Liddie Aiken Wheatley Arkansas Interviewed By Irene Robertson

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson

Person interviewed: Liddie Aiken, Wheatley, Arkansas

Age: 62

"My mother was born in southwest Georgia close to the Alabama line. Her

mother come from Virginia. She was sold with her mother and two little

brothers. Her mother had been sold and come in a wagon to southwest

Georgia. They was all field hands. They cleaned out new ground. They was

afraid of hoop-snakes. She said they look like a hoop rolling and

whatever they stuck a horn or their tail in it died. They killed trees.

"Mama said she druther plough than chop. She was a big woman and they

let her plough right along by her two little brothers, Henry and Will

Keller. Will et so many sweet potatoes they called him 'Tater Keller.'

After he got grown we come out here. Folks called him 'Tate Keller.'

Henry died. I recollect Uncle Tate.

"I was born close to Mobile, Alabama. Mama was named Sarah Keller.

Grandma was called Mariah. Banks Tillman sold her the first time. Bill

Keller bought them all the last time. His wife was named Ada Keller.

They had a great big family but I forgot what they said about them. Mack

clem up in a persimmon tree one day and the old man hollered at him,

'Get out of that tree 'fore you fall.' 'Bout then the boy turned 'loose

and fell. It knocked the breath out him. It didn't kill him. Three or

four of Miss Ada's children died with congestive chills. Mama said the

reason they had them chills they played down at the gin pond all the

time. It was shady and a pretty place and they was allowed to play in

the pond. Three or four of them died nearly in a heap.

"One of the boys had a pet billy-goat. It got up on top mama's house one

time. It would bleat and look down at them. They was afraid it would

jump down on them if they went out. It chewed up things Aunt Beanie

washed. She had them put out on bushes and might had a line too. They

fattened it and killed it. Mama said Mr. Bill Keller never had nothing

too good to divide with his niggers. I reckon by that they got some of

the goat.

"They lived like we live now. Every family done his own cooking. I don't

know how many families lived on the place.

"I know about the Yankees. They come by and every one of the men and

boys went with them but Uncle Cal. He was cripple and they advised him

not to start. Didn't none of the women go. Mama said she never seen but

one ever come back. She thought they got killed or went on some place


"Mr. Keller died and Miss Ada went back to her folks. They left

everything in our care that they didn't move. She took all her house

things. They sold or took all their stock. They left us a few cows and

pigs. I don't know how long they stayed after the old man died. His

children was young; he might not been so old.

"I recollect grandma. She smoked a pipe nearly all the time. My papa was

a livery stable man. He was a fine man with stock. He was a little black

man. Mama was too big. Grandma was taller but she was slick black. He

lived at Mobile, Alabama. I was the onliest child mama had. Uncle 'Tate

Keller' took grandma and mama to Mobile. He never went to the War. He

was a good carpenter and he worked out when he didn't have a lot to do

in the field. He was off at work when all the black men and boys left

Mr. Bill. He never went back after they left till freedom.

"They didn't know when freedom took place. They was all scattering for

two years about to get work and something to eat. Tate come and got

them. They went off in a wagon that Tate made for his master, Bill

Keller. We come to Tupelo, Mississippi from Mobile when I was a little

bit of a girl. Then we made one crop and come to Helena. Uncle Tate died

there and mama died at Crocketts Bluff. My papa died back in Mobile,

Alabama. He was breaking a young horse and got throwed up side a tree.

He didn't live long then.

"I got three boys now and I had seben--all boys. They farms and do

public work. Tom is in Memphis. Pete is in Helena and I live wid Macon

between here (Wheatley) and Cotton Plant. We farm. I done everything

could be thought of on a farm. I ploughed some less than five year ago.

I liked to plough. My boy ploughs all he can now and we do the chopping.

We all pick cotton and get in the corn. We work day laborers now.

"If I was young the times wouldn't stand in my way. I could make it. I

don't know what is the trouble lessen some wants too much. They can't

get it. We has a living and thankful for it. I never 'plied for no help


"I still knits my winter stockings. I got knitting needles and cards my

own mother had and used. I got use for them. I wears clothes on my body

in cold weather. One reason you young folks ain't no 'count you don't

wear enough clothes when it is cold. I wear flannel clothes if I can get

holt of them.

"Education done ruint the world. I learnt to read a little. I never went

to school. I learnt to work. I learnt my boys to go with me to the field

and not to be ashamed to sweat. It's healthy. They all works."

Lewis Mann Liddie Boechus facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail