From: More Arkansas
Interviewer: Mrs. Annie L. LaCotts
Person interviewed: Adeline Burris, DeWitt, Arkansas
Adeline Burris is a little old white-haired wrinkled-faced mulatto or
yellow Negro woman who says she was old enough to be working in the
fields when the war began. According to her story she must have been
about 14 then, which would make her at least 90 years old now. She looks
as though she might be a hundred. She is stooped and very feeble but can
get around some days by the help of a stout walking stick; at other
times she cannot leave her bed for days at a time. She owns nothing and
is living in the home of her daughter-in-law who is kind to her and
cares for her as best she can. She says she was born in Murry County,
Tennessee. Columbia was the county seat. When asked if she was born
during slavery time she said, "Yes, honey, my mammy was one of de slaves
what belonged to Mr. Billie and Miss Liza Renfroe. Lord bless her heart
she was good to my mammy and her chillun! I had two little brothers,
twins, and when dey come to dis world I can remember how our old
mistress would come every day to see about dem and my mammy. She'd bring
things to eat, clothes for the babies and everything else. Yes sir! My
mother didn't want for anything as long as she stayed with Miss
Liza, not even after de Negroes was freed. When I was a little
girl I was give to my young mistress, and I stayed with her till my
folks was coning to Arkansas and I come too."
"Why did your folks move to Arkansas?"
"Well, you see we heard this was a good country and there was a white
man come there to get a lot of niggers to farm for him down on the river
and we come with him. He brought a lot of families on a big boat called
a flatboat. We were days and nights floating down the river. We landed
at St. Charles. I married in about two years and haven't ever lived
anywhere else but Arkansas County and I've always been around good white
folks. I'd been cold and hungry a lot of times if it wasn't for some of
dese blessed white folkes' chillen; dey comes to see me and brings me
things to eat and clothes too, sometimes."
"How many tines did you marry, Aunt Add.?"
"Just one time; and I just had four chillen, twins, two times. One child
died out of each sit--just left me and Becky and Bob. Bob and Dover, his
wife, couldn't get along but I think most of it's his fault, for Dover's
just as good to me as she can be. My own child couldn't be better to me
den she is.
"I don't know, honey, but looks to me like niggers was better off in dem
days den they are now. I know dey was if dey had good white folks like
we did. Dey didn't have to worry about rent, clothes, nor sumpin to eat.
Dat was there for them. All they had to do was work and do right. Course
I guess our master might not of been so good and kind ef we had been
mean and lazy, but you know none of us ever got a whippin' in our life.
"Honey, come back to see Aunt Add. sometime. I likes to talk to you."
Next: Jennie Butler
Previous: Will Burks Sr