Cecil Copeland


[HW: Ex-slave, Texarkana Dist., 9/5/31]

Name of Interviewer: Cecil Copeland

Subject: Apparition and Will-o'-the-Wisp.


Information given by: Preston Kyles / Occupation: Minister

Place of Residence: 800 Block, Laurel St., Texarkana, Ark. (Age) 81

[TR: Personal information moved from bottom of form.]

The negro race is peculiarly susceptible to hallucinations. Most any

old negro can recall having had several experiences with "de spirits."

Some of these apparitions were doubtless real, as the citizens during

Reconstruction Days employed various methods in keeping the negro in

subjection. The organizers of the Ku Klux Klan, shortly after the

Civil War, recognized and capitalized on the superstitious nature of

the negro. This weakness in their character doubtless prevented much

bloodshed during this hectic period.

The following is a story as told by a venerable ex-slave in regard to

the "spirits":

"One day, when I wuz a young man, me an' a nigger, by de name ov

Henry, wuz huntin' in an' old field. In dem days bear, deer, turkey,

and squirrels wuz plentiful an' 'twant long befo' we had kilt all we

could carry. As we wuz startin' home some monstrous thing riz up right

smack dab in front ov us, not more'n 100 feet away. I asked Henry:

"Black Boy, does yo' see whut I see?" an' Henry say, "Nigger I hopes

yo' don't see whut I see, 'cause dey ain't no such man." But dere it

stood, wid its sleeves gently flappin' in de wind. Ovah 8 feet tall,

it wuz, an' all dressed in white. I yells at it, "Whut does yo' want?"

but it didn't say nuthin'. I yells some mo' but it jus' stands there,

not movin' a finger. Grabbin' de gun, I takes careful aim an' cracks

down on 'em, but still he don't move. Henry, thinkin' maybe I wuz too

scared to shoot straight, say: "Nigger, gib me dat gun!" I gibs Henry

de gun but it don't take but one shot to convince him dat he ain't

shootin' at any mortal bein'. Throwin' down de gun, Henry say,

"Nigger, lets get away frum dis place," which it sho' didn't take us

long to do."

Cecelia Chappel Celestia Avery facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail