Robertson County




County Coordinator is Jane Keppler.

County Co-Coordinator is Jean Huot Smoorenburg

If you have any questions or would like to submit information for Robertson County, please email one of the above.

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Dale Baum


Newest book: Counterfeit Justice: The Judicial Odyssey of Texas Freedwoman Azeline Hearne (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2009)



Hattie Cole

Hattie Cole , 83, 1203 E. Leuda St., Ft. Worth, Tex., was born a slave to Mr. Ed
 [Hattie is referring here to "Ebb" or Ebenezer] Hearne [who was a cousin of Christopher C. Hearne], for whom the city of Hearne, Texas was named.  Mr. [Ebenezer] Hearne owned Hattie's mother with about 100 slaves  [a number inflated by slaves owned by Ebb's brother and neighbor Horatio R. Hearne]  and a large plantation in Robertson Co., Tex. Mr.[Ebenezer] Hearne traded one of his slaves to Mr. Jack [actually Telemachus or “Telephus”]Johnson , adjacent plantation owner, for Hattie's father, and allowed Hattie's parents to marry. Her family remained on the Hearne plantation several years after Emancipation.
Hattie married Jack Johnson on the Hearne plantation in 1870, and gave birth to two children before his death in 1880. She married Lewis Cole in 1885. There were two children born to this union. The Cole family moved to Ft. Worth in 1882. Hattie has made her home with her daughter since Lewis ' death in 1906.

Her story:

My name now am Hattie Cole . 'Twas Hattie Johnson , an' befo' dat, 'twas Hearne . Hearne am my old Marster's name. Now, my age. Ise know dat 'cause my fo'ks gits de statement f'om Marster Hearne w'en surrendah comes. 'Tis marked on de statement dat Ise bo'n in 1854. My daughter figure it fo' me, an' 'tis 83 yeahs old Ise am. Sho, she has to figure it fo' me. Ise a non-knowledge xxxx, 'cause Ise bo'n in slavetime an' gits no edumacation. "Whar Ise bo'n am in Robertson County, Texas, neah de Brazos River. Marster Ed Hearne am my marster. He owned both my parents. My father am bo'n on Marster Jack Johnson's plantation dat am next to weuns. "Marster Hearne, Johnson , an' tudder marsters have de 'greement 'bout de mai'iage business. 'Twas lak dis, if a cullud man on
Marster's place wants a women on tudder place, de Marsters make a trade so de couple can be together. W'en my father wants to mai'y my mammy, Marster Hearne traded tudder slave fo' my pappy, an' dat away, father am rought to live wid mammy on de Hearne place. "De way de marsters do 'bout de mai'iage am awful good w'en 'pared wid what am on lots ob plantations. 'Twas lak cattle, some ob dem am used. Deys fo'ced to live wid de person de Marster says. "Do weuns have de weddin' in slave-time? Man, yous know bettah dan dat. De cullud fo'ks jus' 'gree 'twix demse'ves dat dey be man an' wife. Oh, deys have ceremony dat deys 'ranged. 'Twas steppin' over de broom together dat am put on de flooah, wid thar hands clasped. "Ise guess yous wants to know 'bout de
plantation, 'twas a big place. De town ob Hearne am named aftah de Marster. He owned all de land far back to de Brazos River. Yas Sar, far as yous could see, am de Marster's place. Thar am over 200 cullud fo'ks
dat lived in de qua'tahs. 'Twas one fam'ly to de cabin, an' de cabins am one room log huts wid no flooahin' in dem. Weuns could stand, or sat on de ground. Weuns sleep in de bunks wid straw ticks. Weuns don't have any chairs, 'twas benches weuns sat on. 'Twarnt any stove, jus' fireplace whar de cookin' am done. "Each fam'ly does thar own cookin'. De rations am given out ever' Sunday mo'nin' at 9 o;clock. No, dey don't measure de rations, dey gives 'cordin' to de size ob de fam'ly, an' what de fam'ly asks fo'. On Sunday mo'nin', all de cullud couples line up w'en de bell rings. De couples goes together wid a bushel basket. First deys pass by de smokehouse, an' git de beans, an' co'n meal, an' taters an' sich. Den dey goes to tudder shed whar de 'lasses, brown sugar, an' honey am stored. De milk an' buttah am given each day. 'Twas an' old man, Jerry am his name, dat come ever' night wid de milk an' buttah, same wid de eggs w'en thar am any. "Yas Sar, Marster 'lows weuns all weuns wants. If weuns runs short, weuns calls fo' mo' ob dis, or dat ration. Thar am no reason fo' fussin' 'bout de rations. Far as de rations am, 'twas bettah dan sich as Ise gits now, or since surrendah. Ise sho wish Ise have so good rations now.

De wo'k am all 'ranged 'cordin' to rule. Ise use to lak to watch dem in de mo'nin' w'en deys gits ready fo' wo'k. Ise gwine tell yous 'bout it. De bell rings, den yous see de cullud fo'ks pilin' out ob de cabins, an' gwine to de field, de shops, an' tudder places whar deys wo'k. De overseer an' de Marster am talkin' to dis one an' dat one, givin' de
ordahs. Some goes to de shoeshop, some to de carpentershop, some to de weavin' room, an' so on. Den thar am big herd ob cows, an' de milkers goes to de milkin'. Yous heah dis one an' dat one shoutin' to somebody 'bout dis an' dat, an' ever 'thing am in a hustle. Heah an' thar, yous heah some ob dem singin'. It makes me lonesome w'en Ise think 'bout it. "Most ob de cullud fo'ks am happy 'cause deys am fed good, an' de Marster am reasonable 'bout de wo'k. He ask de cullud fo'ks to wo'k steady, but don't over rush. If someone feels bad, all deys have to do am tell de Marster, or de overseer, an' dey goes to de cabin an' lays down. W'en someone suffer too much wid some misery, de Marster calls de doctah. If it am small misery, de Marster 'tend to it himse'f. He use herb medicine. If Ise gits sich care now, Ise be glad. Now, m'ybe Ise gits medicine, an' m'ybe no. "Whuppin's am not so often, an' w'en 'tis given, dey don't tie de cullud fo'ks down to a post, or put dem over de barrel. Dey jus' puts dey face down on de ground, den dey am lashed wid a rawhide. De Marster don't 'lows fo' to draw blood. Co'se thar am wales on thar body. De whuppin's am given mos'ly 'cause young fo'ks goes off de place an' gits catched at it. "De Marster am pa'ticular 'bout de young fo'ks gwine off de place. He don't ever 'lows de cullud fo'ks to go to parties on tudder place. Weuns not even 'lowed to go off de place to chu'ch. De Marster have de chu'chhouse on de place, an' thar weuns worship on Sunday. Weuns have one ob de cullud fo'ks lead in service.  Weuns pray an' sing. "'Cause de Marster am so tight 'bout lettin' de cullud fo'ks go off to 'joy dem se'ves once on awhile, de young fo'ks breaks de rule. De way dey gits catched am 'cause dey stays overtime. If dey gits back befo' daylight, dey can sneak in, but aftah daylight, someone can see dem. "No Sar, No Sar! Thar am no parties on Marster's plantation. Him says 'taint fo' parties he have de plantation, but 'tis fo' wo'k."De only time weuns have any fun am on Christmas Day. Ise don't know what parties an' dancin' am 'till aftah surrendah. Weuns have a big feed on Christmas Day dat am de celeb'ation. Weuns have cake, pie, sauce, an' sich an' chicken. Dat am de only time weuns have cake an' pie. "W'en surrendah comes, den life changed some. Weuns den stahted to have parties an' sich. No sar, 'twarnt any time dat de Marster called
allus together an' told weuns dat weuns am free. De Bluecoats come an' does it. One ob de sojers reads a papah to weuns. Gosh, Ise don't know what it am in de papah, but w'en de sojer am through readin', him says, "Yous am free, an' citizens ob de United States. Dat means yous can go whar yous lak." But de sojers am mistaken, 'cause 'twarnt so. Weuns am not 'lowed to do as weuns please. Weuns am in'fered wid by de Ku Klux Klan, white caps weuns calls dem. Dat am o'gnation dat come aftah de wah. "My fo'ks stays on de Marster's plantation after weuns am freed, an' wo'ks de land on shares. Dey gits ha'f what am raised. Thar whar lots ob tudders dat do de same, an' 'twas de same on de tudder plantations. So de cullud fo'ks stahts to have de parties an' dances. Well, it goes alright fo' a while, den de Klux shows up, an' de fust thing weuns know, de Klux am gwine fust to one place an' de tudder, an' whups de cullud fo'ks. Yas Sar, dey rides right up to de house, breaks right in de dooah, pulls Marster xxxx outside, an' den whups him wid de rawhide whup W'en weuns have a dance, or party, deys liable to come any moment, an'give yous hell. At fust, most ob de xxxxs resent de in'derence. Yas Sar, dey sho am 'dignant 'bout it, so deys try to put up a fight. Well, w'en dey does dat, it makes it worster. "A party ob cullud men 'cides to throw red pepper in de Klux face w'en dey bust in de dooah. So, deys have de party, an' de Klux comes. W'en dey bust in de dooah, de cullud mens lets dem have it. Co'se, de Klux have hoods on, an' dat saves dem f'om much ob de red pepper. 'Twarnt 'nough ob dem dat am 'fected to save de cullud mens. Two ob dem gits a good whuppin'. De rest ob weuns am saved 'cause weuns runs off to de woods. De place whar deys come belong to Bud Brown , an' de next week his cabin am set on fire, an' de cabin dat belongs to a tudder cullud man am burned. "De parties stops 'round dere after dat, an' allus am 'fraid to go out after dark, an' de men fo'ks sleep away f'om dat house. Dat condition keeps fo' long time, but after while, it dies down, an' de cullud fo'ks goes on havin' parties an' dances 'gain. "Ise stayed wid my fo'ks 'til Ise mai'ied, an' den stayed on de plantation. My husband rented land f'om de Marster Hearne, an' farmed on shares. My two chilluns am bo'n on de place. My fo'ks wo'ked land, an' my mammy wo'ked fo' de Marster as de cook an' de nurse fo' de Marster's chilluns. De chilluns always call my mammy, "Black
Mammy". Dey sho think de world ob her. Deys go to her fo' ever'thing, an' wid all dere troubles. She raised all fouah ob de chilluns. "My husband moved weuns to a tudder place neah by w'en weuns left de Marster's place, an' farmed. He died in 1880. After five yeahs, Ise mai'ied de second time, an' stayed right on de farm 'til 1892, den weuns moved to Fort Worth. He wo'ked heah at common labor 'til he died in 1906. "After my husband dies, Ise wo'ked fo' white fo'ks, doin' housewo'k 'til 10 yeahs ago. Ise den, Ise lived wid my daughter. De last few months, Ise been gittin' a pension f'om de State. Dey pays me $15.00 a month. Ise gits by on dat. "Votin', does Ise ever do dat? Oh, yous knows bettah den ask dis old xxxx sich. Why, Ise never bother dis old head wid sich, dat am fo' de men. Now, Ise never bother dis old head wid sich. Dat am fo' de men. Now, 'tis dis away wid me. Ise no edumacation, can't read or write. If Ise goes to vote, dey hands me a ticket dat Ise s'posed to mark fo' de one Ise wants to vote fo'. How Ise gwine to does it? Ise can't dat's all thar am to it. Well, fo'ks says, yous can git some tudder person to mark de ticket fo' yous. Sho, Ise can git some tudder person to mark de ticket fo' me, but w'en Ise do dat, does Ise vote? No Sar, Ise don't vote. 'Tis de tudder person dat does. How Ise know tudder person vote de ballot lak Ise wants? Ise can't read, so 'tis Ise pays it no mind. "My fust husband goes to vote once, but dat am all.
Jus' once. Some cullud fo'ks coax him to vote, an' 'twas at Hearne Texas, he goes. He gits hit over de head wid a blackjack, an' dat am all he wants wid sich truck. After some fellows wants him to vote 'gain. Dey says 'tis de duty ob a good citizen to vote. Jack tells dem if dat am de case, he am one xxxx dat don't have good 'nough head to be a good citizen. "Ise lived dis long widout votin', an' Ise guess Ise can make
it de rest ob de way, an' 'taint a long way, now

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State Coordinator: Shirley Cullum
Assistant State Coordinators: Carla Clifton, Jane Keppler

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Page Modified: 02 November 2014

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