Arthur Mitchell was born in Irontown, Louisiana, on August 24, 1915. During his early childhood, he moved with his family to the French Quarter of New Orleans. There, he and his siblings sat around a coal or wood stove at night, listening to family stories about the descendents of a beautiful young slave girl from East Central Africa sold in 1810 to a French farmer in the New Orleans area.
Later, Mitchell realized that the stories so precious to him needed to be preserved after his death, and he began writing them down in fifteen-minute segments during his work breaks at the Cabildo in New Orleans. His original 150-page, hand-written memoir was lost in 2005 during Hurricane Katrina, when the levee broke just two miles from his house in the lower ninth ward of New Orleans. Fortunately, one copy was preserved by Gayle Nolan, who has edited and prepared the manuscript for publication.