Toby Jones was born in South Carolina, in 1850, a slave of Felix Jones, who owned a large tobacco plantation. Toby has farmed in Madisonville, Texas, since 1869, and still supports himself, though his age makes it hard for him to work.

"My father's name was Eli Jones and mammy's name was Jessie. They was captured in Africa and brought to this country whilst they was still young folks, and my father was purty hard to realize he was a slave, 'cause he done what he wanted back in Africa.

"Our owner was Massa Felix Jones and he had lots of tobacco planted. He was real hard on us slaves and whipped us, but Missie Janie, she was a real good woman to her black folks. I 'members when their li'l curlyheaded Janie was borned. She jus' loved this old, black nigger and I carried her on my back whole days at a time. She was the sweetes' baby ever borned.

"Massa, he lived in a big, rock house with four rooms and lots of shade trees, and had 'bout fifty slaves. Our livin' quarters wasn't bad. They was rock, too, and beds built in the corners, with straw moss to sleep on.

"We had plenty to eat, 'cause the woods was full of possum and rabbits and all the mud holes full of fish. I sho' likes a good, old, fat possum cooked with sweet 'taters round him. We cooked meat in a old-time pot over the fireplace or on a forked stick. We grated corn by hand for cornbread and made waterpone in the ashes.

"I was borned 'bout 1850, so I was plenty old to 'member lots 'bout slave times. I 'members the loyal clothes, a long shirt what come down below our knees, opened all the way down the front. On Sunday we had white loyal shirts, but no shoes and when it was real cold we'd wrap our feet in wool rags so they wouldn't freeze. I married after freedom and had white loyal breeches. I wouldn't marry 'fore that, 'cause massa wouldn't let me have the woman I wanted.

"The overseer was a mean white man and one day he starts to whip a nigger what am hoein' tobacco, and he whipped him so hard that nigger grabs him and made him holler. Missie come out and made them turn loose and massa whipped that nigger and put him in chains for a whole year. Every night he had to be in jail and couldn't see his folks for that whole year.

"I seed slaves sold, and they'd make them clean up good and grease their hands and face, so they'd look real fat, and sell them off. Of course, most the niggers didn't know their parents or what chillen was theirs. The white folks didn't want them to git 'tached to each other.

"Missie read some Bible to us every Sunday mornin' and taught us to do right and tell the truth. But some them niggers would go off without a pass and the patterrollers would beat them up scand'lous.

"The fun was on Saturday night when massa 'lowed us to dance. There was lots of banjo pickin' and tin pan beatin' and dancin', and everybody would talk 'bout when they lived in Africa and done what they wanted.

"I worked for massa 'bout four years after freedom, 'cause he forced me to, said he couldn't 'ford to let me go. His place was near ruint, the fences burnt and the house would have been but it was rock. There was a battle fought near his place and I taken missie to a hideout in the mountains to where her father was, 'cause there was bullets flyin' everywhere. When the war was over, massa come home and says, 'You son of a gun, you's sposed to be free, but you ain't, 'cause I ain't gwine give you freedom.' So, I goes on workin' for him till I gits the chance to steal a hoss from him. The woman I wanted to marry, Govie, she 'cides to come to Texas with me. Me and Govie, we rides that hoss most a hundred miles, then we turned him a-loose and give him a scare back to his house, and come on foot the rest the way to Texas.

"All we had to eat was what we could beg and sometimes we went three days without a bite to eat. Sometimes we'd pick a few berries. When we got cold we'd crawl in a breshpile and hug up close together to keep warm. Once in awhile we'd come to a farmhouse and the man let us sleep on cottonseed in his barn, but they was far and few between, 'cause they wasn't many houses in the country them days like now.

"When we gits to Texas we gits married, but all they was to our weddin' am we jus' 'grees to live together as man and wife. I settled on some land and we cut some trees and split them open and stood them on end with the tops together for our house. Then we deadened some trees and the land was ready to farm. There was some wild cattle and hawgs and that's the way we got our start, caught some of them and tamed them.

"I don't know as I 'spected nothin' from freedom, but they turned us out like a bunch of stray dogs, no homes, no clothin', no nothin', not 'nough food to last us one meal. After we settles on that place, I never seed man or woman, 'cept Govie, for six years, 'cause it was a long ways to anywhere. All we had to farm with was sharp sticks. We'd stick holes and plant corn and when it come up we'd punch up the dirt round it. We didn't plant cotton, 'cause we couldn't eat that. I made bows and arrows to kill wild game with and we never went to a store for nothin'. We made our clothes out of animal skins.

"We used rabbit foots for good luck, tied round our necks. We'd make medicine out of wood herbs. There is a rabbit foot weed that we mixed with sassafras and made good cough syrup. Then there is cami weed for chills and fever.

"All I ever did was to farm and I made a livin'. I still makes one, though I'm purty old now and its hard for me to keep the work up. I has some chickens and hawgs and a yearling or two to sell every year.