Victoria Sims





Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson

Person interviewed: Victoria Sims, Helena, Arkansas

Age: 76





"I was born in Limestone County, Alabama. It was on a river. Where I was

born they called it Elks Mouth. Our owners was Frank Martin and Liza

Martin. They raised papa. Their daughter aired (heired) him. Her name

was Miss (Mrs.) Betty Hansey. Papa's name was Ed Martin. I stood on a

stool and churned for papa's young mistress. The churn was tall as I

was. I loved milk so good and they had plenty of it--all kinds. Soon as

ever I get through, they take up the butter. I'd set 'round till they

got it worked up so I could get a piece of bread and fresh butter and a

big cup of that fresh milk. They always fixed it for me.



"Mama was Minthy Martin. She cooked on another place. She was a nurse.

Her papa belong to one person and her mother to somebody else. Mama was

Minthy Bridgeforth but I don't have her owner's name. I guess she was

sold. I heard her say the Bridgeforth's was good to her. Some white man

whooped on her once. I never heard her say much about it. Papa's owners

was good to him. They was crazy about him. I knowed papa's owners the

best and I lived there heap the most. I was born a slave but I don't

know who I belong to. I've studied that over myself. I used to go back

to see papa's owners. They owned lots of slaves and lots of land. Papa

done a lot of different things. He fed and farmed and cleaned off the

yards and slopped the pigs. He done what they said do, well as I can

recollect. I wasn't with mama till after freedom. Mama said her white

folks was treated mighty mean during the War. Once the soldiers come and

mama was so scared she took the baby and run got in the cellar. They

throwed out everything they had to eat. They took off barrels of things

to eat and left them on starvation. One soldier come one time and wanted

mama to go to the camps. She was scared not to go, scared he'd shoot her

down. She told him she'd go the next day soon as she could get up her

things and tell her folks she had gone. He agreed to that. Soon as he

left she and some other young women on the place put out to the cane

brakes and caves. She said they nearly starved. The white folks sent

them baskets of victuals several times. Mama said she had some pretty

beads she wore. Somebody had made her a present of them. She loved 'em.

I think she said they was red. Mama's mistress told her to hide her

beads, the soldiers would take them. She hid them up in the loft of

their house on a nail. One day a gang come scouting and they rummaged

the whole house and place. When the soldiers left she thought about her

beads and went to see and they was gone. She cried and cried about them.

That was before she went to the canebrakes.



"When freedom come on, the owners told them they was free. They didn't

leave and then they made a way for them to stay on. They stayed on.



"I was grown when we come to this state but we lived in Tennessee a few

years. Mama had had nine children by that time. All was dead, but us two

girls and my brother. We come to Arkansas with our parents. We heard the

land was new and rich. I wasn't married then.



"I've worked hard in the field all my life till last year or so. I still

do work.



"Times is tough here I tell you. I get a little help, six dollars.



"Some of the young folks won't work, some not able to work. If anybody

saving a thing I don't hear about it."





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