Solomon Lambert

Name of Interviewer: Irene Robertson.

Person interviewed: Solomon Lambert,

Holly Grove, Ark., R.F.D.

Age: 89



"My parents belong to Jordon and Judy Lambert. They (the Jordon

family) had a big family. They never was sold. I heard 'em say that.

They hired their slaves out. Some was hired fer a year. From New Year

day to next New Year day. That was a busy day. That was the day to set

in workin' overseers and ridin' bosses set in on New Year day. My

parents' name was Fannie and Ben Lambert. They had eight children.

"How did they marry? They say they jump the broomstick together! But

they had brush brooms so I reckon that whut they jumped. Think the

moster and mistress jes havin' a little fun outen it then. The brooms

the sweep the floor was sage grass cured like hay. It grows four or

five feet tall. They wrap it with string and use that for a handle.

his moster then ask her moster. If they agree it be all right. One of

'em would 'nounce it 'fore all the rest of the folks up at the house

and some times they have ale and cake. If the man want a girl and ther

be another man on that place wanted a wife the mosters would swop the

women mostly. Then one announce they married. That what they call a

double weddin'. Some got passes go see their wife and family 'bout

every Sunday and some other times like Fourth er July. They have a

week ob rest when they lay by the crops and have some time not so busy

to visit Christmas.

"I never seen no Ku Klux. There was Jay Hawkers. They was folks on

neither side jess goin' round, robbin' and stealin', money, silver,

stock or anything else they wanted. We had a prutty good time we have

all the hands on our place at some house and dance. We made our music.

Music is natur'l wid our color. They most all had a juice (Jew's)

harp. They make the fiddle and banjo. White folks had big times too.

They had mo big gatherins than they have now. They send me to Indian

Bay once or twice a week to get the mail. I had no money. They give my

father little money long and give him some 'bout Christmas. White

folks send their darkies wid a order to buy things. I never seen a big

town till I started on that run to Texas. They took the men 450 miles

to Indian Nation to make a crop. We went in May and came back in

October. They hired us out. Mr. Jo Lambert and Mr. Beasley took us.

One of 'em come back and got us. That kept us from goin' to war. They

left the women, children and old men, too old fer war.

"How'd I know 'bout war? That was the big thing they talk 'bout. See

'em. The first I seen was when I was shuckin' corn at the corn pin

(crib) a man come up in gray clothes. (He was a spy). The way he talk

you think he a southern man 'cept his speech was hard and short. I

noticed that to begin wid. They thought other rebels in the corn pin

but they wasn't. Wasn't nobody out there but me. Then here come a man

in blue uniform. After while here come the regiment. It did scare me.

Bob and Tom (white boys) Lambert gone to war then. They fooled round a

while then they galloped off. I show was glad when the last man rid


Moster Lambert then hid the slaves in the bottoms. We carried

provisions and they sent more'long. We stay two or three days or a

week when they hear a regiment comin' through or hear 'bout a scoutin

gang comin' through. They would come one road and go back another

road. We didn't care if they hid us. We hear the guns. We didn't

wanter go down there. That was white man's war. In 1862 and 1863 they

slipped off every man and one woman to Helena. I was yokin' up oxen.

Man come up in rebel clothes. He was a spy. I thought I was gone then

but and a guard whut I didn't see till he left went on. I dodged round

till one day I had to get off to mill. The Yankees run up on me and

took me on. I was fifteen years old. I was mustered in August and let

out in 1864 when it was over. I was in the Yankee army 14 months. They

told me when I left I made a good soldier. I was with the standing

army at Helena. They had a battle before I went in. I heard them say.

You could tell that from the roar and cannons. They had it when I was

in Texas. I wasn't in a battle. The Yankees begin to get slim then

they made the darkies fill up and put them in front. I heard 'em say

they had one mighty big battle at Helena. I had to drill and guard the

camps and guard at the pickets (roads into Helena). They never let me

go scoutin'. I walked home from the army. I was glad to get out. I

expected to get shot 'bout all the time. I aint seen but mighty little

difference since freedom. I went back and stayed 45 years on the

Lambert place. I moved to Duncan. Moster died foe the Civil War. Some

men raised dogs-hounds. If something got wrong they go get the dogs

and use 'em. If some of the slaves try to run off they hunt them with

the dogs. It was a big loss when a hand run off they couldn't ford

that thing. They whoop 'em mostly fer stealin'. They trust 'em in

everything then they whoop 'em if they steal. They know it wrong.

Course they did. The worse thing I ever seen in slavery was when we

went to Texas we camped close to Camden. Camden, Arkansas! On the way

down there we passed by a big house, some kind. I seen mighty little

of it but a big yard was pailened in. It was tall and fixed so they

couldn't get out. They opened the big gate and let us see. It was full

of darkies. All sizes. All ages. That was a Nigger Trader Yard the

worst thing I ever seen or heard tell of in my life. I heard 'em say

they would cry 'em off certain times but you could buy one or two any

time jes by agreement. I nearly fell out wid slavery then. I studied

'bout that heap since then. I never seen no cruelty if a man work and

do right on my moster's place he be honored by both black and white.

Foe moster died I was 9 year old, I heard him say I valued at $900.00.

I never was sold.

"When I was small I minded the calves when they milk, pick up chips to

dry fer to start fires, then I picked up nuts, helped feed the stock,

learned all I could how to do things 'bout the place. We thought we

owned the place. I was happy as a bird. I didn't know no better than

it was mine. All the home I ever knowed. I tell you it was a good

home. Good as ever had since. It was thiser way yo mama's home is your

home. Well my moster's home was my home like dat.

"We et up at the house in the kitchen. We eat at the darkey houses. It

make no diffurence--one house clean as the other. It haft to be so.

They would whoop you foe your nasty habits quick as anything and

quicker. Had plenty clothes and plenty to eat. Folk's clothes made

outer more lastin' cloth than now. They last longer and didn't always

be gettin' more new ones. They washed down at the spring. The little

darkies get in (tubs) soon as they hang out the clothes on the ropes

and bushes. The suds be warm, little darkies race to get washed. Folks

raced to get through jobs then and have fun all time.

"Foe I jined the Yankees I had hoed and I had picked cotton. Moster

Lambert didn't work the little darkies hard to to stunt them. See how

big I am? I been well cared fur and done a sight er work if it piled

up so it could be seen.

(Solomon Lambert is a large well proportioned negro.) In 1870 the

railroad come in here by Holly Grove. That the first I ever seen. The

first cars. They was small.

"I never knowd I oughter recollect what all they talked but she said

they both (mother and father) come from Kentucky to Tennessee, then to

Arkansas in wagons and on boats too I recken. The Lamberts brought

them from Kentucky. For show I can't tell you no more 'bout them. I

heard 'em say they landed at the Bay (Indian Bay).

"Fine reports went out if you jin the army whut all you would get. I

didn't want to be there. I know whut I get soon as ever I got way from

them. Course I was goin' back. I had no other place to go. The

government give out rations at Indian Bay after the war. I didn't need

none. I got plenty to eat. Two or three of us colored folks paid Mr.

Lowe $1.00 a month to teach us at night. We learned to read and

calculate better. I learned to write. We stuck to it right smart


"I been married twice. Joe Yancey (white) married me to my first wife

at the white folks house. The last time Joe Lambert (white) married me

in the church. I had 2 boys they dead now and 1 girl. She is living.

During slavery I had a cart I drove a little mule to. I took a barrel

of water to the field. I got it at the well. I put it close by in the

shade of a tree. Trees was plentiful! Then I took the breakfast and

dinner in my cart. I done whatever come to my lot in Indian Nation.

After the war I made a plowhand. "Say there, from 1864 to 1937 Sol

Lambert farmed." Course I hauled and cut wood, but my job is farmin'.

I share croppe. I worked fer 1/3 and 1/4 and I have rented. Farmin' is

my talent. That whar all the darkey belong. He is made so. He can

stand the sun and he needs meat to eat. That is where the meat grows.

"I got chickens and a garden. I didn't get the pigs I spoke fer. I got

a fine cow. I got a house--10-1/2 acres of ground. That is all I can

look after. I caint get 'bout much. I rid on a wagon (to town) my mare

is sick I wouldn't work her. I got a buggy. Good nough fer my ridin' I

don't come to town much. I never did.

I get a Federal soldier's pension. I tell you 'bout it. White folks

tole me 'bout it and hope me see 'bout gettin' it. I'm mighty proud of

it. It is a good support for me in my old helpless days. I'm mighty

thankful for it. I'm glad you sent me word to come here I love to help

folks. They so good to me.

"I vote a Republican ticket. I don't vote. I did vote when I was 21

years old. It was stylish then and I voted some since then along. I

don't bother with votin' and I don't know nuthin 'bout how it is done

now. I tried to run my farm and let them hired run the governmint. I

knowed my job like he knowed his job.

I come back to tell you one other thing. My Captain was Edward


"I told you all I know 'bout slavery less you ask me 'bout somethin' I

might answer: We ask if we could go to white church and they tell us

they wanted certain ones to go today so they could fix up. It was

after the war new churches and schools sprung up. Not fast then.

Prices of slaves run from $1600 to $2000 fer grown to middle age. Old

ones sold low, so did young ones. $1600 was a slow bid. That is whut I


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