Oklahoma Slave Narrative
Frank JacksonThe Vicksburg siege! - that's the one most thing I remember about the Civil War. Dem soldiers in gray fought the blue coated ones with guns and bayonets, but when dem Yankees get under the river (Mississippi) and blow it up the fighting was over for sure Dat July 4th day in 1863, when the rebels surrender Vicksburg, is the one day I won't never forget. The time I went dere was with Master Steve Jackson. All the time during the war we was helping the rebel soldiers. Lots of trips I made to Alexandria, La., with a wagon load of soldiers and when the Red River was up we crossed it on a 'flat,' down by the place dey called Florence landing. Dat flat was just a fixed-up ferry boat and on it we load the wagon, the horses and the soldiers. Some of the men had poles, some of the others had paddles, and dey would push and oar the 'flat' to the other side; den we be on our way again. The wagons was all home made, made by white carpenters with slaves around to help dem, made all of wood, even to the wheels and axles, dey was powerful heavy in demselves. Loaded up with stuff for the market it would take six yoke of oxen to budge it over the road to town. I was with the old master all during the war and long before. From the time I was born (Sept. 6, 1843) to the day of freedom he was the only Master I ever had. And he just have the one slave family, my mother, brother Billy and me. Guess my pappy belonged to some other Master for I can't 'member ever seeing him and don't know his name. Now I'm so old I even forgets my mother's name. I was born down in Choctaw County, Alabama. Master Jackson had a small farm dere when I was born. He had small farms all over the south. He traded in farms instead of slaves, I reckon. He look around and find a likely place he figure to fix up if he can buy it. He ask the price, maybe the owner say $500 for it and try to make master think what a bargain it was. But the old master was a powerful good trader and before that man knew it almost, the deal was made. He didn't get no $500 though; he was mighty lucky if he get $200. Dey was just small farms and it didn't take much work to get dem looking worth lots more than the old master paid, so when somebody come along looking to buy a farm dere it was waiting for him! That's how the master made his money all the time. The master's wife was Jane Jackson, the dearest old mistress who ever lived. Mistress Jane Jackson was always busy around her looms. My mother help with spinning and dying the thread. Lot of the thread was dyed red, I reckon because of the Indian mulberry (they called the tree 'Aal' in those days, he says), that was easy to get. When somebody get sick Mistress Jackson tell the master, '.…. fix some blue moss and calomel, they needs some medicine.' The master does it and doctors us wid dat for a while; if the misery leaves dat's all dere is to it, but if it don't he calls the regular doctor from town with his pills and stuff. Dere was an old water mill near one of Master Jackson's farms, where I take the corn for grinding. The grinding rocks was shaped up round and when dey come together the corn was mashed up, den the millman put plugs in the end hold and tighten the rocks so's to make the meal fine. I always took a pass to the mill with me, else the patrollers get me. The pass say to go to a certain place and get back to the farm in a certain time. If you was slow in getting back and stay over the time on the pass the patrollers get you and plenty dey could do. I use the passes right, but some of the slaves tried to runaway, but mostly I heard they was caught and whipped. The night riders was thick around the country, always watching for the runoffs. There was no churches or schools for the slaves, but they could go to the white folks' church, stand outside by the door and hear the preaching. That's the way we did, and then we get back home and tell the master what the preacher said. He wanted us to know about religion, but he said schools would spoil us negroes - there wasn't a reason for us to learn reading or writing. After freedom I was too busy trying to work that I couldn't find no time for either.
Two weeks before the old master told me I was free, that's when we was living near Winnfield, La., I married Susan Teagle, who was a slave girl on a plantation seven miles away. I got a pass to go see her when I could; sometimes the master let me stay 36 hours. The first thing I do after that June day when I was freed, I set my feet to walking them seven miles! When I got to the plantation and find my wife I say to her: "All the slaves is free now and they can live where they want. Me, Ise staying on with Master Jackson for awhile, and you can come with me and live there. What you say?" I remember she was glad as me. Ise ready! that's what I say! What I was most glad about was that her coming with me stopped that walking to her place! There was thirteen children; some of them died and I can only remember three of their names. Susan, Jance and Steve, all living in Oklahoma. All the children was raised like the old Master told us boys in slave times. He never make no rules for us, excepting to do right and always tell the truth. That's what everybody ought to do.