Slave Narrative of Emma Barr

Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson
Person Interviewed: Emma Barr
Location: Madison, Arkansas
Age: 65
Occupation: Nursed, Farmed

“My parents belong to two people. Mama was born in Mississippi I think and papa come from North Carolina. Papa’s master was Lark Hickerson. Mama was sold from Dr. Ware to Dr. Pope. She was grown when she was sold. She was the mother of twenty-seven children. She had twins three times.

“During the Civil War she was run from the Yankees and had twins on the road. They died or was born dead and she nearly died. They was buried between twin trees close to Hernando, Mississippi. Her last owner was Dr. Pope, ten miles south of Augusta, Arkansas. I was born there and raised up three miles south of Augusta, Arkansas.

“When mama was sold she left her people in Mississippi but after freedom her sisters, Aunt Mariah and Aunt Mary, come here to mama. Aunt Mariah had no children. Aunt Mary had four boys, two girls. She brought her children. Mama said her husband when Dr. Ware owned her was Maxwell but she married my papa after Dr. Pope bought her.

“Dr. Ware had a fine man he bred his colored house women to. They didn’t plough and do heavy work. He was hostler, looked after the stock and got in wood. The women hated him, and the men on the place done as well. They hated him too. My papa was a Hickerson. He was a shoemaker and waited on Dr. Pope. Dr. Pope and Miss Marie was good to my parents and to my auntees when they come out here.

“I am the onliest one of mama’s children living. Mama was sold on the block and cried off I heard them say when they lived at Wares in Mississippi. Mama was a house girl, Aunt Mary cooked and my oldest sister put fire on the skillet and oven lids. That was her job.

“Mama was lighter than I am. She had Indian blood in her. One auntee was half white. She was lighter than I am, had straight hair; the other auntee was real dark. She spun and wove and knit socks. Mama said they had plenty to eat at both homes. Dr. Pope was good to her. Mama went to the white folks church to look after the babies. They took the babies and all the little children to church in them days.

“Mama said the preachers told the slaves to be good and bedient. The colored folks would meet up wid one another at preaching same as the white folks. I heard my auntees say when the Yankees come to the house the mistress would run give the house women their money and jewelry and soon as the Yankees leave they would come get it. That was at Wares in Mississippi.

“I heard them talk about slipping off and going to some house on the place and other places too and pray for freedom during the War. They turned an iron pot upside down in the room. When some mens’ slaves was caught on another man’s place he was allowed to whoop them and send them home and they would git another whooping. Some men wouldn’t allow that; they said they would tend to their own slaves. So many men had to leave home to go to war times got slack.

“It was Judge Martin that owned my papa before he was freed. He lived close to Augusta, Arkansas. When he was freed he lived at Dr. Pope’s. He was sold in North Carolina. Dr. Pope and Judge Martin told them they was free. Mama stayed on with Dr. Pope and he paid her. He never did whoop her. Mama told me all this. She died a few years ago. She was old. I never heard much about the Ku Klux. Mama was a good speller. I was a good speller at school and she learned with us. I spelled in Webster’s Blue Back Speller.

“We children stayed around home till we married off. I nursed nearly all my life. Me and my husband farmed ten years. He died. I don’t have a child. I wish I did have a girl. My cousin married us in the church. His name was Andrew Baccus.

“After my husband died I went to Coffeeville, Kansas and nursed an old invalid white woman three years, till she died. I come back here where I was knowed. I’m keeping this house for some people gone off. Part of the house is rented out and I get $8 and commodities. I been sick with the chills.”

Barr, Hickerson, Martin, Pope, Ware,

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

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