Mandy Johnson

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden

Person interviewed: Mandy Johnson

607 Cypress Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Age: 92

"This is me. I'se old and ain't no 'count. I was done grown when the

war started. You know I was grown when I was washin' and ironin'. I

stood right there and watched the soldiers goin' to war. I heered the

big bell go b-o-n-g, b-o-n-g and everybody sayin' 'There's goin' to be

a war, there's goin' to be a war!' They was gettin' up the force to go

bless your heart! Said they'd be back by nine tomorrow and some said

'I'm goin' to bring you a Yankee scalp.' And then they come again and

want so many. You could hear the old drums go boom--boom. They was

drums on this side and drums on that side and them drums was a

talkin'! Yes'm, I'se here when it started--milkin' cows, washin' and

cookin'. Oh, that was a time. Oh my Lord--them Yankees come in just

like blackbirds. They said the war was to free the folks. Lots of 'em

got killed on the first battle.

"I was born in Bastrop, Louisiana in February--I was a February colt.

"My old master was John Lovett and he was good to us. If anybody put

their hands on any of his folks they'd have him to whip tomorrow. They

called us old John's free niggers. Yes ma'm I had a good master. I

ain't got a scratch on me. I stayed right in the house and nussed till

I'se grown. We had a good time but some of 'em seed sights. I stayed

there a year after we was free.

"I married durin' the war and my husband went to war with my uncle. He

didn't come back and I waited three years and then I married again.

"You know they used to give the soldiers furloughs. One time one young

man come home and he wouldn't go back, just hid out in the cane brake.

Then the men come that was lookin' for them that 'exerted' durin' the

war and they waited till he come out for somethin' to eat and they

caught him and took him out in the bayou and shot him. That was the

onliest dead man I ever seen. I seen a heap of live ones.

"The war was gettin' hot then and old master was in debt. Old mistress

had a brother named Big Marse Lewis. He wanted to take all us folks

and sell us in New Orleans and said he'd get 'em out of debt. But old

master wouldn't do it. I know Marse Lewis got us in the jail house in

Bastrop and Mars John come to get us out and Marse Lewis shot him

down. I went to my master's burial--yes'm, I did! Old mistress didn't

let us go to New Orleans either. Oh Lordy, I was young them days and I

wasn't afraid of nothin'.

"Oh ho! What you talkin' 'bout? Ku Klux? They come out here just like

blackbirds. They tried to scare the people and some of 'em they


"Yes Lord, I seen a heap. I been through a lot and I seen a heap, but

I'm here yet. But I hope I never live to see another war.

"When peace was declared, old mistress say 'You goin' to miss me' and

I sho did. They's good to us. I ain't got nothin' to do now but sit

here and praise the Lord cause I gwine to go home some day."

Mandy Hadnot Mandy Lee facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail