Gate-eye Fisher

Interviewer: Zillah Cross Peel

Information given by: "Gate-eye" Fisher

Residence: Washington County, Arkansas

"I was jes' a baby crawlin' 'round on the floor when War come" said

"Gate-eye" Fisher, who lives in a log house covered with scraps of old

tin, on what is known as the old Bullington farm near Lincoln. His one

room log cabin is "down in the bresh" back of the barn and when new

renters come on the place, they just take it for granted that "Gate-eye"

just belongs. He bothers no one. No floors, no windows just a door, a

bed, stove and a table. Yes and a lantern and a chair.

"Yes mam, my mother, Caroline, belonged to the Mister Dave Moore family.

His wife, Miss Pleanie, was a Reagan. Yes mam, they was good folks. When

the War come, my pa, Harrison Fisher and my ma stayed on the place,

Mister Moore had lots of land and stock--and he and his folks went to

Texas, nearly everybody did 'round here, and he took some of his fine

stock with him but he called my pa and ma in and told them he wanted

them to stay on the place and take care of all the things. Pa was boss

over all the slaves. I guess mos' all my white folks is dead. Mos' of

them all buried down yan way to Ft. Smith. One of Mister Moore's

daughters, Miss Mary, married Dr. Davenport and Miss Sinth (Cynthia)

went to live with her."

(The Moores came from Kentucky and Tennessee and settled at Cane Hill,

Washington County, about 1829. The Reagans came about the same time. The

first schools in the county were at Cane Hill).

"Yes mam, I guess all the colored folks that belonged to Mister Moore,

but me, is dead. I guess. My mother, Caroline, stayed in the house

nearly all the time and took care of Missy's children, and when they

come home from school she'd hear them learn their ABC's. That's how come

I can read and write. My ma taught me, out of an old Blue Back Speller.

Yes mam, I learned to read and can't write much, jes my own name. Yes

mam, I kinda believe in signs that's how come I wear this leather strap

'round my wrist it keeps me from havin' rheumatism, neuralgia. Yes mam,

it helps. I used to believe in signs a lot and I used to believe in

wishes. I used to wish a lot of bad wishes on folks till one day I read

a piece from New York and it said the bad wishes that you made would

come back to you wosser than you wished, so I don't wish no more. I got

scared and don't wish nothin' to no body."

"After the War Ole Mister and Ole Missey called in my ma and pa and

asked them if they wanted to still stay on the place or go somewhere.

'Bout ten of us stayed. Then a while after Mister Moore asked my pa if

he wanted to go up on the Tilley place--600 acres and farm it for what

he could make. We, my pa and my ma and my sister Mandy, stayed there a

long time. Then Mister Moore sold off a little here and a little there

and we moved up on the mountain with my sister and her husband, Peter

Doss, where my ma died. Then I went down to Mister Oscar Moore's

place--he was my Missey' boy."

"Yes mam, I did have a wife. I had a mos' worrysome time. It is a

worrysome time when a man comes to takes your wife right away from you.

No'm, I don't ever want her to come back."

"Yes'm, I do my own cooking, and I've put up some fruit. I have a little

mite of meat, a little mite of taters, a little mite of beans and peas.

I get a little pension too."

"These darkies today nearly all get wild. You can't tell What they are

going to do tomorrow. They's jes like everybody--some awful good and

some awful bad."

And in the tiny one room shack, of logs and tin, no window, a swing door

held by a leather strap, "Gate-eye" does his cooking on a small wood

stove. A long bench holds a lantern with a shingly clean globe, a lot of

canned fruit, dried beans and peas. The bed is a series of old bed

springs. But "Gate-eye" just belongs to the neighborhood, and every one

feels kindly toward him. He says he is seventy-one years, past.

Gariel Gilbert Genevieve W Chandler facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail