Bruner, Richard Nelson, Missouri Saline County Western Historical Manuscripts Collection University of Missouri Columbia, Missouri[Reported by] Mrs. Eli Daniel
The subject of this sketch is one of the oldest negroes in Saline County. He claims to be ninety-seven years old and lives in the little town of Nelson.
His humble dwelling, a gray and weathered frame building of about four rooms and two porches, sets in a square of yard thick with blue grass, old fashioned flowers like holly hocks, flowering pinks and marigolds making bright spots of color. Heavily laden fruit trees; apples, peaches, plums and pears shade every part of the plot. A splendid walnut tree, towers over the smaller fruit trees, the house and the porch while at the side of the house a garden spot contains a fine variety of vegetables.
As I approached, the old man was seated on a cot on the little porch. The wall back of him was hung with all kinds of tools, a saw a hammer, bits of wire, a piece of rope part of a bridle and a wing, apparently from a big gray goose. His long curling, gray hair neatly parted and brushed and he wears a mustach and short beard or chin whiskers, an unusual thing among negroes in this part of the country. His skin is a light brown color and his eyes bright with his second eyesight which enables him to look on the world without glasses.
Back of the house and dowr. the hill, is a well equipped slaughter house, where for many years this old man has taken care of the butchering of the meat for his white friends and neighbors. He is too old now to
take charge of this work, but the house and equipment is still in good repair.
This aged negro has been for many years a highly respected preacher of the gospel. His own account of his life and adventure follows:
"Yas'm I remembers befo de wah, I remember bein a water-boy to de field hands befor I wer big enough to wuk in the fields. I hoed tobaccer when I wus about so high", (measuring with his hands about three and one half feet from the floor.)
"Yas'm dey threshed me once, made me hug a tree and whup me, I had a tarrible temper, I'm part Choctaw Indian. We went to de white folks church on Sundays, when we went to camp meeting we all went to de mourners bench together. De mourners bench stretch clear across de of de Arbor; de whites and de blacks we'all jest fell down at de mourners bench and got religion at de same place. Ole Marsa let us jine whichever church we wanted, either de Methodist or Baptist."
"No, I never went to no school, de Colonel's daughter larnt me to write my name, that was after de wah".
"No'm dey didnt care ef we had dances and frolics. We had de dances down at de quarters and de white folks ud come down and look on. Whenever us niggas on one plantation got obstreporous, white folks hawns dey blowed. When de neighbors heard dat hawn hyar dey come to hep make dat obstreporous nigga behav. Dey blowed de hawn to call de neighbors ef enybody died or wer sick too".
In response to the question as to where he joined the Federal Army?
"Well you see I wus a runaway nigga; I runaway when I wus about grown
and went to Kansas. When de wah broke out I jined de 18th United States Colored Infantry, under Capt'n Lucas. I fit three years in de army. My ole Marsals two boys jist older than me fit for de south. Dey wus mighty good boys, I liked dem fine."