The Slave Narrative Collection
An OKGenWeb Special Project
Victoria Taylor Thompson
My mother, Judy Taylor, named for her mistress, told me that I was born about three year before the war; that make me about 80 year old, so they say down at the Indian Agency where my name is on the Cherokee rolls since all the land was give to the Indian families a long time a go.
Father kept the name of "Doc" Hayes and my brother Coose was Hayes too, but mother, Jude, Patsy, Bonaparte (Boney, we always called him) Lewis, and me was always Taylors. Daddy was bought by the Taylors (Cherokee Indians; dey made a trade for him with some hilly land, but he kept the name of Hayes even den.
Like my mother, I was born on the Taylor place. Dey lived in Flint District around the Caney settlement on Caney Creek. Lots of the Arkansas Cherokees settled around 'dere long times before the Cherokees come here from the east, my mother said.
The farm wasn't very big, we was the only slaves on the place and it was just a little ways from a hill everybody called Sugar Mountain because it was covered with maple sugar trees, and an old Indian lived on the hillside making maple sugar candy to sell and trade.
Master Taylor's house had three big rooms and a room for the loom, all made of logs, with a long front porch high off the ground. The spring house set to the east, in the corner like. Spring water boiled up all the time and the water run down the branch which we crossed on a log bridge.
On the north side of the front porch, under a window in the mistress room, was the grave of her little boy who was found drowned in the spring. The mistress set a heap of store by dat child; said she wanted him buried right where she could always see his grave. She was mighty good.
So was the master good, too. None of us was ever beat or whipped like I hear bout other slaves. Dey fix up a log cabin for us close by the big house. The yard fenced high with five or six rails, and dere was an apple orchard that set off the place with its blooming in the spring days.
Mother worked in the fields and in the house. She would hoe and plow, mild and do the cooking. She was a good cook and made the best corn bread I ever eat. Cook it in a skillet in the fireplace---I likes a piece of it right now! Grub dese days don't taste the same. Sometime after the war, she cook for the prisoner in the jail at Tahlequah.
Dat was the first jail I ever saw; they had hangings there. Always on a Friday, but I never see one, but it scare me and I run and hide.
Well, mother leave us children in the cabin while she gets breakfast for the master. We'd be nearly starved before she get back to tend us. And we sleep on the floor, but the big house had wood beds with high boards on the head and foot.
Mother took me with her to weaving room, and the mistress learn me how to weave in the strips and colors so's I could make up one hundred kind of colors and shades. She ask me the color and I never miss telling her. Dat's one thing my sister Patsy can't learn when she was a little girl. I try the knitting, but I drop the stitches and lay it down.
Some of the things mother made was cloth socks and fringe for the hunting shirt that daddy always wore. The mistress made long tail shirt for the boys; we wore cotton all the year, and the first shoes I ever see was brass toed brogans.
For sickness daddy give us tea and herbs. He was a herb doctor, and dat's how come he have the name "Doc". He made us wear charms, made out of shiny buttons and Indian rock beads. Dey cured lots of things and the misery too.
I hear mother tell about the slaves running away from mean masters, and how she help hide them at night from the dogs that come trailing. them. The high fence keep out the dogs from the yard, and soon's they leave the runoofs would break for the river, (Illinois River) cross over and get away from the dogs.
The master had a mill run by oxen, the same oxen used in the fields. Dey stepped on the pedals and turn the roller, dat how it was done.
Dere was another mill in the hills run by a white man name of Uncle Mosie. One day he stole me to live in a cabin with him. He branded a circle on my cheek, but in two days I got away and run back to the Taylros where I was safe.
When the war broke out my daddy went on the side of the South with Master Taylor. Dey was gone a long time and when they come back he told of fighting the Federals north of Ft. Gibson and how the Federals drove dem off like dogs. He said most of the time the soldiers starved and suffered, some of them freezing to death.
After the war I was stole again. I was hired to Judge Wolfe, and his wife Mary took good care of me and I helped her around the big two-story house. She didn't like my father, and kept him off the place. One day an Indian John Prichett told me my daddy wanted to see me down by the old barn to follow him. He grabbed me when we got back of the barn and took me away to his place where my daddy was waiting for me. We worked for dat Indian to pay him for getting me away from Judge Wolfe. Dat was around Fort Gibson.
Dat's where I married William Thompson, an uncle of Johnson Tompson, who was aborn a slave an lives now on Four Mile Branch. Dere was seven boys where dey is I don't know, except for my boy George Lewis Thompson, who lives in this four room house he builds for us, and stays unmarried so's he can take care of his old mammy.
I been belonging to church ever since there was a colored church, and I thinks everybody should obey the Master. He died, and I wants to go where Jesus lives. Like the poor Indian I saw one time waiting to be hung. Der he was sitting on his own coffin box, singing over and over the words I just said "I wants to go where Jesus lives!"
Dere's one thing I wants to do before I go. My time is short and I wants to go back to the Taylor place, to my old mistress; place, and just see the ground where she use to walk---dat's what I most want, but time is short.
Contributed by M. Dawson, May 2002