Iran Nelson

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden

Person interviewed: Iran Nelson

603 E. Fourteenth Ave., Pine Bluff, Ark.

Age: 77

"Yes ma'm, they fotch me from Mississippi to Arkansas on the

steamboat--you know they didn't have railroads then. They fotch my

mother and they went back after grandfather and grandmother too.

"Dr. Noell was our master and he had us under mortgage to his

brother-in-law. They fotched us here till he could get straight from

that debt, but fore that could be, we got free.

"I knowed slavery times. I member seem' em lash some of the rest but you

know I wasn't big enough to put in the fields. Old mistress say when I

got big enough, she goin' take me for a house girl. When they fotched

mama and grandmother here they had eighty some odd head of niggers. They

was gwine carry em back home after they got that mortgage paid but the

war come.

"I member when the Yankees come, my white folks would run and hide and

hide us colored folks too. Boss man had the colored folks get all the

meat out of the smokehouse and hide it in the peach orchard in the


"I used to play with old mistress daughter Addie. We would play in the

parlor and after we moved to town some of the little girls would pick up

and go home. You know these town folks didn't believe in playin' with

the colored folks.

"After mama was free she stayed right there on the place and made a

crop. Raised eight hundred bales and the average was nine. Mama plowed

and hoed too. I had to work right with her too.

"I never went to school but once. I learned my ABC's but couldn't read.

My next ABC's was a hoe in my hand. Mama had a switch right under her

belt. I worked but I couldn't keep up. Just seein' that switch was

enough. I had a pretty good time when I was young, but I had to go all

the time."

Ira Foster Irene Coates facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail