Tom & Sarah Douglas

Interviewer: Mrs. Carol Graham

Person interviewed: Tom & Sarah Douglas

Resident: El Dorado, Arkansas

Age: 90 and 83.


This is a second interview with Uncle Tom and Aunt Sarah Douglas. The

first was sent to your office in September 1936 from interview by Mrs.

Mildred Thompson, El Dorado, Arkansas. Mrs. Thompson is not now with the

Project. Mrs. Carol Graham made the second interview.

Tom Douglas--Ex-slave. I was a slave boy till I was eighteen. Was born

in 1847, 'mancipated in '65. No, my master did not give me forty acres

of land and a mule. When we was 'mancipated my master came took us

outside the gate across the road and told us we was freed. "You are free

to work for anybody you want to." We set there a while then we went

whare ol' master was and he tol' us if we wanted to stay wid him and

finish the crop he would provide our victuals and clothes. The next year

we worked for him on the halves, and continued to do so for four or five

years. 'F we didn' eat an' wear it up he would give us the balance in

money an we of'en had as much as fifty dollars when the year was over.

My ol' master was S.B. [TR: in two previous interviews, B.B. Thomas]

Thomas. The young master was Emmett Thomas. Mr. Emmett was his son. Dey

was near Marion, Louisiana, then I worked fuh his brother-in-law 'Lias

George. His wife was Susan George. I tell you the fact, these times is

much bettuh than slave times. If I'm hungry an' naked, I'm free. I'm

crazy 'bout liberty.

I've heard of the Ku Klux Klan but never did see none of 'em. Have seen

where they is been but nevuh did see 'em.

We voted several years. Was considered citizens--voted an' all that sort

of thing. I think if we pay taxes we ought to vote for payin' taxes

makes us citizens don' it? I used to be a big politics man--lost all I

had house, forty acres, a good well an' stock an' ever'thing. I was tol'

one day that the Ku Kluxes was comin' to my house that night an' I got

on my horse at sundown an left an aint nevuh been back. I was a big

politics man then--lost all I had and quit politics. I'm ninety years

old and fifteenth of next September. Looks like the old might get

pensions if old has anything to do with it I ought to get a pension but

us ol' folks that is gettin' long an has a place to stay an' somethin'

to eat they say don' get none.

I come to El Dorado January 3, 1893. This place was in the woods then. I

bought 120 acres from Mr. Dave Armstrong at five dollars per acre and in

nine years I had it all paid for. It was after I got tired of workin' on

the halves that I bought me a place.

Worked at a sawmill four years beginnin in 1897 or 98. Than I jobbed

aroun' town three years doin' this an' that an' the other. Carried $25

with me when I moved to town and brought $28 back with me. Cleared $1 a

year an' got tired of that.

Am livin' off my land. Have sol' some an' am sellin some now but times

is hard and folks can't pay. I takes in from $18 to $25 per month.

The young folks is gone to destruction. Aint nothin' but destruction.

You is young your self but you can tell times aint the same as they was

ten years back. Young folks is goin' to destruction. Me, I'm goin' home.

Goin' back 80 years an comin' up to day I is seen a mighty big change.

Me, I'm goin' home. Don't know what you young folks going to see eighty

years from now. Everybody is trying to get something for nothing.

We use to sing "Gimme this Old Time Religion, It's Good enough for me".

An' we sung "I'm a Soldier of the Cross" an lots of others. We don' live

right now, don' serve God. Pride, formality an love of money keeps folks

from worshipping an' away from the ol' time religion. You know that ol'

sayin: "Preacher in the pulpit preachin' mighty bold; All for your money

an' none for your soul." Seems like its true now days.

You ask does I have stripes on my back from bein beat in slave'y times?

No maam. I was always a good boy and smart boy raised in the same yard

with the little white chillun. You says Sarah told you that las' year?

Missy you mus' be mistaken. I was whipped once or twice but I needed it

then or ol' master wouldn't a whipped me an he never did leave no

stripes on me. My old master was good to all his niggers and I'm tellin

you I was raised up with his chullun an him and old mistress was good to

me. All we little black chillun et out of the boilin' pot an every

Sunday mornin' we had hot biscuit and butter for breakfact. No maam my

old master was always good to his niggers.

(Above is as exactly told by Tom Douglas with the exception that he used

the word Marster, for master; wuz for was, tuh for to; ah for I and

other quaint expressions--these were omitted because of instruction in

Bulletin received August 7th, 1937.)

Taken down word for word. August 11, 1937.

Toby Jones Tom Chisolm facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail