Silas Dothrum

Interviewer: Samuel S. Taylor

Person interviewed: Silas Dothrum

1419 Pulaski Street, Little Rock, Arkansas

Age: 82 or 83

Occupation: Field hand, general work

[May 31 1939]

[HW: Don't Know Nothin']

"The white people that owned me are all dead. I am in this world by

myself. Do you know anything that a man can put on his leg to keep the

flies off it when it has sores on it? I had the city doctor here, but he

didn't do me no good. I have to tie these rags around my foot to keep

the flies off the sores.

"I worked with a white man nineteen years--put all that concrete down

out there. He is still living. He helps me a little sometimes. If it

weren't for him I couldn't live. The government allows me and my wife

together eight dollars a month. I asked for more, but I couldn't get it.

I get commodities too. They amount to about a dollar and a half a month.

They don't give any flour or meat. Last month they gave some eggs and

those were nice. What they give is a help to a man in my condition.

"I don't know where I was born and I don't know when. I know I am

eighty-two or eighty-three years old. The white folks that raised me

told me how old I was. I never saw my father and my mother in my life. I

don't know nothin'. I'm Just on old green man. I don't know none of my

kin people--father, mother, uncles, cousins, nothin'. When I found

myself the white people had me.

"That was right down here in Arkansas here on old Dick Fletcher's farm.

There was a big family of them Fletchers. They took me to Harriet

Lindsay to raise. She is dead. She had a husband and he is dead. She had

two or three daughters and they are dead.

Slave Houses

"I can remember what they used to live in. The slaves lived in old

wooden houses. They ain't living in no houses now--one-half of them.

They were log houses--two rooms. I have forgot what kind of

floors--dirt, I guess. Food was kept in a smokehouse.


"The whole family of Fletchers is dead. I think that there is a Jef

Fletcher living in this town. I don't know just where but I met him

sometime ago. He doesn't do nothing for me. Nobody gives me anything for

myself but the man I used to work for--the concrete man. He's a man.

How Freedom Came

"All I remember is that they boxed us all up in covered wagons and

carried us to Texas and kept us there till freedom came. Then they told

us we were free and could go where wanted. But they kept me in bondage

and a girl that used to be with them. We were bound to them that we

would have to stay with them. They kept me just the same as under

bondage. I wasn't allowed no kind of say-so.

"After Dick Fletcher died, his wife and his two children fetched us

back--fetched us back in a covered wagon.

"I am a Arkansas man. Was raised here. I am very well known here, too.

Some years after that she turned us loose. I can't remember just how

many years it was, but it was a good many.

Right After the War

"After Mrs. Fletcher turned us loose, we worked with some families. I

was working by the year. If I broke anything they took it out of my

wages. If I broke a plow they would charge me for it. I was working for

niggers. I can't remember how much they paid, but it wasn't anything

when they got through taking out. I'm dogged if I know how much they

were supposed to pay; it has been so long. But I know that if I broke

anything--a tool or something--they charged me for it. I didn't have

much at the end of the year. It would take me a lifetime to make

anything if I had to do that.


"I have been out in the bushes when the pateroles would come up and gone

into log houses and get niggers and whip their asses. They would

surround all the niggers and make them go into the house where they

could whip them as much as they wanted to. All that is been years and

years ago. I never seen any niggers get away from them. I have heared of

them getting away, but if they did I never knowed it.

Ku Klux Klan

"I heared of the Ku Klux, but they never bothered me. I never saw them

do anything to anybody.

Recollections Relating to Parents

"I don't know who my parents were, but it seems like I heard them say my

father was a white man, and I seen to remember that they said my mother

was a dark woman.


"The young people today ain't worth a shit. These young people going to

school don't mean good to nobody. They dance all the night and all the

time, and do everything else. That man across the street runs a whiskey

house where they dance and do everything they're big enough to do. They

ain't worth nothing."

Silas Abbott Rfd Brinkley Interviewed By Irene Robertson Silas Glenn facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail