with him.
"I heard a good deal of talk about the Ku Klux Klan, but I don't know
anything much about it. They never bothered my father and mother. My
father was given the name of being an obedient servant--among the best
help they had.
"My father farmed all his life. He died at the age of seventy-two in
Tulip, near the year 1885, just before Cleveland's inauguration. He died
of typhoid pneumonia. My mother was ninety-six years old when she died
"I came to Little Rock in 1894. I came up here to teach in Fourche Dam.
Then I moved here. I taught my first school in this county at Cato. I
quit teaching because my salary was so poor and then I went into the
butcher's business, and in the wood business. I farmed all the while.
"I taught school for twenty-one years. I always was a successful
teacher. I did my best. If you contract to do a job for ten dollars, do
as much as though you were getting a hundred. That will always help you
to get a better job.
"I have farmed all my life in connection with my teaching. I went into
other businesses like I said a moment ago. I was a caretaker at the
Haven of Rest Cemetery for sometime.
"I was postmaster from 1904 to 1911 at Sweet Home. At one time I was
employed on the United States Census.
"I get a little blind pension now. I have no other means of support.
Loss of Eyes
"The doctor says I lost my eyesight on account of cataracts. I had an
operation and when I came home, I got to stirring around and it caused
me to have a hemorrhage of the eye. You see I couldn't stay at the
hospital because it was costing me $3 a day and I didn't have it. They
had to take one eye clean out. Nothing can be done for them, but somehow
I feel that the lord's going to let me see again. That's the way I feel
"I have lived here in this world this long and never had a fight in my
life. I have never been mistreated by a white man in my life. I always
knew my place. Some fellows get mistreated because they get out of their
"I was told I couldn't stay in Benton because that was a white man's
town. I went there and they treated me white. I tried to stay with a
colored family way out. They were scared to take me. I had gone there to
attend to some business. Then I went to the sheriff and he told me that
if they were scared to have me stay at their home, I could stay at the
hotel and put my horse in the livery stable. I stayed out in the wagon
yard. But I was invited into the hotel. They took care of my horse and
fed it and they brought me my meals. The next morning, they cleaned and
curried and hitched my horse for me.
"I have voted all my life. I never had any trouble about it.
"The Ku Klux never bothered me. Nobody else ever did. If we live so that
everybody will respect us, the better class will always try to help us."
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