Sallie Crane

Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor

Person interviewed: Sallie Crane

See first paragraph in interviewer's comment

for residences

Age: 90, or more

[HW: Whipped from Sunup to Sundown]

"I was born in Hempstead County, between Nashville and Greenville, in

Arkansas, on the Military Road. Never been outside the state in my life.

I was born ninety years ago. I been here in Pulaski County nearly

fifty-seven years.

"I was born in a old double log house chinked and dobbed. Nary a window

and one door. I had a bedstead made with saw and ax. Chairs were made

with saw, ax, and draw knife. My brother Orange made the furniture. We

kept the food in boxes.

"My mother's name was Mandy Bishop, and my father's name was Jerry

Bishop. I don't know who my grand folks were. They was all Virginia

folks--that is all I know. They come from Virginia, so they told me. My

old master was Harmon Bishop and when they divided the property I fell

to Miss Evelyn Bishop.


"The first man that came through here writing us up for the Red Cross, I

give him my age as near as I could. And they kept that. You know peace

was declared in 1865. They told me I was free. I got scared and thought

that the speculators were going to put me in them big droves and sell me

down in Louisiana. My old mistress said, 'You fool, you are free. We are

going to take you to your mammy.' I cried because I thought they was

carrying me to see my mother before they would send me to be sold in

Louisiana. My old mistress said she would whip me. But she didn't. When

we got to my mother's, I said, 'How old is I?' She said, 'You are

sixteen.' She didn't say months, she didn't say years, she didn't say

weeks, she didn't say days; she just said, 'You are sixteen.' And my

case worker told me that made me ninety years old.

"I was in Hempstead County on Harmon Bishop's plantation. It was Miss

Polly, Harmon's wife, that told me I was free, and give me my age.

"I know freedom come before 1865, because my brothers would tell me to

come home from Nashville where I would be sent to do nursing by my old

mistress and master too to nurse for my young mistress.

"When my old master's property was divided, I don't know why--he wasn't

dead nor nothin'--I fell to Miss Evelyn, but I stayed in Nashville

working for Miss Jennie Nelson, one of Harmon's daughters. Miss Jennie

was my young mistress. My brothers were already free. I don't know how

Miss Polly came to tell me I was free. But my brothers would see me and

tell me to run away and come on home and they would protect me, but I

was afraid to try it. Finally Miss Polly found that she couldn't keep me

any longer and she come and told me I was free. But I thought that she

was fooling me and just wanted to sell me to the speculators.


"My mother was the mother of twenty children and I am the mother of

eighteen. My youngest is forty-five. I don't know whether any of my

mother's children is living now or not. I left them that didn't join the

militia in Hempstead County fifty-seven years ago. Them that joined the

militia went off. I don't know nothin' about them. I have two girls

living that I know about. I had two boys went to France and I never

heard nothin' 'bout what happened to them. Nothing--not a word. Red

Cross has hunted 'em. Police Mitchell hunted 'em--police Mitchell in

Little Rock. But I ain't heard nothin' 'bout 'em.


"The first work I did was nursing and after that I was water toter. I

reckon I was about seven or eight years old when I first began to nurse.

I could barely lift the baby. I would have to drag them 'round. Then I

toted water to the field. Then when I was put to plowing, and chopping

cotton, I don't know exactly how old I was. But I know I was a young

girl and it was a good while before the War. I had to do anything that

come up--thrashing wheat, sawing logs, with a wristband on, lifting

logs, splitting rails. Women in them days wasn't tender like they is

now. They would call on you to work like men and you better work too. My

mother and father were both field hands.


"Oo-oo-oo-ee-ee-ee!! Man, the soldiers would pass our house at daylight,

two deep or four deep, and be passing it at sundown still marching

making it to the next stockade. Those were Yankees. They didn't set no

slaves free. When I knowed anything about freedom, it was the Bureaus.

We didn't know nothing like young folks do now.

"We hardly knowed our names. We was cussed for so many bitches and sons

of bitches and bloody bitches, and blood of bitches. We never heard our

names scarcely at all. First young man I went with wanted to know my

initials! What did I know 'bout initials? You ask 'em ten years old now,

and they'll tell you. That was after the War. Initials!!!

Slave Sales

"Have I seen slaves sold! Good God, man! I have seed them sold in

droves. I have worn a buck and gag in my mouth for three days for trying

to run away. I couldn't eat nor drink--couldn't even catch the slobber

that fell from my mouth and run down my chest till the flies settled on

it and blowed it. 'Scuse me but jus' look at these places. (She pulled

open her waist and showed scars where the maggots had eaten in--ed.)


"I been whipped from sunup till sundown. Off and on, you know. They whip

me till they got tired and then they go and res' and come out and start

again. They kept a bowl filled with vinegar and salt and pepper settin'

nearby, and when they had whipped me till the blood come, they would

take the mop and sponge the cuts with this stuff so that they would hurt

more. They would whip me with the cowhide part of the time and with

birch sprouts the other part. There were splinters long as my finger

left in my back. A girl named Betty Jones come over and soaped the

splinters so that they would be softer and pulled them out. They didn't

whip me with a bull whip; they whipped me with a cowhide. They jus'

whipped me 'cause they could--'cause they had the privilege. It wasn't

nothin' I done; they just whipped me. My married young master, Joe, and

his wife, Jennie, they was the ones that did the whipping. But I

belonged to Miss Evelyn.

"They had so many babies 'round there I couldn't keep up with all of

them. I was jus' a young girl and I couldn't keep track of all them

chilen. While I was turned to one, the other would get off. When I

looked for that one, another would be gone. Then they would whip me all

day for it. They would whip you for anything and wouldn't give you a

bite of meat to eat to save your life, but they'd grease your mouth when

company come.


"We et out of a trough with a wooden spoon. Mush and milk. Cedar trough

and long-handled cedar spoons. Didn't know what meat was. Never got a

taste of egg. Oo-ee! Weren't allowed to look at a biscuit. They used to

make citrons. They were good too. When the little white chilen would be

comin' home from school, we'd run to meet them. They would say, 'Whose

nigger are you?' And we would say, 'Yor'n!' And they would say, 'No, you

ain't.' They would open those lunch baskets and show us all that good

stuff they'd brought back. Hold it out and snatch it back! Finally,

they'd give it to us, after they got tired of playing.


"They're burying old Brother Jim Mullen over here today. He was an old

man. They buried one here last Sunday--eighty some odd. Brother Mullen

had been sick for thirty years. Died settin' up--settin' up in a chair.

The old folks is dyin' fas'. Brother Smith, the husband of the old lady

that brought you down here, he's in feeble health too. Ain't been well

for a long time.

"Look at that place on my head. (There was a knot as big as a hen

egg--smooth and shiny--ed.) When it first appeared, it was no bigger

then a pea, I scratched it and then the hair commenced to fall out. I

went to three doctors, and been to the clinic too. One doctor said it

was a busted vein. Another said it was a tumor. Another said it was a

wen. I know one thing. It don't hurt me. I can scratch it; I can rub it.

(She scratched and rubbed it while I flinched and my flesh crawled--ed.)

But it's got me so I can't see and hear good. Dr. Junkins, the best

doctor in the community told me not to let anybody cut on it. Dr. Hicks

wanted to take it off for fifty dollars. I told him he'd let it stay on

for nothin'. I never was sick in my life till a year ago. I used to

weigh two hundred ten pounds; now I weigh one hundred forty. I can lap

up enough skin on my legs to go 'round 'em twice.

"Since I was sick a year ago. I haven't been able to get 'round any. I

never been well since. The first Sunday in January this year, I got

worse settin' in the church. I can't hardly get 'round enough to wait on

myself. But with what I do and the neighbors' help, I gets along


Present Condition

"If it weren't for the mercy of the people through here. I would suffer

for a drink of water. Somebody ran in on old lady Chairs and killed her

for her money. But they didn't get it, and we know who it was too.

Somebody born and raised right here 'mongst us. Since then I have been

'fraid to stay at home even.

"I had a fine five-room house and while I was down sick, my daughter

sold it and I didn't get but twenty-nine dollars out of it. She got the

money, but I never seed it. I jus' lives here in these rags and this

dirt and these old broken-down pieces of furniture. I've got fine

furniture that she keeps in her house.

"I get some help from the Welfare. They give me eight dollars. They give

me commodities too. They give me six at first, and they increased it. My

case worker said she would try to git me some more. God knows I need it.

I have to pay for everything I get. Have to pay a boy to go get water

for me. There's people that gits more 'n they need and have plenty time

to go fishin' but don't have no time to work. You see those boys there

goin' fishin'; but that's not their fault. One of the merchants in town

had them cut off from work because they didn't trade with him.

"You gets 'round lots, son, don't you? Well; if you see anybody that has

some old shoes they don't want, git 'em to give 'em to me. I don't care

whether they are men's shoes or women's shoes. Men's shoes are more

comfortable. I wear number sevens. I don't know what last. Can't you

tell? (I suppose that her shoes would be seven E--ed.) I can't live off

eight dollar. I have to eat, git help with my washing, pay a child to go

for my water, 'n everything. I got these dresses give to me. They too

small, and I got 'em laid out to be let out.

"You just come in any time; I can't talk to you like I would a woman;

but I guess you can understand me."

Interviewer's Comment

Sallie Crane lives near the highway between Sweet Home and Wrightsville.

Wrightsville post office, Lucinda Hays' box. McLain Birch, 1711 Wolfe

Street, Little Rock, knows the way to her house.

Her age is not less than ninety, because she hoed cotton and plowed

before the War. If anything, it is more than the ninety which she

claims. Those who know her well say she must be at least ninety-five.

She has a good memory although she complains of her health. She seems to

be pretty well dependent on herself and the Welfare and is asking for

old clothes and shoes as you will note by the story.

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