Belle Buntin

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson

Person interviewed: Belle Buntin, Marianne, Arkansas

Age: Up in 80's

"I never was sold. I was born in Oakland, Mississippi. My master said he

wanted all he raised. He never sold one. He bought my mother in

Lexington County. She was a field hand. Our owners was Master Johnson

Buntin and Mistress Sue Buntin. They had two children--Bob and Fannie.

He had a big plantation and four families of slaves. Charlotte was the

cook. Myra worked at the house and in the field. He had seven little

colored boys and two little colored girls. I spent most of my time up at

the house playing with Bob and Fannie. When mistress whooped one she

whooped all three. She would whoop us for stealing her riding horse out.

We would bridle it and all three ride and ride. We got several whoopings

about that.

"I have seen colored folks sold at Oakland. They had a block and nigger

traders come. One trader would go and see a fine baby. He keep on till

he got it. I've seen them take babies from the mother's arm and if the

mother dare cry, they would git a beatin'. They look like they bust over

their grief.

"If you was out after seven o'clock the patrollers git you. They would

beat and take you home. Some masters say to them, 'You done right,' and

some say, 'You bring my hands home; I'll whoop them myself.'

"The patrollers caught one of Gaddises women and whooped her awful for

coming to town on Sunday. I never did know why she went to town that


"That selling was awful and crowds come to see how they sell. They acted

like it was a picnic. Some women was always there, come with their

husbands. Some women sold slaves and some bought them.

"I never did see none sell naked. I seen men took from their wives and

mothers and children. Let me tell you they didn't have no squalling

around or they would get took off and a beating.

"Master Alex Buntin was Dr. Buntin. He said, 'I worked like one of my

slaves and bought my slaves with what I made and I am not going to have

them 'bused by the patrollers. George and Kit and Johnson was his

cousins. Kit wasn't so good to his slaves.

"It was my job to brush the flies off the table. I had a fly brush. I

would eat out of Bob's and Fannie's plates. Miss Sue say, 'Bell, I'm

going to whoop you.' I say, 'Miss Sue, please don't, I'm hungry too.'

She say, 'You stop playing and eat first next time.' Then she'd put some

more on their plates. We sat on a bench at the table. We et the same the

white folks did all cooked up together.

"One time Dr. Buntin got awful mad. The dogs found some whiskey in a

cave one of his slaves had hid there. They would steal and hide it in a

cave. He got a beating and they washed it in salt water to keep them

from getting sore and stiff.

"Some folks kept dogs trained to hunt runaway niggers. They was fat, and

you better not hit one or hurt it if it did bite or you would git a

awful beating.

"Master Alex was a legislator. He had to leave when the Yankees come

through. They killed all the legislators. I loved him. He run a store

and we three children went to the store to see him nearly every day. He

took us all three on his knees at the some time. I loved him. When he

was gone, I said, 'Miss Sue, where is Master Alex?' She say, 'Maybe he

be back pretty soon.' While he was gone they had a battle in a little

skirt of woods close by. We hung to Miss Sue's skirt tail. I seen the

Yankees run by on horses and some walking. Mr. Jordan, a southern

soldier, was shot in his ribs. Mr. Buford was shot in his knee. Some of

the other southern soldiers drug them up to our house. Miss Sue nursed

them. I think they got well and went home.

"Three days before Master Alex left they sent all the stock off and put

the turkeys and geese under the house, and chickens too. It was dark so

they kept pretty quiet. When the Yankees got there they stripped the

smoke-house. We had a lots of meat and they busted the storehouse open

and strowed (strewed) meat and flour all along the road. They hired

Mammy (Charlotte) to cook a big meal for them. She told the man she was

'fraid Miss Sue whoop her. He said, 'Whooping time near 'bout out.' He

asked her 'bout some chickens but she wasn't goin' to tell him 'cause it

was her living too for them to waste up. They never found the geese,

turkeys, and chickens. They rambled all through the house looking for

Master Alex and went through every drawer and closet upstairs and down.

It was scandalous. They had Miss Sue walking and crying and us three

children clinging to her skirt tail scared to death and crying too. When

they left, the big lieutenant rode off ahead on a fine gray horse. They

come back when we just got the table sot and et every crumb of our

dinner. They was a lively gang. I hate 'em. I was hungry. Rations was

scarce. They wasted the best we had. Master Alex hod three stores and he

kept the middle one.


"Mistress told all Master Alex's slaves they had been freed. The men all

left. My mother left and took me. I got mad and went back and lived

there till I married. Master Alex come back after two weeks. My mother

soon died after the surrender. She died at Batesville, Mississippi. Lots

of the slaves died. Their change of living killed lots of 'em. My father

lived on Sam Bronoy's (Branough's) place. Master Alex wanted to buy him

but he took him on to Texas before I was born. I never did see him.

"I been farming, cooking, wash and iron along. I been in Arkansas twelve

or fourteen years.

"How am I supported? I'm not much supported. My boy don't have work much

of the time. I don't get the pension. I trusts in the Lord. I belong to

New Bethel Baptist Church down here.

"Times--I don't know what to think. My race is the under folks and I

don't never say nothing to harm 'em. I'm one of 'em. Times is hardest in

my life. I have to sit. I can't walk a step--creeping paralysis."

Bell Robinson Belle Butler facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail