Judia Fortenberry

Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor

Person interviewed: Judia Fortenberry

712 Arch Street, Little Rock, Arkansas

Age: 75

Occupation: Field hand

[May 21 1938]

[HW: Slaves Allowed to Visit]

"I was born three miles west of Hamburg in Ashley County, Arkansas, in

the year 1859, in the month of October. I don't know just what day of

the month it was.

"My mother was named Indiana Simms and my father was named Burrell

Simms. My father's mother was named Ony Simms, and my mother's mother

was named Maria Young. I don't know what the names of their parents was.

"My mother's master was named Robert Tucker. My father's master was

named Hartwell Simms. Their plantations were pretty close together, but

I don't know how my father and my mother got together. I guess they just

happened to meet up with each other. The slaves from the two plantations

were allowed to visit one another. After their marriage, the two

continued to belong to different masters. Every Sunday, they would visit

one another. My father used to come to visit his wife every Sunday and

through the week at night.

"My mother had ten children.


"I was born in a log house with one room. It was built with a stick and

dirt chimney. It had plank floors. They didn't have nothin' much in the

way of furniture--homemade beds, stools, tables. We had common pans and

tin plates and tin cans to use for dishes. The cabin had one window and

one door.


"I have heard my mother and father tell many a story of the pateroles.

But I can't remember them. My father said they used to go into the slave

cabins and take folks out and whip them. They'd go at night and get 'em

out and whip 'em.

How Freedom Came

"I was so little that I don't know much about how freedom came. I just

know he took us all and went somewheres and made him a crop. Went to

another man. Didn't stay on the place where he was a slave. He never got

anything when he was freed. I never heard of any of the slaves getting



"I went to free school after the War. I just went along during the

vacation when they weren't doing any farming. That is all the education

I got. I can't tell how many seasons I went--four or five, I reckon. I

never did go any whole season. I never had much chance to go to school.

People didn't send their children to school much in those days. I went

to school in Monticello, but most of my schooling was in country



"When I first went to work, I picked cotton. That is at a place out near

Hamburg. I picked cotton about ten or fifteen years. Then I went to

town--Monticello. I washed and ironed. About forty-five years ago, I

came to Little Rock, and have been here every since. Washing and ironing

has been my support. I have sometimes cooked.


"I don't know what I think about the young people. Seems to me they

coming to nothing. Lot of them do wrong just because they got a chance

to do it. I'm a christian. I belong to the A.M.E.'s. You know how they




I belong to the band

That good old Christian band

Thank God I belong to the band.


Steal away home to Jesus

I ain't got long to stay here.


There'll I'll meet my mother,

My good old christian mother,

Mother, how do you do;

Thank God I belong to the band.

I can't remember the music. But that's on old song we used to sing 'way

back yonder. I can't remember any more of the verses. You got enough


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