Maggie Broyles

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson

Person interviewed: Maggie Broyles. Forrest City. Arkansas

Age: About 80?

"I was born in Decatur, Tennessee. Mother was sold on the block at

public auction in St. Louis. Master Bob Young bought a boy and a girl.

My father was a full-blood Irishman. His name was Lassiter. She didn't

have no more children by him. He was hired help on Bob Young's place.

"Bob Young had one thousand five hundred acres of land. He had several

farms. Little Hill and Creek farms. They had a rock walk from the

kitchen to the house. I slept in a little trunnel bed under my mother's

mistress' bed. The bed was corded and had a crank. They used no slats in

them days. We called Master Bob Young's wife Miss Nippy; her name was

Par/nel/i/py. They was good old people. His boys was rough. They drunk

and wasted the property.

"The white folks had feather beds and the slaves had grass beds. We'd

pull grass and cure it. It made a'good bed. Miss Nippy learnt us to

work. I know how to do near 'bout anything now. She kept an ash hopper

dripping all the time. We made all our soap and lye hominy by the

washpots full. Mother cooked and washed and kept house. She took the

lead wid the house-work. Miss Nippy ride off when she got ready. Mother

went right on wid the work. I took care of the chickens and took the

cows to the pasture. I helped to wash clothes. I stood on a block to

turn meat. We had a brick stove and a grill to fry meat on. We had good

clothes and good to eat. After I was grown I'd go back to see Miss

Nippy. She raised me. She say, 'I thought so much of your mama. I love

you. I hope you live a long time.' Mama had a hard time and Miss Nippy

knowd all about it.

"After Bob Young bought mother he went back and bought Aunt Sarah. They

growed up together. They could dance with a glass of water on their

heads and never spill a drap.

"Ma said when she married they had a corn shucking and a big dinner four

o'clock in the morning. Her name was Luiza. She had two children by him.

Aunt Jane on Welches place took him away from her. He quit mother cold

to go wid her. After freedom she married Ben Pitts. The way she married

at the corn shucking, they jumped over the broom back'ards and Master

Bob Young 'nounced it. She was killed no time after freedom, but she had

had six children. Miss Nippy kept me. She was good to me and trained me

to read. We all never left after freedom. I never left till I was good

and grown.

"I always thought Master Bob Young buried his money during the War.

Children wasn't allowed to watch and ask questions. I was standing in

the chimney corner and seen him bury a box of something in the flower

garden. I was in Miss Nippy's room. I never did know if it was money or

what. He had a old yaller dog followed him all the time. Truman was a

speckled dog set about on the front porch to bark.

"Sam, the boy that was bought when I was in St. Louis, was hard to

control. Bob Young beat him. He died. They said he killed him. They

buried him in the white folks' cemetery.

"They celebrated Christmas visiting and big parties. We would have

eggnog and ten or fifteen cakes. Master Bob Young was a consumptive. He

had it thirty-five years. They all died out with it. They kept a big ten

or fifteen gallon demijohn with willow woven around the bottom full of

whiskey, all the time upstairs. They kept the door locked.

"I stole miny ah drink. Find the door unlocked. I got too much one time.

It made me sick. I thought I had a chill. She thought I been upstairs.

They was particular with the children, both black and white then. They

put the children to bed by sundown and they would set around the fire

and talk. She raised Elnora and the baby Altona after mother got killed.

She give them good clothes and good to eat. Their papa took the boy. He

left after mother got killed. We took a pride in the place like it was

our own. We didn't know but what it was our very own.

"We had a acre in garden. We raised everything. We had three or four

thousand pounds of meat and three cribs of corn. I ketched it when I

left them. I made thirty-three crops in my life. My children all grown

and gone. My son-in-law died. He had dropsy eight months. He had a dead

liver. I've wanted since he died. I've had a hard time since he died. He

was a worker and so good to us all.

"Mother worked with a white woman. Mother was full-blood Indian herself.

The woman's husband got to dealing with his daughter. She had three

babies in all. They said they put them up in the ceiling, up in a loft.

This old man got mad with Bob Young and burnt his gin. Mother seen him

slipping around. They ask her but she wouldn't tell on him, for she

didn't see him set it on fire. They measured the tracks. He got scared

mother would tell on him. One night a colored man on the place come

over. Her husband was gone somewhere and hadn't got home. She was

cooking supper. They heard somebody but thought it was a pig come

around. Hogs run out all time. The step was a big limestone rock. She

opened the door and put the hot lid of the skillet on it to cool. Stood

it up sideways. Then they heard a noise at that door. It was pegged. So

she went along with the cooking. It wasn't late. He found a crack at the

side of the stick and dirt chimney, put the muzzle of the gun in there

and shot her through her heart. The man flew. She struggled to the edge

of the bed and fell. The children was asleep and I was afraid to move.

The moon come up. I couldn't get her on the bed. I put a pillow under

her head and a quilt over her, but I didn't think she was dead. The baby

cried in the night. I was so scared I put the eight-months-old baby down

under there to nurse. It nursed. She was dead then, I think now. When

four o'clock come it was daylight. The little brother said, 'I know

what's the matter, our mama's dead.' I went up to Mr. Bob Young's. He

brought the coroners. I was so young I was afraid they was going to take

us to jail. I asked little brother what they said they was going to do.

He said, 'They are going to bury mama in a heep (deep) hole. They set

out after her husband and chased him clear off. They thought he shot her

by him not coming home that night and her cooking supper for him.

"This white man left and went to Texas. His wife said the best woman in

Decatur had been killed. They put him on the gallows for killing his

daughter's babies, three of them and put them in the loft. He told how

he killed mother. He had murdered four. He was afraid mother would tell

about him. She knowd so much. She didn't tell. Indians don't tell. She

was with his girl when the first baby was born, but she thought it died

and she thought the girl come home visiting, so his wife said she had

told her to keep her from telling. It was a bad disgrace. His wife was a

good, humble, kind woman.

"Master Bob Young sent for Ben Pitts after they'd run him off, and he

let him have his pick of us. He took the boy and lived on the place. Her

other husband come and got his two children. Miss Nippy took our baby

girl and the other little girl. I was raised up at her house, so she

kept me on. Kept us all till we married off.

"I'd feel foolish to go try to vote. I'm too old now.

"I don't get help from the government yet. We are having a hard time to

scratch around and not go hungry."

Maggie Black Maggie Jackson facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail