Warren Mckinney

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson

Person interviewed: Warren McKinney, Hazen, Arkansas

Age: 85

I was born in Edgefield County, South Carolina. I am eighty-five years

old. I was born a slave of George Strauter. I remembers hearing them say

"Thank God Ize free as a jay bird." My ma was a slave in the field. I

was eleven years old when freedom was declared. When I was little, Mr.

Strauter whipped my ma. It hurt me bad as it did her. I hated him. She

was crying. I chunked him with rocks. He run after me, but he didn't

catch me. There was twenty-five or thirty hands that worked in the

field. They raised wheat, corn, oats, barley, and cotton. All the

children that couldn't work stayed at one house. Aunt Mat kept the

babies and small children that couldn't go to the field. He had a gin

and a shop. The shop was at the fork of the roads. When de war come on

my papa went to build forts. He quit ma and took another woman. When de

war closed ma took her four children, bundled em up and went to Augusta.

The government give out rations there. My ma washed and ironed. People

died in piles. I don't know till yet what was de matter. They said it

was the change of living. I seen five or six wooden, painted coffins

piled up on wagons pass by our house. Loads passed every day lack you

see cotton pass here. Some said it was cholorea and some took

consumption. Lots of de colored people nearly starved. Not much to get

to do and not much house room. Several families had to live in one

house. Lots of the colored folks went up north and froze to death. They

couldn't stand the cold. They wrote back about them dieing. No they

never sent them back. I heard some sent for money to come back. I heerd

plenty bout the Ku Klux. They scared the folks to death. People left

Augusta in droves. About a thousand would all meet and walk going to

hunt work and new homes. Some of them died. I had a sister and brother

lost that way. I had another sister come to Louisiana that way. She

wrote back.

I don't think the colored folks looked for a share of land. They never

got nothing cause the white folks didn't have nothing but barren hills

left. About all the mules was wore out hauling provisions in the army.

Some folks say they ought to done more for de colored folks when dey

left, but dey say dey was broke. Freeing all de slaves left em broke.

That reconstruction was a mighty hard pull. Me and ma couldn't live. A

man paid our ways to Carlisle, Arkansas and we come. We started working

for Mr. Emenson. He had a big store, teams, and land. We liked it fine,

and I been here fifty-six years now. There was so much wild game living

was not so hard. If a fellow could get a little bread and a place to

stay he was all right. After I come to dis state I voted some. I have

farmed and worked at odd jobs. I farmed mostly. Ma went back to her old

master. He persuaded her to come back home. Me and her went back and run

a farm four or five years before she died. Then I come back here. I

first had 300 acres at Carlisle. I sold it and bought 80 acres at Green

Grove. I married in South Carolina. We had a fine weddin, home weddin.

Each of our families furnished the weddin supper. We had 24 waiters.

That is all the wife I ever had. We lived together 57 years. It is hard

for me to keep up with my mind since she died. She been dead five years

nearly now. I used to sing but I forgot all the songs. We had song

books. I joined the church when I was twelve years old.

I think the times are worse than they use to be. The people is living

mighty fast I tell you. I don't get no help from the government. They

won't give me the pension. I can't work and I can't pay taxes on my

place. They just don't give me nothing but a little out of the store. I

can't get no pension.

Walter Jones Warren Mckinney facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail