Doc John Pope

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson

Person interviewed: "Doc" John Pope, Biscoe, Arkansas

Age: 87

I am 87 years old for a fact. I was born in De Soto County, Mississippi,

eight miles south of Memphis, Tennessee. No I didn't serve in de War but

my father Gus Pope did. He served in de War three years and never came

home. He served in 63rd Regiment Infantry of de Yankee army. He died

right at the surrender. I stayed on de farm till the surrender. We

scattered around den. My father was promised $300.00 bounty and 160

acres of land. Dey was promised dat by the Constitution of the United

States. Every soldier was promised dat. No he never got nary penny nor

nary acre of land. We ain't got nuthin. De masters down in Mississippi

did help 'em where they stayed on. I never stayed on. I left soon as de

fightin was gone. I was roamin round in Memphis and man asked me if I

wanted to go to college. He sent a train load to Fitz (Fisk) University.

I stayed there till I graduated. I studied medicine generally. Sandy

Odom, the preacher at Brinkley, was there same time as I was. He show is

old. He's up in ninety now. He had a brother here till he died. He was a

fine doctor. He got more practice around here than any white doctor in

this portion of de county. Fitz University was a fine college. It was

run by rich folks up north. I don't know how long I stayed there. It was

a good while. I went to Isaac Pope, my uncle. He was farming. Briscoe

owned the Pope niggers at my first recollection. He brought my uncle and

a lot more over here where he owned a heap of dis land. It was all

woods. Dats how I come here.

After de Civil War? Dey had to "Root hog or die". From 1860-1870 the

times was mighty hard. People rode through the county and killed both

white and black. De carpet bagger was bout as bad as de Ku Kluck.

I came here I said wid John Briscoe. They all called him Jack Briscoe,

in 1881. I been here ever since cept W.T. Edmonds and P.H. Conn sent me

back home to get hands. I wrote 'em how many I had. They wired tickets

to Memphis. I fetched 52 families back. I been farmin and practicin all

my life put near.

I show do vote. I voted the last time for President Hoover. The first

time I voted was at the General Grant election. I am a Republican,

because it is handed down to me. That's the party of my race. I ain't

going to change. That's my party till I dies. We has our leader what

instructs us how to vote.

Dey say dey goiner pay 60 cents a hundred but I ain't able to pick no

cotton. No I don't get no help from de relief. I think the pore class of

folks in a mighty bad fix. Is what I think. The nigger is hard hit and

the pore trash dey call 'em is too. I don't know what de cause is. It's

been jess this way ever since I can recollect. No times show ain't one

bit better. I owns dis house and dats all. I got one daughter.

I went to Fitz (Fisk) University in 1872. The folks I told you about was

there then too. Their names was Dr. E.B. Odom of Biscoe and his brother

Sandy Odom. He preaches at Brinkley now. Doc Odom is dead. He served on

the Biscoe School Board a long time wid two white men.

I don't know much about the young generation. They done got too smart

for me to advise. The young ones is gettin fine educations but it ain't

doin 'em no good. Some go north and cook. It don't do the balance of 'em

no good. If they got education they don't lack de farm. De sun too hot.

No times ain't no better an de nigger ain't no better off en he used to

be. A little salary dun run 'em wild.

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