Mattie Nelson





Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden

Person interviewed: Mattie Nelson

710 E. Fourth Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Age: 72





"I was born in Chicot County, Arkansas in '65. They said I was born on

the roadside while we was on our way here from Texas. They had to camp

they said. Some people called it emigrate. Now that's the straightest

way I can tell it.



"Our mistress and master was named Chapman. I member when I was a child

mistress used to be so good to us. After surrender my parents stayed

right on there with the Chapmans, stayed right on the place till they

died.



"My mudder and pappy neither one of em could read or write, but I went

to school. I always was apt. I am now. I always was one to work--yes

ma'm--rolled logs, hope clean up new ground--yes ma'm. When we was

totin' logs, I'd say, "Put the big end on me" but they'd say, "No,

you're a woman." Yes ma'm I been here a long time. I do believe in

stirrin' work for your livin', yes ma'm, that's what I believe in.



"I been workin' ever since I was six years old. My daughter was just

like me--she had a gift, but she died. I seen all my folks die and that

lets me know I got to die too.



"White folks used to come along in buggies, and hoss back too, and stop

and watch me plow. Seem like the hotter the sun was the better I liked

it.



"Yes ma'm, I done all kinds a work and I feels it now, too."





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