Eli Davison was born in Dunbar, West Virginia, a slave of Will Davison. Eli has a bill of sale that states he was born in 1844. His master moved to Texas in 1858, and settled in Madison County. Eli lives in Madisonville, with one of his sons.

"My first Old Marse was Will Davison. My father's name was Everett Lee and mama was Susan, and he come to see her twict a month, 'cause he was owned by 'nother master.

"Marse Davison had a good home in West Virginia, where I's born, in Dunbar, but most of it 'longed to he wife and she was the boss of him. He had a great many slaves, and one mornin' he got up and 'vided all he had and told his wife she could have half the slaves. Then we loaded two wagons and he turned to his oldest son and the next son and said, 'You's gwine with me. Crawl on.' Then he said to he wife, 'Elsie, you can have everything here, but I'm takin' Eli and Alex and these here two chillen.' The other two gals and two boys he left, and pulled out for Texas. It taken us mos' two years to git here, and Marse Will never sot eyes on the rest of his family no more, long as he lived.

"Marse never married any more. He'd say, 'They ain't 'nother woman under the sun I'd let wear my name.' He never said his wife's name no more, but was allus talkin' of them chillun he done left behind.

"We gits here and starts to build a one room log house for Marse Will and his two boys. My quarters was one them covered wagons, till he trades me off. He cried like a baby, but he said, 'I hate to do this, but its the only way I'll have anything to leave for my two boys.' Looks like everything done go 'gainst him when he come to Texas, and he took sick and died. The boys put him away nice and loaded up and went back to Virginia, but the home was nailed up and farm lying out, and it took them mos' a year to find they folks. The mother and one gal was dead, so they come back and lived and died here in Texas.

"Marse Will was one more good man back in Virginia. He never got mad or whipped a slave. He allus had plenty to eat, with 1,200 acres, but after we come here all we had to eat was what we kilt in the woods and cornbread. He planted seven acres in corn, but all he did was hunt deer and squirrels. They was never a nigger what tried to run off in Texas, 'cause this was a good country, plenty to eat by huntin' and not so cold like in Virginia.

"After I was traded off, my new master wasn't so good to me. He thunk all the time the South would win that war and he treated us mean. His name was Thomas Greer. He kept tellin' us a black nigger never would be free. When it come, he said to us, 'Well, you black ——, you are just as free as I am.' He turnt us loose with nothin' to eat and mos' no clothes. He said if he got up nex' mornin' and found a nigger on his place, he'd horsewhip him.

"I don't know what I'd done, but one my old Marse Will's chillun done settle close by and they let me work for them, and built me a log house and I farmed on halves. They stood good for all the groceries I buyed that year. It took all I made that year to pay my debts and that's the way its been ever since.

"I married Sarah Keys. We had a home weddin' and 'greed to live together as man and wife. I jus' goes by her home one day and captures her like. I puts her on my saddle behind me and tells her she's my wife then. That's all they was to my weddin'. We had six chillun and they's all farmin' round here. Sarah, she dies seventeen years ago and I jus' lives round with my chillen, 'cause I's too old to do any work.

"All I ever done was to farm. That's all this here nigger knew what to do. O, I's seed the time when I never had nothin' to eat and my big bunch of chillun cryin' for bread. I could go to the woods then, but you can't git wild game no more. In them days it was five or ten mile to your nearest neighbor, but now they's so close you can stand in your yard and talk to them.

"I never done no votin', 'cause them Klu Kluxers was allus at the votin' places for a long time after the niggers was freed. The niggers has got on since them old days. They has gone from nothin' to a fair educated folks. We has been kind of slow, 'cause we was turnt loose without nothin', and couldn't read and write.

"I's worked for fifteen and thirty cents a day, but Lawd, blessed to our president, we gits a li'l pension now and that's kep' me from plumb starvin' to death. Times is hard and folks had to do away with everything when they had that Hoover for president, but they will be straightened out by and by if they'll listen to the president now. 'Course, some wants to kill him, 'cause he helps the poor, but it do look like we ought to have a li'l bread and salt bacon without upsettin' 'em, when they has so much.