Mahalia Shores

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson

Person interviewed: Mahalia Shores, Marianna, Arkansas

Age: 77

"I was born in Greene County, Georgia. My owner was Jim Jackson. He

bought my mother's father. She was raised on Jim Jackson's place. I

rec'collect a right smart about slavery times. He made us dress up and

let the nigger traders see what little niggers I got. We thought it

was nice. What fine limbs we had. Aunt Judy--some called her 'big

mamma'--lived down under the hill. She was old and seen after the

children. The biggest children took care and nursed the little ones.

On Wednesday and Saturday the cook made ginger cakes for the little

children. The house girl called us. She was Aunt Teena's girl. Aunt

Teena was a housemaid. See little niggers coming from every direction to

get our cakes.

"Jim Jackson's wife was named Mariah. They lived in a big fine white

house. When it was freedom a soldier come, brought a paper and Massa Jim

was settin' on the porch. Tom Chapman was his overseer. They rung the

big farm bell and had the oldest niggers stand in a line and us little

ones in front so we could all see. Tom Chapman read the paper and stood

by the soldier. He had two big plantations. Massa Jim got sick that day

and vomited and vomited. He lived a week or two weeks. They sent for Dr.

Ducham but he couldn't do him no good. He died. Massa Jim told them they

could take the teams and go to town, all he ax of 'em was to feed and

take care of 'em. Every one of the grown folks went and left us at home.

Aunt Judy seen 'bout us like she been doing all the time. They went over

to Greensboro to celebrate. They all come back. They was all ready fer

their breakfastes. It was twelve miles from Greensboro. Then the next

day Massa Jim or Tom Chapman, one called the grown folks to the house

and told them, 'You can stay and I will pay you or you can go. I pay

no more doctor bills. I don't feed you no more nor give you no

more clothes.' Some moved and some hired to him. Some went to his

father-in-law's place and some to his brothers' place and around.

His wife was rich. She was Dave Butler's gal. No, I mean Massa Jim's

wife--Miss Mariah. That big place was what her pa give her. Massa Jim

had five hundred little niggers on that place and lots more on the big

plantation. He had about two thousand little niggers. We went in droves

is right.

"I never went to a table in slavery time. We had our plates and cup and

took it to the pot and they put some victuals in 'em, then we went and

et where we pleased. We had all the meat we could eat and all the milk

we could drink all the time. Aunt Teena sewed and grandma would weave

cloth. They made white aprons. My hair was nice and old mistress would

tell Aunt Judy to curl my hair. They rolled it up on cloth and on little

light cobs. If they wet it, it would stay curled.

"Massa Jim sold his niggers when he wanted to. He sold my grandpa and

Uncle Steve. Grandma wanted him to sell her and he wouldn't do it. I

don't know what become of grandpa. After freedom Uncle Steve come back

to us all. Grandpa was crying. He come to our house and said he had to

go. We never seen him no more.

"Some of the slaves wouldn't be whooped by Tom Chapman. I heard them say

since I got grown he 'tacked 'em. It caused trouble. He couldn't whoop

'em then. Old master whooped some of 'em. Some would say, 'I take ten

licks offen you and that is all.' Then he would sell them the first

chance. They would go to the woods if he beat them too much. He didn't

abuse his niggers. He said his niggers was his property. Aunt Sarah

tended to the cows and Aunt Clarisa raised geese, turkeys, chickens,

ducks, and churned.

"The Ku Klux come to our house, called Uncle Billy--that was my papa.

They got him up out of bed. One man said, 'I ain't had no water since

the battle of Shiloah.' He had pa draw water till daybreaking. He had

a horn he poured the water in. We was all scared half to death. Next

morning there was a branch from the well done run off. Something took

place about a well. Uncle Neel Anderson and Uncle Cush dug wells for

their living. They come after them. Aunt Mandy had a baby. They pitied

her and Uncle Neel got so scared he run upstairs in his shirt tail and

stuck his head in the cotton. They found him that way. Uncle Cush said,

'Come on, Neel, and go with me.' They whooped Uncle Cush in his shirt

tail. If you didn't open the door they would break it in.

"I worked in the field in Georgia and Arkansas both. I cooked since I

was twelve years old. I married when I was twenty years old. I cooked

here in Marianna eighteen years and I have cooked three Sunday dinners

on Saturday and Sunday together. I would make three dollars when I done

that. I had five children and I raised one boy. I washed and ironed. I

get some help from the Welfare but I saved and my good old man saved so

we would have plenty when we got old. Folks burnt up two of my houses. I

got three more not fitten to live in till they are covered. I got good

property in Stuttgart but couldn't pay the tax on it and 'bout to loose

it. I tried to get a loan and never could. We niggers have a hard time."

Mahala Jewel Malindy Maxwell facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail