Mariah Snyder

I's borned in Mississippi. Yes, sar. I 'longed to Massa Miller and he name am Sam, and my name am Mariah. My pappy was Weldon and my mammy, Ann. Massa Sam fotches all us to Texas when I's jes' five year old and we come in wagons and hossback. He done buy my mammy and pappy in the slave market, so I don't know nothin' 'bout none my other 'lations.

Massa Sam live in a great big, ceiled house, and had plenty land and niggers. The quarters was logs and any kind beds we could git. We wore lowell clothes and I never seed no other kind of dress till after surrender. We et meat and collards and cornbread and rough grub, and they biled all the victuals in a big, black pot what hung on a rack in the kitchen fireplace. We had red russet, flat shoes and no stockin's, but in winter we made wool panties to wear on our legs.

Missy was name Patsy and she was purty good, and Massa Sam was purty good, too. He'd whip us if we needed it. He'd pull off our clothes and whip in the field. But he wouldn't 'low the driver to whip us if we didn't need it. No, sar. And he wouldn't have no patterrollers on the place.

The driver come round and woke everybody up and had 'em in the field by daybreak. I's seed a whole field of niggers abreast, hoein'. The rows of cotton was so long you couldn't make but one 'fore dinnertime. I driv the gin, what was run by two mules. The cotton was wropped in baggin' and tied with ropes. It was a long time after 'fore I seed cotton tied with steel like they bales it now.

I seed plenty niggers whipped while I driv that gin. They tied the feets and hands and rawhided 'em good. They tied a bell on one woman what run away all the time. They locks it round her head.

I seed lots of niggers put on the block and bid off and carry away in chains. One woman name Venus raises her hands and hollers, 'Weigh dem cattle,' whilst she's bein' bid off.

The big folks dances all night Sat'day. That's all the fun we had. We used to sing

I'm in a lady's garden, I'm in a lady's garden,
So let me out. I'm sufferin' for water and wine.

The slaves most allus sings whilst theys workin' in the field, and one song was

When I's here you calls me honey,
When I's gone you honies everybody.


The raccoon am de funny thing,
Ramblin' round in de dark.

Massa Sam have a cullud man what give us our ABC's. I still got mine, but didn't never git no further.

Massa Sam git kilt 'fore the war. A mule throwed him. He had plenty good hosses but allus rid a mule. He come in from a neighbor's one day and the mule throwed him on a stob 'fore he got to the house. We heared a hollerin' down the road, but didn't pay no 'tention, 'cause they's allus all kind racket gwine on. Fin'ly somebody say, 'That sound like a man,' and we goes down there and it was massa. 'Fore he die he calls all the cullud chillen to him and shakes hands and tells 'em to be good.

We 'longs to he son, Ruben, then, and stays with him three years after surrender. Lordy me! How I hates to think of 'em talkin' 'bout that war! Young missy cry a whole week, 'cause she fear her men folks gwine git kilt. They did, too. Her two boys, George and Frank, gits kilt, and heap of the neighbors boys gits kilt, too.

Fin'ly us leaves Massa Ruben and goes to Shreveport and I marries Snyder. The 'Progo' Marshal marries us. We raises two gals and I lives with Mary. Snyder died twenty-two years ago and all them years I made a livin' washin' and ironin' and cookin', up to six years ago. I gits a pension from the gov'ment now and it am $10.00 a month. It's mighty good of the white folks to take care of this old nigger, but I'd rather work, only I ain't able no more.