Mary Jane Hardridge

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden

Person interviewed: Mary Jane Hardridge

1501 West Barraque St., Pine Bluff, Ark.

Age: 85

"Oh don't ask me that, honey. Yes, I was here in slavery days. I reckon

I was here before the Civil War; I was born in '58. I'm right now in my

birth county about four miles from this city.

"I can remember my young masters that went to war. One was named Ben and

one Chris. Old master's name was James Scull. He was kinda mixed up--he

wasn't the cruelest one in the world. I've heard of some that was worse

than he was. I never suffered for nothin' to eat.

"I can tell you about myself as far back as I can remember. I know I was

about thirteen or fourteen when the war ended.

"My father's birth home was in Virginia. His name was Flem Price and his

father was a doctor and a white man. Mother's name was Mary Price and

she was half Indian. You can tell that by looking at her picture. She

was born in Arkansas.

"I can remember seeing the soldiers. I had to knit socks for them. Used

to have to knit a pair a week. Yes ma'm I used to serve them. I had it

to do or get a whippin'. I nursed and I sewed a little. My mother was a

great seamstress. We did it by hand too. They didn't have no sewing

machines in them times.

"When my white folks went on summer vacations--they was rich and

traveled a great deal--mama always went along and she just left us

children on the plantation just like a cow would leave a calf. She'd

hate to do it though. I remember she went off one time and stayed three

months and left me sick in the white folks house on a pallet. I know I

just hollered and cried and mama cried too. There was another old

colored lady there and she took me to her house. We lived right on the

river where the boat landed and I remember the boat left at high noon

and I cried all the rest of the afternoon.

"I remember the first Yankee I ever saw. They called him Captain Hogan.

I had a white chile in my arms. He set there and asked the boss how many

Negroes did he have and the boss said what was the news. He come out to

let the Negroes know they was as free as he was and told Marse Jim to

bring all of them back from Texas. I know I run and told mama and she

said 'You better hush, you'll get a whippin'.'

"They sho didn't burn up nothin'--Just took the mules and horses. Now I

remember that--they didn't burn up nothin' where I lived.

"I heard of the Ku Klux but I never seen any. We was expectin' 'em

though at all times.

"My grandmother belonged to Creed Taylor and after freedom mama got her

and she lived there with the Sculls two years. My mother and father was

paid a salary and they paid me too--four dollars a month. And I remember

mama never would let me have it--just give me what she wanted me to

have. They treated us better than they did before the war. Cose they was

a little rough, but they couldn't whip you like they did. They could

threaten it though.

"I went to school just a little after freedom. Mama and papa wasn't able

to send me. Wasn't no colored teachers competent to teach then and we

had to pay the white teacher a dollar a month.

"I had very strict parents and was made to mind. When I went out I knew

when I was comin' in. I had one daughter who died when she was eight

years old and if I could bring her back now, I wouldn't do it cause I

know she would worry me to death.

"I used to sew a lot for people in Pine Bluff but I am too old now. I

own my home and I have some rooms rented to three young men students and

I get a little help from the Welfare so I manage to get along.

"Well good-bye--I'm glad you come."

Mary Jane Drucilla Davis Mary Jane Hardrige facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail