Bernice Bowden

Circumstances of Interview


NAME OF WORKER--Bernice Bowden

ADDRESS--1006 Oak Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas

DATE--November 4, 1938


[TR: Repetitive information deleted from subsequent pages.]

1. Name and address of informant--Sarah Sexton, Route 4, Box 685, Pine


2. Date and time of interview--November 3, 1958, 10:00 a.m.

3. Place of interview--Route 4, Box 685, Pine Bluff, Arkansas

4. Name and address of person, if any, who put you in touch with

informant--Georgia Caldwell, Route 6, Box 128, Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

5. Name and address of person, if any, accompanying you--None.

6. Description of room, house, surroundings, etc.--Frame house, front

porch with two swings. Fence around yard. Chinaberry tree and Tree of

Paradise, Coxcomb in yard. Southeast of Norton-Wheeler Stave Mill just

off Highway 65.

Text of Interview

"Prewitt Tiller bought my mother and I belonged to young master. In

slavery I was a good-sized-young girl, mama said. Big enough to put the

table cloths on the best I could. After freedom I did all the cookin'

and milkin' and washin'.

"Now listen, this young master was Prewitt's son.

"Grandpa's name was Ned Peeples and grandma was Sally Peeples. My mother

was Dorcas. Well, my papa, I ain't never seed him but his name was Josh

Allen. You see, they just sold 'em around. That's what I'm talkin'

about--they went by the name of their owners.

"I'm seventy-eight or seventy-nine or eighty. That's what the insurance

man got me up.

"I been in a car wreck and I had high blood pressure and a stroke all at

once. And that wreck, the doctor said it cracked my skull. Till now, I

ain't got no remembrance.

"You know how long I went to school? Three days. No ma'm I had to work,


"I was born down here on Saline River at Selma. I done forgot what


"What kinda work have I done? Oh, honey, I done farmed myself to death,

darlin'. You know Buck Couch down here at Noble Lake? Well, I hoped pick

out eight bales of cotton for him.

"I wish I had the dollars I had workin' for R.A. Pickens down here at

Walnut Lake. Yes, honey, I farmed for him bout fifteen or twenty years


"And he sure was nice and he was mischievous. He called all of us his

chillun. He use to say, 'Now you must mind your papa!' And we'd say 'Now

Mr. Pickens, you know you ain't got no nigger chillun'. He use to say to

me 'Sallie, you is a good woman but you ain't got no sense'. Them was

fine white folks.

"Honey, these white folks round here what knows me, knows they ain't a

lazy bone in my body.

"I'se cooked and washed and ironed and I'se housecleaned. Yes'm, I

certainly was a good cook.

"I belongs to the Palestine Baptist Church. Yes ma'm. I don't know what

I'd do if twasn't for the good Master. I talks to Him all the time.

"I goes to this here government school. A man teaches it. I don't know

what his name is, we just calls him Professor.

"Well, chile, I'll tell you the truf. These young folks is done gone.

And some o' these white headed women goes up here truckin'. It's a sin

and a shame. I don't know what's gwine come of 'em."

Interviewer's Comment

This woman lives with her daughter Angelina Moore who owns her home.

Mother and daughter both attend government school. Both were neatly

dressed. The day was warm so we sat on the front porch during the


Personal History of Informant

1. Ancestry--Grandfather, Ned Peeples; grandmother, Sally Peeples;

Mother, Dorcas Peeples; Father, Josh Allen.

2. Place and date of birth--On Saline River, Selma, Arkansas. No date.

3. Family--Two daughters and granddaughter.

4. Places lived in, with dates--Desha County, Walnut Lake, Noble Lake,

(Arkansas) Poplar Bluff, Missouri. No dates.

5. Education, with dates--Three days, "after freedom". Attends

government school now.

6. Occupations and accomplishments, with dates--Farmwork, cooking,

laundry work until 1936.

7. Special skills and interests--Cooking.

8. Community and religious activities--Member of Palestine Baptist


9. Description of informant--Medium height, plump, light complexion and

gray hair.

10. Other points gained in interview--Injured in auto wreck seven years


Benny Dillard Bernice Wilburn facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail