Dibble, F. W. Grey, Bernice, P.W. Beaumont, Jefferson, Dist. #3 (February 10, 1938 (Yes))
A small faced negress with the typical high cheek bones of her half Indian ancestry; close growing gray wool plaited in short stumpy braids; sunken lips parting in a toothless but rather attractive grin, this is Josie Brown, an ex-slave of Woodville; Josie is a homebody, and is usually busy in her cabin kitchen creating huge mounds of co'n pone 'n' 'risin' biscuits' for the hungry menfolks. In her few leisure hours, Josie pieces intricate quilt tops for d' chu'ch raffles.' She was once the 'pet' of the George Heards in slavery times, and tells an interesting story of a negro child's life up in d' big house.'
"I's bo'n on Crissmus day in Victoria. Got yere jus' in time fo' d' eggnog. Dat was 'bout 1859 cause I's almos' 80 year' ol' now. I's sot free in June 'n' been six year' ol' dat Crissmus day. Us move t' Tyler county w'en I one mon' ol'."
"I 'member t'ings happen dat year freedom ris' up. I didn' hab t' do no wuk cepn' tote roun' d' mistus' lace bag wid han'ls on it. She kep' her smokin' pipe 'n' tobaccy in dat bag. I slep' on d' foot 'r' d' ol' mistus bed cause I her 'pet' 'n' couldn' stay wid d' uders."
"D' little w'ite chillen play togedder wid me but not d' uder nigger chillens much. Us pull up d' long leaf grass 'n' plait it. Us mek rag doll 'n' play house 'n' grapevine swing. Dey hab lots 'r' grapes on d' place, scudlong, dem sour blue grape 'n' sweet w'ite grape. Dey mek jelly 'n' wine outn' dem. Dey squeeze d' grape 'n' put d' juice in a 'jimmijohn' (demijohn) t' fo'men' (ferment). I neber tas' wine. Us t'ink it be fine t' tas' it but dey neber 'low d' chillen t' do dat."
"My mudder was a free bo'n Injun woman. Jus' like any 'r' dem ol' Choctaw down in d' woods. She was stole 'n' sol' by a spec'lator's gang. Dey was a thu'teen in our fam'bly but I don' b'leabe in bad luck, Dey ain' no bad luck in thu'teen. D' onlies' bad luck dey is is to miss Hebben 'n' go t' Hell."
"I didn' do nuthin' but eat 'n' sleep 'n' foller d' ol' mistus 'bout. She gib me good clo's. My mudder was d' weaver. Dey jus' cut out slip', straight down, 'n' dyed wid all kin's 'r' bark. I hab t' keep my head comb' 'n' grease' wid lard. If us hab good hair dey wrip it in string but if it short dey jus' bresh it out."
"We lib on a big farm. My mudder suckle 'r' 13 chillen 'n' ol' mistus' seben. Bob, my brudder, he go t' Mansfiel' 'n' ain' neber hear of no mo'. He go'd (went) wid young marster, Wesley Heard, t' Mansfiel' fo' his own boy. Bob was a young lad 'r' a boy but he was already courtin'. I 'member d' mawnin' dey ready t' leabe dey hab t' wait fo' him t' come in cause he been out seein' he gal."
"D' marster hab a big log house close t' d' road. D' quarters was 'cordin' t' d' fambly w'at lib dere. D' stage line t'roo Woodville pass close by. I 'member as a gal a-sittin' on d' rail fence t' see d' stage go by. Dat was a fine sight. D' stage was big rough carriage. Dey was fo' (four) 'r' five on d' line. Us chillen sit on d' fence watch dem go down d' road. D' bugle blow w'en dey go by wid d' dus' behin' dem. Dey was comin' from Jasper 'n' Louisiana 'n' ebryw'ere."
"W'en us little dey hab t' keep us in d' house cause d' bald eagle would pick up chillen jus' like a hawk pick up chicken. Dey was lots 'r' catamoun' 'n' b'ars 'n' deer in d' woods. Us neber 'low' t' play alone in d' wood."
"My mudder name' was Keyia, dat Injun, 'n' my daddy name' Reuben. I 'member w'en I little us go visit my uncle Major Scott. He lib in Polk County. He wo' (wore) earring in he yeres 'n' beads 'n' ebryt'ing. He's a Injun. He dead now many year."
"My daddy wuk in d' fiel'. He help sow d' rice on d' fiel' 'n' plow it under. W'en dey harves' d' rice dey beat it wid a pestle. Dey raise dey own t'baccy. Dey hab fiel's 'r' it. Dey cut it in piece' 'n' put it in d' crack 'r' d' fence t' press. Den dey dry it on d' barn roof. Dat was smokin' t'baccy. Fo' d' chewin' t'baccy dey soak it in sugar 'r' honey. Us neber see no snuff 'til later. Dey crop t'baccy jus' like green'. Dey raise garden veg'tibbles fo' d' big house. D' marster 'low d' ol'er niggers t' hab a patch 'r' dey own but dey hab t' wuk it at night."
"On Sunday d' culled people didn' wuk. D' marster 'low dem t' hab chu'ch meetin'. Dey hab t' put dey y'arbor (arbor) right outn' d' yard do' (though) so's d' w'ite folks could see d' kin' 'r' 'ligion 'spounded. I's a Baptis' since 1883."
"I's seed some bad sight in slav'ry do' (though). I ain' neber been 'buse myse'f. I seed chillen too little t' walk split from dey mammys 'n' sol' right on d' block in Woodville. Dey was sol' jus' like caffs. I seed niggers in han' locks. D' sellers he say, 'Bid a dollar, bid a hunnerd dollar' 'n' so on."
"A-ter freedom dey wuk a whole year. Major Sangers he fin'lly come 'n' mek d' w'ite folks tu'n us loose. I tol' d' ol' folks I didn' know d' dif'rence. I stay on fo' years til d' ol' mistus die. O' ol' mistus learn me t' knit 'n' spin 'n' like. I still lub t' quilt. Us mek 9-patch pattern; Star 'r' Beth'lem wid five point. Us use ol' britches legs, d' hin' (hind) part 'r' dresses 'n' such. Mos' d' time right now I spen' mekkin' quilt. Dis call' a 'monkey wrench' pattern; dis a 'wil' goose; 'n' dis a 'worl's puzzle; my daughter 'n' me mek dem fo' chu'ch raffle.
"In dem yerly (early) day us hab t' be keerful. Dey say dat witches ride dey hosses on dark night'. Us alays put hossshoes ober d' do' t' keep d' witch' out. Iffen us go out do' (doors) at night us go 'roun' d' house t'ree times so d' witch not come in w'ile us gone."
"I's 15 year' ol' w'en I marry. Giles Paul was a western man. He was my fus' husban'. It w'er jus' atter my mistus die. Fletcher, he my young marster, he was d' county clerk, 'n' he gib me d' license fo' t' marry. Us hab a real weddin' wid a bride veil. My weddin' dress hung 'way back on d' flo' (floor) 'n' shine like silver. Dey hab a big dance 'n' eat supper."
"My secon' husban' name' Robert Brown. I's d' mudder 'r' ten chillen 'r' my own. 'Sides dat I raise' six 'r' seben dat I pick up on d' street cause dey orfums (orphans) 'n' hab nobudy tek care 'r' dem. Some dem chillen drift' 'bout now 'n' I wouldn' know dem iffen I see dem."
(Burrows, George N., PW Texarkana, Bowie County, Texas)
JOSIE BROWN was born about 1859, in Victoria, Texas. She belonged to George Heard. Her mother was born free, a member of the Choctaw Nation, but she was stolen and sold as a slave. Josie now lives in Woodville, Texas.
"I's bo'n on Christmas day, in Victoria. Got here jus' in time for de eggnog! Dat 'bout 1859, 'cause I's six year ole de Christmas 'fore freedom. My mudder was a free bo'n Injun women. Jus' like any ole, dammed Choctaw down in de woods. She was stole and sol' by a spec'lator's gang. Us move to Tyler when I one mont' ole.
"We lib on a big farm and my mudder suckle her thirteen chillun and ole mistus seven. Bob, my brudder, he go to Mansfiel' and we never hear of him no more. He wen' with young marster, Wesley Heard. I 'member de mornin' day lef', dey had to wait for him, 'cause he'd been out seein' his gal.
"De marster had a big log house close to de road. De quarters was 'cordin' to de family what live dere. De stage line through Woodvilk pass close by. I 'member sittin' on de rail fence to see de stage go by. Dat was a fine sight! De stage was big, rough carriage and dey was four or five hosses on de line. De bugle blow when dey go by, with de dus' behin' dem. Dey was comin' from Jasper, in Louisian', and everywhere.
"When us little dey hab to keep us in de house 'cause de bald eagle pick up chillen jus' like de hawk pick up chicken. Dey was lots of catamoun' and bears and deer in de woods. Us never 'llowed play 'lone in de woods.
"I didn' do nothin' 'cep' eat and sleep and foller ole mistus 'round. She give me good clothes 'cause my mudder was de weaver. De clothes jus' cut out straight down and dyed with all kinds of bark. I hab to keep de head comb and grease with lard. De lil' white chillun play with no but not de udder nigger chilluns much. Us pull de long, leaf grass and pleat it and us make rag doll and playhouse and grapevine swing. Dere's plenty grapes, scudlong, sour blue grapes and sweet, white grape. Dey make jelly and wine outta dem. Dey squeeze de grapes and put de juice in a jimmijohn(demijohn) to fo'men'.
"My mudder name was Keyia. Dat Injun. Daddy's name was Reuben. I 'member when I's lil' us goes visit my uncle, Major Scott. He lib in Polk County and he wore earring in he ears and beads and everyt'ing. He's a Injun. He dead now. many year.
"My daddy work in de fiel'. He sow de rice and raise t'baccy. Dey have fiel's of it. Dey put it in de crack of de fence to press, den dey dry it on de barn roof. Dat was smokin' t'baccy! For de chewin' t'baccy. dey soak it in sugar and honey. Us never see snuff den.
"On Sunday us didn' work. We has chu'ch meetin'. But dey has to have it in de ya'd, so de white folks could see de kin' of religion 'spounded.
"I seed some had sight in slavery, but ain' never been 'bused myself. I seed chillun too lil' to walk from dey mommies sol' right off de block in Woodville. Dey was sol' jus' like calfs. I seed niggers in han' locks.
"After freedom dey wuk a whole year and den Major Sangers, he finally come and make de white folks tu'n us loose. I stay on for years, 'till ole mistus die, She larn me to knit and spin and sich like.