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Steve Douglas 






Steve Douglas , early day Texas trail driver and frontiersman, was born a slave on an Arkansas plantation near Little Rock in the year 1862. When the slaves were freed he came with his father, William Douglas , and family and some pioneer white settlers, to Parker County, Texas. They located seven miles east of Weatherford. Here his father was murdered by the Indians. Soon after this tragedy, the fourteen year old Steve ran away from home and never saw his family again. For the last twenty years Douglas has been a resident of Abilene, performing janitor services for the Central State Bank. Here he has won the highest respect among his white friends.

Uncle Steve is a familiar figure, sitting on the veranda of his big two story house, 325 Willow Street, which is located on the "hill". I was bo'n on a plantation near Little Rock, Arkansas, soon after the big war was on. I wasn't much size when freedom came. Not so long after, my folks strike out for Texas. 'Cou'se all I know 'bout them times was just what I heard my mother and father talkin' about later on in my life. Now 'bout slavery; I wasn't big enough to see much what happened but I 'members hearin' my parents tell 'bout a widow woman back in Arkansas what owned a big plantation and had so many slaves and after her old man die, she bought some bloodhounds to chase her run-a-ways. She got 'em when they was pups and her boy, what was about nine year old, and a little nigger boy 'bout same size, it was they job to train 'em and make mean dogs. The white boy, he hold the pups and the black boy he take a run, way 'round and through the woods. After so long, the white boy he let go the pups and off they go with they nose to the ground on his trail, you know. Pretty soon the black boy turn up and twant long 'fore the pups run right on his trail. Then you know what the old woman made that little nigger do? well, those pups had to be train right she was makin' nigger chasers out of 'em. Yes sir, they had to have blood and that little black boy was held and the pups tasted his blood right off his legs. Its terrible to believe but thats right just like I tell it to you. She had to guard those dogs her own self fed 'em, no human ever touch 'em but her and her little boy. The niggers would kill 'em (the dogs) iffen they could. Then the first thing that stan' out in my min', and I never forget, is the Red Skin. It was this way we came to the Weatherford Country just when the Indian seem lak he was his worse. I 'members how we built the log cabins cut the oaks, hawl 'em up, make the house with a dirt floor, no windows, just a big door what we barred at night (take us 'bout a week) built a rail corral for our stock and not long 'fore it seem lak home. Then one day a whole lot of Red Skins seem lak 'bout a hundred to me they come yellin' and ridin' hard. We was all in the yard, three men, my father and two white men and some women, us chillun playin' pretty close by the corral. Bless your lifel We ran hard as we could to the cabin and the grown folks just stan' there. Never turn they han' nor open they mouth. Those red devils drove our hosses, eight or nine head right off 'fore our eyes. I was lookin' out a big crack in the wall between the logs. 'fore many day, they back again and this time they steal three white chillun down close to Spring Creek. My father and four white men went on a search for them. It was down on Rush Creek, fifteen miles west of Weatherford, where they overtaken 'em. The Indians put a arrow through my father and killed two other white men. But anyway they rescue the chillun and brought the bodies of the men home. Now that was sumpin' bad. We buried my father and the other two men. Seem lak I couldn't stay there after that, so soon as I come fourteen, I ran away. Not long after I turn up at Joe Loving's place in Lost Valley. I ride hosses, run cattle and help at 'most any job they puts me to. Two times I went up the trail. In '76 we lef' in latter part of February. We fought the Indians nearly ever bit the way, seem lak. Soldiers went part of the way with us, it was like this a bunch of soldiers from a fort would fall in along the side of us then they take us within a days ride of another fort, they turn back and we make it to the fort, there another bunch of soldiers fall in and on we go lak that 'til we come nearly to Abilene (Kansas). By that time our herd, what we started with so poor they can scasley walk, now so fat they can scasley walk. I didn't min' the cold of the weather come night catch me a fresh hoss, change my saddle on him place him close where I know I gonna need him 'fore come day. Fall into my tarpaulin with my clothes on (haven't change since left the ranch and don't, more'n likely, 'til I get back again), roll up, come rain, blue norther, don't care, sleep right on long as they let me. Call out in the night "Hey, Steve ! Get on a move Indians! Cattle on stampede!" Swing my hoss, never put bridle on him 'til I got better time, just use a hackamore, and off we go, tryin' to get 'em rounded up.

Ho! cattle ho! sing all night tryin to quiet 'em. Ho! cattle ho! den I ride in a circle, win' up in the middle and a big bunch of longhorns all 'round. Believe I don't know where I am I lost I hunt the boys, they huntin' me and we all lost, maybe so but bye'n bye get together again and move on up the trail. Then it come July and August and 'bout 'long that time we lan' in Abilene (Kansas) sell our herd and then, back to Texas. Great days! Lawd Amighty! We never see 'em again Then I follow that job, me and four other culled boys, with Loving's bunch, 'til those days are no more then I settle down back among my white friends in Cisco, Texas and marry my first time work for a Doctor name F.M. Oldam there, for years, janitored at his building. He was a real white man, and I say I don't put all white folks in one sack, but God made lots of good white men, same as the nigger. He made lots of good niggers but you can't put all of them in one sack! But lissen, the white folks has always treated me right, I have no complaint and my best friends today are the whites. So back to slavery days, I believe the white man was yo' friend you let him be. I'm this way, I lived my life the bes' I know how, got lots to think 'bout now and I'm old to old to work I know. Gonna get a little pension (Old Age) money got a paper here in my vest now, done tol' me so and that will help and I'm very oblige to my Uncle Sam's Gove'nment.


This article forms part of our Slave Trade series.


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