Jh Curry

Circumstances of Interview


NAME OF WORKER--Samuel S. Taylor

ADDRESS--Little Rock, Arkansas

DATE--December, 1938


[TR: Repetitive information deleted from subsequent pages.]

1. Name and address of informant--J.H. Curry, Washington, Arkansas

2. Date and time of interview--

3. Place of interview--Washington, Arkansas

4. Name and address of person, if any, who put you in touch with


5. Name and address of person, if any, accompanying you--

6. Description of room, house, surroundings, etc.

Personal History of Informant

1. Ancestry--father, Washington Curry; mother, Eliza Douglass;

grandmother; Malinda Evans; grandfather, Mike Evans.

2. Place and date of birth--Born in Haywood County, Tennessee in 1862.

3. Family--

4. Places lived in, with dates--Tennessee until 1883. From 1883 until

now, in Arkansas.

5. Education, with dates--He took a four-years' course at Haywood after

the war.

6. Occupations and accomplishments, with dates--Minister

7. Special skills and interest--Church work.

8. Community and religious activities--Preacher

9. Description of informant--

10. Other points gained in interview--His father was a slave and he

tells lots of slavery.

[HW: Master Educates Slave]

Text of Interview (Unedited)

"I was born in 1862, September first. I got that off the Bible. My

father, he belonged to a doctor and the doctor, he was a kind of a wait

man to him. And the doctor learnt him how to read and write. Right after

the War, he was a teacher. He was ready to be a teacher before most

other people because he learnt to read and write in slavery. There were

so many folks that came to see the doctor and wanted to leave numbers

and addresses that he had to have some one to 'tend to that and he

taught my father to read and write so that he could do it.

"I was born in Tennessee, in Haywood County. My father was born in North

Carolina, so they tell me. He was brought to Tennessee. He was a slave

and my mother was a slave. His name was Washington Curry and my mother's

name was Eliza Douglass before she married. Her master was named John

Douglass and my father's master was named T.A. Curry, Tom Curry some

folks called him.

"I don't know just how many slaves Tom Curry owned. Lemme see. There was

my daddy, his four brothers, his five sisters. My father's father had

ten children, and my father had the same number--five boys and six

girls. Ten of us lived for forty years. My mother had ten living

children when she died in 1921. Since '21, three girls died. My father

died in 1892.

"My father's master had around a hundred slaves. Douglass was a richer

man than my father's master. I suspect he had two hundred slaves. He was

my mother's father as well as her master. I know him. He used to come to

our house and he would give mama anything she wanted. He liked her. She

was his daughter.

"My father's father--I can't remember what his name was. I know his

mother was Candace. I never did see his father but I saw my grandma. He

was dead before I was born. My mother's mother was named Malinda Evans.

Only one thing I remember that was remarkable about her. Her husband was

a free man named Mike Evans. He come from up North and married her in

slave time and he bought her. He was a fine carpenter. They used to hire

him out to build houses. He was a contractor in slave time. I remember

him well.

"After the War, he used to have white men getting training for the

carpenter's training under him. He was Grandma Evans' husband. He wasn't

my father's father. My father was born before Grandma Evans was freed.

All the rest of them were born afterward. They sold her to him but the

children all belonged to the Douglasses. He probably paid for her on

time and they kept the children that was born.

"The doctor was good to my father. Way after freedom, he was our family

doctor. He was at my father's bedside when father died. He's dead now.

"My father was a carpenter and a wait man (waiter). He was a finished

carpenter. He used to make everything 'round the house. Sometimes he

went off and worked and would bring the money back to his master, and

his master would give him some for himself.

"My mother worked 'round the house. She was a servant. I don't know that

she ever did the work in the field. My daddy just come home every

Saturday night. My father and mother always belonged to different

masters in slavery time. The Douglasses and the Currys were five or six

miles apart. My father would walk that distance on Saturday night and

stay there all day Sunday and git up before day in the morning Monday so

that he would be back home Monday morning in time for his work. I

remember myself when we moved away. That's when my memory first starts.

"I could see that old white woman come out begging and saying, 'Uncle

Washington, please don't carry Aunt Lize away.' But we went on away.

When we got where we was going, my mother made a pallet on the floor

that night, and the three children slept on the pallet on the floor.

Nothing to eat--not a bite. I went to bed hungry, and you know how it is

when you go to bed hungry, you can't sleep. I jerk a little nod, and

then I'd be awake again with the gnawing in my stomach. One time I woke

up, and there was a big light in the house, and father was working at

the table, and mama reached over and said, 'Stick your head back under

the cover again, you little rascal you.' I won't say what I saw. But

I'll say this much. We had the finest breakfast the next morning that I

ever ate in all my life.

"I used to hear my people talk about pateroles but I don't reckon I can

recall now what they said. There is a man in Washington named Bob

Sanders. He knows everything about slavery, and politics too. He used to

be a regular politician. He is about ninety years old. They came there

and got him about two year ago and paid him ten dollars a day and his

fare. Man came up and got him and carried him to the capitol in his car.

They were writing up something about Arkansas history.

"I have been married fifty-seven years. I married in 1881. My wife was a

Lemons. I married on February tenth in Tennessee at Stanton. Nancy


"I went to public school a little after the war. My wife and I both went

to Haywood after we were married. After we married and had children, we

went. I took a four-years' course there when it was a fine institution.

It's gone down now.

"I was the oldest boy. We had two mules. We farmed on the halves. We

made fifteen bales of cotton a year. Never did make less than ten or


"I have been in the ministry fifty-three years. I was transferred to

Arkansas in 1883 in the conference which met at Humboldt. My first work

here was in Searcy in 1884.

"I think the question of Negro suffrage will work itself out. As we get

further away from the Civil War and the reconstruction, it will be less

and less opposition to the Negro's voting. You can see a lot of signs of

that now.

"I don't know about the young people. They are gone wild. I don't know

what to say about them.

"I think where men are able to work I think it is best to give them

work. A man that is able to work ought to be given work by the

government if he can't get it any other way."

Jh Beckwith Jim Allen facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail