Callie Donalson

Interviewer: Irene Robertson

Subject: Ex-slave

Information given by: Callie Donalson, Biscoe, Arkansas


I wasn't born in slavery but I was born in the white folks kitchen. Bob

Walker was ma mother's Master and James Austin ma father's Master. They

said he wasn't good to none of dem, he was mighty tight. Now ma mothers

white folks was sho good to her. When de war was all over me family

jined and worked fer people not berry far from ma mother's masters.

There was two brothers and a sister older than me. She thought her white

folks do better by her than anybody so she went back to em during her

pregnancy and thats how come I was born in der kitchen a white mid-wife

tended on er. I never will forget her. She was named Mrs. Coffee. There

wasn't many doctors in the whole country then. I was born in Haywood

county Tennessee in 1866. No'm I tell you when you first come I wasn't

born in slavery. My white mistress named me, the young mistress, she

named me Callie. Bob Walkers girl married Ben Geeter. I was right in Ben

Geeters kitchen when Miss Sallie named me. They seemed proud of the

little black babies.

Ma mother was a field hand and she washed and ironed. She was a good

spinner. She carded and wove and spun all. She knitted too. She knitted

mostly by nite. All the stockings and gloves had to be knit. She sewed

and I learned from her. We had to sew with our fingers.

When I was a little girl I just set around, brought in wood. Yes maam we

did play and I had some dolls, I was proud of my dolls, just rag dolls.

We use to drive the calves up. If they didn't come up they sent the dog

fur de cows. One of dem wore a bell. They had shepherd dogs, long

haired, gentle dogs, to fetch the cows when they didn't come.

Ma folks farmed in Tennessee till I married and den we farmed. Agents

jess kept comin after us to get us to come to this rich country. They

say: hogs jess walking round with knife and forks stickin in der backs

beggin somebody to eat em over in Arkansas.

No'm I aint seed none lack dat, I seed em down in the swamps what you

could saw a good size saplin down wid der backbones. I says I mean I

seed plenty raysor back hogs, and long noses and long straight ears. I

show have since I come here. The land was so poor in Tennessee and this

was uncleared land so we come to a new country. It show is rich land.

They use guano back in Tennessee now or they couldn't raise nuthin. Abe

Miller an old slave owner what we worked wid come out here. He was broke

and he paid our way. We come on the Josie Harry boat. Der was several

families sides us come wid him. He done fine out here--we got off the

boat at Augusta and I worked up there in Woodruff county till ma

husbands brother's wife died and he had a farm his own. We raised his

boys and our family till dey was ob age. I left em. They went in big

business here in Biscoe and lost de farm and everything. Ma husband died

I lives with ma girl. I got one boy married lives in Chicago, and a girl

up there too. No'm dey aint rich. Dem his children come home wid ma

daughters on a visit--Little Yankees ain't got no manners.

I voted one time in ma life, in 1933, for Hoover. I don't know nothing

about voting. I can read. I reads ma Bible. Ma young mistress learnt me

to read. I never got to go to school much. Whut my young mistress learnt

me was ma A B C's and how to call words. Yes maam I can write ma name

but I forgot how to write, been so long since I wrote a letter.

All the songs I ever sung was "In Dixie" "Little Brown Jug" an mostly

religious songs, Lawd I forgot em now. I never knowd about no slave

uprisings--white folks alway good to us. We misses em now. Times not

lack dey use to be.

Dese young generations don't take no interest in nothin no mo. Its

kinder kritical. No use trying to tell em nuthin. Dey's getting an

education I don't know whut thell do with it. If dey had somebody to

manage fur them seem like they kaint kandle no business without getting

broke. They work hard and make some seems lack they jes kaint keep

nuthin. No'om I don't think they are so bad.

In 1893 me and ma husband worked on our own place till we come down here

we sold it and went on his brothers place. I owns ma house thats all. Ma

daughters help me and we get a little provisions and clothes along from

the relief. If I could work I wouldn't ax nobody for no help. I jess

past working much.

I jess don't know what is going to become of the present generation. The

conditions are better than they use to be, heap better. They have no

education and don't have to work as hard as we use to. They seems so

restless and don't take no interest in nothin. They are all right. It is

jess the times an the Bible full filling fast as it can.

Callie Bracey Callie Elder facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail