Laura Hart

Interviewer: Bernice Bowden

Person Interviewed: Laura Hart

Eleventh & Orange St., Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Age: 85

"I just can't tell you when I was born cause I don't know. My mother

said I was born on Christmas Eve morning. I'm a old woman. I was big

enough to work in slave times.

"Yes ma'am. I member when the war started. I was born in Arkansas. I'm a

Arkansas Hoosier. You know I had to have some age on me to work in slave


"I pulled corn, picked cotton and drive the mule at the gin. Just walked

behind him all day. I've pulled fodder, pulled cotton stalks, chopped

down corn stalks. I never worked in the house when I was a child while I

was under the jurisdiction of the white folks.

"My old master was Sam Carson and his wife was named Phoebe Carson, boy

named Andrew and a daughter named Mary and one named Rosie.

"We had plenty to eat and went to church on Sunday. After the white

folks had their services we went in. The church was on his place right

across the river. That's where I was when freedom taken place.

"When the war started--I remember that all right--cause when they was

gettin' started old master sent a colored man to take his son's place in

the war.

"I was born up here at Fort Smith and brought here to Jefferson County

and sold--my mother and three chillun.

"Now wait--I'm goin' to give you the full history. My father's mother

was a white woman from the North and my father was a colored man. Her

folks run her here to Arkansas and she stayed with her brother till my

father was nine months old and then she went back North and my papa

stayed with his uncle.

"When his uncle died he willed my papa his place. He had it recorded at

the cotehouse in Little Rock that my papa was a free man. But he

couldn't stay in Arkansas free, so he just rambled 'till he found old

man Carson and my mother. He offered to buy my mother but old master

wouldn't sell her so he stayed with old man Carson till they was all


"My white folks was tollable fair--they didn't beat up the people.

"My mother was as bright as you are. She could sit on her hair. Her

mother was a Creole and her father was a Frenchman. After freedom they

would a killed my father if it hadn't been for old Sam Carson, cause

they thought my mother was a white woman, she was so bright.

"Ku Klux? The Lord have mercy! I remember them. They came and surrounded

the house, hundreds of em. We had a loose plank in the floor and we'd

hide under the floor with the dogs and stay there, too, till they'd


"My father was a gambler. He gambled and farmed. My mother was a

Christian woman. When I got big enough to know anything, she was a

Christian woman.

"I married when I was fourteen. We lived at a place called 'Wildcat.'

Didn't have no school. Nothin' up there but saloons and gambling.

"Then we moved to what they called the Earl Wright place. I had four

chillun--three boys and one girl. Most of my work was in the field.

"I been here in Pine Bluff gwine on seventy-one years. You know--I

knowed this town when they wasn't but one store and two houses. I'm a

old woman--I ain't no baby.

"Honey, I even remember when the Indians was run out o' this town!

"Well, I done telled you all I know. In my comin' up, the colored people

didn't have time to study bout the chillun's ages."

Laura Cornish Laura Hood facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail