Benjamin Diggs

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden

Person interviewed: Benjamin Diggs

420 N. Cypress, Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Age: 79

"I was born in 1859 in North Carolina. Oh, sure, I remember when the

Yankees come through. They said they done right smart of damage. I

remember goin' by a place where they had burned it down. They didn't do

nothin' to my white folks 'cept took the stock.

"The Lyles was my white folks. They called her Polly Lyles. Oh, they was

good to us. My mother and her sister and another colored woman and we

children all belonged to one set of people--Miss Polly Lyles; and my

father belonged to the Diggs.

"After freedom we moved off but they was good to us just the same, and

we was glad to pay 'em a visit and they was glad to have us.

"I've heard my mother say she'd ignore the idea of a cold biscuit but my

father said he was glad to get one. He said he didn't get 'em but once a


"Oh, indeed there was a lot of difference in the way the colored folks

was treated. Some of 'em was very good, just like they is now.

"Well, all those old people is dead and gone now 'cause they was old


"I come here to Arkansas in '88. That was when they was emigratin' the

folks. I was grown and married then. I was twenty-six when I married in


"I went to school a little. I can sorta scribble a little and read a

little, but my eyes is failin' now. I started wearin' glasses 'fore I

really needed 'em. I got to projectin' with my mother's glasses Looked

like they read so good.

"Farmin' is all I know how to do. Never done anything else. I owned some

land and farmed for myself.

"Sure, I used to vote--Republican. I never had any trouble. I always

tried to conduct my life to avoid trouble. I believe in that policy.

"I joined the church when I was very young, very young. I go by the

Golden Rule and by the Bible.

"I first lived in Pope County.

"I learned since I come here to Pine Bluff there's enough churches here

to save the world, but there's some mean people here."

Ben Parr Benjamin Henderson facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail