Salomon Oliver





Oklahoma Writers' Project

Ex-Slaves



SALOMON OLIVER

Age 78 yrs.

Tulsa, Oklahoma.





John A. Miller owned the finest plantation in Washington County,

Mississippi, about 12-mile east of Greenville. I was born on this

20,000-acre plantation November 17, 1859, being one of about four

hundred slave children on the place.



About three hundred negro families living in box-type cabins made it

seem like a small town. Built in rows, the cabins were kept

whitewashed, neat and orderly, for the Master was strict about such

things. Several large barns and storage buildings were scattered

around the plantation. Also, two cotton gins and two old fashioned

presses, operated by horses and mules, made Miller's plantation one of

the best equipped in Mississippi.



Master John was quite a character. The big plantation didn't occupy

all his time. He owned a bank in Vicksburg and another in New Orleans,

and only came to the plantation two or three times a year for a week

or two visit.



Things happened around there mighty quick when the Master showed up.

If the slaves were not being treated right--out go the white overseer.

Fired! The Master was a good man and tried to hire good boss men.

Master John was bad after the slave women. A yellow child show up

every once in a while. Those kind always got special privileges

because the Master said he didn't want his children whipped like the

rest of them slaves.



My own Mammy, Mary, was the Master's own daughter! She married Salomon

Oliver (who took the name of Oliver after the War), and the Master

told all the slave drivers to leave her alone and not whip her. This

made the overseers jealous of her and caused trouble. John Santhers

was one of the white overseers who treated her bad, and after I was

born and got strong enough (I was a weakling for three-four years

after birth), to do light chores he would whip me just for the fun of

it. It was fun for him but not for me. I hoped to whip him when I grew

up. That is the one thing I won't ever forget. He died about the end

of the War so that's one thing I won't ever get to do.



My mother was high-tempered and she knew about the Master's orders not

to whip her. I guess sometimes she took advantage and tried to do

things that maybe wasn't right. But it did her no good and one of the

white men flogged her to death. She died with scars on her back!



Father use to preach to the slaves when a crowd of them could slip off

into the woods. I don't remember much about the religious things, only

just what Daddy told me when I was older. He was caught several times

slipping off to the woods and because he was the preacher I guess they

layed on the lash a little harder trying to make him give up

preaching.



Ration day was Saturday. Each person was given a peck of corn meal,

four pounds of wheat flour, four pounds of pork meat, quart of

molasses, one pound of sugar, the same of coffee and a plug of

tobacco. Potatoes and vegetables came from the family garden and each

slave family was required to cultivate a separate garden.



During the Civil War a battle was fought near the Miller plantation.

The Yankees under General Grant came through the country. They burned

2,000 bales of Miller cotton. When the Yankee wagons crossed Bayou

Creek the bridge gave way and quite a number of soldiers and horses

were seriously injured.



For many years after the War folks would find bullets in the ground.

Some of the bullets were 'twins' fastened together with a chain.



Master Miller settled my father upon a piece of land after the War and

we stayed on it several years, doing well.



I moved to Muskogee in 1902, coming on to Tulsa in 1907, the same year

Oklahoma was made a state. My six wives are all dead,--Liza, Lizzie,

Ellen, Lula, Elizabeth and Henrietta. Six children, too. George,

Anna, Salomon, Nelson, Garfield, Cosmos--all good children. They

remember the Tulsa riot and don't aim ever to come back to Oklahoma.



When the riot started in 1922 (I think it was), I had a place on the

corner of Pine and Owasso Streets. Two hundred of my people gathered

at my place, because I was so well known everybody figured we wouldn't

be molested. I was wrong. Two of my horses was shot and killed. Two of

my boys, Salomon and Nelson, was wounded, one in the hip, the other in

the shoulder. They wasn't bad and got well alright. Some of my people

wasn't so lucky. The dead wagon hauled them away!



White men came into the negro district and gathered up the homeless.

The houses were most all burned. No place to go except to the camps

where armed whites kept everybody quiet. They took my clothes and all

my money--$298.00--and the police couldn't do nothing about my loss

when I reported it to them.



That was a terrible time, but we people are better off today that any

time during the days of slavery. We have some privileges and they are

worth more than all the money in the world!





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