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Texas Slave Narrative

  Harre Quarls

Harre Quarls , 96, was born in Flardice, Missouri, a slave of John W. Quarls , who sold him to Charley Guniot . The latter owner moved to Texas, where Harre lived at the time of emancipation. Harre now lives in Madisonville, Texas. His memory is very poor, but he managed to recall a few incidents of early days.

Massa Quarls he live in Missouri. Place call Flardice. He done give me to he son, Ben , and he sold me to Massa Charley Guniot . Massa Charley come to Texas but I don't know when. It's befo' de freedom war, dat all I knows. My daddy name Dan and mammy Hannah . She was blind. I 'member us have small room in back of dere house, with de bed make from poles and cowhide or deerhide. Our massa good to us. I must be purty big when us come to Texas, 'cause I plows and is stockman back in Missouri. I don't know 'xactly how old I is, but it am prob'bly 'bout 96. I think dat 'bout right. Sir, us got one day a week and Christmas Day, was all de holiday us ever heered of, and us couldn't go anywhere 'cept us have pass from our massa to 'nother. If us slips off dem patterrollers gits us. Patterroller hits 39 licks with de rawhide with de nine tails. Patterroller gits 50 cents for hittin' us 39 licks. Captain, here am de words to de patterroller song: Run, nigger, run, patterroller cotch you, How kin I run, he got me in de woods And all through de pasture? White man run, but nigger run faster.' Sir, us have everything to eat what's good, but here in Texas everybody eat beef and bread and it am cooked in oven in de fireplace and in washpot out it de open. Sir, de great day am when massa brung in, de great, fat coon and possum. Captain, us has no weddin' dem days 'mong de slaves. I'd ask massa could I have a gal, if she 'long to 'nother massa, and she ask her massa could I come see her. If dey says yes, I goes see her once de week with pass. Boss, say, I had three wives. When I's sot free dey wouldn't let me live with but one. Captain, that ain't right, 'cause I wants all three. My missus larned me readin' and writin'. After freedom I taught de first nigger school. Dat in Madison and Leon Counties. I's de only nigger what can read and write in two settlements. They was thousands couldn't read and write.

I 'lieve it's 1861 when us come to Texas. Us camps at Neasho in Arkansas and then come through the Indian Nation. Massa was purty good. He treated us jus' 'bout like you would a good mule. Us wore horseshoes and rabbit feet for good luck. Then us have de hoodoism to keep massa from bein' mean. Us git de stick and match so many notches on it and slip up to massa's front steps, without him seein' us, and put this stick under his doorsteps. Every night us go back to de stick and drive it down one notch. By time de last notch down in de ground, it make massa good to us. Dat called hoodoism. Massa tells us we's free on June 'teenth. I leaves. I made a fiddle out of a gourd 'fore freedom and larns to play it. I played for dances after I's free. I marries Emily Unions and us have de home weddin' but not any preacher. Us jus' 'greed live together as man and wife and that all they was to it. Us have one gal and one boy. Emily leaves and I marries Lucindy Williams . Preacher marries us. Us have three boys and two gals. Dey all farms now. I has some sixty odd grand and great grandchillen. Say, boss, I wants to sing you 'nother song 'fore you goes: Walkin' in de parlor, Lightnin' is a yaller gal. She live up in de clouds. Thunder he is black man, He can holler loud, When he kisses lightnin'. She dart up in wonder, He jump up and grate de clouds; That what make it thunder."


Harre Quarls , born in Flardice Mo. age 96, according to bill of sale to me. Master name John W. Quarls , he gave me to son Ben Quarls . Ben Quarls traded me to his brother for peace of land and he sold me to Charley Guniot . He owned me at time I was set free. My father name Dan Quarls . Mother name Hana Quarls . She was blind that is about all I remember about my parent or grandparents. I had a real good home and master and mistress they all was good to us. They let me sleep in a small room added to the back of their home. We had bed that didnt have but two legs. The poles were stuck from these forks to the wall with a cow or deer hide stretched for our beds. Sir, I plowed and hoed back in Mo. when I was brought to Texas I was stock man. I could ride any kind of horse that had four legs, dont care how wild. No sir, we did not have any money during that time but we would get hold of 25 cents. Our master would let us have small patch to make us money. Sir we got one day a week and Christmas day was all the holiday we ever heard of and we could not go anywhere except we had pass from our master to another if we slip off the patter roller would get us and the patter roller hit us 39 licks with the raw hide with nine tails and patter roller would get 50 cents for hitting us 39 licks. I want to sing you a song about the patterroller. Captain here is the words: Run negro run, negro patter roller catch you, How can I run, when he already got me in the woods and thru the pasture The white man run but negro run faster. Sir we had everything to eat that was good, but here in Texas everybody eat beef and bread and it was cooked in oven over the fire place and in wash pot out in the open. Sir, our great day was when the master brought in great fat coon and possum. We never ate rabbits cause our master wouldnt fix em. We wear shirts and pants summer and winter we didn't have shoes unless we get lame. No hat, just tie rag around our heads. They make us wash them after we come from work to wear next day cause we didn't have but one suit. Capt. we didnt have wedding them days among the slaves. I would ask my master if I could have a girl if she belong to another master, and she would ask her master if I could come to see her, and if our master said yes I would go to see her once a week with pass. Boss say I had three wives. When I'se set free they wouldnt let me live with but one. Capt. that wasnt right cause I wanted all three cause they was mine. Sometimes I would slips off to see dem and dey would run me home.

On the plantation back in Mo. they was four grown men and eight children on it. We got several brushings there for our meaness in the winter. I'se got up before daylight to make all the fires and summer time we get up about day light. No sir, I never see a ghost, but I believes in ghosts and we worked every day just as long as we could see then they make us feed the stock and milk after dark. We was treated just about like you would a good mule. No sir, I never saw any jail cause if we did anything very rough, our master would run us out of the country and sell us because we were too valuable. They treated us just about like you a good mule if he kick another mule and kills him. I'se seen one Ike Dickerson in chains cause he was lead to runaway. Yessir, my old mistress and the children learned me how to read and write. I taught the first negro school after we was set free. That was taught in Madison and Leon Counties. I was the only negro that could read and write in two settlements. They was thousands that could not read and write. I was reared in Texas by my master in 1851. We camped at Neasho Ark and then came through the Indian nation. Yes sir we wore horse shoes and rabbit feet for good luck. There we had hodoism to keep my master from being mean to us. We would get us stick and notch so many notches on it and slip up to the masters front steps without him seeing us and put this stick under his door steps and every night we go back to our stick and drive it down one notch and by the time the last notch was down in the ground it would make our master good to us. That was called hodoism. Say boss I want to sing you a song that go like this: The Bible me here below, think up yonder is white as snow, And I'll be there at getting up morning. Our master would call us about 1 hour before day go get up and build the fires and feed the stock. They would work us just as long as we could see, them come in and do up the work around the house. We would get to lay down about 9 or 10 o'clock. When I'se set free my master called me to the front porch and told me I was free on the 19th day of June. He told me I could go or if I wanted to I could stay and he would give me $5.00 per month if I would stay and help him finish his crop. Some payed us and some didnt. I made a musician after I was set free. If I had made musician before I was freed, they could not have bought me for any price. I made my first fiddle out of a gourd. I played for all the dances both white and black and Sunday School. All cut the same time.

I married Emmily Unions . We had a homely wedding was not any preacher. We just agreed to live together as man and wife that all they was to that we had one girl and one boy. Then I married Lucendy Williams . Preacher marrie us we had three boys and 2 girls. They all farm. I have 60 some odd grand and great grand children. Say boss, I want to sing you another song before you go: Walking in the parlor, lightning is a yellow gal, She lives up in the clouds, Thounder he is black man, And he can holler loud, when he kisses lightning, She dart up in a wonder, he jump up and grate the clouds that what make it thounder


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