Texas Slave Narrative
Litt Young was born in 1850, in Vicksburg, Miss., a slave of Martha Gibbs , on whose property the old battleground at Vicksburg was located. Litt was freed in 1865, in Vicksburg, and was refugeed by his owner to Harrison Co., Texas. He was freed again on June 19; 1866, and found work as a sawmill hand, a tie cutter and a woodcutter during the construction - of the Texas & Pacific Railroad from Marshall to Texarkana. The remainder of his life, with the exception of five years on a farm, has been spent as a section hand. Litt lives alone on the Powder Mill Road, two and a half miles north of Marshall, and is supported by a $12.00 monthly pension from the government.
I's born in 1850 in Vicksburg, and belonged to Missy Martha Gibbs Her place was on Warner Bayou and the old battlefield was right there in her field. She had two husbands, one named Hockley and he died of yellow fever. Then she marries a Dr. Gibbs , what was a Yankee, but she didn't know it till after the war. Massa Hockley bought my daddy from a nigger trader up north somewheres, but my mammy allus belonged to the Gibbs family. I had a sister and two brothers, but the Gibbs sold them to the Simmons and I never seed 'em any mere
Old Missy Gibbs had so many niggers she had to have lots of quarters. They was good houses, weather boarded with cypress and had brick chimneys. We'd pull green grass and bury it awhile, then bile it to make mattresses. That made it black like in auto seats. Missy was a big, rich Irishwoman and not scared of no man. She lived in a big, fine house, and buckled en two guns and come out to the place most every morning. She out-cussed man when things didn't go right. A yellow man driv her down in a two-horse avalanche. She had a white man for overseer what live in a good house close to the quarters. It was whitewashed and had glass windows. She built a nice church with glass windows and a brass cupole for the blacks and a yellow man preached to us. She had him preach how we was to obey our master and missy if we want to go to Heaven, but when she wasn't there, he come out with straight preachin' from the Bible. Good gracious, what we had to cat. The y give us plenty, turnip greens and hog-jowl and peas and cornbread and milk by the barrels. Old women what was too old to work in the field done the cookin' and tended the babies. They cooked the cornbread in a oven and browned it like cake. When they pulled it out, all the chillen was standin' round, smokin' they lips. Every Christmas us got a set white lowell clothes and a pair brogan shoes and they done us the whole year, or us go naked. When that dg bell rung at four o'clock you'd better get up, 'cause the overseer was standin' there with a whippin' strap if you was late. My daddy got a sleepin' most every morning for oversleeping. Them mules was standin' in the field at daylight, waitin' to see how to plow a straight furrow. If a nigger was a 500 pound cotton picker and didn't weigh up that much at night, that was not gitting his task and he got a whipping. The last weighin' was done by lightin' a candle to see the scales. Us have small dances Saturday nights and ring plays and banjo and fiddle playin' and knockin' bones. There was fiddles make from gourds and banjoes from sheep hides. I 'member one song, 'Soffee grows on white oak trees, River flows with brandy -o.' That song was started in Vicksburg by the Yankee soldiers when they left to go home, 'cause they so glad war over. Missy have a big, steam sawmill there on Marner Bayou, where the boats come up for lumber. It was right there where the bayou empties in the Mississippi. I 'member seein' one man sold there at the sawmill. He hit his massa in the head with a singletree and kilt him and they's fixin' to hang him, but a man promised to buy him if held promise to be good. He give for him.
Dr. Gibbs was a powerful man in Vicksburg. He was the 'casion of Yanks takin' 'vantage of Vicksburg like they done. 'Fore the war he'd missy, 'Darling, you oughtn't whip them poor, black folks so hard. They is gwine be free like us some day.' Missy say. 'Shut up. Sometimes I 'l is a Yankee, anyway.' Some folks say Dr. Gibbs was workin' for the North all the time' war, and when he doctored for them durin' the war, they say they knows The 'Federates have a big camp there at Vicksburg and cut a big ditch the edge of town. Some any Gen. Grant was knowin' all how it was fixed that Dr. Gibbs let him know. The Yankees stole the march on the 'Federates and waited till they come out the ditch and mowed 'em down. The 'Federates didn't have no chance, 'cause they didn't have no cannon, jus' cap and ball rifles. The main fight 'bout four in the morning and held on till 'bout ten. Dead soldiers was layin' thick on the ground by then, after the fight, the Yanks cut the buttons off the coats of them that was kilt. I seed the Yankee gunboats when they come to Vicksburg. All us niggers went down to the river to see 'em. They told us to git plumb away, 'cause they didn't know which way they was gwine to shoot. Gen. Grant come to Vicksburg and he blowed a horn and them cannons began to shoot and jus' kept shootin'. When the Yankees come to Vicksburg, a big, red flag was flyin' over the town. Five or six hours after them cannons started shootin' they pulled it down and histed a big, white one. We saw it from the quarters. After surrender the Yanks arrested my old missy and brought her out to the farm and locked her up in the black folks church. She had a guard day and night. They fed her hard-tack and water for three days 'fore they turned her a-loose. Then she freed all her niggers. 'Bout that time Massa Gibbs run out of corn to feed he stock and he took my daddy and a bunch of niggers and left to buy a boatload of corn. Missy seized a bunch us niggers and starts to Texas. She had Irishmen guards, with rifles, to keep us from runnin' 'way. She left with ten six-mule teams and one ox cook wagon. Them what was able walked all the way from Vicksburg to Texas. We camped at night and they tied the men to trees. We couldn't git away with them Irishmen havin' rifles. Black folks nat'rally scart of guns, anyway. Missy finally locates 'bout three miles from Marshall and we made her first crop and on June 19th, the next year after 'mancipation, she sot us free
Dr. Gibbs followed her to Texas. He said the Yanks captured his niggers and took his load of corn as they was comin' down the Tennessee River, where it jines the Mississippi. Me and mammy stayed in Texas, and never did see daddy 'gain. When us freed the last time us come to Marshal l and I works in a grist mill and shingle mill. I cut ties for 15cents apiece. I cut wood for the first engines and they paid me $1.25 a cord. I got where I cut three cords a day. I helped clear all the land where Texarkana is now. When the railroad a quit using wood, I worked as section hand for $1.25 a day. I farmed five years and never made a cent and went back to the railroad. I marries in Marshall so long age I done forgot. I raises six gals and has three sets grandchillen. They's all livin' cept one. Since my wife died and I's too ailing to work, I's been kept by the pension. They had provost law in Marshall when us come to Texas. I allus voted when they let us. These young niggers ain't like what us was. Penitentiaries was made for the white folks, but the young niggers is keepin' 'em full.
was born in 1850 in Vicksburg, Miss., as a slave of Martha Gibbs
, on whose place the old battleground at Vicksburg was located. His Mistress first married a Mr. Hockley
and after his death, she married Dr. Gibbs
, who served as a doctor for the Federal Government during the War. Litt was freed in 1865 in Vicksburg, and in the absence of Dr. Gibbs
, was seized by Mrs. Gibbs
, together with thirty other slaves, and refugeed to Harrison County, Texas. He was freed again on June 19th, 1866, After freedom, he worked first as a sawmill hand and later as a tiecutter and woodcutter in the construction of the Texas and Pacific Railroad from Marshall to Texarkana. The rest of his life,
except five years on the farm, has been devoted to railroading as a section hand. Litt now lives alone on the Powder Mill Road, 2 and a half miles north of Marshall, and is supported by a $12.00 per month pension from the Government.
When that big bell rang at four o'clock in the mo'ning, you'd better rise, cause the overseer was standing there with a whipping strap if you was late. My daddy got a whipping most every mo'ning for oversleeping. Them mules was
standing in the fiel' at daylight waiting to see how to plow a straight furrow. The overseer whipped us for not getting our task. Every Nigger had so much cotton to pick a day, 'cording to what he picked the first week of picking. If a Nigger was a 500 pound picker and didn't weigh up that much at night, that
was not getting his task. The last weighing was done by lighting a candle to see the scales. Some of them was whipped scandously for running off. We had small dances on Saturday night and play ring plays, and have banjo and fiddle playing and knock bones together. There was all kinds of fiddles made from
gourds and things. They made the banjoes from sheep hides. It's been so long I can't 'member the names of the ring plays, 'cept the one that goes like this: "Coffee grows on white oak trees, River flows with brando - o'. That song was started there in Vicksburg by the Yankee soldiers when they left to go
home, 'cause they was so glad the War was over. Mistress had a big steam sawmill there on Warner Bayou where the steam boats come up for lumber. It was right where Warner Bayou empties in the Mississippi. I 'member seeing one man sold there at the sawmill. He hit his Master in the head with a singletree and
killed him. They was fixing to hang him, and a man offered to buy him if he would promise to be good. He giv' $500 for him. Dr. Gibbs
was a powerful man in Vicksburg. He was the occasion of the Yankees taking 'vantage of Vicksburg like they did. 'Fore the War he say to the Mistress, "Darling, you ought not to whip them poor black fo'ks so hard, they is going to be free jest like us sometime." Mistress say, "Shut up, sometime
I believe you is a Yankee anyway".
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