Avalena Mcconico

Interviewer: Mrs. Irene Robertson

Person Interviewed: Avalena McConico

on the [TR: ---- ----] west of Brinkley, Arkansas

Age: 40[TR: ?]

[TR: Much of this interview smeared and difficult to decipher;

illegible words indicated by "----", questionable words

followed by "?".]

"Grandma was a slave woman. Her name was Emma Harper. She was born in

Chesterville, Mississippi. Her young master was Jim and Miss Corrie

Burton. The old man was John Burton. I aimed[?] to see them once. I

seen both Miss Corrie and Mr. Jim. My grandparents was never sold. They

left out after freedom. They stayed there a long time but they left.

"The first of the War was like dis: Our related folks was having a

dance. The Yankees come in and was dancing. Some "fry boys" [---- ----]

them. The next day they were all in the field and heard something.

They went to the house and told the white folks there was [----] a

fire. They heard it. [----] he [----] about. Master told them it

was war. Miss Burton was crying. They heard about [----] in [----] at

Harrisburg where they could hear the shooting.

"They put the slaves to digging. They dug two weeks. They buried their

meat and money and a whole heap of things. They never found it. A little

white,[?] Mollita[?], was out where they were digging. She went in the

house. She said, Mama, is the devil coming? They said he was." Master

had them come to him. He questioned them. They told him they got so

tired [----] of them said he [----] he [---- ----] the [----] Yankees

come he'd tell them where all this was, but he was just talking. But

when the Yankees did come they was so scared they never got close to a

Yankee. They was scared to death. They never found the meat and money.

They [----] and cut the turkeys' heads off and the turkey fell off the

rail fence, the head drop on one side and the body on the other. They

milked a cow and cut both hind quarters off and leave the rest of the

cow there and the cow not dead yet.

"Mr. South[?] Strange at Chesterville, Mississippi had a pony named

Zane. The Yankees hemmed him and four more men in at Malone Creek and

killed the four men. Zane rared up on hind legs and went up a steep

cliff and ran three miles. Mr. Strange's coat was cut off from him. It

was a gray coat. Mr. Strange was a white man.

"Uncle Frank Jones was forty years old when they gathered him up out of

the woods and put him in the battle lines. All the runaway black folks

in the woods was hunted out and put in the Yankee lines. Uncle Frank

lived in a cave up till about then. His master made him mean. He got

better as he got old. His master would sell him and tell him to run away

and come back to his cave. He'd feed him. He never worked and he went up

for his provisions. He was sold over and over and over. His master

learnt him in books and to how to cuss. He learnt him how to trick the

dogs and tap trees like a coon. At the end of the trail the dogs would

turn on the huntsman. Uncle Frank was active when he was old. He was

hired out to race other boys sometimes. He never wore glasses. He could

see well when he was old. He told me he was raised out from England,


"When freedom was told 'em Uncle Frank said all them in the camps

hollered and danced, and marched and sung. They was so glad the War was

done and so glad they been freed.

"Grandma was sold in South Carolina to Mississippi and sold again to Dr.

Shelton. Now that was my father's father and mother. She said they rode

and walked all the way. They came on ox wagons. She said on the way they

passed some children. They was playing. A little white boy was up in a

persimmon tree settin' on a limb eating persimmons. He was so pretty and

clean. Grandma says, 'You think you is some pumpkin, don't you, honey

child.' He says, 'Some pumpkin and some 'simmon too.' Grandma was a

house girl. She got to keep her baby and brought him. He was my father.

Uncle was born later. Then they was freed. Grandma lived to be

ninety-five years old. Mrs. Dolphy Wooly and Mrs. Shelton was her young

mistresses. They kept her till she died. They kept her well.

"Grandma told us about freedom. She was hired out to the Browns to make

sausage and dry out lard. Five girls was in the field burning brush.

They was white girls--Mrs. Brown's girls. They come to the house and

said some Blue Coats come by and said, 'You free.' They told them back,

'That's no news, we was born free.' Grandma said that night she melted

pewter and made dots on her best dress. It was shiny. She wore it home

next day 'cause she was free, and she never left from about her own

white folks till she died and left them.

"Times seem very good on black folks till hard cold winter and spring

come, then times is mighty, mighty bad. It is so hard to keep warm fires

and enough to eat. Times have been good. Black folks in the young

generation need more heart training and less book learning. Times is so

fast the young set is too greedy. They is wasteful too. Some is hard

workers and tries to live right.

"I wash and irons and keep a woman's little chile so she can work. I

owns my home."

Autobiography Of Richard Slaughter Ballard facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail