Collected by the Federal Writers Project, Works Progress Administration
Chessier, Betty Foreman
624 N.E. 5th
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Ida Belle Hunter, Reporter
Oklahoma Writers' Project
My mother was name Melinda Manley, the slave of Governor Henley of N.C. an' my father was name Arnold Foreman, slave of Bob and John Foreman, two young mastahs. They come over from Arkansas and visit my mastah an' my pappy and mammy met an' got married doe my pappy only seen my mammy ever summah when his mastahs come to visit our mastah an' day tuck him rat back. I had three sisters an' two brothers an' none of dem was my whole brothers an' sisters. Funny t'ing. I stayed in the big house all the time, but my sisters an' brothers was gived to the mastah's sons an' daughters when dey got married an' dey was tole to sen' bac' for some more when dem died. I diden never stay with my mammy doing of slavery. Honey I stayed in the big house. I slep' under the dinin' room table with three other darkies. Doe now the flo' was well carpeted. Don't remembah my grandmammy and grandpappy, but my mastah was they mastah.
I et what the white folks et an' dey diden eat no 'possums and rabbits, doe dey et fish. My choice food was soup an' still is. No gardens where I lived, cose I diden live on no plantation. I lived in town all the time. Day all had gardens out on the plantation doe.
Mastah Manley and Miz had 6 sons an' six darters. Dey raised dem all tell day was grown too. Dey lived in a gread big house cross the street from the mansion, rat in town 'fo Mastah was 'lected Governor, den day moved in all dat mansion.
Plantation folks had barbecues and lay crops an' invite the city darkies out. I weren't hongry, I warent naked and chile I got five licks from the white folks in my life. Dey was for being sich a big fergitful girl.
The slaves run 'way to the North 'cause dey wanted to be free. Some of my family run away sometime en' dey diden catch 'am neither. The patterollers sho' watched the streets. But when day caught any of Mastah's niggers wid out passes, day jest locked him up in the guard house and mastah coma down in the mawnin' an' git 'er out, but dem patterollers better not whip one.
I doesn't remembah any play songs, 'cause I was almost in prison chile. I couldn't play with any of the darkies. I doesn't remembah playin' in my life when I was a little girl en' when I got grown I diden wanta.
I know when the war commenced and ended. Mastah Manley sent me from the big house to the office about 1/2 mile 'way. Jest as I got to the office door, three man rid up in blue uniforms and said, "Dinah, do you have any milk in there?" I was sent down to the office for some beans for to cook dinner, but dem men mos' nigh scaid me to death. They never did go in dat office, jes' rid off on horseback about a quarter of a mile and seem lak rat now. Yankees fell outta the very sky, 'cause hundeds and hundeds was everwhere you could look to save your life. Old Miz sent one of her grandchillun to tell me to come on and one of the Yankees tole dat chile "You tell your grandmother she ain't comm' now and never will come back there as a slave." Mastah was setting on the mansion po'ch. Dem Yankees come up on de porch, go down in cellar and don't tech one blessed t'ing. Old Miz tuoh heart trouble. Dem Yankees whipped white folks going and comin'.