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Millett, Harriett

Harriett Millett, 83, was born a slave in May, 1854, on the cotton plantation of William Clack, of Mississippi. Her mother was Kizzie Franklin, who was a cook on the plantation. She was the mother of twelve children, Harriett and Mathilda. Kizzie died in 1909 at the advanced age of 109 years. Her father was Anthony Franklin, who probably took the name of Franklin from a former master. Anthony was a sort of overseer on the Clack plantation. Clack then brought his slaves to Texas before emancipation and settled at Seguin, Guadalupe County. There he purchased land from his sister, Mrs. Caroline Phinell. He then moved to a place near New Braunfels, which was then known as border country and was dangerous, because of Indians. Harriett during her childhood was known as a house-girl, and helped nurse the Clack children. In 1872, at the age of 18, Harriett was married to Bill Malone, at Prairie Lea, Caldwell County. Malone was a farmer and freighter. They had seven children: Hallie, Billie, Katy, Lucinda, Mary, Ivory, and Ella. Ivory and Mary are dead. After nine years of married life, Bill and

Harriett separated. In 1903, she married Reuben Millett. They had no children. Harriett lived in Seguin up to five years ago, and pines for the old homestead. She is a small, slim, grayhaired woman, and speaks in a low voice. Harriett is a very pleasant person, and likes to regale listeners with tales of her early life. She is proud of the fact that she has Indian blood. Her skin is dark tannish, and has a leathery appearance. Harriett lives with her daughter, Lucinda Manor, at 2006 East 8th Street, Austin, and receives a monthly pension of $9.00 from the State of Texas.

"My old mistress, Mary Clack, told me befo' she lef' dis world dat I was bawn in 1854. Dis was durin' de month of May. I don't remembah de day of de month no mo'e. I was bawn on de William Clack cotton and cawn plantation, somewhere in Mississippi.

"Kizzie Franklin was my mammy's name. She was de cook on de Clack plantation. She had twelb chillun. Only two of 'em is livin' today, me and Mathilda. She is de baby of de fambly. Mammy died in 1909, and she was one hunnert and nine years old.

"Pappy's name was Anthony Franklin. I think dat he took dat name f'om some other mawster dat owned him.

"Mawster William Clack was a mighty good man, and he wouldn't allow no real overseer on de place. Pappy was a sort of ruler over de other slaves.

"'Now, Anthony,' Mawster Clack would say to pappy, 'yo' lead dese hands.'

"Pappy would look at de slaves and shout, 'My hands, git yo' hoes, and foller me to de field.'

"Pappy had a way of lettin' folks know when he wanted somethin'. When it was near dinner time and de food was brought to de fields, he would chant:

'O-o-oh, little Mary,

I want my dinner.

O-o-oh, I'm so hongry,

And I want my dinner.'

"And he chanted so loud, dat even de mules in de fields would staht brayin'. Sometimes de other slaves would sing de song while in de fields.

"Durin de cotton pickin' season de slaves got up befo' daylight. Pappy would sing out:

'De mawnin' star is risin',

De mawnin' star is risin',

Oh, de mawnin' star is risin',

Day is breakin' ----

Breakin' in my soul.'

"If de hands needed some water, pappy would sing out:

'Oh, little Mary, I want some water,

I'm so thirsty fo' some water.'

"And de water-boy up at de house would git his cedar-bucket and gourd-dipper and bring de water to de field.

"De hogs and pigs was allowed to roam over de woods. When de time come to feed 'em, pappy would jes' shout:

'Pig-o-o-o pig-o-o-o

Come on - on - on


"Hogs and pigs would come runnin' through de woods, all a runnin' and a squealin'. If pappy wouldn't sing to 'em lak dat dem hogs and pigs wouldn't come a runnin'.

"When I was a child, I was de house-girl and nuss. I nussed all of Mistress Mary's chillun but one. She had two boys and one girl: Mary, de oldest, and Arthur, and Phil. Phil was de baby. Dem chillun liked me, and I sure did lak dem. I didn't have to nuss Mary, 'cause she was about my own age.

"Both pappy and mammy come to Texas wid Mawster Clack. Pappy, befo' he was bought by Mawster Clack, had once been sold away f'om his wife and chillun. Mawster Clack bought him back, so all of his fambly could stay together, and dey always stayed together f'om den on. Tom Moore was de man pappy was bought f'om in Mississippi. Pappy was about ninety-seben years old, when he died sometime befo' 1900.

"Mawster Clack brought us to Seguin, down in Guadalupe County. He had a sistah, Mrs. Ca'oline Phinell, dat he bought land f'om. He raised cotton and cawn.

"Den he got a place at what dey called de frontier country, up near New Braunfels, I believe dat it was. De Injuns sure was bad up dere at dat time.

"My brothaw, Andy, was only ten years old at dat time, and he was caught by dem Injuns. Yo' see, dere is some Injun blood in us f'om our mammy's side. Grandmammy was a full-blood Injun, but I don't know whut kind, and Andy looked so much lak a little Injun boy, dat dem Injuns jes' wanted him to go along, I reckon.

"Mawster Clack always told his slaves that whenever we saw de Injuns comin' to break and run fo' a thicket. De Injuns will never come in a thicket.

"De Injuns tried to kill Mawster Clack at one time. He got away befo' dey could harm him, but our Andy never got away.

"A mailman ridin' on a hoss f'om San Antonio to New Braunfels said dat he saw some Injuns, and dat dey had a child between 'em. He got so scared, dat he raced on into New Braunfels.

"Pappy ran to Mawster Clack and asked, 'Mawster William, wheah is my child?'

"Mawster Clack told him, 'De Injuns got him, Anthony, I heard him yell. Please don't kill me. I won't tell off on yo'.'

"De slaves had to chop wood and work sometimes in big thickets nearby, and Mawster Clack told 'em, 'Look out fo' dem Injuns, now. Dey done got one of my little niggers.'

"And we never did see our little Andy again. We never found out whut had happened to him. Folks went out and looked fo' him but dey never did find him.

"In June, 1865, Mawster Clack told pappy, 'Anthony, yo' don't belong to me no mo'e. Yo' have to go and work fo' yourself now. Yo' kin stay here if yo' want to, or yo' kin go.'

"'Mawster Clack', pappy said, 'I want to stay here and work.'

"Some slaves was workin' in a mine underground, when a big fine white feller rode up on a hoss. A big whistle had been blowin' and blowin'. De men knowed dat somethin' was up.

"'Whut's de matter?' dey asked

"'De niggers is all free, by God!' he said.

"Dem slaves in de mines was so scared, and didn't believe it, dat dey went back to work. When dey knowed fo' sure dat dey was free, some of 'em got up and lef' right away.

"'Well,' de others said, 'free or not free, we're stayin here to work.'

"I stayed wid my folks till I got married. When I stayed at home, I had to plow wid oxen and pick cotton. Sometimes I'd be singin' to dem oxen, and dey'd staht runnin' away wid me. Dis would happen durin a hot spell in spring, when de heel-flies was so bad. Sometimes one of dem flies would land on a oxen's heel, and it would high-tail it fo' a creek. I never was much of a cotton picker. De highest I picked was about one hunnert and fifty pounds a day. I never could get my two hunnert pounds.

"I was about eighteen years old, when I married Bill Malone at Prairie Lea, Caldwell County. He was a fahmer and a freighter. He hauled freight f'om town to town. We had seben chillun: Hallie, Billie, Katy, Lucinda, Mary, Ivory, and Ella. Ella died when she was very young. Ivory and Mary is dead too. De chillun was all jes' common laborers. Lucinda and Hallie is two good cooks. Lucinda used to cook fo' Mrs. Hill, in Pasadena, California. Me and Bill separated after nine years of married life. He got married to another woman.

"I was a widder fo' a long time. Dat is, I didn't marry. Den in about 1903, I married Reuben Millett. I had no chillun wid him.

"Sometimes it was putty rough goin' fo' me after slavery. Many was de time dat I wished do' de old times in slavery. A pusson did git his eatin'. Mawster Clack sure believed in givin' his slaves enough to eat. Hogs was killed fo' meat; cawn was raised fo' cawnmeal. plenty of wheat was raised fo' flour. We was slaves dat got all of de flour dat we needed. We even made jelly cakes and other cakes.

"During slavery, Mary Clack did try to show me my A B C's. She'd git her book and make me stand by her side, if I had time. But I jes' couldn't learn much.

"After slavery, de school wasn't fur f'om our house, and everyboyd was allowed to go' but fo' some reason or other, I never went to school fo' one minute in my life. I jes' didn't want to go. I kin read a little today, but I have to sign a cross fo' my name."

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