Henrietta Ralls

Interviewer: Bernice Bowden

Person interviewed: Henrietta Ralls

1711 Fluker St.

Pine Bluff, Ark.

Age: 88

"Yes ma'am, I was here in slavery times. I was born in Mississippi, Lee

County, March 10, 1850. Come to Arkansas when I was ten years old. Had

to walk. My old master was Henry Ralls. Sometimes we jump up in the

wagon and he'd whip us out.

"My old mistes name was Drunetta. She was good to us. We called her Miss

Netta. Old master was mean. He'd whip us. One day he come along and

picked up sand and throwed it in my eyes. He was a mean old devil. He

thought I was scared of him. Cose I was. That was before the war.

"I recollect when the Yankees come. I knowed they was a'ridin'. White

folks made me hide things. I hid a barrel of wool once--put meal on

top. They'd a'took it ever bit if they could have found it. They wanted

chickens and milk. They'd take things they wanted--they would that.

Would a'taken ever bit of our wool if they could have found it.

"They wouldn't talk to old mistes--just talk to me and ask where things

was. She didn't notice them and they didn't notice her.

"I reckon the Lord intended for the Yankees to free the people. They was

fightin' to free the people.

"I hear em say war is still goin' on in the world.

"The owners was tryin' to hide the colored people. Our white folks took

some of us clear out in Texas to keep the Yankees from gettin' em. Miss

Liza was Miss Netta's daughter and she was mean as her old daddy. She

said, 'Oh, yes, you little devils, you thought you was goin' to be free!

She had a good brother though. He wanted to swap a girl for me so I

could be back here with my mammy, but Miss Liza wouldn't turn me loose.

No sir, she wouldn't.

"After freedom I hired out--cooked, milked cows and washed and ironed.

"I went back to Mississippi and stayed with my father. Old Henry Ralls

sold my father fore we come to Arkansas.

"I never been married. I could have married, but I didn't. I don't know

hardly why.

"I been makin' my own livin' pretty much since I left my father.

"Biggest majority of younger generation looks like they tryin' to get

a education and tryin' to make a livin' with their brain without usin'

their hands. But I'd rather use my hands--cose I would.

"I went to school some after the war, but I had to pay for it.

"I been disabled bout five or six years. Got to have somethin' to take

us away, I guess."

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