Slave Narrative of Mary Lindsay

Person Interviewed: Mary Lindsay
Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma
Date of Birth: September 20, 1845
Age: 91

My slavery, days wasn’t like most people tell you about. ’cause I was two to my young Mistress and cont away to have when I was jest a little girl. and I didn’t live on a big plantation a very long time.

I got an old family Bible what ray I war born on September 20, in 1845 but I don’t know who yut he writing in it unclear it was my mammy’s witness. My mammy had de book when she die.

My mammy come out to the Indian country from Eiariy two years before I was born. She was try slave of a Chicasaw part-breed name Sobe Love. He was the kinsfolks of Mr. Eenjamin Love, and Mr. Henry Love what bring the big bunches of the Chickasaws out from Mississipi to the Choctaw country when the Chickasaws sign my do trouty to leave Mississippi, and the whole Love family settle ’round on the Red River below Fort Washita. There that I was born.

My mammy any dey have a terrible have time again the sickness when they first come out into that country, because it was low and swampy and all full of came brakes, and everybody have the smallpox and the malaria and fever all the time Lots of the Chickness families nearly died off.

Old Sobe Love mammy her off to a slave named William, what belong to a full-blood Chickasaw man name Chick-a-lathe, and I was one of de children.

De children belong to the owner of the nother, and we and my brother Franklin, what we called “Emmer” was born under the name of Love and then old Master Sote bought my pappy William, and we was all Love slaves them.

My mammy had two more girls, name Betty and Bene. My mammy name was Mary, end I was named after her. Old Mistress name was Lottie, and they had a daughter name Mary.

Old Master Sobe was powerful rich, and he had about a hundred slaves and four or five big pieces of that bottom land broze out for farms. He had niggers on all the places, but didn’t have no overseers, jest hisself and he went around and seen that everybody behave and do they work right. Old Master Sobe was a mighty big man in the tribe, and so was all his kinfolks, and they went to Fort Washita and to Boggy Depot all the time on business, and leave the Negroes to look after old Mistress and the young daughter. She was almost grown along about that time, when I can first remember about things.

‘Cause my name was Mary, and so was my marmy’s and my young Mistress’ too, Old Master Sobe called me Mary-Ka-Chubbe to show which Mary he was talking about.

Miss Mary have a black woman name Vici what wait on her all the time, and do the carding and spinning and cooking ’round the house, and Vici belong to Miss Mary. I never did go ’round the Big House, but jest stayed in the quarters with my mammy and pappy and helped in the field a little.

Then one dey Miss Mary run off with a man and married hin, and old Master Sobe nearly went crazy! The man was name Bill Merrick, and he was a poor blacksmith and didn’t have two pair of britches to his name, and old Master Sobe said he jest stole Miss Mary ’cause she was rich, and no other reason. ‘Cause he was a white man and she was mostly Chickasaw Indian.

Anyways old Master Sobe wouldn’t even speak to Mr. Bill, and wouldn’t let him set foot on the place. He jest reared and pitched around, and threatened to shoot him if he set eyes on him, and Mr. Bill took Miss Mary and left out for Texas. He set up a blacksmith shop on the big road between Bonham and Honey Grove, and lived there until he died.

Miss Mary dome took Vici along with her, and pretty soon she cone back home and stay a while, and old Manter Sobe of soften up a little bit and give her some money to git started on, and ho give her no too.

Dat just nearly broke my ole mammy’s and pappy’s heart, to have me took away only free then, but they couldn’t any nothing and I had to go along with Miss Mary they back to womans. When we git away from the big house I ject cried and cried until I couldn’t harily see, my was so swole my but Miss Mary said she gaine to be good to me.

I ask her how come Master Sobe didn’t give how some of the grown boys and she say she reckon it because he didn’t want to help her husband out none, but jest wanted to help her. If he have her a mun her husband have him working in the blacksmith shop she reckon.

Master Bill Merrick was a have worker and he was more sober than most the men in this days, and he never tell me to do nothing. He jest let Miss Mary tall me what to do. They have a log house alone to the shop, and a little match of a field at first, but after awhile he git more land, and then Miss Mary tell me and Vici we got to help in the field too.

That sho’ was hard living then! I have to git up at three o’clock sometings so I have time to under the hosses and slop the hogs and feed the chickens and milk the cors, and then git book to the horse and git the breakfast. What was during the times when Miss Mary was having and marsing her two children, and old Vici had to stay with her all the time. Master Bill never did do some of that kind of work, but he had to be in the shop sometimes until may late in the night, and sometimes before daylight, to shoe peoples hosses and oren and fix wagons.

He never did tell me to do that work, but he never done it his own self and I had to do it if anybody do it. He was the slowest one white man I never did see. He just move ’round like do dead lice off’n him all the time, and everytime he go to say anything he talk so slow that when he any one ward you could walk from here to way over there before he say de next word. He don’t look sick, and he was powerful strong in his arms, but he set like he Con’t feel good ject the came.

I remeber when the war come. Mostly by the people asking ‘long the big road, we hear about it. First they was a lot of wagons having form stuff into town to sell, and then party soon they were soldiers on the wagons, and they was coming out into the country to git the stuff and buying. it right at the place they find it.

When party soon they commence to be little bunches of mens in soldier clothes riding a and down the road going somewhere. They seen like they was mostly young boys like, and they jest laughing and jollying and going on like they was on a picnic.

Then the soldiers come ’round and got a lot of the white men and took them off to the war even if they didn’t want to go. Master Bill never did want to go. ’cause he had his wife and two little children, and anyways he was gitting all the work he could do fixing wagons and shoeing hosses, with all the traffic on de road at that time. Master Bill had jest two hosses, for him and his wife to ride and to work to the busy, and he Ned one old yoke of oxen and some near Seattle. He got some kind of a paper in town and he kept it with him all the time, and when the soldiers would come to git his hosses or his cattle he would ject draw that paper on ’em and they let ‘en clone.

By and by the people got so thick on the big road that they was somebody in sight all the time. They jest keep a dust kicked up all day and all night ‘cepting when it rein, and they git all bogged down end be strung all up and down the road cooping. They kept Master Bill in the shop all the time, firing the things they bust trying to git the wagons out’n the end. They was whole families of then, with they children and they slaves along, and they was coming in from every place because the Yankees was gitting in their part of the country, they say.

We all git mighty scared about the Yankees coming but I don’t reckon they ever git that. ’cause I never seen none, and we was right on the big road and we would of seen then. They was a whole lot nore soldiers in them brown looking jeans, round-about jackets and cotton britches a-faunching up and down the road on their hosses, though. Then hoss soldiers would come o’iling by, going east, all day and night, end the two-three days later on they would all come tearing by going west! Dey acted like dey didn’t know whar dey gwine, but I reckon dey did

Den Master Bill/Git/Sick. I reckon he more wore out end worried than anything else, but he go down with de fever one d-y end it raining so hard Mistress and me and Vici can’t neither one go nowhar to git no help.

We puts peach tree poultices on his head and wash his off all the time, until it quit raining so Mistress can go out on de road, and then a doctor man come from one of the bunches of soldiers and see Master Bill. He say he going be all right and jest keep hin quiet, and go on.

Mistress have to tend de children and Vici have to take care of Master Bill and look after the house, and dat leave me all by myself wid all the rest of everything around the place.

I got to feed all the stock and milk the cows and work in the field too. Dat the first time I ever try to plow, and I nearly git killed, too! I got me a young yoke of omens I broke to pull the wagon, ’cause Vici have to use the old omens to work the field. I had to take the wagon and go ’bout ten miles west to a patch of woods Master Bill owned to git fire wood, ’cause we lived right on a flat patch of prairie, and I had to chop and haul the wood by myself. I had to git postock to burn in the kitchen fireplace and willow for Master Bill to make charcoal out of to burn in his blacksmith fire.

Well, I hitch up then young omen to the plow and they won’t follow the row, and so I go git the old omens. One of them old omens didn’t know me and took in after me, and I couldn’t hitch ’em up. And then it begins to rain again.

After the rain me quit I git the bucket and go milk the cows, and it is time to water the houses too, so I starts to the house with the milk and leading one of the houses. When I gits to the gate I drops the halter across my arm and bocks the bucket of milk on my arm too, and starts to open the gate. The wind blow the gate wide open, and it slap the hoes on the flank. That was when I nearly git killed!

Out the hoss go through the gate to the yard, and down the big road, and my arm all tangled up in the halter rope and me dragging on the ground!

The first jump knock the wind out of me and I can’t git loose, and that hoss drag me down the road on the run until he meet up with a passel of soldiers and they stop him.

The next thing I knowed I was laying on the back kitchen gallery, and some soldiers was pouring water on me with a bucket. My arm was broke, and I was stove up so bad that I have to lay down for a whole week, and Mistress and Vici have to do all the work.

Jest as I gitting able to walk ’round here cone some soldiers and may they come to git Master Bill for the war. He still in the bed sick, and so they leave a parole paper for him to stay until he git well, and then he got to go into Bonhan end go with the soldiers to blacksmith for them that got the cannons, the man said.

Mistress take on and cry and hold onto the man’s coat and bag, but it don’t do no good. She say they don’t belong in Texas but they belong in the Chickeser Eation, but he say that don’t do no good, ’cause they living in Texas now.

Master Bill jest stew and fret so, one night he fever git way up and he go off into a kind of a sleep and about morning he died.

My broke arm begin to swell up and hurt me, and I git sick with it again, and Misliem git another doctor to come look at it.

He say I got bad blood from it how come I git so sick, and he git out his knife out’n his satchel and bleed me in the other arm. The next day he come back and bleed me again two times, and the next day one more time, and then I git so sick I puke and he quit bleeding me.

While I still sick Mistress pick up and go off to the Territory to her peppy and leave the children thar for Vici and me to look after. After while she come home for a day or two and go off again somewhere else. Then the next time she come home she say they been having big battles in the Territory and her pappy moved all his stuff down on the river, and she home to stay now.

We git along the best we can for a whole winter, but we nearly starve to death, and then the next spring when we getting a little patch planted Mistress go into Bonham and come back and say we all free and the war over.

She say, “You and Vici jest as free as I am, and a lot freer, I reckon, and they say I got to pay you if you work for me, but I ain’t got no money to pay you. If you stay on with me and help me I will feed and home you and I can weave you some good dresses if you card and spin the cotton and wool.”

Well, I stayed on, ’cause I didn’t lave no place to go, and I carded and spinned the cotton and wool and she make me just one dress. Vici didn’t do nothing but jest wait on the children and Mistress.

Mistress go off again about a week, and when she come back I see she got some money, but she didn’t give us any of it.

After while I asked her ain’t she got some money for me, and she say no, ain’t she giving me a good home? Den I starts to feeling like I aint treated right.

Every evening I git done with the work and go out in the back yard and jest stand and look off to the west towards Bonham, and wish I was at that place or some other place. Den along come a nigger boy and say he working for a family in Bonham and he git a dollar every week. He say Mistress got come kinfolks in Bonham and some of Master Sobe Love’s niggers living close to there.

So one night I jest put that new dress in a bundle and set foot right down the big road a-walking west, and don’t say nothing to nobody!

Its ten miles into Bonham, and I gits in town about daylight. I keeps on being afraid, ’cause I don’t git it out’n my mind I still belong to Mistress.

Purty soon some niggers tells me a nigger name Bruner Love living down west of Greenville, and I know that my brother Franklin, ’cause we all called him Bruner. I don’t remember how all I gits down to Greenville, but I know I walks most the way, and I finds Bruner. Him and his wife working on a farm, and they say my sister Hetty and my sister Bena what was little is living with my narrow way back up on the Red River. My pappy done died in time of the war and I didn’t know it.

Bruner taken me in a wagon and we went to my mammy, and I lived with her until she died and Hetty was married. Then I married a boy name Henry Lindsay. His people was from Georgia, and he live with then way west at Cedar Hills, Texas. That was right close to Gordonville, on the Red River.

We live at Cedar Hills until three of children was born and then no come to the Creek Nation in 1867. My last one was born here.

My oldest is named Georgia on account of Her peppy. He was born in Georgia and that was in 1938, so his whitefolks got a book that say. My next child was Henry. We called him William Henry, after my pappy and his pappy. Then come Donie, and after we come home we had Madison, my youngest boy.

I lives with Henry Love on this little place we get in False.

Then we first come here we got some land for $15 an acre from the Creek Nation, but our papers said we can only stay as long is it is the Creek Nation. Then in 1902 comes the allotments, and we found out our land belong to a greek Indian, and we have to pay him to let we stay on it. After while he makes is love off and we love out all around.

But my daughter Donie git a little lot, and we trade it for this place about thirty year ago, when this town was a little place.

Lindsay, Love, Merrick,

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

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