Nancy Anderson Interviewed By Irene Robertson
Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Nancy Anderson
Street H, West Memphis, Arkansas
"I was born at Sanitobia, Mississippi. Mother died when I was a child. I
was three months old, they said, when I lost her. Father lived to be
very old. My mother was Ella Geeter and my stepmother was Lucy Evans. My
father's name was Si Hubbard. My parents married after the War. I
remembers Grandma Harriett Hubbard. She said she was sold. She was a
cook and she raised my papa up with white folks. Her children was sold
with her. Papa was sold too at the same time. Papa fired a steam gin.
They ground corn and ginned cotton.
"I stayed with Sam Hall's family. She was good to me. I had a small bed
by the fireplace. She kept me with two of her own children. Some of the
girls and boys I was raised up with live at Sanitobia now and have fine
homes. When we would be playing they would take all the toys from me.
Miss Fannie would say, 'Poor Nancy ain't got no toys.' Then they would
put them on the floor and we would all play. They had a little table. We
all eat at it. We had our own plates. We all eat out of tin plates and
had tin cups.
"They couldn't keep me at home when papa married. I slipped off across
the pasture. There was cows and hogs in there all the time. I wasn't
afraid of them. I would get behind Miss Fannie and hide in her dress
tail when they come after me. They let me stay most of the time for
about five years. Sam Hall was good to my father and Miss Fannie about
raised me after my mother died. She made me mind but she was good to me.
"Grandma lived with papa. She was part Indian. As long as papa lived he
share cropped and ginned. He worked as long as he was able to hit a
lick. He died four miles east out from Sanitobia on Mr. Hayshaws place.
What I told you is what I know. He said he was sold that one time.
Hubbards had plenty to eat and wear. He was a boy and they didn't want
to stunt the children. Papa was a water boy and filed the hoes for the
chopping hands. He carried a file along with them hoeing and would
sharpen their hoes and fetch 'em water in their jugs. Aunt Sallie, his
sister, took keer of the children.
"Papa went to the War. He could blow his bugle and give all the war
signals. He got the military training. Him and his friend Charlie Grim
used to step around and show us how they had to march to orders. His
bugle had four joints. I don't know what went with it. From what they
said they didn't like the War and was so glad to get home.
"Between the big farms they had worm fences (rail fences) and gates. You
had to get a pass from your master to go visiting. The gates had big
chains and locks on them. Some places was tollgates where they traveled
over some man's land to town. On them roads the man owned the place
charged. He kept some boy to open and shut the gate. They said the gates
"Some of the slaves that had hard masters run off and stay in the woods.
They had nigger dogs and would run them--catch 'em. He said one man
(Negro) was hollowing down back of the worm fence close to where they
was working. They all run to him. A great long coachwhip snake was
wrapped 'round him, his arms and all, and whooping him with its tail. It
cut gashes like a knife and the blood poured. The overseer cut the
snake's head off with his big knife and they carried him home bleeding.
His master didn't whoop him, said he had no business off in the woods.
He had run off. His master rubbed salt in the gashes. It nearly killed
him. It burnt him so bad. That stopped the blood. They said sut (soot)
would stopped the blood but it would left black mark. The salt left
white marks on him. The salt helped kill the pison (poison). Some
masters and overseers was cruel. When they was so bad marked they didn't
bring a good price. They thought they was hard to handle.
"Aunt Jane Peterson, old friend of mine, come to visit me nearly every
year after she got so old. She told me things took place in slavery
times. She was in Virginia till after freedom. She had two girls and a
boy with a white daddy. She told me all about how that come. She said no
chance to run off or ever get off, you had to stay and take what come.
She never got to marry till after freedom. Then she had three more black
children by her husband. She said she was the cook. Old master say,
'Jane, go to the lot and get the eggs.' She was scared to go and scared
not to go. He'd beat her out there, put her head between the slip gap
where they let the hogs into the pasture from the lot down back of the
barn. She say, 'Old missis whip me. This ain't right.' He'd laugh. Said
she bore three of his children in a room in the same house his family
lived in. She lived in the same house. She had a room so as she could
build fires and cook breakfast by four o'clock sometimes, she said. She
was so glad freedom come on and soon as she heard it she took her
children and was gone, she said. She had no use for him. She was scared
to death of him. She learned to pray and prayed for freedom. She died in
Cold Water, Mississippi. She was so glad freedom come on before her
children come on old enough to sell. Part white children sold for more
than black children. They used them for house girls.
"I don't know Ku Klux stories enough to tell one. These old tales leave
my mind. I'm 66 and all that was before my time.
"Times is strange--hard, too. But the way I have heard they had to work
and do and go I hardly ever do grumble. I've heard so much. I got
children and I do the best I can by them. That is all I can do or say."
Nance East Nancy Austin