Mag Johnson

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson

Person interviewed: Mag Johnson,

Clarendon, Arkansas

Age: 65 or 70?

"Pa was born in North Ca'lina. Ma was born in Virginia. Their names

George and Liza Fowler.

"Ma's fust owner what I heard her tell 'bout was Master Ed McGehee in

Virginia. He's the one what brung her in a crowd of nigger traders to

Somerville, Tennessee. The way it was, a cavalry of Yankees got in

back of them. The nigger trader gang drive up. They got separated. My

ma and her gang hid in a cave two weeks an' not much to eat. The

Yankees overtook 'em hid in the cave and passed on. Ma say one day the

nigger traders drive up in front McGehee's yard and they main heads

and Master Ed had a chat. They hung around till he got ready and took

off a gang of his own slaves wid him. They knowed he was after selling

them off when he left wid 'em.

"Ben Trotter in Tennessee bought ma and three more nigger girls. The

Yankees took and took from 'em. They freed a long time b'fore she

knowed of. She said they would git biscuits on Sunday around. Whoop

'em if one be gone.

"Ole miss went out to the cow pen an' ma jus' a gal like stole outen a

piece er pie and a biscuit and et it. The cook out the cow pen too but

the three gals was doing about in the house and yard. Ma shut polly up

in the shed room. Then she let it out when she et up the pie and

biscuit. Ole miss come in. Polly say, 'Liza shut me up, Liza shut me

up.' She missed the pie. Called all four the girls and ma said, 'I

done et it. I was so hungry.' Ole miss said that what polly talking

'bout, but she didn't understand the bird so very well. Ole miss say,

'I'm goiner tell Ben and have him whoop you.' That scared all four the

girls case he did whoop her which he seldom done. She say when Master

Ben come they stood by the door in a 'joining room. Ma say 'fore God

ole miss tole him. Master Ben sont 'em out to pick up apples. He had a

pie a piece cooked next day and a pan of hot biscuits and brown gravy,

tole 'em to fill up. He tole 'em he knowed they got tired of corn

batter cakes, milk and molasses but it was best he had to give them

till the War was done.

"Ma said her job got to be milking, raising and feeding the fowls,

chickens, ducks, geese, guineas, and turkeys all. The Yankees

discouraged her. They come so many times till they cleaned 'em out she


"What they done to shut up polly's mouf was sure funny. He kept on

next morning saying, 'Liza shut me up, Liza shut me up.' Liza pulled

up her dress and underskirt and walked back'ards, bent down at him. He

got scared. He screamed and then he hollered 'Ball-head and no eyes'

all that day.

"Ma said they had corn shuckings and corn shellings and brush

burnings. Had music and square dancing plenty times.

"When they got free they didn't know what it was nor what in the world

to do with it. What they said 'minds me of folks now what got

education. Seems like they don't know what to do nor where to put it.

"Pa said the nigger men run off to get a rest. They'd take to the

woods and canebrakes. Once four of the best nigger fellars on their

master's place took to the woods for to git a little rest. The master

and paddyrolls took after 'em. They'd been down in there long 'nough

they'd spotted a hollow cypress with a long snag of a limb up on it.

It was in the water. They got them some vines and fixed up on the

snag. They heard the dogs and the horn. They started down in the

hollow cypress. One went down, the others coming on. He started

hollering. But he thought a big snake in there. He brought up a cub on

his nearly bare foot. They clem out and went from limb to limb till

they got so away the dogs would loose trail. They seen the mama bear

come and nap four her cubs to another place. His foot swole up so.

They had to tote my pa about. Next day the dogs bayed them up in the

trees. Master took them home, doctored his foot. Ast 'em why they

runed off and so much to be doing. They tole 'em they taking a little

rest. He whooped them every one.

"Pretty soon the Yankees come along and broke the white folks up. Pa

went wid the Yankees. He said he got grown in the War. He fed horses

for his general three years. He got arm and shoulder wounded, scalped

his head. They mustered him out and he got his bounty. He got sixty

dollars every three months.

"He died at Holly Grove, Arkansas about fifty years ago. Them was his

favorite stories."

Mag Brown Maggie Black facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail