Nellie Maxwell

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson

Person interviewed: Nellie Maxwell, Biscoe, Arkansas

Age: 63

"Mama was Harriett Baldwin. She was born in Virginia. Her owners was

Mistress Mollie Fisher and Master Coon Fisher. It was so cold one winter

that they burned up their furniture keeping a fire. Said seemed like

they would freeze in spite of what all they could do.

"Grandpa was sold away from grandma and three children. He didn't want

to be sold nary bit. When they would be talking about selling him he go

hide under the house. They go on off. He'd come out. When he was sold he

went under there. He come out and went on off when they found him and

told him he was sold to this man. Grandma said he was obedient. They

never hit him. He was her best husband. They never sold grandma and she

couldn't 'count for him being let go. Grandma had another husband after

freedom and two more children. They left there in a crowd and all come

to Arkansas. Grandma was a cook for the field hands. She had charge of

ringing a big dinner-bell hung up in a tree. She was black as charcoal.

Mama and grandma said Master Coon and old Mistress Mollie was good to

them. That the reason grandpa would go under the house. He didn't want

to be sold. He never was seen no more by them.

"Grandma said sometimes the meals was carried to the fields and they fed

the children out of troughs. They took all the children to the spring

set them in a row. They had a tubful of water and they washed them dried

them and put on their clean clothes. They used homemade lye soap and

greased them with tallow and mutton suet. That made them shine. They

kept them greased so their knees and knuckles would ruff up and bleed.

"Grandma and mama stopped at Fourche Dam. They was so glad to be free

and go about. Then it scared them to hear talk of being sold. It divided

them and some owners was mean.

"In my time if I done wrong most any grown person whoop me. Then mama

find it out, she give me another one. I got a double whooping.

"Times is powerful bad to raise up a family. Drinking and gambling, and

it takes too much to feed a family now. Times is so much harder that way

then when I was growing."

Nellie Johnson Nellie Smith facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail