Israel Jackson

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden

Person interviewed: Israel Jackson

3505 Short Second, Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Age: 78

"My name's Israel Jackson. No ma'am, I wasn't born in Arkansas--born

in Yaller Bush County, Mississippi August de third, 1860.

"My old master? Called him General--General Bradford. I don't know

where he was but he was gone somewhere. Don't know her name--just

called her missis.

"Yas'm, I was big enough to work. Dey had me to lead out my young

master's horse on de grass. I had a halter on it and one time I laid

down and went to sleep. I had de rope tied to my leg and when it come

twelve o'clock de horse drag me clear to de house. No ma'am, I didn't

wake up till I got to de house. It was my young master's saddle horse.

"Yas'm, I knowed dey was a war 'cause de men come past just as thick.

No'm, I wasn't afraid. I kept out of de way. Old missis wouldn't let

us get in de way. I 'member dey stopped dere and told us we was free.

Lots of de folks went off but my mother kept workin' in de field, and

my father didn't leave.

"Old master had us go by his name. Dat's what dey called 'em--all de

hands on de place.

"I thought from boyhood he was awful cruel. Didn't 'low us chillun in

de white folks' house at all. Had one woman dat cooked. Dey was fifty

or a hundred chillun on de place and dey had a big long trough dug out

of a log and each chile had a spoon and he'd eat out of dat trough.

Yas'm, I 'member dat. Eat greens and milk. As for meat, we didn't know

what dat was. My mother would go huntin' at night and get a 'possum

to feed us and sometimes old master would ketch her and take it away

from her and give her a piece of salt meat. But sometimes she'd bury a

'possum till she had a chance to cook it. And dey'd take sackin' like

you make cotton sacks and dye it and make us clothes.

"When de conch would blow at four o'clock every mornin' everybody got

up and got ready for de field. Dey'd take dere chillun up to dat big

long house. When mother went to de field I'd go along and lead de

horse till I got to where dey was workin', then I'd sit down and let

the horse eat. I was young and it's been so long.

"No ma'am, I never went to school. No ma'am, can't read or write.

Never had no schools as I remember.

"Dey stayed on de place after freedom. No ma'am, dey did not pay 'em.

I'se old but I ain't forgot dat. Dey fed theirselves by stealin' and

gettin' things in de woods.

"After dem Blue Jackets come in dere General Bradford never did come

back and our folks stayed dere and when dey did leave dey went to

Sunflower County. After dat we got along better.

"How many brothers and sisters? I b'lieve I had five.

"I stayed with my parents till I was grown. No ma'am, dey didn't 'low

us to marry. When we was twenty we was neither man nor boy; we was

considered a hobble-de-hoy. And when we got to be twenty-one we was

considered a man and your parents turned you loose, a man. So I left

home and went to Louisiana. I stayed dere a year, then I went back to

Mississippi and worked. I come here to Arkansas twenty-six years ago.

Is dis Jefferson? Well, I come here to de west end.

"Since I been here I been workin' at de foundry--Dilley's foundry.

"'Bout two years ago I got sick and broke up and not able to work and

Mr. Dilley give me a pension--ten dollars a month. But de wages and

hour got here now and I don't know what he's gwine do. When de next

pay-day comes he might give me somethin' and he might not.

"Miss, de white folks has done so bad here dat I don't know what dey's

gwine a do. Mr. Ed and his father been takin' care of me for twenty

years. Dey sure has been takin' care of me. Miss, I can't find no

fault of Mr. Ed Dilley at all.

"I can do a little light work but when I work half a day I get nervous

and can't do nothin'.

"No ma'am, I never did vote. Dey didn't 'low us to vote. Well, if dey

did I didn't know it and I didn't vote.

"Well, Miss, I think de young folks is near to de dogs and de dogs

ought to have 'em and bury 'em. Miss, I don't 'cept none of 'em. I

wouldn't want to go on and tell you how dey has treated me. Dey ain't

no use to ask 'cause I ain't gwine tell you. The people is more wicked

and more wuss and ever'thing. I don't think nothin' of 'em.

"Miss, let me tell you de only folks dat showed me any friendly is Mr.

Ed Dilley. I worked out dere night and day, Sunday and Monday--any

time he called.

"Miss, I ain't never seen any jail house; I ain't never been to police

headquarters; I ain't never been called a witness in my life. I try to

live right, all I know, and if I do wrong it's somethin' I don't know.

I ain't had dat much trouble in my life.

"I went up here to Judge Brewster to see about de pension and he said,

'Got a home?' I said, 'Yes.' 'Got it paid for?' 'Yes.' 'Got a deed?'

'Yes.' 'Got a abstract?' 'Yes.' 'Well, bring it up here and sign it

and go get de pension.'

"But I wouldn't do it. Miss, I would starve till I was as stiff as a

peckerwood peckin' at a hole 'fore I'd sign anything on my deed. Miss,

I wouldn't put a scratch on my deed. I wouldn't trust 'em, wouldn't

trust 'em if dey was behind a Winchester."

Isom Starnes Issabella Boyd facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail