The Slave Narrative Collection
An OKGenWeb Special Project
Mrs. Esther Easter
Age 85 Yrs.
I was born near Memphis, Tenn., on the old Ben Moore plantation, but I donít know anything about the Old South because Master Ben moves us all up into Missouri (about 14 miles east of Westport, now Kansas City), long before they started fighting about slavery.
Mary Collier was my motherís name before she was a Moore. About my father, I dunno. Mammy was sickly most of the time when I was a baby, and she was so thin and poorly when they moved to Missouri that white folks afraid she going to die on the way.
But she fool Ďem, and she live two Ė three years after that. Thatís what good Old Master Ben tells me when I gets older.
I stay with Master Benís married daughter, Mary, till the coming of the War. Times was good begore the War, and I wasnít suffering none from slavery, except once in a while the Mistress would fan me with a stick Ė bet I needed it, too.
When the War come along Master he say to leave Misstress Mary and get ready to go to Texas. Jim Moore, one of the meanest men I ever see, was the son of Master Ben; heís going to take us there.
Demon Jim, thatís what I call him when he ainít around the place, but when heís home it was always Master Jim Ďcause he was reckless with the whip. He was a Rebel officer fighting round the country and didnít take us slaves to Texas right away. So I stayed on at his place not far from Master Benís plantation.
Master Jimís wife was a demon, just like her husband. Used the whip all the time, and every time Master Jim come home he whip me Ďcause the Misstress say I been mean.
One time I tell him, you better but me in your pocket (sell me), Master Jim, else Iíse going run away. He donít pay no mind, and I donít try to run away Ďcause of the whips.
I done see one whipping and that enough. They wasnít no fooling about it. A runaway slave from the Jenkins plantation was brought back, and there was a public whipping, soís the slaves could see what happens when the tries to get away.
The runaway was chained to the whipping post, and I was full of misery when I see the lash cutting deep into that boyís skin. He swell up like a dead horse, but he gets over it, only he was never no county for work no more.
While Master Jim is out fighting the Yanks, the Mistress is fiddling around with a neighbor man, Mister Headsmith. I is young then, but I knows enough that Master Jimís going be mighty mad he hears about it.
The Mistress didnít know I knows her secret, and Iím filling to even up for some of them whipping she put off on me. Thatís why I tell Master Jim next time he come home.
See that Crack in the Wall? Master Jim say yes, and I say, itís just like the open door when the eyes are close to the wall. He peek and see into the bedroom.
Thatís how I find out about the Mistress and Master Headsmith, I tells him, and I see heís getting mad.
What you mean? And Master Jim grabs me hard by the arm like I was trying to get away.
I see them in the bed.
Thatís all I say. The Demonís got him and Master Jim tears out of the room looking for the Mistress.
Then I hears loud talking and pretty soon the Mistress is screaming and calling for help, and if old Master Ben hadnít drop in just then and stop the fight, why, I guess she be beat almost to death, that how mad the Master was.
Then Master Ben gets mad Ďcause his boy Jim ainít got us down in Texas yet. Then we stay up all the night packing for the trip. Master Jim takes us, but the Mistress stay at home, and I wonder if Master Jim beat her again when he gets back.
We rides the wagons all the way, how many days, I dunno. The country was wild most of the way, and I know now that we come through the same country where I lives now, only it was to the east. (The trip was evidently made of the ďTexas RoadĒ) And we keeps on riding and comes to the big river thatís all brown and red looking, (Red River) and the next thing I was sold to Mrs. Vaughn at Bonham, Texas, and there I stay till after the slaves is free.
The new Mistress was a widow, no children round the place, and she treat me mighty good. She was good white folks Ė like old Master Ben, powerful good.
When the word get to us that the slaves is free, the Mistress says I is free to go anywheres I want. And I tell her this talk about being free sounds like foolishment to me Ė anyway, where can I go? She just pat me on the shoulder and say I better stay right there with ere, and thatís what I do for a long time. Them I hears about how the white folks down in Dallas pays big money for house girls and there I goes.
Thatís all I ever do after that Ė work at the houses till I gets too old to hobble on these tired old feets and legs, then I just sits down.
Jest sits down and wishes for Old Master Ben to come and get me, and take care of this old woman like he use to do when she is just a little black child on the plantation in Missouri!
God Bless Old Master Ben Ė He was good white folks!
Contributed by M. Dawson, May 2002