Joseph Samuel Badgett Interviewed By Samuel S Taylor

Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor

Person interviewed: Joseph Samuel Badgett

1221 Wright Avenue, Little Rock, Arkansas

Age: 72

[HW: Mother was a Fighter]

"My mother had Indian in her. She would fight. She was the pet of the

people. When she was out, the pateroles would whip her because she

didn't have a pass. She has showed me scars that were on her even till

the day that she died. She was whipped because she was out without a

pass. She could have had a pass any time for the asking, but she was too

proud to ask. She never wanted to do things by permission.


"I was born in 1864. I was born right here in Dallas County. Some of the

most prominent people in this state came from there. I was born on

Thursday, in the morning at three o'clock, May the twelfth. My mother

has told me that so often, I have it memorized.

Persistence of Slave Customs

"While I was a slave and was born close to the end of the Civil War, I

remember seeing many of the soldiers down here. I remember much of the

treatment given to the slaves. I used to say 'master' myself in my day.

We had to do that till after '69 or '70. I remember the time when I

couldn't go nowhere without asking the 'white folks.' I wasn't a slave

then but I couldn't go off without asking the white people. I didn't

know no better.

"I have known the time in the southern part of this state when if you

wanted to give an entertainment you would have to ask the white folks.

Didn't know no better. For years and years, most of the niggers just

stayed with the white folks. Didn't want to leave them. Just took what

they give 'em and didn't ask for nothing different.

"If I had known forty years ago what I know now!

First Negro Doctor in Tulip, Arkansas

"The first Negro doctor we ever seen come from Little Rock down to

Tulip, Arkansas. We were all excited. There were plenty of people who

didn't have a doctor living with twenty miles of them. When I was

fourteen years old, I was secretary of a conference.


"What little I know, an old white woman taught me. I started to school

under this old woman because there weren't any colored teachers. There

wasn't any school at Tulip where I lived. This old lady just wanted to

help. I went to her about seven years. She taught us a little every

year--'specially in the summer time. She was high class--a high class

Christian woman--belonged to the Presbyterian church. Her name was Mrs.

Gentry Wiley.

"I went to school to Scipio Jones once. Then they opened a public school

at Tulip and J.C. Smith taught there two years in the summer time. Then

Lula Baily taught there one year. She didn't know no more than I did.

Then Scipio came. He was there for a while. I don't remember just how


"After that I went to Pine Bluff. The County Judge at that time had the

right to name a student from each district. I was appointed and went up

there in '82 and '83 from my district. It took about eight years to

finish Branch Normal at that time. I stayed there two years. I roomed

with old man John Young.

"You couldn't go to school without paying unless you were sent by the

Board. We lived in the country and I would go home in the winter and

study in the summer. Professor J.C. Corbin was principal of the Pine

Bluff Branch Normal at that time. Dr. A.H. Hill, Professor Booker, and

quite a number of the people we consider distinguished were in school

then. They finished, but I didn't. I had to go to my mother because she

was ill. I don't claim to have no schooling at all.

"Forty Acres and a Mule"

"My mother received forty acres of land when freedom came. Her master

gave it to her. She was given forty acres of land and a colt. There is

no more to tell about that. It was just that way--a gift of forty acres

of land and a colt from her former master.

"My mother died. There is a woman living now that lost it (the home).

Mother let Malinda live on it. Mother lived with the white folks

meanwhile. She didn't need the property for herself. She kept it for us.

She built a nice log house on it. Fifteen acres of it was under

cultivation when it was given to her. My sister lived on it for a long

time. She mortgaged it in some way I don't know how. I remember when the

white people ran me down there some years back to get me to sign a title

to it. I didn't have to sign the paper because the property had been

deeded to Susan Badgett and HEIRS; lawyers advised me not to sign it.

But I signed it for the sake of my sister.

Father and Master

"My mother's master was named Badgett--Captain John Badgett. He was a

Methodist preacher. Some of the Badgetts still own property on Main

Street. My mother's master's father was my daddy.


"I was married July 12, 1889. Next year I will have been married fifty

years. My wife's name was Elizabeth Owens. She was born in Batesville,

Mississippi. I met her at Brinkley when she was visiting her aunt. We

married in Brinkley. Very few people in this city have lived together

longer than we have. July 12, 1938, will make forty-nine years. By July

1939, we will have reached our fiftieth anniversary.

Patrollers, Jayhawkers, Ku Klux, and Ku Klux Klan

"Pateroles, Jayhawkers, and the Ku Klux came before the war. The Ku Klux

in slavery times were men who would catch Negroes out and keep them if

they did not collect from their masters. The Pateroles would catch

Negroes out and return them if they did not have a pass. They whipped

them sometimes if they did not have a pass. The Jayhawkers were highway

men or robbers who stole slaves among other things. At least, that is

the way the people regarded them. The Jayhawkers stole and pillaged,

while the Ku Klux stole those Negroes they caught out. The word 'Klan'

was never included in their name.

"The Ku Klux Klan was an organization which arose after the Civil War.

It was composed of men who believed in white supremacy and who regulated

the morals of the neighborhood. They were not only after Jews and

Negroes, but they were sworn to protect the better class of people. They

took the law in their own hands.

Slave Work

"I'm not so certain about the amount of work required of slaves. My

mother says she picked four hundred pounds of cotton many a day. The

slaves were tasked and given certain amounts to accomplish. I don't know

the exact amount nor just how it was determined.


"It is too bad that the young Negroes don't know what the old Negroes

think and what they have done. The young folks could be helped if they

would take advice."

Interviewer's Comment

Badgett's distinctions between jayhawkers, Ku Klux, patrollers, and Ku

Klux Klan are most interesting.

I have been slow to catch it. All my life, I have heard persons with

ex-slave background refer to the activities of the Ku Klux among slaves

prior to 1865. I always thought that they had the Klux Klan and the

patrollers confused.

Badgett's definite and clear-cut memories, however, lead me to believe

that many of the Negroes who were slaves used the word Ku Klux to denote

a type of persons who stole slaves. It was evidently in use before it

was applied to the Ku Klux Klan.

The words "Ku Klux" and "Ku Klux Klan" are used indiscriminately in

current conversation and literature. It is also true that many persons

in the present do, and in the past did, refer to the Ku Klux Klan simply

as "Ku Klux."

It is a matter of record that the organization did not at first bear the

name "Ku Klux Klan" throughout the South. The name "Ku Klux" seems to

have grown in application as the organization changed from a moral

association of the best citizens of the South and gradually came under

the control of lawless persons with lawless methods--whipping and

murdering. It is antecedently reasonable that the change in names

accompanying a change in policy would be due to a fitness in the prior

use of the name.

The recent use of the name seems mostly imitation and propaganda.

Histories, encyclopedias, and dictionaries, in general, do not record a

meaning of the term Ku Klux as prior to the Reconstruction period.

Joseph Mosley Joseph William Carter facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail