Mary Flagg

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden

Person interviewed: Mary Flagg

1601 Georgia Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Age: 89

"Yes'm, I was here in Civil War days. I was bout twelve years old when

Lincoln was elected. I remember when he was elected. I was big enough to

weave and knit for the soldiers. I remember when the war started. Yes

ma'm--oh I remember so much. Saw all the soldiers and shook hands with

em. Why I waited on the table when General Lee stopped there for dinner

on his way from Mobile to meet Sherman. That was in Winchester,

Mississippi where I was born. I worked in a hotel, yes ma'm. I was

raised up in a hotel, called em taverns in those days. I was born right

in Winchester, Mississippi. Used to see the soldiers drill every day. If

I could remember, I could tell you a heap of things.

"My mistress' name was Mrs. Shaw. She took me away from my mother when I

was four years old--taken me for her body servant. She learned me how to

do housework and all kinds of sewin'--cuttin' and makin'. I done all the

sewin' for her family.

"I never went to no school but Mrs. Shaw tried to teach me and she

slapped my jaws many a day bout my book.

"I married when I was fifteen just fore the war ended and I forgot

everything I ever learned--yes ma'm! I been married four times and

they're all dead. I never married when any of em was livin' like a heap

of colored folks did.

"The Yankees come within fifty miles of where we was livin' and then

they burned the bridge and turned back. White folks never told us what

the war was for but a old German man used to read the paper at the

table--every battle they'd fight and when the Yankees would whip. Oh

them was times then. If I could remember I could tell you a heap of

things but my mind's gone from me.

"Old master had about a hundred head of hands and old mistress had a

cousin had five hundred.

"White folks was good to me. My father was the carriage driver and old

mistress used to carry me to church with her every Sunday.

"I never seen no Ku Klux but I lived where they was, in Mississippi.

That was a Ku Klux state. Yes ma'm.

"I remember when General Lee come to Winchester you could hear the

horses' feet a mile away, it so cold.

"My great grandfather was a full blooded Indian. I've lived among the

Indians in Mississippi and bought baskets from em. They lived all around

us. Yes ma'm, I'm acquainted with em. Oh, I been through a little bit.

"I started sewin' and weavin' when I was just big enough to reach the

treadles. Used to sew for Mrs. Hulburt in Bolivar County, Mississippi. I

remember she started to the Mardi Gras on a boat called the Mary Bell.

It got burned and she had to turn back. I used to do a heap a sewin'.

"Everythings changed now. People is so treacherous now. Chile, ain't

nothin' to this younger generation. Now I'm tellin' you the truth. They

ain't studyin' nothin' good. Sin and corruption all you see now.

"Last man I married was Elder Flagg. He was a preacher in the Baptist

church and as good a preacher as I ever heard. They don't preach the

Gospel now.

"Well, I wish I could remember more to tell you, but it's been a long

time. I'll be ninety if I live till the 4th of next May."

Mary Ferguson Mary Frances Brown facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail