Cresa Mack

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden

Person interviewed: Cresa Mack

1417 Short Indiana St., Pine Bluff, Ark.

Age: 85

"I can tell you something about slavery days. I was born at South Bend,

Arkansas on the old Joe Clay place. I 'member they used to work 'em

scandalous. They used me at the house and I used to wait on old

mistress' brother. He was a old man named Cal Fletcher.

"I 'member when they said the Yankees was comin' the boss man put us in

wagons and runned us to Texas. They put the women and chillun in the

wagons but the men had to walk. I know I was something over twelve years


"Old mistress, Miss Sarah Clay, took her chillun and went to Memphis.

"My white folks treated us very well. I never seed 'em whip my mother

but once, but I seen some whipped till they's speechless. Yes ma'm I


"I can 'member a lot 'bout the war. The Lord have mercy, I'se old. I

'member they used to sing

'Run nigger run,

The paddyrollers'll ketch you,

Run nigger run.'

"Corse if they ketch you out without a pass they'd beat you nearly to

death and tell you to go home to your master.

"One time I was totin' water for the woman what did the washin'. I was

goin' along the road and seed somethin' up in a tree that look like a

dog. I said 'Look at that dog.' The overseer was comin' from the house

and said 'That ain't no dog, that's a panther. You better not stop' and

he shot it out. Then I've seen bears out in the cane brakes. I thought

they was big black bulls. I was young then--yes mam, I was young.

"When the Yankees come through they sot the house afire and the gin and

burned up 'bout a hundred bales a cotton. They never bothered the

niggers' quarters. That was the time the overseer carried us to Texas to

get rid of the Yankees.

"After the surrender the Yankees told the overseer to bring us all up in

the front yard so he could read us the ceremony and he said we was as

free as any white man that walked the ground. I didn't know what 'twas

about much cause I was too busy playin'.

"I didn't know what school was 'fore freedom, but I went about a month

after peace was declared. Then papa died and mama took me out and put me

in the field.

"I was grown, 'bout twenty-four or five, when I married. Now my chillun

and grand chillun takes care of me."

Cornelius Holmes Cy Hart facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail