Katherine Clay

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson

Person interviewed: Katherine Clay, Forrest City, Arkansas

Age: 69

"I was born in West Point, Mississippi. My folks' owners was Master

Harris and Liddie Harris. My parent's name was Sely Sikes. She was

mother of seven children. Papa was name Owen Sikes. He never was

whooped. They had different owners. Both my grandparents was dead on

both sides. I never seen them.

"Mama said her owners wasn't good. Her riding boss put a scar on her

back she took to her grave. It was deep and a foot long. He wanted to

whoop her naked. He had the colored men hold her and he whooped her. She

run off and when her owner come home she come to him at his house and

told him all about it. She had been in the woods about a week she

reckon. She had a baby she had left. The old mistress done had it

brought to her. She was nursing it. She had a sicking baby of her own.

She kept that baby. Mama said her breast was way out and the doctor had

to come wait on her; it nearly ruined.

"Mama said her master was so mad he cursed the overseer, paid him, and

give him ten minutes to leave his place. He left in a hurry. That was

her very first baby. She was raising a family, so they put her a nurse

at the house. She had been ploughing. She had big fine children. They

was proud of them. She raised a big family. She took care of all her and

Miss Liddie's babies and washed their hippins. Never no soap went on

them she said reason she had that to do. Another woman cooked and

another woman washed.

"Mama said she was sold once, away from her mother but they let her have

her four children. She grieved for her old mama, 'fraid she would have a

hard time. She sold for one thousand dollars. She said that was half

price but freedom was coming on. She never laid eyes on her mama ag'in.

"After freedom they had gone to another place and the man owned the

place run the Ku Klux off. They come there and he told them to go on

away, if he need them he would call them back out there. They never came

back, she said. They was scared to death of the Ku Klux. At the place

where they was freed all the farm bells rung slow for freedom. That was

for miles about. Their master told them up at his house. He said it was

sad thing, no time for happiness, they hadn't 'sperienced it. But for

them to come back he would divide long as what he had lasted. They

didn't go off right at first. They was several years getting broke up.

Some went, some stayed, some actually moved back. Like bees trying to

find a setting place. Seem like they couldn't get to be satisfied even

being free.

"I had eleven children my own self. I let the plough fly back and hit me

once and now I got a tumor there. I love to plough. I got two children

living. She comes to see me. She lives across over here. I don't hear

from my boy. I reckon he living. I gets help from the relief on account

I can't work much with this tumor."

Kate Billingsby Katie Arbery Interviewed By Bernice Bowden facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail