Charles Graham

--- 11 1938

Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor

Person interviewed: Charles Graham

616 W. 27th Street, North Little Rock, Arkansas

Age: 79

[HW: [Freed in '63]]

"I was born September 27, 1859, Clarksville, Tennessee. I don't remember

the county. There are several Clarksvilles throughout the South. But

Clarksville, Tennessee is the first and the oldest.

"I got a chance to see troops after the Civil War was over. The soldiers

were playing, boxing, and the like. Then I remember hearing the cannons

roar--long toms they used to call 'em. My uncle said, 'That is General

Grant opening fire on the Rebels.'

"The first clear thing I remember was when everybody was rejoicing

because they were free. The soldiers were playing and boxing and

chucking watermelons at one another. They had great long guns called

muskets. I heard 'em say that Abraham Lincoln had turned 'em loose.

Where I was at, they turned 'em loose in '63. Lincoln was assassinated

in '65. I heard that the morning after it was done. We was turned loose

long before then.

"I was too young to pay much attention, but they were cutting up and

clapping their hands and carrying on something terrible, and shouting,

'Free, free, old Abraham done turned us loose.'

"I was here in them days! Heard those long toms roar! General Grant

shelling the Rebels!"


"I don't remember much about the patrollers except that when they been

having dances, and some of them didn't have passes, they'd get chased

and run. If they would get catched, them that didn't have passes would

get whipped. Them that had them, they were all right."


"They had barbecues. That's where the barbecues started from, I reckon,

from the barbecues among the slaves.

"They would have corn shuckings. They would have a whole lot of corn to

shuck, and they would give the corn shucking and the barbecue together.

They would shuck as many as three or four hundred bushels of corn in a

night. Sometimes, they would race one another. So you know that they

must have been some shucking done.

"I don't believe that I know of anything else. People were ignorant in

those days and didn't have many amusements."


"I used to be a regular miller until they laid the men off. Now I don't

have no kind of job at all."

Right after the War

"Some of the slaves went right up North. We stayed in Clarksville and

worked there for a year or two. In 1864, we went to Warren County,

Illinois. They put me in school. My people were just common laborers.

They bought themselves a nice little home.

"My mother's name was Anna Bailis and my father's name was Charles

Morrill. I don't remember the names of their masters.

"I was raised by my uncle, Simon Blair. His master used to be a Bailis.

My father, so I was told, went off and left my mother. She was weak and

ailing, so my uncle took me. He took me away from her and carried me up

North with them. My father ran away before the slaves were freed. I

never found out what became of him.

"I stayed in Illinois from the time I was five or six years old up until

I was twenty-one. I left there in 1880. That is about the time when

Garfield ran for President. I was in Ohio, seen him before he was

assassinated in 1882. Garfield and Arthur ran against Hancock and

English. They beat 'em too."

Little Rock

"I used to go from place to place working first one place and then

another--going down the Mississippi on boats. Monmouth, Illinois, where

I was raised--they ain't nothing to that place. Just a dry little town!"


"The young people nowadays are all right. There is not so much ignorance

now as there was in those days. There was ignorance all over then. The

Peckerwoods wasn't much wise either. They know nowadays though. Our race

has done well in refinement.

"I find that the Negro is more appreciated in politics in the North and

West than in the South. I don't know whether it will grow better or not.

"I'll tell you something else. The best of these white people down here

don't feel so friendly toward the North."

Charles Crawley Ex-slave Charles Grandy facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail