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African-Native American Genealogy Forum

Re: "Red Over Black"...PHYLLIS PETITE

Phyllis Pettit's interview is also found on the African-Native American website at the link below.

In her interview with the WPA, she also described how Cherokees sold slaves, and similar to southern slavery at times families were split and sold for profit as well.

"My husband was George Petite. He tell me his mammy
was sold away from him when he was a little boy. He
looked down a long lane after her just as long as
he could see her, and cried after her. He went down
to the big road and set down by his mammy's barefooted
tracks in the sand, and set there until it got dark,
and then he come on back to the quarters."

She also describes the sale of slaves in her own family as well:

"My mammy and pappy belonged to a part Cherokee
named W.P. Thompson where I was born. He had
kinfolks in the Cherokee Nation, and we all moved
up here to a place off Fourteen Mile Creek close
to where Hulbert now is, way before I was big enough
to remember anything. Then, so I been told, old
master Thompson sell my pappy and mammy and one
of my baby brothers and me back to one of this
neighbors in Texas name of John Harnage."

"Mammy's name was Letitia Thompson and Pappy's
was Riley Thompson. My little brother was named
Johnson Thompson, but I had another brother
sold to Vann and he always call hisself Harry
Vann. His Cherokee master lived on the Arkasnas River
close to Webber's Falls and I never did know him until
we was both grown."

This was the time prior to the Civil War, and the lives of the slaves held uncertainty as much as it did also for slaves in the United States. It is encouraging to know that Phyllis Pettit did at least meet one of her siblings sold away from the family. It is not known whether her husband ever had the privilege of seeing his mother anymore after slavery ended. Clearly, all slave were not told about their freedom immediately, either, as she described the women chopping wood, still enslaved:

"When we first went to Four Mile Creek, I seen
Negro women chopping wood and asked them who they
work for and I found out they didn't know they
was free yet."

Truly the enlaved people whether of American citizens or of Indians, the uncertainty and frail status of their lives makes one reflect. The Freedmen would have many issues pertinent to their status in the Territory for several decades, and unlike ex-slaves in the United States, who were granted citizenship in the US by the 14th Amendment, the Indian Territory Freedmen would not obtain American citizenship until Oklahoma statehood in 1907.

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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