Charles Anderson

Charles Anderson lived in enslavement in Kentucky before and during the Civil War.  In this excerpt, he describes becoming a free man, his hesitancy to leave the plantation, the act of voting, and his realization that racial problems continued to exist in our country long after Reconstruction.
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I don’t know when freedom came on. I never did know. We was five or six years breaking up. Master Stone never forced any of us to leave. He give some of them a horse when they left. I cried a year to go back. It was a dear place to me and the memories linger with me every day.

There was no secret society or order of Ku Klux in reach of us as I ever heard.

I voted Republican ticket. We would go to Jackson to vote. There would be a crowd. The last I voted was for Theodore Roosevelt. I voted here in Helena for years. I was on the petit jury for several years here in Helena.

I farmed in your state some (Arkansas). I farmed all my young life. I been in Arkansas sixty years. I come here February 1879 with distant relatives. They come south. When I come to Helena there was but one set of mechanics. I started to work. I learned to paint and hang wallpaper. I’ve worked in nearly every house in Helena.

The present times are gloomy. I tried to prepare for old age. I had a apartment house and lost it. I owned a home and lost it. They foreclosed me out.

The present generation is not doing as well as I have.

Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Charles AndersonUnknown (77 or 78)Irene RobertsonIsaac and Davis Stone
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Helena, ARArkansasNelson County, Kentucky
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Emancipation, Voting, Citizenship, 15th AmendmentFirst Person, Witnessed Extreme Cruelty, Slaver Father