Slave Narrative of Hula Williams

Person Interviewed: Hula Williams
Place of Birth: Arkansas
Date of Birth: July 18, 1857

My mammy use to belong to the Burns plantation back in old Mississippi; that was before I was born, but the white overseer, a man named Kelly, was my father, so my mammy always said. She stayed with the Burns’ until her Master’s daughter married a man named Bond and moved to Jefferson County, Arkansas, about 25 miles south of Little Rock. The old Master give mammy and two other slaves to the girl when she married, that’s how come mammy to be in Arkansas when I was born, in 1857. The record says July 18. Mammy was named Emmaline and after she got to Arkansas she married one of the Bond slaves, George Washington Bond.

My step-father told me one time that Master Bond tell him to get some slippery-elm bark, but step-paw forget it. And it seem like the Master done forgot it too, but on the next Sunday morning he called out for step-pappy. “Come here,” he said. “I’m going to give you a little piece of remembrance!” That was a good flogging, and some of the white neighbors look on and laugh. But there was one slave, Boyl Green, who lived on a plantation nearby that my husband told me about after we was married. That Negro said he never would let nobody whip him. One day the Master got killing mad about something and told his overseer to bring in Boyl from the field. When he come in there was his Master waiting with a whip and gun. He handed the gun to the overseer and spoke to the slave, “Boyl, you’re going to get a good whipping or a shooting – which you going have!” Boyl he just look straight at his Master and said, ‘You never going whip me! Nobody going whip me! The Master motion and the overseer raise the gun and shoot Boyl right through the heart – that’s the way some Masters done. My husband, Nason Bond, told me about his Uncle Cal, a man whose face was all mashed in, one-sided like, like maybe his jaw was done broken by the kick of a mule. It seem like Uncle Cal hated his Mistress, even after she died. She was buried by a willow tree ‘longside of a road, and everytime Cal would ride by the tree he would stop and swear at the grave something awful. One day he sitting on his mule, cussing the woman buried by the tree, when some-thing smack him side of the head and he roll off the mule, nearly dead. Whatever hit him change his face – he went through life marked by the Spirits!… everybody said. After my husband’s brother buried his wife, the man was so sad and lonely he would go to her grave every evening and pray. One time in the middle of his prayer he heard a voice: ‘What are you doing here? This is a place for the dead! The living folks has no business here! He jumped up and looked around, but there was nobody to see. He run from the grave and never went back no more for prayers. During war times there was a concentration camp for the Slaves at Pine Bluff. We was in the camp; there was lots of guns and soldiers. The soldiers give each family one piece of wood every day for the camp fire, and just enough food stuff to keep the Negroes from starving. I remember my mammy would slip out at night and steal wood and scraps from the soldiers kitchen. That’s all I remember about the War – if I saw any battles I done forgot. The young darkies these days says they are modern; sass their mammy, too. When I was raising up the children mind their folks – my mammy was the boss, and she whip me for something when I was 27-year old! The girls nowadays strip their shoulders and bare their legs so’s they can catch a man. That’s the wrong way to live, and I’m glad I’m a Christian. It makes your heart soft and kind, makes you do good things, and it’s the sacrificing of personal pleasure and time that please the Lord!

Bond, Burns, Williams,

Federal Writers' Project. WPA Slave Narratives. Web. 2007-2024. The WPA Slave Narratives must be used with care. There is, of course, the problem of confusion in memory resulting from (73+ years) of the participants. In addition, inexperienced interviewers sometimes pursued question lines related to their own interests and perspectives and attempted to capture the colloquialism of the informant's speech. The interviews provide fascinating insight and surprisingly candid information, however.

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