Slave Narrative of Alfred Smith

Person Interviewed: Alfred Smith
Place of Birth: Calhoon, Georgia
Occupation: Farmer

I was born in Calhoon, Georgia. I don’t know the date of birth, but as near as I can get at, my age is 80 years old. My mother’s name is Mary Johnson and my father’s name is Alexandra Hamilton. He was named for his first master, but was later sold to Master Smith. I haven’t seen neither of them. I don’t even know how or who raised me up into the teens in age. I just remember my working here and there for what I could get. I learned to count myself, one day. I gathered some straws and went into the woods and broke them into short pieces and laid on my belly and first counted by 1 to 100, then I took them and counted by 2 to 100 and so on. I have one sister who is older than I and I give her credit in raising me up to the teens. I was not old enough to work in slavery and know but little concerning slavery. Since freedom I have worked in the States of Georgia, Tennessee, Illinois, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Kansas and Oklahoma. I remember I went in my shirt tail in summer and same for winter with home-made outing underwear and no shoes ’til I was able and old enough to buy them for myself. I really didn’t have a master but had some mighty mean employers. Even though I came along in school age a few years before freedom, I had no teaching. I have made a success in life with out ever being able to read. I came to Oklahoma shortly after the run and bought 160 acres from a white man who had squatted on land in Kansas and as he could only squat on one tract he sold me his Oklahoma land for $200. Since then, I have been a successful farmer to the extent of winning a gold medal at the World’s Fair in France, with the best cotton, and am now a retired farmer with $25,000 in cash in the banks and postoffice in Oklahoma City and a comfortable home to live in. The little town of Smithville about five miles from here on 23rd Street was named for me. My advice of success to others less fortunate than I is: “Cook small and eat. Plan your business a year ahead, if you live you’ll have it and if you die you won’t need it. I think Abraham Lincoln was the best President of all of them. Booker T. Washington, equals to Negroes as a leader as did Lincoln for the white people.

Hamilton, Johnson, Smith,

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

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