Laura Rowland

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson

Person Interviewed: Laura Rowland

(Bright Mulatto)

Age: 65?

Address: Brinkley, Arkansas

"My parents name was Mary Ann and Sam Billingslea. Mother's father lived

with us when I first remember. His name was Robert Todd. He was a brown

skin Negro. They said he was a West Indian. He talked of olden times but

I don't remember well enough to tell you. Father owned a home that we

was living on when I first remember. Mother was bright color, too.

Vaden, Mississippi was our trading post. Mother had twenty children. She

was a worker. She would work anywhere she was put. My folks never talked

much about slavery. I don't know how they got our place.

"I know they was bothered by the Ku Klux. One night they heard or saw

the Ku Klux coming. The log house set low on the ground but was dug out

to keep potatoes and things in--a cellar like. The planks was wide, bout

a foot wide, rough pine, not nailed down. They lifted the planks up and

all lay down and put the planks back up. The house look like outside

nothing could go under it, it was setting on the hard ground. When they

got there and opened the doors they saw nobody at home and rode off.

"Another time, one black night, a man--he must have been a

soldier--strided a block step with his horse and ordered supper. She

told him she didn't have nothing cooked and very little to cook. He

cursed and ordered the supper. Told her to get it. She pretended to be

fixing it and slipped out the back door down the furrows and squatted

in the briers in a fence corner. Long time after she had been out there

hid, he come along, jumped the fence on his horse, jumped over her back,

down into the lane and to the road he went. If the horse hadn't jumped

over her and had struck her he would have killed her. Now I think he was

a soldier, not the Ku Klux. I heard my father say he was a yard boy.

"I married in Mississippi and came to Malvern and Hot Springs. He was a

mill hand. I raised three children of my own and was a chamber maid.

I kept house and cooked for Mrs. Bera McCafity, a rich woman in Hot

Springs. My husband died and was buried at Malvern. I married again, in

Hot Springs, and lived there several years. We went to the steel mill at

Gary, Indiana. He died. I come back here and to Brinkley in 1920. One

daughter lives in Detroit and one in Chicago. The youngest one is

married, has a family and a hard time; the other makes her living. It

takes it all to do her. I get $8.00 on the P.W.A.

"They all accuse me around here of talking mighty proper. I been around

fine city folks so much I notice how they speak.

"I don't fool with voting. I don't care to vote unless it would be some

town question to settle. I would know something about it and the people.

"I don't know my age. I was grown when I married nearly sixty years ago.

We have to show our license to get on the W.P.A. or our age in the Bible

you understand."

Laura Ramsey Parker Laura Shelton facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail