Alice Dixon

El Dorado District


Name of Interviewer: Pernella Anderson

Subject: Customs--Slavery Days

[Nov 30 1936]

This information given by: Alice Dixon

Place of Residence: Rock Island quarters

Occupation: None

Age: 80 (approx)

[TR: Personal information moved from last page of interview.]

Well honey ah can't tell jes when ah wuz born. De white fokes have mah

age. Ah blong tuh de Newtons. As near as ah can get at mah age ahm bout

74 now but ah wuz big nough to member the soldiers comin aroun atter


Mah mutha had ten chillun but ah can't member but two uv mah sisters and

one uv mah bruthes. We staid wid de Newtons till we wuz set free and I

nuss fuh de Newtons aftuh we wuz set free. De Newtons wuz awful good ter

me and dey wuz good tuh mah ma too. Ah slept up in de big house wid de

Newtons. Ah nevah went ter school. Ah didn' have a chance. Ah went ter

church jes sometimes. We didn have churches. We jes had meetin in our

house we lived in. We cooked on fire places. We cooked our bread in what

we called oven bout so high. We had chickens and eggs, peas, tatoes,

meat and bread but ah didn know there was no sich thing as cake an pie

till ah got to be an oman. Ah can't recollect jes how ole ah wuz in

slave time but ah shore can recollect dem Yankees riding dem hosses and

ah ask may ma what dey was doin and she said gatherin up cotton dey made

in slave time an ah kin recollect an oman a gin. Yo know we had steps

made of blocks saved from trees and she wuz a goin ovah em steps er

shoutin and singin "Ah am free, at last, ah am free at last, ah'm free

at last, thank Gawd a Mighty ah'm free at last." She wuz so glad ter be


My ma in huh time would make cloth. She had a loom. Hit wuz a high thing

and th thread would go ovah th top and come down jes so in what we call

shickle. She'd have a bench so high. The loom was high as dis door and

my ma would set on the bench and her foots wuz on somethin like a

bicycle and when she put her foots on de pedal dat shickle would come

open and make a blum blum an that would make a yard of cloth, an she'd

mash the pedal agin and another yard of cloth. Jes so we'd make eight

and ten yards of cloth in one day. An when hit wuz made we would carry

hit to de white fokes. Dey would make us clo'es outn dat cloth. Ifn dey

wanted colored cloth dey would dye de thread. Dey had what we called a

loom dat would make, le' me see now, Card would card the cotton, and de

looms would make de thread and de shickle would make de cloth, as well

as ah can recollect we would make little roll uv cotton on de cards an

put it on de loom and make thread. De looms was jes so long. Ever time

the wheel would say o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o we had a spool uv thread. Ah

don' know whar dey got the spools, made em tho ah guess. Ah jes caint

tell you how hit wuz hits so much.

De Newton's nevah did whup me. She started to whup me tho one day. Ah

kin recollect bout de dogs. There wuz one dog whut wuz called Dinah. But

yo know dey had ten uv em. One day ole Uncle Henry Jones done somethin

and run off and climbed a tree and de Newton's miss him so dey called de

dogs and dey went on to de tree. Dat very tree wha he wuz and stopped.

Uncle Henry had been gone all dat mornin and dem dogs track him right

dere, to de spot and wouldn let him down till de Newtons come. An chile

dem Newtons whip de skin off Uncle Herny's [TR: Henry's] back. Dem dogs

would git yo.

Mrs. Newton nevah got outn de bed no time. Ah would lift her from one

bed to de utha to make de beds and when she got ready to get dressed ah

would bath her and dress huh all de times.

Ah'll tell yo nother funny joke bout Henry Johnson. He had ter clean up

mos uv de time. So Mrs. Newton's dress wuz hangin in de room up on de

wall and when he come out he said to ole Uncle Jerry, he said: "Jerry

guess whut ah done" and Jerry said: "Whut?" And Uncle Henry said: "Ah

put mah han undah ole Mistess dress." Uncle Jerry said: "Whut did she

say?" Uncle Henry say: "She didn' say nothin." So Uncle Jerry cided he'd

try hit. So he went draggin on in de house. Set down on de floor by ole

mistess. Ater while he run his han' up under huh dress and old marster

jumped up and jumped on Jerry and like to beat him ter death. Jerry went

out cryin and got out and called Henry. He said: "Henry ah though yo

said yo put yo hand undah ole Mistess's dress and she didn' say nothin."

Uncle Henry said: "Ah did and she didn' say nuthin." Jerry said: "Ah put

mah han' undah huh dress and ole marster like tuh beat me ter death."

Uncle Henry said: "Yo crazy thing huh dress wuz hangin up on de wall

when ah put mah han up undah hit."

We didn' eat eggs only on Sunday mornin. Me and mah sis et together in

de same plate. We didn know whut knives and forkes wuz den. We et wid

our fingahs.

Ah had a good ole pa too. He died a long time ago. Ah member one night

he started tuh whoop mah brudder and mah pa and mah brudder had hit. So

mah brudder runned off, an de marster called ole Dinah, Dinah wuz a dog

yo know but Dinah was a big dog ovah the other dogs yo know and dem dogs

went and got me brudder and dem Newtons sho did beat him. But twasnt

long befo mah pa taken sick and died aftuh dat. An when we wuz goin ter

bury mah pa lamme tell yo what happened: Two turtle doves flew roun the

wagon three times, den dey flew right on top uv mah pa's coffin box an

hollered three times; and yo know mah sistuh died bout three days aftuh

dat. Ah didn' bleave in signs till den. Ah know mah pa always bleaved in

signs cause ah know when hit would start lightnin and thunderin round

dat place of ourn mah pa would always make us stop. He say twas bad

luck. An ah know when evah a dove would holler at night he'd tell us jes

tuh tie a knot in th' south cornuh uv de sheet and he would hush. An we

would do hit an he would hush. Yo kno hits bad luck fuh dem tuh holler

roun yo place.

Oh we use ter have lots o sheep, at least ole mistess did. We made all

of our wool clothes from dem sheeps wool and let me tell yo somethin

else, ah think ah got some sheep wool in mah trunk now ah had hit fifty

years. Hits good fer sores if yo has er cut on yo han' or feet or if

blood poison set up jes take a little piece of dat wool an put a piece

of fire on hit and [HW: put] some [HW: on] the sore parts and chile,

honey, hit will git well right now.

Chile ah had use ter ruther go ter dances than ter eat. Ah'd go ter

dances an git early dare and heah dem fiddles. Uh, my! ah jus couldn

make mah foots act right. We use ter dance sixteen sets. We'd be er

dancing and hit would sound so good. Someone would say swing de one yo

love bes but ah wouldn swing de one ah love best cause ah didn want

anyone tah know him.

On Sunday mornin dats when we play. Ole marster would put a rope cross

fer us ter jump and we'd line up. The rope wuz bout five feet high and

chile if we didn' jump it we'd catch hit. O-o-o-o-oooo. We had ter run.

He line up two at a time an he say one fuh de money, two fuh de show,

three tuh make ready and fo' tuh go. An yo talk bout runnin. We had ter

run. He would make us box and de one dat git whooped is de one dat would

haft ter box till he got whooped and we had ter whoop three times befo'

stoppin. Oh chile, ah had a time when ah miz a chile.

Alice Davis Alice Douglass facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail