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I was on the BLackwell plantation south of Pine Bluff in ’63. They
was building a new house; I wanted to feel some putty in my hand.
One early morning I dim a ladder to get a little chunk and the over-
seer man, he seed me. Here he come, yelling me to get down; he gwine
whip me ’cause Ifse a thief, he say. He call a slave boy and tell
him cut ten wilier whips; he gwine wear every one out on me. When
he’s gone to eat breakfas’, I runs to my cabin and tells my sister,
“I’se leaving this here place for good.* She cry and say, Overseer
man, he kill you.” I says, “He kill me anyhow.” The young boy what
cut the whips – he named Jerry – he come along wif me, and we wade
the stream for long piece. Heerd the hounds a-howling, getting ready
for to chase after us. Then we hide in dark woods. It was cold,
frosty weather. Two days and two nights we traveled. That boy, he
so cold and hongry, he want to fall out by the way, but I drug him on.
When we gets to the Yankee camp all our troubles was over. We gets
all the contraband we could eat. Was they more run-aways there? Oh,
Lordy, yessum. Hundreds, I reckon. Yessum, the Yankees feeds all
them refugees on contraband. They made me a driver of a team in the
quatemasters department. I was always keerful to do everything they
telled me. They telled me I was free when I gets to the Yankee camp,
but I couldn’t go outside much. Yessum, if fen you could get to the
Yankee’s camp you was free right now.
That old story fbout 40 acres and a mule, it make me laugh. Yessum,
they sure did tell us that, but I never knowed any pusson which
got it.  The officers telled us we would all get slave pension.
3-     170
That just exactly what they tell. They sure did tell me I would get
a passel (parcel) of ground to farm. Nothing ever hatched out of
that, neither…You says you wants to know how I live after soldiers all go away?
Well, firstes thing, I work on the railroad. They was just beginning
to come here. I digged pits out, going along front of where the tracks
was to go. Kow much I get? I get #L.OO a day. You axes me how it seem
to eai*n money? Lady, I felt like the richess man in the world! I boarded
with a white fambly. Always I was a watching for my slave pension to
begin coming.  fFore I left the army my captain, he telled me to file.
4.
My file number, it is 1,115,857. After I keeped them papers for so
many years, white and black folks bofe telled me it ainft never com-
ing – my slave pension – and I reckon the chilren tored up the papers?
Lady, that number for me is filed in Washington. Iffen you go there,
see can you get my pension.

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

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