The Slave Narrative Collection
An OKGenWeb Special Project
Age About 88 Years
21st St. and Topeka Ave.,
I was born on Master Ned Yarger's plantation on the Mississippi River. Don't know the name of the place, just remember the river and the boats that use to come to the landing place. That old river took the lives of folks just like the war.
My brother Ned was one of them. He always went down to the landing when the boat come in. He would hear the whistle from away off and streak out to bear the boat in.
One day the "Miss Myrtle" was about ready to go on down stream. She was a center wheel boat. Instead of having the big paddle wheel on the side, that boat's wheel was in the middle. It was the only one like it I ever see.
Well, all the folks that was leaving had got onto the boat and the plank was took down, when my brother Ned took a fool notion to get on the boat. Nobody ever knew why he want to do that, for he wasn't going any place. The boat was away from the landing, but I guess not very far. Anyway, Ned tried to jump from the bank onto the boat. He missed it. That's the last we ever saw of him and Pappy said that a big fish must have got him. Guess it must have been an alligator.
Then the master's son Ned was the nest to go. He was always a sickly boy and never do any thing much around the place. Just sit and watch. But one day he went with a fishing party to boat the river. Somehow he fell out or else the boat went down and he was drowned.
It was a month later when the body was found. Nobody in the slave quarters got to see him, though. All we ever saw was something under a white sheet being toted into the big house.
My own folks was named Rose and William Ceasar. Where they got that name I can't say. Mayve my pappy was a free man once and got the name, but all I ever go by was Caesar, Yarger and then Jackson.
It was a cruel world during them war days. The old master lost most of everything he had during that time. He had most about one hundred slaves on his place, and slave quarters was row and rows of log huts.
Each of the cabins had a rock fireplace. but I never saw any chairs or furniture, excepting what was in the master's house or on the front porch. We had rags and benches to rest on. The beds was just planks nailed around to keep in the straw what we slept on. That's all.
The plantation was loaded with cows, hogs, sheep and goats when the war came along. Before that happened we always had plenty to eat and still during the first year after war was declared. There was lots of days there was nothing to eat except of meat rines.
Finally the war got so hot that old master up and left the place leaving the slaves behind with young master Dave, his only son since Ned died.
The soldiers come to the plantation. They was Yankee soldiers I reckon for they burned the buildings, took what little food stuffs they would find and then sure enough we was hungry. Everybody almost starve to death. Some of the negros did die with starvation. Everywhere was the same, not just on our place.
Young master looked after what was left of the slaves. He was a Creek Indian, a Big Big man in size, and good to everybody. He took us all to a place he called Canadian Creek.
There wasn't many of my family left by that time. They was killed off with the guns and some died starved.
Master Dave took the best care of me until after the war was over. And then he come to see me right here in Muskogee a long time after I was free. He stayed in the house all night and talked about his father who never did come back from the war. Mistress Polly, Dave's mother, was with him.
When I went to fix up the bed for Master Dave that night he said, "No, I'll just tuck-a-liser right her by the fire." And that's where he slept.
I'm glad that slave days is gone. Even if the master was good the slaves was bad off. Like the time they sold one of the women on our platation.
That woman was one of the best workers on the place. Always happy, full of life, and could work better in the fields than lots of the men.
The come along a slave buyer. It was about eating time and the buyer looked at the woman and talked with the master. They didn't put her on no auction block, just looked at her while she wating for a place at the table.
Then master spoke to her. "Mary," he said, "hurry up and eat. That man done bought you and wants you to eat before he takes you with him."
Mary didn't answer. She just quit laughing and fell to the floor fainted. But she was took away just the same.
Contributed by M. Dawson, 05/06/03