Slave Narrative of Martha King

Person Interviewed: Martha King
Location: McAlester, Oklahoma
Age: 85

They hung Jeff Davis to a sour

apple tree!

They hung Jeff Davis to a sour

apple tree!

They hung Jeff Davis to a sour

apple tree!

While we go marching on!”

Dat was de song de Yankees sang when they marched by our house. They didn’t harm us in any way. I guess de war was over then ’cause a few days after dat old Master say, “Matt”. and I say. “Suh?” He say, “Come here. You go tall Henry I say come out here and to bring the rest of the niggers with him.” I went to the north door and I say, “Henry, Master Willis say ever one of you come out here.” We all went out side and line up in front of old Master. He say, “Henry”. Henry say, “Yes sah”. Old Master say, “Every one of you is free, as free as I am. You all can leave or stay ’round here if you want to.”

We all stayed on for a long time ’cause we didn’t have no other home and didn’t know how to take keer of ourselves. We was kind of scared I reckon. Finally I heard my mother was in Walker County, Alabama, and I left and went to live with her.

My mother was Harriet Davis and she was born in Virginia. I don’t know who my father was. My grandmother was captured in Africa when she was a little girl. A big boat was down at the edge of a bay an’ the people was all excited about it an’ some of the bravest went up purty close to look at it. The men on the boat told them to come on board and they could have the pretty red handkerchiefs, red and blue beads and big rings. A lot of them went on board and the ship sailed away with them. My grandmother never saw any of her folks again.

When I was about five years old they brought my grandmother, my mother and my two aunts and two uncles to Tumkaloosa from Fayettesville. Alabama. We crossed a big river on a ferry boat. They put us on the “block” and sold us. I can remember it well. A white man “cried” me off just like I was a animal or varmint or something. He said. “Here’s a little nigger, who will give me a bid on her. She will make a good house gal someday.” Old man Davis give his $300.00 for me. I don’t know whether I was afraid or not; I don’t think I cared just so I had something to eat. I was allus hungry. Miss Davis’ grandmother and one of my aunts and uncles. Old man Davis bought the rest of us. Uncle Henry looked after me when he could. I could see my mother once in awhile but not often.

I had a purty easy time. I didn’t have to work very hard ’till I was about ten years old. I started working in the field and I had to work in the weaving room too. We made all our own clothes. I spun and wove cotton and wool. Old Master bought our shoes. We made fancy cloth. We could stripe the cloth or check it or leave it plain. We also move coverlids and jeans to make mens suits out of. I could still do that if I had to.

We all went to church with the white folks. We didn’t have no colored preachers. The niggers would get happy and shout all over the place. Sometimes they’d fall out doors.

The Big House was a double log. two story house, not very fine but awful comfortable. They was four big fireplace rooms downstairs and two upstairs. Then they was two sort of shed rooms. There was a big piazza across the front. The kitchen was a way off from the house, seems like it was 200 feet at least. Our quarters were close by at the back. He didn’t have many slaves and they was nearly all my kinfolks. There was Aunt Emmy and Phillis, Uncles Henry. Mitchell, Louis and Andy, and the others were Uncle Logan and Uncle Nathan. They was old Mistress’ slaves when she done married.

Old Master and old Mistress had three boys. Kli, Billy and Dock. They had to go to war and old Mistress sho’ did cry. She say they might get killed and she might not see ’em any more. I wonder why all den white folks didn’t think of that when they sold mothers away from they chillun. I had to be sold away from my mother. Two of her boys was badly wounded but they all come back.

Abe Lincoln done everything he could for the niggers. We lost our best friend when he got killed.

Davis, King,

Federal Writers' Project. WPA Slave Narratives. Web. 2007.

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