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Frances Banks  

Choctaw Freedwoman

I was born on a farm near Doaksville, near Hugo, Oklahoma, befo' de Civil War. My parents belonged to an Indian family when I was jest a little child. After the Rebellion on with the family and I lived near the family of Governor Allen Wright for sixty years. I nussed all his chillun' and den later, long come dey's chillun' and I nussed dem, and I'se even nussed the great grand chillun'.

After the War I was what you call a Freedman. De Indians had to give all dey slaves forty acres of land. I'se allus lived on dis land which jines dat of Old Master's and I'se never stayed away from it long at a time. I'se allus willing to go back and nuss de sick and 'flicted but I allus come back home for a while.

I makes dis liniment of my own p'escription, and it's good for nearly everything that ails you. A while back a man and a boy got snake-bit, and I put dis liniment on em and dey was well in no time at all.

I has no real record of my being bawn, but I think I'se allus had good health and can do most any kind of work I wants to. My granfather, Uncle Wallace was a slave of the Wright fammily when dey lived near Doaksville, and he and my grandmother would pass the time by singing while dey toiled away in de cotton fields. Granddfather was a sweet singer. He made up songs and sung'em. He made up "Swing Low Seet Chariot" and Steal away to Jesus."  He made up lots more'n dem, but a Mr. Reid, a white man, liked dem ones de best and he could play music and he helped grandfather to keep deese two songs. I loves to hear'em.

I don't remmeber much about slavery days, 'cepting us chillun' had a right good time playing. We ain't never had no jobs to speak of, cause Old Master wanted all his young slaves to grow up strong and natchel like and none of us never done no hard work till we was plumb grown and matured. Ole Master was allus good and kind to us. I'se allus lived round white folks. I guess I'se de lone sentinel round here now. I'se bout all dats left of de old days. Everbody have gone and left me. I loves my home here cause dese hills and valleys never change. I loves to hear de Bible read too. I never did learn to read though some day I'se gwine to be wid my old frineds an if our skins here are black dey won't be no colors in Heaven. Our souls will all be white.

Contributed by M. Dawson, May 2002


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