Interviewer Miss Irene Robertson
Person interviewed Maria Sutton Clements of De Valls Bluff, Ark.
Age: Between 85 and 90
“Miss, I don’t know a whole heap bout Mr. Wimbeish. I don’t know no other name that what they all call him. Some I heard say it like Wimbush.
He was a great big man, big in here [chest], big in here (stomach). He have hair bout color youn (light}. He have big blue eyes jes’ sparklin’ round over the victuals on the table. He was a lively man. He had a heap to tell and a heap to talk bout. He had fair skin and rosy jaws — full round face. He laughed out loud pretty often. He looked fine when he laughed too. They all was foolish bout him.
He was a newcommer in there. I don’t know whah he stay. He come down the road regular as Friday come, going to practice em marchin’. Looked like bout fifty fellows. I never seed Mr. Wimbeish on a horse all time he passed long that road. He miter jes’ et round mong the people while he stayed there. He wore red ‘appletts’ on his shoulders. I never seed him outer that fresh starched white suit. It was fishtail coat and had red bands stitched all round the edge and white breetches with red bands down the side.
He sure was a young man. They had him bout different places eatin’. Old mistress said, ‘Fix up a good dinner today we gwiner have company.’ That table was piled full. It was fine eatin’. He say so much I couldn’t forgit.
Never was a Yankee what have a heart he couldn’t understand. I don’t know what he was. He was so different. He mister been a Southerner ‘cause white folks would not treated him near that good. It was fo de war. They say when the first bugle blowed fo war he was done gone an’ nebber been heard of till dis day. I heard some say last they seed him, he was rollin’ over an’ over on the ground and the men run off to find em nother captain. I don’t know if they was tellin’ like it took place. I know I never seed him no more.
“The servants take up what they eat in bowls and pans — little wooden bowls — and eat wid their fingers and wid spoons and they had cups. Some had tables fixed up out under the trees. Way they make em — split a big tree half in two and bore holes up in it and trim out legs to fit. They cooked on the fireplaces an’ hearth and outerdoors. They cooked sompin to eat. They had plenty to eat. But they didn’t have pies and cake less they be goiner have company. They have so much milk they fatten the pigs on it.
“The animals eat up the gardens and crops. The men kill coon and possum if they didn’t get nough meat up at the house. I say it sure is good. It is good as pork. The men prowl all night in the winter huntin’. If you be workin’ at the field yo dinner is fetched down thar ‘did they eat. That be mostly fried meat and bread and baked taters, so they could work.
“Old mistress say she first married Mr. Abraham Chenol. Then she married Mr. Joel Sutton and they both died. She had two sons. She had a nephew what come there from way off. She said he was her sister’s boy.
Couse they had doctors and good ones. Iffen a doctor cone say one thing the matter he better stick to it and cure one he come thar to see. Old mistress had three boys till one died. I was brashin’ flies offen him. She come and cry and go way cryln’. He callin’ her all time. He quit callin’ her then he was dead. Made a sorter gurglin’ sound. That the first person I seed die. When they say he dead I got out and off I was gone. I was usin’ a turkey wing to brush flies offen him. I don’t know what was the matter wid em. They buried him on her place whah the grave yard was made. Both her husbands buried down then. She had a fine marble put over his grave. It had things wrote on it. She sent way off an’ got it. They hauled it to here in a wagon. The Masons burled him. It was the prettiest sight I ever seed.
“Her son John had some peafowls. She had geese — a big drove – turkeys, guineas, ducks, and geese.
“She had feather beds and wheat straw mattresses. Clean whoopee! They used cotton baggin’ and straw and some of the servants had a feather bed. Old mistress get up an’ go in set till they call her to breakfast. They had a marble top table and a big square piano. That was the parlor furniture. They made rugs outen sheep an’ goat skins.
When she want the cook go wid her she dress her up In seas her fine dresses — big white cap like missus sleep in an’ a white apron tied round her waist. We wore $.05 calico and gingham dresses for best. She’d buy three and four bolts at Augusta [Georgia] and have It made up to work in. We didn’t spin and weave till the war come on. Some old man come round making spinnin’ wheels. They was very plain too nearly bout rough. Rich folks had fine silk dresses — jes’ rattle when they walked – to wear to preachin”. They sho did have preachin’ an’ fastin’ too durin’ the war but folks didn’t have fine clothes when it ended like when the war started.
Ku Klux Klan
“It started outener the bushwhackers. Some say they didn’t get what was promised em at Shiloh Battle. They didn’t get their rights. I don’t know what they meant by it. The bushwhackers ketch the men in day goiner work — ketch em this way [by the shoulders or collar]. Such hollerin’ and scramblin’ then you never heard. They hide behind big pine trees till he come up then step out behind and grab him. They first come an’ call fer water. Plenty water in the well or down at the spring. They knowed it too. Then they waste all you had brought up and say — ‘Ah! first drink I had since I come from hell.’ They all knowed ain’t nobody come from hell. They had hatchets an’ they burst in your house. Jes’ to scare you. They shoot under your house. They wore their wives big wide nightgowns and caps and ugliest faces you eber seed. They looked like a gang from hell — ugliest things you ebber did see. It was cold — ground spewed up wid ice and men folks so scared they run out in woods, stay all night. Old mistress died at the close of de war an’ her son what was a preacher, he put on a long preacher coat and breeches all black. He put a navy six in his belt and carried carbeen [carbine] on his shoulder. It was a long gun shoot sixteen times. He was a dangerous man. He made the Ku Klux let his folks alone. He walk all night bout his place. He say, ‘Forward March!’ Then they pass by. He was a dangerous man. So much takin’ place all time I was scared nearly to death all time.”