Josephine Hamilton

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson

Person interviewed: Josephine Hamilton

Hazen, Arkansas

Age: 77

"I was born near Houston, Mississippi, in 1860. We lived about three

miles north when I can first recollect. My mistress was named Frankie

Hill and my master was Littleton Hill. I had some sisters and brothers

dead but I had four brothers and one sister that got up grown. The first

house I remembers living in was a plank house. Then we lived in a log

house wid a stick-and-dirt chimney. I was wid my old master when he died

of heart trouble. She lack to died too. We setting by de fire one night

and he held the lamp on one knee and reading out loud. It was a little

brass lamp with a handle to hook your finger in. He was a Baptist. He

had two fine horses, a big gray one and a bay horse. Joe drove him to

preaching. Miss Frankie didn't go. He said his haid hurt when dey went

to eat dinner and he slept all the evening. He et supper and was

reading. I was looking at him. He laid his haid back and started

snoring. He had long white hair. I say 'Miss Frankie, he is dieing.'

Cause he turned so pale. He was setting in a high back straight chair.

We got him on the bed. He could walk when we held him up. His brother

was a curious old man. He et morphine a whole heap. He lived by himself.

I run fast as my legs would take me. Soon as I told him he blowed a long

horn. They said it was a trumpet. You never seen such a crowd as come

toreckly. The hands come and the neighbors too. It being dot time er

night they knowed something was wrong. He slept awhile but he died that

night. I stayed up there wid Miss Frankie nearly all de time. It was a

mile from our cabin across the field. Joe stayed there some. He fed and

curried the horses. Nom I don't remember no slave uprisings. They had

overseers on every farm and a paddyroll. I learned to sew looking at the

white folks and my ma showed me about cutting. There wasn't much fit

about them. They were all tollerably loose. We played hiding behind the

trees a heap and played in the moonlight. We played tag. We picked up

scaley barks, chestnuts, and walnuts. Miss Frankie parched big pans of

goobers when it was cold or raining. Some of the white folks was mean.

Once young mistress was sick. She had malaria fever. I was sitting down

in the other room. Young master was lying on de bed in the same room. A

woman what was waiting on her brought the baby in to put a cloth on him.

He was bout two months old, little red-headed baby. He was kicking and I

got tickled at him. Young master slapped me. The blood from my nose

spouted out and I was jess def for a long time. He beat me around till

Miss Polly come in there and said 'You quit beating that little colored

girl. You oughter be ashamed. Your wife in there nearly dead.' 'Yes

maam, she did die.' I never will forgit Miss Polly. I saved one of the

young mistress little girl bout seven or eight years old. Miss Frankie

raised a little deer up grown. It would run at anybody. Didn't belong at

the house. It got so it would run me. It started at the little girl and

I pulled her in on the porch backwards and in a long hall. Her mama show

was proud. Said the deer would paw her to death.

"I remembers everybody shouting and so glad they was free. It was a

joyful time. If they paid my folks for work I didn't know it. We stayed

on with Miss Frankie till I was grown and her son Billy Hill took her to

Houston, Texas to live. Miss Sallie and Miss Fannie had been married a

long time. We always had a house to live in and something to eat.

"I show never did vote. I would not know nothing about it. I think the

folks is getting wiser and weaker. Some of us don't have much as we need

and them that do have wastes it. I always lived on the farm till eight

years ago when my husband died. I wasn't able to farm by myself. I

didn't have no children. I come to Hazen to live wid dese here girls I

raised. (Two girls.) They show is good to me. No maam I ain't never got

no old age pension. They won't give it to me. We come to Arkansas in

1918. We lived down around Holly Grove. We had kin folks wrote about out

here and we wanted to change. Long as I was able I had a good living but

since I been so feeble I have to make out wid what the children bring

me. I don't know if de times is getting any better, don't seem lack the

people training their children a tall. They say they kaint do nothing

wid em. I allus could do something wid dem I raised. I used to look at

them and they minded me. The trouble is they ain't learning to work and

won't do nothing less they going to get big pay. Then they run spend it

fast as they can go for fool-bait."

Josephine Bristow Josephine Howard facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail