Henrietta Isom

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson

Person interviewed: Henrietta Isom, Biscoe, Arkansas

Age: 81

"I was born in Mississippi. It wasn't far from Memphis, Tennessee. I

heard em talking bout it then. When I first knowed anything we lived way

down in Mississippi. It was on a big farm not close to no place much. My

ma's and pa's master was named Thornton. Seems lack it was Jack and her

name was Miss Lucretia. They show did have a big family, little ones on

up. I have three sisters and a brother all dead--ma was a farm hand. She

left us wid a real old woman--all the little children stayed right wid

her. We minded her lack our ma's. She switch our legs if we didn't. She

carded and sewed about all the time.

"I don't know much about master and mistress; their house was way over

the field. They lived on a hill and had the finest well of water. It was

so cold. They had two buckets on a chain to pull it up by. The cabins

down closer to the creek. There was two springs one used mostly for

washing and the other for house use.

"I don't know how many cabins they was scattered. He had a lot of hands

about all I remembers--on Saturdays we get to go up to the house to

fetch back something; some provisions. They tell us if we be good we

could go. They done their own cooking. When they work their dinners was

sent to the shade trees from white folks house and the childrens was

sent too. We would all stand around Miss Rachel (white) when she bring

it then we go sit on the steps and eat. We show did have plenty to eat.

We wear the dresses new in cold weather then they wear thin for summer.

They be lighter in color too when they fade.

"I remember when the white folks left an went to war. They worked on.

They had a white man and a colored man boss. When freedom was declared

nearly all of them walked off so glad they was free. I don't know where

they all went. My folks went to another big place. We had a hard time.

We all farmed. I don't know what they expected from freedom. Nobody

didn't ask for nuthin. I remembers when some new hands was bought and

put on the place. I think they sold em off in town.

"After de war at the church they talked bout if they didn't get freedom

they would clang together for der rights but they never did do nuthin.

Times was so hard they had to work harder than before.

"The Yankees nor none of the soldiers ever come to our cabins--I seen

them along the roads. They show did clean up Miss Leucretia's calves and

hogs. Took em all off at one time. Rations show did get mighty scarce.

"They sing, I recken they did sing, go off to work singin and the men

whistlin. Mostly sung religious songs. Master Thornton had a white man

preach sometimes. Down in front of the cabins in the shade. Sometimes

somebody get to go to white church with the family. They held the baby.

They didn't have no school.

"I seed the Ku Klux Klans in the road light nights--when they pass we

all peep out the cracks. They didn't bother nobody I knowed. We was

scared they would turn in an come to the house.

"I farmed all my life, hoed cotton and corn. No maam I aint never

voted--I jess lives wid my children here and my son in Memphis and my

other daughter at Helena. My daughter do farm work and my son railroads.

He works in the yards.

"I don't know what to say bout the generations comin on. They is smarter

in their books and sees more than older folks, but they ain't no better.

You kaint depend on what they says. I don't know what to say would make

the country better lessen the folks all be better.

"I never heard of no rebellions. I jess lived in Mississippi till I

comes here and Memphis and stay around wid the children and

grandchildren. They all do fairly well for the fast times I guess."

Henrietta Evelina Smith Henrietta Jackson facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail