Augustus Robinson

Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor

Person interviewed: Augustus Robinson

2500 W. Tenth Street, Little Rock, Arkansas

Age: 78

"I was born in Calhoun County, Arkansas in 1860, January 15th. I am

going according to what my daddy told me and nothing else. That is all I

could do.

How the Children Were Fed

"My grandmother on my mother's side said when I was a little fellow that

she was a cook and that she would bring stuff up to the cabin where the

little niggers were locked up and feed them through the crack. She would

hide it underneath her apron. She wasn't supposed to do it. All the

little niggers were kept in one house when the old folks were working in

the field. There were six or seven of us.


"My daddy was a white man, my master. His wife was so mean to me that my

master sold me to keep her from beating me and kicking me and knocking

me 'round. She would have killed me if she could have got the chance. He

[HW: My daddy] sold me to a preacher who raised me as though I were his

own son. Whenever he sat down to the table to eat, I sat down. He made

no difference at all. He raised me in El Dorado, Arkansas. His name was

James Goodwin. He sent me to school too.

Visited by Father

"When Harrison and Cleveland ran for President, my [HW: white] father

came to Little Rock. Some colored people had been killed in the campaign

fights, and he had been summoned to Little Rock to make some statements

in connection with the trouble. He stopped at a prominent hotel and had

me to come to see him. When I went up to the hotel to meet him, there

were a dozen or more white men at that place. When I shook hands with

him, he said, 'Gentlemen, he's a little shady but he's my son.' His name

was Captain I.T. Robinson. He lived in Lisbon, Arkansas.


"My mother's name was Frances Goodwin. She belonged to Captain Robinson.

I don't know but I think that when they came to Arkansas, they came from

Georgia. They were refugees. When the War started, people that owned

niggers ran from state to state to try to hold their niggers.


"I lived right in the yard. We had four houses in the yard and three of

them was made of logs and one was made out of one-by-twelve planks. I

lived in the one made out of planks. It had one big room. I reckon it

was about twenty by fifteen, more than that, I reckon. It was a big

room. There [HW: were] two doors and no windows. We had old candlesticks

for lights. We had old homemade tables. All food was kept in the

smokehouse and the pantry. The food house and the smokehouse were two of

the log cabins in the yard.


"Goodwin schooled me. [TR: First sentence lined out.] He had a teacher

to come right on the place and stay there teaching. He raised me and

brought me up just as though I was his own child.

"I remember getting one whipping. I didn't get it from Mr. Goodwin

though. His brother gave it to me. His brother sent me to get a horse.

An old hound was laying in the way on the saddle and the bridle. He

wouldn't move so I picked up the bridle and hit him with it. He hollered

and master's brother heard him and gave me a whipping. That is the only

whipping I ever got when I was small.

Ku Klux

"I heard of the Ku Klux Klan but I don't know that I ever seen them. I

never noticed what effect they had on the colored people. I just heard

people talking about them.

Occupational Experiences

"The first work I did was farming--after the War. I farmed,--down close

to El Dorado, about six miles away from there. I kept that up till I was

about seventeen or eighteen years old or somewheres about there. That

was on James Goodwin's place--my last master, the man who raised me.

Then I left him and came to Little Rock. I don't remember in what year.

I went to school here in Little Rock. I had already had some schooling.

My grandmother sent me. The school I went to was called the Union

School. It was down on Sixth Street. After I left there, I went to

Capitol Hill School. I was going to school during the Brooks-Baxter War.

The statehouse was on Markham Street and Center. My grandmother's name

was Celie Robinson. She went by the name of her owner.

"After I had gone to school several years--I don't remember just how

many--I worked down town about ten or eleven years. Then I went to

railroading. First I was with the Iron Mountain and Southern. Later, it

changed its name to the Missouri Pacific. I worked for them from 1891

to 1935. On August 29th I received my last pay check. I have tried ever

since to get my railroad pension to which my years of service entitle me

but have been unable to get it. The law concerning the pension seems to

have passed on the same day I received my last check, and although I

worked for forty-four years and gave entire satisfaction, there has been

a disposition to keep me from the pension. While in service I had my

jaw broken in two pieces and four front teeth knocked out by a piece of

flying steel.

"Another man was handling the steam hammer. I was standing at my regular

place doing my regular work. When that happened, I was cut down like

a weed. There wasn't a man ever thought they would see me in that job

again after that piece of steel cut me down.

"Also, I lost my right eye in the service when a hot cinder from the

furnace flew in it while I was doing my regular work. Then I was

ruptured because of the handling of heavy pieces of iron at my work. I

still wear the truss. You can see the places where my jaw was broke and

you can see where my teeth were knocked out.

"Out of all the ups and downs, I stuck to the company just the same

until they retired me in 1935 because of old age. The retirement board

wanted to know when I asked for a pension, why did I think I was

entitled to a pension? I told them because I had been injured through

service with the company and had honorably finished so long a period of

service. It is now admitted that I am eligible to a railroad pension but

there seems to still be a delay in paying it for some reason or other.

Support Now

"I get a little assistance from the Welfare, and I get some commodities.

If it wasn't for that, I would be broke up."

[HW: Brooks-Baxter War was about 1872-74.]

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