Carol Graham



Circumstances of Interview


NAME OF WORKER--Mrs. Carol Graham

ADDRESS--El Dorado, Arkansas

DATE--December, 1938


1. Name and address of informant--Jack and Talitha Island, Route 1, El

Dorado, Arkansas.

2. Date and time of interview--December, 1938

3. Place of interview--Route 1, El Dorado, Arkansas.

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


5. Name and address of person, if any, accompanying you--

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



Personal History of Informant


NAME OF WORKER--Mrs. Carol Graham

ADDRESS--EL Dorado, Arkansas

DATE--December, 1938



Route 1, El Dorado.

1. Ancestry--

2. Place and date of birth--Talitha was born April 14, 1864 in Arcadia,

Louisiana. Jack was born in 1863.

3. Family--Talitha had three children and Jack had three children.

4. Places lived in, with dates--Talitha lived in Arcadia, Louisiana

until freedom. Jack and Talitha now live in El Dorado.

5. Education, with dates--

6. Occupations and accomplishments, with dates--

7. Special skills and interests--

8. Community and religious activities--Goes to church in schoolhouse

across the road.

9. Description of informant--

10. Other points gained in interview--They tell some of their childhood




Text of Interview (Unedited)

Talitha: "Howdy, chillun, come in. Naw suh, Jack ain't heah right now.

He down tuh the thicket back uv de house gittin' some wood. Naw suh, he

won't be gone long. He soon be back. You all come in and set on the

gallery. Here's a cheer, missy. He be back in no time tall.

"You wants to know how old I am? I was born April 14, 1864 before the

niggers was freed in '65.

"My mother was a field woman (worked in the field) and had seven chillun

when set free. Her mistress raised her from three weeks old. Her mother

burned to death in a house on the plantation. Our home was 'bout four

miles east of Arcadia, Louisiana, or rather Miss Sarah Given's house

was, and we stayed on wid her until I was a big girl, plowin' and


"No ma'am, I never did go to no parties. I was never 'lowed to go. I

been a member of the church since I was ten and now I'm seventy-three.

"I first married a man by the name of Williams and had three chillun by

him, two boys and one girl. Then I was a widow fifteen years before I

married Jack. We ain't never had no chillun, but Jack had three chillun

and I helped to raise them and I've helped raise a bunch of his


"I believes I hear Jack back there now."

Jack: "Howdy, howdy! So you is back for more tales 'bout long ago. I'se

seventy-three and I been in this world a long time I tell you."

Talitha: "Now, Jack, you knows you is heap older 'n me and I'm

seventy-three and I was born jes 'bout a year befo the War closed and

you say you was a big chap then."

Jack: "Well, I guess I was around six years old when the War started. I

was a good big chap. I 'member one evening 'bout three o'clock I was

settin' out in the yard playin' with a mate of mine--Johnnie Cook. I

guess you would call him my mate; he was my mistress's boy and 'bout my

age and we played together all the time even if I was black. I was the

only black boy on the place, all the other cullud chillun was gals. Us

chaps was out in the yard making frog nesties with our bare feet in the

sand. They was fightin' in Vicksburg then. They was doing a whole lot of

shooting. You could hear it one right after the other and it got so

smoky. I thought it was thunder and said something 'bout hit. Mistress

was setting on the gallery sewing and when I said that she said, 'Aw

Lawd, that ain't no thunder,' but she didn' tell us what hit wuz."

Talitha: "Course I wasn't old enough to know anything 'bout hit but I

heard my mother say it got so smoky the chickens didn't get off the

roost while they was bustin' all them big cannons."

Jack: "All us chillun was just as fat and healthy as hogs. Warn't never

sick. They'd feed 'bout this time every evening (4 p.m.) and by sundown

I was in bed. My mother worked in the field and I've heard her say that

sometime she didn't see her chillun from Sunday to Sunday. Old lady

Hannah Banks done the cooking for everybody and she cooked on a big

fireplace. They didn't have no stove. Why, I got here before the stoves

did. Ma and pa and all the grown ones would get up at four o'clock and

eat breakfast and be in the field workin' by sunup. They had a box with

shelves drove up on the side of the wall to the cabin where we slept and

old lady Hannah Banks would put our breakfast in that and when we woke

up we would get it and eat. One morning I woke up before the other

chillun did and 'cided I'd git my breakfast first 'fore they did. I clem

up, rech up and got holt of that box and I was so heavy I pulled it down

and broke all the old blue edge plates. That woke the other chillun up

all right, and I can jes see them old blue edge plates now. For dinner

they would give us boiled greens or beans wid bread and for supper they

would save the slop (liquor), cram it full of bread, pour it in a tray

and give it to all the chilluns and me, sister Julia, Nancy, Lizzie,

Marthy, and all the little nigger chillun."

Talitha: "Huh! Old man Givens had so many little nigger chillun couldn'

feed 'em in no tray. Had to have troughs. They'd take a log and hollow

it out and make three tubs in a row and put peg legs on it and a hole in

the bottom of each one with a pin in it. They would use these tubs to

wash the clothes in and pull the stem up to let all the water run out,

clean 'em out real good, fill with bread and pot-licker or bread and

milk, and feed the nigger chillun."

Jack: "You say our nephew wants to come out and bring a bunch of young

folks and wants me to take them 'possum hunting some moonlight night?

Sho, sho, I'll go."

Talitha: "I don't know how he'd go lessen we totes him. Why, he got the

rheumatism so bad he can't hardly git 'round in the daytime much less at

night. Why, the other day he was out in the field follerin' the boy that

was plowin' up the potatoes and we was goin' on pickin' them up. First

thing I know I hear somethin' behind me go 'plop' and I looked roun and

there lay Jack jes stretched out. Fell down over his own feet. So what

would he do out nights? And you sees that knot on his ankle. Hit was

broke when he was a boy an' hit still gives him trouble when his

rheumatism starts up."

Jack: "You say how did I do it? I was jumpin'. A bunch of us boys was

jumpin' 'cross a ditch jes to see how far we could jump. I was a young

chap 'bout seventeen or eighteen then. I was doin' purty well with my

jumpin' when I made a misjump an' jumped crooked and hit my ankle on a

big old iron rock. My but hit hurt bad. I didn' do no more jumpin' that

day. The next day I was down in the woods getting a load of lider. Had

put on a few pieces on the wagon when I started to turn aroun and down I

went. I jes lay there and hollered till someone come an' got me. That

was in the winter just before Christmas and I didn't get out no more

till in the spring. The woods looked right purty to me when I got out.

The leaves was great big. And that ain't all, I ain't jumped no more

since. 'Sides that I ain't never been sick to 'mount to anything. Had

the whooping cough at the same time that Joe and Tom Snyder had hit.

Still got my natchel teeth, lost four up here and got one that bothers

me some, 'sides that I have 'em all. Yas suh, that the schoolhouse

'cross the road there. We has preachin' there sometimes too. Does Ab

preach there? He, he, he! sometime he do. Did I ever tell you 'bout the

time Ab was preaching out here at and got to stampin' roun wid

that peg-leg of his'n an' hit went through the rotten floor and we had

to pull him out? He, he, he!"

Talitha: "Now, Jack Island, you knows that is jes 'nother one uv yo

tales. I is been to hear Ab preach lots of times and he does storm roun

mighty bad and I ain't got no faith in his religion tall but I warn't

there when he fell through the floo'."

Carlotte Beverley Carol Graham facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail