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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

teacher and nurse during the Civil War, was born on the Isle of Wight, one of the Sea Islands off the coast of Georgia, the eldest of nine children of slaves Hagar Ann Reed and Raymond Baker. When Susie was seven years of age, she and one of her brothers were allowed by their master to live in Savannah with their grandmother, Dolly Reed, a free person of color. Determined to see her grandchildren learn to read and write even though state law at the time prohibited the education of blacks, Reed found a way around the legislation; she sent the children to a secret school run by a friend. After two years, Susie attended another secret school followed by private tutoring also illegal By the time she was 12 Susie was one of probably only a few slaves in Georgia who had command of written ...

Article

Born a Georgia slave, Susie Baker King Taylor was quite young when an arrangement was made sending her to live with her grandmother in Savannah. She learned to read and write from two white children, even though doing so was illegal prior to the American Civil War. When war broke out Taylor moved with her uncle's family to the Sea Islands of South Carolina. The Union Army, fighting for these islands, pressed her into service as a teacher of freed slave children and adults. Soon after, the men in her family joined the Union's First South Carolina Infantry, and she traveled with them as a nurse and laundress. In 1862 she married one of the regiment's sergeants, Edward King. In her memoir, A Black Woman's Civil War Memoirs she recounted the events of her life in camp with the regiment She is the only black woman known ...

Article

Patricia W. Romero

Taylor is the only black woman to write of her participation in the Civil War, and it is for these experiences that she is remembered. A cursory reading of her memoir, however, reveals something as unique as Taylor’s reminiscences. Through oral tradition, Taylor traces her maternal line back to a great-great-grandmother who, she believed, lived to be 120 years old. According to family tradition, five of this woman’s sons served in the American Revolution, establishing the precedent for patriotism that Taylor would later follow. This female ancestor also must have been among the first African slaves brought to the colony of Georgia, which was founded in 1732. A daughter of this ancestor, Taylor’s great-grandmother, was said to have given birth to twenty-five children, only one of whom was a son. One of her many daughters was Taylor’s grandmother; born in 1820 she was responsible in part for Taylor ...

Article

Joycelyn K. Moody

Susie Reed was born a slave on the Isle of Wight, off the coast of Georgia, in 1848. As a child, she was educated surreptitiously by white schoolchildren and slave neighbors. Once literate, she endorsed counterfeit passes for other slaves, early demonstrating both a defiance against bondage and injustice and a commitment to African American education. During the Civil War, she attained freedom when an uncle took her with his family to St. Catherine Island, South Carolina, then under Union army administration. At age fourteen, she taught island children by day and conducted night classes for numerous adults. Later in 1862, she joined a troop of African American soldiers, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel C. T. Trowbridge, and served them as nurse, laundress, teacher, and cook. After the war, she and her first husband, Sergeant Edward King returned to Savannah where King died leaving her to ...