Charlie Mcclendon

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden

Person interviewed: Charlie McClendon

708 E. Fourth Avenue, Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Age: 77

"I don't know exactly how old I am. I was six or seven when the war

ended. I member dis--my mother said I was born on Christmas day. Old

master was goin' to war and he told her to take good care of that

boy--he was goin' to make a fine little man.

"Did I live up to it? I reckon I was bout as smart a man as you could

jump up. The work didn't get too hard for me. I farmed and I sawmilled

a lot. Most of my time was farmin'.

"I been in Jefferson County all my life. I went to school three or four


"About the war, I member dis--I member they carried us to Camden and I

saw the guards. I'd say, 'Give me a pistol.' They'd say, 'Come back

tomorrow and we'll give you one.' They had me runnin' back there every

day and I never did get one. They was Yankee soldiers.

"Our folks' master was William E. Johnson. Oh Lord, they was just as

good to us as could be to be under slavery.

"After they got free my people stayed there a year or two and then our

master broke up and went back to South Carolina and the folks went in

different directions. Oh Lord, my parents sho was well treated. Yes

ma'm. If he had a overseer, he wouldn't low him to whip the folks. He'd

say, 'Just leave em till I come home.' Then he'd give em a light


"My father run off and stay in the woods one or two months. Old master

say, 'Now, Jordan, why you run off? Now I'm goin' to give you a light

breshin' and don't you run off again.' But he'd run off again after


"He had one man named Miles Johnson just stayed in the woods so he put

him on the block and sold him.

"I seed the Ku Klux. We colored folks had to make it here to Pine Bluff

to the county band. If the Rebels kotch you, you was dead.

"Oh Lord yes, I voted. I voted the Publican ticket, they called it. You

know they had this Australia ballot. You was sposed to go in the caboose

and vote. They like to scared me to death one time. I had a description

of the man I wanted to vote for in my pocket and I was lookin' at it so

I'd be sure to vote for the right man and they caught me. They said,

'What you doin' there? We're goin' to turn you over to the sheriff after

election!' They had me scared to death. I hid out for a long time till I

seed they wasn't goin' to do nothin'.

"My wife's brother was one of the judges of the election. Some of the

other colored folks was constables and magistrates--some of em are

now--down in the country.

"I knew a lot about things but I knew I was in the United States and had

to bow to the law. There was the compromise they give the colored

folks--half of the offices and then they got em out afterwards. John M.

Clayton was runnin' for the senate and say he goin' to see the colored

people had equal rights, but they killed him as he was gwine through the

country speakin'.

"The white people have treated me very well but they don't pay us enough

for our work--just enough to live on and hardly that. I can say with a

clear conscience that if it hadn't been for this relief, I don't know

what I'd do--I'm not able to work. I'm proud that God Almighty put the

spirit in the man (Roosevelt) to help us."

Charlie King Charlie Moses facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail