John Brown

Oklahoma Writers' Project


[Date stamp: AUG 16 1937]


Age (about) 87 yrs.

West Tulsa, Okla.

Most of the folks have themselves a regular birthday but this old

colored man just pick out any of the days during the year--one day

just about as good as another.

I been around a long time but I don't know when I got here. That's the

truth. Nearest I figures it the year was 1850--the month don't make no

difference nohow.

But I know the borning was down in Taloga County, Alabama, near the

county seat town. Miss Abby was with my Mammy that day. She was the

wife of Master John Brown. She was with all the slave women every time

a baby was born, or when a plague of misery hit the folks she knew

what to do and what kind of medicine to chase off the aches and pains.

God bless her! She sure loved us Negroes.

Most of the time there was more'n three hundred slaves on the

plantation. The oldest ones come right from Africa. My Grandmother was

one of them. A savage in Africa--a slave in America. Mammy told it to

me. Over there all the natives dressed naked and lived on fruits and

nuts. Never see many white mens.

One day a big ship stopped off the shore and the natives hid in the

brush along the beach. Grandmother was there. The ship men sent a

little boat to the shore and scattered bright things and trinkets on

the beach. The natives were curious. Grandmother said everybody made a

rush for them things soon as the boat left. The trinkets was fewer

than the peoples. Next day the white folks scatter some more. There

was another scramble. The natives was feeling less scared, and the

next day some of them walked up the gangplank to get things off the

plank and off the deck.

The deck was covered with things like they'd found on the beach.

Two-three hundred natives on the ship when they feel it move. They

rush to the side but the plank was gone. Just dropped in the water

when the ship moved away.

Folks on the beach started to crying and shouting. The ones on the

boat was wild with fear. Grandmother was one of them who got fooled,

and she say the last thing seen of that place was the natives running

up and down the beach waving their arms and shouting like they was

mad. The boat men come up from below where they had been hiding and

drive the slaves down in the bottom and keep them quiet with the whips

and clubs.

The slaves was landed at Charleston. The town folks was mighty mad

'cause the blacks was driven through the streets without any clothes,

and drove off the boat men after the slaves was sold on the market.

Most of that load was sold to the Brown plantation in Alabama.

Grandmother was one of the bunch.

The Browns taught them to work. Made clothes for them. For a long time

the natives didn't like the clothes and try to shake them off. There

was three Brown boys--John, Charley and Henry. Nephews of old Lady

Hyatt who was the real owner of the plantation, but the boys run the

place. The old lady she lived in the town. Come out in the spring and

fall to see how is the plantation doing.

She was a fine woman. The Brown boys and their wives was just as good.

Wouldn't let nobody mistreat the slaves. Whippings was few and nobody

get the whip 'less he need it bad. They teach the young ones how to

read and write; say it was good for the Negroes to know about such


Sunday was a great day around the plantation. The fields was

forgotten, the light chores was hurried through and everybody got

ready for the church meeting.

It was out of the doors, in the yard fronting the big log where the

Browns all lived. Master John's wife would start the meeting with a

prayer and then would come the singing. The old timey songs.

The white folks on the next plantation would lick their slaves for

trying to do like we did. No praying there, and no singing.

The Master gave out the week's supply on Saturday. Plenty of hams,

lean bacon, flour, corn meal, coffee and more'n enough for the week.

Nobody go hungry on that place! During the growing season all the

slaves have a garden spot all their own. Three thousand acres on that

place--plenty of room for gardens and field crops.

Even during the war foods was plentiful. One time the Yankee soldiers

visit the place. The white folks gone and I talks with them. Asks me

lots of questions--got any meats--got any potatoes--got any this--some

of that--but I just shake my head and they don't look around.

The old cook fixes them up though. She fry all the eggs on the place,

skillet the ham and pan the biscuits! Them soldiers fill up and leave

the house friendly as anybody I ever see!

The Browns wasn't bothered with the Ku Klux Klan either. The Negroes

minded their own business just like before they was free.

I stayed on the plantation 'til the last Brown die. Then I come to

Oklahoma and works on the railroad 'til I was too old to hustle the

grips and packages. Now I just sits thinking how much better off would

I be on the old plantation.

Homesick! Just homesick for that Alabama farm like it was in them good

old times!

John Boyd John C Bectom facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail