Nellie James

Interviewer: Thomas Elmore Lucy

Person interviewed: Nellie James,

Russellville, Arkansas

Age: 72

"Nellie James is my name. Yes, Mr. D. B. James was my husband, and he

remembered you very kindly. They call me 'Aunt Nellie.' I was born in

Starkville, Ouachita County, Mississippi the twenty-ninth of March, in

1866, just a year after the War closed. My parents were both owned by

a plantation farmer in Ouachita County, Mississippi, but we came to

Arkansas a good many years ago.

"My husband was principal of the colored school here at Russellville

for thirty-five years, and people, both white and black, thought a

great deal of him. We raised a family of six children, five boys and a

girl, and they now live in different states, some of them in

California. One of my sons is a doctor in Chicago and is doing well.

They were all well educated. Mr. James saw to that of course.

"So far as I remember from what my parents said, the master was

reasonably kind to all his slaves, and my husband said the same thing

about his own master although he was quite young at the time they were

freed. (Yes sir, you see he was born in slavery.)

"I was too young to remember much about the Ku Klux Klan, but I

remember we used to be afraid of them and we children would run and

hide when we heard they were coming.

"No sir, I have never voted, because we always had to pay a dollar for

the privilege--and I never seemed to have the dollar (laughingly) to

spare at election time. Mr. James voted the Republican ticket

regularly though.

"All our family were Missionary Baptists. I united with the Baptist

church when I [HW: was] thirteen years old.

"I think the young people of both races are growing wilder and wilder.

The parents today are too slack in raising them--too lenient. I don't

know where they are headed, what they mean, what they want to do, or

what to expect of them. And I'm too busy and have too hard a time

trying to make ends meet to keep up with their carryings-on."

NOTE: Mrs. Nellie James, widow of Prof. D. B. James, one of the most

successful Negro teachers who ever served in Russellville, is a quiet,

refined woman, a good housekeeper, and has reared a large and

successful family. She speaks with good, clear diction, and has none

of the brogue that is characteristic of the colored race of the


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