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Robert L. Harris

Douglas, H. Ford (1831–11 November 1865), abolitionist and military officer, was born in Virginia, the son of a white man, William Douglas, and a slave, Mary (surname unknown). His first name was Hezekiah, which he chose to abbreviate. Sometime after his fifteenth birthday, he escaped from slavery and settled in Cleveland, Ohio, where he worked as a barber. Self-educated, he became an active member of the antislavery movement and the Ohio free black community in the 1850s. He served as Cleveland agent for the Voice of the Fugitive, a black newspaper published in Canada that was devoted to the “immediate and unconditional abolition” of slavery.

Douglas became a leader in the black state convention movement of Ohio. He supported William Lloyd Garrison s position that the U S Constitution was a proslavery document that recognized the slave trade approved slavery and provided for the recapture ...

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Robert L. Harris

abolitionist and military officer, was born in Virginia, the son of a white man, William Douglas, and a slave, Mary (surname unknown). The initial in his name stood for Hezekiah. Sometime after his fifteenth birthday, he escaped from slavery and settled in Cleveland, Ohio, where he worked as a barber. Self-educated, he became an active member of the antislavery movement and the Ohio free black community in the 1850s. He served as the Cleveland agent for the Voice of the Fugitive, a black newspaper published in Canada that was devoted to the “immediate and unconditional abolition” of slavery.

Douglas became a leader in the black state convention movement of Ohio. He supported William Lloyd Garrison's position that the U S Constitution was a proslavery document that recognized the slave trade approved slavery and provided for the recapture of fugitive slaves Unlike those abolitionists who sought ...

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Caryn Cossé Bell

businessman, Civil War veteran, and Reconstruction politician, was the son of the influential Creole New Orleanian Joseph Dumas, one of the owners of the Dumas Brothers French Quarter clothiers, a firm that specialized in imported French cloth and luxury apparel. Joseph Dumas invested his share of the firm's profits in real estate and accumulated a considerable fortune in property holdings and slaves. In 1860 African American Louisianans like François and Joseph Dumas constituted the wealthiest population of free blacks in the United States.

Joseph Dumas's import business necessitated that the Dumas family sojourn frequently in France, and it was there that François, was born, raised, and educated. François arrived in New Orleans shortly before the Civil War to manage the family business. He married Marguerite Victoria Victor, and the couple had five children, three girls and two boys. By 1860 he had become one ...

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Lois Kerschen

Clinton Bowen Fisk, the sixth son of Benjamin and Lydia Fisk, was born in Livingston County, New York. His father had been a captain in the army, and his grandfather served as a major general under George Washington. The Fisk family moved to a settlement they called Clinton in Lenawee County, Michigan, while Clinton Bowen was still an infant. Benjamin Fisk died when Clinton was six, however, and Lydia was not able to hold onto the property. At age nine, Clinton Fisk apprenticed himself to a local farmer, but one year later he had to return home because his younger brother died. When Fisk was thirteen, his mother married William Smith, a successful farmer from Spring Arbor, who sent Fisk to Albion Seminary, a Methodist school in Michigan.

Fisk later went into business as a clerk for L. D. Crippen of Coldwater Michigan and married Crippen s ...

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Julie Winch

abolitionist, businessman, and Civil War soldier, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the fifth of nine children of James Forten, a sailmaker and Revolutionary War veteran, and Charlotte Vandine. He was named for the white craftsman who befriended his father and gave him his start in business. Of his siblings, Margaretta Forten, Harriet Forten Purvis, Sarah Forten Purvis, James Forten Jr., and William Forten became active in the antislavery movement. Robert Forten received his early education at a school his parents and other affluent black Philadelphians established because of the failure of the city's board of education to provide adequate schooling for their children. Eventually Robert and his brothers transferred to the Pennsylvania Abolition Society's Clarkson School, although they may also have studied with the private tutors their parents hired to teach their sisters at home.

Growing up Forten developed a wide range ...

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Glenn Allen Knoblock

Civil War soldier and Butler Medal recipient, was born in Surry County, Virginia. Likely a former slave, Gilchrist enlisted for service in the 2nd North Carolina Colored Volunteers Regiment at Hampton, Virginia, on 3 October 1863 for three years Military records list his age as twenty four his height 5 10½ his skin color as brown and his occupation as carpenter One of the regiment s enlistees at its inception composed largely of blacks from North Carolina and Virginia Gilchrist surely showed leadership qualities from the start as he soon rose from the rank of private to sergeant in Company K He was likely promoted because of his aptitude age and size nearly all of the other men in his company were farmers or laborers with an average age of approximately twenty two years and averaged around 5 6 in height Indeed Gilchrist s intelligence demonstrated by his ...

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Teresa A. Booker

slave, Union soldier, state legislator, teacher, and school superintendent, was one of three brothers born in Marshall, Texas, either to Emily and Jack Holland and later purchased by Captain “Bird” Holland, or to Captain “Bird” Holland himself and a slave.

Despite indeterminable origins, Holland's father purchased the freedom of the three men and sent them to Ohio in the 1850s, where each of them went to Albany Enterprise Academy, a school for blacks. In addition to reading and writing, students there were exposed to a range of subjects, including algebra, geometry, geography, history, chemistry, and astronomy. One of the school's first trustees was Thomas Jefferson Ferguson.

At the age of twenty-three, Holland fought on the side of the Union to end slavery by joining the 16th U.S. Colored Troop (USCT) on 22 October 1864 The 16th was a Tennessee contingent which opened ...

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Frank R. Levstik

William H. Holland was born a slave in Marshall, Texas, the son of Captain Byrd “Bird” Holland, who later became secretary of state of Texas. In the late 1850s, while living in Panola County, Bird purchased William and his two brothers, Milton and James, and sent them to Ohio to attend school just prior to the Civil War. William and Milton attended the Albany Enterprise Academy, one of the early educational institutions in the northern United States that was conceived, owned, and operated by blacks.

On October 22, 1864, Holland enlisted in the Sixteenth U.S. Colored Troops. The regiment, organized in Nashville, Tennessee, included enlistees sent from Ohio. During the war, the regiment participated in the battles of Nashville and Overton Hill, the pursuit of Confederate brigadier general John Bell Hood to his defeat at the Tennessee River and garrison duty in Chattanooga as well as ...

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Glenn Allen Knoblock

Civil War soldier and Medal of Honor winner, was born in Princess Anne County, Virginia. Likely a slave before the war, he listed his occupation as that of a farmer upon joining the Union army sometime in mid-1863 at Portsmouth, Virginia. The enlistment of Miles James, Alfred Hilton, Edward Ratcliff, and thousands of other blacks from the South in 1863 signaled a sea change in opinion in the federal government and the upper echelon of the Union army. For both political and racial reasons, Union generals such as George McClellan and William Tecumseh Sherman had vigorously opposed the idea of recruiting black troops; both men vociferously opposed the idea of racial equality and did not believe that African Americans could be effective soldiers. While the use of black troops would not gain full acceptance until mid-1863 with the establishment of the Colored Troop ...

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William H. Brown

Medal of Honor winner, was born a slave in Williamson County, Tennessee. Little is know about his early life. Like so many African Americans, he might have been hired to serve as a laborer, mechanic, or teamster for the massive Union army supply infrastructure operating out of Nashville, Tennessee, during the Civil War. On 28 July 1866 the U.S. Congress authorized the raising of six regiments of “Negro troops” that were broken down into two cavalry and four infantry regiments. The two cavalry regiments were numbered the Ninth and Tenth U.S. Cavalry Regiments. Jordan enlisted in the U.S. Army in Nashville in late 1866 and was assigned to the Ninth Regiment.

It was not uncommon to find a soldier who spent his entire military service with one regiment or company This was the case with Private Jordan He served with the Ninth through the regiment s initial service along the ...

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Glenn Allen Knoblock

Civil War soldier and Medal of Honor recipient, was born in Pennsylvania, the son of the Pennsylvania natives David Kelly, a coal miner, and Nancy. The family resided in South Versailles Township, Allegheny County, McKeesport, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh, in the heart of coal-mining country. A coal miner like his father, Alexander Kelly, at five feet, three inches, was ideally suited for a profession where working in constricted spaces was the norm. However, he took up another profession, that of soldier, and there too he proved more than able to measure up to the tasks required of him.With the Union army in need of increasingly greater numbers of men, President Abraham Lincoln and the War Department came around to the idea of raising black troops. The idea became policy in May 1863 when General Order Number 143 established the Bureau of Colored Troops which oversaw activities ...

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Benjamin R. Justesen

lawyer, federal official, state legislator, and congressional aspirant, was the first of two sons born to a slave mother, Eliza Mabson, and her wealthy white owner, George W. Mabson, in Wilmington, North Carolina. He was educated at an early age in Massachusetts, where he resided until after the end of the Civil War. How George W. Mabson's father arranged to send his oldest son to Massachusetts in the early 1850s is not known, but presumably he either freed the light-skinned youth or smuggled him out of the state. From the age of eight, George reportedly lived with family friends in the Boston area, where he later worked as a waiter after the outbreak of the Civil War. On 15 February 1864 claiming to be eighteen years old George enlisted in the Union army joining the Fifth Massachusetts Colored Cavalry Regiment s Company G the ...

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Thomas Bieluch

in 1822, and little is known about his early life.

In the early 1860s, an enlisted soldier, James E. Hamilton of Farmington, Connecticut, brought Simon Manus from Louisiana to Unionville, Connecticut, where he resided until 1 January 1864. On that date he enlisted in the Connecticut Twenty-ninth regiment, Connecticut’s first African American regiment. The bounties offered to soldiers who joined the regiment were $310 from the State of Connecticut, along with $75 from the county where they enlisted and $300 from the federal government. By 12 March 1864, the regiment numbered 1,006, comprising of both officers and men. A week later, the regiment left for the South, heading toward Annapolis, Maryland. They arrived on 22 March 1864, and received their first muskets on 9 April 1864.

The Twenty-Ninth then travelled to Beaufort, South Carolina, where the regiment conducted picket, drill, and guard duty until 9 ...

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Juanita Patience Moss

slave, Union soldier, and farmer, was born to unknown parents in Chowan County, North Carolina, possibly on the Briols farm, located three miles from Edenton. Crowder was illiterate, and on his military records his surname is spelled Pacien. Some years after the Civil War, when his children entered school, their teachers spelled it Patience. When he applied for a government pension after the war, a member of the Fifth Massachusetts Colored Calvary by the name of Thomas Patience also gave his birthplace as that the Briols farm. Since the name of Patience is relatively uncommon, it is likely that they were brothers. Unfortunately, no records exist to verify the supposition.

When the Union army penetrated the South many slaves fled in search of the freedom promised to them if they could reach the Yankees Crowder Patience was one of these slaves At the age of eighteen he ...

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Timothy J. McMillan

slave, Civil War veteran, author, and itinerant minister, was born in New Bern, North Carolina. His mother was Lettice Nelson, a slave on John Nelson's plantation at Garbacon Creek in eastern North Carolina; his father was a white man believed to be William Singleton. As a young child of four, William was sold by his owner and thus separated from his mother and two brothers for the first time.

Singleton was purchased by a Georgia widow who speculated in slaves buying people cheaply when they were young and selling them at a premium when they had reached adulthood He was given the common tasks of a slave child running errands and carrying goods Around the age of six Singleton decided to escape the constant whippings and his bondage in Georgia and return to New Bern He was able to ride a stagecoach from ...

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Robert Stevenson

(b Grand Gulf, MS, Nov 8, 1842; d Hyde Park, Boston, Feb 26, 1892). American music historian. He was the son of a slave owner, Richard S. Trotter, and a black slave named Leticia. He studied music with William F. Colburn in a school for Negroes in Cincinnati run by the Methodist minister Hiram S. Gilmore, working between terms as a cabin boy on a steamer plying the Cincinnati–New Orleans run. About 1856 he moved to Hamilton, Ohio. Between 1857 and 1861 he attended Albany Manual Labor University near Athens, Ohio, and then taught in Muskingum and Pike Counties, Ohio. After service in the Civil War he worked in the Boston post office (1866–83), and on 3 March 1887 President Cleveland appointed him Recorder of Deeds in Washington this being the highest office in the nation reserved by custom for Negroes ...

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Stephen R. Fox

James Monroe Trotter was born on February 7, 1842, in Grand Gulf, Mississippi, the son of a white man, Richard S. Trotter, and his slave Letitia. When Richard Trotter was married in 1854, Letitia, her son, and two younger daughters from the union were sent to live in the free city of Cincinnati. Here Trotter attended the Gilmore school for freed slaves and worked as a hotel bellboy and as cabin boy on a riverboat. Later he briefly attended academies in Hamilton and Athens, Ohio, but according to his son he was largely self-educated. When the Civil War came, he was a schoolteacher in Pike County, southwestern Ohio.

In 1863 Trotter was recruited by black lawyer and activist John Mercer Langston and traveled to Boston to join the Fifty fifth Massachusetts Regiment a black unit with mostly white officers Trotter rose through the ranks ...

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Eric S. Yellin

soldier, music historian, and government officeholder, was born to a slave woman named Letitia and her white owner, Richard S. Trotter, in Grand Gulf, Mississippi, near Vicksburg. After escape or manumission, Letitia settled with her children in the free city of Cincinnati around 1854. Trotter completed his secondary school education and attended the Albany Manual Labor University, near Hamilton, Ohio, where he majored in art and music. During his school vacations and summers he worked as a cabin boy on shipping boats running on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. After graduating from Albany, Trotter taught school in Chillicothe, Ohio, until June 1863.

In that year Negro regiments were created for the Union army and he enlisted in Company K of the Fifty fifth Regiment of the Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry While in the army Trotter continued to teach holding class sessions for his fellow soldiers ...