Doc Flowers

Interviewer: Mrs. Zillah Cross Peel

Person interviewed: Doc Flowers

Age: 85?

Home: Lincoln, Arkansas

Everybody calls him Uncle Doc. His name is Doc Flowers, and he lives in

the last house on a street that is just part of a road in the town of

Lincoln, Arkansas.

When you stop in front of the house you will find there is no path. One

has to watch his step owing to the fact that there is a zigzaggy branch

hidden by the tangle of weeds.

If old Aunt Jinney is on the porch she will say, "Sorry, honey, but de

path done growed up."

Uncle Doc is six feet two and as strong as a lion. Whether he is 80 or

if he is 90, he is young-looking for his age.

"No'm lady, I'se jes' don' know how old I is. Back in dem days didn't

keep up with our ages. No record of the born. Yes'm I was a pretty good

chunk of a boy when de war started."

Doc belonged to Edward Choate, who lived on Barron Forks, near Dutch

Mills in the Southwest corner of Washington County. Barron Forks is made

up from Fly Creek and the River Jordan Creek.

About 1849 Edward Choate came from Tennessee to Arkansas, where he had

bought Aunt Marie [TR: 'a slave' marked out here] and her three sons,

Doc, Abe, and Dave.

"Yes'm, we had a 100 acres or better all along the banks of de river and

good valley land where we raised corn, potatoes, wheat, oats, an'

'bacco. Master Choate had three sons, I recollect, Jack, Sam, and Win.

He had a lot of slaves. Some of dem was good, some was bad. An' old

Mister Choate had a cat-a-nine-tails. He never did have to whup me, some

of dem darkies did get whupped. Dar was one who was always dressing up

in wimmins clothes and go walking down by de river.

"My mother was Maria. She worked part time in de kitchen and part time

in de field. My mother had three boys and I 'member one of my sisters

was sold as a slave. We darkies had cabins all along de river bank.

"During de War we all jes' stayed on de place. Mister Choate and Old

Missy stayed too. After peace was made my mother and all of we went up

to Prairie Grove to live.

"Yes'm, I voted every chance I got. I voted for Harrison for President.

No'm, I don't know which Harrison. Yes'm, I vote Republican.

"I can't say much for these young darkies these times.

"I ben 'roun' some. I went to Caldwell, Kansas, two times. Farming is my

occupation. Now we jes' live. I get $10 a month from the state. Yes'm,

that there Jinney is my wife. Her mother Celia and she belonged to the

Ballards of Cincinnati.

"No'm, I jes' can' tell how old I is. I know I was quite a chunk of a

boy when de War started. Me and Mister Win, one of Mister Choate's boys,

was 'bout de same age." (Winston Choate died in the spring of 1935 at

the age of 94 years, according to a niece.)

The Choate place down on Barron Forks is still owned by one of the

Choates, a grandson of the first owner, Edward Choate.

A granddaughter of Mr. Choate lives in Fayetteville and said that there

are four or five graves on the old place where Negro slaves who belonged

to her grandfather were buried, and the children on the place would

never go near these graves. They thought they were haunted.

So when one asks Uncle Doc how old he is he will say, "I know I was jes'

a chunk of a boy when de War started so I mus' be 'bout 83 nex' spring."

Aunt Jinney, his wife, sat on the porch and just rocked back and forth

while Uncle Doc was talking. She didn't speak while Doc was speaking.

"Law, honey, I had good white folks. None of dem never struck their

colored folks. No'm. Me an' my mother Celia belonged to Mister Ballard

at Cincinnati. Old Missey's name was Miss Liza, an' she kept my ma in de

house wid her to wait on her. Yes'm all de white folks always kept a

little darkey in de house to wait on all of dem. Dem was good times 'fo'

de War. Yes'm good times--plenty to eat. Good times. I was jes' a baby

crawling on de flo' when de War come."

The interviewer didn't ask Uncle Doc when and why he went to Caldwell,

Kansas the two times. She knew that Uncle Doc, big and strong, took

another Negro's wife away from him and ran off with her to Kansas and

there left her. Later he brought her to Arkansas. Jinney was his wife

and took Uncle Doc back, but Gate-eye didn't take his wife back. Nor did

the interviewer tell Uncle Doc that she had been to see old Gate-eye

Fisher and had heard the long ago story of Uncle Doc taking his wife,

and what a worrysome time he had. In an old record marked

"Miscellaneous" in the Washington County Courthouse at Fayetteville,

Arkansas, one can find this Emancipation paper:

"For and in consideration of the love and affection of my wife for my

little Negro girl (a slave) named Celia, about two years old, I do by

these presents henceforth and forever give to said Celia her liberty and

freedom, and through fear of some mistake, mishap or accident, I now

hereby firmly bind myself, heirs and representatives forever in

accordance with this indenture of emancipation.

"In testimony whereof witness my hand and seal this 26th day of January


Signed: Thomas B. Ballard

Witnesses: Charles Baylor

Sumet Mussett"

Jinney, wife of Doc Flowers, is the daughter of the said Celia. "Yes'm,"

said Jinney, "Miss Liza, my old Missy, always had my mother right by her

side all the time to wait on her. She were always good to all her

colored folks. No'm she'd never let anybody be mean to her colored


Jinney must have learned the art of house keeping from Miss Liza, for

her little three-room home that she and Doc rent for $4 a month is

spotless. Maybe the "path is growed up with weeds," but one just can't

blame that on Jinney.

Doc Edwards Doc John Pope facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail