Aunt Adeline Interviewed By Zillah Cross Peel

Interviewer: Mrs. Zillah Cross Peel

Person interviewed: "Aunt Adeline" Age: 89

Home: 101 Rock Street, Fayetteville, Arkansas

"I was born a slave about 1848, in Hickmon County, Tennessee," said Aunt

Adeline who lives as care taker in a house at 101 Rock Street,

Fayetteville, Arkansas, which is owned by the Blakely-Hudgens estate.

Aunt Adeline has been a slave and a servant in five generations of the

Parks family. Her mother, Liza, with a group of five Negroes, was sold

into slavery to John P.A. Parks, in Tennessee, about 1840.

"When my mother's master come to Arkansas about 1849, looking for a

country residence, he bought what was known as the old Kidd place on the

Old Wire Road, which was one of the Stage Coach stops. I was about one

year old when we came. We had a big house and many times passengers

would stay several days and wait for the next stage to come by. It was

then that I earned my first money. I must have been about six or seven

years old. One of Mr. Parks' daughters was about one and a half years

older than I was. We had a play house back of the fireplace chimney. We

didn't have many toys; maybe a doll made of a corn cob, with a dress

made from scraps and a head made from a roll of scraps. We were playing

church. Miss Fannie was the preacher and I was the audience. We were

singing "Jesus my all to Heaven is gone." When we were half way through

with our song we discovered that the passengers from the stage coach had

stopped to listen. We were so frightened at our audience that we both

ran. But we were coaxed to come back for a dime and sing our song over.

I remember that Miss Fannie used a big leaf for a book.

"I had always been told from the time I was a small child that I was a

Negro of African stock. That it was no disgrace to be a Negro and had it

not been for the white folks who brought us over here from Africa as

slaves, we would never have been here and would have been much better


"We colored folks were not allowed to be taught to read or write. It was

against the law. My master's folks always treated me well. I had good

clothes. Sometimes I was whipped for things I should not have done just

as the white children were.

"When a young girl was married her parents would always give her a

slave. I was given by my master to his daughter, Miss Elizabeth, who

married Mr. Blakely. I was just five years old. She moved into a new

home at Fayetteville and I was taken along but she soon sent me back

home to my master telling him that I was too little and not enough help

to her. So I went back to the Parks home and stayed until I was over

seven years old. [1]My master made a bill of sale for me to his

daughter, in order to keep account of all settlements, so when he died

and the estate settled each child would know how he stood.

"I was about 15 years old when the Civil War ended and was still living

with Mrs. Blakely and helped care for her little children. Her daughter,

Miss Lenora, later married H.M. Hudgens, and I then went to live with

her and cared for her children. When her daughter Miss Helen married

Professor Wiggins, I took care of her little daughter, and this made

five generations that I have cared for.

"During the Civil War, Mr. Parks took all his slaves and all of his fine

stock, horses and cattle and went South to Louisiana following the

Southern army for protection. Many slave owners left the county taking

with them their slaves and followed the army.

"When the war was over, Mr. Parks was still in the South and gave to

each one of his slaves who did not want to come back to Arkansas so much

money. My uncle George came back with Mr. Parks and was given a good

mountain farm of forty acres, which he put in cultivation and one of my

uncle's descendants still lives on the place. My mother did not return

to Arkansas but went on to Joplin, Missouri, and for more than fifty

years, neither one of us knew where the other one was until one day a

man from Fayetteville went into a restaurant in Joplin and ordered his

breakfast, and my mother who was in there heard him say he lived in

Fayetteville, Arkansas. He lived just below the Hudgens home and when my

mother enquired about the family he told her I was still alive and was

with the family. While neither of us could read nor write we

corresponded through different people. But I never saw her after I was

eleven years old. Later Mr. Hudgens went to Joplin to see if she was

well taken care of. She owned her own little place and when she died

there was enough money for her to be buried.

"Civil War days are vivid to me. The Courthouse which was then in the

middle of the Square was burned one night by a crazy Confederate

soldier. The old men in the town saved him and then put him in the

county jail to keep him from burning other houses. Each family was to

take food to him and they furnished bedding. The morning I was to take

his breakfast, he had ripped open his feather bed and crawled inside to

get warm. The room was so full of feathers when I got there that his

food nearly choked him. I had carried him ham, hot biscuits and a pot of


"After the War many soldiers came to my mistress, Mrs. Blakely, trying

to make her free me. I told them I was free but I did not want to go

anywhere, that I wanted to stay in the only home that I had ever known.

In a way that placed me in a wrong attitude. I was pointed out as

different. Sometimes I was threatened for not leaving but I stayed on.

"I had always been well treated by my master's folks. While we lived at

the old Kidd place, there was a church a few miles from our home. My

uncle George was coachman and drove my master's family in great splendor

in a fine barouche to church. After the war, when he went to his own

place, Mr. Parks gave him the old carriage and bought a new one for the


"I can remember the days of slavery as happy ones. We always had an

abundance of food. Old Aunt Martha cooked and there was always plenty

prepared for all the white folks as well as the colored folks. There was

a long table at the end of the big kitchen for the colored folks. The

vegetables were all prepared of an evening by Aunt Martha with someone

to help her.

"My mother seemed to have a gift of telling fortunes. She had a brass

ring about the size of a dollar with a handwoven knotted string that she

used. I remember that she told many of the young people in the

neighborhood many strange things. They would come to her with their


"Yes, we were afraid of the patyroles. All colored folks were. They said

that any Negroes that were caught away from their master's premises

without a permit would be whipped by the patyroles. They used to sing a


'Run nigger run,

The patyroles

Will get you.'

"Yes'm, the War separated lots of families. Mr. Parks' son, John C.

Parks, enlisted in Colonel W.H. Brooks' regiment at Fayetteville as

third lieutenant. Mr. Jim Parks was killed at the Battle of Getysburg.

"I do remember it was my mistress, Mrs. Blakely, who kept the Masonic

Building from being burned. The soldiers came to set it on fire. Mrs.

Blakely knew that if it burned, our home would burn as it was just

across the street. Mrs. Blakely had two small children who were very ill

in upstairs rooms. She told the soldiers if they burned the Masonic

Building that her house would burn and she would be unable to save her

little children. They went away."

While Aunt Adeline is nearing ninety, she is still active, goes shopping

and also tends to the many crepe myrtle bushes as well as many other

flowers at the Hudgens place.

She attends to the renting of the apartment house, as caretaker, and is

taken care of by members of the Blakely-Hudgens families.

Aunt Adeline talks "white folks language," as they say, and seldom

associates with the colored people of the town.

[Footnote 1: This statement can be verified by the will made by John

P.A. Parks, and filed in Probate Court in the clerk's office in

Washington County.]

Aunt Adeline Aunt Carrie Mason facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail