William Lattimore

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden

Person interviewed: William Lattimore

606 West Pullen Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Age: 78

"Yes'm I was a slave--I was born in 1859 in Mississippi. During the

war I wasn't grown but I can remember when the Yankee soldiers come to

Canton, Mississippi. We was sittin' out in the yard and the white

folks was on the porch when they was bombardin' Jackson. We could hear

the cannons. The white people said the Yankees was tryin' to whip the

rebellion and set the niggers free. When they got done I didn't know

what had happened but I remember the colored people packed up and we

all went to Vicksburg. My father ran off and jined the Yankee army. He

was in Colonel Zeigler's regiment in the infantry. I knowed General

Grant when I seed him. I know when Abraham Lincoln died the soldiers

(Yankees) all wore that black band around their arms.

"After my father was mustered out we went to Warren County,

Mississippi to live. He worked on the halves with a schoolteacher

named Mr. Hannum. He said he was my godfather.

"One time after the war Mr. Lattimore came and wanted my father to

live with him but I didn't want him to because before the surrender

old master whipped my father over the head with a walking stick 'cause

he stayed too long and I was afraid he would whip him again.

"'Did you ever vote?' Me? Yes ma'm I voted. I don't remember who I

voted for first--my 'membrance don't serve me--I ain't got that fresh

enough in my memory. I served eight years as Justice of the Peace

after I come to Arkansas. I remember one time they put one colored man

in office and I said that's pluckin' before it is ripe. We elected a

colored sheriff in Warren County once. The white men went on his bond,

but after awhile the Ku Klux compelled them to get off and then he

couldn't make bond. He appealed to the citizens to let him stay in

office without bond but they wouldn't do it. When a man is trying to

get elected they promise a lot of things but afterwards they is just

like a duck--they swim off on the other side.

"I went to school after freedom and kept a goin' till I was married. I

was a school director when I was eighteen. I didn't have any children

and the superintendent who was very rigid and strict said 'Boy you is

not even a patron of the school.' But he let me serve. I used to visit

the school 'bout twice a week and if the teacher was not doin' right,

I sure did lift my voice against it.

"I lived in Chicot County when I first come to Arkansas and when I

moved to Jefferson County, Judge Harry E. Cook sent my reputation up

here. I ain't never peeped into a jailhouse or had handcuffs on these


"We've got to do something 'bout this younger generation. You never

saw anything sicker. They is degenerating.

"I hold up my right hand, swear to uphold the Constitution and

preserve the flag and I don't think justice is being done when they

won't let the colored folks vote. We'd like to harmonize things here.

God made us all and said 'You is my chillun.'"

William L Dunwoody William Little facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail