Sallie Carder

Oklahoma Writers' Project



Age 83 yrs.

Burwin, Okla.

I was born in Jackson, Tennessee, and I'm going on 83 years. My mother

was Harriett Neel and father Jeff Bills, both of them named after

their masters. I has one brother, J. B. Bills, but all de rest of my

brothers and sisters is dead.

No sir, we never had no money while I was a slave. We jest didn't have

nothing a-tall! We ate greens, corn bread, and ash cake. De only time

I ever got a biscuit would be when a misdemeanor was did, and my

Mistress would give a buttered biscuit to de one who could tell her

who done it.

In hot weather and cold weather dere was no difference as to what we

wore. We wore dresses my mother wove for us and no shoes a-tall. I

never wore any shoes till I was grown and den dey was old brogans wid

only two holes to lace, one on each side. During my wedding I wore a

blue calico dress, a man's shirt tail as a head rag, and a pair of

brogan shoes.

My Master lived in a three-story frame house painted white. My

Mistress was very mean. Sometimes she would make de overseer whip

negroes for looking too hard at her when she was talking to dem. Dey

had four children, three girls and one boy.

I was a servant to my Master, and as he had de palsy I had to care for

him, feed him and push him around. I don't know how many slaves, but

he had a good deal of 'em.

About four o' clock mornings de overseer or negro carriage driver who

stayed at the Big House would ring de bell to git up and git to work.

De slaves would pick a heap of cotton and work till late on

moonshining nights.

Dere was a white post in front of my door with ropes to tie the slaves

to whip dem. Dey used a plain strap, another one with holes in it, and

one dey call de cat wid nine tails which was a number of straps plated

and de ends unplated. Dey would whip de slaves wid a wide strap wid

holes in it and de holes would make blisters. Den dey would take de

cat wid nine tails and burst de blisters and den rub de sores wid

turpentine and red pepper.

I never saw any slaves auctioned off but I seen dem pass our house

chained together on de way to be sold, including both men and women

wid babies all chained to each other. Dere was no churches for slaves,

but at nights dey would slip off and git in ditches and sing and pray,

and when dey would sometimes be caught at it dey would be whipped.

Some of de slaves would turn down big pots and put dere heads in dem

and pray. My Mistress would tell me to be a good obedient slave and I

would go to heaven. When slaves would attempt to run off dey would

catch dem and chain dem and fetch 'em back and whip dem before dey was

turned loose again.

De patrollers would go about in de quarters at nights to see if any of

de slaves was out or slipped off. As we sleep on de dirt floors on

pallets, de patrollers would walk all over and on us and if we even

grunt dey would whip us. De only trouble between de whites and blacks

on our plantation was when de overseer tied my mother to whip her and

my father untied her and de overseer shot and killed him.

Negroes never was allowed to git sick, and when dey would look

somewhat sick, de overseer would give dem some blue-mass pills and oil

of some sort and make dem continue to work.

During de War de Yankees would pass through and kill up de chickens,

and hogs, and cattle, and eat up all dey could find. De day of freedom

de overseer went into de field and told de slaves dat dey was free,

and de slaves replied, "free how?" and he told dem: "free to work and

live for demselves." And dey said dey didn't know what to do, and so

some of dem stayed on. I married Josh Forch. I am mother of four

children and 35 grand children.

I like Abraham Lincoln. I think he was a good man and president. I

didn't know much who Jeff Davis was. What I heard 'bout Booker T.

Washington, he was a good man.

Now dat slavery is over, I don't want to be in nary 'nother slavery,

and if ever nary 'nothern come up I wouldn't stay here.

Salena Taswell Sallie Crane facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail