Ida Henry





Oklahoma Writers' Project

Ex-Slaves

[Date stamp: NOV 5 1937]



IDA HENRY

Age 83

Oklahoma City, Okla.





I was born in Marshall, Texas, in 1854. Me mother was named Millie

Henderson and me father Silas Hall. Me mother was sold in South

Carolina to Mister Hall, who brought her to Texas. Me father was born

and raised by Master John Hall. Me mother's and father's family

consisted of five girls and one boy. My sisters' names were:

Margrette, Chalette, Lottie, Gracy and Loyo, and me brother's name was

Dock Howard. I lived with me mother and father in a log house on

Master Hall's plantation. We would be sorry when dark, as de

patrollers would walk through de quarters and homes of de slaves all

times of night wid pine torch lights to whip de niggers found away

from deir home.



At nights when me mother would slip away for a visit to some of de

neighbors homes, she would raise up the old plank floor to de log

cabin and make pallets on de ground and put us to bed and put the

floor back down so dat we couldn't be seen or found by the patrollers

on their stroll around at nights.



My grandmother Lottie would always tell us to not let Master catch you

in a lie, and to always tell him de truth.



I was a house girl to me Mistress and nursed, cooked, and carried de

children to and from school. In summer we girls wore cotton slips and

yarn dresses for winter. When I got married I was dress in blue serge

and was de third person to marry in it. Wedding dresses was not worn

after de wedding in dem days by niggers as we was taught by our

Mistress dat it was bad luck to wear de wedding dress after marriage.

Therefore, 'twas handed down from one generation to the other one.



Me Mistress was sometimes good and sometimes mean. One day de cook was

waiting de table and when passing around de potatoes, old Mistress

felt of one and as hit wasn't soft done, she exclaimed to de cook,

"What you bring these raw potatoes out here for?" and grab a fork and

stuck it in her eye and put hit out. She, de cook, lived about 10

years and died.



Me Mistress was de mother of five children, Crock, Jim, Boss and two

girls name, Lea and Annie.



Dere home was a large two-story white house wid de large white posts.



As me Master went to de War de old overseer tried himself in meanness

over de slaves as seemingly he tried to be important. One day de

slaves caught him and one held him whilst another knocked him in de

head and killed him.



Master's plantation was about 300 acres and he had 'bout 160 slaves.

Before de slaves killed our overseer, he would work 'em night and day.

De slaves was punished when dey didn't do as much work as de overseer

wanted 'em to do.



He would lock 'em in jail some nights without food and kept 'em dere

all night, and after whipping 'em de next morning would only give 'em

bread and water to work on till noon.



When a slave was hard to catch for punishment dey would make 'em wear

ball and chains. De ball was 'bout de size of de head and made of

lead.



On Sunday mornings before breakfast our Mistress would call us

together, read de Bible and show us pictures of de Devil in de Bible

and tell us dat if we was not good and if we would steal and tell lies

dat old Satan would git us.



Close to our Master's plantation lived several families of old "poor

white trash" who would steal me Master's hogs and chickens and come

and tell me Mistress dat dey seen some of de slaves knock one of dere

hogs in de head. Dis continued up till Master returned from de War and

caught de old white trash stealing his hogs. De niggers did at times

steal Master's hogs and chickens, and I would put biscuits and pieces

of chicken in a sack under me dress dat hung from me waist, as I

waited de table for me Mistress, and later would slip off and eat it

as dey never gave de slaves none of dis sort of food.



We had church Sundays and our preacher Rev. Pat Williams would preach

and our Master and family and other nearby white neighbors would

ofttime attend our services. De patrollers wouldn't allow de slaves to

hold night services, and one night dey caught me mother out praying.

Dey stripped her naked and tied her hands together and wid a rope tied

to de hand cuffs and threw one end of de rope over a limb and tied de

other end to de pommel of a saddle on a horse. As me mother weighed

'bout 200, dey pulled her up so dat her toes could barely touch de

ground and whipped her. Dat same night she ran away and stayed over a

day and returned.



During de fall months dey would have corn shucking and cotton pickings

and would give a prize to de one who would pick de highest amount of

cotton or shuck de largest pile of corn. De prize would usually be a

suit of clothes or something to wear and which would be given at some

later date.



We could only have dances during holidays, but dances was held on

other plantations. One night a traveler visiting me Master and wanted

his boots shined. So Master gave de boots to one of de slaves to shine

and de slave put de boots on and went to a dance and danced so much

dat his feet swelled so dat when he returned he could not pull 'em

off.



De next morning as de slave did not show up with de boots dey went to

look for him and found him lying down trying to pull de boots off. He

told his Master dat he had put de boots on to shine 'em and could not

pull 'em off. So Master had to go to town and buy de traveler another

pair of boots. Before he could run away de slave was beaten wid 500

lashes.



De War dat brought our freedom lasted about two years. Me Master went

and carried one of de slaves for a servant. He was kind and good and

from dat day on he never whipped another slave nor did he allow any of

his slaves whipped. Dis time lasted from January to June de 19th when

we was set free in de State of Texas.



Lincoln and Davis both died short of promise. I means dat dey both

died before dey carried out dere plans and promises for freeing de

slaves.





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