Interview transcripts

Transcript of interviews with Mrs. Laura Smalley, former slave

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Mrs. Laura Smalley: They tend to all the children. Tend to the children. Just like, you know, you bring a

whole lot of children, you know, and put them down, you know, at one house. Well, there somebody

have to look over them, you know and tend to them, that way. Just a house full of them children.

And if one act bad, you know, they'd whup him. They'd whup him too, the old woman. And if the old

woman didn't tend to the children, they'd whup, they'd whup her too.

John Henry Faulk: Hmm.

Mrs. Laura Smalley: You know to make her tend to the children, she wasn't doing nothing. Well she

wasn't a cripted [crippled] woman like me, you know. She wasn't an old cripted woman, satisfied she

wasn't an old cripted woman like me. And they'd whup her. And they had trays, I don't know where

you see a tray. Wooden tray. Dug out, you know, all about that, that long. And all of them you know

would get around that tray with spoons, and just eat. I can recollect that because I ate out the tray.

John Henry Faulk: Hmm.

Mrs. Laura Smalley: With spoons, you know, and eat, treat you like mush or soup or something like

that. But feed them, you know, before twelve o'clock. And all them children get around there and just

eat, eat, eat out that thing. And that old woman, you know, she would tend to them. Her name, Aunt

Tishe. Yeah, I know what happen to her. Old woman, name Aunt Tishe. And she—

John Henry Faulk: Just like slopping hogs wasn't it?

Mrs. Laura Smalley: It, Just like a tray, you know, just like a tray, you know, you have, it's made just like

a hog pit, a hog trough, you know.





John Henry Faulk: Well, do you remember, remember any of the slaves being sold? Do you

remember any slave sellers, you know, men that would just buy and sell slaves?

Mrs. Laura Smalley: No, sir. I never did see it. Why I never, us children never did know that, you know.

We heard talk of it, but then I reckon that was after, after slavery I reckon. We heard talk of it. I used

to hear them talk about, you know, you putting them on stumps, you know. Or something high, you

know and bidding them off like you did cattle.

John Henry Faulk: Hmm.

Mrs. Laura Smalley: Bid them off like you did cattle.

John Henry Faulk: Well, none of your folks were ever sold then?

Mrs. Laura Smalley: No, sir. None of them never was sold.

Unidentified Woman Interviewer: You were born right there and never did leave? You were?

Mrs. Laura Smalley: Born right there and stayed there until I was about nine, ten years old, maybe

more. Stayed right there. We didn't know where to go.

Unidentified Woman Interviewer: Uhmm.

Mrs. Laura Smalley: Mama and them didn't know where to go, you see after freedom broke. Just

turned, just like you turn something out, you know. Didn't know where to go. That's just where they


Unidentified Woman Interviewer: Uh huh. That's right.

Mrs. Laura Smalley: Hmm. Didn't know where to go. Turned us out just like, you know, you turn out

cattle. [


] I say. Didn't know where ta go.





John Henry Faulk: You remember when the Civil War was being fought?

Mrs. Laura Smalley: Well, I, I can't remember much about it, but I remember this much: When uh, Mr.

Bethany, was gone a long time. Look like a long, long, time. And I remember all the next morning, it

when he, he got up. Now don't get, don't knock with that back there, Well, ah, he, he ah, we all got up

and all of them went to the house. Went to the house to see old master. And I thought old master

was dead, but he wasn't. He had been off to the war, and ah, come back. But then I didn't know, you

know, until the war. I just know he was gone a long time. All the niggas gathered around to see the

old master again. You know, and old master didn't tell you know, they was free.

John Henry Faulk: He didn't tell you that?

Mrs. Laura Smalley: Uh-uh. No he didn't tell. They worked there, I think now they say they worked

them, six months after that. Six months. And turn them loose on the nineteenth of June. That's why,

you know, we celebrate that day. Colored folks—celebrates that day.



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