Fannie Dorum

Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor

Person interviewed: Fannie Dorum

423 W. Twenty-Fourth Street

North Little Rock, Arkansas

Age: 94

[TR: Some word pronunciation was marked in this interview. Letters

surrounded by [] represent long vowels, and by () short vowels.]

[HW: Church Holds Old Age Contest]

"I was here in slavery time. Know the years I plowed. Ginned cotton in

slavery time. My daddy was the ginner. His name was Hamp High. Stayed

down in Lonoke County.

"I was here in slavery time. The third year of the surrender (1868), I

married--married Burton Dorum.

"I was born in Franklin, North Carolina. My old master's name was Jack

Green, Franklin County. He had five boys--Henry, John, James, Robert,

and William Henry. And he had a daughter named Mary. My old mistress'

name was Jennie Green. They all came from North Carolina and I think

they are still there.


"A slave better pick a hundred pounds of cotton in a day. You better

pick a hundred. I couldn't pick a hundred. I never was much on picking


"I weeded corn, planted corn and cotton, cut up wheat, pulled fodder,

and did all such work. I plowed before the War about two years. I used

to have to take the horses and go hide when the soldiers would go

through. I was about nineteen years old when Lee surrendered. That would

make me somewheres about ninety-four years old. The boys figgered it all

out when they had the old age contest 'round here. They added up the

times I worked and put everything together.


"I raised eight children. Have five living. And I reckon about

forty children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and

great-great-grandchildren. You see I have been here right smart time.


"Colored folks didn't get no learning then. I never learned to read or

write. Before I married, I learned to spell my name, but I had so much

to do I have forgot how to do that.

How Freedom Came

"The Yankees were coming through the place. A great crowd of soldiers.

The day the corps of Yankees were to go out, they all went up to the

pike and it looked like a dark cloud. There were great big wagons loaded

down with everything to eat. They took all the meat, all the whiskey,

all the flour. That they didn't take, they give to the slaves or poured

on the ground. They took the corn out of the crib.

"The next day, old master called us up to the stand around him. He told

us we were all free and that if we would stay with him, he would pay us.


"My old master never whipped me but once and never hit me much then. I

said, 'Master, if you don't hit me no more, I'll tell you who's been

stealing all your eggs.' He said, 'Will, you tell me, sure 'nough.' I

said, 'Yes.' But I never done it.


"I heard about the pateroles catching the colored folks. They would

catch them on the road as they were going places and whip them. The

pateroles was white folks that was supposed to catch colored folks when

they were out without a pass. Sometimes the colored folks would stretch

ropes across the road and trip them up. You would hear them laughing

about it when they got amongst themselves the next day.

House, Etc.

"I was born in a old log house--two rooms. One for the kitchen and one

to sleep in. We had homemade furniture. Mighty few of them had bought

furniture. Most of then made it themselves. If you had bought furniture,

that was called fine. There was no rollers to any bed. Food was kept in

the house. Wheat was kept under the bed because they had nowhere else to

keep it. Planks were put around it. We children used to jump up and down

in it.


"When the white folks got ready to give us milk, they poured it out in a

tub and said, 'Come and git it.'

"They would kill hogs and the colored folks' meat would be put back of

the white folks' meat in the smokehouse. They put the white folks' meat

in the front and the colored folks' meat in the back. When you wanted

something, you would go up to old master and say, 'My meat is out,' and

they would give you some more out of the smokehouse.

"Brandy was kept in the storehouse too; but they didn't give that to the

colored [TR: corrected from 'cullud'] folks--they didn't give any of it

to them. My daddy used to make it and buy it from the white folks and

slip and sell it to the colored folks. He didn't tell the white folks

who he was gettin' it for.

"You didn't have a regular time to git rations. You didn't on my place.

You got things any time you needed them. My master was a good man. My

dad got anything he wanted because he was the ginner. When he was

working and it came mealtime, he would go right by the white folks'

house and git anything he wanted and eat it--brandy, meat, anything.

Slave Wages

"My daddy not only did the ginning on my place; he did the ginning for

other folks. He did the ginning for an old rich man named Jack Green,

who lived in Franklin County. Jack Green paid wages for my father's,

Hampton High's, work and the money was turned over to his mistress. I

don't know whether they paid him and he turned it over to his mistress,

or whether they told him about it and paid his mistress. They trusted

him and I know he did work for pay. On account of the money my father

earned he was considered a valuable slave. That's why he could go and

eat and drink anything he wanted to.

Life Since Slavery

"My husband married me in May. He went to his uncle and worked an shares

for two or three years. Then my husband took a crop to himself. He

bought a cow and hog and stayed there twenty-one years. Raised a great

big orchard. All my children were born right there. White people owned

the farm. Priestley Mangham and his wife were the white people. When we

left that place, my children were all big enough to work. That was in

North Carolina. The nearest town was College.

"When the white folks tried to take advantage of us and take our crops,

then we left and came here. My husband is dead and has been dead over

twenty years.

"My daughters do the best they can to help me along, but they're on

relief themselves and can't do much for me.


"The young people of today are in no good at all, except to eat. They

are there on mealtime, but that is about all."

Interviewer's Comment

About three years ago, there was an old age contest in one of the

colored churches of North Little Rock. Sister Hatchett was considered

the oldest, Fannie Dorum next. Sarah Jane Patterson was among those

considered in the nineties also. It is very probable that all of these

three are ninety or more. Stories of Dorum and Patterson are already in,

and interview with Hatchett will be completed soon.

This paper fails to record Fannie Dorum's accent with any approach to

accuracy. She speaks fairly accurately and clearly and with a good deal

of attention to grammaticalness. But she pronounces all "er" ending as

"uh"; e.g., nigguh, cullud, fathuh, mothuh, m(o)stuh, daughtuhs.

There are a number of variations from correct pronunciation which I do

not record because they do not constitute a variation from the normal

pronunciation; e.g., "wuz" for "was", "(e)r" for "[e]r".

The slave pronunciation of "m(o)ster" is more nearly correct than the

normal pronunciation of "m(a)ster." Frequent pronunciations are marse,

marsa, m(o)ssa, m(o)stuh, and m(a)ssa.

Fannie Clemons Fannie Dunn facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail