Emma Moore

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden

Person interviewed: Emma Moore

3715 Short West Second, Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Age: 80

Occupation: Laundry work

"I'se born in slavery times. When my daddy come back from the War, he

said I was gwine on seven or eight.

"He stayed in the War three years and six months. I know that's what he

always told us. He went with his master, Joe Horton. Looks like I can

see old Marse Joe now. Had long sandy whiskers. The las' time I seed him

he come to my uncle's house. We was all livin' in a row of houses.

Called em the quarters. I never will fergit it.

"I was born on Horton's Island here in Arkansas. That's what they told


"I know when my daddy went to war and when he come back, he put on his

crudiments (accoutrements) to let us see how he looked.

"I seed the soldiers gwine to war and comin' back. Look like to me I was

glad to see em till I seed too many of em.

"Yankees used to come down and take provisions. Yes, 'twas the Yankees!

"My granddaddy was the whippin' boss. Had a white boss too named Massa


"Massa Joe used to come down and play with us chillun. His name was Joe

Horton. Ever'body can tell you that was his name. Old missis named Miss

Mary. She didn't play with us much.

"Yes ma'am, they sure did take us to Texas durin' of the War--in a ox

wagon. Stayed down there a long time.

"We didn't have plenty to eat but we had to eat what we did. I member

they wouldn't give us chillun no meat, jus' grease my mouf and make my

mother think we had meat.

"Now my mother told me, at night some of the folks used to steal one of

old massa's shoats and cook it at night. I know when that pot was on the

rack but you better not say nothin' bout it.

"All us chillun stayed in a big long log house. Dar is where us chillun

stayed in the daytime, right close to Miss Mary.

"I used to sit on the lever at the gin. You know that was glory to me to

ride. I whipped the old mule. Ever' now and then I'd give him a tap.

"When they pressed the cotton, they wet the press and I member one time

they wet it too much. I don't say they sont it back but I think they

made em pay for it. And they used to put chunks in the bale to make it

weigh heavy. Right there on that lake where I was born.

"Used to work in the field. These white folks can tell you I loved to

work. I used to get as much as the men. My mammy was a worker and as the

sayin' is, I was a chip off the old block.

"The first teacher I went to school to was named Mr. Cushman. Didn't go

only on rainy days. That was the first school and you might say the las'

one cause I had to nuss them chillun.

"You know old massa used to keep all our ages and my daddy said I was

nineteen when I married, but I don't know what year 'twas--honest I


"I been married three times.

"I member one time I was goin' to a buryin'. I was hurryin' to get

dressed. I wanted to be ready when they come by for me cause they say

it's bad luck to stop a corpse. If you don't know that I do--you know if

they had done started from the house.

"My mama and daddy said they was born in Tennessee and was bought and

brought here.

"I been goin' to one of these gov'ment schools and got my eyes so weak I

can't hardly see to thread a needle. I'se crazy bout it I'm tellin' you.

I sit up here till God knows how long. They give me a copy to practice

and they'd brag on me and that turned me foolish. I jus' thought I was

the teacher herself almos'. That's the truf now.

"I can't read much. I don't fool with no newspaper. I wish I could,

woman--I sure do.

"I keep tellin' these young folks they better learn somethin'. I tell em

they better take this chance. This young generation--I don't know much

bout the whites--I'm tellin' you these colored is a sight.

"Well, I'm gwine away from here d'rectly--ain't gwine be here much

longer. If I don't see you again I'll meet you in heaven."

Emma Hurley Emma Morris facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail