William Harris

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson

Person Interviewed: William Harris

DeValls Bluff, Ark.

Age: 75 or 80

"I was born in Chetam County close to Nashville, Tennessee. Our master

was named Joe Harris. His wife was Miss Sallie Harris. They had eight

children. I knowed Newt, Tom and Kittie. My mother had nine children.

Her name was Julia. My papa's name was Isom Harris. I think they belong

to the same family of white folks. Granny was old woman looked after

white children. See if any of em got sick. She seen after little nigger

children too. Mama was a field hand like papa. After war Plummer Harris

went on off. He was cruel to his wife and grown folks but good to the

children. We had good houses and plenty wood but the feed was light.

"I seen the Yankees riding through the country. They looked pretty,

'specially them on white horses. My papa and mama left. Mama died with

pneumonia. Papa died, too. We had a mighty hard time after freedom and

before too. Papa worked about on shares--hired out on jobs.

"When freedom come on we went on and they didn't think to give us

nothing. When the hands all left they had the land and nobody to work.

They was land pore. It was tore up. Fences down, houses down, and

nothing to be raised to eat in the winter.

"When I got bigger I helped build the North Western Railroad into

Nashville. I made right smart of money. I was building up the track

bed. I farmed, worked on the section. I delivered here till my feet got

in bad fix.

"I got thirteen children in all. Some in Tennessee by my first wife and

some here and some grandchildren.

"Folks won't work like I used to work. It ain't no use to be 'larmed

bout the times--they been changing since the world started--still

changing. If you able it is best to go hunt work and be at a job


"I heard about the Ku Klux, they never troubled us. I seen em. I was

scared of em.

"I get commodities and a check for us three old folks. My wife washes

and irons.

"I got a bunion on one foot and raw sores on top of my toes. It won't

cure up. Both feet in bad shape. My wife had both her legs broke. We

doing very well."

William Hamilton William Henry Davis facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail