A Little History

Oklahoma Slave Narrative

  Salomon Oliver

   John A. Miller owned the finest plantation in Washington County. Mississippi, about 12-mile east of Greenville. I was born on this 20,000-acre plantation November 17, 1859. being one of about four hundred slave children on the place.  About three hundred negro families living in box-type cabins made it seen like a small town. Built in rows, the cabins were kept whitewashed, neat and orderly, for the Master was strict about such things. Several large barns and storage buildings were scattered around the plantation. Also, two cotton gins and two old fashioned presses, operated by horses and mules, made Miller's plantation one of the best equipped in Mississippi. Master John was quite a character. The big plantation didn't occupy all his time. He owned a bank in Vicksburg and another in New Orleans, and only came to the plantation two or three times a year for a week or two visit. Things happened around there mighty quick when the Master showed up. If the slaves were not being treated right  out go the white overseer. Fired! The Master was a good man and tried to hire good boss men. Master John was bad after the slave women. A yellow child show up every once in a while. Those kind always got special privileges because the Master said he didn't want his children whipped like the rest of them slaves.
My own Mammy, Mary , was the Master's own daughter! She married Solomon Oliver (who took the name of Oliver after the war), and the Master told all the slave drivers to leave her alone and not whip her. This made the overseers jealon of her and caused trouble. John Santhers was one of the white overseers who treated her bad, and after I was born and got strong enough (I was a weakling for three-four years after birth), to do light chores he would whip me just for the fun of it. It was fun for him but not for me. I hoped to whip him when I grew up. That is the one thing I won't ever forget. He died about the end of the war so that's one thing I won't ever get to do. My mother was high-tempered and she knew about the Master's orders not to whip her. I guess sometimes she took advantage and tried to do things that maybe wasn't right. But it did her no good and one of the white men flogged her to death. She died with scars on her back! Father use to preach to the slaves when a crowd of them could slip off into the woods. I don't remember much about the religious things, only just what Daddy told me when I was older. He was caught several times slipping off to the woods and because he was the preacher I guess they layed on the lash a little harder trying to make him give up preaching. Ration day was Saturday. Each person was given a peck of corn meal, four pounds of wheat flour, four pounds of pork meat, quart of molasses, one pound of sugar, the same of coffee and a plug of tobacco. Potatoes and vegetables care from the family garden and each slave family was required to cultivate a separate garden. During the Civil War a battle was fought near the Miller plantation. The Yankees under General Grant care through the country. They burned 2,000 bales of Miller cotton. When the Yankee wagons crossed Bayou Creek the bridge gave way and quite a number of soldiers and horses were seriously injured. For many years after the war folks would find bullets in the ground. Some of the bullets were 'twins' fastened together with a chain. Master Miller settled my father upon a piece of land after the war and we stayed on it several years, doing well. I moved to Muskogee in 1902, coming on to Tulsa in 1907, the same year Oklahoma was made a state. My six wives are all dead, Liza , Lizzie , Kilen ,
Lula , Elizabeth and Menrietta . Six children, too. George , Anna , Solomon , Nelson , Garfield , Cosmos all good children. They remember the Tulsa riot and don't aim ever to come back to Oklahoma.
When the riot started in 1922 (I think it was). I had a place on the corner of Pine and Owasso Streets. Two hundred of my people gathered at my place, because I was so well known everybody figured we wouldn't be molested. I was wrong. Two of my horses was shot and killed. Two of my boys, Salomon and Nelson , was wounded, one in the hip, the other in the shoulder. They wasn't bad and got well alright. Some of my people wasn't so lucky. The dead wagon hauled them away! White men came into the negro district and gathered up the homeless. The houses were most all burned. No place to go except to the camps where armed whites kept everybody quiet. They took my clothes and all my money --- $298.00,  and the police couldn't do nothing about my loss when I reported it to them. That was a terrible time, but we people are better off today that any time during the days of slavery. We have some privileges and they are worth more than all the money in the world!