click here for the home page of OKGenWeb

USGenWeb

The Slave Narrative Collection
An OKGenWeb Special Project

 

Aunt Lizzie Farmer

No age or place of interview given

    In a little two room shack that was formerly used as servants quarters, and situated in the better residential district of McAlester, lives an old colored woman commonly known as “Aunt Lizzie Farmer.” She is physically unable to “work in white folks’ kitchens” any longer, due to rheumatism, so whiles the time away doing little extra jobs for her friends and neighbors and “praise’n de Lord.”

        Almost every evening neighbors of “aunt Lizzie” listen in on her devotional hour, or hours, as they often last from two to three hours. They feel that she is sincere in her religious beliefs as she lives them. If a neighbor or friend is ill, whether they be black or white, “Aunt Lizzie” is the first to lend her assistance. For every good deed that comes to her, she returns two.

        “Aunt Lizzie” was born near Mount Enterprise, Texas, in 1861. Her mother having passed away while she was only a year old, she was sent to live with her grandparents, George A. English and family, who were slaves of J. Booker, a plantation holder; however, her grandfather was the “mainest boss” next to Ol’ Massa, over the two hundred slaves. Her grandmother Harriet English was born in Eufaula, Oklahoma, about 1827, and was one-half Creek Indian. She lived to be one hundred and three years of age. Most of her life was spent in Texas as she went there to live when she was about fourteen years of age and never returned to the place of her birth. “I remember,” says “Aunt Lizzie,” that grandmother used to tell us that if we disobeyed her, she would come thought the keyhole and ‘witch’ us. I really believed that grandma could come through the keyhole, so I stuffed it full of cotton.” We were scared within an inch of our lives of grandpa because he would whip my uncles and I jes like Ol’ Massa whipped the slaves, and then he used to tell us old, old slaves stories. One was about John and Ned, salves of Ol’ Massa, way back there.

        Ol’ Massa had hundreds of beautiful hogs. Soon they began to disappear. He suspected John and Ned as they had absolute care of them. Then Ol’ Massa’s big blue barrow disappeared. He asked the boys about it but they “jest scratched their heads and acted worried too.” When they would go to feed at night, Ned would sing: “Pig-o-wee. Pig-o-wee. Somebody’s done been here and stole Massaa’s big blue barrow. Pig-o-wee. Pig-o-wee. Somebody’s done been here and stole Massa’s big blue barrow. Pig-o-wee. Pig-o-wee.”

        One Night Ol’ Massa blacked up and waited for them. John come first and Ol’ Massa locked him up and put on his cloths and waited for Ned. When Ned arrived he looked at Ol’ Massa and said, “John is you sick, you sho looks bad?” “Bout dead,” said Ol’ Massa. They began their work of getting jes one more hog. Ned noticed that John acted kinda funny. He didn’t persuade that hog like he always did. Anyway they drove the hog down to the rive where they had to cross to their hut. Ned looked at Ol’ Massa’s face where the Charcoal had rubbed off in the heat and scramble of stealing his own hog. “John you sho’ must have the leprosy. Them spots on your face done tole me what it is.” “Bout dead, Bout dead,” said Ol’ Massa.

        While they were crossing the river on the little homemade ferry made by the boys, Ned began to feel kinda queer, something told him that John was really Ol’ Massa. Finally he gained courage enough to ask. “Say yo ain’t Ol’ Massa, are you?” Ol’ Massa answered, “Indeed I am, and if you and John don’t return every hog you have stolen, I am going to give you five hundred licks each.” Ned instantly jumped into the river and was never seen again.

        Two things that I learned early besides work, was dancin’ and cussin’. Took it up from my uncles, I guess. Grandpa would have killed me if he had known that I was a dancing! I would get my clothes off and go to bed early, then I would slip around and get my best homespun dress and brass toe shoes and had been polished and set away until time to go to church. Then I would slip out with my uncles and meet my man down the road a ways. We danced until mornin’, then walk home. I would walk on the brush and rocks so that my shoes would not be slick on the bottom when I got home. Grandpa would call me about four o’clock every morning. “Black-chile, Black-chile, time to help yo mammy fry them flapjacks.” “Getting’ my clothes on right now,” I answered, when it reality I was takin’ em off. Without a wink of sleep I would pick or hoe cotton until sundown that day.

        When grandpa finally found out about me, I was dancin’ for money. Later I did some specialty acts. One was dancin’ with a tumbler of water on my head for twenty-five Minutes. The other was called “Lovin’ My Man.” I would dance with hightop (shoes) on, and they would be unbuttoned. My partner would stoop to button them for me. I would get my pistol out of my shirtwaist and shoot him down, without losing a step. I made fifty dollars a night and a percentage of the net proceeds. Somebody brought Grandpa in the dance hall one night to see me dance. I heard him a screamin “I’ll Kill her!” but I just kept a dancin’ and thinkin’ all the while that if he did kill me, I would die happy. I sho’ loved to dance. Many times I would go off of the floor and cry and cry, cause I was so Happy. I jes ate it up, and do you know what the devil had me do one time? He made me put a glass of water on my head and try to show my six little children how I used to dance. The glass fell on the floor and broke, and I was jes so clumsy. Jes’ the devil’s work anyway.

        “Aunt Lizzie” was married the first time, at the age of fifteen years. Her husband was also a good dancer. “He worked as a contractor and I continued to dance, made mo money then he did.” He used to croon this “love melody” to his Lizzie:

Somebody’s eyes are very dark—
Somebody’s eyes are blue
Somebody’s eyes are very dark.
Bring my lover back to me.

Bring, Oh! Bring him back to me.
Bring, my lover back to me
Bring, Oh! Bring him back to me.

My love is like a little dove,
That flies roun’ in the air.
Oh! When she’s with another man
No more she thinks of me.

I Wish, I wish my heart was glad
So he could feel it through and through.
Somebody’s eyes are very dark.
Somebody’s eyes are blue.

Bring, Oh! Bring my lover back to me
Bring my lover back to me
Bring, Oh! Bring her back to me.

        Aunt Lizzie doesn’t care for love songs and dance melodies any longer, for she has traded them off for “spirituals,” and these she sings continuously.

Hold to his hand.
Hold to his hand.
Hold to his hand.
Hold to God’s unchangeable hand.

Oh! brother, hold to his hand
Hold to his hand
God’s unchangeable hands.
Oh! sister, hold to Gold’s unchangeable hands.

**************

I shall not be removed
I shall not –I shall not
Shall not be removed.

Just like a tree panteth by the water
I shall not be removed
I am on my way to glory
I shall not be removed

Tell my lovin’ mother
I shall not be removed
I shall not – I shall not
I shall not be removed

***************

I came to Jesus, as I was
Feeling worried, wan and sad.
Found in him a restin’ place.
And he has made me glad.

Lie down, lie down, you worried one,
With you head on my breast.
I found in him a restin’ place
And he has made me glad.

Trouble of every kind
Thank God, we always find.
Little talk with Jesus make it right
Little talk with Jesus make it right.

        Aunt Lizzie is superstitious, and believes in fortunes, however, she does not believe all fortune teller’ stories. “Some are sent by the “Good Lowd” to warn us,” she says.

        “If a black and white cat passes you, good luck will come your way, but you bettah start a prayin’ if a solid black cat crosses your path, cause bad luck sure catch up wid you.”

        Carrying an axe through the house is bad luck also. On Christmas morning, don’t let a lady come into your house before a man does. If a man doesn’t come in first, have a boy come into the house and go into every room and be seated. Good luck will be with you through out the year,

        Bad Luck comes to a person who takes up ashes out of his stove and throws them out after sundown,

        If you should happen to put your dress on wrong side out, wear it until twelve o’clock sharp, then turn it right side out and make a wish. The wish will come true.

        Aunt Lizzie has had three husbands, and they were all good husbands, “cept they all alike in one way.” Every morning they would yell out to me, “Get up from that bed and cook my breakfast,” jes like grandpa used to yell at me. But I thinks I don’t want another man, cause my seven chilluns say I am too old to cook breakfast for another one.

        “Good-bye, white chile. Come back and see Auntie. Maybe I can think better for you next time. Good-bye.”

Contributed by M. Dawson, May 2002


© 2017 OKGenWeb

home
updated 01/10/2016

Linda Simpson, State Coordinator
Mel Owings, Assistant Coordinator