Maggie Stenhouse

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson

Person Interviewed: Maggie Stenhouse,

(a mile down the railway track),

Brinkley, Arkansas

Age: 72?

"Mama was owned by Master Barton. She lived on the line of North

Carolina and South Carolina. Her husband was sold away from her and two

children. She never seen him no more. Rangments was made with Master

Barton to let Master Liege Alexander have her for a cook. Then she went

to Old Pickens, South Carolina. Liege Alexander had a white wife and by

her he had two girls and a boy. He had a black cook and by her he had

two boys and a girl. One of these boys was my papa and I told you the

old man bought my mama from Master Barton for his colored son. My papa

never was sold you see cause he was the old white man's boy. After his

white wife died his two girls married and the boy left Old Pickens, and

they told his colored wife and her two boys and girl if they would stay

and take care of him as long as he lived they could have the property.

My papa went off five or six miles and built him a log house.

"The old man--Master Liege Alexander--was blind when his wife died and

he had to be tended to like a child. He would knock his stick on the

wall and some of the small children would lead him about where he wanted

to go. His white children didn't like the way he had lived so they

didn't want to be bothered with him.

"My parents' names was Cheney Barton and Jim Alexander. Papa was medium

dark and so was his own brother but their sister was as white as the

woman's two girls and boy.

"After the railroads sprung up the town moved to New Pickens.

"Master Liege Alexander had lots of slaves and land. I reckon the white

wife's children fell heir to the farm land.

"My aunt and grandma cooked for him till he died. They kept him clean

and took care of him like as if his white wife was living. The colored

wife and her girl waited on the white wife and her children like queens.

That is what papa said.

"Durin' slavery there was stockmen. They was weighed and tested. A man

would rent the stockman and put him in a room with some young women he

wanted to raise children from. Next morning when they come to let him

out the man ask him what he done and he was so glad to get out. Them

women nearly kill him. If he said nothin' they wouldn't have to pay for

him. Them women nearly kill him. Some of the slave owners rented these

stockmen. They didn't let them work in the field and they kept them fed

up good.

"Fore the Civil War broke out mama said Master Barton hid a half bushel

solid gold and silver coins over the mountains. He had it close to the

spring awhile. Mama had to go by it to tote water to the house. She said

she never bothered it. He said he could trust her and she wouldn't

tell a lie. He took another sack of money over the mountains and the

silverware. His wife died during the war. A lot of people died from

hearing of the war--heart failure. I don't know what become of his

money. He lost it. He may forgot where he hid it. It was after his wife

died that he sold mama to Jim Alexander's papa.

"The Yankees rode three years over the country in squads and colored

folks didn't know they was free. I have seen them in their old uniforms

riding around when I was a child. White folks started talking about

freedom fore the darkies and turning them loose with the clothes they

had on and what they could tote away. No land, no home, no place; they

roamed around.

"When it was freedom the thing papa done was go to a place and start out

share croppin'. Folks had no horses or mules. They had to plough new

ground with oxen. I ploughed when I was a girl, ploughed oxen. If you

had horses or mules and the Yankees come along three or four years after

the war, they would swap horses, ride a piece, and if they had a chance

swap horses again. Stealing went on during and long after the war.

"The Ku Klux was awful in South Carolina. The colored folks had no

church to go to. They gather around at folks' houses to have preaching

and prayers. One night we was having it at our house, only I was the

oldest and was in another room sound asleep on the bed. There was a

crowd at our house. The Ku Klux come, pulled off his robe and door face,

hung it up on a nail in the room, and said, 'Where's that Jim Jesus?' He

pulled him out the room. The crowd run off. Mama took the three little

children but forgot me and run off too. They beat papa till they thought

he was dead and throwed him in a fence corner. He was beat nearly to

death, just cut all to pieces. He crawled to my bed and woke me up and

back to the steps. I thought he was dead--bled to death--on the steps.

Mama come back to leave and found he was alive. She doctored him up and

he lived thirty years after that. We left that morning.

"The old white woman that owned the place was rich--big rich. She been

complaining about the noise--singing and preaching. She called him

Praying Jim Jesus till he got to be called that around. He prayed in

the field. She said he disturbed her. Mama said one of the Ku Klux she

knowed been raised up there close to Master Barton's but papa said he

didn't know one of them that beat on him.

"Papa never did vote. I don't vote. I think women should vote much as

men. They live under the same law.

"I come to Arkansas about forty-five years ago. Papa brought us to a new

country, thought we could do better. I been farming, cooking, washing. I

can't do my own cooking and washing now. I got rheumatism in my joints,

feet, knees, and hands. We don't get no help of no kind.

"My daughter is in Caldwell, New Jersey at work. She went there to get

work. She heard about it and went and haven't come home. I jes' got one


Maggie Snow Mahala Jewel facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail