Betty Krump

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson

Person interviewed: Betty Krump,

Helena, Arkansas

Age: --

[Date Stamp: MAY 31 1938]

"Mother come to Helena, Arkansas from Lake Charles, Louisiana. I was

born here since freedom. She had twelve children, raised us two. She

jus' raised me en my sister. She lives down the street on the corner.

She was a teacher here in Helena years and years. I married a doctor.

I never had to teach long as he lived, then I was too old. I never

keered 'bout readin' and books. I rather tomboy about. Then I set up

housekeepin'. I don't know nothin' 'bout slavery. I know how they come

here. Two boats named Tyler and Bragg. The Yankees took 'em up and

brought 'em up to their camps to pay them to wait on them. They come.

Before 'mancipation my mammy and daddy owned by the very same old

fellar, Thomas Henry McNeil. He had a big two-story stone house and

big plantation. Mother said she was a field hand. She ploughed. He

treated 'em awful bad. He overworked 'em. Mother said she had to work

when she was pregnant same as other times. She said the Yankees took

the pantry house and cleaned it up. They broke in it. I'm so glad the

Yankees come. They so pretty. I love 'em. Whah me? I can tell 'em by

the way they talk and acts. You ain't none. You don't talk like 'em.

You don't act like 'em. I watched you yeste'd'y. You don't walk like

'em. You act like the rest of these southern women to me.

"Mother said a gang of Yankees came to the quarters to haul the

children off and they said, 'We are going to free you all. Come on.'

She said, 'My husband in the field.' They sent for 'im. He come hard

as he could. They loaded men and all on them two gunboats. The boat

was anchored south of Tom Henry McNeill's plantation. He didn't know

they was gone. When they got here old General Hindman had forty

thousand back here in the hills. They fired in. The Yankees fired! The

Yankees said they was goin' to drive 'em back and they scared 'em out

of here and give folks that brought in them gunboat houses to live in.

Mammy went to helping the Yankees. They paid her. That was 'fore

freedom. I loves the Yankees. General Hindman's house was tore down up

there to build that schoolhouse (high school). The Yankees said they

was goin' to water their horses in the Mississippi River by twelve

o'clock or take hell. I know my mammy and daddy wasn't skeered 'cause

the Yankees taking keer of 'em and they was the ones had the cannons

and gunboats too. I jus' love the Yankees fer freeing us. They run

white folks outer the houses and put colored folks in 'em. Yankees had

tents here. They fed the colored folks till little after 'mancipation.

When the Yankees went off they been left to root hog er die. White

folks been free all der lives. They got no need to be poor. I went to

school to white teachers. They left here, folks didn't do 'em right.

They set 'em off to theirselves. Wouldn't keep 'em, wouldn't walk

'bout wid 'em. They wouldn't talk to 'em. The Yankees sont 'em down

here to egercate us up wid you white folks. Colored folks do best

anyhow wid black folks' children. I went to Miss Carted and to Mrs.

Mason. They was a gang of 'em. They bo'ded at the hotel, one of the

hotels kept 'em all. They stayed 'bout to theirselves. 'Course the

white folks had schools, their own schools.

"Ku Klux--They dressed up and come in at night, beat up the men 'bout

here in Helena. Mammy washed and ironed here in Helena till she died.

I never did do much of that kinder work. I been housekeeping purty

near all my days.

"Mammy was Fannie Thompson in Richmond, Virginia. She was took to New

Orleans on a boat and sold. Sold in New Orleans. She took up wid

Edmond Clark. Long as you been going to school don't you know folks

didn't have no marryin' in slavery times? I knowed that. They never

did marry and lived together all their lives. Preacher married

me--colored preacher. My daddy, Edmond Clark, said McNeil got him at


"I done told you 'nough. Now what are you going to give me? The

gover'ment got so many folks doin' so much you can't tell what they

after. Wish I was one of 'em.

"The present times is tough. We ain't had no good times since dem

banks broke her. Three of 'em. Folks can't get no credit. Times ain't

lack dey used to be. No use talking 'bout this young generation. One

day I come in my house from out of my flower garden. I fell to sleep

an' I had $17.50 in little glass on the table to pay my insurance. It

was gone when I got up. I put it in there when I lay down. I know it

was there. It was broad open daytime. Folks steals and drinks whiskey

and lives from hand to mouth now all the time. I sports my own self.

Ain't nobody give me nothin' since the day I come here. I rents my

houses and sells flowers."

Interviewer's Comment

This old woman lives in among the white population and rents the house

next to her own to a white family. The lady down at the corner store

said she tells white people, the younger ones, to call her Mrs. Krump.

She didn't pull that on me. She once told this white lady storekeeper

to call her Mrs. No one told me about her, because the lady said they

all know she is impudent talking. She is old, black, wealthy, and

arrogant. I passed her house and spied her.

Betty Johnson Betty Robertson facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail