"I was born in Missouri, Lawrence County, about fourteen years before de Civil War, near as I can tell from what my Mistis tel' me. My father was Tom Kimmons. My mother was Liza Kimmons. She was born in North Cal'ina an' come to Missouri when she was a young gal. My father was born fourteen miles from Springfield, Missouri, Lawrence County.
"Shore is heap of diffunce 'tween how we live now an' t'was in dose times. We made our beds by driving logs in the dirt floor an' makin' a kinda scaffold. Den ropes was stretched across 'stid of springs and we filled ticks with grass or straw or corn shucks an' made our beds. Mos' all de slaves everywhere lived in log houses which had two rooms. No'm I jus' don' seem to 'member my grand parents. Oh, I did mos' every kin' of work on de farm. We et possums, rabbits, coon, wild turkey, deer an' bears atter we come to Texas. Our white folks was good to us an' treated us like we was w'ite as dey was. Ef dey had flour, meal, coffee or sugar we had some too. I shore did like huckleberry pie and chicken pie. Guess yo' all don' hab no huckleberries here in Texas; dey shore plentiful back in Missou'i.
"My mother was de head cook on de plantation. We all had de garden togedder an' de slaves got what dey wanted out ob de garden to cook. Dere was a mighty fine big apple orchard on de Missouri plantation. our w'ite folks was fa'amers. Dere were three women slaves, my grandmother, my aunt and my mother.
"Our marster made all de shoes us wore. I could make shoes an' even made de shoe lasses (lasts) what you make de shoes on. My marster had four boys but dey was all killed in de war but one. Marster had four girls. He didn't habe no oberseer; he had two or three little small fa'ams but he seed atter he niggers an' mules heself. Said he didn't want lem drug 'roun' an' all brusied up. Our w'ite folks was considered well-to-do. We didn't git up early jus' 'bout five o'clock in de summer an' 'bout six in de winter. We didn't work 'till dark like mos' niggers did in 'em days. We was whipped mighty little.
"I seen a drove of slaves come out of Missouri one time. Dey was all chained togedder. When dey come to a creek of water dey jus' all had to go 'cross big an' little, keep head up or sink, jus' like hosses. A w'ite man, named Fullbright was bringin' dem south to keep de Yanks from gettin' dem. He was one bad oberseer. He would tie dem slaves togedder or tie dem down hog fashion and beat dem like he was beatin' a dog. Dey come out of Missouri when we did but we was not close by.
"My w'ite folks tried to larn me to read an write. Bill Kimmon, Marster's baby chile tried to larn me, but shaw I couldn't sit in dat house an' study. "Twas my own fault case I nebber larned to read an' write.
"I went with my w'ite folks to church' all de slaves in our family did. I'se been a member fity years an' a deacon, thirty years. I'se a Baptist. Wen I'd git leave to visit offen de
place I'd allus go to see the Smiths, dey was a colored fambly who started out of Missouri when we did but de Jayhawkers turned dem back. Dey would-a cotched us but our wagon broke down so we turned off de main public road an' dey didn't see us 'cause we turned back to fix de wagon. We come in a-hurry; drove two days an' one night jus' as hard as we could tear, jus' stopped long 'nuff fer de mules to eat. Marster lef Missouri to keep de -Yankee soldiers from gettin' his niggers. We had stayed all de Summer 'mongst dem an' dey nebber boddered us, de w'ite folks jus' got talkin' 'round an' got scared. My ole marster wanted to stay in Missouri but de boys an' de ole lady was so hot headed dey jus' mus' run. My ole marster, Bob Kimmons stayed right dere in Missouri. He says: "Ef dese niggers gwine be set free, let 'em be free right here wid me." He stayed on de ole home place an' his son, named Tom Kimmons brung us niggers to anodder son, Bill Kimmons who was already down in Texas. We left a good crop at Dardanell to come to Texas. We come out of Missouri durin' de war. I hauled corn to Fort Smith to General Hines' men. General Hines run 'way from Fo't Smith on a Christmas Day to Little Rock. We stopped at Fo't Smith an' made a crop an' we sta'ted a crop at Dardanell dat was jus' a little way up 'bove Little Rock. Dem Yanks shore was hell.
"Sometimes we'd work on Satu'dday afternoon; sometimes we'd shell corn for mill.
"We come out of Missouri de second' year of de war an' stayed
a month or two in Arkansas den up whipped back home in Missouri. Den ole Mistis lissen' to folkses talk foolishment an' jus' would sen' us to Texas.
"Atter freedom I lived about sixty miles above Gatesville with first one an' den anodder. Mos' of us stayed with a fambly named Norton. I run cattle an' hosses fer wages. I married Emma Norton at Gatesville de next year or a little more atter de war broke out. We had seventeen chillun in all an' seven are alive (1937). 1 had two wives. I come to Waco when de yellow fever was here. I fa'amed for Colonel Norris accross de river in East Waco. Dere was a ferry boat operatin' 'cross de Brazos when I come here fust. All Waco 'cept a few stores in East Waco was mos' in cultiva- tion. Dey raised cotton, corn an' watermellons.
"I know'ed Mister Sul Ross well. He was a big man here den. De railroad fu'st come on de East Side; it was where de old Central Texas R.R. Depot is now. I traded at a little store near dis ole depot. My young marsters day went back to Missouri and two were killed.
"On de trip, de Indians stole de mules an' hosses. Marse Richard Dick Kimmons he.said he wouldn't risk runnin' way from dem Yankees on an old slow ox which was all dey had left. He said dey would git killed shore. Marse Tom an' Marse Yance risked it on foot an' dey got killed.
"Marse Bill Kimmon took my cousin an' aunt down to Logtown on Red River. When dey was set free, dey come to us at Gatesville.
One of Marse Bob Kimmon's my ole marster's daughters come to Waco, Texas when we did. Her husban' Ben Clark, was killed in de war. She died on de Brazos, down on de west side close to where de Industrial Oil Mill is now. Dere used to be a crossing 'crose de Brazos at de foot of de street by where de Industrial Oil Mill is now. She died in a house dat stood right dere.
"I worked hard, save my money an' I got a farm close to Reisel an' a stucco house across the dam on Lake Waco. I got lots of friends, white and black in Waco, East Texas, Reisel and 'round Gatesville. When I goes to any of dem, places some bit w'ite man shore to holler at me "Hello, Dick Kimmons, ain't you dead yet?"
"I don't know nothin' 'bout my grandfolks. No'm I jus' don't know nothin' 'bout no jail houses, before de war nor atterwards. I worked hard an' did what my w'ite folks tole me an' I ain't bothered 'bout no jail. Durin' slavery times we had purty good times. Dere was suppers an' all-night dances when some niggers got married. We had what dey all had when we married. I had a dark homespun suit, good 'nuff, an' my wife wore white. De fust wife had her a veil what de w'ite folks fixed her; an' we had a big supper an' de w'ite folks had a good time. Dere was shore a good fiddler on de Smith plantation an' held play fer de w'ite an' niggers. De secon' wife I don't member 'bout
her dress, jes' a new dress.
"When we was chilluns, we jes' play 'bout de place, go swimmin' w'ite an' black chillun, an' fish an' odder things like chillun on de fa'am now-a-days. I likes "Roll Jordan Roll" and "Swing Low Sweet Chariot". Dem good ole songs.