Campbell Davis

CAMPBELL DAVIS, 85, was born in Harrison Co., Texas, a slave of

Henry Hood. He remained on the Hood place about three years after

he was freed, then farmed in Louisiana. In 1873 he married and

moved back to Harrison Co., where he farmed until old age forced

him to stop. He now lives with his nephew, Billie Jenkins, near

Karnack. Campbell receives a $12.00 per month old age pension.

"I's big 'nough in slavery time to hear dem tell de darkies to get up

and go in the mornin', and to hear the whistlin' of dem whips and

howlin' of de dogs. I's birthed up in the northeast part of this county

right on the line of Louisiana and Texas, and 'longed to old man Henry

Hood. My mammy and daddy was Campbell and Judy Davis and dey both come

from Alabama, and was brung here by de traders and sold to Massa Hood.

They was nine of us chillen, name Ellis and Hildaman and Henderson and

Henrietta and Georgia and Harriet and Patsy.

"Massa Henry didn't have de fine house but it a big one. Us quarters sot

off 'cross de field in de edge of a skit of woods. Dey have dirt floors

and a fireplace and old pole and plank bunks nail to de walls.

"Dey fed us beef and veg'tables--any kind, jus' name it--and 'low us sop

bread in potlicker till de world look level. Dat good eatin' and all my

life I ain't have no better.

"Massa didn't 'low no overseer on he place. One my uncles de driver, and

massa blow de old conk shell long 'fore day, and if de darkies didn't

git goin' you'd hear dem whips crackin'.

"I seed one my sisters whip 'cause she didn't spin 'nough. Dey pull de

clothes down to her waist and laid her down on de stomach and lash her

with de rawhide quirt. I's in de field when dey whips my Uncle Lewis for

not pickin' 'nough cotton. De driver pull he clothes down and make him

lay on de groun'. He wasn't tied down, but he say he scart to move.

"De women am off Friday afternoon to wash clothes and all de hands git

Saturday afternoon and mos' de man go huntin' or fishin'. Sometimes dey

have parties Saturday night and couples git on de floor and have music

of de fiddle and banjo. I only 'members one ring play:

"Hop light, li'l lady,

The cakes all dough,

Don't mind de weather,

Jus' so de wind don't blow.

"De bigges' day to blacks and whites was fourth of July. De hands was

off all day and massa give de big dinner out under de trees. He allus

barbecue de sheep or beef and have cakes and pies and fancy cookin'.

He's one de bes' bosses round dat country. He 'lieve in makin' dem work

and when dey need whippin' he done it, but when it come to feedin' he

done dat right, too. And on Christmas he give us clothes and shoes and

nuts and things and 'nother big dinner, and on Christmas night de

darkies sing songs for de white folks.

"Us git some book larnin' 'mongst ourselves, round de quarters, and have

our own preacher. Mos' de time us chillen play, makin' frog holes in de

sand and mud people and things.

"I done hear lots of talk 'bout ghosts and hants and think I seed one

onct. I's comin' home from de neighbors at night, in de moonlight, and

'rectly I seed something white by side de road. De closer I gits de

bigger it gits. I's scart but I walks up to it and it nothin' but de big

spiderweb on de bush. Den I says to myself, 'Dere ain't nothin' to dis

ghost business.'

"Massa have one son go to war and he taken a old cullud man with him. I

seed soldiers on hosses comin' and goin' de big road, and lots of dem

come to Port Caddo in boats. De pretties' sight I ever seed am a soldier

band all dress in de uniforms with brass buttons. When de soldiers come

back from de war dey throwed cannon balls 'long de road and us chillen

play with dem.

"When de war am over, massa call us all and say we's free, but can stay

on and work for de victuals and clothes. A bunch leaves and go to de

Progoe Marshal at Shreveport and ask him what to do. He tell dem to go

back and wait till dey find work some place. My mammy and me stays at de

Hood place 'bout three years. When I's twenty-one I marries and come

back to Harrison County. Mammy and me done farm in Louisiana up to dat.

My wife and me marries under de big oak tree front of de Leigh Church.

Us jus' common folks and doesn't have no infair or big to-do when us


"I's voted but our people won't pull together. I votes de 'publican

ticket de long time, but last time I pulls over and votes de Democrat

ticket. I 'cides I jus' as well go with de braves as stay with de scart.

"If de young gen'ration would study dey could make something out

deyselves, but dey wont do it. Dey am too wild. Jus' last week, I hears

de young cullud preacher at Karnack say, 'Brudders and sisters, style

and brightness am what we needs today.' I looks at him and says to

myself, 'Thank de Lawd I knows better'n dat.' When I's comin' up it am

dark, but I knows better things am ahead for us people and us trusts in

de Lawd and was hones' with our white folks and profits by what dey

tells us. Dey wasn't no niggers sent to jail when I's comin' up. It dis

'style and brightness' what gits de young niggers in trouble. Dey got de

dark way 'head of dem, less dey stops and studies and make somethin' out


Campbell Armstrong Interviewed By Samuel S Taylor Candis Goodwin facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail