2418 Center Street, Little Rock, Arkansas
Age About 74
"I was born way yonder in slavery time. I don't know what part of Alabama nor exactly when, but I was born in slavery time and it was in Alabama. My oldest boy would be fifty-six years old if he were living. My father said he was born in slavery time and that I was born in slavery time. I was a baby, my papa said, when he ran off from his old master and went to Mississippi. He lived in the thickets for a year to keep his old master from finding out where he was.
"My father's name was Jeff Williams. He's been dead a long time. Nobody living but me and my children. My mother's name was Malinda Williams. My father had seven children, four girls and five boys. Four of the boys were buried on the Cummins (?) place. It used to be the old place of old Man Flournoy's. My oldest brother was named Isaac.
"I had sixteen children; four of them are still living--two boys and two girls. The boys is married and the daughters is sick. No, honey, I can't tell how many of em all was boys and girls.
"My folks lived right in the white folks' yard. I don't know what kind of house it was. My mother used to cook and do for the white folkse. She caught her death of cold going backward and forward milking and so on.
"They'd put a trough on the floor with woodan spoons and as many children as could get around that trough got there and cat, they would.
"Dolly and Evelyn were upstairs spinning thread and overheard the old master saying that peace was declared but they didn't want the niggers to know it. Father had them to throw their clothes out the windows. Then he slipped out with them. Malinda Williams, my mother, came with them. Dolly and Evelyn were my sisters. I don't know my master's name, but it must have been Williams because all the slaves took their old master's names when they were freed. I was a baby in my daddy's arms when he ran away.
"I heard my papa talk about the patrollers. He said they used to run them in many a time. That is the reason he had to cross the bridge that night going over the Mississippi into Georgia. The slaves had been set free in Georgia, and he wanted to get there from Alabama.
"The slaves never got nothin' when they were freed. They just got out and wont to work for themselves.
"My father tended to the white folks' mules. He wasn't no soldier. When he married my mother, he was only fifteen years old. His master told him to go pick himself out a wife from a drove of slaves that were passing through, and he picked out my mother. They married by stepping over the broom. The old master pronounced them master and wife.
"The drove passed through Alabama, but my father didn't know where it came from nor where it want. They were selling slaves. They would pick up a big lot of them somewhere, and they would drive them across the country salling some every place they stopped. My master bought my mother out of the drove. Droves came through very often. I don't know where they came from.
"My father remembered coming through Alabama. He remembered the soldiers coming through Alabama. They didn't bother any colored people but they killed a lot of white people, tore up the town and took some white babies out and busted their brains out. That is what my father said. My father died in 1910. He was pushing eighty then and maybe ninety. He had a house full of grown children and grandchildren and great grandchildren. He wasn't able to do no work when he died. It was during the War that my father ran away into Georgia with me, too.
"My father said they put medicine in the water (cisterna) to make the young slaves have more children. If his old master had a good breeding woman he wouldn't sell her. He would keep her for himself.
"When they were praying for peace they used to turn down the wash kettles to keep the sound down. In the master's church, the biggest thing that was preached to them was how to serve their master and mistias.
"My grandmother was a full-blood Indian. I don't know from what tribe.
"People used to bury their money in iron pots and chests and things in order to keep the soldiers from getting it. In Wabbaseka (Ark.) there they had money buried. They buried their money to keep the soldiers from getting it.
"The Ku Klux Klan came after freedom. They used to take the people out and whip them.
"Immediately after the War, papa farmed. Most of it was down at the Cumins place. When he ran away to Georgia, he didn't stay there. He left and came back to Mississippi. I don't know just when my papa came to the Cummins' place. It was just after the War. After he left the Cummins' place he worked at the Smith place. Then he was farming agent for sometime for old man Cook in Jefferson County. He would see after the hands.
"I ain't never voted in my life. I know plenty man that used to vote but I didn't. I never heard of no women voting.
"I used to do field work. I washed and ironad until I got too old to do anything. I can't do anything now. I ain't able.
"I get the old age pension and the Welfare give me some commodities for myself and my sick daughter. She ain't been able to walk for a year.
"I married Willis Wright in July 1901. He did farming mostly. When he died in 1928, he was working at the Southern Oil Mill. He didn't leave any property."
Interviewer Mrs. Bernice Bowden"