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. 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,
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
Aunt Adeline Aunt Carrie Mason