Fanny Finney

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson

Person interviewed: Fanny Finney, Brinkley, Arkansas

Age: 74 plus

"I was born in Marshall County, Mississippi. Born during slavery. I

b'long to Master John Rook. He died during the Civil War. Miss Patsy

Rook raised me. I put on her shoes, made up her bed, fetched her water

and kindling wood.

"My parents named Catherine and Humphrey Rook. They had three children.

"When Master John Rook died they divided us. They give me to Rodie

Briggs. John and Lizzie was Master John's other two children. He had

three children too same as ma. My young master was a ball player. I'd

hear them talk. Ma was a good house girl. They thought we'd all be like

'er. When I was three years old, I was the baby. They took ma and pa off

keep the Yankees from stealing then. Miss Patsy took keer me. When ma

and pa come home I didn't know them a tall. They say when they come back

they went to Louziana, then 'bout close to Monticello in dis state, then

last year they run 'em to Texas.

"Pa was jus' a farmer. Gran'ma lived down in the quarters and kept my

sisters. I'd start to see 'em. Old gander run me. Sometimes the geese

get me down and flog me wid their wings. One day I climbed up and peeped

through a crack. I seen a lot of folks chopping cotton. It looked so

easy. They was singing.

"Betsy done the milking. I'd sit or stand 'round till the butter come.

She ax me which I wanted, milk or butter. I'd tell her. She put a little

sugar on my buttered bread. It was so good I thought Sometimes she'd

fill my cup up with fresh churned milk.

"I et in the kitchen; the white folks et in the dining-room. I slep' in

granny's house, in granny's bed, in the back yard. Granny's name was

'Aunt' Hannah. She was real old and the boss cook on our place. She

learnt all the girls on our place how to cook. Kept one or two helping

her all the time. It was her part to make them wash their faces every

morning soon as they started a fire and keep their hands clean all the

time er cooking. Granny wore her white apron around her waist all time.

Betty would make them help her milk. They had to wash the cows udder

before they ever milked a drop. Miss Patsy learnt her black folks to be

clean. Every one of them neat as a pin sure as you born.

"I was so little I couldn't think they got whoopings. I never heard of a

woman on the place being whooped. They all had their work to do. Grandma

cut out and made pants for all the men on the whole farm.

"Old man Rook raised near 'bout all his niggers. He bought whiskey by

the barrel. On cold mornings they come by our shop to get their sacks. I

heard them say they all got a drink of whiskey. His hands got to the

field whooping and singing. The overseers handed it out to them. The

women didn't get none as I knowed of.

"The paddyrollers run 'em in a heap but Master John Rook never let them

whoop his colored folks.

"We lived six miles from Holly Springs on the big road to Memphis. Seem

like every regiment of Yankee and rebel soldiers stopped at our house.

They made a rake-off every time. They cleaned us out of something to

eat. They took the watches and silverware. The Yankees rode up on our

porch and one time one rode in the hall and in a room. Miss Patsy done

run an' hid. I stood about. I had no sense. They done a lot every time

they come. I watched see what all they would do. They burnt a lot of


"A little white boy said, 'I tell you something if you give me a

watermelon.' The black man give the boy a big watermelon. He had a big

patch. The boy said, 'My papa coming take all your money away from you

some night.' He fixed and sure 'nough he come dressed like a Ku Klux. He

had some money but they didn't find it. One of the Ku Kluxes run off and

left his spurs. The colored folks killed some and they run off and leave

their horses. They come around and say they could drink three hundred

fifteen buckets of water. They throw turpentine balls in the houses to

make a light. They took a ball of cotton and dip it in turpentine, light

it, throw it in a house to make a light so they could see who in there.

A lot of black folks was killed and whooped. Their money was took from


"The third year after the War ma and pa come and got me. They made a

crop for a third. That was our first year off of Rook's place. I love

them Rook's girls so good right now. Wish I could see them or knowd

where to write. I had to learn my folks. I played with my sisters all my

life but I never had lived with them. When pa come for me they had my

basket full of dresses and warm underclothes, clean and ironed. They

sent ma some sweet potatoes and two big cakes. One of them was mine.

Miss Patsy said, 'Let Fannie come back to see my girls.' I went back and

visited. Granny lived in her house and cooked till she died. I had a

place with granny at her house. We went back often and we helped them

after freedom. They was good white folks as ever breathed. There was

good folks and bad folks then and still is.

"Times is hard. I was raised in the field. I made seven crops here--near

Brinkley--with my son. I had two girls. One teaches in Brinkley, fourth

or fifth grade; one girl works for a family in New York. My son fell off

a tall building he was working on and bursted his head. He was in

Detroit. Times is hard now. The young folks is going at too fast a gait.

They are faster than the old generation. No time to sit and talk. On the

go all the time. Hurrying and worrying through time. Hard to make a


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