Josie Martin

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson

Person interviewed: Josie Martin

R.F.D., Madison, Arkansas

Age: 86

"I was born up near Cotton Plant but took down near Helena to live. My

parents named Sallie and Bob Martin. They had seven children. I heard

mother say she was sold on a block in Mississippi when she was twelve

years old. My father was a Creek Indian; he was dark. Mother was a

Choctaw Indian; she was bright. Mother died when I was but a girl and

left a family on my hands. I sent my baby brother and sister to school

and I cooked on a boarding train. The railroad hands working on the

tracks roomed and et on the train. They are all dead now and I'm 'lone

in the world.

"My greatest pleasure was independence--make my money, go and spend it

as I see fit. I wasn't popular with men. I never danced. I did sell

herbs for diarrhea and piles and 'what ails you.' I don't sell no more.

Folks too close to drug stores now. I had long straight hair nearly to

my knees. It come out after a spell of typhoid fever. It never come in

to do no good." (Baldheaded like a man and she shaves. She is a

hermaphrodite, reason for never marrying.) "I made and saved up at one

time twenty-three thousand dollars cooking and field work. I let it slip

out from me in dribs.

"I used to run from the Yankees. I've seen them go in droves along the

road. They found old colored couple, went out, took their hog and made

them barbecue it. They drove up a stob, nailed a piece to a tree stacked

their guns. They rested around till everything was ready. They et at one

o'clock at night and after the feast drove on. They wasn't so good to

Negroes. They was good to their own feelings. They et up all that old

couple had to eat in their house and the pig they raised. I reckon their

owners give them more to eat. They lived off alone and the soldiers

stopped there and worked the old man and woman nearly to death.

"Our master told us about freedom. His name was Master Martin. He come

here from Mississippi. I don't recollect his family.

"I get help from the Welfare. I had paralysis. I never got over my

stroke. I ain't no 'count to work."

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