Marie E Hervey


Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor

Person interviewed: Marie E. Hervey

1520 Pulaski Street, Little Rock, Arkansas

Age: 62

"I have heard my father and mother talk over the War so many times. They

would talk about how the white people would do the colored and how the

Yankees would come in and tear up everything and take anything they

could get their hands on. They would tell how the colored people would

soon be free. My mama's white folks went out and hid when the Yankees

were coming through.

"My father's white people were named Taylor's--old Job Taylor's folks.

They lived in Tennessee.

"My mother said they had a block to put the colored people and their

children on and they would tell them to tell people what they could do

when the people asked them. It would just be a lot of lies. And some of

them wouldn't do it. One or two of the colored folks they would sell and

they would carry the others back. When they got them back they would

lock them up and they would have the overseers beat them, and bruise

them, and knock them 'round and say, 'Yes, you can't talk, huh? You

can't tell people what you can do?' But they got a beating for lying,

and they would uh got one if they hadn't lied, most likely.

"They used to take pregnant women and dig a hole in the ground and put

their stomachs in it and whip them. They tried to do my grandma that

way, but my grandpa got an ax and told them that if they did he would

kill them.

"They never could do anything with him.

"My mother's people were the Hess's. They were pretty good to her. It

was them that tried to whip my grandma though.

"You had to call everybody 'Mis'' and 'Mars' in those days. All the old

people did it right after slavery. They did it in my time. But we

children wouldn't. They sent me and my sister up to the house once to

get some meal. We said we weren't goin' to call them no 'Mars' and

'Mis'.' Two or three times we would get up to the house, and then we

would turn 'round and go back. We couldn't make up our minds how to get

what we was sent after without sayin' 'Mars' and 'Mis'.' Finally old man

Nick noticed us and said, 'What do you children want?' And we said,

'Grandma says she wants some meal.' When we got back, grandma wanted to

know why we took so long to go and come. We told her all about it.

"People back home still have those old ways. If they meet them on the

street, you got to get off and let them by. An old lady just here a few

years ago wouldn't get off the sidewalk and they went to her house and

beat her up that night. That is in Brownsville, Tennessee in Hayeard

[HW: Haywood] County. That's an old rebel place.

"White people were pretty good to the old colored folks right after the

War. The white folks were good to my grandfather. The Taylors were. They

would give him a hog or something every Christmas. All the old slaves

used to go to the big house every Christmas and they would give them a


"My husband ran off from his white people. They was in Helena. That's

where he taken the boat. He and a man and two women crossed the river on

a plank. He pulled off his coat and got a plank and carried them across

to the other side. He was goin' to meet the soldiers. He had been told

that they were to come through there on the boat at four o'clock that

afternoon. The rebels had him and the others taking them some place to

keep them from fallin' into the hands of the Yankees, and they all ran

off and hid. They laid in water in the swamp all that night. Their

bosses were looking for them everywhere and the dogs bayed through the

forest, but they didn't find them. And they met some white folks that

told them the boat would come through there at four o'clock and the

white folks said, 'When it comes through, you run and get on it, and

when you do, you'll be free. You'll know when it's comin' by its blowin'

the whistle. You'll be safe then, 'cause they are Yankees.'

"And he caught it. He had to cross the river to get over into Helena to

the place where the boat would make its landin'. After that he got with

the Yankees and went to a whole lot of places. When he was mustered out,

they brought him back to Little Rock. The people were Burl Ishman and

two women who had their children with them. I forget the names of the

women. They followed my husband up when he ran off. My husband's first

name was Aaron.

"My husband had a place on his back I'll remember long as I live. It was

as long as your forearm. They had beat him and made it. He said they

used to beat niggers and then put salt and pepper into their wounds. I

used to tell daddy that 'You'll have to forget that if you want to go to

heaven.' I would be in the house working and daddy would be telling some

white person how they 'bused the slaves, and sometimes he would be

tellin' some colored person 'bout slavery.

"They sold him from his mother. They sold his mother and two children

and kept him. He went into the house crying and old mis' gave him some

biscuits and butter. You see, they didn't give them biscuits then. That

was the same as givin' him candy. She said, 'Old mis' goin' to give you

some good biscuits and some butter.' He never did hear from his mother

until after freedom. Some thought about him and wrote him a letter for

her. There was a man here who was from North Carolina and my husband got

to talking with him and he was going back and he knew my husband's

mother and his brother and he said he would write to my husband if my

husband would write him a letter and give it to him to give to his

mother. He did it and his mother sent him an answer. He would have gone

to see her but he didn't have money enough then. The bank broke and he

lost what little he had saved. He corresponded with her till he died.

But he never did get to see her any more.

"Nothin' slips up on me. I have a guide. I am warned of everything.

Nothin' happens to me that I don't know it before. Follow your first

mind. Conscience it is. It's a great thing to have a conscience.

"I was born in Tennessee. I have been in Arkansas about forty-six years.

I used to cook but I didn't do it long. I never have worked out much

only just my work in the house. My husband has been dead four years this

last April. He was a good man. We were married forty years the eleventh

of December and he died on the eighth of April."

Mariah Heywood Marion Johnson facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail