Lee Pickett, 78, was born a slave about 78 years ago somewhere in Louisiana. He says he has no knowledge of his or his parent's early life in Louisiana. His parents were brought to Texas by slave dealers and sold to Colonel Pickett of Lampasas, Texas. He has practically no education. He was a sheep-herder on Colonel Pickett's place. In 1880, when he was 21 years old, he married Becky Bryant. He has been married three times; Becky Bryant, Caroline Lee and his present wife, Elizabeth Pickett. There are five children. Lee and his wife each get a monthly old age pension of eleven dollars. They own their own home at 1004 Catalpa Street, Austin.
"I'se Lee Pickett, and I was bawn about seventy-eight years ago, down in Louisiana. I don' know where in Louisiana, and I do remembah nothin' of those early days.
Mama's name was Silla Pickett. Mama was a putty good-sized and she was part Cherokee Injun. She had high cheek-bones lak a Injun. She had long, straight hair lak a Injun, and she was eight five years old when she died. Papa's name was George Pickett. He was a average-sized man and he was very dark. Both papa and mama was named Pickett, 'cause they belonged to Colonel Pickett up in Lampasas
Texas. My folks and me was brought f'om Louisiana by slave holders and was sold to Colonel Pickett.
We lived on Colonel Pickett's place up on the Lampasas River at Lampasas. Mawster Pickett had a string of race hosses, and it was papa's duty to take care of 'em. He 'tended the race hosses right on the place.
Papa got so that he could tell when a race hoss would win. I heard him say that so often. He'd look at whut type of weather it was on a certain day. If it was a light day, a light colored hoss would win. If the day was dark--that is no sunshine--a dark horse would win. Papa said it always worked out that way. It got so that Mawster Pickett would ask papa whut hoss to take out on a certain day.
Mawster Pickett's place had no cotton, but there was plenty of rye, wheat, cawn and sugar cane. There was also plenty of hosses, cattle, sheep, hogs and a little of everything.
All the oldest folks had to go out and work in the field. Mawster Pickett has a overseer on his place, and he sho' made us step.
I had to go out and herd sheep on the prairie. I had a big shepherd dog, Frank, who helped me take care of the sheep. There was a lot of times when old Frank chased the lobo wolfs f'om the sheep. There was plenty of wolfs up in the Lampasas country. The sheep was trained to follow the belled-leader. They always followed him, too.
Durin' this time, I went barefooted all the time, and my only clothes was a long tent-cloth shirt, which reached down to my knees. That's all I wo'e. I remembah the first shoes that I ever had was brass-toed broughans. I wasn't used to shoes, and they sho' hurt my feet. It got so that finally I could wear 'em. This was after freedom.
In the sixties, Lampasas country was still full of Injuns. There was times when the Injuns would come to Mawster Pickett's place, and they would jes' round-up a beef, kill it, git whut they wanted and hang the meat on some poles over a fire and smoke it. They would jes' barely smoke the meat and eat it half raw. The Injuns never did bother us cullud folks much. Why, one time I went out and et with
A lot of times, Mistress Pickett dressed me in a little red dress, and she took me with her to the brush-arbor chu'ch. That's the only kind of chu'ch the white folks had up in that country at that time.
Sometimes we'd all be settin' in our log cabin, and we'd be talkin' I remembah how Charlie, my oldest brothaw would say:
"I'd sho' lak to have that dah race hoss!"
That's the way he talked. One of us would ask him:
"How is yo' gwine to git that hoss?"
He'd say, "I'se gwine to try and buy that race hoss."
But, us folks didn't git no money fo' our work, so we knowed that brothaw Charlie didn't have no chance to buy that race hoss.
One mawnin' me and my sistah was goin' out to the cow-lot to milk, and we met four men--yankees, but at that time we didn't kno who or whut yankees was--and they said to us:
"Howdy-do, suh!" we answered.
"Do you all wanter be free?" they asked.
"Naw, suh, we don't wanter be free," we answered, 'cause we didn't know what they meant.
The yankees went to Mawster Picketts' house and then they come to our cabin. Papa was settin' on the cabin step.
One yankee said: "Good mawnin', uncle. . .well, you're as free today as we is.
Papa could jes' say: "I thank yo', suh."
Mawster Pickett offered to let us stay on the place and work and he would pay us. Papa didn't want to stay though.
After freedon, my folks went down to Webberville, and they leased about thutty acres of virgin land. This entire bottom land had to be grubbed and plowed. I helped burn the brush. My sistahs had to help chop down the trees and had to help clear the land.
Then we planted cotton and cawn. I remembah how this was the first time that I ever seen cotton. When I saw them laghe stalks in the field white with open bolls, I asked my sistah: "Whut's all them big stalks with white on 'em?"
I remembah how at one time this country down here around Webberville had so much cotton that there wasn't enough folks to help gather it.
"Papa died after we made one good crop in Webberville. I stayed with nama till I was twenty-one years old. Then I married
Becky Bryant. I have been married three times. There is five chillun, and they is all livin'. Four is in California and one is in Taylor, Texas.
(Alex Kampton, P. W., Narshall, Texas, Harrison County, 4-4-37, (Yes))