Lucian Abernathy Marvell Interviewed By Watt Mckinney

Interviewer: Watt McKinney

Person interviewed: Lucian Abernathy, Marvell, Arkansas

Age: 85

"I was borned in de 'streme norf part of Mississippi nigh de Tennessee

line. You mought say dat it was 'bout straddle of de state line and it

wasn't no great piece from where us libed to Moscow what was de station

on de ole Memfis en Charston Railroad. My white folks was de Abernathys.

You neber do hear 'bout many folks wid dat name these times, leastwise

not ober in dis state, but dere sure used to be heap of dem Abernathys

back home where I libed and I spect dat mebbe some dere yit en cose it's

bound to be some of the young uns lef' dar still, but de ole uns, Mars

Luch en dem, dey is all gone.

"Mars Luch, he was my young boss. Though he name was Lucian us all

called him Luch and dat was who I is named for. Ole mars, he was name

Will and dat was Mars Luch's pa and my ole miss, she name Miss Cynthia

and young miss, her name Miss Ellen. Ole mars an' ole miss, dey just had

de two chillun, Mars Luch and Miss Ellen; dat is what libed to be grown.

Mars Luch, he 'bout two year older dan me and Miss Ellen, she 'bout two

year older dan Mars Luch. Miss Ellen, she married er gentman from

Virginny and went dar to lib and Mars Luch, he married Miss Fannie


"Miss Fannie's folks, dey libed right nigh us on to 'j'ining place and

dem was my ole man's peoples. Yas sah, boss, dat ole man you see settin'

right dar now in dat chere. She was Ella Keith, dats zackly what her

named when us married and she named fer Miss Fannie's ma. Dat she was.

Us neber did leave our folkses eben atter de War ober and de niggers git

dey freedom, yit an' still a heap of de niggers did leave dey mars' and

a heap of dem didn' an' us stayed on an farmed de lan' jus' like us been

doin' 'cept dey gib us a contract for part de crop an' sell us our grub

'gainst us part of de crop and take dey money outen us part of de cotton

in de fall just like de bizness is done yit and I reckon dat was de

startin' of de sharecrop dat is still goin' on.

"Soon atter Mars Luch good and grown an' him an' Miss Fannie done

married, ole mars and ole miss, dey bofe died and Mars Luch say he gwine

sell out an' lebe 'cause de lan' gittin' so poor and wore out and it

takin' three an' more acres to make a bale and he tell us all dat when

we wind up de crop dat fall and say, 'You boys mebbe can stay on wid

whoever I sell out to er if not den you can fin' you homes wid some one

close if you wants to do dat.' And den he says dat he gwine fin' him

some good lan' mebbe in Arkansas down de riber from Memfis. Mighty nigh

all de ole famblys lef' de place when Mars Luch sole it out.

"My pappy and my mammy, dey went to Memfis and me wid 'em. I was growed

by den and was fixin' to marry Ella just es soon es I could fin' a good

home. I was a country nigger en liked de farm an' en cose wasn't

satisfied in town, so 'twasn't long 'fore I heered 'bout han's beein'

needed down de riber in Mississippi and dats where I went en stayed for

two years and boss, I sure was struck wid dat lan' what you could make a

bale to a acre on an' I just knowed dat I was gwine git rich in a hurry

an' so I writ er letter to Ella en her peoples tellin' dem 'bout de rich

lan' and 'vising dem to come down dere where I was and I was wantin' to

marry Ella den. Boss, and you know what, 'twasn't long afore I gits er

letter back an' de letter says dat Ella an' her peoples is down de riber

in Arkansas from Memfis at Bledsoe wid Mars Luch an' Miss Fannie where

Mars Luch had done moved him an' Miss Fannie to a big plantation dey had

bought down dere.

"Dat was a funny thing how dat happened an' Bledsoe, it was right 'cross

de riber from where I was en had been for two years an' just soon es I

git dat letter I 'range wid a nigger to take me 'cross da riber in er

skift to de plantation where dey all was and 'bout fust folkses dat I

see is Ella an' her peoples en lots of de famblys from de ole home place

back in Tennessee an' I sure was proud to see Mars Luch en Miss Fannie.

Dey had built demselves a fine house at a p'int dat was sorter like a

knoll where de water don' git when de riber come out on de lan' in case

of oberflow and up de rode 'bout half mile from de house, Mars Luch had

de store en de gin. Dey had de boys den, dat is Mars Luch and Miss

Fannie did, and de boys was named Claude an' Clarence atter Miss

Fannie's two brudders.

"Dem was de finest boys dat one ever did see. At dat time Claude, he

'bout two year old and Clarence, he 'bout four er mebbe little less.

Ella, she worked in da house cooking for Miss Fannie an' nussin' de

chillun and she plumb crazy 'bout de chillun an' dey just as satisfied

wid her as dey was wid dere mama and Ella thought more dem chillun dan

she did anybody. She just crazy 'bout dem boys. Mars Luch, he gibe me

job right 'way sort flunkying for him and hostling at de lot an' barn

and 'twasn't long den 'fore Ella and me, us git married an' libs in a

cabin dat Mars Luch had built in de back of de big house.

"Us git 'long fine for more dan a year and Mars Luch, he raise plenty

cotton an' at times us ud take trip up to Memfis on de boat, on de Phil

Allin what was 'bout de fineist boat on de riber in dem days and de one

dat most frequent put in at us landin' wid de freight for Mars Luch and

den he most ginally sont he cotton an' seed to Memfis on dis same Phil


"I jus' said, boss, dat us git 'long fine for more dan a year and us all

mighty happy till Miss Fannie took sick an' died an' it mighty nigh

killed Mars Luch and all of us and Mars Luch, he jus' droop for weeks

till us git anxious 'bout him but atter while he git better and seam

like mebbe he gwine git ober he sadness but he neber was like he used to

be afore Miss Fannie died.

"Atter Miss Fannie gone, Mars Luch, he say, 'Ella, you an' Luch mus'

mobe in de big house an' make you a bed in de room where de boys sleep,

so's you can look atter 'em good, 'cause lots nights I gwine be out late

at de gin an' store an' I knows you gwine take plumb good care of dem

chillun.' An' so us fixed us bed in de big house an' de boys, dey

sleeped right dar in dat room on dere bed where us could take care of


"Dat went on for 'bout two years an' den Mars Luch, he 'gun to get in

bad health an' jus' wasted down like and den one night when he at de

store he took down bad and dey laid him down on de bed in de back room

where he would sleep on sich nights dat he didn' come home when he was

so busy an' he sont a nigger on a mule for me to come up dar an' I went

in he room an' Mars Luch, he say, 'Lissen, Luch, you is been a good

faithful nigger an' Ella too, an' I is gonna die tonight and I wants you

to send er letter to Miss Ellen in Virginny atter I is daid en tell her

to come an' git de boys 'cause she is all de kin peoples dat dey habe

lef' now cepn cose you an' Ella an' it mought be some time afore she

gits here so you all take good en faithful care dem till she 'rives an'

tell her she habe to see dat all de bizness wind up and take de boys

back wid her an' keep dem till dey is growed,'

"Well, boss, us done jus' like Mars Luch tell us to do an' us sure feel

sorry for dem two little boys. Dey jus' 'bout five an' seben year old

den and day sure loved dere pa; day was plumb crazy 'bout Mars Luch and

him 'bout dem too.

"'Bout two weeks from time dat Mars Luch daid, Miss Ellen come on de

boat one night an' she stayed some days windin' up de bizness and den

she lef' an' take de boys 'way wid her back to Virginny where she libed.

Us sure did hate to 'part from dem chillun. Dat's been nigh on to sixty

years ago but us neber forgit dem boys an' us will allus lobe dem. Dey

used to sen' us presents an' sich every Christmas for seberal years and

den us started movin' 'bout an' I reckon dey don' know where we's at

now. I sure would like to see dem boys ag'in. I betcha I'd know dem

right today. Mebbe I wouldn't, it's been so long since I seen 'em; but

shucks, I know dat dey would know me."

Louvenia Huff Lucinda Davis facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail