Bibles, Della Mun
"My Mammy was a white woman. Her daddy and mammy were pore folks and they took sick and died and left her a little baby. Old Man Snell back in Missouri, took er and put her on the yard with the other children. She was given to the charge of a black slave and raised as a Snell slave. When she was about fourteen, Marse Snell, he married her to a full blood Indian that he had on the place, named Ephram Snell. He was Marse Snell's slave same as the negroes, but I never knew how or why. Now, that's the tale about mammy that Old Man Snell told. But my black grand mother what raised my Mammy, she said that my Mammy belonged to a niece of Old Man Snell and that she was not married right like the white folks always did. And that Old Man Snell took Mammy and raised up that way and sent his niece up north to hide the disgrace. Any way, my Mammy was a sure enough white woman and my daddy a full blooded Indian daddy. And there was sister Sally, Dania, Emma and Pearlie. We were all slaves. I was next to the baby.
"I don't know my exact age but Mammy always cooked my birthday cake on the 9th day of August. We lived on Neale's Creek on the old Snell place. Marse come out of Missouri to Texas to try to keep his slaves during the first year of the war of freedom. The war didn't hardly touch us in Bosque County. We lived way back in the timber and never hardly saw any one. That is the slaves didn't, because they just stayed at home and worked. Marse Snell didn't go much either. There never was no soldiers near us. I was about eight years old when freedom came, Mammy said. None of the men folks that I know about, went to the war. The white folks may have but I don't 'member 'bout it.
"Yes, ma'am, I 'members 'bout the houses we lived in and the beds and chairs. When we come to Texas there wasn't many folks out where Marse Snell settled. White and colored lived in log houses. Only difference, the white folks had better furniture and had larger houses. They had rope-bottomed chairs. The slaves had what they called "One-legged" bed-steads. That is, they would get a corner of the room and take two good poles and make one side of the bed and one end. Then, they would lace rope across to put the grass mattress on. There wasn't any bedsprings in them days. Everybody cooked on a fire place in the winter, and out-of-doors in the summer. We never thought of planting greens to eat in those days, because we could get polk salad leaves and water cress in the spring of the year. For meat, the creek bottoms and the river bottoms were full of wild hogs. The hogs ranged up in the Bosque mountains, as we called them. But they are really just high, rocky hills. There was plenty of wild prairie chickens and wild turkeys in the woods and in the hills. Master Snell had a drove of hog dogs and when he sent the niggers or slaves on a hog-killing trip, they never thought of killing less than about twenty hogs. That was not much for the drove of slaves, white folks and children on the yard. In the spring and summer, it was common for all the white folks and the colored to kill a yearling wherever they found it, take what they wanted and leave the rest. It was no matter whether it was yours or not, there would be no one to say any thing.
"Us children played around in the brush, down on the creek, fished, chased rabbits, snared birds, rode the calves or horses when the grown folks wasn't watching too close and we did about what the children in the country do today. Only, we had more space to grow up in and less work to do and did not pay much attention to clothes, just so us was covered up.
"When us wanted a mattress, us just went out on the prairie and gathered wild hay, let it dry out on a scaffold, put it in a tick and had a good bed. Sometimes, people put shucks and a little cotton in a tick and tacked it around and made a bed. White and colored used the wild hay beds. They were made over about once a year. Everybody wore the clothes made of cloth and made at home. Of course, the white folks had fine clothes of cloth bought at Austin and Houston. When the cotton was hauled by ox waggons to them places and sold, the wagons always brought back a full load of supplies. Medicine, some different kinds of cloth, leather, sugar and tobacco and other things. Of course, the rough work shoes was made out of home tanned hide at home and some sugar and molasses was made at home. Marster tried raising the tobacco, but it wasn't no good. The fruit in Texas didn't do no good like back home. But there was some wild grapes and plums. Us got them by the wagon and horse back loads and put up jelly and preserves for all the folks, black and white.
"Us baked potatoes, corn and such by rolling them in ashes and covering them with coals of fire. I've cooked many a pone of ash cake or corn meal that way. Some of the white folks had ovens built by the side of the fire place or out of doors to cook bread, cakes and such. Us had an oven of brick like that but the first one was of stones that the children picked up here and there. Bosque County has lots of rocks but it took a long time to get the rocks marster just wanted for that oven. Then, later, he had brick hauled from Waco, to make another oven. Us would skin a rabbit and roll him in shucks, bury him in hot ashes and coals and bake him. That was sure fine eating.
All the dresses was made a lot alike and most all of them buttoned up behind. If a person, white or black, had a calico dress in them days, they was dressed up. The homespun cloth was, some of it, checked, and some striped. Most of the clothes were dyed dark blue or brown. All the girls, young girls, bout fouteen and over, wore blue; the children on the yard, white and colored, wore brown most of the time. I never saw a man wear a store-bought shirt until I was grown and married.
"After freedom, my Mammy and an old Uncle, an Indian, stayed on with Marse Snell. He didn't raise much cotton, never did. It was picked and the lint picked from the seed by hand for a long, long time until the gins got to being built. They would have us children pick the lint from the seed after supper while we sat around the fire. I would get so sleepy and I'd throw the cotton in the fire. After awhile, the old folks would smell it and watch us; if they caught us, then the switch would sure sting. The old folks would whittle churn paddles, and things to use and card bats for quilts, or piece quilts and sew. They would talk and the children had to keep quiet and pick away. After playing or working, our heads just would nod. Oh, children carried water, put the cows in the pasture, hunted eggs, brought in wood, chips and things like that. Marster never did want the children to do much until they got up pretty sizeable. All the children on the yard wore about the same kind of clothes. That was a long shirt that came about half way of the legs. Boys and all, wore that kind of a garment until they was about fourteen. In winter, we had two or three layers of these shirts and a scarf and heavy, home-made shoes. The children didn't know no certain games, they just played around on the yard.
"The smoke house was always full, and the spring house by the well had big crocks of buttermilk and if they asked for it, the children always got milk and 'lasses and corn bread any time they wanted it, but they must not get into things themselves, nor waste and scatter things. When we got 'bout fourteen, then, the children 'gin to feed the pigs, chickens and cattle. But there was a special man to look after the kerridge horses and a special waiting boy for Marster Snell. Ole Mis' had a special woman to cook and certain women to spin and weave 'cause they could do the best that way. When they first put us children to chop or pick in the fields. we got sleepy and would lie down in between the rows. But, laws a-massy, when the grown folks cotch you then the brush wrap 'roun your legs pretty sharp.
"If there was a church near us, I don't know 'bout it. I didn't see till I was grown and come out of the brush. I guess the white folks went some time, but I didn't pay much attention to them. Mammy had her little house to herself and her family didn't mix with the negroes no more than the Snell folks did. Of course, with us, like with all families 'round us, all the children white and black grew up on the yard together. But they didn't eat or sleep together. I never have in my life, lived with the negroes.
"Mun Bibles come to work for Marster Snell and we 'cided to get married. So, we up and went to Bosqueville to a Justice of the Peace. The Bibles, some white, some Indian, and some negroes, were plentiful up and down the Bosque. They were good people. Yes, I 'member the dress I wore when I got married; it was a calico dress, a white one with blue specks in it. Mun wore jeans britches and a cotton shirt. Mun Bibles died nine years ago. We got married, come home and went to work. Before Mun died, we owned nine hundred acres of land. But, when we got too old to work it ourselves, we got renters. Seasons were bad, no crops, things ran down and we sold it. I got a lot and a little house in Waco and that's all now. Just lost it all.
"Mun's name was Monroe Bibles. His mother was Agnes. He had two brothers, Jack, who was killed while breaking horses, and Stoke who died with a fever (from a fever). There was Nat, Ike and John Bibles, but they were not kin to Mun. Nat married Emma Snell. They were not Indian, they were negroes. Mun was a Tonkaway Indian. Ike Bibles married a woman named Kate. They had Henrietta, Edmond, Rhoda, Nan, Babe, Victoria, Laura, and John, them was their children. Phoebe was John's wife and they had Philip, Gilbert, George and Duck. All these are dead but Gilbert. He lives at Valley Mills and is well respected by black and white. Rosa was another of them children and she is dead now. There is one of Nat's granchildren living in East Waco now. No, I don' know much about them.
"Some of the songs they used to sing 'round the fire at night was: "In Dat Great Gittin' Up Mornin'"' my Mammy liked that one. I have heard lots of singing, and I used to know lots of songs, but I don't know many now. The old folks used to sing a song in the fields "Mos' Done Toilin' Here." Sometimes, when the women was working along and get lonesome they liked to sing "Po Mourners Got a Home at Las." Daddy was a pow'ful hand for singing and he used to bear down on "Zekiel Saw de Wheel." I mean Mun's daddy and Mun, he sung a lot too. Some say he a kind of a preacher, dat's de white folks, but he just exhorted. Yes ma'am, I kinder know them songs in spots, but my memory is kinder shaky now. I'm pretty certain that I am full eighty years old, and I have worked hard and now I can't always remember what I should. No, I reckon I couldn't nohow give the words to make sense. But the old songs make you feel good when you hear them.
"Slavery times was hard on some and not so bad on the other. We had a good house to sleep in, plenty of covers, plenty to eat and that is more than I can say now. Of course, we had to work hard, both black and white. Some worked harder than others. No, Marster only whipped when they needed it. The Indians were not whipped. They did what he wanted and worked steady and he 'pended on them a lot. Yes, all the Bibles' was high tempered and didn't like to be meddled with.