The Slave Narrative Collection
An OKGenWeb Special Project
We strongly recommend that you read the information below from the Library of Congress explaining the language used in these interviews.
Age 80 Yrs.
My mother, Tishea Mickens, was sold to an owner in Virginia just a little whole after I was born, and I didn't see her for a long time, not until old Master Major Jackson bought her back and kept her till the freedom come.
My mistress Lucy told me I was born on February 1, 1858, near Linden, Cash County, Texas. My father was Jack Mickens, the hardest working slave on Major Jackson's Texas plantation. He was the blacksmith and even before the slaves was made free my father earned outside money that his master allowed him to keep. He had money when he was set free.
Father was born in Montgomery, Alabama. There was seven of us children but I forgot the names of all but my brother Albert Mickens who lives down in Texas somewheres to this day.
Major Jackson had two plantations, one in Texas and the other in Alabama. Guess he moved from that country to Texas when the war come along.
His house was a large one and it was about 10 mile from the river dock. I was born in his house. There was a big smokehouse, and plenty of hogs was killed to keep it full. He had the men kill beef and dry it out, and everybody had good things to eat all the time.
There was lots of overseers around the plantation; folks said there was about 6,000 acre of the place and it took lots of work to keep it going. It was all cleared by slaves, just land, good farm land made right from under the trees they chopped down.
A long time after slavery was over, just about the time I had three children of my own, I saw the old place again. It was still standing. We was traveling through the country and Lord! I look around and over from the road about a mile was the old house setting lonesome on a little hill. But the Major and the mistress was no more, they gone to Heaven I know, because they was both good folks.
I heard talk about the war times. About Vicksburg. How it was a terrible fight, and how General Pemberton give up his sward to General Grant, and everybody said that was the turning point of victory for the North Yankees. My father said General Grant laid siege for 47 days in 1863, but that's all I remember.
Saturday night, according to what my paw told me, was negro night. The slaves could get passes and go to town. The white folks seems like didn't go out on the night, just leave it to the negroes and they've still got the habit of parading around the streets on Saturday nights.
The Master Major had one boy who went off to the war. Took some of his own slaves with him. they took good care of that boy because he come through the war without getting even hurt and all the negroes was happy when he come on the Texas place.
The war was over then. But Slavery wasn't. No, the old master didn't tell us about freedom until after the crops was in and made Six months after all the rest was free.
Master's place was called Elms Court and the plantation next to his was owned by a friendly planter. He talked with m y father in the road one day. Before we all knew that the other slaves was freed. I guess that's how we heard about it.
The white man asked pa why don't you buy your own land? But pa told though he as saved a little money it wouldn't go far enough to buy a farm and mules and plows and such, for when it come to buying his own rations and cloths for all the children there wouldn't be much left to save for a farm.
The Major was sick when they finally told us about the freedom. His son James was back from the war and he seemed glad for us to know about it. So did his sister, Liza, and another girl who I done forgot her name.
One time during the war some of the Yankee soldier come to the place. The Major knew they was coming and he locked up the house, made everybody hide out. He was hiding too. Them soldiers look around and found my mother. She was the cook. They stack their guns on the porch, feed their horses and water them and tell my mother to start cooing. She said she never cook so much before in all her life.
Some of the slaves come out from hiding places and the soldiers told them to take all the food stuffs they wanted. My father told the negroes not to touch the master stuff and just one negro stole a ham, and she was my aunt who said she just had to have some lean meat.
My uncle Amos worked in the tanyard. He got sick one evening but the overseer didn't think he was so bad off but the next morning he was dead. The master fix up a box to bury him and all the children sat around and cried.
My mother was kinder mean sometimes, and wasn't scared of overseers or nothing. One time when she was working on the master's Alabama place an overseer tried to shoot her. She grabbed the gun and run for the river. She dropped the gun in the river and the overseer got over his temper and left her alone.
There was another overseer on the place that was terrible mean. That's what my folks said about him. If a slave done something to make him mad that man would burn their hose or their ears with fir brands. I saw some of them who had their ears burned nearly off.
The slaves was allowed to go to church. Set in a corner away in the back of the building. Some of the old people could leave to stay at home for washing their clothes on Sunday. That was the only thing keep 'em out of church.
Well, I had another uncle who was a runaway. they said he was never caught. Like another slave the master bought once. He run away too. He didn't like the Major and one day he said, "I won't serve you, just put me in your pocket." He meant for the master to sell him. Then he ran for a hideout. The overseers found him in a boat hull and they near cut him to pieces. An old negro woman greased him every morning and he got well.
Then he run off again. This time he got away and wrote to the master a long time after, bragging how the master couldn't get him now because he was in a free state.
My first husband was Thomas Pepper, the second was Eliza Henry. They was just husband by agreement but the last one, John Rawlings, I married him. Got three children, Carrie, Harrison and Joe.
I belong to the Methodist church and I think all should be religious. The Lord done helped us slaves; now it's our turn to help the Lord. that's the way I feel about it.
Contributed by M. Dawson, May 2002