Slave Narrative of Kato Benton

Interviewer: Mrs. Bernice Bowden
Person Interviewed: Kato Benton
Age: 78
Location: Creed Taylor Place, Tamo Pike, Pine Bluff, Arkansas

“I was born in South Carolina before the War. I ain’t no baby. I wasn’t raised here. No ma’am.

“My daddy’s name was Chance Ayers and my mammy’s name was Mary Ayers. So I guess the white folks was named Ayers.

“White folks was good to us. Had plenty to eat, plenty to wear, plenty to drink. That was water. Didn’t have no whisky. Might a had some but they didn’t give us none.

“Oh, yes ma’am, I got plenty kin folks. Oh, yes ma’am, I wish I was back there but I can’t get back. I been here so long I likes Arkansas now.

“My mammy give me away after freedom and I ain’t seed her since. She give me to a colored man and I tell you he was a devil untied. He was so mean I run away to a white man’s house. But he come and got me and nearly beat me to death. Then I run away again and I ain’t seed him since.

“I had a hard time comin’ up in this world but I’m livin’ yet, somehow or other.

“I didn’t work in no field much. I washed and ironed and cleaned up the house for the white folks. Yes ma’am!

“No ma’am, I ain’t never been married in my life. I been ba’chin’. I get along so fine and nice without marryin’. I never did care anything ’bout that. I treat the women nice—speak to ’em, but just let ’em pass on by.

“I never went to school in my life. Never learned to read or write. If I had went to school, maybe I’d know more than I know now.

“These young folks comin’ on is pretty rough. I don’t have nothin’ to do with ’em—they is too rough for me. They is a heap wuss than they was in my day—some of ’em.

“I gets along pretty well. The Welfare gives me eight dollars a month.”

Ayers, Benton,

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

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