William J Stevens

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson

Person interviewed: William J. Stevens, Brinkley, Arkansas

Age: Up in 70's

"I was born in Pleasant Hill, Alabama. My owners were Haley and Missouri

Stevens. They owned Grandma Mary. Pa was born on the place. Mother was

sold from the Combesses to Stevens. Mother's mother was a Turk Dark

Creek Indian. She was a free woman. Her name was Judy. I called her

Grandma Judy. She was old but not gray. She had long black hair as I

remember her. Mother was named Millie. Haley bought her for my pa. My

pa's father was Haley Stevens' own son. He was his coachman. Pa

never worked a great deal. Mother never cooked till after emancipation.

She was the house girl and nurse. Life moved along smoothly as much as I

ever heard till freedom come on. The Indians was independent folks. My

mother was like that. Haley Stevens took his family to Texas soon as

freedom come on. Mother went with them. They treated her so nicely. Pa

wouldn't follow. He said she thought more of them than she did him. He

kept me with him. He married again. He was a barber at Selma, Alabama.

He died a barber at Anniston, Alabama. While my mother was in Texas

she went to see her mother in Hickory, Alabama. She was talking with a

tramp. He had helped my pa in the shop at Selma. Mother took the train

and come to pa's and my stepmother's house. I was fourteen years old

then and still wore a long shirt-like dress. They treated her the

nicest kind. She told them she was married to a man named Sims down in

Mississippi. She went back. I don't know where. The barber business was

a colored man's trade in the early days.

"Soon after freedom I made two trips a day and carried my young

mistress' books to school. It was a mile for us to go 'round the road to

Pleasant Hill. She married C.C. Williams. I cooked for her. I cooked her

daughter's weddin' supper. She had two girls, Maude and Pearl. I worked

there fourteen years for my clothes and something to eat. Then I went to

myself. When I wasn't cooking I worked in Mr. C.C. Williams' sash and

blind factory. They was big rich folks. Mrs. Williams had a hundred rent

houses. She went about in her carriage and collected rent. That was at

Meridian, Mississippi. They learned me more than an education--to work.

She learned me to cook. I cooked all my life. I cooked here at the

Rusher Hotel till I got so old I was not able to do the work.

"I do little odd jobs of work where I can find them. I 'plied for the

Old Age Pension but they give me commodities and that's all. I supports

my own self such as it be.

"I find the young generation don't stick to jobs like I had to do. Seems

like they want an education to keep them out of work. Education does

some good and some more harm than good. Oh, times! Times is going fast.

Well with some I reckon. Some like me is done left. I mean I got slower.

Time getting faster. I'm done left outen the game. Time wait for no


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