Reuben Jones

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden

Person interviewed: Reuben Jones

Ezell Quarters, Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Age: 85

"Well, I'm one of em. I can tell you bout it from now till sundown.

"I was born at Senatobia, Mississippi, this side of Jackson. Born in

'52 on April the 16th. That's when I was born.

"Old man Stephen Williams was my master in time of the war and before

the war, too. He was pretty good to me. Give me plenty of something to

eat, but he whipped me. Oh, I specked I needed it. Put me in the field

when I was five years old. Put a tar cap on my head. I was so young

the sun made my hair come out so they put that tar cap on my head.

"I member when they put the folks on blocks as high as that house and

sell em to the highest bidder. No ma'm, I wasn't sold cause my mother

had three or four chillun and boss man wouldn't sell dem what had

chillun cause dem chillun was hands for him.

"They made me hide ever'thing they had from the Yankees. Yes'm, I seen

em come out after the fodder and the corn. We hid the meat and the

mules and the money. Drove the mules in the cave. Kept em der till the

Yankees left. We dug the hole for the meat but old marse dug the hole

for the money.

"I used to help put timbers on the bridge to keep the Yankees out but

dey come right on through just the same. Took the ox wagon but dey

sent it back.

"Couldn't go nowhere without a pass. Had a whippin' block right at the

horse trough. Yes ma'm, they'd eat you up. I mean they'd whip you, but

they give you plenty of somethin' to eat.

"My mother was the weaver and they had a tanyard on the place.

"In slavery days couldn't go see none of your neighbors without a

pass. People had meetin' right at the house. Dey'd have prayer and

singin'. I went to em. I could sing--Lord yes. I used to know a lot of

old songs--'Am I A Soldier of the Cross?'.

"Lord yes, ma'm, don't talk! When the soldiers come out where we was I

could hear the guns. Had a battle right in town. Rebels just as scared

of the Yankees as if twas a bear. I seed one or two of em come to town

and scare the whole business.

"I never knowed but one man run off and jined the Yankees. Carried his

master's finest ridin' hoss and a mule. He always had a fine hoss and

Yankees come and took it. When the Yankees come out the last time, my

owners cleaned out the smoke house and buried the meat.

"I helped gin cotton when I wasn't big enough to stand up to the

breast. Stood upon a bench and had a lantern hung up so I could see

fore daylight. Yes ma'm, great big gin house. Yes ma'm, I sho has

worked--all kinds and plowin'.

"Now my old boss called me Tony--that's what he called me.

"When peace come, we had done gathered our crop and we left there a

week later. You know people usually hunts their kinfolks and we went

to Hernando. Come to Arkansas in '77. Got offin de boat right der at

de cotehouse. Pine Bluff wasn't nothin' when I come here.

"I used to vote. I aimed to vote the Republican ticket--I don't know.

"Oh yes ma'm, I seed the Ku Klux, yes ma'm. They're bad, too. Lord I

seed a many of them. They come to my house. I went to the door and

that's as far as I went. That was in Hernando. I went back to my old

home in Hernando bout three months ago. Went where I was bred and born

but I didn't know the place it was tore up so.

"This younger generation whole lot different from when I was comin'

up. Yes'm, it's a whole lot different. They ain't doin' so well. I

have always tended to my own business. Cose I been arrested for

drivin' mules with sore shoulders. Didn't put me in jail, but the

officers come up. That was when I was workin' on the Lambert place. I

told em they wasn't my mules so they let me go.

"I can't tell you bout the times now. I hope it'll get better--can't

get no wusser."

Rena Raines Reuben Rosborough facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail