Texas Slave Narratives





Texas Slave Narrative

  Scott Hooper

Scott Hooper , 81, was born a slave of the Rev. Robert Turner , a Baptist minister who owned seven slave families. They lived on a small farm near Tensha, then called Bucksnort, in Shelby County, Texas. Scott's father was owned by Jack Hooper , a neighboring farmer. Scott married Steve Hooper when she was thirteen and they had eight children, whose whereabouts are now unknown to her. She receives an $8.00 monthly pension. Well, I'll do de best I can to tell yous 'bout my life. I used to have de good 'collection, but worryment 'bout ups and downs has 'fected my 'membrance. I knows how old I is, 'cause mammy have it in de Bible, and I's born in de year 1856, right in Shelby County, and near by Bucksnort, what dey call Tenaha now. Massa Turner am de bestest man he could be and taken good care of us, for sho'. He treat us like humans. There am no whuppin's like some other places has. Gosh. What some dem old slaves tell 'bout de whup and de short rations and lots of hard work am awful, so us am lucky. Massa don't have de big place, but jus' seven families what was five to ten in de family. My mammy had nine chillen, but my pappy didn't live on us place, but on Jack Hooper's farm, what am four mile off. He comes Wednesday and Saturday night to see us. His massa am good, too, and lots him work a sore of land and all what he raises he can sell. Pappy plants cotton and mostest de time he raises better'n half de bale to he acre. Dat-a-way, he have money and he own pony and saddle, and he brung us chillen candy and toys and coffee and tea for many. He done save 'bout $500 when surrender come, but it am all 'Federate money and it ain't worth nothin'. He give it to us chillen to play with. Massa Turner am de Baptist preacherman and he have de church at Buckshort. He run de store, too, and folks laughs 'cause 'sides being a preacherman he sells whiskey in dat store. He makes it medicine for us, with de cherry bark and de rust from iron nails in it. He call it. 'Bitters,' and it a good name. It sho' taste bitter as gall. When us feels de misery it am bitters us gits. Castor oil am candy 'side dem bitters! My grandmammy am de cook and all us eats in de shed. It am plenty food and meat and 'lasses and brown sugar and milk and butter, and even some white flour. Course, peas and beans an allus on dat table. When surrender come massa calls all us in de yard and makes de talk. He tells us we's free and am awful sorry and show great worryment. He say he hate to part with us and us been good to him, but it am de law. He say us can stay and work de land on shares, but mostest left.

Course, mammy go to Massa Hooper's place to pappy and he rents land from Massa Hooper ., and us live there seven years and might yet, but dem Klu Klux causes so much troublement. All us niggers 'fraid to sleep in de house and goes to do woods at night. Pappy gits 'fraid something happen to us and come to Fort Worth. Dat in 1872 and he farms over in de bottom. I's married to Steve Hooper den, 'cause us marry when I's thirteen years old. He goes in teamin' in Fort Worth and hauls sand and gravel twenty-nine years. He doin' sich when he dies in 1900. Den I does laundry work till I's too old. I tries to buy dis house and does fair till age catches me and now I can't pay for it. All I has is $8.00 de month and I's glad to git dat, but it won't even buy food. On sich 'mount, there am no way to stinch myself and pinch off de payments on de house. Dat am de worryment.

Scott Hooper , 81, 2821 Ennis St., Ft. Worth, Tex., was born a slave to Rev. Robt. Turner , a Bapt. Minister who owned seven slave families, including Scott's mother and her nine children with a small farm located near Bucksnort (since changed to Tenaha) in Shelby Co., Tex. Scott's father was owned by Mr. Jack Hooper , a neighboring farmer. Scott was 13 when she married Steve Hooper . Eight children were born to them before his death in 1900. Since her children's whereabouts are unknown to her, she was forced to make her living by washing clothes until she became decrepit in 1932. She now receives $8.00 a month pension from the State of Tex., 

Well, Ise do de best Ise can to tell youse 'bout my slave days, an' my life. Ise use to have good 'collection but worryment 'bout de ups an' downs Ise gone through have 'fected me membahence. Co'se Ise knows how old Ise am 'cause my mammy had it put in de Bible by de Marster. 'Twas in de yeah 1856, Ise bo'n, an' 'twas in Shelby County, Texas. De Marster's place am neah de town of Bucksnort, now called Tenaha. What Ise have to tell 'bout de slave days am good, 'cause Marster Turner am de bestest man could be. He tooks good care o weuns fo' sho. He 'preciate what de cullud fo'ks does fo' him, an' he treats de cullud fo'ks lak humans. Thar whar no whuppin' an' fustin' lak 'twas on some tudder plantations. Gosh! What some of de old slaves tell 'bout de whup an' short rations an' lots of hard wo'k am awful, so weuns am lucky. Marster Turner don't have a big place. He jus' had seven fam' lies dat 'twas f'om five to 10 in de fam'ly. My mother had nine chilluns, but her husband don't live on de place. He lives on Jack Hooper's place, 'twas 'bout fouah miles off. He comes ever' Wednesday an' Saturday night to see weuns. Father am lucky 'cause he had awful good Marster, too. Fust, Ise wants to tell youse 'bout father's Marster, an' how he does by father. He furnishes father wid de rations an' clothes lak all tudder Marsters does but 'sides dat, he lets father an' some tudder slaves too, wo'k an' acre of land an' all father made off de land b'longs to father. Sich am extra, an' he can does what he pleases wid it. Marster Jack 'lows father de necessary time to wo'k his acre, an' father always planted it in cotton. Mostest de time, he raises bettah dan half de bale to de acre. Dat away, father has money fo' himself an' had his own pony an' saddle. He bought extra fo' weuns chilluns, sich as candy an' playthings, an' weuns have coffee an' tea father brings weuns. Marster Turner don't furnish sich as tea an' coffee. Father saves over $500.00 w'en surrendah comes to weuns. He was savin' it fo' de time w'en he gits too old to wo'k so he could live good, an' tooks care of himself. 'Twas what Marster Jack told him to do. Ise guess Marster Jack 'tended to free father sometime, but surrendah does it fo' him. Anyway, w'en surrendah comes, de Con- federate money aint worth a cent. Coupl-a yeahs after surrendah, father gives de money to weuns chilluns to play wid, an' weuns had fun playin'; store wid de money. Now, dat 'splains how good Marster Hooper am, an' so wid Marster Turner . Tudder white fo'ks in de neighborhood called de Hooper an' Turner niggers, "Free Niggers", 'cause our Marsters treated weuns slaves so good. Marster Turner am de Baptist Preacherman, an' had de chu'ch at Bucksnort. He runs a store, too. He 'tends to all de duties widout help.

One thing Marster does dat some fo'ks laugh 'bout lak dey don't b'lieve in it, an' dat am 'sides bein'; a preacherman, he sells whiskey in de store He often gives weuns whiskey, but it don't taste whis- key. 'Twas fixed fo' medicine. He puts Cherry Bark an' rust f'om iron nails in it. 'Twas called, "Bittahs", an' 'twas a good name fo' it too, 'cause it sho taste bittah as gall. W'en weuns chilluns feels a little misery, he gives weuns some bittahs. Ise tells youse dis much. Ise always keeps my miseries to myself til dey could tell Ise have de misery by de looks on my face Ise sho fit 'gainst de bittahs. Castor oil am candy 'side Mars- ter's medicine. Now, 'bout de rations Marster 'lows weuns. Ise tell youse 'twas all weuns wants, an' Ise wish weuns had so good right now.  Thar am meat, veg'tables, 'lasses, brown sugar, co'n meal bread, lots of milk an' buttah, an' some white flouah. Co'se, beans an' peas am always on de table. My gran'mammy am de cook fo' de wo'kers. Dey all gits thar food at de cook shed. Once in awhile, a fam'ly would cook a meal in thar own cabin. My mammy does dat on Wednesday an' Saturday nights w'en father comes to see weuns. Co'se, youse knows all de rations am raised on de farm. Jus' salt an' peppah an' sich things as dat am what de Marster have to buy. De wo'k on de place am something Ise don't know 'bout, 'cept what Ise sees an' heahs but Ise knows de old fo'ks don't never complain 'bout overwo'k. Youse see, Ise jus' nine yeahs old w'en de breakup comes, an' dey aint started me to do reg'lar wo'k yet. Ise he'ps care fo' de younguns in de nursery. Dat am whar de mothers left dey chilluns durin' de day whilst deys at wo'k. My sis', Lou Mathews , dat lives in de next block maybe 'membahs mo' 'bout de wo'k 'cause she am two yeahs oldah dan me.

Co'se, Ise knows weuns had weavahs, shoemakahs, an' blacksmiths but Ise fails to recall how dey wo'ks. W'en surrendah comes fo' weuns, de Marster calls allus together in de yard of de qua'tahs, an' thar, he made a talk. If youse sees my sis', she can tells youse jus' how he says. Marster tells weuns dat weuns am free fo'ks. Marster am awful sorry, an' shows great worryment 'bout de breakup. 'Twas tears in his eyes w'en he tells weuns dat he laked weuns, dat weuns had all been good fo'ks to him, an' he hates to part wid weuns, but 'twas law. He 'vited weuns all to stay an' wo'k land on shares but mostest of de slaves left. Marster had bought most of de slave f'om tudder fo'ks, an' de younguns all goes back to de old Mars ter's place 'cause thar relatives am thar. Co'se, my mammy goes to Marster Hooper's place, an' weuns all goes wid him 'cause father am thar. Father rents land f'om Marster Hooper . Weuns lives thar fo' seven yeahs an' m'ybe would be thar yet if 'twarnt fo' de Ku Klux Klan. Yas sar, 'twas de cause fo' weuns leavin'. Dey gits to causin' so much troublement dat de cullud fo'ks am 'fraid to leave thar home. De Klux would come to thar home an' whup dem. Why, de cullud fo'ks am 'fraid to sleep in de house an' would go to de woods whar dey hides out 'til mo'nin'. De Klux always comes after dark an' busts in de house whar dey tooks de menfo'ks outside an' whups dem fo' nothing. Some of de cullud fo'ks fit back, an' dat made things worser. Father don't lak to leave Marster's place but him gits so 'fraid something am gwine to happen to his fam'ly. 'Specially after two niggers gits shot by de Klux. He 'cides to leave de country. Dat's how come weuns come to Fort Worth. 'Twas in 1872 w'en weuns comes heah, an' weuns comes to dis place right heah.  'Twarnt no houses heah den. 'Twarnt nothin' dis side of de river. Father farmed de land over thar in de bottom. Dat am all built up wid houses now. Ise mai'ied befo' weuns comes heah but my husband an' Ise comes wid de fo'ks 'cause father wants weuns too, fo' to git away f'om de Klux in Shelby County. Ise mai'ied Steve Hooper w'en Ise 13 in 1869. My husband goes in de teamin' business after weuns comes to Fort Worth. He hauls sand an' gravel fo' 29 yeahs. He was doin' sich w'en he dies in 1900. After he dies, Ise makes my livin' doin' laundry wo'k. Ise runs a home laundry 'til Ise gits too old to wo'k. Ise de mother of eight chilluns. W'en my husband dies, thar am fouah little ones. Well, Ise tooks good care of dem, an' sends dem to school. After de chilluns am done wid school an' goes fo' demselves, Ise tries to buy dis home. Ise does fair 'til age catches me an' Ise have to stop wo'k. Now Ise can't pay fo' de home, an' Ise don't know how Ise gwine to make it.All Ise have to live on am a $8.00 a month pension. 'Twont even buy food. On sich 'mount, thar am no way to stinch myself an' pinch off 'nough to make payments on de house. Well, 'tis worryment fo' me ever' since my husband dies. Dat's why my 'collection am bad. All de chilluns am gone, an' Ise don't know whar dey am. Dat leaves me 'lone to battle it out. What Ise does now am sat an' worry 'bout how Ise gwine to git by. 'Tis awful w'en a person gits old, an' have to worry 'bout how deys gwine live 'til de Lawd am ready to call dem.