Louis Lucas

Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor

Person interviewed: Louis Lucas

1320 Pulaski Street, Little Rock, Arkansas

Age: 83

Masters, Birth, Parents, Grandparents

"I was born in 1855 down on Bayou Bartholomew near Pine Bluff,

Jefferson County.

"My mother's name was Louisa. She married a man named Bill Cardrelle

after freedom. Her husband in slavery time was Sam Lucas. He belonged

to a man by the name of O'Neil. They took him in the War and he never

did come back to her. (He didn't much believe he was my father, but I

went in his name anyway.)

"My mother's father's name was Jacob Boyd. I was young, but I know

that. He was free and didn't belong to nobody. That was right here in

Arkansas. He had three other daughters besides my mother, and all of

them were slaves because their mother was a slave. His wife was a

woman by the name of Barclay. Her master was Antoine Barclay (?). She

was a slave woman. She died down there in New Cascogne. That was a

good while ago.

"The French were very kind to their slaves. The Americans called all

us people that belonged to the Frenchmen free people. They never gave

the free Negroes among them any trouble. I mean the Frenchmen didn't

give them no trouble.

"The reason we finally left the place after freedom was because of the

meanness of a colored woman, Amanda Sanders. I don't know what she had

against us. The old mistress raised me right in the house and fed me

right at the table. When she died, this woman used to beat the devil

out of me. We had had good owners. They never had no overseers until

just before the War broke out, and they never beat nobody.

"The first overseer was on a boat named the Quapaw when the mate

knocked him in the head and put him in a yawl and took him to the

shore. The boss saw it and took four men and went and got him and had

the doctor attend to him. It was a year before he could do anything.

He didn't stay there long before they had him in the War. He just got

to oversee a short time after he got well. He was in the cavalry. The

other boys went off later. They took the cavalry first. None of them

ever came back. They were lost in the big fight at Vicksburg. My

paran, Mark Noble, he was the only one that got back.

"I don't remember my father's father. But I know that his mother went

in the name of Rhoda. I don't know her last name. She was my grandma

on his side.

"I belonged to a man named Brumbaugh. His first name was Raphael. He

was a all right man. He had a colored man for an overseer before

this here white man I was tellin' you about came to him. 'Uncle' Jesse

was the foreman. He was not my uncle. He was related to my wife

though; so I call him uncle now. Of course, I didn't marry till after

freedom came. I married in 1875.

Early Days

"When I was a little child, my duty was to clean up the yard and feed

the chickens. I cleaned up the yard every Friday.

House, Furniture, and Food

"My mother lived in a cabin--log, two rooms, one window, that is one

window in each room.

"They didn't have anything but homemade furniture. We never had no bed

bought from the store--nothin' like that. We just had something

sticking against the wall. It was built in a corner with one post out.

They made their table and used benches--two-legged and sometimes

four-legged. The two-legged benches was a long bench with a wide plank

at each end for legs.

"For food we got just what the white folks got. We didn't have no

quarters. They didn't have enough hands for that. They raised their

own meat. They had about seven or eight. There was Dan, Jess, Bill,

Steve. They bought Bill and Steve from Kentucky.

"Old 'Free Jack' Jenkins, a colored man, sold them two men to ol'

master. Jenkins was the only Negro slave trader I ever knowed. He

brought them down one evening and the old man was a long time trading.

He made them run and jump and do everything before he would buy them.

He paid one thousand five hundred dollars for each one of them. 'Free

Jack' made him pay it part in silver and some in gold. He took some

Confederate paper. It was circulating then. But he wouldn't take much

of that paper money.

"He stole those boys from their parents in Kentucky. The boys said he

fooled them away from their homes with candy. Their parents didn't

know where they were.

"Then there were my brothers--two of them, John Alexander and William

Hamilton. They were half-brothers. That makes six men altogether on

the place. I might have made a miscount. There was old man Wash

Pearson and his two boys, Joe and Nathan. That made ten persons with


"Brumbaugh didn't have such a large family. I never did know how large

it was.


"The rebel soldiers were often at my place. A bad night the jayhawkers

would come and steal stock and the slaves too, if they got a chance.

They cleaned the old man's stock out one night. The Yankees captured

them and brought them back to the house. They gave him his stallion, a

great big fine horse. They offered him five thousand dollars for him

but he wouldn't take it. They kept all the other horses and mules for

their own use, but they gave the stallion back to the old man. If they

hadn't give him back the stallion, the old man would have died. That

stallion was his heart. The Yankees didn't do nobody no harm.

"When the soldier wagons came down to get the feed, they would take

one crib and leave one. They never bothered the smokehouse. They took

all the dry cattle to feed the people that were contrabands. But they

left the milk cows. The quartermaster for the contrabands was Captain

Mallory. The contrabands were mostly slaves that they kept in camps

just below Pine Bluff for their own protection.

How Freedom Came

"It was martial law and twelve men went 'round back and forth through

the county. They come down on a Monday, and told the children they

were free and told them they had no more master and mistress and told

them what to call them. No more master and mistress, but Mr. and Mrs.

Brumbaugh. Then they came down and told them that they would have to

marry over again. But my ma never had a chance to see the old man any

more. She didn't marry him over again because he didn't come back to

her. But they advised them to stay with their owners if they wanted

to. They didn't say for none of the slaves to leave their old masters

and go off. We wouldn't have left but that old colored woman beat me

around so all the time, so my mother came after me and took me home

since I wanted to go. The Yankees' officer told her it would be good

to move me from that place so I wouldn't be so badly treated. The

white folks was all right; it was that old colored woman that beat on

me all the time.

Right After Freedom

"Right after freedom my mother married Bill Cardrelle. She moved from

the O'Neil place and went up to a place called the Dr. Jenkins' place.

She kept house for her husband in the new place. I didn't do much

there of anything. After they moved away from there when I was twelve

years old, they taught me to plow (1867). I went to school in the

contraband camp. Mrs. Clay and Mr. Clay, white folks from the North,

were my teachers. At that time, the colored people weren't able to

teach. I went a while to school with them. I got in the second

reader--McGuffy's--that's far as I got.

"I stayed with my mother and stepfather till I was about sixteen years

old. She sent me away to come up here to my father, Sam Lucas. My

oldest brother brought me here and I worked with him two years. Then I

went to a man named Cunningham and stayed with him about six months.

He paid me fifteen dollars a month and my board. He was going to raise

my wages when his wife decided she wanted women to do the work. The

women would slip things away and she wouldn't mention them to her

husband till weeks afterwards. Then long after the time, she would

accuse me. Those women would have the keys. When they went in to get

soap, they would take out a ham and carry it off a little ways and

hide. By the time his wife would tell him about it, you wouldn't be

able to find it nowhere.

"He owed me for a month's work. She told him not to pay it, but he

paid it and told me not to let her know he did it. I didn't either.

"When I left him, I came over the river here down here below Fourche

Dam. I stayed there forty or fifty years in that place. When I was

between thirty-two and thirty-three years old, I married, and I stayed

right on in that same place. I farmed all the time down there. I had

to go in a lawsuit about the last crop I made. Then I came here to

Little Rock in 1904 and followed ditching with the home water company.

Then I did gas ditching with the gas people. Then I worked on the

street car line for old man White. I come down then--got broke down,

and couldn't do much. The relief folks gave me a labor card; then they

took it away from me--said I was too old. I have done a heap of work

here in this town. I got old and had to stop.

"I get old age assistance from the Welfare. That is where I get my

groceries--through them. I wouldn't be able to live if it wasn't for



"There is a big difference between the young people now and what they

used to be. The old folks ain't the same neither."

Interviewer's Comment

Lucas told his story very fluently but with deliberation and care. The

statement about his father on the first page was not a slip. He told

what he wanted to tell but he discouraged too much effort to go into

detail on those matters. One senses a tragedy in his life and in the

life of his mother that is poignant and appealing. Although he states

no connection, one will not miss the impression that his stepfather

was hostile. Suddenly we find his mother sending him to his father.

But after he reached his father, there is little to indicate that his

father did anything for him. Then, too, it is evident that his father

deliberately neglected to remarry his mother after freedom.

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