Sarah Pittman





Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor

Person interviewed: Sarah Pittman

1320 W. Twentieth Street, Little Rock, Arkansas

Age: About 82





"I never saw nothing between white folks and colored folks. My white

folks were good to us. My daddy's white folks were named Jordan--Jim

Jordan--and my mama's folks were Jim Underwood. And they were good. My

mama's and father's folks both were good to the colored folks. As the

song goes, 'I can tell it everywhere I go.' And thank the Lord,

I'm here to tell it too. I raised children, grandchildren, and

great-grandchildren you see there. That is my great-grandson playing

there. He is having the time of his life. I raised him right too. You

see how good he minds me. He better not do nothin' different. He's about

two years old.



"I was born in Union Parish, Louisiana way up yonder in them hills, me

and my folks, and they come down here.



"Jim Jordan married one of the Taylor girls--Jim Taylor's daughter. The

old folks gave mama to them to do their housework. My father and mama

didn't belong to the same masters. He died the first year of the

surrender. He was a wonderful man. He was a Jackson. On Saturday night

he would stay with us till Sunday. On Sunday night he would go home. He

would play with us. Now he and mama both are dead. They are gone home

and I am waiting to go. They're waiting for me in the kingdom there. As

the song says, 'I am waiting on the promises of God.'



"My mama did housework in slave time. I don't know what my father did.

In them days you done some working from plantation to plantation. Them

folks is all gone in now near about. Guess mine will be the next time.





Early Childhood



"First thing I remember is staying at the house. We et at the white

folks' house. We would go there in the evening before sundown and git

our supper. One time Jim Underwood made me mad. Mama said something he

didn't like. And he tied her thumbs together and tied them to a limb.

Her feet could touch the ground--they weren't off the ground. He said

she could stay there till she thought better of it.



"Before the surrender I didn't do nothing in the line of work 'cept

'tend to my mother's children. I didn't do no work at all 'cept that. My

white folks were good to me. All my folks 'cept me are gone. My grandmas

and uncles and things all settin' up yonder. All my children what is

dead, they're up yonder. I ain't got but three living, and they're on

their way. Minnie and Mamie and Annie, that is all I got. Mamie's the

youngest and she's got grandchildren.





How Freedom Came



"The way we learned that freedom had come, my uncle come to the fence

and told my mama we were free and I went with her. Sure he'd been to the

War. He come back with his budget. Don't you know what a budget is? You

ain't never been to war, have you? Well, you oughter know what a budget

is. That's a knapsack. It had a pocket on each side and a water can on

each shoulder. He come home with his budget on his back, and he come to

the fence and told mama we was free and I heered him.





Right After Freedom



"Right after freedom my mama and them stayed with the same people they

had been with. The rest of the people scattered wherever they wanted to

But my uncle come there and got mama. They moved back to the Taylors

then where my grandma was. Wouldn't care if I had some of that good old

spring water now where my grandma lived!



"None of my people were ever bothered by the pateroles or the Ku Klux.



"We come to Arkansas because we had kinfolks down here. Just picked up

and come on. I been here a long time. I don't know how long, I don't

keep up with nothing like that. When my husband was living I just

followed him. He said that this was a good place and we could make a

good living. So I just come on. When he died, those gravediggers dug his

grave deep enough to put another man on top of him. But that don't hurt

him none. He's settin' in the kingdom. He was a deacon in the church and

his word went. The whole plantation would listen to him and do what he

said. Everybody respected him because he was right. I was just married

once and no man can take his place. He was the first one and the best

one and the last one. He was heaven bound and he went on there. I don't

know just how long I was married. It is in the Bible. It is in there in

big letters. I can't get that right now. It's so big and heavy. But it's

in there. I think we left it in Detroit when I was there, and it ain't

come back here yet. But I know we lived together a long time.



"I remember the old slave-time songs but I can't think of them just now.

'Come to Jesus' is one of them. 'Where shall I be when the first trumpet

sounds?', that's another one. Another one is: 'If I could, I surely

would; Set on the rock where Moses stood--first verse or stanza. All of

my sins been taken away, taken away--chorus. Mary wept and Martha

moaned, Mary's gone to a world unknown--second verse or stanza. All of

my sins are taken away, taken away--chorus."



"I don't think nothing 'bout these young folks. When they was turned

loose a lot of them went wild and the young folks followed their

leaders. But mine followed me and my daddy.



"My grandmother had a big old bay horse and she was midwife for the

white and the colored folks. She would put her side saddle on the old

horse and get up and go, bless her heart; and me and my cousin had to

stay there and take care of things. She's gone now. The Lord left me

here for some reason. And I'm enjoyin' it too. I have got my first

cussin' to do. I don't like to hear nobody cuss. I belong to the church.

I belong to the Baptist church and I go to the Arch Street Church."





Sarah Mann Sarah Smiley facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Feedback