Bessie Myers





Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson

Person interviewed: Bessie Myers, Brassfield, Arkansas

Age: 50? didn't know





"My mother was named Jennie Bell. She was born in North Ca'lina

(Carolina). She worked about the house. She said there was others at the

house working all the time with her.



"She said they daresn't to cross the fence on other folks' land or go

off up the road 'lessen you had a writing to show. One woman could

write. She got a pass and this woman made some more. She said couldn't

find nothing to make passes on. It happened they never got caught up.

That woman didn't live very close by. She talked like she was free but

was one time a slave her own self.



"Mother said she would run hide every time the Yankee men come. She said

she felt safer in the dark. They took so many young women to wait on

them and mother was afraid every time they would take her.



"She said she had been at the end of a corn row at daylight ready to

start chopping it over, or pull fodder, or pull ears either. She said

they thought to lie in bed late made you weak. Said the early fresh air

what made children strong.



"On wash days they all met at a lake and washed. They had good times

then. They put the clothes about on the bushes and briers and rail

fences. Some one or two had to stay about to keep the clothes from a

stray hog or goat till they dried. And they would forage about in the

woods. It was cool and pleasant. They had to gather up the clothes in

hamper baskets and bring them up to iron. Mother said they didn't mind

work much. They got used to it.



"Mother told about men carried money in sacks. When they bought a slave,

they open up a sack and pull out gold and silver.



"The way she talked she didn't mind slavery much. Papa lived till a few

years ago but he never would talk about slavery at all. His name was

Willis Bell."





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