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After the railroad I went steamboating. First one was a little one-;
they call her Fort Smith fcause she go frum Little Rock to Fort
Smith. It was funny, too, her captain was name Smith. Captain
Eugene Smith was his name. He was good, but the mate was sure rough.
What did I do on that boat? Missy, was you ever on a river boat?
Lordy, theyfs plenty to do. Never is no time for rest. Load, onload,
scrub. Just you do whatever you is told to do and do it right now,
and you’ll keep outen trouble, on a steamboat, or a railroad, or in
the army, or wherever you is. Thatfs what I knows.
Yessum, I reckon they was right smart old masters what didnft want to
let they slaves go after freedom. ‘They hated to turn them loose. Just
let them work on. Heap of them didn’t know freedom come. I used to
hear tell how the govmint had to send soldiers away down in the far
back country to make them turn the slaves loose. I canft tell you how
all them free niggers was living; I was too busy looking out for myself.
Heaps of them went to farming. They was share croppers.
Yessum, miss, them Ku-Kluxers was turrible, – what they done to people.
Oh, God, they was bad. They come sneaking up and runned you outen your
house and take everything you had. They was rough on the women and chilren…People all wanted to stay close by vfhere soldiers was* I sure knowed
they was my friend.
Lady, leirnne tell you the rest about when I runned away. After peace,
I got with my sister* She’s the onliest of all my people I ever seed
again. She telled me she was skeered all that day, she couldn’t
work, she shake so bad. She heerd overseer man getting ready to
chase me and Jerry. He saddle his horse, take his gun and pistol,
bofe. He gwine kill me en sight, but Jerry, he say he bring him back,
dead er alive, tied to his horse’s tail. But he didn’t get us, Ha,
Ha, Ha. Yankees got us.

http://memory.loc.gov/mss/mesn/021/021.1.txt

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