Hannah Hancock

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson

Person interviewed: Hannah Hancock

[HW: Biscoe, Arkansas?]

Age: Past 80

"I was born in Chesterfield County, South Carolina. My mother's name was

Chloa. We lived on Hardy Sellers plantation. She was the white folks

cook. I et in the white folks kitchen sometimes and sometimes wid the

other children at maw's house. Show my daddy was livin. But he lived on

another man's farms. His master's name was Billy Hancock and his name

was Dave. Der was a big family of us but dey all dead now but three of

us. Ize got two sisters and a brother still livin, I reckon. I ain't

seed them in a long time. Mrs. Sellers had several children but they

were all married when I come along and she was a widow. Joe Pete was her

son and he lived close, about a mile across the field, but it was

farther around the road. Billy Hancock married Mrs. Sellers daughter. My

mistress didn't do much. Miss Becky Hancock wove cloth for people. You

could get the warp ready and then run in the woof. She made checked

dresses and mingledy looking cloth. They colored the cloth brown and

purple mostly. Mrs. Sellers get a bolt of cloth and have it all made up

into dresses for the children. Sometimes all our family would have a

dress alike. Yesm, we did like dot. Granny made de dresses on her

fingers. She was too old to go to de field an she tote water from the

big spring and sometimes she water de hands when dey be hoeing. She

would cut and dry apples and peaches. Nobody knowed how to can. They

dried de beef. It show was good. It was jess fine. No maam, Granny

didn't have no patterns. She jess made our dresses lack come in her

haid. We didn't get many dresses and we was proud of em and washed and

ironed and took care of em.

"I recollects hearing de men talking about going off to war and em

going. No jess de white men left from Mrs. Sellers place. De children

didn't set around and hear all that was said. They sent us off to play

in the play houses. We swept a clean place and marked it off and had our

dolls down there. We put in anything we could get, mostly broken dishes.

Yes maam, I had rag dolls and several of them. No wars real close but I

could hear the guns sometimes.

"Mrs. Sellers had two large carriage horses. The colored boys took them

down in the bottoms and took off a lot of the meat and groceries and hid

them 'fo the Yankees come along. They didn't nebber fin them things.

Mrs. Sellers was awful good and the men jess looked after her and took

care of her. Me or maw stayed at the house with her all the time, day

and night. When anybody got sick she sent somebody to wait on them and

went to see what they needed and sometimes she had 'em brought up to the

house and give 'em the medicine herself. She didn't have no foman. Uncle

Sam and uncle John was the oldest and uncle Henry. They was the men on

the farm and they went right on with the work. Folks had bigger families

than they do now. They show did work, but de field work don't last all

de time. They cleared land and fixed up the rail fences in the winter.

A rail fence was on each side of a long lane that led down to the

pasture. The creek run through the pasture. It was show a pretty grove.

Had corn shuckings when it was cold. We played base down there. We

always had meat and plenty milk, collards and potatoes. Old missus would

drip a barrel of ashes and make corn hominy in the wash pot nearly every

week and we made all the soap we ever did see. If you banked the sweet

potatoes they wouldn't rot and that's where the seed come from in the

spring. In the garden there was an end left to go to seed. That is the

way people had any seed. Times show have changed. I can't tell what to

think. They ain't no more like than if they was another kind of folks.

So much different. I jess look and live. I think they ought to listen to

what you say. Say anything to them they say 'Kaint run my business.' I

don't know if they spected anything from freedom. Seemed like they

thought they wouldn't have to work if dey was free and dey wouldn't have

no boss. Missus let a lot of her land grow up in pine trees. Said she

had no money to pay people to work for her. Some of de families staid

on. My maw and paw went on a farm on share not far from Mrs. Sellers.

When she was going to have company or she got sick she sent for my maw.

My maw washed and ironed for her till they moved plum off. They said

somebody told them it was freedom. When dey picked up and moved off de

missus show didn't give em nothing. They didn't vote. They didn't know

how. I heard a lot about the Ku Klux Klan but I wasn't scared. I never

did see none.

"De younger generation jess lives today and don't know what he'll do

tomorrow or where he'll be. I ain't never voted and I don't know if my

boys do or not.

"I never heard of uprisings. De paddyroll was to see after dot and Mrs.

Sellers didn't have none. Uncle Sam and uncle John made em mind.

"Sing--I say dey did sing. Sing about the cooking and about the milking

and sing in de field.

"I never did see nobody sold. But I heard them talk about selling em.

They took em off to sell em. That was the worst part about slavery. The

families was broke up. I never lived nowhere 'cept in South Carolina and

Prairie County (Arkansas). My folks come here and they kept writing for

me to come, and I come on the train. Mrs. Sellers son, Joe Sellers,

killed himself, shot himself, one Sunday evening. Didn't know how come

he done it. I was too little to know what they expected from the war.

The colored folks didn't have nothing to do with it 'cept they expected

to get freed. A heap of people went to the cities, some of them died.

After freedom things got pretty scarce to eat and there was no money. I

worked as a house girl, tended to the children, brushed the flies off

the table and the baby when it slept and swept the house and the yard

too. After I come here (to Arkansas) I married and I worked on the

farms. We share cropped. I raised my children, had chickens, geese, a

cow and hogs. When the cotton was sold we got some of it. Yes maam, I

show had rether be out there if I could jess work. We lived on Mr. Dick

Small's place till he sold out. We come to town a year and went back and

made enough in one year to buy dis place. It cost $300. Jess my two sons

and me. The others were married. My husband died on the farm. I come in

town and done one or two washings a week. Yes maam I walked here and

back. That kept me in a little money. It was about two miles. I washed

for Mr. L. Hall and part of the time for Mrs. Kate Hazen. I guess they

treated us right about the crop settlement. We thought they did. We

knowed how much was made and how much we got. The cheatin come at the

stores where the trading was done.

"I lives with my son and his wife. Sometimes I do my cooking and

sometimes I eat in there. I get $8.00 from the RFC and prunes, rice, and

a little dried milk. I buys my meal and sugar and lard and little

groceries with the money. It don't buy what I used to have on the farm.

"I don't remember much about the war. I was so little. I heard them talk

a lot about it and the way they killed folks. I thought it was awful. My

hardest time is since I got old and can't work."

Hannah Davidson Hannah Hancock facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail