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Interviewer                                     Samuel S* Taylor
Person interviewed                                 Cyrus Bellas
1320 Pulaski Street*. Little Rock* Arkansas
Age  75

“I was born in Mississippi in 1865 in Jefferson County* It was on the
tenth of March* My father’s name was Cyrus Bellus, the same as mine* My
mother’s name was Matilda Bellus*
“My father’s master was David Bunt* My father and mother both
belonged to him* They had the same master* I don’t know the names of my
grandfather and mother* I think they were Jordans* No, I know my grand-
mother’s name was Annie Hall, and my grandfather’s name was Stephen Hall*
Those were my mother’s grandparents* My father’s father was named John
Major and his mother was named Dinah Major* They belonged to the Hunts* I
don’t know why the names was different* I guess he wasn’t their first
master*
Slave Sales, Whippings, Work
“I have heard my folks talk about how they were traded off and how
they used to have to work* Their master wouldn’t allow them to whip his
hands* No, it was the mistress that wouldn’t allow them to be whipped*
They had hot words about that sometimes*
•The slaves had to weave cotton and knit soz* Sometimes they would
work all night, weaving cloth* and spinning thread* The spinning would be
done first* They would make cloth for all the hands on the place*
“They used to have tanning vats to make shoes with too* Old master
didn’t know what it was to buy shoes* Had a man there to make them*
2.
“My father and mother were both field hands* They didnft weave or
spin* My grandmother on my mother1 s side did that* They were supposed to
pick—the manf four hundred pounds of cotton, and the woman three hundred*
-And that was git tin1 some cotton* If they didnft come up to the task, they
was took out and give a whipping* The overseer would do the thrashing*
The old mistress and master wouldn’t agree on that whipping*
Pun
“The slaves were allowed to get out and have their fun and play and
‘musement for so many hours* Outside of those hours, they had to be found
in their house* They had to use fiddles* They had dancing just like the
boys do now* They had knockin* and rasslln9 and all such like now*
Church
“So far as serving God was concerned, they had to take a kettle and
turn it down bottom upward and then old master couldn’t hear the singing
and prayin1. I don’t know just how they turned the kettle to keep the
noise from golnY out* But I heard my father and mother say they did it*
The kettle would be on the inside of the cabin, not on the outside*
House, Furniture, Food
“The slaves lived in log houses instead of ones like now with weather-
boarding* The two ends duffed in* They always had them so they would hold
a nice family* Never had any partitions to make rooms* It was just a
straight long house with one window and one door*
“Provisions were weighed out to them* They were allowed
four pounds of meat and a peck of meal for each working person*
3*
±43
They only provided for the working folks* If I had eight in a family, I
would just get the same amount# There was no provisions for child-
ren*
“But all the children on the place were given something from the big
houseo The working folks ate their breakfast before daylight in the log
cabin where they lived* They ate their supper at home too* They was
allowed to get back home by seven or eight ofclock* The slaves on my place
never ate together* I don’t know anything about that kind of feeding*
“They had nurses, old folks that weren’t able to work any longer* All
the children would go to the same place to be cared for and the old people
would look after them* They wasn’t able to work, you know* They fed the
children during the day*
How Freedom Came
“My father and mother and grandmother said the overseer told them that
they were free* I guess that was in 18651 the same year I was born* The
overseer told them that they didn’t have any owner now* They was free
folks* The boss man told them too—had them to come up to the big house
and told them they had to look out for themselves now because they were
free as he was*
Bigit After the War
“Right after emancipation, my folks were freed* The boss man told
them they could work by the day or sharecrop or they could work by groups*
A group of folks could go together and work and the boss man would pay them
so much a day* I believe they worked for him a good while—about seven or
eight years at least* They was in one of the groups*

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

 

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