Annie Parks

Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor

Person interviewed: Annie Parks

720 Pulaski Street, Little Rock, Arkansas

Age: About 80

Occupation: Formerly house and field work

"I was born and raised in Mer Rouge, Louisiana. That is between here and

Monroe. I have been here in Little Rock more than twenty-five years.

"My mother's name was Sarah Mitchell. That was her married name. I don't

know what her father's name was. My father's name was Willis Clapp. He

was killed in the first war--the Civil War. My father went to the war

from Mer Rouge, Louisiana. I don't remember him at all. But that is what

my mother told me about him. My mother said he had very good people.

After he married my mother, old man Offord bought him. Offord's name was

Warren Offord. They buried him while I was still there in Mer Rouge. He

was a old-time Mason. That was my mother's master--in olden days.

"His grandmother took my mother across the seas with her. She (his

grandmother) died on shipboard, and they throwed her body into the

water. There's people denies it, but my mother told me it was so. Young

Davenport is still living. He is a relative of Offords. My mother never

did get no pension for my father.

Slave House and Occupation

"I was born in a log house. There were two doors--a front and a

back--and there were two windows. My mother had no furniture 'cept an

old-time wooden bed--big bed. She was a nurse all the time in the house.

I heard her say she milked and waited on them in the house. My father's

occupation was farming during slavery times.

"My mother always said she didn't have no master to beat on her. I like

to tell the truth. My mother's master never let no overseer beat his

slaves around. She didn't say just what we had to eat. But they always

give us a plenty, and there wasn't none of us mistreated.

"My father could have an extra patch and make a bale of cotton or

whatever he wanted to on it. That was so that he could make a little

money to buy things for hisself and his family. And if he raised a bale

of cotton on his patch and wanted to sell it to the agent, that was all



"I have a brother named Manuel Clayton. If he's living still, he is

younger than I am. He is the baby boy. I doesn't remember his father at

all. I had five sisters with myself and two brothers. All of them were

older than me except Manuel. My mother had one brother and two sisters.

Her brother's name was Lin Urbin. We always called him Big Buddy. He

hasn't been so long died. My older brother is named Willis Clayton--if

he's still living. Willis has a half dozen sons. He is my oldest

brother. He lives way out in the country 'round Mer Rouge.


"My mother said they promised to them money when they were freed. Some

of them gave them something, and some of them didn't. My mother's folks

didn't give her nothin'. The Government didn't give her nothin' either.

I don't know just who told her she was free nor how. I don't remember


Patrollers and Ku Klux

"I never heard much about pateroles. My mother said they used to whip

you if they would catch you out without a pass. I heard her talk about

the Ku Klux after freedom.

Slave Worship

"My mother could always go to church on Sunday. Her slave-time preacher

was Tom Johnson. Henry Soates and Watt Taylor were slavery-time

preachers too. Old man Jacob Anderson too was a great preacher in slave

time. There was a big arbor where they held church. That was outdoors.

There was just a wood frame and green leaves laid over it. Hundreds of

people sat under there and heard the Gospel preached. The Offords didn't

care how much you worshipped. If I was with them, I wouldn't have no


"In the winter time they had a small place to meet in. They built a

church after the war. When I went home, eight or nine years ago, I

walked all 'round and looked at all the old places.


"You know my remembrance comes and goes. I ain't had no good remembrance

since I been sick. I been mighty sick with high blood pressure. I can't

work and I can't even go out. I'm 'fraid I'll fall down and get myself

hurt or run over.


"I don't get no help 'cept what my daughter gives me. I can't get no Old

Age Pension. I never did get nothin' for my father. My mother didn't

either. He was killed in the war, but they didn't give nobody nothin'

for his death. They told me they'd give me something and then they told

me they wouldn't. I'm dependent on what my daughter does for me. If I

was back in Mer Rouge, I wouldn't have no trouble gettin' a pension, nor

nothin' else.

Slave Marriages on the Offord Plantation

"My mother said they just read 'em together, slavery times. I think she

said that the preacher married them on the Offord plantation. They

didn't get no license.


"They had quiltings and corn shuckings. I don't know what other

amusements they had, but I know everything was pleasant on the Offord


"If slaves went out without a pass, my mother said her master wouldn't

allow them to beat on them when they come in. They had plenty to eat,

and they had substantial clothes, and they had a good fire.


"I don't know how old I am. I was born before the war. My father went to

the war when it begun. I had another brother that was born before the

war. He don't remember nothin' about my father. I don't neither. I was

too young."

Interviewer's Comment

Allowing for a year's difference between the two youngest children, and

allowing that the boy was born immediately before the War, the girl

could not be younger than seventy-eight. She could be older. She states

all facts as through her mother, but she seems to have experienced some

of the things she relates. Her memory is fading. Failure to get pension

or old age assistance oppresses her mind. She comes back to it again and

again. She carries her card and her commodity order with her in her


She had asked me to write some letters for her when her daughter

interfered and said that she didn't want it done. She said that she had

told the case worker that her husband worked at the Missouri Pacific

Shop and that the case worker had asked her if she wouldn't provide for

her mother. They live in a neat rented house. The mother weighs about a

hundred and ten pounds and is tall. The daughter is about the same

height but weighs about two hundred and fifty. Time and again, the old

lady tried to convey to me a message that she didn't want her daughter

to hear, but I could not make it out. The daughter was belligerent, as

is sometimes the case, and it was only by walking in the very middle of

the straight and narrow path that I managed to get my story.

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