The Slave Narrative Collection
An OKGenWeb Special Project
I was born in Louisiana, way before the war. I think it was bout ten years before, because I can remember everything so well about the start of the War, and I believe I was about ten years old.
My mammy belonged to Mr. Sack P. Gee. I donít know what his real given name was, but it maybe was Saxon. Anyways we all called him Master Sack.
He was a kind of youngish man, and was mighty rich. I think he was born in England. Anyway his pappy was from England, and I think he went back before I was born.
Master Sack had a big plantation ten miles north of Arcadia, Louisiana, and his land run ten miles along both sides. He would leave in a buggy and be gone all day and still not get all over it.
There was all kings of land on it, and he raised cane and oats and wheat and lots of corn and cotton. His cotton fields was the biggest anywheres in that part, and when chopping and picking times came he would get Negroes from other people to help out. I never was no good at picking, but I was a terror with the hoe!
I was the only child my Mammy had. She was just a young girl, and my Master did not own her very long. He got her from Mr. Addison Hilliard, where my pappy belonged. I think she was going to have me when he got her; anyways I come along pretty soon, and my mammy never was very well afterwards. Maybe Master Sack sent to back over to my pappy. I donít know.
Mammy was the house girl at Mr. Sackís because she wasnít very strong, and when I was four or five years old she died. I was big enough to do little things for Mr. Sack and his daughter, so they kept me at the mansion, and I helped the house boys. Time I was nine or ten Mr. Sackís daughter was getting to be a young woman Ė fifteen or sixteen years old Ė and that was old enough to get married off in them days. They had a lot of company just before War, and they had a whole bunch of house Negroes around all the time.
Old Mistress died when I was a baby, so I donít remember anything abut here, but Young Mistress was a winder! She would ride horseback nearly all the time, and I had to go along with her when I got big enough. She never did go around the quarters, so I donít know nothing much about the Negroes Mr. Sack had for the fields. They all looked pretty clean and healthy, though, when they would come up to the Big House. He fed them all good and they all liked him.
He had so much different kinds of land that they could raise anything they wanted, and he had more mules and horses and cattle then anybody around there. Some of the boys worked with his fillies all the time, and he went off to New Orleans ever once in a while with his race horses. He took his daughter but they never took me.
Some of his land was in pasture but most of it was all open fields, with just miles and miles of cotton rows There was a pretty good strip along one side he called the ďoldĒ Fields. Thatís what they called the land that was wore out and turned back. It was all growned up in young trees, and thatís where he kept his horses most of the time.
The first I knowed about the War coming on was when Mr. Sack had a whole bunch of whitefolks at the Big House at a function. They didnít talk about anything else all evening and then the next time they come nearly all their menfolks wasnít there Ė just the womenfolks. It wasnít very long till Mr. Sack went off to Houma with some other men, and pretty soon we knew he was in the War. I donít remember ever seeing him come home. I donít think he did until it was nearly all over.
Next thing we knowed they was Confederate soldiers riding by pretty nearly every day in big droves. Sometimes they would come and buy corn and wheat and hogs, but they never did take any anyhow, like the Yankees done later on. They would pay with billets, Young Missy called them, and she didnít send them to get them cashed but saved them a long time, and then she got them cashed, but you couldnít buy anything with the money she got for them.
The Confederate money she got wasnít no good. I was in Arcadia with her at a store, and she had to pay seventy- five cents for a can of sardines for me to eat with some bread I had, and before the War you could get a can like that for two cents. Things was even higher then than later on, but thatís the only time I saw her buy anything.
When the Yankees got down in the country the most of the big men paid for all the corn and meat and things they got, but some of the little bunches of them would ride up and take hogs and things like that and just ride off. They wasnít anybody at our place but the womenfolks and the Negroes. Some of Mr. Sackís women kinfolks stayed there with Young Mistress.
Along at the last the Negroes on our place didnít put in much stuff Ė just what they would need, and could hide from the Yankees, because they would get it all took away from them if the Yankees found out they had plenty of corn and oats.
The Yankees was mighty nice about their manners, though. They camped all around our place for a while. There was three camps of them close by at one time, but they never did come and use any of our houses or cabins. There was lots of poor whites and Cajuns that lived down below us, between us and the Gulf, and the Yankees just moved into their houses and cabins and used them to camp in.
The negroes at our place and all of them around there didnít try to get away or leave when the Yankees come in. They wasnít to place to go, anyway, so they all stayed on. But they didnít do very much work. Just enough to take care of themselves and their whitefolks.
Master Sack come home before the War was quite over. I thing he had been sick, because he looked thin and old and worried. All the negroes picked up and worked mighty hard after he come home, to.
One day he went into Arcadia and come home and old us the War was over and we was all free. The negroes didnít know what to make of it, and didnít know where to go, so he told all that wanted to stay on that they could just go on like they had been and pay him shares.
About half of his negroes stayed on, and he marked off land for them to farm and made arrangements with them to let them use their cabins, and let them have mules and tools. They haid him out of their shares, and some of them finally bought the mules and some of the land. But about half went on off and tried to do better somewheres else.
I didnít stay with him because I was jest a boy and he didnít need me at the house anymore.
Late in the War my Pappy belonged to a man named Sander or Zander. Might been Alexander, but the negroes called him Mr. Sander. When pappy got free he come and asked me to go with him, and I went along and lived with him. He had a share- corpper deal with Mr. Sander and I helped him work his patch. That place was just a little east of Houma, a few miles.
When my Pappy was born his parents belonged to a Mr. Adams, so he took Adams for his last name, and I did too, because I was his son. I donít know where Mr. Adams lived, but I donít think my Pappy was born in Louisiana. Alabama, maybe. I think his parents come off the boat, because he was very black Ė even blacker then I am.
I lived there with my Pappy until I was about eighteen and then I married and moved around over Louisiana from time to time. My wife gave me twelve boys and five girls, but all my children are dead now but five. My wife died in 1920 and I come up here to Tulsa to live. One of my daughters takes care and looks out for me now.
I seen the old Sack P. Gee place about twenty years ago, and it was all cut up in little places and all run down. Never would have know it was one time a big plantation ten miles long.
I seen places going to rack and ruin all around Ė all the places I lived at in Louisiana Ė but Iím glad I wasnít there to see Master Sackís place go down. He was a good man and done right by all his negroes.
Yes, Lord, My old feets have been in mighty nigh every parish in Louisiana, and I seen some mighty pretty places, but Iíll never forget how that old Gee plantation looked when I was a boy.
Contributed by M. Dawson, May 2002