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Article

Roland Barksdale-Hall

inventor, was born in Jefferson County, Alabama, the son of Milton Beard and Creasey Tatum, both former slaves on the Beard family plantation. He adopted the name of his former master at age fifteen after he was liberated by Union forces. A year later, he married Edie Beard, about whom nothing else is known. The couple raised three children: John, Jack, and Andrew Jr.; the latter died following graduation from high school. Like most former slaves, however, Beard was illiterate and remained so throughout his life.

After the Civil War, Beard worked as a sharecropper on his former master's farm until he was about eighteen years old and then moved to St. Clair County, Alabama. In 1872 he made a three week journey from Birmingham to Montgomery on an oxcart that carried fifty bushels of apples which he sold for approximately two hundred dollars He eventually ...

Article

Geraldine Rhoades Beckford

physician, businessman, and writer, was born in Madison County, Kentucky, the youngest of fifteen children of Eliza and Edwin, who were slaves. Burton and his mother remained on the plantation after Emancipation as paid laborers, and he continued working at the “old homestead” after her death in 1869 until he was sixteen, at which time he left following an altercation with the owner.

In 1880 Burton was “converted to God” and subsequently experienced an insatiable desire for learning. Despite discouraging comments from those who thought that twenty was too old to start school, Burton was not dissuaded and determined that nothing was going to prevent him from getting an education except sickness or death. Burton worked for one more year as a farmhand in Richmond, Kentucky. One January morning in 1881 he put a few items in a carpetbag and nine dollars and seventy five cents in his ...

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Rochell Isaac

pastor, educator, and entrepreneur, was born a slave in Christian Country, Kentucky. Clark never knew his biological father. While Clark was still a baby, his father escaped from slavery. His mother, Mary Clark, subsequently married Jerry Clark, who would join the Union army in 1860. Charles Henry Clark remained a slave for a total of nine years, and it was at the age of seven that the overseer's wife took him as her servant. She taught Clark to spell and initiated his path to literacy, but the outbreak of the Civil War would separate Clark from his teacher. During this period, Clark's mother moved from Kentucky to New Providence, Tennessee, to await her husband, Jerry Clark, who was returning from the army. Mary Clark had difficulty financially supporting her family, since her only income at this time came from her eldest son, George W. Clark As ...

Article

Tom J. Ward

physician and businessman, was born in New Roads, Louisiana, the second of the seven children of George Frederick and Armantine (maiden name unknown) of Point Coupeé Parish, Louisiana. Frederick received his early education at the plantation school run by the wife of Louis F. Drouillard, the landlord for whom his parents were sharecroppers. In 1890 Frederick left Point Coupeé for New Orleans, where he enrolled at Straight University. He graduated in 1894, then enrolled at the New Orleans Medical College. Because he would not have been able to study in any of the city's hospitals because of his race, Frederick did not complete his medical education in New Orleans; instead, he left for Chicago in 1896 and enrolled at the College of Physicians and Surgeons In Chicago he had the benefit of clinical training at Cook County Hospital Frederick received his MD from the College of ...

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Pamela C. Edwards

inventor and entrepreneur, blazed a path for black female inventors, yet little is known of her early life. Neither her parents' names nor her exact date or place of birth are known one biographer indicates that she was born in the 1850s and grew up in slavery. After the Civil War ended and former slaves in the South were emancipated, Goode, like thousands of African Americans, made her way north, taking up residence in Chicago by the early 1880s. In Chicago, she owned and operated a furniture store, and her entrepreneurial endeavors led to her become the first African American woman to receive a patent from the United States Patent Office. On 14 July 1885 Goode received her patent for a Folding Cabinet Bed comparable to modern sofa or hideaway beds The first of five black women to patent new inventions in the nineteenth century she was a ...

Article

Blake Wintory

physician, drug store owner, and investor, was born Napoleon Bonaparte Houser near Gastonia, in Gaston County, North Carolina, the son of William H. Houser, a brick mason and contractor, and Fannie Houser, a housekeeper. The elder Houser's $600 in real estate and $200 in personal property, according to the 1870 U.S. census, made him one of the wealthiest black businessmen in the Charlotte, North Carolina, area. The young Houser attended Charlotte public schools and worked as a farmhand on his father's farm from the age of nine until fourteen. At fourteen he began to work at his father's brick factory, and at age sixteen became his father's personal secretary.

In 1881 Houser entered the Presbyterian-affiliated Biddle University in Charlotte, and in 1887 attended the Leonard Medical School at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina. After finishing medical school in 1891 he received his medical ...

Article

John Ernest

author, businessman, and nurse, was born into slavery near Charlottesville, Virginia, the son of a white man and a black woman, possibly John and Susan Hughes. When he was about six years old, Hughes was sold with his mother and two brothers to Dr. Louis a physician in Scottsville Virginia When Dr Louis died young Hughes was sold with his mother and brother to Washington Fitzpatrick also of Scottsville who soon sent him then about eleven years old to Richmond on the pretense of hiring him out to work on a canal boat Parting with his mother at such a young age was difficult even more difficult was his realization that he would never see his mother again For Hughes this experience became the central symbol of the fundamental inhumanity of the system of slavery a symbol to which he returns at key points in ...

Article

Jeri Chase Ferris

slave, nurse, landowner, and philanthropist, was born a slave in Hancock County, Georgia, of unknown parents. Though her slave name was Bridget, she was almost always called Biddy, and not until she achieved her freedom in Los Angeles, California, in 1865 did she take the surname Mason. It is not definitively known why she chose “Mason,” although Amasa Mason Lyman was the company captain on Biddy Mason's journey from Mississippi to Salt Lake City, and later to San Bernardino. Biddy was an infant when she was given or sold to the John Smithson family of Mississippi, to whom she belonged until she was eighteen. Smithson then gave her, along with two other slaves, as a wedding present to his cousin Rebecca when she married Robert M. Smith Biddy Mason s new duties included nursing care of the frail Rebecca Smith and the making ...

Article

Edward C. Halperin

physician, was born in Rosindale, Columbus County (later Bladen County), North Carolina, the son of Israel Moore, a free black farmer, and Eliza (maiden name unknown). Moore's family was of African American, Native American, and European descent and had owned land and farmed in the Columbus County area since the early nineteenth century. He worked on the family farm and attended the local public elementary schools available to African Americans between the harvesting and planting seasons. After completing the eighth grade he attended the Whitin Normal School in Lumberton, North Carolina, and then the normal school in Fayetteville, North Carolina. His schooling was interspersed with periods when he worked on his father's farm and taught in the county school.

In 1885 Moore enrolled in Shaw University, an African American institution located in Raleigh, North Carolina. He entered the university's Leonard Medical School, which had opened in 1882 ...

Article

Benjamin R. Justesen

physician, businessman, and political activist, was born near Rich Square, Northampton County, North Carolina, the son of free black parents who were Quakers. His father, Jonas Elias Pope, freed from slavery in 1851, was a prosperous carpenter and landowner; his mother's name was Permelia. A younger half-brother, Jonas Elias Pope II, born to his father's second wife in 1898, was his only known sibling.

A gifted student, Pope was educated first in the common schools of Northampton County, before enrolling in 1874 at the Baptist-affiliated Shaw University in Raleigh, where he received his bachelor's degree in 1879. In 1880 he worked as a schoolteacher in Halifax County, near his birthplace, and boarded at the Brinkleyville home of Hilliard J. Hewlin, a farmer and aspiring Republican legislator. In 1882 Pope entered the first class at Shaw University s new Leonard Medical ...

Article

E. C. Foster

physician, attorney, and political leader, was born in Holmes County, Mississippi, near the town of Ebenezer, the son of Charles Redmond, a former slave and blacksmith, and Esther Redmond, a former slave. In 1871 large numbers of blacks were elected to state and local government positions. Less than two years earlier a new state constitution had been put into effect that promised to make democracy a reality for both black and white Mississippians. Moreover, the abolition of slavery in the United States had occurred six years before Redmond's birth. After leaving the farm near Ebenezer along with the rest of his family, Redmond settled in Holly Springs, Mississippi, where he later attended Rust College. Upon graduation from Rust College in 1894 he entered the field of education and served both as a principal at Mississippi State Normal School in Holly Springs and as a ...

Article

Jane Robinson

Jamaicannurse, hotelier, entrepreneur, writer, and heroine of the Crimean War. She was born Mary Grant, but no official records of her birth or parentage exist; in her autobiography, Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands (1857), she stated her father to be a soldier of Scottish descent (possibly James Grant of the 60th Regiment of Foot) and her Creole mother to be the keeper of a Kingston hotel, Blundell Hall, and a well‐respected ‘doctress’, skilled in the traditional African use of herbal remedies. Her mother's guests and patients included British army officers garrisoned in Kingston, and Grant enjoyed a close relationship with the Army all her life. She had one sister, Louisa Grant (c.1815–1905), and a half‐brother, Edward Ambleton, who died during the 1850s.

Grant was educated by an elderly woman described in the autobiography as my kind ...

Article

Linda T. Wynn

a physician, minister, educator, university president, and business executive who had a distinguished career of service in many areas during his lifetime. Townsend was born in Winchester, Tennessee, to the Reverend Doc Anderson and Emma A. (Singleton) Townsend, both of whom were educators. The elder Townsend was not only a minister but also a principal and director of the Franklin County Negro Elementary Schools. Townsend's mother was a schoolteacher in Shelbyville, Tennessee. Townsend was reared in Winchester and received his formal education there; in 1891, however, he moved to Nashville, Tennessee, and enrolled at Roger Williams University. During his student days in Nashville, Townsend became active in church affairs: he served as organist in several Nashville churches, conducted Sunday school classes, and organized missions to hospitals and jails. Later, he joined the Spruce Street Baptist Church, where he met his future wife, Willa ...

Article

Melissa Nicole Stuckey

pharmacist, bank owner, and mayor of an African American community, was born David Johnson Turner, the fifth of twelve children, to Moses and Lucy (Lulu) Turner in Cass County, Texas. During his teen years, the Turners joined the steady stream of African Americans who left Texas and other Southern states for the Oklahoma and Indian Territories. Many black migrants were attracted to Indian Territory, which was divided up among the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole Indians, known as the Five Civilized Tribes. Moses and Lulu Turner rented a farm in the Seminole Nation, Indian Territory, where David Turner and his younger siblings came of age.

In 1895, Turner wed Minnie also a child of Texas migrants and the young couple began raising their own family on a rented farm near Turner s parents Within a few years however Turner moved his family to ...