Kiziah Love - Chickasaw Freedwomen
Kiziah Love was interviewed at the home of her son, Edward Love, with whom
he lived, in August 1937 at the age of 93 years. Her slave owner was Benjamin
Franklin Colbert (Frank Colbert) and he operated the well known Colbert Ferry
and stagecoach station. This was a stop along the famous Butterfield Trail.
Kiziah Love is enrolled on Chickasaw Freedman card no. 1001)
Lawd help us, I sho' remembers all about slavery times for I was a grown woman,
married and had one baby, when de War done broke out. That was a sorry time for
some poor black folks but I guess Master Frank Colbert's Negroes was about as
well off as the best of em. I can recollect things that happened way back better
than I can things that happen no. Funny aint' it?
Frank Colbert, a full-blood Choctaw Indian, was my owner. He owned my mother but
I don't remember much about my father. He died when I was a little youngun. My
Mistress' name was Julie Colbert. She and master Frank was de best folks that
ever lived. All the negroes loved master Frank and knowned jest what he wanted
done and they tried their best to do it, too.
I married Isom Love, a slave of Sam Love, another full-blood Indian that lived
on a 'jining farm. We lived on master Frnaks's farm and Isom went back and forth
to work fer his master and I worked ever day fer mine. I don't spect we could of
done that way iffen we hadn't of had Indian masters. They let us do a lot like
we pleased jest so we ogt our work done and didn't run off.
Old Master Frank never worked us hard and we had plenty of good food to eat. He
never did like to put us under white overseers and never tried it but once. A
white man come through here and stopped overnight. He looked 'round the farm and
told Master Frank that he wasn't gitting half of what he ought to out of his
rich land. He said he could take his bunch of hands and double his amount of
corn and cotton.
Master Frank told him that he never used white overseers, that he had one negro
that bossed around some when he didnt' do it hisself. He also told the white man
that he had one negro named Bill that was kind of bad, that he was a good worker
in his own way. The white boss told him he wouldn't have any trouble and that he
could handle him all right.
Old Master hired him and things went very well for a few days. He hadn't said
anything to Bill and they had got alnog fine. I guess the new boss got to
thinking it was time for him to take Bill in hand so one morning he told him to
hitch up antoher team before he caught his own team to go to work.
Uncle Bill told him that he didn't have time, that he had a lot of plowing to
git done that morning and besides it was customary for every man to catch his
own team. Of course this made the overseer mad and he grabbed a stick and stared
cussin' and run at Uncle Bill. Old Bill grabbed a single-tree and went meeting
him. Dat white man all of a sudden turned 'round and run fer dear life and I
tell you, he farily bust old Red River wide open gitting away from there and
nobody never did see hide nor hair of him round to this day.
Master Colbert run a stage stand and a ferry on Red River and he didn't have
much time to look after his farm and his Negroes. He had lots of land and lots
of slaves. His house was a big log house, three rooms on one side and three on
the other, and there was a big open hall between them. There was a big gallery
clear across the front of the house. Behind the house was the kitchen and the
smoke house. The smoke house was always filled with plenty of good meat and
lard. They would kill the polecat and dress it and take a sharp stick and turn
it up their back jest under the flesh. The would also run one up each leg and
then turn him over on his back and put him on top of the house and let him
freeze all night. The next mroning they'd pull the sticks out and all the scent
would be on them sticks and the cat wouldn't smell at all. They'd cook it like
they did possum, bake it with taters or make dumplings.
We had plenty of salt. We go that from Grand Saline. Our coffee was made from
parched meal or wheat bran. We made it from dried sweet potatoees that had been
One of our choices dishes was "Tom Pashofa" an Indian dish. We'd take
corn and beat it in a mortar with a pestle. They took out the husks with a
riddle and a fanner. The riddle was a kind of sifter. When it was beat fine
enough to got through the riddle we'd put it in a pot and cook it with fresh
pork or beef. We cooked our bread in a Dutch oven or in the ashes.
When we got sick we would take butterfly roots an dlive-everlasting and boil it
and make a syrup and take ti for cols. Balmony and Queen's Delight boiled and
mixed would meke good blood medecine.
The slaves lived in log cabins scattered back of the house. He wasn't afraid
they'd run off. The didn't know as much as the slaves in the states, I reckon.
But Master Frank had a half-brother that was as mean as he was good. I believe
he was the meanest man the sun ever shined on. His name was Buck Colbert an he
claimed he was a patroller. He was sho' bad to whup Negroes. He'd stop a Negro
and ask him if he had a pass and even if they did he'd read it and tell them
they had stayed over time and he'd beat em most to death. He'd say they didn't
have any business off the farm and to get back there and stay there.
One time he got mad at his baby's nurse because she couldn't git the babt to
stop crying and he hit her on the head with some firetongs and she died. He wife
got sick and she sent for me to come a take care of her baby. I sho'd did't want
to go and I begged so hard for them not to make me that they sent an older woman
who had a baby of her own so she could nurse the baby if necessary.
In the night the baby woke up and got to crying and Master Buck called the woman
and told her to git him quiet. She was sleepy and was sort of slow and this made
Buck mad and he made her strip her clothes off to her waist and began to whip
her. His wife tried to git him to quit and he told her he'd beat her iffen she
didn't shut up. Sick as she was she slipped off and went to Master Frank's and
woke him up and got him to go and make Buck quit whipping her. He had beat her
so that she was cut up so bad she couldn't nurse her own baby anymore.
Master Buck kept on being bad till one day he got made at one of his own
brothers and killed him. This made another of his brothers mad and he went to
his house and kiled him. Everybody was glad that Buck was dead.
We had lots of visitors. They'd stop at the stage inn that we kept. One morning
I was cleaning the rooms and I found a piece of money in the bed where two men
had slept. I thought it was a dime and I showed it to my mammy and she told me
it was a five dollar piece. I sho' was happy fer I had been wanting some hoops
fer my skirts like Mistress had so Mammy said she would keep my money till I
could send fer the hoops. My brother got my money from my mammy and I didn't git
my hoops fer a long time. Miss Julie give me some later.
When me and my husband got married we built us a log cabin about half-way from
Master Frank's house and Master Sam Love's house. I would go to work at Master
Frank's and Isom would go to work at Mister Sam's. One day I was at home with
jest my baby and a runner come by and said the Yankee soldiers was coming. I
looked 'round and I knowed they would git my chickens. I had 'em in a pen right
close to the house to keep the varmits from gitting 'em so I decide to take up
the boards in the floor and put 'em in there as the wall logs come to the ground
and they could't git out. By the time I got my chickens under the floor and the
house locked tight the soldiers had got so close I could hear their bugles
blowing so I jest fairly flew over to old Master's house. Them Yankess clumb
down the chimbley and they got every one of my chickens and thye killed about
fifteen of Master Frank's hogs. He went down to their camp and told the captian
about it and he paid him for his hogs and sent me some money for my chickens.
We went to church all the time. We had a both white and colored preachers.
Master Frank wasn't a Christian but he would help build brush-arbors fere us to
have church under and we sho' would have big meetings, I'll tell you.
One day Master Frank was going through the woods close to where the Negroes was
having church. All on a sudden he started running and beating hisself and
hollering and the Negreos all went to shouting and saying "Thank the Lawd,
Master Frank had done ocme through!" Master Frank after a minute say,
"Yes thorugh the worst of them." he had run into a yellow jackets's
One night my old man's master sent him to Sherman, Texas. He aimed to come back
that night so I stayed at home wtih jest my baby. It went to sleep so I set down
on the steps to wait and ever minute I thoght I could hear Isom coming through
the woods. All a sudden I heard a scream that fairly made my hair stand up. My
dog that was laying out in the yard give a low growl and come and set down right
by me. He kept growling real low.
Directly, riight close tot he house I heard that scream again. It sounded like a
woman in mortal misery. I run into the house and made the dog stay outside. I
locked the door and then thought what I must do. Supposing Isom did come home
now and should meet that awful thing? I heard it again. It wasn't more'n a
hundred yeards frmo the house. The dog scratched on the door but I dassent open
it to let him in. I knowed by this time that it was a panther screaming. I
turned my table over and put it against the opening of the fireplace. I didn't
aim fer that thing to cmoe down the chimbley and git us.
Purty soon I heard tia gain a little mite furhter away---it was going on by. I
heard a gun fire. Thank God, I said, somebody else heard it and was shooting at
it. I set there on the side of my bed fer the rest of the night with my baby in
my arms and praying that Isom wouldn't come home. He didn't come till about nine
o'clock the next morning and I was that glad to see him that I jest cried and
I ain't never seen many psirits but I've seen a few. One day i was laying on my
bed here by myself. My son Ed was cutting wood. I'd been awful sick and I was
powerful weak. I heard somebody walking real light like they was barefooted. I
said, "Who's data?"
He catch hold of my hand and he has the littlest hand Iever seen, and he way,
"You been mighty sick and I want you to come and go with me to Sherman to
see a doctor."
I say, "I ain't got nobody at Sherman what knows me."
He say, "you'd better come and go with me anyway."
I jest lay there fer a minute and didn't say nothing and purty soon he say,
"Have you got any water?"
I told him the water was on the porch and he got up and went outside and I set
in to calling Ed. He come hurring and I asked him why he didn't lock the door
when he went out and I told him to go see if he could see the little man and
find out hwat he wanted. he went outa nd looked everywhere but he couldn't find
him nor he couldn't even find his tracks.
I always keep a butcher-knife near me but it was between the matress and the
feather bed, and I couldn't get to it. I don't guess it would have done any good
though fer I guess it was jest a spirit.
The funniest thing that ever happened to me was when I was a real young gal.
Master and Miss Julie was going to see one of his sisters that was sick. I went
along to take care of the baby fer Miss Julie. The baby was about a year old. I
had a bag of clothes and the baby to carry. I was riding a pacing mule and it
was plumb gentle. I was riding along behind Master Frank and Miss Julie and I
went to sleep. I let the bag of clothes and never missed it. Purty soon I let
the baby slip out of my lap and I don't know how far I went before I nearly fell
off myself and just think how I felt when I missed that baby! I turned around
and went back and found the baby sitting in the trail sort of crying. He wasn't
hurt a mite as he fell into he grass. I got off the mule and picked him up and
had to look fer a log so I could get back on again.
Jest as I got back on Master Frank rode up. He had msised mea nd come back to
see what was wrong. I told himi that I had lost the bag of clothes and I sho'
kept awake the rest of the way. I wan't going to risk losing that precious baby
again! He was sho' a sweet baby though.
Jest before the War people would come through the Territory stealing negroes and
selling 'em in the states. Us women dasseent git fur from the house. We wouldn't
even go tot the spring if we happened to see a stragne wagon or horsebacker. One
of Master Sam Love's women was stole and sold down in Texas. After freedom she
made her way back to her fambly. Master Frank sent one of my brothers to Sherman
on an errand. We didn't know whether he run off or was stole and sold.
I was glad to be free. What did I do and say? Well, I jest clapped my hands
together and said, "Thank God Almighty, Ise free at last!"
I live on the forty acres that the government give me. I have been blind for
nine years and don't git off my bed much. I live here with my son, Ed. Isom has
been dead for over forty years. I had fifteen children, but only ten of them are