Ella Pittman

Interviewer: Bernice Bowden

Person interviewed: Ella Pittman

2409 West Eleventh Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Age: 84

"Yes ma'm, I was born in slavery days. I tell you I never had no name.

My old master named me--Just called me 'Puss? and said I could name

myself when I got big enough.

"My old master was named Mac Williams. But where I got free at was at

Stricklands. Mac Williams' daughter married a Strickland and she drawed

me. She was tollable good to me but her husband wa'nt.

"In slavery times I cleaned up the house and worked in the house. I

worked in the field a little but she kept me busy in the house. I was

busy night and day.

"No ma'm, I never did go to school--never did go to school.

"After I got grown I worked in the farm. When I wasn't farmin' I was

doin' other kinds of work. I used to cut and sew and knit and crochet. I

stayed around the white folks so much they learned me to do all kinds of

work. I never did buy my children any stockins--I knit 'em myself.

"After old Master died old Miss hired us out to Ben Deans, but he was so

cruel mama run away and went back to old Miss. I know we stayed at Ben

Deans till they was layin the crop by and I think he whipped mama that

morning so she run away.

"Yes ma'm, I sho do member bout the Klu Klux--sho do. They looked

dreadful--nearly scare you to death. The Klu Klux was bad, and the

paddyrollers too.

"I can't think of nothin' much to tell you now but I know all about

slavery. They used to build 'little hell', made something like a

barbecue pit and when the niggers didn't do like they wanted they'd lay

him over that 'little hell'.

"I've done ever kind of work--maulin rails, clearin up new ground. They

was just one kind of work I didn't do and that was workin' with a

grubbin' hoe. I tell you I just worked myself to death till now I ain't

able to do nothin'."

Interviewer's Comment

Ella Pittman's son, Almira Pittman was present when I interviewed his

mother. He was born in 1884. He added this information to what Ella told


"She is the mother of nine children--three living. I use to hear mama

tell about how they did in slavery times. If she could hear good now she

could map it out to you."

I asked him why he didn't teach his mother to read and write and he

said, "Well, I tell you, mama is high strung. She didn't have no real

name till she went to Louisiana."

These people live in a well-furnished home. The living room had a rug,

overstuffed furniture and an organ. Ella was clean.

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