Oklahoma Slave Narrative
I was born in Jackson, Tennessee, and I'm going on 83 years. My mother was Harriott Noel and father Jeff Bills, both of them named after their masters. I has one brother, J. B. Bills,
but all de rest of my brothers and daters is dead. No sir, we never had no money while I was a slave. We jest didn't have nothing a-toll! We ate greens, corn bread, and ash cake. Do only time I ever got a biscuit would be when a misdemeanor was did, and my Mistress would give a buttered biscuit to de one who
could tell her who done it. In hot weather and cold weather dere was no difference as to what we were. We were dresses my mother wove for us and no shoes a-tall. I never wore any shoes till I was grown and den dey was old Brogans wid only two holes to lace, one on each side. During my wadding I wore a blue calico
dress, a man's shirt tail as a head rag, and a pair of brogan shoes. My Master lived in a three-story frame house painted white. My Mistress was very mean. Sometimes she would make de overseer whip Negross for looking too hard at her when she was talking to dam. Day had four children,
three girls and one boy. I was a servant to my Master, and as he had de palsy I had to care for him, feed him and push him around. I don't know how many slaves, but he had a
good deal of 'em. About four o'clock mornings de overseer or negro carriage driver who stayed at the Big House would ring de bell to git up and git to work.
I's born in Jackson Tennessee. I's going on 83 years. Me mother was Harriet Neel and father Jeff Bills, after their masters. I has one brother, all de rest of brothers and sisters dead. My brother's name is J.B. Bills. I's a servant to me master and as he had de palsy I had to care for him, feed him and push him around. I member me grandmother. She was name Emily Bray. No sir, never had no money while a slave. We ate sot greens, corn bread, and ash cake. De only time I ever got a biscuit would be when a misdemeanor was did me mistress
would give a buttered biscuit for de one who could tell her who done it. In hot weather and cold weather dare was no difference as to what we wore. We wore dresses me mother wove for us and no shoes a tall. I never wore any shoes tell grown and den dey was old brogans wid only two holes to lace one on each side. During me wedding I
wore a blue calico dress, a man's shirt tail as a head rag and a pair brogan shoes. Me Master live in a three-story frame house painted white. Me mistress was very mean. Sometimes she would make de overseer whip negroes for looking too hard at er when talking to dem. Dey had four children, three girls and one boy. I don't know how many slaves but he had a good deal of um. About four o'clock mornings de overseer or Negro carriage driver who stayed at de Big house would ring de bell to git up. Dare was a white post in front of me door with ropes to tie the slaves to whip dem dey used a plain strap, another one with holes in it and one dey call de cat wid nine tails which was a number of straps plated and de ends unplated. Dey would whip de slaves wid
a wide strap wid holes in it and de holes would make um blister den dey would take de cat wid nine tails and burst de blisters and den rub de sores wid turpentine and red pepper. Dey would pick cotton a head of nights 'till late on moonshining nights. I never saw any slaves auctioned off but I seen dem pass
our house chained together on dare way to be sold, included both men and women wid babies all chained to each other. Dare was no churches for slaves, but at nights dey would slip off and git in ditches and sing and pray and when dey would sometimes be caught at it, dey would be whipped. Some of de slaves
would turn down big pots and put dare heads into dem and pray. Me mistress would tell me to be a good obedient slave and I would go to heaven. When slaves would attempt to run off dey would catch dem and chain dem and fetch em back and whip um den turn a loose agin.
De Patrollers would go about in de quarters at nights to see if any of de slaves was out or slipped off. As we step on de dirt floors on pallets de patrollers would walk all over and on us and if we even grunt dey would whip us. De only trouble between de whites and blacks was de overseer
tied me mother to whip her and me father untied her and de overseer shot and killed him. Negroes never was allowed to git sick when dey would look somewhat sick, de
overseer would give um some blue-mass pills and oil of some sort and make dem to continue to work. During de war de Yankees would pass through and kill up de chickens, hogs, cattle, and eat up all dey could find. De day of freedom de overseer went into de field and told dem dey was free and de slaves replied,
free how? and he told um, "free to work and live for demselves" and dey said, "dey didn't know what to do." I married Josh Forch. I am mother of four chullern and 35 grand chullern.
I like Abraham Lincoln. I think he was a good man and president. I didn't know much who Jeff Davis was. What I heard bout Booker T. Washington, he was a good man.
Now, dat slavery is over, I don't want 'er be in nary northern and if ever nary northern come up I wouldn't stay here.
BACK TO SLAVE NARRATIVE INDEX