Ancestor Narratives: Sarah Allen, El Paso Texas

SARAH ALLEN was born a slave of John and Sally Goodren, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Before the Civil War, her owners came to Texas, locating near a small town then called Freedom. She lives at 3322 Frutas St., El Paso, Texas.

“I was birthed in time of bondage. You know, some people are ashamed to tell it, but I thank God I was ‘llowed to see them times as well as now. It’s a pretty hard story, how cruel some of the marsters was, but I had the luck to be with good white people. But some I knew were put on the block and sold. I ‘member when they’d come to John Goodren’s place to buy, but he not sell any. They’d have certain days when they’d sell off the block and they took chillen ‘way from mothers, screamin’ for dere chillen.

“I was birthed in ole Virginia in de Blue Ridge Mountains. When de white people come to Texas, de cullud people come with them. Dat’s been a long time.

“My maw was named Charlotte, my paw Parks Adams. He’s a white man. I guess I’m about eighty some years ole.

“You know, in slavery times when dey had bad marsters dey’d run away, but we didn’ want to. My missus would see her people had something good to eat every Sunday mornin’. You had to mind your missus and marster and you be treated well. I think I was about twelve when dey freed us and we stayed with marster ’bout a year, then went to John Ecols’ place and rented some lan’. We made two bales of cotton and it was the first money we ever saw.

“Back when we lived with Marster Goodren we had big candy[Pg 13] pullin’s. Invite everybody and play. We had good times. De worst thing, we didn’ never have no schoolin’ till after I married. Den I went to school two weeks. My husban’ was teacher. He never was a slave. His father bought freedom through a blacksmith shop, some way.

“I had a nice weddin’. My dress was white and trimmed with blue ribbon. My second day dress was white with red dots. I had a beautiful veil and a wreath and ’bout two, three waiters for table dat day.

“My mother was nearly white. Brighter than me. We lef’ my father in Virginia. I was jus’ as white as de chillen I played with. I used to be plum bright, but here lately I’m gettin’ awful dark.

“My husban’ was of a mixture, like you call bright ginger-cake color. I don’ know where he got his learnin’. I feel so bad since he’s gone to Glory.

“Now I’m ole, de Lord has taken care of me. He put that spirit in people to look after ole folks and now my chillen look after me. I’ve two sons, one name James Allen, one R.M. Both live in El Paso.

“After we go to sleep, de people will know these things, ’cause if freedom hadn’ come, it would have been so miserable.[Pg 14]

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