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Ford, Ellen Nora

Ellen Nora Ford might well pass for white, as she sat on the front gallery of her humble home, sewing togedder the patches for a quilt. Her face is slightly concave, her features regular. Clothed in a calico print dress and apron, she was a typical grandmother. Her gray hair was straight. Negro blood and characteristics are totally absent, for she is the daughter of a white master and a pure blooded Indian slave woman. Her conversation was unusually free from negro dialect."

"I was bo'n in Vicksburg, Mis'sippi. I'm not able to tell de year but they said I was goin' on seven years ol' de firs' year of 'mancipation."

"My mother's name was Julia Franklin and my father was Robert Lishley. My mother was a full blood Indian woman. She was bo'n in Richmon', Virginia. My gran'mother she lived in Richmon', too."

"De Lishleys uster live in Richmon'. Dey claimed my mother and took her with 'em to Lexington, Kentucky. She told me dat was a neighborhood of ol' men. After a while the Lishleys divided up, and my mother was sent to Vicksburg and give to my father."

"Jim McHatten brought us from Vicksburg to Eagle Lake and sol' us there---me and my mother. I kin little bit remember that trip like a dream. We come by ox and mule team. I remember we come through Crockett. That was one name I didn't forget but I don't remember any other names. I ain't got good ricollection. I can't give much of a story 'bout it but I remember we come the wagon way. My mother said we was six months in coming."

"Back in Vicksburg the ol' marster was Arnol' Lishley and ol' mistus' name was Calishtia. They had a son name' Robert."

"When we got to Texas I was sol' to a Dutchman name' Stukey. I was ol' enough to know he was a Dutchman by his language."

"The people I come with, some of 'em live in Wharton. They say my father and gran'father was good people."

"Stukey was mean. One day six men come to beat my mother. She fought and fought, and beat 'em then, but that was a cryin' day for me. My mother was a full blood Indian."

"My mother uster sew for the plantation. That was in Mis'sippi. I don't know how large it was or how many slaves there was but there was enough for ol' marster's three plantation."

"I had to nurse for the Stukeys. I had to rock the little baby in the cradle and see dat she didn' cry. Ol' lady Stukey whip me once and slap me two or three times. One time she whip me, she had my mother to whip. That was the time the six men beat her up. Dey busted her skull, but it didn' kill her."

"I remember the day freedom come. I was sol' that day to Mr. McArthur---sol' at the dinner table. They say, 'Nora, go upstairs and get your things.' That day seven engines and trains come to Eagle Lake. I went upstairs and look out the window and see them seven trains, and I tell my mother. Mother say, 'I'm free.' I'm willin' to go with few clothes and half naked.' We lef' and went to a ol' section house. Mother took in boarders and work' at day work for Bill Good at the hotel. That was 'bout a year and six months after we come to Texas."

"Befo' freedom come, when I was at Sour Lake, I didn' have no time. I had to do ev'rything accordin' to madam. When I was in Vicksburg, though, they kep' the little ones in a big house and had a ol' woman to look after 'em."

"I didn' know nuthin' 'bout fiel' hands. Mother did the sewin' and after she finish her sewin' sometime they sen' her into the fiel' to pick cotton."

"After freedom my mother tol' me, 'Nora, you ain't got no father. This Jim Franklin what I marry, he's your step-father. You goin' to hafter look out for youself. I was eight years ol' then and I went and hired out to Miss Belle Stricklan' in Eagle Lake for $3.00 a month. I had to 'tend to the baby, wash dishes, clean up de house and git in the wood and water. What money I got I give to my mother. I wasn't 'lowed to spend it."

"I married my first husban', Ben Ford, on the 27th of January, 1873. We had five children. I live here with Ben Ford, Junior. He worked for the Santa Fe, but now he's in bad health."

"My secon' husban' was Isaiah Mayes, and my third was Joe Winters. I never had no children 'cept four boys and one girl by Ford."

"I'm a Christian and a member of the Baptist Church. I was baptized October 14, 1872. I remember one of the hymns we uster sing, part of it went:

'The midsummer sun shines but dim, The fields strive in vain to look gay, But when I am happy in Him, December is pleasant as May.'"

"My mother and gran'mother was Christian people and was prayin' people. 'Mancipation wouldn't have come if it hadn't been for the prayers of my mother and gran'mother."

"I heard people talk 'bout ghosts but I never seen any. I felt that warm breeze though, and one time there was a curious light follow me. There was a path leading across a gully. When I got close to the gully the light would meet me and follow me 'cross the gully and on the other side as far as the fence. I heard people speak 'bout the Klu Klux but I didn't know anything about it."

"I never had no schoolin', jes' good mother wit. In them times they had to pay one dollar a month for schoolin'. I wanted to learn how to read so I could read the Bible. I was taught to read the Bible in my sleep."

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