Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor
Person interviewed: J.F. Boone
1502 Izard, Little Rock, Arkansas
[HW: A Union Veteran]
"My father's name was Arthur Boone and my mother's name was Eliza Boone,
I am goin' to tell you about my father. Now be sure you put down there
that this is Arthur Boone's son. I am J.F. Boone, and I am goin' to tell
you about my father, Arthur Boone.
"My father's old master was Henry Boone. My mother came from
Virginia--north Virginia--and my father came from North Carolina. The
Boones bought them. I have heard that my father, Arthur Boone, was
bought by the Boones. They wasn't his first masters. I have heard my
father say that it was more than a thousand dollars they paid for him.
"He said that they used to put up niggers on the block and auction them
off. They auctioned off niggers accordin' to the breed of them. Like
they auction off dogs and horses. The better the breed, the more they'd
pay. My father was in the first-class rating as a good healthy Negro and
those kind sold for good money. I have heard him say that niggers
sometimes brought as high as five thousand dollars.
"My father don't know much about his first boss man. But the Boones were
very good to them. They got biscuits once a week. The overseer was
pretty cruel to them in a way. My father has seen them whipped till they
couldn't stand up and then salt and things that hurt poured in their
wounds. My father said that he seen that done; I don't know whether it
was his boss man or the overseer that done it.
"My father said that they breeded good niggers--stud 'em like horses and
cattle. Good healthy man and woman that would breed fast, they would
keep stalled up. Wouldn't let them get out and work. Keep them to raise
young niggers from. I don't know for certain that my father was used
that way or not. I don't suppose he would have told me that, but he was
a mighty fine man and he sold for a lot of money. The slaves weren't to
blame for that.
"My father said that in about two or three months after the War ended,
his young master told them that they were free. They came home from the
War about that time. He told them that they could continue living on
with them or that they could go to some one else if they wanted to
'cause they were free and there wasn't any more slavery.
"I was born after slavery. Peace was declared in 1865, wasn't it? When
the War ended I don't know where my father was living, but I was bred
and born in Woodruff near Augusta in Arkansas. All the Booneses were
there when I knew anything about it. They owned hundreds and hundreds of
acres of ground. I was born on old Captain Boone's farm.
"My father was always a farmer. He farmed till he died. They were
supposed to give him a pension, but he never did get it. They wrote to
us once or twice and asked for his number and things like that, but they
never did do nothing. You see he fit in the Civil War. Wait a minute. We
had his old gun for years. My oldest brother had that gun. He kept that
gun and them old blue uniforms with big brass buttons. My old master had
a horn he blowed to call the slaves with, and my brother had that too.
He kept them things as particular as you would keep victuals.
"Yes, my father fit in the Civil War. I have seen his war clothes as
many times as you have hairs on your head I reckon. He had his old sword
and all. They had a hard battle down in Mississippi once he told me. Our
house got burnt up and we lost his honorable discharge. But he was
legally discharged. But he didn't git nothin' for it, and we didn't
"My father was whipped by the pateroles several times. They run him and
whipped him. My daddy slipped out many a time. But they never caught him
when he slipped out. They never whipped him for slippin' out. That was
during the time he was a slave. The slaves wasn't allowed to go from one
master to another without a pass. My father said that sometimes, his
young master would play a joke on him. My father couldn't read. His
young master would give him a pass and the pass would say, 'Whip Arthur
Boone's --- and pass him out. When he comes back, whip his --- again and
pass him back.' His young master called hisself playin' a joke on him.
They wouldn't hit him more than half a dozen licks, but they would make
him take his pants down and they would give them to him jus' where the
pass said. They wouldn't hurt him much. It was more devilment than
anything else. He would say, 'Whut you hittin' me for when I got a
pass?' and they would say, 'Yes, you got a pass, but it says whip your
---.' And they would show it to him, and then they would say, 'You'll
git the res' when you come back.' My father couldn't read nothin' else,
but that's one word he learnt to read right well.
"My father was quite a young man in his day. He died in 1891. He was
just fifty-six years old. I'm older now than he was when he died. My
occupation when I was well was janitor. I have been sick now for three
years and ain't done nothin' in all that time. If it wasn't for my wife,
I don't know whut I would do.
"I was born in 1872, on December the eighth, and I am sixty-six years
old now. That is, I will be if the Lord lets me live till December the
eighth, this year.
"Now whose story are you saying this is? You say this is the story of
Arthur Boone, father of J.F. Boone? Well, that's all right; but you
better mention that J.F. Boone is Arthur Boone's son. I rent this house
from Mr. Lindeman. He has the drug store right there. If anybody comes
lookin' for me, I might be moved, but Mr. Lindeman will still be there."
If you have read this interview hastily and have missed the patroller
joke on page three, turn back and read it now. The interviewer considers
it the choicest thing in the story.
That and the story of an unpensioned Union veteran and the insistence on
the word "son" seemed to me to set this story off as a little out of the
Jessie Sparrow Jh Beckwith