Joe Tillman

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden

Person interviewed: Joe Tillman

W. 10th and Highway No. 79

Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Age: 79

"I was born in 1859 down here at Walnut Lake. The man what owned us was

Crum Holmes.

"All I can remember was the patrollers and the Ku Klux. I reckon I ought

to, I seed 'em. I got skeered and run. I heered 'em talk 'bout how

they'd do the folks and we chillun thought they'd do us the same way.

"I 'member hearin' 'em talk 'bout the Yankees--how they'd come through

there and how they used to do.

"I guess we had plenty to eat. All I know was when I got ready to eat, I

could eat.

"My parents was brought from Tennessee but all the place I know anything

about is Walnut Lake.

"I know my mother said I was the cause of her gettin' a lot of

whippin's. I'd run off and the boss man whipped her cause she wasn't

keepin' me at home. If he didn't whip her, he'd pull her ears.

"When we was comin' up they didn't 'low the chillun to sit around where

the old folks was talkin'. And at night when company come in, we chillun

had to go to bed out the way. Sometimes I'm glad of it. See so many

chillun now gettin' into trouble.

"I never been arrested in my life. Been a witness once or twice--that's

the only way I ever been in court. If I'd a been like a lot of 'em, I

might a been dead or in the pen.

"In them days, if we did something wrong, anybody could whip us and if

we'd go tell our folks we get another whippin'.

"After freedom my parents stayed there and worked by the day. They

didn't have no privilege of sellin' the cotton though.

"I didn't start to farm till I was 'bout twelve years old. They started

me bustin' out the middles till I learnt how and then they put the

plowin' in my hands.

"White people been pretty good to me 'cause I done what they told me.

"I went to school a little 'long about '70. I learnt how to read and

kept on till I could write a little.

"I used to vote 'til they stopped us. I used to vote right along, but I

stopped foolin' with it. 'Course we can vote in the president election

but I got so I couldn't see what ticket I was votin', so I stopped

foolin' with it.

"I farmed till 'bout '94, then I worked at the compress and brick work."

Joe Rutherford John Anderson facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail