Sarah Perkins, 88, was born a slave on June 19, 1849, on a sugar plantation somewhere in the State of Tennessee. Her master was a Mr. Douglas. She can't remember his given name, and has trouble recalling names and dates. She was brought to Texas as the early age of five years. Her mother, Mary Douglas, died when Sarah was born. Her father was known as Tom. She hasn't seen him since the day she left Tennessee. She had one brother, Abner, who died on his way to Texas, and was buried in a grave by the road. Sarah has been married five times, to: Rev. James Williamson, Henry Williams, Henry Scott, Tom Stewart, and George Perkins. She had no children. She lives with her niece, Jemima Moore, at 1810 Maple Street, Austin. She owns a small shanty near the Southern Pacific-Llano railroad tracks, in East Austin. She receives a monthly pension of twelve dollars from the State of Texas.
"Mama's name was Mary Douglas, 'cause she belonged to a mawster dat was named Douglas. Mawster Douglas had a laghe sugar plantation, in Tennessee but jes' where it was in dat state I don't know. I sure don't. Mama died at my birth, so dey told me, and no I don't know nothin' about her.
"Tom was my fathaw's name and he jes' didn't have no other name, 'cause he was full-blooded Indian - a Cherokee Choctaw Indian. I don't remembah much about him, and I ain't seen him since de day I left Tennessee.
"Sarah Douglas was de name I went by when I was a girl. Yo' see, my mawster had been Douglas, too. I was bawn on his sugar plantation on June 19, 1849. Dat means dat I's goin' on eighty-nine years; and my life sure ain't been no hand-basket.
"I was on de Douglas plantation and I was too little to do much of anything. Den one day Mawster Douglas sold a bunch of us slaves to Charlie Jones. He's de one what brought us to Texas. I think dat we stayed fo' awhile down in Arkansas. I believe dat we stayed on a place where sugar and molasses was made. I know dat we crossed de Mississippi and Red River.
"Befo' we had left Tennessee, Tom, my fathaw, told my uncle Tom Williamson, "'Tom, yo' take care of my baby.'
"'All right, I will. I'll take care of her,' he said.
"My uncle Tom and Aunt Polly was goin' in a wagon. Fathaw give me his best hoss and said dat I could ride it all of de way to Texas. I was too little fo' much of dat, and I had to do a lot of walkin', too.
"My little brothaw, Abner, went along wid us, too. Abner was always wormy, and den he died on de trip. Dey jes' dug a little grave by de roadside, wrapped Abner up and buried him. Den we went on. We was on our way to Texas.
"Den when I was five years old, we come on down to San Antonio. Dat's one trip dat I do remembah. I was told dat it was at 2 o'clock p.m. dat we come into town. De reason dat I remembah dat trip is 'cause de lot of us slaves was sold in San Antonio. I was always a sickly child - had whut dey called de white swellin' on de knee - and when all of de older slaves was done sold, f'om de block, I was give away. Dey didn't sell me dey jes' give me away. I was give away to Dr. Luckett's old maid sistah, Ann Luckett.
"Dat meant dat Mawster Jones didn't own us no mo'e. We had done left our long trip behind us. Dere had been about sixteen of us on dat trip. Mawster Jones was a tall, slim, spare-made, redheaded man, and he sure didn't believe in whoopin' his slaves. He wasn't a married man, and he was a good man. I never did hear much about how Mawster Douglas, back in Tennessee, treated his slaves.
"Dr. Luckett's sistah was a old maid, and she was mighty good to me. Mistress Ann treated me jes' lak I was her own child. When I had dat white swellin' so bad, all of dem white folks at dat time was good to me. Mistress Ann even learned me my A B C's. And den I had to learn how to walk again. I had de white swellin' dat bad.
"I stayed wid Mistress Ann till freedom come. Den one day Dr. Luckett said dat I was free, dat I could go anywhere dat I want to. Dey didn't want me to leave.
"But I went and stayed wid my Aunt Polly. She had come wid us f'om Tennessee. Den my uncle Tom died. Auntie Polly had bound me out to other white folks.
"Den I was bound out to Jedge Anthony Pickett of Seawillow, Williamson County. On dat place, I had to do it all. Yo' see de Jedge was in Arkansas fo' about two years, sellin' a herd of hosses. His wife, Susan Pickett, f'om up in Virginia, took care of de place.
"I had a place to sleep in a room, on a blanket-pallet on de floor. Mistress Susan sure was mean to me. She was de jedge's second wife, and his first wife's chillun had to git up and leave, 'cause she was so mean to 'em. Yo' will be seein' dat I wasn't brought up in no hand-basket. I got my room, meals and hardly no clothes. Our agreement had been dat she was goin' to educate me. I never even got a book.
"Mistress Susan sure made me work hard. I had to milk twenty-five cows, take care of twenty-five calves, and about as many head of hogs. Den dere was a mule, and he was sixteen hands high. I had to draw water fo' everything on dat place. Den I had to churn de butter. When I didn't use all of de milk, I give it to de hogs. I could git around pretty good at dat time, but I've been a cripple most of my life.
"Mistress Susan had a orchard. When de fruit was in season she give me a wheelbarrow dat had peaches, plums, tame grapes and watermelons in it. Den I had to take dat wheelbarrow and go about a mile and a half to de town of Seawillow to sell everything. I went f'om house to house, and de folks saw me comin' and come out and bought f'om me. When somebody bought something, I would take de piece of money and go to a store wid it.
"'Is dis money good?' I'd ask de man.
"'Sure it's good,' he'd say.
"I never did git cheated wid no money, though. De only thing dat ever happened to me was when a woman had forgot to close her gate, and her hog came out and got one of my watermelons. I had putty good luck wid my sellin'.
"I stayed wid de jedge Picketts fo' seben years. I want to say dis much; Mistress Susan might of been mean to me but Jedge Pickett was a good man. He treated me right.
"Den I got married at sebenteen years of age. I was married to Rev. James Williamson. I git my license f'om Jedge Pickett. James was a preachah, fahmer and well-digger. He was also good at breakin' hosses. We had no chillun. Den me and James moved on down to Beeville, Bee County, and he got drowned.
"One day we was on a hoss and we got to a creek dat was up. James had to git to a place and preach.
"'Jim don't go across dat creek,' I tole him, 'yo' kain't go across dere.'
"'I'm goin' across, to do de Lord's will,' he said.
"Dat's de last dat I ever heard him say. Dey found his body about a week later, about two miles f'om where he got drowned. Dick Jones, one of the best white friends Jim ever had, told his workers, 'Don't yo' all come back till yo' have found de body of Jim.'
"Dey didn't come back till dey found him. I was wid James only eight months, when he got drowned. Oh, he was sich a good man, so peaceable and quiet. Everybody liked James. James' mothaw died when she was one hunnert and ten years old.
"After James' death, I hired out to de white folks again. I got about five dollahs a month. I had to do de cookin', de washin' and de milkin'. By de comin' Christmas I had done saved up sixty dollahs.
"I was a widder fo' about three years. Den I married Henry Williams, in DeWitt County. He was jes' a fahmer. We had no chillun. I lived wid Henry fo' about twenty-two years. He died in 1900.
"Den I was a widder fo' four years. I married Henry Scott. He fahmed down in Del Valle, near Austin. He stayed wid me almost three years, den he quit me fo' another woman. When Scott got ready to leave he didn't tell me nothin' about it. He jes' left. When I lived wid Scott, I had to pick cotton. I never was much of a picker. When de week was out on Saturday dinner, I had picked only about one thousand pounds. Some folks, men and wimmen, could pick dat in two days.
"I kain't remebah how long I was a widder dis time, when I
married Tom Stewart. He was a fahmer too. He lived across de Colorado River, near De. Valle. Dere was no chillun. Den he got a job in de oil mill here in Austin. Tom would give me his check and den he allowed me to buy a lot and build a little house on it. I still own dat place in East Austin, near de Southern Pacific-Llano tracks. After about three years, two years and eight months, Tom sickened and died.
"Five years after dis happened I got married to George Perkins. George was jes' a good-fo'-nothin'. I soon showed him de hole dat de carpenters cut! He went out of dat door too.
"Education ain't been mine. After slavery I did go to school fo' awhile. Dat was down in DeWitt County. My teacher was colored and his name was Stafford. One day, he tried to whoop me. I had a butcher knife in my bosom and I would of killed him had he touched me. I would of sent him to hell fo' dessert. Stafford sure was a mean nigger. He whooped one girl almost into strips. One day, he told me dat I had to stand lak a dunce in a corner, and dat I had to hold a twelb dollah Bible on one hand and stand on one foot. Yo' know dat I couldn't do dat.
"Stafford was one mean nigger and den dey put him in jail. Dey put him in dere so de other folks couldn't git him. Dey would of killed him.
"Later his brothaw come and took over de school. Everybody liked him, and dat's all of de schoolin' I ever got.