Sarah Douglas

Interviewer: Pernella M. Anderson

Person interviewed: Sarah Douglas

Route 2, Box 19-A, El Dorado, Arkansas

Age: 82?

[TR: The Library of Congress photo archive notes "'Tom' written in

pencil above 'Sam' in title."]

"I was born in Alabama. I don't know when though. I did not find out

when I was born because old miss never told me. My ma died when I was

real small and my old miss raised me. I had a hard time of my life. I

slept on the floor just like a cat--anywhere I laid down I slept. In

winter I slept on rags. If I got sick old miss would give me plenty of

medicine because she wanted me to stay well in order to work. My old

master was name John Buffett and old misses name was Eddie Buffett. She

would fix my bread and licker in a tin lid and shove it to me on the

floor. I never ate at the table until I was twelve and that was after


"To whip me she put my head between the two fence rails and she taken

the cow hide whip and beat me until I couldn't sit down for a week.

Sometimes she tied our hands around a tree and tie our neck to the tree

with our face to the tree and they would get behind us with that cow

hide whip with a piece of lead tied to the end and lord have mercy!

child, I shouted when I wasn't happy. All I could say was, 'Oh pray,

mistress, pray.' That was our way to say Lord have mercy. The last

whipping old miss give me she tied me to a tree and oh my Lord! old miss

whipped me that day. That was the worse whipping I ever got in my life.

I cried and bucked and hollered until I couldn't. I give up for dead and

she wouldn't stop. I stop crying and said to her, 'Old miss, if I were

you and you were me I wouldn't beat you this way.' That struck old

miss's heart and she let me go and she did not have the heart to beat me

any more.

"I did every kind of work when I was a little slave; split rails,

sprouted, ditched, plowed, chopped, and picked and planted.

"I remember young master going to war and I remember hearing the first

gun shoot but I did not see it. I saw the smoke though.

"I never went to school a day in my life. The white folks said we did

not need to learn, if we needed to learn anything they could learn us

with that cow hide whip.

"We went to the white folks' church, so we sit in the back on the floor.

They allowed us to join their church whenever one got ready to join or

felt that the Lord had forgiven them of their sins. We told our

determination; this is what we said: 'I feel that the Lord have forgiven

me for my sins. I have prayed and I feel that I am a better girl. I

belong to master so and so and I am so old.' The white preacher would

then ask our miss and master what they thought about it and if they

could see any change. They would get up and say: 'I notice she don't

steal and I notice she don't lie as much and I notice she works better.'

Then they let us join. We served our mistress and master in slavery-time

and not God.

"I recollect miss died just after the War. Old miss was very strict on

us and after she died we was so glad we had a big dance in miss's

kitchen and old miss came back and slapped one of the slaves and left

the print of her hand on her face. That white hand never did go away and

that place was forever haunted after that.

"Now I don't know how to tell you to get after my age but I was twelve

years old two years after surrender."

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