Henrietta Evelina Smith

Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor

Person interviewed: Henrietta Evelina Smith

1714 Pine Street, Little Rock, Arkansas


"I was born in Louisiana in East Felicie Parish near Baton Rouge on the

twenty-eighth day of December. My mother's name was Delia White. Her

maiden name was Delia Early. My father's name was Henry White. My

mother's father was named Amos Early. My mother's mother's name was

Julia. My father's father was named Tom White and his mother was named


"My father and mother both belonged to the Eason's. I don't know how

they spelled it. Eason's daughter married Munday and my uncle bought

this white man's place years after freedom. That is not far from

Clinton--about four or five miles. It is three miles from Ethel,


"Amos, my grandfather, was the wagoneer on the old place. Father, he

used to drive the wagon too. He'd haul cotton to Baton Rouge and things

like that. He would run off and stay five or six months. I have heard

them talk about how he used to come back and bring hogs and one thing

and another that he had found out in the woods. He would run off because

the overseer would whip him. But he was such a good working man that

once or twice, the boss man turned off his overseer on account of him.

There wasn't nothing against his work. He just wouldn't take a blow.

Most of the times after he had been out a while the boss man would tell

the hands to tell Amos that if he would come on home they wouldn't whip

him for running off.

"My grandmother's mother on my father's side was named Melissa. I think

that was her name. My father's mother was named Susan like I told you.

She was part Indian--better work hand never was. But she wouldn't be

conquered neither. When they got ready to whip her, it would be half a

day before they could take her. When they did get her, they would whip

her so they would have to raise her in a sheet. The last time they

whipped her, it took her nearly a year to get over it. So the white man

just turned her loose and told her she was free. She went on off and we

never did know what became of her.

"The Easons were farmers and they had a large plantation. I don't know

just how many slaves they owned.

"My father and mother were fed like pigs. They had an old woman that did

the cooking. She was broke down from work. They would give the slaves

greens and the children pot-liquor. My parents were field hands. My

mother was too young to carry a row when she was freed, but she worked

on an older person's row. They worked from can till can't. You know what

I mean, from the time they could see till the time they couldn't. Reb

time was something like the penitentiary now. It never got too cold nor

too hot to work. And there wasn't any pay. My parents never were given

any chance to earn any money. I heard that my grandpa used to make a

little something. He was a wagoneer you know. He would carry a little

extra on his load and sell it. His old master never did find it out.

People knew he had stole it, but they would buy it just the same.

"The old boss man came down in the quarters and told them they were free

when freedom came. Right after freedom they stayed there on the old

place for a year or more. My mother wasn't grown and she and my father

married after that. Afterwards they had kind of a fight to get away from

the old man. He was carrying them the same way he was going before the

War and they had a row (quarrel), and left him. I don't know just what

terms they worked on. I don't think they did themselves. They took just

what they could get and didn't know just how they was paid.

"If a man made a good crop, they would run him away and make him leave

his crops behind.

"My folks continued to farm all their lives. They had trouble with the

night riders. They had to vote like they were told. If you voted the

wrong way they would get behind you and run you off. There were some

folks who would take pay for voting and then vote different, and when

the night riders found it out, there would be trouble. I don't believe

in taking money for voting, and I don't believe in lying.

"My mother and father didn't get any schooling. That was allowed after

slavery, but it wasn't allowed in slavery time. They learned a little

from other people. They would slip and learn to read.

"My great-grandmother was considered pretty when she was young. She had

glossy black hair and was a little short. She was brownskin and had big

legs. Her master would take her out behind the field and do what he

wanted. When she got free, she gave both of her children away. She had

two children by him--a boy named Eli and a girl named Anna. She didn't

want them 'round her because they reminded her of him."

Interviewer's Comment

The subject did not wish to state her age. It is probably around

sixty-five. Her mother was married shortly after freedom. And eight

years is probably a liberal allowance for the distance of her birth from


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