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Bill Nasson

Cape Coloured rural artisan and British collaborator in the Anglo-Boer or South African War of 1899–1902, was born on 12 September 1864 near Carnarvon in the northern Cape Colony He was the only son of Adam Esau and Martha April who lived and worked as itinerant field laborers and house servants on several farms in the interior of the northwestern Cape He received some elementary schooling in English at a Wesleyan mission station outside Prieska This period of education had a significant formative influence that was deepened through his adolescence In the 1870s the Esau family had a lengthy period of service on the farm of a paternalist English speaking farmer with a local reputation for seeing to the needs of laboring families The Esau household developed a distinctly Anglicized cultural sensibility and became differentiated socially from surrounding rural Dutch Afrikaans speaking working class people Growing up in a ...

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Steven J. Niven

blacksmith and politician, was born a slave in Hardin County, Tennessee. It is unknown whether he was still living there in April 1862, during the battle of Shiloh, one of the bloodiest of the Civil War. By 15 September 1863 he was living in Little Rock, Arkansas, more than 250 miles west of his birthplace. On that day, five days after Little Rock fell to the Union army, Gillam enlisted in Company I, Second Regiment, Arkansas Infantry, which was later renamed Company I, Fifty-fourth Regiment, U.S. Colored Infantry. Since he immediately assumed the rank of sergeant, he probably knew how to read and write (noncommissioned officers in the Union army were expected to be able to read orders and file reports). After serving for three years, primarily in Arkansas and Kansas, he left the army in 1866, having reached the rank of first sergeant.

Gillam settled in ...

Article

Frank Afari

Ghanaian agricultural innovator, credited as the first successful planter of cocoa in the Gold Coast (present-day Ghana), was born in Christiansborg (Osu) in 1842 to Ga parents. His father, Mlekuboi, was a farmer from Teshie, and his mother, Ashong-Fio, came from Labadi. Though both parents came from poor backgrounds, and were not literate, they were known to be intelligent people of good moral standing.

Like his father, Quarshie could not read and write. In his youth he trained as a blacksmith at the Basel Missionary Industrial Training Institute at Christiansborg Castle, Osu, where the mission had set up training workshops to promote technical and vocational education in order to meet the growing demand for skilled workmen along the coast. Missionary craftsmen who manned these workshops specialized in training African apprentices in carpentry, masonry, chariot-making, blacksmithing, pottery, shoemaking, hat-making, and bookbinding. In 1854 aged twelve Quarshie was apprenticed to one ...

Article

Walter C. Rucker

inventor, blacksmith, and farmer, was born Anderson Augustus Redding in Juliette, Georgia, to Anderson and Jane Darden Redding, former slaves and sharecroppers. Though his parents had been slaves on the plantation of James P. Redding—the son of a Virginia planter who fought alongside George Washington at Yorktown—the young Redding managed to acquire his own plot of land in Juliette and was relatively wealthy by the time he turned forty-five. He created a lucrative set of operations that included a syrup mill, a blacksmith shop, and a series of distilleries. In addition, Redding grew a combination of sugarcane and corn on a sizable landholding. He could often be seen in a buggy pulled by his white stallion, George, in Juliette in the 1910s and 1920s—a rare sight indeed in the midst of the so-called Black Nadir.

Redding married a total of three times but his first ...

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Bruce D. Bomberger

inventor of agricultural and other machinery, was born on his parents' farm in Ercildoun, Pennsylvania. His father, Samuel Ruth (1850–1937), was born a slave on the plantation of Robert Frederick Ruth in Beauford District, Saint Peter's Parish, South Carolina. Samuel Ruth came north after being swept up by the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Infantry as a thirteen-year-old and subsequently served as a water boy and then as a personal servant to First Sergeant Stephen A. Swails, later an important figure in the South during Reconstruction. In 1865 Samuel traveled north with two army friends from the Fifty-fourth and the same year married Maria “Louisa” Pinn, the sister of one of his friends and the daughter of the Baptist minister, attorney, and war veteran Robert Andrew Pinn The young newlyweds followed other Fifty fourth veterans to settle in the Pennsylvania Quaker area near the town of Chatham Following ...

Article

Greg Freeman

master blacksmith, was born in Wando on South Carolina's Daniel Island, the eldest of six children. Little is known about his parents, whose relationship ended when he was young. His mother, Rose Simmons, unable to solely support her family, relocated to nearby Charleston, where she was employed as a domestic worker. The Simmons children were reared by their maternal grandparents, William and Sarah Simmons. At age eight the future artisan departed for Charleston by ferry, leaving behind his birthplace, an agricultural and fishing community comprised mostly of Afro-Caribbean descendants.

In downtown Charleston Simmons who proudly identified himself as a Geechee Sea Islander resided with his mother Working odd jobs to earn additional family income Simmons also spent a number of summers back on Daniel Island where he performed familiar tasks like farming and fishing Just as his grandparents and great grandparents who were former slaves had profoundly influenced ...