"You asks me when I's born and was I born a slave. Well, I's born on July 17, 1845, so I's a slave for twenty years, and had three massas. I's born in Williamson County, near Memphis, in Tennessee. Massa John Peacock owned de plantation and am it de big one! Dere am a thousand acres and 'bout a thousand slaves.

"De slave cabins am in rows, twenty in de first row and eighteen in de second and sixteen in de third. Den dere am house servants quarters near de big house. De cabins am logs and not much in dem but homemade tables and benches and bunks 'side de wall. Each family has dere own cabin and sometimes dere am ten or more in de family, so it am kind of crowded. But massa am good and let dem have de family life, and once each week de rations am measure out by a old darky what have charge de com'sary, and dere am allus plenty to eat.

"But dem eats ain't like nowadays. It am home-cured meat and mostly cornmeal, but plenty veg'tables and 'lasses and brown sugar. Massa raised lots of hawgs, what am Berkshires and Razorbacks. Razorback meat am 'sidered de best and sweetest.

"De work stock am eighty head of mules and fifty head of hosses and fifteen yoke of oxen. It took plenty feed for all dem and massa have de big field of corn, far as we could see. De plantation am run on system and everything clean and in order, not like lots of plantations with tools scattered 'round and dirt piles here and there. De chief overseer am white and de second overseers am black. Stien was nigger overseer in de shoemakin' and harness, and Aunty Darkins am overseer of de spinnin' and weavin'.

"Dat place am so well manage dat whippin's am not nec'sary. Massa have he own way of keepin' de niggers in line. If dey bad he say, 'I 'spect dat nigger driver comin' round tomorrow and I's gwine sell you.' Now, when a nigger git in de hands of de nigger driver it am de big chance he'll git sold to de cruel massa, and dat make de niggers powerful skeert, so dey 'haves. On de next plantation we'd hear de niggers pleadin' when dey's whipped, 'Massa, have mercy,' and sich. Our massa allus say, 'Boys, you hears dat mis'ry and we don't want no sich on dis place and it am up to you.' So us all 'haves ourselves.

"When I's four years old I's took to de big house by young Massa Frank, old massa's son. He have me for de errand boy and, I guess, for de plaything. When I gits bigger I's his valet and he like me and I sho' like him. He am kind and smart, too, and am choosed from nineteen other boys to go to England and study at de mil'tary 'cademy. I's 'bout eight when we starts for Liverpool. We goes from Memphis to Newport and takes de boat, Bessie. It am a sailboat and den de fun starts for sho'. It am summer and not much wind and sometimes we jus' stand still day after day in de fog so thick we can't see from one end de boat to de other.

"I'll never forgit dat trip. When we gits far out on de water, I's dead sho' we'll never git back to land again. First I takes de seasick and dat am something. If there am anything worser it can't be stood! It ain't possible to 'splain it, but I wants to die, and if dey's anything worser dan dat seasick mis'ry, I says de Lawd have mercy on dem. I can't 'lieve dere am so much stuff in one person, but plenty come out of me. I mos' raised de ocean! When dat am over I gits homesick and so do Massa Frank. I cries and he tries to 'sole me and den he gits tears in he eyes. We am weeks on dat water, and good old Tennessee am allus on our mind.

"When we gits to England it am all right, but often we goes down to de wharf and looks over de cotton bales for dat Memphis gin mark. Couple times Massa Frank finds some and he say, 'Here a bale from home, Sam,' with he voice full of joy like a kid what find some candy. We stands round dat bale and wonders if it am raised on de plantation.

"But we has de good time after we gits 'quainted and I seed lots and gits to know some West India niggers. But we's ready to come home and when we gits dere it am plenty war. Massa Frank jines de 'Federate Army and course I's his valet and goes with him, right over to Camp Carpenter, at Mobile. He am de lieutenant under General Gordon and befo' long dey pushes him higher. Fin'ly he gits notice he am to be a colonel and dat sep'rates us, 'cause he has to go to Floridy. 'I's gwine with you,' I says, for I thinks I 'longs to him and he 'longs to me and can't nothing part us. But he say, 'You can't go with me this time. Dey's gwine put you in de army.' Den I cries and he cries.

"I's seventeen years old when I puts my hand on de book and am a sojer. I talks to my captain 'bout Massa Frank and wants to go to see him. But it wasn't more'n two weeks after he leaves dat him was kilt. Dat am de awful shock to me and it am a long time befo' I gits over it. I allus feels if I'd been with him maybe I could save his life.

"My company am moved to Birmingham and builds breastworks. Dey say Gen. Lee am comin' for a battle but he didn't ever come and when I been back to see dem breastworks, dey never been used. We marches north to Lexington, in Kentuck' but am gone befo' de battle to Louisville. We comes back to Salem, in Georgia, but I's never in no big battle, only some skirmishes now and den. We allus fixes for de battles and builds bridges and doesn't fight much.

"I goes back after de war to Memphis. My mammy am on de Kilgore place and Massa Kilgore takes her and my pappy and two hundred other slaves and comes to Texas. Dat how I gits here. He settles at de place called Kilgore, and it was named after him, but in 1867 he moves to Cleburne.

"Befo' we moved to Texas de Klu Kluxers done burn my mammy's house and she lost everything. Dey was 'bout $100 in greenbacks in dat house and a three hundred pound hawg in de pen, what die from de heat. We done run to Massa Rodger's house. De riders gits so bad dey come most any time and run de cullud folks off for no cause, jus' to be orn'ry and plunder de home. But one day I seed Massa Rodgers take a dozen guns out his wagon and he and some white men digs a ditch round de cotton field close to de road. Couple nights after dat de riders come and when dey gits near dat ditch a volley am fired and lots of dem draps off dey hosses. Dat ended de Klux trouble in dat section.

"After I been in Texas a year I jines de Fed'ral Army for de Indian war. I's in de transportation division and drives oxen and mules, haulin' supplies to de forts. We goes to Fort Griffin and Dodge City and Laramie, in Wyoming. Dere am allus two or three hundred sojers with us, to watch for Indian attacks. Dey travels on hosses, 'head, 'side and 'hind de wagon. One day de Sent'nel reports Indians am round so we gits hid in de trees and bresh. On a high ledge off to de west we sees de Indians travelin' north, two abreast. De lieutenant say he counted 'bout seven hundred but dey sho' missed us, or maybe I'd not be here today.

"I stays in de service for seven years and den goes back to Johnson County, farmin' on de Rodgers place, and stays till I comes to Fort Worth in 1889. Den I gits into 'nother war, de Spanish 'merican War. But I's in de com'sary work so don't see much fightin'. In all dem wars I sees most no fightin', 'cause I allus works with de supplies.

"After dat war I goes to work laborin' for buildin' contractors. I works for sev'ral den gits with Mr. Bardon and larns de cement work with him. He am awful good man to work for, dat John Bardon. Fin'ly I starts my own cement business and am still runnin' it. My health am good and I's allus on de job, 'cause dis home I owns has to be kept up. It cost sev'ral thousand dollars and I can't 'ford to neglect it.

"I's married twict. I marries Mattie Norman in 1901 and sep'rates in 1904. She could spend more money den two niggers could shovel it in. Den I marries Lottie Young in 1909, but dere am no chillens. I's never dat lucky.

"I's voted ev'ry 'lection and 'lieves it de duty for ev'ry citizen to vote.

"Now, I's told you everything from Genesis to Rev'lations, and it de truth, as I 'members it.