Annie Griegg

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson

Person interviewed: Annie Griegg

Madison, Arkansas

Age: 84

"I was born a slave, born in Nashville, Tennessee. I was sold twice. I

don't recollect my mother; I was so small when I was parted from her. I

had two sisters and I recollect them. One of my sisters was sold the

same day I was sold and I recollect my other sister was named Rebecca. I

never seen her no more after I was sold. I was the youngest.

"Mother belong to Captain Walker. That was before the Civil War so I

know he wasn't an officer in it. His daughter married a man named Mr.

Foster. Captain Walker had give me to his daughter when she married.

They lived in Nashville, Tennessee too. Mr. Foster sold me and Captain

Walker sold my sister Ann and Mr. Bill Steel Henderson at Columbia,

Tennessee bought us both and give my sister to his widowed sister for a

house girl and nurse and he kept me.

"They lived close to us and my sister stayed at our house nearly all the

time. My sister and me was sold for the some price, $100 a piece. She

could count and knew a dollar. She had some learning then. I never went

to school a day in my life.

"The first block was a big tree and stumps sawed off for steps by the

side of it. The big tree had been sawed off up high. The man cried me

off standing on the next stump step. My sister told me our mother was a

cook at Captain Walker's. She told me my father was a Foster. It was my

understanding that he was a white man. My sister was darker than I was.

Mr. Foster sold me for a nurse. Mr. Henderson's sister was name Mrs.

McGaha (?). My sister nursed and cooked. I nursed three children at Mr.

Henderson's. He was good to me. I loved the children and they was crazy

about me. He sold me to Mr. Field Mathis. I nursed four children for

them. I never did know why I was sold. Mr. Henderson was heap the best.

Mr. Henderson never hit me a lick in his life.

"Mathis was cruel. He drank all the time. He got mad and stamped my

hand. I nearly lost the use of my hand. It was swollen way up and hurt

and stayed riz up till his cousin noticed it. He was a doctor. He lived

in the other end of the house--the same house. He found some bones was

broke loose in my hand (right hand). Dr. Mathis (Dr. Mathis or Dr.

Mathews who died at Forrest City, Arkansas) set his brother out about

treating little nurse thater way. Told him he oughter be ashamed of

hisself. Dr. Mathis splintered my hand and doctored it till it got well.

"Mr. Field Mathis was a merchant. They moved to Colt, Arkansas at the

beginning of the War, Dr. and Mr. Field Mathis both. We come on the

train and steamboats. It was so new to me I had a fine time but that is

all I can tell about it. Mr. Field was cross with his wife. She was

fairly good to me. I had all the cooking, washing and ironing to do

before I left there.

"After we come to Arkansas I never got to see my sister. My husband was

a good scholar. He could write. He wrote and wrote back to find my

sister and mother but they never answered my letters. I asked everybody

that come from there about my sisters and mother but never have heard a

word. I slept on a pallet on the floor nearly all my life. I had a

little bed at Mr. Henderson's.

"I didn't know it was freedom till one day when I was about fourteen or

fifteen years old--judging from my size and what I done. I went off to a

spring to wash. I had one pot of clothes to boil and another just out of

the pot to rub and rinse. A girl come to tell me Mrs. Field had company

and wanted me to come cook dinner. I didn't go but I told her I would be

on and cook dinner soon as I could turn loose the washing. There was two

colored girls and a white girl could done the cooking but I was a good

cook. The girl put on the water for me to scald the chickens soon as she

went to the house. When I got there Mrs. Field Mathis had a handful of

switches corded together to beat me. I picked up the pan of boiling

water to scald the chickens in. She got scared of me, told me to put the

pan down. I didn't do it. I didn't aim to hurt her. I wouldn't throwed

that boiling water on nothing. She sent to the store for her husband. He

come and I told him how it was about the clothes and three girls there

could cook without me. He got mad at her and said: 'Mary Agnes, she is

as free as you are or I am. I'm not going to ever hurt her again and you

better not.' That is the first I ever heard about freedom. It had been

freedom a long time. I don't know how long then.

"I stayed on, washed out the clothes and strung them up that evening. I

ironed all the clothes and cooked the rest of the week. Mr. Field got me

a good home with some colored folks. He told me if I would go there he

never would let nobody bother me and he never would mistreat me no more.

I worked some for them but they paid me. She ought to thought a heap of

me the way I cooked and worked for her. That was my freedom. I was sold

on a platform to Mr. Mathis.

"After freedom I done field work. I never seen a Ku Klux in my life. I

cooked out some and I married. I still cooked out. I was married once

and married in a church. I have seven children living and seven dead.

"I live with my daughter and her family and I get $6 and commodities.

I'm mighty thankful for that. It helps me a whole lots.

"I recken young folks do the best they know to do. Seems like folks are

kinder hearted than they used to be. Times have changed a heap every

way. Times is harder for poor folks than the others. It is a true saying

that poor folks have hard ways and rich folks have mean ways. They are

more selfish. I always had to work hard. Both times I was sold for


Annie Beck Annie Hawkins facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail