Louis Johnson





Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden

Person interviewed: Louis Johnson

721 Missouri Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Age: 86





"My father said I was fifteen when peace was declared. In slavery days

they didn't low colored folks to keep their ages and didn't low em to

be educated. I was born in Georgia. I went to a little night school

but I never learned to read. I never learned to write my own name.



"I never did see no fightin' a tall but I saw em refugeein' goin'

through our country night and day. Said they was goin' to the Blue

Ridge Mountains to pitch battle. They was Rebels gettin' out of the

way of the Yankees.



"Old master was a pretty tough old fellow. He had work done aplenty.

He had a right smart of servants. I wasn't old enough to take a record

of things and they didn't low grown folks to ask too many questions.



"I can sit and study how the rich used to do. They had poor white

folks planted off in the field to raise hounds to run the colored

folks. Colored folks used to run off and stay in the woods. They'd

kill old master's hogs and eat em. I've known em to stay six months at

a time. I've seen the hounds goin' behind niggers in the woods.



"We had as good a time as we expected. My old master fed and clothed

very well but we had to keep on the go. Some masters was good to em.

Yes, madam, I'd ruther be in times like now than slavery. I like it

better now--I like my liberty.



"In slavery days they made you pray that old master and mistress would

hold their range forever.



"My old master was Bob Johnson. He lived in Muskoge County where I was

born. Then he moved to Harris County and that's where the war ketched

him. He become to be a widower there.



"I member when the Yankees come and took old master's horses and

mules.



"I had a young boss that went to the war and come home with the

rheumatism. He was walkin' on crutches and I know they sent him to a

refugee camp to see to things and when he come back he didn't have no

crutches. I guess the Yankees got em.



"Childern travels now from one seaport to another but in them days

they kept the young folks confined. I got along all right 'cept I

didn't have no liberty.



"I believe it was in June when they read the freedom papers. They told

us we was free but we could stay if we wanted to. My father left Bob

Johnson's and went to work for his son-in-law. I was subject to him

cause I was a minor, so I went with him. Before freedom, I chopped

cotton, hoed corn and drapped peas, but now I was big enough to follow

the plows. I was a cowboy too. I tended to the cows. Since I've been

grown I been a farmer--always was a farmer. I never would live in town

till I got disabled for farming.



"After we was free we was treated better. They didn't lash us then. We

was turned loose with the white folks to work on the shares. We always

got our share. They was more liberal along that line than they is now.



"After I come to this country of Arkansas I bought several places but

I failed to pay for them and lost them. Now my wife and me are livin'

on my daughter.



"I been married three times. I married 'fore I left Georgia but me and

her couldn't get along. Then I married in Mississippi and I brought

her to Arkansas. She died and now I been married to this woman

fifty-three years.



"I been belongin' to the church over forty years. I have to belong to

the church to give thanks for my chance here now. I think the people

is gettin' weaker and wiser."





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