Lulu Wilson
Navarro County, Texas


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LULU WILSON, blind, bedridden Negro, does not know her age, but believes that she is ninety-seven. She was born near the Mammoth Cave, in Kentucky, Lulu owns a little home at 1108 Good Street, Dallas, Texas.

"Course I's born in slavery, ageable as I am. I'm a Old time, slavery woman and the way I been through the hackles, I got plenty to say 'bout slavery. Lulu Wilson says she knows they ain't no good in it and they better not bring it back.

"My paw warn't no slave. He was a free man, 'cause his mammy was a full blood Creek Indian. But my maw was born in slavery, down on Wash Hodges' paw's place, and he give her to Wash when he married. That was the only woman slave what he had and one man slave, a young buck. My maw say she took with my paw and I's born, but a long time passed and didn't no more young'uns come, so they say my paw am too old and wore out for breedin' and wants her to take with this here young buck. So the Hodges sot the nigger hounds on my paw and run him away from the place and maw allus say he went to the free state. So she took with my step-paw and they must of pleased the white folks what wanted niggers to breed like livestock, 'cause she birthed nineteen chillen.

"When I's li'l I used to play in that big cave they calls Mammoth and I's so used to that cave it didn't seem like nothin' to me. But I was real li'l them, for soon as they could they put me to spinnin' cloth. I 'members plain, when I was li'l there was talk of war in them parts, and they put me to spinnin' and I heared 'em say it was for sojers. They marched round in a li'l, small drove and practices shootin'.

"Now, when I was li'l they was the hardes' times. They'd nearly beat us to death. They taken me from my mammy, out the li'l house built onto they house and I had to sleep in a bed by Missus Hodges. I cried for my maw but I had to work and wash and iron and clean and milk cows when I was most too li'l to do it.

"The Hodges had three chilluns and the olderes' one they was mean to, 'cause she so thickheaded. She couldn't larn nothin' out a book but was kinder and more friendly like than the runt of the lot. Wash Hodges was jes' mean, pore trash and he was a bad actor and a bad manager. He never could make any money and he starved it out'n the niggers. For years all I could git was one li'l slice of sowbelly and a puny, li'l piece of bread and a 'tater. I never had 'nough to stave the nongriness out'n my belly.

"My maw was cookin' in the house and she was a clink, that am the bes' of its kind. She could cuse and she warn't 'fraid. Wash Hodges tried to whop her with a cowhide and she'd knock him down and bloody him up. Then he'd go down to some his neighbor kin and try to git them to come help him whop her. But they'd say. 'I don't went to go up there and let Chloe Ann beat me up." I heared Wash tell his wife they said that.

"When maw was in a tantrum, my step-paw wouldn't partialize with her. But she was a 'ligious woman and 'lieved time was comin' when niggers wouldn't be slaves. She told me to pray for it. She seed a old man what the nigger dogs chased and et the legs near off him. She said she was chased by them bloody hounds and she jus' picked up a club and laid they skull open. She say they hired her out and sold her twict but allus brung her back to Wash Hodges.

"Now, Missus Hodges studied 'bout meanness more'n Wash done. She was mean to anybody she could lay her hands to, but special mean to me. She beat me and used to tie my hands and make me lay flat on the floor and she put snuff in my eves. I ain't lyin' 'fore Gawd when I say I knows that's why I went blind. I did see white folks sometimes what spoke right friendly and kindly to me.

"I gits to thinkin' now how Wash Hodges sold off maw's chillun. He'd sell 'em and have the folks come for 'em when my maw was in the fields. When she'd come back, she'd raise a ruckus. Then many the time I seed her plop right down to a settin' and cry 'bout it. But she 'lowed they warn't nothin' could be done, 'cause it's the slavery law. She said, "O, Lawd, let me see the end of it 'fore I die, and I'll quit my cussin' and fightin' and rarin'.' My maw say she's part Indian and that 'countable for her ways.

"One day they truckled us all down in a covered wagon and started out with the fam'ly and my maw and step-paw and five of us chillun. I know I's past twelve year old. We come a long way and passed through a free State. Some places we druv for miles in the woods 'stead of the big road, and when we come to folks they hid us down in the bed of the wagon. We passed through a li'l place and my maw say to look, and I seed a man gwine up some steps, totin' a bucket of water. She say, 'Lulu, that man's your paw.' I ain't never think she's as consid'ble of my step-paw as of my paw, and she give me to think as much. My step-paw never did like me, but he was a fool for his own young'uns, 'cause at the end of the wars when they sot the niggers free, he tramped over half the country, gatherin' up them young'uns they done sold 'way.

"We went to a place called Wadefield, in Texas, and settled for some short passin' of tine. They was a Baptist church next our house and they let me go twict. I was fancified with the singin' and preachin'. Then we goes on to Chatfield Point and Wash Hodges built a log house and covered it with weather boarding and built my maw and paw quarters to live in. They turned in to raisin' corn and 'taters and hawgs. I had to work like a dog. I hoed and milked ten cows a day.

"Missus told me I had ought to marry. She said if I'd marry she'd togger me up in a white dress and give me a weddin' supper. She made the dress and Wash Hodges married me out'n the Bible to a nigger 'longin' to a nephew of his'n. I was 'bout thirteen or fourteen. I know it warn't long after that when Missus Hodges got a doctor to me. The doctor told me less'n I had a baby, old as I was and married, I'd start in on spasms. So it warn't long till I had a baby.

"In 'twixt that time, Wash Hodges starts layin' out in the woods and swamps all the time. I heared he was hidin' out from the war and was sposed to go.

cause he done been a volunteer in the first war and they didn't have no luck in Kentucky.

"One night when we was all asleep, some folks whooped and woke us up. Two sojers come in and they left more outside. They found Wash Hodges and said it was midnight and to git 'am something to eat. They et and some more come in and et. They tied Wash's hands and made me hold a lamp in the door for them to see by. They had some more men in the wagon, with they hands tied. They druv away and in a minute I heared the reports of the guns three or four times. Nex' day I heared they was sojers and done shot some conscripts in the bottoms back of our place.

"Wash Hodges was gone away four years and Missus Hodges was meaner'n the devil all the time. Seems like she jus' hated us worser than over. She said blobber-mouth niggers done cause a war.

"Well, now, things jus' kind of drifts along for a spell and then Wash Hodges come back and he said, 'Well, now, we done whop the hell out them blue bellies and that'll larn 'em a lesson to leave us alone.'

"Then my step-paw seed some Fed'ral sojers. I seed them, too. They drifted by in droves of fifty and a hundred. My step-paw 'lowed as how the Feds done told him they ain't no more slavery, and he tried to pint it out to Wash Hodges. Wash says that's a new ruling, and it am that growed-up niggers is free, but chillun has to stay with they masters till they's of age.

"My maw was in her cabin with a week old baby and one night twelve Klu Kluxes done come to the place. They come in by ones and she whopped 'em one at a time.

"I don't never recall just like, the passin' of time. I know I had my little boy young'un and he growed up, but right after he was born I left the Hodges and felt like it's a fine, good riddance. My boy died, but he left me a grandson. He growed up and went to 'nother way, and they done somethin' to him and he ain't got but one lung. He ain't peart no more. He's got four chillun and he makes fifty dollars a month. I'm crazy 'bout that boy and he comes to see me, but he can't help me none in a money way. So I'm right grateful to the president for gittin' my li'l pension. I done study it out in my mind for three years and tell him, Lulu says if he will see they ain't mo more slavery, and if they'll pay folks liveable wages, they'll be less stealin and slummerin' and goin's on. I worked so hard. For more'n fifty years I waited as a nurse on sick folks. I been through the hackles if any mortal soul has, but it seems like the president thinks right kindly of me, and I want him to know Lulu Wilson thinks right kindly of him.

Wilson, Lulu -- Additional Interview

Lulu Wilson, blind, bedridden Negro ex-slave doesn't know her age, but insists that in three more years she will be one-hundred years old. She was born in Barren County, Kentucky near the Mammoth Cave. She was born in slavery to the Hodges family. She lives at 1108 Good Street, Dallas. She owns her home and receives the old age pension.

'Course I was born in slavery, ageable as I am. I am a old time slavery woman and the way I been through the hackles I got plenty to say about slavery. If I could write to this latest president that they got I would tell him that Lulu Wilson says she knows they ain't no good in it and not to listen to the womens' clubs that want to bring slavery back. I think he is a 'sponsible man and he knows who I am 'cause the guv'ment done took my picture and they give me $11 a month to live on.

My paw wan't no slave. He was free man 'cause his mammy was a full blood Creek Indian. Now I ain't saying what his paw was 'cause I ain't knowing. All I know is what my mammy told me and I ain't never seed my paw but one time.

My maw says she was born in slavery to Wash Hodges' paw. He gave her to Wash Hodges when he married. That was the only woman slave he had. He had one man slave, a young buck. My maw says she took with my paw and I was born but some time passed and didn't no more younguns come and so they said my paw was too old and wore out for breedin' and they wanted her to take with this here other buck. So the Hodges set the nigger hounds on my paw and run him away from the place and maw said he went to the free state. So she took with my step paw and they must of pleased the white folks that wanted niggers to breed like livestock 'cause she birthed nineteen children. Two died, one when it was a young baby and one when it was a yearling baby. (About one year old).

When I was little I used to play in that big cave called the Mammoth cave and it was a wondrous sight I guess but it didn't to me like it was nothing so grand as I've heared folks go on about. But I was real little then 'cause as soon as they could they put me to spinning cloth. Now I 'members plain that when I was little and spinnin' that there was talk of war in them parts. They got up some volunteers and Mr. Wash was one of 'em. He put me to spinnin' and I heared them say it was for civil sojers. They marched aroun' in a little small drove and practiced shootin' and they was going to get some uniforms out'n the spun cloth. But didn't nothing come of the lot of it. But I did want to tell the president that I helped to spin cloth for the civil sojers. 'Cause he sent me the money I thought he would like to know.

Now when I was little chap they was the hardest times. They nearly beat us to death. They took me from my mammy out'n the little house built on to their house and I had to sleep in a bed by Missus Hodges. I cried for my maw but I had to work and wash and iron and clean the house and milk cows when I was so little.

The Hodges had three chilluns. The olderest one they was mean to 'cause she was a gal and so thick headed. She couldn't learn nothing out'n a book but she was kinder and more friendly like than the rest of the lot.

Wash Hodges was mean pore trash and he was a bad actor and a bad manager. He never could make any money and he starved it out'n the niggers. For years all I could get was one little slice of sowbelly, a puny little piece of bread and a tater. I never had enough to stave the hongriness out'n my belly.

My maw would have to cook in the house sometimes and she was a clink. (Cline, best of its kind). She could cuss and she wan't afeared. Wash Hodges would try to whip her with a cow hide and she would knock him down and bloody him up. Then he would go down to some of his neighbor kin and try to get them to come help him whup her. But they would say, "I don't want to go up there and let Chloe Ann beat me up." Leastways, I heared him tell his wife that they said that.

My step paw used to sit on the rail fence by the yard and hear my maw in a tantrum in the kitchen and wouldn't partialize with her but jest set there laughin' and say, "Chloe Ann is a clink."

My maw did tell me that she was a 'ligious woman and she b'lieved that the time would come when the niggers wouldn't have to be slave to the white folks. She told me to pray for it. She told me she seed a old man what the nigger dogs chased and et the legs nearly off him. She said she was chased by them bloody hounds and she just picked up a club and layed they skull open. She said they had hired her out and they had sold her twice but they brung her back to Wash Hodges.

Now Mrs. Hodges studied 'bout meanness more than Wash done. She was mean to anybody she could lay her hands to, but special mean to me. She beat me and she used to tie my hands and make me lie flat on the floor and she put snuff in my eyes. I 'blieve I ain't lyin' before God when I say that I knows why I went blind. I did see white folks sometimes that spoke right friendly and kindly to me.

I gits to thinkin' now how Wash Hodges would sell off my maws chilluns. He would sell them and have the folks come for them when my maw was in the fields. When she would come back she would raise a rukus. Then many the times I seen her plop right down to a settin' and cry 'bout it. But she 'lowed there wan't nothing could be done 'cause it was the slavery law. She said, "Oh lord let me see the end of it 'fore I die and I'll quit my cussin' and fightin' and rarin'." My maw claimed to me she was part Indian and 'twas 'countable for her ways.

One day they truckled us all down in a covered wagon and started out with the family and my maw and step paw and five of us chilluns. I know I was past twelve year old. We come a long way and we passed through a free state. (Probably Missouri) Some places we drove for miles in the woods instead of the big road and when we come near to folks they hid us down in the bed of the wagon.

We passed through a little place and my maw told me to look and I saw a man going up some steps toting a bucket of water. She said, "Lulu, that man is your paw. He aint such a youngish man but he was good to me and good for me." I ain't never think she was as considible of my step paw as she was of my paw and she gave me to think as much. My step paw never did like me but he was a fool for his own younguns. 'Cause at the end of the wars when they set the niggers free he tramped over half the world gathering up them younguns that they had sold away.

He went to a place called Wadefield (Texas) and settled for some short passing of time and they was a Missionary Baptist church next to the house. When we was there Mrs. Hodges let me go twice and I was fancified with the singing and the preaching. They sang something 'bout the Glory Road. I set it in my mind that some day I'd jine with them and I spoke it over with my maw.

We went on to Chatfield Point. (Navarro County, Texas) Wash Hodges built a log house and covered it with weather boarding and built my maw and paw quarters to live in. They turned to raising corn, taters and hogs. I had to work like a dog. I hoed and I milked ten cows twice a day.

Missus told me I had ought to marry. She told me if I would marry she would togger me up in a white dress and give me a weddin' supper. She made the dress and Wash Hodges married me out'n the Bible to a nigger b'longing to a nephew of his'n. I was bout thirteen or fourteen. I know that it wan't long after that when Missus Hodges got a doctor to me. The doctor told me that less'n I had a baby, old as I was and married, I'd start in on spasms. So it twan't long 'til I had a baby.

In b'twixt that time Wash Hodges started laying out in the woods and swamps all the time. I heared that he was hidin' out from the war and that he was sposin' to go 'cause he had been a volunteer in the first war they didn't have back in Kentucky.

One night when we was all asleep some folks whooped and woke us all up. Two sojers came in and they left more outside. They found Wash Hodges and they said it was midnight. They said to get them something to eat. They 'et and then some more came in an 'et. They tied Wash's hands and made me hold the lamp in the door for them to see by. They had some more men in the wagon with their hands tied. They driv' away and in a minute I heared the reports of the guns three or four times. The next day I heared that they was civil sojers and that they done shot some conscripts in the bottoms back of our place.

Wash Hodges was gone away four years and Missus Hodges was meaner than the devil all the time. Seems like she just hates us worser than ever. She said blobber mouf niggers done cause a war.

Well now things just kind of drift along for a spell and then Wash Hodges come back and he said, "Well now we done whupped the hell out'n them blue bellies and that will teach them a lesson to leave us alone.

Then my step paw done told him that he seen some Federal sojers. I seen them too. They drifted by in droves of fifty and a hundred. My step paw 'lowed as how the Federals told him they ain't no more slavery and he tried to pint it out to Wash Hodges. Now Wash says thats a new ruling but the ruling is that the growed up niggers is free but the chilluns have to stay with the masters 'til they is of age. I have to stay with them but my maw and step paw 'low they ain't. My step paw went out to hunt for his younguns.

My maw was in her cabin with a week old baby and one night twelve paddyrollers (Ku Klux) come up to the place. Folks in them days in a fair fight wouldn't jump on you but one at a time. They come in ones and she whupped them one at the time 'til she licked the passel of them.

I don't never recall just like the real passing of time. I know that I had my little old boy youngun' and he growed up but after he was born I left the Hodges and felt like it was a fine good riddance. I was married twice 'cause my first husband died. Then my boy died but he left me a grandson. He growed up and went to another war. (World War) When he was in the war they done something to him and he ain't got but one lung. He ain't peart no more. He got four chilluns and he gets fifty dollars a month. I'm crazy 'bout that boy and he comes to see me but he can't help me none in a money way. So I'm right grateful to the president but I want to tell him that I been these three years studying things over in my mind. I done studied it out in my mind and tell him Lulu says if he will see that they ain't no more slavery and if they will pay the folks livable wages they will be less stealing and slummerings and goings on. I worked so hard. I spun for the civil sojers and for more'n fifty years I waited as a nurse on the sick folks. I been through the hackles if any mortal soul has but it seems like the president thinks right kindly of me and I wanted him to know that Lulu Wilson thinks right kindly of him.

(Phipps, Woody, Tarrant County, Texas, District #7, 16 September 1937, (No))


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