John W H Barnett Interviewed By Irene Robertson
Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: John W. H. Barnett, Marianna, Arkansas
"I was born at Clinton Parish, Louisiana. I'm eighty-one years old. My
parents and four children was sold and left six children behind. They
kept the oldest children. In that way I was sold but never alone. Our
family was divided and that brought grief to my parents. We was sold on
a block at New Orleans. J.J. Gambol (Gamble?) in north Louisiana bought
us. After freedom I seen all but one of our family. I don't recollect
why that was.
"For three weeks steady after the surrender people was passing from the
War and for two years off and on somebody come along going home. Some
rode and some had a cane or stick walking. Mother was cooking a pot of
shoulder meat. Them blue soldiers come by and et it up. I didn't get any
I know that. They cleaned us out. Father was born at Eastern Shore,
Maryland. He was about half Indian. Mother's mother was a squaw. I'm
more Indian than Negro. Father said it was a white man's war. He didn't
go to war. Mother was very dark. He spoke a broken tongue.
"We worked on after freedom for the man we was owned by. We worked crops
and patches. I didn't see much difference then. I see a big change come
out of it. We had to work. The work didn't slacken a bit. I never owned
land but my father owned eighty acres in Drew County. I don't know what
become of it. I worked on the railroad section, laid crossties, worked
in stave mills. I farmed a whole lot all along. I hauled and cut wood.
"I get ten dollars and I sells sassafras and little things along to help
out. My wife died. My two sons left just before the World War. I never
hear from them. I married since then.
"Present times--I can't figure it out. Seems like a stampede. Not much
work to do. If I was young I reckon I could find something to do.
"Present generation--Seem like they are more united. The old ones have
to teach the young ones what to do. They don't listen all the time. The
times is strange. People's children don't do them much good now seems
like. They waste most all they make some way. They don't make it regular
like we did farming. The work wasn't regular farming but Saturday was
ration day and we got that."
John W Fields John White