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Eric Gardner

politician and activist, was born into slavery in North Carolina. Both he and his mother, Susan, were owned by the wealthy Thomas Burke Burton, who moved to Fort Bend County, Texas, from Halifax County, North Carolina, in the 1850s. Most accounts claim that the slaveholder favored Burton, taught him to read and write, and, after the Civil War, sold land to him; some accounts claim that Burton supported his former owner's wife when she was widowed during Reconstruction.

On 28 September 1868 Burton married Abba Jones (sometimes listed as Abby and sometimes as Hattie). The couple had three children, Horace J., Hattie M., and an unnamed child who died in infancy. Susan Burton lived with the young family until her death c. 1890.

Propertied, literate, and articulate, Burton quickly became active in the local Republican Party, the local Union League, and larger Reconstruction efforts. In 1869 ...

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Laura Murphy

author, bishop, and educator, was born a slave in Wilkes County, Georgia, to parents whose names are unknown. He was owned by a man named Robert Toombs. The seventh of fourteen children, Gaines was a sickly child, but during his bouts of illness he secretly taught himself to read and studied diligently.

Gaines became a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church of the South in 1849 following in his father s footsteps After the Civil War he became a preacher in the church but his tenure there was short lived as he and numerous other black Americans left the branch of the Methodist Church that had condoned slavery His brother convinced him to move to the African Methodist Episcopal AME Church where he was quickly ordained as an elder In the 1880s Gaines became the second pastor of the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in ...