Des Arc, Arkansas
My father was African. I was born in Atlanta. My mother was a Cherokes Indian. Her name was Alice Gamage. I was born in 1864. I don't know where I was born - think it was in the Territory - my father stole my mother one night. He couldn't understand them and he was afraid of her people. He went back to Savannah after so long a time and they was in Florida when I first seen any of her people. When I got up any size I asked my father all about him and my mother marrying. He said he knowed her bout two year fore they married. They sorter courted by signs - my mother learned me her language and it was natural fur me to speak my father's tongue. I talked for them. She was bout fifteen when she run away. I don't know if a preacher ever did marry em or not. My father said she was just so pretty he couldn't help lovin her. He kept makin signs and she made signs. I liked my Gramma Gamage. She couldn't understand much. We all went to the Indian Territory from Florida and Georgia. That's how I come out here.
I don't remember the Ku Klux. I remember hearing ma and gramma talk bout the way they tried to get way from 'em. My father was a farmer till freedom. He farmed around here and at Pine Bluff. He died at West Point. My mother and step-mother both died at Pine Bluff.
They took my mother to her nation in Oklahoma. She was sick a good while and they took her to wait on her. Then come and took her after she died. There show is a fambly. My father had twenty-two in his fambly. My mother had five boys and three girls and me. My stepnother had fourteen more children. That's some fambly aint it? All my brothers and sisters died when I was little and they was little. My father's other children jess somewhar down round Pine Bluff. I guess I'd know em but I aint seed none of them in I don't know how long.
The first work I ever done was sawnilling at Pine Bluff. Then I went down in Louziana, still sawmilling - I followed dat trade five or six years. Den I got to railroading. I was puttin down cross ties and layin' steel. I got to be straw boss at dat. I worked at dat fifteen years. I worked doing that in six different states. That was show fine livin - we carried our train right along to live in. I married and went to farming. Then I come to work at this oil mill here [in Des Arc]. The reason I quit. I didn't quit till it went down and moved off. I aint had nothin much to do since. I been carryin water and wood fur Mrs. Norfleet twenty years and they cooks fur me now. My wife died 'bout a year ago. She been dead a year last January. She was sick a long time fore she died. Well the relief gives me a little to eat, some clothes and I gets $5.00 a month and I takes it and buys my groceries and I takes it up to Mrs. Norfleet's. They says come there and eat. They show is good to me cept I aint able to carry the wood up the steps much no more. It hurt me when I worked at the oil mill. I helped them 'bout the house all the time.
What I do wid my money I made? I educated my girls. Yes maam I show is got children. One my girls teaches school in St. Louis and do other at Hot Springs. They both went to college at Pine Bluff. I sent em. No'm dey don't help me. They is by my second wife and my first wife live with my son, down close to Star City. Day farm. It's down in Lincoln County. They let me live in this house. It belongs to him. I went to the bank fo it closed and got my money whut I had left. I been livin on it but it give out.
The conditions are all right. They kin make a right smart but everything is so high it don't buy much. Some of 'em say they aint goiner do the hardest work, hot or cold and liftin' for no dollar, a day. Don't nobody work hard as I used to. There's goiner be another war and a lot of them killed - cause people ain't doin right. Some don't treat the others tight. No'm they never did. They used to threaton em and take 'em cut in cars and beat 'em up, just for disputin' their word or not paying 'em and de lack. The white man has cheated a heap because we was ignorant and black. They gamble on the cotton and take might' near all of it for the cheap grub they let out to make de crop on. Conditions are better but a heap of the young black and white too deblish lazy to work. Some of dem get killed out goin' on at their meanness.
I heard of uprisings since the war but I never was 'bout none of them.
I votes the Republican ticket. The last I voted was for Hoover. Sure they have tried to change my way of voting but I ain't goiner change. I ain't heard nothin 'bout no restrictions 'bout votin'.
If a woman wanter vote it's all right. My girs and my boy votes right along. They are all Republicans.
The most money I ever has at one time was $600.00. I did save it. I spent it on my girls' clothes and education. They did go to college at Pine Bluff but they went to the Catholic High School first down at Pine Bluff. No'm they don't help me. They say it's all day can do to get along. They never have told me how much they make.
Interviewer Mrs. Bernice Bowden"