Harriett Hill

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson

Person Interviewed: Harriett Hill

Forrest City, Ark.

(Visiting at Brinkley, Ark.)

Age: 84

"I was born in Lithonia, Georgia, at the foot of Little Rock Mountain,

close to Stone Mountain, Georgia. I been sold in my life twice to my

knowing. I was sold away from my dear old mammy at three years old but I

can remember it. I remembers it. It lack selling a calf from the cow.

Exactly, but we are human beings and ought to be better than do sich. I

was too little to remember my price. I was sold to be a nurse maid. They

bought me and took me on away that time. The next time they put me up in

a wagon and auctioned me off. That time I didn't sell. John George

(white man) was in the war; he wanted some money to hire a substitute to

take his place fightin'. So he have Jim George do the sellin'. They was

brothers. They talked 'fore me some bit 'fore they took me off. They

wouldn't take me to Atlanta cause they said some of the people there

said they wouldn't give much price--the Negroes soon be set free. Some

folks in Atlanta was Yankees and wouldn't buy slaves. They 'cluded the

best market to sell me off would be ten or twelve miles from home. I

reckon it was to Augusta, Georgia. They couldn't sell me and start on

back home. A man come up to our wagon and say he'd split the difference.

They made the trade. I sold on that spot for $1400. I was nine or ten

years old. I remembers it. Course I do! I never could forget it. Now

mind you, that was durin' the war.

"Master Jake Chup owned mammy and me too. He sold me to John George. Jim

George sold me to Sam Broadnax. When freedom come on that was my home.

Freedom come in the spring. He got some of the slaves to stay to finish

up the crops for 1/10 at Christmas. When they got through dividin' up

they said they goin' to keep me for a bounty. I been talkin' to

Kitty--all I remembers her name Kitty. She been down there at the stream

washin'. Some children come told me Kitty say come on. She hung out the

clothes. I lit out over the fence and through the field with Kitty and

went to Conniars. She left me at the railroad track and went on down the

road by myself to Lithonia. I walked all night. I met my brother not

long after Kitty left me. He was on a wagon. He knowed me and took me up

with him to Mr. Jake Chup's Jr. He was the young man. Then Chups fed me

till he come back and took me to mammy. Master Chups sold her to Dr.

Reygans. I hadn't seen her since I was three years old. She knowed me.

My brother knowed me soon as ever he saw me. I might a not knowed them

in a gatherin' but I hadn't forgot them. They hear back and forth where

I be but they never could get to see me. I lived with my folks till I


"The first man I lived with ten years. The next one I lived with fifty

years and some days over. He died. They both died. The man I married was

a preacher. We farmed long with his preachin'. We paid $500.00 for forty

acres of this bottom land. Cleared it out. I broke myself plum down and

it got mortgaged. The Planters Bank at Forrest City took it over. I

ain't had nothin' since. I ain't got no home. I ain't had nothin' since

then. My husband died two years ago and I has a hard time.

"My folks was livin' in Decatur, Georgia when the Ku Klux was ragin'. We

sure was scared of em. Mighty nigh to death. When freedom come on the

niggers had to start up their churches. They had nigger preachers.

Sometimes a white preacher would come talk to us. When the niggers be

havin' preachin' here come the Ku Klux and run em clear out. If they

hear least thing nigger preacher say they whoop him. They whooped

several. They sure had to be mighty particular what they said in the

preachin'. They made some of the nigger preachers dance. There wasn't no

use of that and they knowed it. They must of had plenty fun. They rode

the country every night for I don't know how long and that all niggers

talked bout.

"My mammy had eleven children. I had one boy. He died a baby.

"My pa come and brought his family in 1873. He come with a gang. They

didn't allow white men to take em off so a white man come and stay round

shy and get nigger man to work up a gang. We all come on a train to

Memphis, then we got on a big boat. No, ma'am, we didn't come on no

freight train. We got off at White Hall Landing. They got off all long

the river. We worked on wages out here. Pa wanted to go to Mississippi.

We went and made eighteen bales cotton and got cheated out of all we

made. We never got a cent. The man cheated us was Mr. Harris close to

Trotter's Landing.

"Mr. Anderson, the poor white man we worked for, jumped in the river and

drowned his self. The turns (returns) didn't come in for the first batch

we sold at all, then when the turns come they said we done took it

up--owed it all. We knowed we hadn't took it up but couldn't get

nothin'. We come back to Arkansas.

"I been to Detroit, short time, and been way, but I comes back.

"I forgot to say this: My mammy was born in South Carolina. Marbuts

owned her and sold her. My pa lived to be 114 or 115 years old. He died

in Arkansas. She did too.

"Of course I don't vote! Women ain't got no business runnin' the


"I nursed, worked in the field. When I was a slave they raised a little

cotton in Georgia but mostly corn. I chopped cotton and thinned out


"The present times is too fast. Somethin' goin' to happen. The present

generation too fast. Folks racin'. Ridin' in cars too fast. They ain't

kind no more.

"I rent a house where I can and I get $10.00 from the government. That

all the support I got. I farmed in the field mighty hard and lost all we


Harriett Gresham Harriett Mcfarlin Payne facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail