Taylor Jackson

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson

Person interviewed: Taylor Jackson,

Edmondson, Arkansas

Age: 88?

[Date Stamp: MAY 11 1938]

"I was born two miles from Baltimore, Maryland. I was a good size boy.

My father carried me to see the war flag go up. There was an awful

crowd, one thousand people, there. I had two masters in this country

besides in Virginia. When war was declared there was ten boats of

niggers loaded at Washington and shipped to New Orleans. We stayed in

the 'Nigger Traders Yard' there about three months. But we was not to

be sold. Master Cupps [Culps?] owned father, mother and all of us. If

they gained the victory he was to take us back to Virginia. I never

knowed my grandparents. The yard had a tall brick wall around it. We

had a bunk room, good cotton pads to sleep on and blankets. On one

side they had a wall fixed to go up on from the inside and twelve

platforms. You could see them being sold on the inside and the crowd

on the outside. When they auctioned them off they would come, pick out

what they wanted to sell next and fill them blocks again. They sold

niggers all day long. They come in another drove they had, had men out

buying over the country. They come in thick wood doors with iron nails

bradded through, fastened on big hinges, fastened it with chains and

iron bars. The house was a big red brick house. We didn't get none too

much to eat at that place. I reckon one side was three hundred yard

long of the wall and the house was that long. Some of them in there

cut their hands off with a knife or ax. Well, they couldn't sell

them. Nobody would buy them. I don't know what they ever done with

them. Plenty of them would cut their hand off if they could get

something to cut with to keep from being sold.

"We stayed in that place till Wyley Lions [Lyons?] come and got us in

wagons. He kept us for Master Cupps. Mother was a house girl in

Virginia. She was one more good cook. I started hoeing and picking

cotton in Virginia for master. When I was fourteen years old I done

the same in Mississippi with Wiley Lyons in Mississippi close to

Canton. In Canton, Mississippi Wiley Lyons had the biggest finest

brick house in that country. He had two farms. In Bolivar County was

the biggest. I could hear big shooting from Canton fifteen miles away.

He wasn't mean and he didn't allow the overseers to be mean.

"Hilliard Christmas [a neighbor] was mean to his folks. My father

hired his own time. He raised several ten acre gardens and

watermelons. He paid Mr. Cupp in Virginia. He come to see our folks

how they was getting along.

"A Negro on a joining farm run off. They hunted him with the dogs and

they found him at a log. Heap his legs froze, so the white doctor had

to cut them off. He was on Solomon's farms. After that he got to be a

cooper. He made barrels and baskets--things he could do sittin' in his

chair. They picked him up and made stumps for him. Some folks was


"My mother was Rachel and my father was Andrew Jackson. I had three

brothers fought in the War. I was too young. They talked of taking me

in a drummer boy the year it ceased. My nephew give me this uniform.

It is warm and it is good. My breeches needs some repairs reason I

ain't got them on. [He has worn a blue uniform for years and


"There was nine of us children. I got one girl very low now. She's in

Memphis. I been in Arkansas 45 years. I come here jes' drifting

looking out a good location. I never had no dealings with the Ku Klux.

I been farming all my life. Yes, I did like it. I never owned a home

nor no land. I never voted in my life. I had nine children of my own

but only my girl living now.

"Nine or ten years ago I could work every minute. Times was good!

good! Could get plenty work--wood to cut and ditching. It is not that

way now. I can't do a day's work now. I'm failing fast. I feel it.

"Young folks can make a living if they work and try. Some works too

hard and some don't hardly work. Work is scarcer than it ever was to

my knowledge. Times changed and changed the young folks. Mother died

two or three years after the War. My father died first year we come to


[We went by and took the old Negro to West Memphis. From there he

could take a jitney to Memphis to see his daughter--ed.]

"I ain't never been 'rested. I ain't been to jail. Nearly well be as

so confined with the mud. [We assured him it was nicer to ride in the

car than be in jail--ed.]

"I couldn't tell how many I ever seen sold. I seen some sold in

Virginia, I reckon, or Maryland--one off the boats. They kept them

tied. They was so scared they might do anything, jump in the big

waters. They couldn't talk but to some and he would tell white folks

what he said. [They used an interpreter.] Some couldn't understand one

another if they come from far apart in the foreign country. Slavery

wasn't never bad on me. I never was sold off from my folks and I had

warmer, better clothes 'an I have now. I had plenty to eat, more'an I

has now generally. I had better in slavery than I have now. That is

the truth. I'm telling the truth, I did. Some didn't. One neighbor got

mad and give each hand one ear of corn nine or ten o'clock. They take

it to the cook house and get it made up in hominy. Some would be so

hungry they would parch the corn rather 'an wait. He'd give 'em meal

to make a big kettle of mush. When he was good he done better. Give

'em more for supper.

"Freedom--soldiers come by two miles long look like. We followed them.

There was a crowd following. Wiley Lyons had no children; he adopted a

boy and a girl. Me and the boy was growing up together. Me and the

white boy (fifteen or sixteen years old, I reckon we was) followed

them. They said that was Grant's army. I don't know. 'That made us

free' they told us. The white boy was free, he just went to see what

was happening. We sure did see! We went by Canton to Vicksburg when

fighting quit. Folks rejoiced, and then went back wild. Smart ones

soon got work. Some got furnished a little provisions to help keep

them from starving. Mr. Wiley Lyons come got us after five months. We

hung around my brother that had been in the War. I don't know if he

was a soldier or a waiter. We worked around Master Lyons' house at

Canton till he died. I started farming again with him.

"I get $8 a month pension and high as things is that is a powerful

blessing but it ain't enough to feed me good. It cost more to go after

the commodities up at Marion than they come to [amount to in value]."

Tanny Hill Tempe Pitts facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail