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Sylvia M. DeSantis

wife of the famous Seminole war leader Osceola, born in Alabama around 1802, was a Creek woman of Afro-Indian descent, also known as “Morning Dew.” Che-cho-ter may have been the daughter of a former slave and a prominent Creek or Seminole man. She was one of two wives taken by Osceola during the turbulent years in which the United States first occupied the Florida Territory. During those years, the U.S. government was attempting to make the Florida Territory safe for the institution of slavery by evicting the Seminoles from their homeland.

Osceola was the son of an English trader, William Powell and a Muscogee Indian woman of Creek heritage The Seminoles who first became prominent in European records during the late eighteenth century were a nation of Florida Indians who had close ethnic and cultural ties to the Creeks of Georgia and Alabama Historians believe that Osceola first ...

Article

Delia  

John Garst

woman whose murder is described in the ballad “Delia,” also known as “Delia('s) Gone” and “One More Rounder Gone,” was born Delia Green in Savannah, Georgia. Nothing is known about her early life except that in 1900 she lived with her mother at 113 Ann Street. Moses “Cooney” (or “Mose”) Houston (pronounced “HOUSE-tun”) was also born in 1886. In 1900 he lived with his mother at 123 Farm Street, five blocks west of Delia's home. Two blocks southeast of her home was 509 Harrison Street, where Delia worked for Emma West. These addresses are all in Yamacraw, a famed African American neighborhood in Savannah.

By Christmas Eve 1900 Cooney and Delia had been seeing each other for about four months. Around 7 p.m. Cooney went to the West house looking for Delia Emma s husband Willie sent Cooney out to get beer and whiskey and to pick up ...

Article

Michael Berthold

backwoods legend, was born on Sourland Mountain, New Jersey, the daughter of Cuffy Baird, a Revolutionary War fifer who may have seen action at the battles of Trenton (1776) and Princeton (1777), and Dorcas Compton. Although they had different masters, both of Dubois's parents were slaves. Dubois may in part have inherited her own ferocious desire for freedom from her mother, who tried repeatedly but unsuccessfully to buy her own freedom. Dubois was owned by Dominicus (Minna) Dubois, a strict yet accommodating master much more congenial to Silvia than was his wife, who beat Silvia badly. Aside from Dubois's memories of moving as a young girl to the village of Flagtown and as a teenager to Great Bend, Pennsylvania, where her master kept a tavern, little biographical information exists about her childhood.

An imposing physical presence the adult Dubois stood approximately 5 10 ...

Article

Joe  

Glenn Allen Knoblock

survivor of the battle of the Alamo, was a slave about whom little is known. He was living with his master in Harrisburg, Texas, in May 1833 and was sometimes rented out as a laborer. One man that rented him was a young lawyer named William Barret Travis. Having arrived in Texas in 1831, Travis was undoubtedly in need of hired help while establishing his law practice. He purchased Joe on 13 February 1834, while living in San Felipe. The time that Joe was owned by Travis, though short, came during the most legendary time in Texas history.

Joe's specific activities from 1834 to 1836 are unknown that Joe would remain a slave he likely knew well as his master was occupied during his first years in Texas working to gain the return of runaway slaves harbored at the Mexican garrison at Anahuac However Joe s ...

Article

John Garst

an African American criminal whose fame lives in the ballad John Hardy, was hanged on the order of Judge T. L. Henritze in Welch, West Virginia, for the murder in January 1893 of Thomas Drews, also African American, at a camp of the Shawnee Coal Company near Eckman, McDowell County. He was convicted in Welch on 12 October 1893.

According to a 1925 statement by 67-year-old Lee Holley, a lifelong resident of Tazewell, Virginia, who claimed to have known Hardy well, he “was 27 or 8 when he was hung” (Chappell, 25). He may have been the John Hardy who was born in Virginia, was thirteen years old in 1880, and lived then in Glade Springs, Washington County, Virginia, with his parents, Miles and Malinda Hardy (U.S. Census, 1880 According to Holley he was one of a gang of gamblers about a half dozen ...

Article

John Garst

“steel-driving man” and legendary hero, may have been a historic person born a slave in Mississippi, Virginia, or some other Southern state. In ballad and legend he is simply “John Henry,” but “John Henry” is a common combination of given names, so Henry may not have been his surname.

Songs about John Henry were collected as early as 1905. In 1916 the former West Virginia governor W.-A. MacCorkle confused him with John Hardy, an African American gambler and murderer who was hanged in Welch, West Virginia, in 1894 and is the subject of his own ballad. By the mid-1920s the ballad “John Henry” was being recorded commercially by Riley Puckett (1924), Fiddlin' John Carson (1924), and other white “hillbilly” performers, and shortly thereafter recordings by such African American bluesmen as Henry Thomas (1927) and Mississippi John Hurt (1928 began ...

Article

Samuel Langhorne Clemens was born in the town of Florida, Missouri, to John Marshall Clemens and Jane Lampton, both Virginians. Marshall Clemens, a storekeeper and lawyer, cherished ambitions of wealth—a drive that rendered him a distant parent. His wife was an affectionate mother who struggled to instill her Calvinist beliefs in her seven children. In 1839 the Clemens family moved to nearby Hannibal, a town on the Mississippi River, where Samuel spent his boyhood and which later served as model for the fictional Saint Petersburg in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. With the death of John Clemens in 1847, the young Samuel was forced to leave school to help support the family, working first as a printer's apprentice and later as a printer, which would be his craft for ten years.

At twenty one Clemens planned to set out for South America to seek his fortune but ...