Casper Rumple

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson

Person interviewed: Casper Rumple, De Valls Bluff, Arkansas

Age: 78

"I will be, providin' the good Lord spare me, 79 years old the first day

of January. I was born in Lawrence County, South Carolina. The Big road

was the dividing line between that and Edgefield County. My mother

belonged to John Griffin. His wife named Rebecca. My father was a

Irishman. Course he was a white man--Irishman. Show I did know him. He

didn't own no slaves. I don't guess he have any land. He was a overseer

in Edgefield County. His name was Ephraim Rumple. What become of him?

He went off to fight the Yankees and took Malaria fever and died on Red

River. I could show you bout where he died.

"My mother had a big family. I can't tell you much bout them. I was the

youngest. She cooked up at John Griffins. He was a old man and the land

was all his wife's. She was old too. She had some grown girls. He had

no children. They called him Pa and I did too. I stayed round with him

nearly all the time helping him.

"He had a room and she had a room. I slept on a bed--little

bed--home-made bed--in the room wid him and she slept in the room with

her two girls and my mother slept in the kitchen a whole heap so she

be there to get breakfast early. They riz early every mornin'. John

Griffins wife owned four plantations more than 160 acres in each one,

but I couldn't say how much.

"My mother was a field hand in busy times too. Miss Rebecca had all the

slaves clothes made. She seed to that. She go to the city, Augusta, and

bring back bolts cloth. One slave sewed for Miss Rebecca and her family.

She didn't do all the sewing but she sewed all the time. One woman done

all the weavin'. At night after they work in the field Miss Rebecca give

em tasks--so many bats to card or so much spinnin' to do.

"Master John didn't want em to work at night but she made em work all

the same. They b'long to her. Another thing the women had to do was work

in the garden. It was a three acre garden. They always had plenty in

thar. Had it palinged so the young chickens couldn't squeeze through the


"They had plenty stock and made all the fertilizer needed in the garden

and patches. They had goober patch, popcorn patch, sorghum patches,

several of em, pea patches but they was field cabbage patch and

watermellon patch. They had chicken house, goose house, duck house and

way off a turkey pen. It had a cover on it. They had to be cleaned and

all that manure moved to the garden and patches. Old man John Griffin

was a good man. Things went on pretty quiet bout the place. They had

to do their own cooking. They got for the grown ups 3 pounds meat, 1

pk.[TR:?] meal a week. They fed the young chaps plenty so they wouldn't

get stunted. They keep em chunky till they get old nough to grow up tall

and that make big women and big men. They stunt em then when they

start runnin' up, it cause em to be low. The owners was mighty careful

(not)[HW: ?] to feed the chaps nough to eat so they make strong hands.

"Men come long the road peddlin' from out the cities, men come long with

droves of horses and mules. They was called horse traders. Then once in

a while they come long tradin' and selling slaves. Nother way they sell

em was at public auction. Iffen a slave steal from another master, like

go in his smoke house or crib and steal, the sheriff have to whip him.

They would have public whippin'.

"How'd they know was freedom? How'd they not know it was freedom?

Everybody went wild. They was jes' crazy cause they was free. Way I

knowd for certain it was freedom Mr. John Griffin had all the slaves

that hadn't done went off come to the house and he told them they was

all free. Some of em just started walking the roads till they nearly

starved. The government didn't start feeding the slaves till so many

nearly starved. My mother cooked on nearly a year. Then she went to work

for Vaughn in Edgefield County.

"They didn't give them no land. The white folks was land pore.

"They didn't have no money. When the masters had money they give the

slaves a little spending money. Nearly all the slaves had a little money

long. They get a pass to split rails for a neighbor and make money.

That was befo freedom. After freedom nobody had money but the Yankee

soldiers. They keep it closer than the folks you been livin' with.

"Mr. Griffin, he was called General by all the young men. He was too old

to fight so he trained soldiers. He didn't wear a uniform but they did.

They met certain days every week. They wore gray uniforms.

"They had a battle at Lawrence. It was 17 miles. The soldiers passed

long the Big road. I didn't see the battles. I heard plenty talk about

that conflict at Lawrence though.

"I heard the slaves was goin' to get 40 acres and a mule. I tell you

they didn't wait to see if they was going to get another meal. They went

wild, walking and hooping up and down the road. They found out when they

nearly starved they had got the bad end of the game somehow. Then to

keep em from starvin' they had certain days to go to Lawrence and get a

little rations. Not much I tell you. They started stealin' and the Ku

Klux started up bout that.

"The President got killed (Abraham Lincoln). Then they knowed the gig

was up. They had to go to work hard as ever and mighty little to eat.

The slaves did vote. It was the color of the paper they used way they

knowed how to vote. The Republican government had full sway 12 years.

All the offices at Edgefield nearly was Negroes cept the sheriff. The

Yankees tell em what to do way they knowed how. Butler went to Congress.

He was a Negro--(???). That was what the Ku Klux was mad bout. They run

the Yankees out and took holt of the offices soon as they could.

"Our master had no Ku Klux comin' on our place. He protected us, It

wasn't no different than slavery till I was nearly grown and a drove was

walking going west to better place. I got in with them and come on. The

Ku Klux had killed several Negroes. That scared them all up. I remember

Tuscaloosa, Alabama when we cone through there. We was walking--a line

a mile long--marching and singing. They was building back in a hurry

seemed like to me. The town had been burned up. Some dropped out to get

work along. Some fell out sick. Some so weak they died long the road.

Had to keep up. Some stopped; they never caught up no more. Mostly old

folks or half starved folks couldn't keep going. The Ku Klux whoop and

shoot you down for any little thing. They started at night, fraid of the

Yankees but they whooped and run them out and the Negroes left. The Ku

Klux got so bold they didn't dress up nor go at night neither. At first

they was careful then they got bold. The Yankee soldiers bout all they

was afraid of. The Negroes found out who some of the Ku Klux was and

told the Yankees but it didn't do much good. After bout twelve years all

the Yankees gone back home. The white folks down in Carolina thought

bout as little of them as Negroes. They wouldn't let them have no land

if they did have money to pay any price for it. They didn't want them

living amongst them. They say they rether have a Negro family.

"The biggest Negro uprisin' I ever seed was at freedom. They riz up in a


"I had to stop and work all along. I got to Arkansas in 1881. I never

went no further. I been all my life farmin'. I cut and sell wood, clear

land. The best living was when I farmed and sold wood. I bought a 10

acre farm and cleared it up graduly, then I sold it fer $180.00 cause I

got blind and couldn't see to farm it. I had a house on it. I own this

here house (a splendid home). My daughter and her husband come to take

care me. They come from Cincinatti here. She made $15.00 a week up there

three years. I get $8.00 a month now from the Social Welfare. If I could

see I could make money.

"I never seen times like this. Sin is causin' it. Unrest and

selfishness. No neighborly spirit. I don't bother no young folks. I

don't know how they will come out. If they caint get a big price they

won't work and the white folks are doing their own work, and don't help

like they did. I could get along if I could see. I had a light stroke

keeps me from talkin' good, I hear that."

Carter J Jackson Cat Ross facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail