Caroline Matthews

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden

Person interviewed: Caroline Matthews

812 Spruce Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Age: 79

"Yes'm, I was born in slavery times in Mississippi. Now, the only thing

I remember was some soldiers come along on some mules. I remember my

mother and father was sittin' on the gallery and they say, 'Look a

there, them's soldiers.'

"And I remember when my parents run off. I was with 'em and I cried for

'em to tote me.

"My mother's first owner was named Armstrong. She said she was about

eleven years old when he bought her. I heard her say they just changed

around a lot.

"Freedom was comin' and her last owners had carried her to a state where

it hadn't come yet. That's right--it was Texas.

"Her first owners was good. She said they wouldn't 'low the overseer to

'buke the women at all.

"But her last owners was cruel. She said one day old missis was out in

the yard and backed up and fell into a pan of hot water and when her

husband come she told him and he tried to 'buke my mother. You know if

somebody tryin' to get the best of you and you can help yourself, you

gwine do it. So mama throwed up her arm and old master hit it with a

stick and cut it bad. So my parents run off. That was in Texas.

"She said we was a year comin' back and I know they stopped at the

Dillard place and made a crop. And they lost one child on the way--that

was Kittie.

"I heard mama say they got back here to Arkansas and got to the bureau

and they freed 'em. I know the War wasn't over yet 'cause I know I heard

mama say, 'Just listen to them guns at Vicksburg.'

"When I was little, I was so sickly. I took down with the whoopin' cough

and I was sick so long. But mama say to the old woman what stayed with

me, 'This gal gwine be here to see many a winter 'cause she so stout in

the jaws I can't give her no medicine.'

"When I commenced to remember anything, I heered 'em talkin' 'bout Grant

and Colfax. Used to wear buttons with Grant and Colfax.

"But I was livin' in Abraham Lincoln's time. Chillun them days didn't

know nothin'. Why, woman, I was twelve years old 'fore I knowed babies

didn't come out a holler log. I used to go 'round lookin' in logs for a


"I had seven sisters and three brothers and they all dead but me. Had

three younger than me. They was what they called freeborn chillun.

"After freedom my parents worked for Major Ross. I know when mama fixed

us up to go to Sunday-school we'd go by Major Ross for him to see us. I

know we'd go so early, sometimes he'd still be in his drawers.

"I know one thing--when I was about sixteen years old things was good

here. Ever'body had a good living."

Caroline Hammond Caroline Richardson facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail