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Slave Narratives: a Folk History of Slavery in the United States From Interviews with Former Slaves. Texas Narratives, Part 2

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"I's birthed below Nacogdoches, and dey tells me it am on March 19th, in 1852. My mammy had some kind of paper what say dat. But I don't know my master, 'cause when I's two he done give me to Marse Frank Sparks and he brung me to Bosqueville. Dat sizeable place dem days. My mammy come 'bout a month after, 'cause Marse Frank, he say I's too much trouble without my mammy.

"Mammy de bes' cook in de county and a master hand at spinnin' and weavin'. She made her own dye. Walnut and elm makes red dye and walnut brown color, and shumake makes black color. When you wants yallow color, git cedar moss out de brake.

"All de lint was picked by hand on our place. It a slow job to git dat lint out de cotton and I's gone to sleep many a night, settin' by de fire, pickin' lint. In bad weather us sot by de fire and pick lint and patch harness and shoes, or whittle out something, dishes and bowls and troughs and traps and spoons.

"All us chillen weared lowel white duckin', homemake, jes' one garment. It was de long shirt. You couldn't tell gals from boys on de yard.

"I's twelve when us am freed and for awhile us lived on Marse Bob Wortham's place, on Chalk Bluff, on Horseshoe Bend. After de freedom war, dat old Brazos River done change its course up 'bove de bend, and move to de west.

"I marries Nancy Clark in 1879, but no chilluns. Dere plenty deer and bears and wild turkeys and antelopes here den. Dey's sho' fine eatin' and wish I could stick a tooth in one now. I's seed fifty antelope at a waterin' hole.

"Dere plenty Indians, too. De Rangers had de time keepin' dem back. Dey come in bright of de moon and steals and kills de stock. Dere a ferry 'cross de Brazos and Capt. Ross run it. He sho' fit dem Indians.

"Dem days everybody went hossback and de roads was jes' trails and bridges was poles 'cross de creeks. One day us went to a weddin'. Dey sot de dinner table out in de yard under a big tree and de table was a big slab of a tree on legs. Dey had pewter plates and spoons and chiny bowls and wooden dishes. Some de knives and forks was make out of bone. Dey had beef and pork and turkey and some antelope.

"I knows 'bout ghostes. First, I tells you a funny story. A old man named Josh, he purty old and notionate. Every evenin' he squat down under a oak tree. Marse Smith, he slip up and hear Josh prayin, 'Oh, Gawd, please take pore old Josh home with you.' Next day, Marse Smith wrop heself in a sheet and git in de oak tree. Old Josh come 'long and pray, 'Oh, Gawd, please come take pore old Josh home with you.' Marse say from top de tree, 'Poor Josh, I's come to take you home with me.' Old Josh, he riz up and seed dat white shape in de tree, and he yell, 'Oh, Lawd, not right now, I hasn't git forgive for all my sins.' Old Josh, he jes' shakin' and he dusts out dere faster den a wink. Dat broke up he prayin' under dat tree.

"I never studied cunjurin', but I knows dat scorripins and things dey cunjures with am powerful medicine. Dey uses hair and fingernails and tacks and dry insects and worms and bat wings and sech. Mammy allus tie a leather string round de babies' necks when dey teethin', to make dem have easy time. She used a dry frog or piece nutmeg, too.

"Mammy allus tell me to keep from bein' cunjure, I sing:

"'Keep 'way from me, hoodoo and witch,Lend my path from de porehouse gate;I pines for golden harps and sich,Lawd, I'll jes' set down and wait....