Richard Crump

Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor

Person interviewed: Richard Crump

1801 Gaines Street, Little Rock, Arkansas

Age: 82

[HW: Father Takes a "Deadening"]

"I was born right here in Aberdeen, Mississippi about five miles from

the town on the east side of the Tom Bigbee River in Monroe County,


"My father's name was Richard Crump. My mother was named Emily Crump. My

grandmother on my father's side was named Susan Crump. My mother came

from Middleton, Tennessee. But I don't know nothing about any of her

people. My father said he come from South Carolina when he was a boy

eight or ten years old. That was way before I was born. They brought him

to Mississippi from South Carolina.

"My father's master was old man Johnnie Crump. My mistress was named

Nina Crump. That was Johnnie Crump's wife. My mars had four boys to my

remembrance. One was named Wess, one was named Rufe, one was named Joe,

and one was named Johnnie. He had a girl named Annie and one named Lulu.

"My mother was the mother of thirteen children. I am the onliest one

living, that I know of. The way they gwine with us now, I ain't goin' a

be here long. Just got four dollars to pay rent and bills and git

somethin' to eat for a month. You don't git nothin' much when you git

the commodities--no grease to cook with.

"We never had no trouble much when I was coming along. My mars was a

pretty good old man. He didn't allow no overseer to whip his slaves. The

overseer couldn't whip my old mother anyhow because she was a kind of

bully and she would git back in a corner with a hoe and dare him in. And

he wouldn't go in neither.

"My grandmother had three or four sons. One was name Nels Crump, another

was named Miles and another was named Henry and another Jim. She had two

or three more but I can't think of them. They died before I was old

enough to know anything. Then she had two or three daughters. One was

named Lottie. She had another one but I can't think of her name. I was

so little. All of them are dead now. All of my people are dead but me.

They are trying to find a sister of mine, but I ain't found her yet. She

oughter be down here by Forrest City somewheres. But there ain't nobody

here that I know about but me. And the way they're carryin' them now I

ain't goin' to be here long. All of them people you hear me talk about,

they're supposed to be dead.

"I was born in 1858. At least the old man told me that. I mean my father

of course. The first thing I knowed anything about was picking cotton. I

was a little bitty old fellow with a little sack hangin' at my side. I

was pickin' beside my mother. They would grab us sometimes when we

didn't pick right. Shake us and pull our ears.

"I didn't know anything about sellin' and buying. I never was sold.

"The next thing I remember was being told I was free. My daddy said old

mars told them they were free. I didn't hear him tell it myself. They

come 'round on a Monday morning and told papa and the rest that they

were free as he was and that they could go if they wanted to or they

could stay, 'cause they were free as he was and didn't have no master no

more, didn't have no one to domineer over them no more.

"Right after freedom, my folks worked on old man Jim Burdyne's farm.

That is the first place I remember after freedom. Father taken a little

deadening. You don't know what a deadening is? That's a lease. He

cleaned up some land. We boys were just gettin' so we could pick up

brush and tops of trees--and burn it, and one thing and another. Two

years after the War was over, I got big enough to plow. I was plowing

when I was nine years old. We had three boys and four girls older than

me. The balance of them was born after freedom. We made crops on shares

for three years after freedom, and then we commenced to rent. Shares

were one-third of the cotton and one-fourth of the corn. They didn't pay

everything they promised. They taken a lot of it away from us. They said

figures didn't lie. You know how that was. You dassent dispute a man's

word then. Sometimes a man would get mad and beat up his overseer and

run him away. But my daddy wouldn't do it. He said, 'Well, if I owe

anything I'll pay it. I got a large family to take care of.'

"I never got a chance to go to school any. There was too much work to

do. I married when I was twenty-one. I would go off and stay a month or

two and come back. Never left home permanent for a long while. Stayed

'round home till I was forty years old. I come to Arkansas in 1898. I

made a living by farming at first.

"I didn't shoot no craps. I belong to the church. I have belonged to the

church about forty years or more. I did play cords and shoot craps and

things like that for years before I got religion.

"I come to Little Rock in 1918 and been here ever since. I worked 'round

here in town first one thing and then another. Worked at the railroad

and on like that.

"We used to vote right smart in Mississippi. Had a little trouble

sometimes but it would soon die down. I haven't voted since I been here.

Do no good nohow. Can't vote in none of these primary elections. Vote

for the President. And that won't do no good. They can throw your ballot

out if they want to.

"I believe in the right thing. I wouldn't believe in anything else. I

try to be loyal to the state and the city. But colored folks don't have

much show. Work for a man four or five years and go back to him and he

don't know nothin' about you. They soon forget you and a white man's

word goes far.

"I was able to work as late as 1930, but I ain't been no 'count since to

do much work. I get a pension for old age from the Welfare and

commodities and I depend on that for a living. Whatever they want to

give me, I'll take it and make out with it. If there's any chance for me

to git a slave's pension, I wish they would send it to me. For I need it

awful bad. They done cut me way down now. I got heart trouble and high

blood pressure but I don't give up.

"My mother sure used to make good ash cake. When she made it for my

daddy, she would put a piece of paper on it on top and another on the

bottom. That would keep it clean. She made it extra good. When he would

git through, she would give us the rest. Sometimes, she wouldn't put the

paper on it because she would be mad. He would ask, 'No paper today?'

She would say, 'No.' And he wouldn't say nothin' more.

"There is some of the meanest white people in the United States in

Mississippi up there on the Yellow Dog River. That's where the Devil

makes meanness.

"There's some pretty mean colored folks too. There is some of them right

here in Little Rock. Them boys from Dunbar give me a lot of trouble.

They ride by on their bicycles and holler at us. If we say anything to

them, they say, 'Shut up, old gray head.' Sometimes they say worse. I

used to live by Brother Love. Christmas the boys threw at the house and

gave me sass when I spoke to them. So I got out of that settlement. Here

it is quiet because it is among the white folks."

Richard Carruthers Richard H Mcdaniel facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail