The Slave Narrative Collection
An OKGenWeb Special Project
Age 78 Years
John A. Miller owned the finest plantation in Washington County, Mississippi, about 12 mile east of Greenville. I was born on this 20,000 acre plantation November 17, 1859, being one of about four hundred slave children on the place.
About three hundred negro families living in box type cabins made it seem like a small town. Built in rows, the cabins were kept whitewashed, neat and orderly, for the Master was strict about such things. Several large barns and storage buildings were scattered around the plantation. Also, two cotton gins and two old fashioned presses, operated by horses and mules, made Miller's plantation one of the best in Mississippi.
Master John was quite a character. The big platation didn't occupy all his time. He owned a bank in Vicksburg and another in New Orleans, and only come to the plantation two or three times a year for a week or two visit.
Things happened around there might quick when the Master showed up. If the slaves were not being treated right, out go the white overseer. Fired! The master was a good man and tried to hire good boss men. Master John was bad after the slave women. A yellow child show up very once in a while. Those kind always to special privileges because the Master said he didn't want his children whipped like the rest of them slaves.
My own Mammy, Mary was the Master's own daughter! She married Salomon Oliver, who took this name of Oliver after the War, and the Master told all of the slave drivers to leave her alone and not whip her. This made the overseers jealous of her and caused trouble. John Santhers was one of the white overseers who treated her bad, and after I ws born and got strong enough, I was a weakling for three, four years after birth, to do light chores he would whip me just for the fun of it. It was fun for him but not for me. I hoped to whip him when I grew up. That is the one thing I won't ever forget. He died about the end of the War so that's one thing I won't ever get to do.
My mother was high-tempered and she knew about the Master's orders not to whip her. I guess sometimes she took advantage and tried to do things that maybe wasn't right. But it did her no good and one of the white men flogged her to death. She died with scars on her back!
Father was to preach to the slaves when a crowed of them could slip off into the woods. I don't remember much about the religious things, only just what Daddy told me when I was older. He was caught several times slipping off to the woods and because he was the preacher I guess they layed on the lash a little harder trying to make him give up preaching.
Ration day was Saturday. Each person was given a peck of corn meal, four pounds of white flour, four pounds of pork meat, quart of molasses, one pound of sugar, the same of coffee and a plug of tobacco. Potatoes and vegetables came from the family garden and each slave family was required to cultivate a separate garden.
during the Civil War a battle was fought near the Miller plantation. The Yankees under General Grant came through the country. They burned 2,000 bales of Miller cotton. When the Yankee wagons crossed Bayou Creek the bridge gave way and quite a number of the soldiers and horses were seriously injured.
For many years after the War folks would find bullets in the ground. Some the the bullets were "twins" fastened together with a chain.
Master Miller settled my father upon a piece of land after the War and we stayed on it several years, doing well.
I moved to Muskogee in 1902, coming on to Tulsa in 1907, the same year Oklahoma was made a state. My six wives are all dead, Liza, Lizzie, Ellen, Lula, Elizabeth and Henrietta. Six children, too. George, Anna, Salomon, Nelson, Garfield, Cosmos, all goo children. They rember the Tulsa Riot and don't aim ever to come back to Oklahoma.
When the riot started in 1922, I think it was, I has a place on the corner of Pine and Owasso Streets. Two hundred of my people gathered at my place, because I was so well known everybody figured we wouldn't be molested. I was wrong. Two of my horses was shot and killed. Two of my boys, Salomon and Nelson, was wounded, one in the hip, the other in the shoulder. They wasn't bad and got well alright. Some of my people wasn't so lucky. The dead wagon hauled them away!
White men come into the negro district and gathered up the homeless. The houses were most all burned. No place to go except to the camps where armed whites kept everybody quiet. The took my clothes and all my money, $298.00, and the police couldn't do nothing about my loss when I reported it to them.
That was a terrible time, but we people are better off today then any time during the days of slavery. We have some privileges and they are worth more than all the money in the world.
Contributed by M. Dawson, 05/06/03