Nellie Dunne

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden

Person interviewed: Nellie Dunne

3900 W. Sixth Avenue, Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Age: 78

"Yes ma'am, I was slavery born but free raised. I was half as big as I

is now. (She is not much over four feet tall--ed.) Born in Silver Creek,

Mississippi. Yes ma'am. They give ever'body on the place their ages but

mama said it wasn't no 'count and tore it up, so I don't know what year

I was born.

"Cy Magby--mama was under his control. He would carry us over to the

white folks' house every morning to see Miss Becky. When old master come

after us, he'd say, 'What you gwine say?' and we'd say, 'One-two-three.'

Then we'd go over to old Mis' and courtesy and say, 'Good morning, Miss

Becky; good morning, Mars Albert; good morning, Mars Wardly.' They was

just little old kids but we had to call 'em Mars.

"What I know I'm gwine tell you, but you ain't gwine ketch me in no


"I 'member they was gwine put us to carryin' water for the hands next

year, and that year we got free. My mother shouted, 'Now I ain't lyin'

'bout dat.' I sure 'member when they sot the people free. They was just

ready to blow the folks out to the field. I 'member old Mose would blow

the bugle and he could blow that bugle. If you wasn't in, you better

get in. Yes ma'am! The day freedom come, I know Mose was just ready to

blow the bugle when the Yankees begun to beat the drum down the road.

They knowed it was all over then. That ain't no joke.

"I was a full grown woman then I come to Arkansas; I wasn't no baby.

"I went to school one month in my life. That was in Mississippi.

"My Joe" (her husband) "just lack one year bein' a graduate. He went up

here to that Branch Normal. That boy had good learnin'. He could a

learnt me but he was too high tempered. If I missed a word he would be

so crabb'y. So one night I throwed the book across the room and said,

'You don't need try to learn me no more.'"

Neil Coker Nellie James facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail