Zenia Culp

Interviewer: Mrs. Carol Graham, El Dorado Division

Person interviewed: Zenia Culp

Age: Over 80

[Jan 29 1938]

"Yas'm, my name is Zenia, Zenia Culp 'tis now since I married. My old

master's name was Billy Newton. Him and three more brothers come here

and settled in this county years ago and Master Billy settled this farm.

I was born and raised here and ain't never lived nowheres else. I used

to be nurse girl and lived up at the big house. You know up there where

Mr. John Dunbar's widow lives now. And the family burying groun' is jus'

a little south of the house where you sees them trees and tomb stones

out in the middle of the field.

"Master Billy's folks was so good to me and I sure thought a heap of

young Master Billy. Believe I told you I was the nurse girl. Well, young

Master Billy was my special care. And he was a live one too. I sure had

a time keepin' up wid that young rascal. I would get him ready for bed

every night. In summer time he went barefoot like all little chaps does

and course I would wash his foots before I put him to bed. That little

fellow would be so sleepy sometime that he would say: 'Don't wash em,

Zenia, jes' wet em.' Oh, he was a sight, young Master Billy was.

"Does you know Miss Pearl? She live there in El Dorado. She is young

master's widow. Miss Pearl comes out to see me sometime and we talks

lots bout young Master Billy.

"Yas'm, I'se always lived here where I was born. Never moved way from de

old plantation. Course things is changed lots since the days when old

Master Billy was livin'. When he went off to the war he took most of the

men black folks and the womens stayed home to take care of mistress and

the chillun.

"My husban' been dead a long, long time and I live here wid my son. His

wife is gone from home dis evenin'. So I thought I'd come out and pick

off some peanuts jes' to git out in the sunshine awhile. That's my son

out there makin' sorghum. My daughter-in-law is so good to me. She

treats me like I was a baby.

"You asks me to tell you something bout slave days, and how we done our

work then. Well, as I tell you, my job was nurse girl and all I had to

do was to keep up wid young Master Billy and that wasn't no work tall,

that was just fun. But while I'd be followin' roun' after him I'd see

how the others would be doin' things.

"When they gathered sweet potatoes they would dig a pit and line it with

straw and put the tatoes in it then cover them with straw and build a

coop over it. This would keep the potatoes from rotting. The Irish

potatoes they would spread out in the sand under the house and the

onions they would hand up in the fence to keep them from rotting.

"In old Master Newton's day they didn' have ice boxes and they would put

the milk and butter and eggs in buckets and let em down in the well to

keep em cool.

"Master's niggers lived in log houses down at de quarters but they was

fed out of the big house. I members they had a long table to eat off and

kept hit scoured so nice and clean with sand and ashes and they scoured

the floors like that too and it made em so purty and white. They made

their mops cut of shucks. I always eat in the nursery with young Master


"They had big old fireplaces in Master's house and I never seen a stove

till after the war.

"I member bein' down at the quarters one time and one of the women had

the sideache and they put poultices on her made out of shucks and hot

ashes and that sho'ly did ease the pain.

"The pickaninnies had a time playin'. Seein' these peanuts minds me that

they used to bust the ends and put them on their ears for ear rings.

Course Master Billy had to try it too, then let out a howl cause they


"Lan', but them was good old days when Master Billy was alive."

Zek Brown Zenie Cauley facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail