Slave Narrative of Josephine Ames

Interviewer: Parnella Anderson

Subject: Early Days in Caledonia—Early days in El Dorado

Ah wuz bo’n de first year niggers wuz free. Wuz born in Caledonia at de Primm place. Mah ma belonged tuh George Thompson. After mah ma died ah stayed wid de Wommacks, a while. Aftuh dat mah pa taken me home. Pa’s name wuz Jesse Flueur. Ah worked lak er slave. Ah cut wood, sawed logs, picked 400 pounds uv cotton evah day. Ah speck ah married de first time ah wuz about fo’teen years ole. Ah been mahrid three times. All mah husband’s is daid. Ole man England and ole man Cullens run business places and ole man Wooley. His name wuz reason Wooley. De Woolies got cemetery uv dey own right dar near de Cobb place. No body is buried in dar but de fambly uv Wooleys. Ole man Allen Hale, he run er store dar too. He is yet livin right dar. He is real ole. De ole Warren Mitchell place whar ah use tuh live is Guvment land. Warren Mitchell, he homesteaded the place. We lived dar and made good crops. De purtiest dar wuz eround, but not hit’s growed up. Don lived dar and made good crops. De purtiest dar wuz eround. Dar is whah all mah chillun wuz bo’n. Ah use tuh take mah baby an walk tuh El Dorado to sevice. Ah use tuh come tuh El Dorado wid a oman by de name of Sue Foster. Nothin but woods when dey laid de railroad heah. Dey built dem widh horses and axes. Ah saw em when dey whoop de hosses and oxen till dey fall out working dem when dey laid dat steel. Ah wuz at de first buryin uv de fust pussen buried in Caledonia graveyard. Huh name wuz Joe Ann Polk. We set up wid huh all night and sing and pray. An when we got nearly tuh de church de bells started tolling and de folks started tuh singin. When evah any body died dey ring bells tuh let yo know some body wuz daid. A wuz born on Christmas day, an ah had two chilluns born on Christmas Day. Dey wuz twins and one uv em had two teeth and his hair hung down on her shoulders when hit wuz born but hit did not live but er wek.

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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