Oklahoma Slave Narrative
I was born in Louisiana, way before the war. I think it
was about ten years before, because I can remember everything so well about the
start of the War, and I believe I was about ten years old.
My Mammy belonged to Mr. Sack P. Gee . I
don't know what his real given name was, but it maybe was
Saxon . Anyways we all called him
Master Sack . He was
a kind of youngish man, and was mighty rich. I think he was born in England.
Anyway his pappy was from England, and I think he went back before I was born.
Master Sack had a big
plantation ten miles north of Arcadia, Louisiana, and his land run ten miles
along both sides. He would leave in a buggy and be gone all day and still not
get all over it. There was all kinds of land on it,
and he raised cane and oats and wheat and lots of corn and cotton. His cotton
fields was the biggest any wheres in that part, and when chopping and picking
times come he would get negroes from other people to help out. I never was no
good at picking, but I was a terror with a hoe! I was
the only child my Mammy had. She was just a young girl, and my Master did not
own her very long. He got her from Mr. Addison Hilliard
, where my pappy belonged. I think she was going to have me when he got her;
anyways I come along pretty soon, and my mammy never was very well afterwards.
Maybe Master Sack sent her back over to my
pappy. I don't know.
Mammy was the house girl at Mr.
Sack's because she wasn't very strong, and when I was four or five
years old she died. I was big enough to do little things for
Mr. Sack and his daughter, so they kept me at
the mansion, and I helped the house boys. Time I was nine or ten
Mr. Sack's daughter was getting to be a young
woman, fifteen or sixteen years old and that was old enough to get married off
in them days. They had a lot of company just before the War, and they had a
whole bunch of house negroes around all the time. Old
Mistress died when I was a baby, so I don't remember anything about her, but
young Mistress was a winder! She would ride horseback nearly all the time, and I
had to go along with her when I got big enough. She never did go around the
quarters, so I don't know nothing much about the negroes
Mr. Sack had for the fields. They all looked
pretty clean and healthy, though, when they would come up to the Big House. He
fed them all good and they all liked him.
He had so much different kinds of land that they could raise
anything they wanted, and he had more mules and horses and cattle than anybody
around there. Some of the boys worked with his fillies all the time, and he went
off to New Orleans ever once in a while with his racehorses. He took his
daughter but they never took me. Some of his land was
in pasture but most of it was all open fields, with just miles and miles of
cotton rows. There was a pretty good strip along one side he called the "old"
fields. That's what they called the land that was wore out and turned back. It
was all growed up in young trees, and that's where he kept his horses most of
the time. The first I knowed about the war coming on was when
Mr. Sack had a whole bunch of white folks at
the Big House at a function. They didn't talk about anything else all evening
and then the next time they come nearly all their men folks wasn't there, just
the women folks. It wasn't very long till Mr. Sack
went off to Houma with some other men, and pretty soon we knew he was in the
war. I don't remember ever seeing him come home. I don't think he did until it
was nearly all over. Next thing we knowed they was Confederate soldiers riding
by pretty nearly every day in big droves. Sometimes they would come and buy corn
and wheat and hogs, but they never did take any anyhow, like the Yankees done
later on. They would pay with billets. Young Missy called them, and she didn't
send them to git then cashed but saved them a long time, and then she got them
cashed, but you couldn't buy anything with the money she got for them.
That Confederate money she got wasn't no good. I was in
Arcadia with her at a store, and she had to pay seventy-five cents for a can of
sardines for me to eat with some bread I had, and before the War you could get a
can like that for two cents. Things was even higher then than later on, but
that's the only time I saw her buy anything.
When the Yankees got down in that country the most of the
big men paid for all the corn and meat and things they got, but some of the
little bunches of them would ride up and take hogs and things like that and just
ride off. They wasn't anybody at our place but the women folks and the negroes.
Some of Mr. Sack's women kinfolks stayed
there with Young Mistress. Along at the last the
negroes on our place didn't put in much stuff jest what they would need, and
could hide from the Yankees, because they would get it all took away from then
if the Yankees found out they had plenty of corn and oats.
The Yankees was mighty nice about their manners, though,
They camped all around our place for a while. There was three camps of then
close by at one time, but they never did come and use any of our houses or
cabins. There was lots of poor whites and Cajuns that lived down below us,
between us and the Gulf, and the Yankees just moved into their houses and cabins
and used them to camp in.
The negroes at our place and all of then around there
didn't try to get away or leave when the Yankees come in. They wasn't no place
to go, anyway, so they all stayed on. But they didn't do very much work. Just
enough to take care of themselves and their white folks.
Master Sack come home before the War was quite
over. I think he had been sick, because he looked thin and old and worried. All
the negroes picked up and worked mighty hard after he come home, too. One day
he went into Arcadia and come home and told us the war was over and we was all
free. The negroes didn't know what to make of it, and didn't know where to go,
so he told all that wanted to stay on that they could just go on like they had
been and pay him shares. One day he went into Arcadia and come home and told us
the war was over and we was all free. The negroes didn't know what to make of
it, and didn't know where to go, so he told all that wanted to stay on that they
could just go on like they had been and pay him shares. One day he went into
Arcadia and come home and told us the war was over and we was all free. The
negroes didn't know what to make of it, and didn't know where to go, so he told
all that wanted to stay on that they could just go on like they had been and pay
him shares. About half of his negroes stayed on, and he marked off land for
them to farm and made arrangements with them to let them use their cabins, and
let them have mules and tools. They paid him out of their shares, and some of
them finally bought the mules and some of the land. But about half went on off
and tried to do better somewheres else. One day he went into Arcadia and come
home and told us the War was over and we was all free. The negroes didn't know
what to make of it, and didn't know where to go, so he told all that wanted to
stay on that they could just go on like they had been and pay him shares.
About half of his negroes stayed
on, and he marked off land for them to farm and made arrangements with them to
let them use their cabins, and let them have mules and tools. They paid him out
of their shares, and some of them finally bought the mules and some of the land.
But about half went on off and tried to do better somewheres else.
Late in the war my Pappy belonged to a man named
Sander or Zander
. Might been Alexander , but the negroes
called him Mr. Sander . When pappy got free
he come and asked me to go with him, and I went along and lived with him. He had
a share-cropper deal with Mr. Sander and I helped him work his patch. That place
was just a little east of Houma, a few miles.
When my Pappy was born his parents belonged to a
Mr. Adams , so he took
Adam s for his last name, and I did too,
because I was his son. I don't know where Mr. Adams
lived, but I don't think my Pappy was born in Louisiana. Alabama, maybe. I
think his parents come off the boat, because he was very black, even blacker
than I am. I lived there with my Pappy until I was
about eighteen and then I married and moved around all over Louisiana from time
to time. My wife give me twelve boys and five girls, but all my children are
dead now but five. My wife died in 1920 and I come up here to Tulsa to live. One
of my daughters takes care and looks out for me now.
I seen the old Sack P. Gee place about
twenty years ago, and it was all cut up in little places and all run down. Never
would have known it was one time a big plantation ten miles long.
I seen places going to rack and ruin all around , all the
places I lived at in Louisiana, but I'm glad I wasn't there to see
Master Sack's place go down. He was a good man
and done right by all his negroes. Yes, Lord, my old
feets have been in mighty nigh every pariah in Louisiana, and I seen some mighty
pretty places, but I'll never forget how that old Gee
plantation looked when I was a boy.
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