Charlie Rigger

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson

Person interviewed: Charlie Rigger

R.F.D., three miles, Palestine, Arkansas

Age: 85 plus, doesn't know age

"I was born six miles from Mounticellar close to the line of Morgan and

Jasper County. Mother belong to the Smiths. Her father was part Creek

(Indian). They all was sold to Floyd Malone. His wife was Betsy Malone.

They had five children.

"When I was a child I lay under the loom day after day picking up the

sickle. Ma was a cook and a weaver too.

"Malone was a good man but his wife was one of 'em. She was a terrible

piece of humanity. Father was a farm hand. They had a gin, a shoe shop,

and a blacksmith shop all on Floyd Malone's place. I picked a little

cotton before 'mancipation. Floyd Malone had to buy my mother to git her

where my father was.

"Some of the boys wore dresses till they was twelve or fifteen years

old. One fellar rode a mule or cow one the other to preaching. While

he sit talking to his gal at the window a steer cone up and et off his

dress tail. Boys got to courting before they got to take off their long


"They wasn't so good to mother. She run off several times. She went

'bout one and one-half miles to her mother on the Compton place. They

didn't whoop her. They promised her a whooping. They whooped her and me

too but I never knowed 'em to whoop my father. When they whoop my mother

I'd run off to place we lived and crawl under the house.

"We chillun had nothing to do wid coffee. We drunk milk out little

bowls. We'd turn it up or lap it out which one could do the best. They

fed us. We'd ask for more till we got filled up.

"I recollect the soldiers come by in July 1863 or 1864 and back in

December. I heard talk so long 'fore they got there I knowed who they

was. They took my oldest brother. He didn't want to go. We never heard

from him. He never come back. My white master hid out. He didn't go

to war. One son went and come back. It was the Yankees made my oldest

brother go. The first crowd in July swapped their wore-out scrub stock

for our good stock. That second crowd cleaned them out, took our hogs.

Miss Betty had died 'fore they come in July. That second crowd come in

December. They cleaned out everything to eat and wear. They set the

house 'fire several times with paper and coal oil (kerosene). It went

out every time. One told the captain. He come up behind. It went out

every time. He said, 'Let's move on.' They left it clean and bare. We

didn't like them. We had meat hid in the cellar. We got hungry that

spring sure as you born.

"The old man married pretty soon after freedom. He married young to what

he was.

"I didn't find much fault to slavery 'cepting the abuse. We et three

times a day and now if I get one piece I do well. Mother cooked, washed,

ironed and spun four cuts a day. We all et at the master's kitchen three

times a day. We had thirty-two families. I've heard that ag'in time and

ag'in so as I recollect it till now. We didn't have to work no harder

'en we do now if you have a living.

"Master waited till all there. He had a horn made sorter like a bugle

for that business. Called us to our meals. We stayed a year. Went to his

brother's one year, then to Major Lane's big farm. We had to work about

the same as b'fore freedom. Not much change.

"The Ku Klux come 'round right smart. Some had on skin coverings, cow

heads and horns. Some wore white sheets and black dresses on white

horses. They was scary looking. They would whoop and kill too. I was too

scared to get caught off at night.

"Mother died. I was traveling about. I spent thirteen months in

Mississippi. Three winters right in Memphis. I married in Mississippi. I

left two daughters in Georgia. My wife died. I come to Arkansas in 1902.

I live all alone.

"This present generation is traveling too fast. It-is-to-be. Fast

traveling and education. Times not good as it always have been b'fore

that last war (World War). When the white folks start jowing we black

folks suffers. It ain't a bit our fault. Education causes the black man

to see he is bit (cheated) but he better not say a word. It very good

thing if it is used right. Fast traveling is all right in its place. But

too many is traveling and they all want to be going. We got into pretty

fast time of it now. It-is-to-be and it's getting shoved on faster."

Charlie Richmond Charlie Robinson facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail