Cyntha Jones

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden

Person interviewed: Cyntha Jones

3006 W. Tenth Avenue, Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Age: 88

"Well, here's one of em. Born down in Drew County.

"Simpson Dabney was old master and his wife named Miss Adeline.

"I reckon I do remember bout the War. Yes ma'am, the Yankees come and

they had me scared. I wouldn't know when they got in the yard till

they was all around me. Had me holdin' the bridles.

"My young missis' husband was in the War and when they fought the last

battle at Princeton, she had me drive the carriage. When I heard them

guns I said we better go back, so I turned round and made them horses

step so fast my dress tail stood out straight. I thought they was

goin' to kill us all. And when we got home all the windows was broke.

Miss Nancy say, 'Cyntha, somebody come and broke all my windows,' but

it was them guns broke em.

"Old master was a doctor but my young missis' husband wasn't nothin'

but a hunter till they carried him to war. He was so skeered they had

to most drag him.

"I seen two wars and heered tell of another.

"I member when the Yankees come and took things I just fussed at em. I

thought what was my white folks' things was mine too. But when they

got my old master's horse my daddy went amongst em and got it back

cause he had charge of the stock. I don't know whether he got em at

night or not but I know he went in the daytime and come back in the


"Old master's children and my father's children worked in the field

just alike. He wouldn't low a overseer on the place, or a patroller


"Dr. Dabney and his sister raised my mother. They brought her from

some furrin' country to Arkansas. And when he married, my mother

suckled every one of his children.

"I just worked in the house and nussed. Never worked in the field till

I was grown and married. I was nineteen when I married the fust time.

I stayed right there in that settlement till the second year of


"When I was twenty-one they had me fixed up for a midwife. Old Dr.

Clark was the one started me. I never went to school a minute in my

life but the doctors would read to me out of their doctor books till I

could get a license. I got so I could read print till my eyes got so

bad. Old Dr. Clark was the one learned me most and since he died I

ain't never had a doctor mess with me.

"In fifteen years I had 299 babies on record right there in Rison.

That's where I was fixed up at--under five doctors. And anybody don't

believe it, they can go down there and look up the record.

"We had plenty to eat in slave times. Didn't have to go to the store

and buy it by the dribble like they does now. Just go to the

smokehouse and get it.

"I got such a big mind and will I wants to get about and raise

something to eat now so we wouldn't have to buy everything, but I

ain't able now. I've had twenty-one children but if I had em now

they'd starve to death.

"I been married four times but they all dead--every one of em.

"When freedom come my old master give my mother $500 cause she saved

his money for him when the Yankees come. She put it in the bed and

slept on it. He had four farms and he told her she could have ary one

of em and any of the stock, but my father had done spoke for a place

in Cleveland County--he had done bought him a place.

"And old master on his dying bed, he asked my mother to take his two

youngest children and raise em cause their mother was sickly, but she

didn't do it.

"I don't know hardly what to think of this younger generation. Used to

be they'd go to Sunday school barefooted but now'days, time they is

born they got shoes and stockin's on em.

"I used to spin, knit and weave. I even spun thread to make these

ropes they use to plow. I could spin a thread you could sew with, and

weave cloth with stripes and flowers. Have to know how to dye the

thread. That's all done in the warp. Call the other the filler.

"Now let me tell you, when that was goin' on and you raised your meat

and corn and potatoes, that was livin'!"

Cy Hart Cyrus Bellus facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail