Vina Moore


Biography Index || Slave Index


Interview Conducted by William Elmer Smith & Cleo Bennett Smith


Vina Moore was born a slave of Mr. Smiley, close to Vicksburg, Mississippi, in 1845. Her parents died when she was just a child and she was raised by what she terms as her "white folks".

She seems to have been very fortunate in having a very kind master and mistress, who kept her until the beginning of the war. She was then sold to a Mr. Lowery, who sent her with three loads of other slaves to Texas to keep the Yankees from getting them in Mississippi. She was the only one of the group that sold when they were placed for auction on the court house square in Corsicana. She brought $300.00 in gold. The other slaves all went back to Mississippi. She was bought by Mr. Van Horn. They were very nice to her and she was with them when the war ended and stayed on afterwards as a cook at a small salary.

She married Ike Moore, a porter on the railroad. They had three children, Anna, Charley, and Ella. All are dead but the latter, Ella Decker, with whom Aunt Vina lives. She has two grand-children, one in Corsicana and one in Waxahachie. She and her husband have been separated for years. She lives with her daughter on a small pension that she has been drawing for the past few months. She is crippled up with rheumatism and is not able to wait on her self very much, but she is a very pleasant person to talk to.

"My name is Vina Moore, I'se born in Vicksburg, Mississippi in 1845, right on de banks of de rivah. Mah father's name was Uncle Lury and mah mamma's name was Aunt Lucienda. Dats all de name I'se ever heard of dem havin. Dey died when I'se small, I gues bout five er six years ole. Mah white marster and missus took me ter raise, and I'se glad dey did too, cause dey sure tried ter raise me up right I had no brothers and sisters, jest me. An auntie wanted ter take me when mamma died, but I'se sure glad dat they didnt.

We lived close ter de rivah where de flat boats went all de time I'se use ter play down on de rivah and watch de boats. Dem was happy days in Mississippi, I aint seed none lak dem since I'se come ter Texas.

We had nice servant quarters, not no junk holes lak you'se sees in Texas. We culured folks has ter live in barns here but didn't back in Mississippi. We had nice wooden bed steads and plenty of be covers too. We had a cook stove ter cook on. I helped ter cook fer mah marster and missus, der name was Smiley. She larned me lots of things bout cookin. Dey had a nice six room frame house with two bi porches. Mah grandparents lived on de same plantation but I can't member much bout dem.

After mah mamma and papa died, I works at mah missus house. I tends ter de chilluns, tends ter de chickens, make beds, works in de flower garden, er jest anything der was ter do, and I didn't have ter be tole twice to do it either.

After mah mamma and papa died, I would jest work mah crazy self ter death cause dey would brag on me, its too later ter know bettah now though. Mah white folks was good ter me, dey use ter give me nickels and dimes when I had done sumpin extry. I allus spends dem fer candy, popcorn, er pecans, er jest what I wanted ter spend it fer. Ifen der chilluns had sumpin extry ter eat dey allus save me some too.

We shore had plenty ter eat, we never wanted fer nuthin. I allus eat at de white folks house. I wish I had some of dem good vituals now. We had pork, beef, possum, rabbits, deer, squirrels, birds, chickens, duck, geese, we had any kind of meat we wanted at any time of the year. Lordy, yessah we had fish, we live so close ter de rivah dat we could go der mos any time and get a good mess of fish, perch, and cats. Dis is de sorriest place I ever done struck in mah life. I shore loves greens, I guess I lak greens, biled fat meat, strong tea or coffee and corn bread best of any meal. I don't care much fer pie and cake, er any sweet fixins but I use ter shore fix dem though when I was cookin fer de white folks. Sometimes a slave would have a little garden but not often. Mos time dey jest git their stuff from de big garden.

We had plenty of gingham dresses of all kinds. Dey had women dat jest done de weavin and dey made our clothes. Mah missus sometimes made me dresses, dey was shore nice too. I allus had shoes ter wear wintah and summer time. Mah feet was allus so tender I couldnt go barefooted. We had wintah clothes and summer clothes, Sunday clothes, and everyday clothes. I never did jest wear mah Sunday clothes jest any time. I allus takes care of mah things, I don't believe in being so stravagant. De good Lord gives us since nuff ter know how ter iffen we aims ter have nuthin.

We picked cotton in sacks, I can't membah any of us pickin in baskets, hit was too much trouble. Master Smiley did not have no gin he had ter haul hit off ter have it ginned. Hit would allus be late in de fall when we'd git through pickin cotton and when they'd finish dey would all throw der sacks up in de air and holler til everybody in de country would know what was happenin.

I use ter go ter lots of dances. I was what you would call a dancin fool. But since de good Lord has saved mah soul I see jest how foolish hit all was. Iffen I'd used mah strength in church work dat I used goin ter dances I would have been better off. But dances was nice ter go to den. Dey all acted nice and der was no drinking er actin up lak dey do here. I aint use ter people actin so silly. Sometimes people will pass right in front of mah door and don't even speak ter me and me sittin right here on mah steps. But I jest dip mah snuff and don't let on lak I sees dem either. Ole Aunt Vina has has seed better days, when I was able ter work and I had lots of friends and mah chilluns was good ter me too, but I'se ole now and in de way and aint got fifty cents and dollars to hand out now lak I use ter have, but de Lord will be wid me and I guess I can stand it.

In dem days dey allus had big weddins fer de white folks, big dinnahs, and suppahs, but dey had a preachah to marry de slaves jest as same as de white folks. De slave boy would git de preachah and dey would git married in der own cabins. De man allus comes ter live wid de woman iffen he marries a woman from another plantation, and de chilluns would belong ter de marster of de woman.

Christmas was a big day fer all of us. Marster Smiley allus gives de slaves sumpin extry fer Christmas dinnah and allus gives us presents too. It allus was a fine day fer all of us. De slave chilluns all believe in Santa Claus and dey would sing bout Santa Claus fer weeks fore Christmas. Dey marster allus got sumpin fer de chilluns so dey could believe in Santa Claus. I wish it was back slavery time now. We had good times den, bettern I'se seed since I'se come ter Texas.

On New Years day we allus had a big dinnah. Marster Smiley allus made us cook black eyed peas and hog jowls, you know you eat dat on New Years day and you will have money in your pocket all de year. Hit will work too, you ought to try hit sometimes. Any how der aint nuthin better ter eat den dat iffen dey is cooked right and seasoned up good dey is fine.

And de Foath of July all we done was ter eat and drink. We had plenty of home made beer, I don't membah dem ever having much whiskey but dat beer was fine. Marster Smiley would sometime take enough whiskey ter make us a toddy, fix it so's we wouldn't git drunk. Dey hardly ever made ice cream, I don't know why we could git ice any day we wanted hit.

Corn shuckin was a big time too, de marster would make us shuck corn all day and den we would all eat suppah out in de yard. Us youngins would all play and dance and have a big time. You don't hear of any body here doing dat way now, but we enjoyed it in dem days. Dat playin allus made de corn shuckin easy.

I was allus too busy ter play games, I never did take no stock in foolishness, hits silly, I believe in hard work. We didnt believe in charms, rabbits foot and de like. Iffen a black cat crossed in front of me I wouldn't pay no tenshun to hit. I believe in important things. I heard people say dat dey seed ghos, but I never did believe in dem, dey aint no sech things.

I uster have ter tend to de chilluns all de time, and I could git dem ter sleep bettern den der mama could when I would sing. I'd pat mah foot and pat dem on de back a little, rock and sing, "Laugh and play till pappy comes. He'll take good care of baby." Dey would go right ter sleep.

When de slaves was workin you could hear dem singin fer miles, each one singin a different song. We was all happy den, we had a good place ter sleep, plenty to eat, and we allus was singin. De white folks would stand round and look at us. I guess some of dem jest wondered why we was so happy.

Some of de slave chilluns was jest lak chilluns of today, allus in ter sumpin, but I never had time ter git into any meaness. I had too many important things to see to.

When de slaves got sick marster Smiley, would have a doctor iffen dey was bad enough. Sometimes when dey jest had a little ailment, we would make a tea of peppergrass. It was a good medicine. Sometimes we used bitter weeds ter make a tea. But iffen dey got very sick dey would have a doctor, dey didn't wait til dey was most dead and don act lak dey cared what happened ter dem.

Yessah, I'se know lots of slaves dat runned off ter de nawth, dey would hunt for dem jest lak horses er mules and dey mos allus ketch dem. Sometimes dey didn't find dem and when dey didn't dey was jest more cranky wid de slaves at home. I run away, once, dey was gonna whip me, so I run away and climbed up in de top of a china berry tree, and de limbs was so thick dey coulnt find me in de leaves. Dey hunted fer me a long time and after hit begins ter git dark I was skeared sos I slips back ter de house, de ole missus was so glad ter see me dat she didn't whip me. Sometimes when de slaves runned off dey shore would ship dem.

Slaves had ter ask der marster and missus ever time dey went ter anuther plantation ter visit. De marster would tell dem when ter go and when ter come back and dey bettah do jest dat too. Dey didn't carry news much, oh some big mouth nigger was allus shootin off his mouth, but generally dey didnt tell much.

Sometimes de slaves would play dominoes, cards, and sometimes have little parties. Not noisey messes lak dey have dis day in time. Dey had ter behave dem selves er dey was tole ter go home and not ter come back any more. Dey had ter go ter bed early sos dey could git up early ter git in the field. Dey work Satiday evenin jest de same as any other day. Satiday mornin was an extra busy fer de ones dat work in de kitchen cause mos every Sunday dey had a big dinnah and late Sunday evenin suppahs. We'd clean chickens, ducks, and bake cakes and pies and everything else.

One thing I can membah, plain bout de war was me takin de white chilluns to town ter see de parade of de soldiers. Dey would drill right close ter our plantation and we would go out ter watch dem, we allus enjoyed dat. Mah marster did not send anything ter eat er any money ter de soldiers, but mah auntie use ter weave cloth ter send ter make clothes out of. Us slaves all liked de yankees, dey never did do nuthin ter us.

A little after de war commenced, marster Smiley sold me ter marster Lowery, and he sent three wagon loads of niggers ter Texas ter keep de yankees from gittin us. I was de only one dat sold. Dey had de acution on de court house square in Corsicana. A Mr. Van Horn bought me fer $300.00. Dey had a nice home in Corsicana. When de war was over and we got our freedom, Mr. Van Horn acted awful nice ter me, he said if I would stay and do de cookin he would pay me a small salary and buy mah clothes. I stayed der quite a while.

And den I played de dickens, I married a railroad man by the name of Isaac Moore. He was a porter on de railroad. We had a nice weddin jest lak white folks. We had three chilluns, Anna, Charley, and Ella. Den we separated, I jest couldnt put up wid sech a feller. I aint heard from him in years and I dont want ter unless he would send me some money. Anna and Charley have been dead three years, I aint got no chilluns but mah baby. I have two grandsons and one grand daughter. One grandson and daughter live in Waxahachie, and I live wid mah daughter and de other grandson. Ella keeps house fer de white folks.

I has often heard of de Ku Klux, but I dont know nuthin bout dem. You know niggers aint supposed ter know anything lak dat.

I never did vote. I aint even interested. What do I care bout votin, one man is bout good as another.

I gits mah livin now from a little penshun. I don't know how much I git, mah grandson allus cashes mah check and I cant read nohow. He gits me what I'se sposed ter have.

Dis younger generation aint fit fer nuthin but ter run round fer a big time. Chilluns now days jest raise dem selves. We was taught ter say "Yas Sah" and yes'm, and I never did say "what" in mah life. And we never did have ter be tole twice ter do anything either lak dey do now. Tell me de youngins aint goin ter de devil in a big way. But Aunt Vina is gonna live right and be ready ter meet mah chilluns dat are gone on iffen dey had lived maybe I wouldn't be treated lak I am now, but de good Lord will be wid me and I will endure until the calls me home.

This Page Last Updated on 01/17/21
Navarro County TXGenWeb
Copyright 2001 Edward L. Williams & Barbara Knox