MSGenWeb Library
County:  Marshall
Title: Mississippi Slave Narratives from the WPA Records
Submitter:  MSGenWeb Slave Narrative Project
Notice:  This file may be downloaded for Personal Use Only, and may not otherwise be printed or copied without prior written consent of the submitter.
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From the WPA Slave Narratives:
Lizzie Polk

Foreword: Born in 1860; 4 feet 11 inches tall; weight 95 pounds; ginger bread color. Owns her home and has a small income.

I was born in 1860 at the old Polk Place here in Holly Springs. I never lived in the country and have never done any farm work, though I don't pretend that I never saw cotton growing, as some of the foolish ones do. I was owned by General Thomas Polk, a cousin of President Polk. General and Mrs Polk had a daughter, Miss Emily, and several other children. My mother was Louisa Polk. She was Miss Emily's maid and the family seamstress. She sewed with her fingers. My father was Rayfield Johnson, a free man and a barber. All barbers were colored in those days. I was raised by Miss Emily, who made a great pet of me and called me 'her Lizzie'. As long as she lived, she was always ready to protect me.

When I was a child I played Roses Red, How Green the Grass Grows, Round the Mulberry Tree, and Post Office, with the next-door children, using the dividing fence as the Post Office. I went to Gill's School. This was a school carried on by northern white people. For twenty-two years, I was a teacher in the Marshall County colored schools. I am a member of the Baptist Church. I own my own home and rent out part of it. I also own a little farm in Oklahoma left me by my brother.

I can't remember anything about the war, but I remember seeing U.S. soldiers who were in barracks here. And I remember hearing terrible tales about the Ku Klux.

I remember when coal-oil for light was just coming in. I heard tales of something with great big eyes that would run over you. I guess that was a prediction of the automobile.

During the Yellow Fever in 1878, we refugeed and camped about four miles south of town in a blacksmith shop. We carried our cows and chickens and expected to be gone maybe two weeks. We had to stay there three months before the fever was over.

I never married because I was working too hard to have time to flirt. Anyway, if I had to work, I would rather work for myself than for a man.

Interviewer: Unknown
Transcribed by Ann Allen Geoghegan

Mississippi Narratives
Prepared by
The Federal Writer’s Project of
The Works Progress Administration
For the State of Mississippi


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Unknown worker photograph provided by  L. Stephen Bell Photography, and family photo albums of Karen Schweikle, Lucy Gray and Jens Burkhart.

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