Matilda Miller





Interviewer: Mrs. Annie L. LaCotts

Person interviewed: Matilda Miller

Humphrey, Ark.

Age: 79





The day of the interview Matilda, a nice clean-looking Negro woman, was

in bed, suffering from some kind of a pain in her head. She lives in a

little two-room unpainted boxed house beside the highway in Humphrey.

Her house is almost in the shadow of the big tank which was put up

recently when the town acquired its water system.



When told that the visitor wanted to talk with her about her early life,

Matilda said, "Well, honey, I'll tell you all I can, but you see, I was

just a little girl when the war was, but I've heard my mother tell lots

of things about then.



"I was born a slave; my mother and daddy both were owned by Judge

Richard Gamble at Crockett's Bluff. I was born at Boone Hill--about

twelve miles north of DeWitt--and how come it named Boone Hill, that

farm was my young mistress's. Her papa give it to her, just like he give

me to her when I was little, and after she married Mr. Oliver Boone and

lived there the farm always went by the name of 'Boone Hill.' The house

is right on top of a hill, you know, it shure was a pretty place when

Miss Georgia lived there, with great big Magnolia trees in the front

yard. I belonged to Miss Georgia, my young mistress, and when the

niggers were freed my mamma staid on with her. She was right there when

both of his chillun were born, Mr. John Boone and Miss Mary, too. I

nursed both of them chillun. You know who Miss Mary is now, don't you?

Yes'um, she's Mr. Lester Black's wife and he's good, too.



"I was de oney child my mother had till twelve years after the

surrender. You see, my papa went off with Yankees and didn't come back

till twelve years after we was free, and then I had some brothers and

sisters. Exactly nine months from the day my daddy come home, I had a

baby brother born. My mother said she knew my daddy had been married or

took up with some other woman, but she hadn't got a divorce and still

counted him her husband. They lived for a long time with our white

folks, for they were good to us, but you know after the boys and girls

got grown and began to marry and live in different places, my parents

wanted to be with them and left the white folks.



"No mam, I didn't see any fighting, but we could hear the big guns

booming away off in the distance. I was married when I was 21 to Henry

Miller and lived with him 51 years and ten months; he died from old age

and hard work. We had two chillun, both girls. One of them lives here

with me in that other room. Mamma said the Yankees told the Negroes when

they got em freed they'd give em a mule and a farm or maybe a part of

the plantation they'd been working on for their white folks. She thought

they just told em that to make them dissatisfied and to get more of them

'to join up with em' and they were dressed in pretty blue clothes and

had nice horses and that made lots of the Negro men go with them. None

of em ever got anything but what their white folks give em, and just

lots and lots of em never come back after the war cause the Yankees put

them in front where the shooting was and they was killed. My husband

Henry Miller died four years ago. He followed public work and made

plenty of money but he had lots of friends and his money went easy too.

I don't spect I'll live long for this hurtin' in my head is awful bad

sometime."





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