Tines Kendricks

Interviewer: Watt McKinney

Person interviewed: Tines Kendricks,

Trenton, Arkansas

Age: 104

"My name is Tines Kendricks. I was borned in Crawford County, Georgia.

You see, Boss, I is a little nigger and I really is more smaller now

dan I used to be when I was young 'cause I so old and stooped over. I

mighty nigh wore out from all these hard years of work and servin' de

Lord. My actual name what was give to me by my white folks, de

Kendricks, was 'Tiny'. Dey called me dat 'cause I never was no size

much. Atter us all sot free I just changed my name to 'Tines' an' dats

what I been goin' by for nigh on to ninety years.

"'Cordin' to what I 'member 'bout it, Boss, I is now past a hundred

and four year old dis past July de fourth two hours before day. What I

means is what I 'member 'bout what de old mars told me dat time I

comed back to de home place atter de War quit an' he say dat I past

thirty then. My mammy, she said I born two hours before day on de

fourth of July. Dat what dey tole me, Boss. I is been in good health

all my days. I ain't never been sick any in my life 'scusin' dese last

years when I git so old and feeble and stiff in de joints, and my teef

'gin to cave, and my old bones, dey 'gin to ache. But I just keep on

livin' and trustin' in de Lord 'cause de Good Book say, 'Wherefore de

evil days come an' de darkness of de night draw nigh, your strength,

it shall not perish. I will lift you up 'mongst dem what 'bides wid

me.' Dat is de Gospel, Boss.

"My old mars, he was named Arch Kendricks and us lived on de

plantation what de Kendricks had not far from Macon in Crawford

County, Georgia. You can see, Boss, dat I is a little bright an' got

some white blood in me. Dat is 'counted for on my mammy's side of de

family. Her pappy, he was a white man. He wasn't no Kendrick though.

He was a overseer. Dat what my mammy she say an' then I know dat

wasn't no Kendrick mixed up in nothin' like dat. Dey didn't believe in

dat kind of bizness. My old mars, Arch Kendricks, I will say dis, he

certainly was a good fair man. Old mis' an' de young mars, Sam, dey

was strickly tough an', Boss, I is tellin' you de truth dey was cruel.

De young mars, Sam, he never taken at all atter he pa. He got all he

meanness from old mis' an' he sure got plenty of it too. Old mis', she

cuss an' rare worse 'an a man. Way 'fore day she be up hollerin' loud

enough for to be heered two miles, 'rousin' de niggers out for to git

in de fields even 'fore light. Mars Sam, he stand by de pots handin'

out de grub an' givin' out de bread an' he cuss loud an' say: 'Take a

sop of dat grease on your hoecake an' move erlong fast 'fore I lashes

you.' Mars Sam, he was a big man too, dat he was. He was nigh on to

six an' a half feet tall. Boss, he certainly was a chile of de debbil.

All de cookin' in dem days was done in pots hangin' on de pot racks.

Dey never had no stoves endurin' de times what I is tellin' you 'bout.

At times dey would give us enough to eat. At times dey wouldn't--just

'cordin' to how dey feelin' when dey dishin' out de grub. De biggest

what dey would give de field hands to eat would be de truck what us

had on de place like greens, turnips, peas, side meat, an' dey sure

would cut de side meat awful thin too, Boss. Us allus had a heap of

corn-meal dumplin's an' hoecakes. Old mis', her an' Mars Sam, dey real

stingy. You better not leave no grub on your plate for to throw away.

You sure better eat it all iffen you like it or no. Old mis' and Mars

Sam, dey de real bosses an' dey was wicked. I'se tellin' you de truth,

dey was. Old mars, he didn't have much to say 'bout de runnin' of de

place or de handlin' of de niggers. You know all de property and all

the niggers belonged to old mis'. She got all dat from her peoples.

Dat what dey left to her on their death. She de real owner of


"Just to show you, Boss, how 'twas with Mars Sam, on' how contrary an'

fractious an' wicked dat young white man was, I wants to tell you

'bout de time dat Aunt Hannah's little boy Mose died. Mose, he sick

'bout er week. Aunt Hannah, she try to doctor on him an' git him well

an' she tell old mis' dat she think Mose bad off an' orter have de

doctor. Old mis', she wouldn't git de doctor. She say Mose ain't sick

much, an' bless my Soul, Aunt Hannah she right. In a few days from

then Mose is dead. Mars Sam, he come cussin' an' tole Gabe to get some

planks an' make de coffin an' sont some of dem to dig de grave over

dere on de far side of de place where dey had er buryin'-groun' for de

niggers. Us toted de coffin over to where de grave was dug an' gwine

bury little Mose dar an' Uncle Billy Jordan, he was dar and begun to

sing an' pray an' have a kind of funeral at de buryin'. Every one was

moanin' an' singin' an' prayin' and Mars Sam heard 'em an' come

sailin' over dar on he hoss an' lit right in to cussin' an' rarein'

an' say dat if dey don't hurry an' bury dat nigger an' shut up dat

singin' an' carryin' on, he gwine lash every one of dem, an' then he

went to cussin' worser an' 'busin' Uncle Billy Jordan. He say iffen he

ever hear of him doin' any more preachin' or prayin' 'round 'mongst de

niggers at de grave-yard or anywheres else, he gwine lash him to

death. No suh, Boss, Mars Sam wouldn't even 'low no preachin' or

singin' or nothin' like dat. He was wicked. I tell you he was.

"Old mis', she ginrally looked after de niggers when dey sick an' give

dem de medicine. An' too, she would get de doctor iffen she think dey

real bad off 'cause like I said, old mis', she mighty stingy an' she

never want to lose no nigger by dem dyin'. How-some-ever it was hard

some time to get her to believe you sick when you tell her dat you

was, an' she would think you just playin' off from work. I have seen

niggers what would be mighty near dead before old mis' would believe

them sick at all.

"Before de War broke out, I can 'member there was some few of de white

folks what said dat niggers ought to be sot free, but there was just

one now an' then that took that stand. One of dem dat I 'member was de

Rev. Dickey what was de parson for a big crowd of de white peoples in

dat part of de county. Rev. Dickey, he preached freedom for de niggers

and say dat dey all should be sot free an' gived a home and a mule.

Dat preachin' de Rev. Dickey done sure did rile up de folks--dat is de

most of them like de Kendricks and Mr. Eldredge and Dr. Murcheson and

Nat Walker and such as dem what was de biggest of the slaveowners.

Right away atter Rev. Dickey done such preachin' dey fired him from de

church, an' 'bused him, an' some of dem say dey gwine hang him to a

limb, or either gwine ride him on a rail out of de country. Sure

enough dey made it so hot on dat man he have to leave clean out of de

state so I heered. No suh, Boss, they say they ain't gwine divide up

no land with de niggers or give them no home or mule or their freedom

or nothin'. They say dey will wade knee deep in blood an' die first.

"When de War start to break out, Mars Sam listed in de troops and was

sent to Virginny. There he stay for de longest. I hear old mis'

tellin' 'bout de letters she got from him, an' how he wishin' they

hurry and start de battle so's he can get through killin' de Yankees

an' get de War over an' come home. Bless my soul, it wasn't long

before dey had de battle what Mars Sam was shot in. He writ de letter

from de hospital where they had took him. He say dey had a hard fight,

dat a ball busted his gun, and another ball shoot his cooterments

(accouterments) off him; the third shot tear a big hole right through

the side of his neck. The doctor done sew de wound up; he not hurt so

bad. He soon be back with his company.

"But it wasn't long 'fore dey writ some more letters to old mis' an'

say dat Mars Sam's wound not gettin' no better; it wasn't healin' to

do no good; every time dat they sew de gash up in his neck it broke

loose again. De Yankees had been puttin' poison grease on the bullets.

Dat was de reason de wound wouldn't get well. Dey feared Mars Sam

goin' to die an' a short time atter dat letter come I sure knowed it

was so. One night just erbout dusk dark, de screech owls, dey come in

er swarm an' lit in de big trees in de front of de house. A mist of

dust come up an' de owls, dey holler an' carry on so dat old mars get

he gun an' shot it off to scare dem erway. Dat was a sign, Boss, dat

somebody gwine to die. I just knowed it was Mars Sam.

"Sure enough de next day dey got de message dat Mars Sam dead. Dey

brung him home all de way from Virginny an' buried him in de

grave-yard on de other side of de garden wid his gray clothes on him

an' de flag on de coffin. That's what I'se telling you, Boss, 'cause

dey called all de niggers in an' 'lowed dem to look at Mars Sam. I

seen him an' he sure looked like he peaceful in he coffin with his

soldier clothes on. I heered atterwards dat Mars Sam bucked an' rared

just 'fore he died an' tried to get outen de bed, an' dat he cussed to

de last.

"It was this way, Boss, how come me to be in de War. You see, they

'quired all of de slaveowners to send so many niggers to de army to

work diggin' de trenches an' throwin' up de breastworks an' repairin'

de railroads what de Yankees done 'stroyed. Every mars was 'quired to

send one nigger for every ten dat he had. Iffen you had er hundred

niggers, you had to send ten of dem to de army. I was one of dem dat

my mars 'quired to send. Dat was de worst times dat dis here nigger

ever seen an' de way dem white men drive us niggers, it was something

awful. De strap, it was goin' from 'fore day till 'way after night. De

niggers, heaps of 'em just fall in dey tracks give out an' them white

men layin' de strap on dey backs without ceastin'. Dat was zackly way

it was wid dem niggers like me what was in de army work. I had to

stand it, Boss, till de War was over.

"Dat sure was a bad war dat went on in Georgia. Dat it was. Did you

ever hear 'bout de Andersonville prison in Georgia? I tell you, Boss,

dat was 'bout de worstest place dat ever I seen. Dat was where dey

keep all de Yankees dat dey capture an' dey had so many there they

couldn't nigh take care of them. Dey had them fenced up with a tall

wire fence an' never had enough house room for all dem Yankees. They

would just throw de grub to 'em. De mostest dat dey had for 'em to eat

was peas an' the filth, it was terrible. De sickness, it broke out

'mongst 'em all de while, an' dey just die like rats what been

pizened. De first thing dat de Yankees do when dey take de state 'way

from de Confedrits was to free all dem what in de prison at


"Slavery time was tough, Boss. You Just don't know how tough it was. I

can't 'splain to you just how bad all de niggers want to get dey

freedom. With de 'free niggers' it was just de same as it was wid dem

dat was in bondage. You know there was some few 'free niggers' in dat

time even 'fore de slaves taken outen bondage. It was really worse on

dem dan it was with dem what wasn't free. De slaveowners, dey just

despised dem 'free niggers' an' make it just as hard on dem as dey

can. Dey couldn't get no work from nobody. Wouldn't airy man hire 'em

or give 'em any work at all. So because dey was up against it an'

never had any money or nothin', de white folks make dese 'free

niggers' sess (assess) de taxes. An' 'cause dey never had no money for

to pay de tax wid, dey was put up on de block by de court man or de

sheriff an' sold out to somebody for enough to pay de tax what dey say

dey owe. So dey keep these 'free niggers' hired out all de time most

workin' for to pay de taxes. I 'member one of dem 'free niggers'

mighty well. He was called 'free Sol'. He had him a little home an' a

old woman an' some boys. Dey was kept bounded out nigh 'bout all de

time workin' for to pay dey tax. Yas suh, Boss, it was heap more

better to be a slave nigger dan er free un. An' it was really er

heavenly day when de freedom come for de race.

"In de time of slavery annudder thing what make it tough on de niggers

was dem times when er man an' he wife an' their chillun had to be

taken 'way from one anudder. Dis sep'ration might be brung 'bout most

any time for one thing or anudder sich as one or tudder de man or de

wife be sold off or taken 'way to some other state like Louisiana or

Mississippi. Den when a mars die what had a heap of slaves, these

slave niggers be divided up 'mongst de mars' chillun or sold off for

to pay de mars' debts. Then at times when er man married to er woman

dat don't belong to de same mars what he do, then dey is li'ble to git

divided up an' sep'rated most any day. Dey was heaps of nigger

families dat I know what was sep'rated in de time of bondage dat tried

to find dey folkses what was gone. But de mostest of 'em never git

togedder ag'in even after dey sot free 'cause dey don't know where one

or de other is.

"Atter de War over an' de slaves taken out of dey bondage, some of de

very few white folks give dem niggers what dey liked de best a small

piece of land for to work. But de mostest of dem never give 'em

nothin' and dey sure despise dem niggers what left 'em. Us old mars

say he want to 'range wid all his niggers to stay on wid him, dat he

gwine give 'em er mule an' er piece er ground. But us know dat old

mis' ain't gwine agree to dat. And sure enough she wouldn't. I'se

tellin' you de truth, every nigger on dat place left. Dey sure done

dat; an' old mars an' old mis', dey never had a hand left there on

that great big place, an' all that ground layin' out.

"De gov'ment seen to it dat all of de white folks had to make

contracts wid de niggers dat stuck wid 'em, an' dey was sure strict

'bout dat too. De white folks at first didn't want to make the

contracts an' say dey wasn't gwine to. So de gov'ment filled de jail

with 'em, an' after that every one make the contract.

"When my race first got dey freedom an' begin to leave dey mars', a

heap of de mars got ragin' mad an' just tore up truck. Dey say dey

gwine kill every nigger dey find. Some of them did do dat very thing,

Boss, sure enough. I'se tellin' you de truth. Dey shot niggers down by

de hundreds. Dey jus' wasn't gwine let 'em enjoy dey freedom. Dat is

de truth, Boss.

"Atter I come back to de old home place from workin' for de army, it

wasn't long 'fore I left dar an' git me er job with er sawmill an'

worked for de sawmill peoples for about five years. One day I heered

some niggers tellin' about er white man what done come in dar gittin'

up er big lot of niggers to take to Arkansas. Dey was tellin' 'bout

what a fine place it was in Arkansas, an' how rich de land is, an' dat

de crops grow without working, an' dat de taters grow big as er

watermelon an' you never have to plant 'em but de one time, an' all

sich as dat. Well, I 'cided to come. I j'ined up with de man an' come

to Phillips County in 1875. Er heap er niggers come from Georgia at de

same time dat me an' Callie come. You know Callie, dats my old woman

whats in de shack dar right now. Us first lived on Mr. Jim Bush's

place over close to Barton. Us ain't been far off from dere ever since

us first landed in dis county. Fact is, Boss, us ain't been outen de

county since us first come here, an' us gwine be here now I know till

de Lord call for us to come on home."

Tina Johnson Tiney Shaw facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail