A Little History

Oklahoma Slave Narrative

 Joe Bean

When he first get sick he was worried about the Federals coming and taking his money. He had gold and silver around the house, heaps of it. He stack it on the floor in long rows to count it before he sack it up getting ready to hide it from the soldiers or the stealing bands that rove around the country.  The money was buried by the master and an old slave man who was the most trusted one on the place. Folks heard about the money being buried and after master died some white man get hold of the old slave and try to make it tell where it was buried. The man heated an old ax and burn the old slave's feet, but he never told. Not until young Master Dick come back from the war.  Young master was full of grieving when he find his daddy dead and the money gone. The old slave ask him, "What you worry so for, Master Dick ?'  Master Dick just set there on the porch, face buried in his hands. 'Everything lost in the war,' the young master groaned. 'My daddy is gone, the money is all gone, don't know what me and mama will do.'  'Hush! Young Master Dick, I show where is the money hid. I show you that, but I can't bring back your old daddy; I can't bring back the old master.'  After freedom some of the slaves kept on with old mistress and young Dick, working for good wages.  Right after the war I come to Fort Gibson. Camped in a tent house made of elm bark. A Creek Indian drifter moved out and we moved in. Lived about one-half mile from the garrison. Been around here ever since. Once I lived in Jesse James   cave at McBride Switch they calls it nowadays; another time I live on a patch of ground where folks say Cherokee Bill (Crawford Goldsby) , hanged in 1896, by order of Judge Parker's court at Fort Smith), had a battle with officers on Fourteen-Mile Creek.

When I get to thinking about slave days always I remember of the slaves that run away. Master Bean had a white overseer,  but he didn't allow for no whippings, 'cept maybe he cuff a young one around if he done something real mean or maybe sometimes he sell one for the same reason. Whippings, like some of them rich owners did, No! The old master's hide get all turned around if somebody hit a Negro. He'd let nobody chunk 'em around.  But the ones that run away, well, they get the dogs after 'em. Blood hounds they call 'em, and if a slave be gone two days say, the dogs was used to track, and the masters would say, 'If we don't catch them on this farm catch 'em on the next!'  One time I saw a slave whipped on another plantation. He was a new slave, what I mean, they had just bought him and the overseer said the whipping was 'just to break him in!' First they beat him with a whip, then with a strap, after tieing him to a log. Peeled off his shirt and laid on with the whip, and then pour salt and pepper water over him so's his back would sting and burn.  I see them use blood-hounds a long time after the war. That's when the store safe was robbed at Melvin (Oklahoma), not far from where I live. Went to town when I heard about it, and they brought the dogs in to trail the robber. Them blood hounds look like fat cur dogs to me, but they starts out trailing and pretty quick they's barking and howling at a colored man's house.  Somebody yelled, 'We got him!' But when they all get to where the dogs are they found then all fighting over the pickings of the scrap bucket! And the robber is still free.  A black wool suit and a white poplin shirt, them's my wedding clothes. Got them from the store at Fort Gibson. I married Louisa Alberty ; she was a free. Worked for Reverend Dunkin , she did, who was our preacher at the wedding. Married Mary Rogers the next time.  There was lots of children, can't remember all the names. Minnie , Linda , John , Jack , Tom , Potum , lots more than that, can't remember.  I belong to the colored Baptist church because I want a good resting place when I go; if they is such a place as hell it don't seem like such a good resting place to me.