Texas Slave Narratives

Texas Slave Narrative

  Ellen Goodman

My name is Ellen Goodman . I come here from Tyler, Texas. I was born in Georgia. I was sold with my mammy when I was a sucking baby so I don't 'member nuffin' 'bout it. How old is I? You wants me to tell de troof (truth), doesn't you? I'll tell de troof befo de Lawd, I doesn't know how old I is, but I'se not far from one hundred. I doesn't know one letter from another. De Lawd never intended me to know nuffin'. I was cut off de pension 'case I went to see my son, but de Lawd won't let me starve. I aint scared to ask any white folks for something to eat. A white man runned over me with a car when I was goin' into my church. The Church of God in Christ is my 'ligion. I was tendin' my Lawd's business when de white man runned over me and breaked my leg. He give me twenty-five dollars and a lawyer promised me more but I aint never seed him no more. Th' was seven families on de plantation. We didn't have no dances. I had done got 'ligion so I didn't dance none till I was freed. We use to play Sunday evenings in de yard when it wasn't my time to mind de white folk's chilluns. I use to help wash and card and spin  I'd spin my six cuts every day. Then between times I had to tote buckets of water. Wunst (once) when I was totin' water on my haid a pet deer runned after me. I runned 'bout fo'th of a mile and never spilled nary a drop of water, an' I had to open a gate too. I hollered like kingdom come. Ole Marse run out and shot de deer, if he hadn't, it would 'ave been the last of me. My mostest work was waitin' on table. I had enough to eat but they was lots of things what I couldn't eat. My stomach always been weak. We wore striped dresses, an' undershirts and shimmies an' drawers. My father made our shoes but I'd ruther go bare foot, winter same as summer. I 'member de dark day. It got dark in the daytime and fooled de chickens and dey done went to roos'; an' I prayed, 'O Lawd let de white folks die an' all de black folks live.' De white folks jus' laugh. They knowed I din't know no better. I went to church and Sunday school but de Lawd never meant me to learn. I went to school when I growed up. The teacher was a colored man. We both got drunk an' got to fightin' an' we both got put out. De Lawd never intended us black folks to know too much. When we was freed I didn't know where to start in. I lived with my grandma an' then with my pa. I don't have to pay no rent here. The white lady give me this servant house to live in as long as I live. I is lef' here for some purpose, de Lawd knows what it is. All my friends is gone on ahaid but I'se lef' here for some purpose. God bless everybody.