Hal Hutson

Oklahoma Writers' Project



Age 90 yrs.

Oklahoma City, Okla.

I was born at Galveston, Tennessee, October 12, 1847. There were 11

children: 7 brothers; Andrew, George, Clent, Gilbert, Frank, Mack and

Horace; and 3 girls: Rosie, Marie and Nancy. We were all Hutsons.

Together with my mother and father we worked for the same man whose

name was Mr. Barton Brown, but who we all call Master Brown, and

sometimes Mr. Brown.

Master Brown had a good weather-board house, two story, with five or

six rooms. They lived pretty well. He had eight children. We lived in

one-room log huts. There were a long string of them huts. We slept on

the floor like hogs. Girls and boys slept together--jest everybody

slept every whar. We never knew what biscuits were! We ate "seconds

and shorts" (wheat ground once) for bread. Ate rabbits, possums baked

with taters, beans, and bean soup. No chicken, fish and the like. My

favorite dish now is beans.

Master Brown owned about 36 or 40 slaves, I can't recall jest now, and

about 200 acres of ground. There was very little cotton raised in

Galveston--I mean jest some corn. Sometimes we would shuck corn all

night. He would not let us raise gardens of our own, but didn't mind

us raising corn and a few other truck vegetables to sell for a little

spending change.

I learned to read, write and figger at an early age. Master Brown's

boy and I were the same age you see (14 years old) and he would send

me to school to protect his kids, and I would have to sit up there

until school was out. So while sitting there I listened to what the

white teacher was telling the kids, and caught on how to read, write

and figger--but I never let on, 'cause if I was caught trying to read

or figger dey would whip me something terrible. After I caught on how

to figger the white kids would ask me to teach them. Master Brown

would often say: "My God O'mighty, never do for that nigger to learn

to figger."

We weren't allowed to count change. If we borrowed a fifty-cent piece,

we would have to pay back a fifty-cent piece--not five dimes or fifty

pennies or ten nickels.

We went barefooted the year round and wore long shirts split on each

side. All of us niggers called all the whites "poor white trash." The

overseer was nothing but poor white trash and the meanest man that

ever walked on earth. He never did whip me much 'cause I was kind of a

pet. I worked up to the Big House, but he sho' did whip them others.

Why, one day he was beating my mother, and I was too small to say

anything, so my big brother heard her crying and came running, picked

up a chunk and that overseer stopped a'beating her. The white boy was

holding her on the ground and he was whipping her with a long leather

whip. They said they couldn't teach her no sense and she said "I don't

wanna learn no sense." The overseer's name was Charlie Clark. One day

he whipped a man until he was bloody as a pig 'cause he went to the

mill and stayed too long.

The patroller rode all night and iffen we were caught out later than

10:00 o'clock they would beat us, but we would git each other word by

sending a man round way late at night. Always take news by night. Of

course the Ku Klux Klan didn't come 'til after the war. They was

something like the patrollers. Never heard of no trouble between the

black and whites 'cause them niggers were afraid to resist them.

My biggest job was keeping flies off'n the table up at the Big House.

When time come to go in for the day we would cut up and dance. I can't

remember any of the songs jest now, but we had some that we sung. We

danced a whole lots and jest sung "made up" songs.

Old Master would stay up to hear us come in. Of course Saturday

afternoon was a holiday. We didn't work no holidays. Master gave us

one week off for Christmas, and never worked us on Sunday, unless the

"ox was in the ditch." When the slaves got sick we had white doctors,

and we would wait on each other. Drink dock root tea, mullin tea, and

flaxweed tea, but we never wore charms.

I think it's a good thing that slavery's over. It ought to been over a

good while ago. But its going to be slavery all over again if things

don't git better. But I thank God I've been a Christian for 70 years,

and now is a member of Tabernacle Baptist Church and deacon of the

church, and a Christian 'cause the Bible teaches me to be.

That war was a awful thing. I used to pack them soldiers water on my

head, and then I worked at Fort Sill and Fort Dawson in Tennessee.

Those Yankees came by nights--got behind those rebels, and took their

hams, drove horses in the houses, killed their chickens and ate up the

rebels food, but the Yanks didn't bother us niggers.

When freedom come old Master called us all in from the fields and told

us, "All of you niggers are free as frogs now to go wherever you

choose. You are your own man now." We all continued working for him at

$5.00 a month. After the crops were gathered the niggers scattered

out. Some went North--and we would say when they went North that they

had "crossed the water."

I never married 'till after the War. Married at my mother's house

'cause my wife's mother didn't let us marry at her house, so I sent

Jack Perry after her on a hoss and we had a big dinner--and jest got


I am the father of nine children, but jest three is living. One is a

dentist in Muskogge, Dr. Andrew Hutson. All of the children are pretty

well read. We never had schools for niggers until after slavery.

I think Abraham Lincoln was a great man, but I don't know much about

Jeff Davis. Booker T. Washington was a fine man.

Hagar Brown Hammett Dell facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail