From: More Arkansas
Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed: Ella Glespie
"I was born the third year after the surrender. I was born in Okolona,
Mississippi. My parents was Jane Bowen and Henry Harrison. Ma had seven
children. They lived on the Gates place at freedom. I'm the onliest one
of my kin living anywheres 'bout now. Ma never was sold but pa was.
"Parson Caruthers brought pa from Alabama. He was a good runner and when
he was little he throwd his hip outer j'int running races. Then Parson
Caruthers learnt him a trade--a shoemaker. When he was still nothing but
a lad he was sold for quite a sum of money. When emancipation come on he
could read and write and make change.
"So den he was out in the world cripple. He started teaching school. He
had been a preacher, too, durin' slavery. He preached and taught school.
He was justice of the peace and representative for two terms from
Chickasaw County in the state legislature. I heard them talk about that
and when I started to school Mr. Suggs was the white man principal. Pa
was one teacher and there was some more teachers. He was a teacher a
long time. He was eighty odd and ma was sixty odd when she died. Both
died in Mississippi.
"My folks said Master Gates was good. I knowd my pa's young Master
Gates. Pa said he never got a whooping. They made a right smart of money
outen his work. He said some of the boots he made brung high as twenty
dollars. Pa had a good deal of Confederate bills as I recollects. Ma
said some of them on Gates' place got whoopings.
"When they would be at picnics and big corn shellings or shuckings
either, all Gates' black folks was called 'Heavy Gates'; they was fed
and treated so well. I visited back at home in Mississippi. Went to the
quarters and all nineteen years ago. I heard them still talking about
the 'Heavy Gates'. I was one the offspring.
"Ma cooked for her old mistress years and years. Mrs. Rogers in South
Carolina give ma to Miss Rebecca, her daughter, and said, 'Take good
care of her, you might need her.' They come in ox wagons to Mississippi.
Ma was a little girl then when Miss Rebecca married Dr. Bowen. Ma hated
to leave Miss Rebecca Bowen 'cause in the first place she was her
half-sister. She said Master Rogers was her own pa. Her ma was a cook
and house girl ahead of her. Ma was a fine cook. Heap better than I ever
was 'cause she never lacked the stuff to fix and I come short there.
"I heard ma tell this. Wherever she lived and worked, at Dr. Bowen's, I
reckon. The soldiers come one day and took their sharp swords from out
their belts and cut off heads of turkeys, chickens, geese, ducks,
guineas, and took a load off and left some on the ground. They picked up
the heads and what was left and made a big washpot full of dumplings.
She said the soldiers wasted so much.
"When I was young I seen a 'style block' at Holly Springs, Mississippi.
I was going to Tucker Lou School, ten miles from Jackson. That was way
back in the seventies. A platform was up in the air under a tree and two
stumps stood on ends for the steps. It was higher than three steps but
that is the way they got up on the platform they tole me.
"I think times are a little better. I gits a little ironing and six
dollars and commodities. The young generation is taking on funny ways. I
think they do very well morally 'cepting their liquor drinking habits.
That is worse, I think. They are advancing in learning. I think times a
"My husband had been out here. We married and I come here. I didn't like
here a bit but now my kin is all dead and I know folks here better. I
like it now very well. He was a farmer and mill man."
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