Helen Odom

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson

Person interviewed: Helen Odom and mother, Sarah Odom

Biscoe, Arkansas

Age: 30?

"Great-grandmother was part African, Indian, and Caucasian. She had two

girls before slavery ended by her own master--Master Temple. He was also

Caucasian (white). She was cook and housemaid at his home. He was a

bachelor. Grandmother's name was Rachael and her sister's name was

Gilly. Before freedom Master Temple had another wife. By her he had one

boy and two girls. He never had a Caucasian wife. In fact he was always

a bachelor. Grandmother was a field hand and so was her sister, Gilly.

"But after freedom grandmother married a Union soldier. His took-on name

was George Washington Tomb. He was generally called Parson Tomb

(preacher). He met Grandmother Rachael in Arkansas.

"When Master Temple died his nearest relative was Jim McNeilly. He made

a will leaving everything he possessed to Master McNeilly. The estate

had to be settled, so he brought the two sisters to Little Rock we think

to be sold. They rode horseback and walked and brought wagons with

bedding and provisions to camp along the road. The blankets were frozen

and stood alone. It was so cold. Grandmother was put up on the block to

be auctioned off and freedom was declared! Aunt Gilly never got to the

block. Grandmother married and was separated from her sister.

"Whether the other three children were brought to Arkansas then I don't

know but this I know that they went by the name McNeilly. They changed

their names or it was done for them. They are all dead now and my own

mother is the only one now living. Their names were John, Tom, and

Netline. Mother says they were sold to Johnson, and went by that name

too as much as McNeilly. They remained with Johnson till freedom, in


"My mother's name is Sarah.

"They seem to think they were treated good till Master Temple died. They

nearly froze coming to Arkansas to be sold.

"I heard this told over and over so many, many times before grandmother

died. Seemed it was the greatest event of her life. She told other

smaller things I can't remember to tell with sense at all. Nothing so

important as her master and own father's death and being sold.

"Times are good, very good with me. Our African race is advancing with

the times."

Interviewer's Comment

Teacher in Biscoe school. Father was a graduate doctor of medicine and

in about 1907, '08, '09 school director at Biscoe.

Heddie Davis Henderson Harris facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail