Andy McAdams

"Back in slavery time, the first time the padderrollers got hold of a negro he would git 30 licks with that red-heifer. When we went to our quarters at night it would most always be around 9 or 10 o'clock and the negro he would be so tired he would always go right on to bed. Son I'se had them padderrollers to come and walk all over me and I'se would be so still until you could hear me breathing all over that place. No sir, we did not work on Saturday afternoon, we just lay around and rested. Maser would go to some place to get supplies for the coming week and he would turn the slaves a lose to rest and when dark come tin pans beating, banjo picking and the negro dance had started. The negroes begin to gather from all around to have a good time as that was the only time that the slaves ever had to get together and the negro he would dance all night long until the next morning. Maser he would come and run the negro home cause the slaves they knew that the next day was a holiday and they did not have to work on that day, and we would lay around and sleep until about middle of the day then we would get up, eat a lunch and head for the creek swimming or we would gather for some kind of play games. Christmas morning we would all gather for that big eggnog and the presents that Maser would give us that day cause he always gave the slaves some kind of present, and then he would turn us loose after we eat that great dinner he would fix on Christmas day until New Years Day, and he would give the negroes all some kind of job on that day as he said what we done on that day we would do all the year. Son, that will mighty near work every time, I don't know why but it will. Well no son, outside of these days for holiday us negroes did not know anything about any other holiday, but I can tell you one thing it is one of the hardest things you ever done to get a negro to work on Well son, as slave children we played with the white children and such games as they played were wolf-over-the-river, hide-and-seek and we had us a see-saw that we mostly played on. No sir, I'se don't remember any of those songs that we used to play when we was children cause that has been so long ago. Yes sir, we use to play all kinds of charms on our Maser to make him be good to us. One such charm was to git a stick started in the ground under Maser's front door without making any sign or him seeing us. We would slip there every night and drive that stick in the ground one lick at a time until we drove it slap up, but if Maser should catch us it would not work, and if he did not catch us it would work and he would be real good to us until that stick rotted plum up Well son, I never have ever seen or heard a ghost but one time I saw some white angels coming out of a graveyard, but child, I never stayed long enough to see what they were after or going to do. When we got sick Maser he had old negro mamma there to doctor on us an to keep us in real good health. She gathered all her herbs out of the woods, she used Cami weeds roots, red oak bark tea and privet roots for chills, fevers and malaria. If we took cold she would get turpentine out of pine tree bark, pure honey and onions and make a cough syrup out of it for our cold and cough. She would get cornmeal, lard and poke root and boil that down to a salve for our sores and bruises that we might have on us from hurts and so on, but if we got real sick and our old negro mamma could not do anything for us, then Maser went and got the white doctor cause he could not afford to let us die if he could help it, cause we were too valuable. If he let a slave die he would lose from a 1,000 to 1500 dollars and that is the reason we always had the best of care when sick. Well son, I don't remembers much about that war except on the 19th day of June every year, cause that is the day we celebrate freedom. One of the first things they did when that war started between the states was to give a big farewell dance for the boys and encouragement for the trying times ahead. My Maser he was one of the first to go to war. I'se never did see any of that fighting cause them northern soldiers never did get this far south and when that war was over Maser he called me there to his back door and told me that I was free and I could do just as I pleased, so I thanked him and went down to Huntsville, Texas. Negroes they were plum thick hollering and shouting cause they were free, but that merriment did not last long, as there was a white man came down through that bunch of people on a horse fast as he could go with rag tied over his face and rode by a negro woman, just leaned over in his saddle and cut that negro woman nearly half into and just kept riding, something like an hour passed and a covered wagon came by with two men with rags over their faces got out and picked her up and put her in that wagon and that was the last I'se ever heard of the negro woman or the white people either, and ever last one of us negroes that were left we went home and went in a hurry, cause we did not know how many more of us would be done just like that negro woman."

"Then after we had been there at home 3 or 4 days without anything to eat we begin to wonder what we were going to do and begin to ask Maser because we were already getting hungry. Maser he told us he did not know what were going to do as he was not responsible for us any more but we finally persuaded him to give us work or something to eat, and he went to another place and got us a farm on the halves, so I went right on to Mr. Joe Larry and went to work for him that year and the next we farmed for him on the halves. Then we came up in Madison county and took us some land to farm and here I'se been ever since son. I'se married to Mozzel Lynch there in Walker County in a home wedding, but son she died nearly 30 years ago and I'se still living here with one of our daughters. We had 17 children, 16 of them are still living and I'se has so many grandchildren I'se can't count them. Yes sir, I'se have some great-granchildren but I'se do not know how many. Well all my children they are farming now except few they are working on that government work, WPA, and I'se have one son in the army. Well son, I'se expected lots different from freedom than what we got yes sir, I don't hardly know exactly what we did expect. I think they ought to have given us old slaves some mules and land too, because everything that our white people had we made for them. I'se did'nt exactly expect part of Maser's land but they was plenty of land here that they could have given us a tract of land that did not belong to anyone except the government, they did not give us anything but a hard deal. No sir, we did not get nothing but hard work, and we were worse off under freedom than we were during slavery, as we did not have a thing - could not write or read. Under slavery we were taken real good care of, plenty to eat, good clothes to wear and a doctor when we got sick. But after freedom all this was stopped, no one to look after us and we really had a hard go of it after we was turned loose like a bunch of dry cattle to rough it through. Well no sir, our former owner did not give us any money to help us along until we got adjusted to freedom. News came one day that we were free and that some day they opened the gate and set the dogs after us - just like you would a bunch of wild cattle that you were going to turn loose in a large pasture to graze or rustle for their living. In fact they would be better off than we were cause we had not any training of any kind to help us along. My Maser told me after I was free that I would have to get out and get, that he did not want me around. He was far from forcing us to stay on as servants after the war. Well son, you asked me what I did after the war, well us will see now. I had to do the best I could to make a living, farm yes and worked here on the farm. If we did other work we did not get fair wages for it, they were so low that we could not feed ourself and so we farmed. We could make more that way because when we farmed we growed near about all that we ate and made our own clothes with spinning wheel. What did I thinks about the reconstruction time after the war? Well let me see now, son I think that us old slaves has had a hard time of it but it has been worth all our hardships cause, look at the negro people today, we built them schools, they have learned nearly all kinds of trades and our people progressed along to where they don't have to suffer the hardships we did trying to learn what our white people wanted us to do, and we have with the wild nature of our race held them within bounds of reason, and you do not see so great a number of our people behind bars. I thinks we are the only race of people that you white folks have let come here and make this their home, that has obeyed the law of this country as close as we have."

"Well yes son, I'se heard of the KKK and about them whipping people, but I'se never did see them and don't know anything about them. But I guess they were here cause the padderrollers were here, I'se seen them. Well son I'se voted one time there in Huntsville when that Federal Governor Edwin J. Davis sent them soldiers up there to guard us negroes when we voted cause he was one of my great friends. They were that time, if you remember 3 or 4 days holding the election and they guarded us while we voted, and General Houston begging us negroes to go home and stay away from that election. He told us negroes that the padderrollers would get every last one of us for that voting we done, but all us negroes we thought that Governor Davis would protect us, but Oh Son, them padderrollers they went to catching negroes the first thing we knew, but thank the Lord they never did catch me cause I went right to the Trinity river bottom and stayed there until they quit whipping negroes before I come out again. That was the last time I'se ever voted, yes sir, that was enough for me, then I did not know who I was voting for or even what they was holding that election for. No sir, cause some white soldiers they did the voting while I just touched the end of the feather until he got through, then he told me I could go, and that was exactly what I done. But now son, I believes that we negroes in general ought to be allowed more privileges in voting cause we generally have become more wise to the ways of the world and our race, the most of them, are pretty well educated and know how and what they are voting for; then too we have to shoulder the same load as that of our white people, and sure we have to pay taxes, send our boys to war to fight for our country just like our white people do. Then too, I believes if our people were allowed more privileges in voting we would get some better deals than we do now - like things are today. Well Mr. white man, you asked me what I'se done since freedom up to now. After I'se quit farming there in Walker county for Mr. Larry"

"I'se come to Madison county on the Trinity river on whats they calls the Island and started to farming for myself. I'se built me a house here first out of poles that I cut and stood them up on ends fastened them together at the top, cleared me some land, got me two oxen that I raised to plow that land with and started to farming. For a number of years all I had to eat was corn parched green and meat that I killed out of the woods, and I eats lots of that raw as we did not have a very easy way of starting a fire. Yes, and fish that I could catch out of the river. Then after I got 3 or 4 children big enough to help me I cuts poles and built me a 4 room house out of logs and split out boards to cover it with. About the time this here last war started I give my little place to one of my children to take care of me long as I lives and he tore our old log house down and built this here plank house you sees here now. Well I went to New Orleans once and thought I would work for wages after all me children gets big enough to take care of theirselves, and I works there about a year at one of them hotels. That did not suit me and so I quits that job and here I'se is right back here and I'se going to stay here till I'se die, cause since freedom this is all I have ever known. Them people they were too much for me in New Orleans. Well son, the government gives me a small pension that sort of helps me to get by, then my children they helps old Uncle Andy to live cause I'se has not got long to stay in this old world, as I can hardly see you son now. Well what do I thinks about our young people? Lets see now. I believes they do pretty well, the most of them do. Of course I know some of them are doing bad but maybe they will do better when they gets a little older. The worst thing that I see is our young boys stealing and telling lies. We were always taught to tell the truth all the time regardless who it hurt. If they don't quit telling them falsehoods the old devil is going to get the last one of them, and some of our girls, the worst thing they are doing is running after the white man and his 50 cents, and our race is getting pretty well mixed with the white people as it is very common now to see a half negro and a half white child following our girls. That will have to stop before our young race of people will become so mixed until you will not see very much pure negro blood any more, but you white people will have to stop it, as our people will never put a stop to it and that is hurting the old negro slaves. Of course son, I realize that conditions at the present time is pretty hard. I'se been hoping that times would get better every year and maybe if they ever get better our young negroes will do better than they are doing now. That is what old Uncle Andy has been praying for now for several years, but it looks like son they just keep getting worse and worse all the time for the past 8 or 9 years. Well no sir son, I'se don't members any instance of slave uprising here in the south if we had, these white people would have killed every last negro they was here in Texas."