"Look for some others for to 'plenish de earth"
Rose Williams , 90, was born a slave to Mr. Wm. Black , a slave trader who owned many slaves in addition to Rose's parents and a plantation in Bell Co., Tex. Rose was about 15 years old at the start of the Civil War when she and her parents with about 10 other slaves were sold in a public auction to Mr. Hall Hawkins . Mr. Hawkins owned a plantation with about 50 slaves in Bell Co., Tex. The buying and selling of slaves and the mating of the largest slaves being an ordinary function on the plantations, Rose was forced to mate and live with another slave when she was but 16 years old. She made him leave after her freedom. She had two children by him, one of them born after freedom. This early domestic experience created in her an antipathy against marriage which she retained the rest of her life and she has never married. She worked as a farm laborer until about 30 years ago, when she moved to Ft. Worth. She has been blind and unable to work the past 10 years. She now resides at 1126 Hampton St., Ft. Worth, Tex. Her story:
What I say an de facts. If I's one dey old, I's way ever 90, and I's born in Bell County, right here in Texas, and an owned by Massa William Black . He owns mammy and pappy, tee, Massa Black has a big plantation but he has more niggers dan he need for work on dat place, 'cause he an a nigger trader. He trade and buy and sell all de time.
Massa Black as awful cruel and he whip de cullud folks and works 'em hard and feed dem poorly. We'uns have for rations de ceramal and milk and 'lasses and some beans and peas and meat once a week. We'uns have to work in de field every day from daylight till dark and on Sunday we'uns do us washin'. Church? Shucks, we'uns don't knew what dat mean.
I has de correct mem'randum of when de war start. Massa Black sold we'un right don. Mammy and pappy powerful glad to git sold, and dey and I is put on do black with 'bout ten other niggers. When we'uns gits to de tradin' block, dere lots of white folks dere what come to look us ever. One man shows de intres' in pappy. Him named Hawkins . He talk to pappy and pappy talk to him and say. 'Dan my woman and chiles. Please buy all of us and have mercy on we'uns.' Massa Hawkins say. 'Dat gal am a likely lookin' nigger, she am portly and strong, but three am mere dan I wants, I guesses.'
De sale start and 'fore long pappy am put on de block. Massa Hawkins wine de bid for pappy and when mammy am put on de block, he wins de bid for her. Don dere an three or four other niggers sold befo' my time comes. Den massa Black calls me to de block and de auction man say, 'What am I offer for dis portly, strong young wench. She's never been 'bused and will make de good breeder.'
"I wants to hear Massa Hawkins bid, but him say nothin'. Two other sen am biddin' 'gainst each other and I she' has de worryment. Dere am tears comin' down my checks 'cause I's bein' sold to some man dat would make sep'ration from my mammy. One man bids $500and de auction man ask, 'De I hear more? She am gwine at $500.00.' Dan someone say, $525.00 and de auction man say, 'She an sold for $525.00 to Massa Hawkins . Am I glad and 'cited! Why, I's quiverin' all ever.
Massa Hawkins takes we'uns to his place and it am a nice plantation. Lots better am dat place dan Massa Black's. Dere is 'bout 50 niggers what is growed and lots of chillen, De first thing massa de when we'uns gits home am give we'uns rations and a cabin. You mus' believe dis nigger whom I says dem rations a feast for us. Dere plenty meat and tea and coffee and white flour. I's never tasted white flour and coffee and mammy fix some biscuits and coffee. Well, de biscuits was yum, yum. yum to me, but de coffee I doesn't like.
De quarters am purty good. Dere am twelve cabins all made from legs and a table and some benches and bunks for sleepin' and a fireplace for cookin' and de heat. Dere am no floor, jus' de ground.
Massa Hawkins am good to he niggers and not force 'em work too hard. Dere an as much diff'ence 'tween him and old Massa Black in de way of treatment as 'twixt de Lawd and de devil. Massa Hawkins 'lows he niggers have reason'ble parties and go fishin', but we'uns am never tocken to church and has no books for larnin'. Dere am no edumcation for de niggers.
Dere am one thing Massa Hawkins does to me what I can't shunt from my mind. I knows he don't de it for meanness, but I allus holds it 'gainst him. What he done am force me to live with dat nigger, Rufus , 'gainst my wants.
After I been at he place 'bout a year, de massa come to me and say. 'You gwine live with Rufus in dat cabin over yonder. Go fix it for livin'.' I's 'bout sixteen year old and has no larnin', and I's jus' igno'nus chile. I's thought dat him mean for me to tend de cabin for Rufus and some other niggers. Well, dat an start de pestigation for me.
I's take charge of de cabin after work am done and fixes supper. Hew. I don't like dat Rufus , 'cause he a bully. He am big and 'cause he so, he think everybody de what him say. We'uns has supper, den I goes here and dere talkin', till I's ready for sleep and den I gits in de bunk. After I's in, dat nigger come and crawl in de bunk with me 'fore I knews it. I says, 'What you means, you fool nigger?' He say for me to hush de mouth. 'Dis so my bunk, too,' he say.
You's teched in de head. Git out," I's told him, and I puts de feet 'gainst him and give his a shove and out he go on de floor 'fore he knew what I's doin'. Dat nigger jump up and he and. He look like de wild bear. He starts for de bunk and I jumps quick for de poker. It am 'bout three feet long and when he comes at me I lets him have it over he head. Did dat nigger stop in he tracks? I's say he did. He looks at no steady for a minute and you's could toll he thinkin' hard. Dam he go and set on de bench and say, 'Jus wait. You thinks it am smart, but you's am foolish in de head. Dey's gwine larn you somethin'.
Hush yous big mouth and sty 'way fron dis nigger, dat all I wants,' I say, and jus' sets and hold dat poker in de hand. He jus' sets, lookin' like de bull. Dere we'uns sets and sets for 'bout an hour and den he go out and I bars de door.
De nex' day I goes to de missy and tells her what Rufus wants and missy say dat am de massa's wishes. She say, 'Yous am de portly gal and Rufus am de pertly man. De massa wants you-uns for to bring forth portly chillen.
I's thinkin' 'bout what de missy say, but say to myse'f, 'I's not gwine live with dat Rufus .' Dat night when him come in de cabin, I grabs de poker and sits on de bench and says, 'Git 'way from me, nigger, 'fore I busts yous brains out and stomp on den.' He say nothin' and git out.
De nex' day de massa call me and tell me, 'Woman, I's pay big money for you and I's done dat for de cause I wants yous to raise me chillens. I's put yous to live with Rufus for dat purpose. Now, if you doesn't want whippin' at de stake, yous de what I wants.
I thinks 'bout massa buyin' me offen de block and savin' me from bein' sep'rated from my folks and 'bout bein' whipped at de stake. Dere it am. What am I's to do? So I 'cides to do as de massa wish and so I yields.
When we'uns am given freedom, Massa Hawkins tells us we can stay and work for wages or share crop de land. Some stays and some goes. My folks and me stays. We works de land on shares for three years, don moved to other land near by. I stays with my folks till they dies.
If my mem'randum am correct, it am 'bout thirty year since I come to Fort Worth. Here I cooks for white folks till I goes blind 'bout ten year ago.
I never marries, 'cause one 'sperience an 'nough for dis nigger. After what I does for de massa, I's never wants no truck with any man. De Lawd forgive dis cullud woman, but he have to 'scuse me and look for some others for to 'plenish de earth.