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Glenn Allen Knoblock

Civil War soldier and Medal of Honor winner, was born in Mexico, Oswego County, New York. Unrecorded in the 1850 federal census, the names of Anderson's parents are confirmed to be unknown. However, likely candidates are Samuel and Mary Anderson, the only black or “mulatto” family recorded living in Oswego County in the 1840 (town of Granby) and 1850 (town of West Oswego) censuses. Samuel Anderson was a native of Bermuda, and his wife, Mary, was a New York native. Bruce Anderson does appear in the 1860 census, listed as a fourteen-year-old “mulatto” residing in Johnstown, New York, on the farm of Henry Adams and his daughter Margaret; he was likely a simple laborer. How he came to live with the Adams family is unknown, but Anderson would remain a resident in the area—except during the time of his Civil War service—for the remainder of his life.

While some ...

Article

Kevin Caprice

was born Robert Ball in Green County, Kentucky, the son of William Anderson, a slave who worked a nearby plantation. Robert’s mother’s name is unknown; she was a slave working on the same plantation as her son until she was sold to a Louisiana cane plantation when Robert was six. For the first twenty-one years of his life, Ball was a slave on a flax and hemp plantation. The son of a house servant, the favorite of his master and namesake, Colonel Robert Ball, and a house servant himself, Robert had certain privileges most slaves did not, such as larger and nicer living quarters, and less grueling labor. But throughout his adolescence, Robert never forgot his owners considered him no more than chattel.

While in bondage Robert Anderson was often faced with the cruelties of slavery He had only one article of clothing rarely had enough to eat and was ...

Article

Bill Nasson

farmer, general, and first prime minister of the Union of South Africa, was born on 27 September 1862 near Greytown in the British colony of Natal. His paternal grandfather, Philip Rudolph Boot (or Both), was of German settler descent and had participated in the 1830s Boer Great Trek into the interior. The son of migrant trekkers Louis Botha and Salomina van Rooyen, Louis was the ninth of thirteen children. In 1869, the Botha family left Natal and settled on a farm near Vrede in the Orange Free State, where Louis lived until the age of twenty-two. Earlier, he had been schooled at a local German mission where he received only a very basic education.

Botha’s minimal formal learning proved to be no handicap to the development of his exceptional aptitude for fieldcraft and understanding of the working of the highveld terrain. In 1886 he settled on his ...

Article

Kari J. Winter

slave, sailor, soldier, and farmer, was born Boyrereau Brinch, the seventh of eight children (four boys and four girls) born to Whryn Brinch, the son of Yarrah Brinch, and of Whryn Douden Wrogan, the daughter of Grassee Youghgon. He lived in the city of Deauyah in the kingdom of Bow-woo, which was probably situated in the Niger River basin, in the area that would later become Mali. In 1758 when he was around the age of sixteen Boyrereau was abducted by slave traders transported to Barbados and sold to Captain Isaac Mills of New Haven Connecticut who trained him for British naval service Like thousands of other slaves and freed Africans in the Caribbean Brace as he would come to be called years later after his manumission This may have been an anglicized version of Brinch was forced to labor aboard ship during ...

Article

Rocío del Águila

who died during the War of the Pacific (1879–1883) between Chile and the allied forces of Peru and Bolivia, was born in the town of San José de los Molinos, a district founded in 1876 and located in the southern Peruvian province of Ica. She was of African descent and later worked as a cotton and lima bean farmer. She bore one child.

From colonial times, the Ica region had become well known for its Afro-Peruvian population and the participation of this significant workforce in agriculture, particularly vineyards and cotton fields. As a result of the lack of written sources and biographical materials, a variety of accounts originated regarding her role in the military events that took place in the area of Los Molinos. Most versions derive from oral sources and local traditions, which suggest that Buendía played an important role in the critical battle of Cerrillo.

The ...

Article

Steven J. Niven

paramilitary leader and agrarian activist, was born of unknown parentage, perhaps in Mississippi. He appears in the historical record on two occasions. The first was in the bloody political conflict known as the “campaign of 1875,” when white Democrats used tactics ranging from fraud to intimidation to violence and assassinations to wrest control of state government from the Republican Party.

In early September 1875, Cromwell traveled to the town of Clinton in Hinds County, Mississippi, to address a gathering of at least six hundred black men—some sources claim there were more than a thousand—who had organized into armed, paramilitary political clubs to defend their families, the black community, and the few remaining white Republicans against violent intimidation by white Democrats and their allies. Like other communities in the central part of the Magnolia State, a slight majority of citizens in Clinton were African American. Black Clintonians, notably Charles ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

was the first African American and perhaps the first of any color to become a millionaire in Texas. His life reflects substantial changes in the social and legal implications of skin color from the late eighteenth century to the mid-nineteeth century, distinct from, but closely related to, changes in the institution of slavery.

His father was a “free colored” man named William Goyens Sr. (or Goin), born in 1762, who enlisted in a company of the Tenth North Carolina Regiment May 1781–May 1782 for the Revolutionary War. After discharge from the militia, Goyens Sr. married an unknown woman referred to as “white,” who was the mother of the younger William Goyens. Goyens Sr. then remarried a colored woman named Elizabeth in 1793. Goyens Sr. received an invalid pension for North Carolina militia service in 1835, at the age of seventy-two (Research of Cindy Goins Hoelscher ...

Article

Nancy T. Robinson

laborer and sharecropper and unwitting participant in the infamous Tuskegee syphilis experiment, was born Ernest L. Hendon in Roba, Alabama, to North and Mary Reed Hendon, sharecroppers. The family resided in rural Alabama, where Ernest Hendon spent his childhood working the family farm.

Hendon studied agriculture at the Macon County Training School. When his father died in 1933, Hendon helped his mother raise his nine siblings: Willie Harvey, Mary Lou, Johngiene, Mable, Louie, Girlie, Lydar, Willion, and North. The family was poor, enduring days of laboring under unforgiving weather conditions, tending small plots of land and picking cotton.

Like many others in his community Hendon suffered from mysterious physical ailments that often went undiagnosed and untreated With limited financial or social resources and in the midst of the oppressive and segregated South there was little opportunity for medical attention in sharecropper communities Travel to seek out a ...

Article

Barbara A. Desmarais

Revolutionary War veteran, sailor and farmer, was born in 1764 in Nantucket, Massachusetts. That year Nantucket's census counted the number of blacks for the first time. Heuston was one of only fifty African Americans on the island. Many of the blacks counted were slaves, but there was also a small free black community on Nantucket. It is unclear if Heuston was born free or enslaved.

The location and year of Heuston's birth were reported to a local newspaper by his daughter, Lydia Bowe, upon his death. She also reported that he served on an American fighting ship during the Revolutionary War when he was a boy and that he continued to work as a mariner for the next two decades.

Other information regarding the remainder of Heuston s long life is supported by many documents For instance free black mariners carried American Seaman Protection Documents certifying their ...

Article

Nicole L. Phillip-Dowe

was a free Frenchman of color, born in 1733, probably on the French colony of Martinique, before moving to the smaller island of Grenada, which was then also controlled by the French.

As a member of the free colored population of the region, La Grenade recognized that economic autonomy was the key to attaining social mobility and some measure of political power. To this end, La Grenade was able to significantly increase his economic standing by 1778. He owned a schooner La Louise, the 51-acre Guinard Plantation in the parish of St. Patrick, and a 16-acre lot in the parish of St. George; along with another free colored, Jean Baptiste St. Bernard, he purchased a 99-acre plot at Morne Jaloux in the parish of St. George. The combined cost of the land purchased amounted to 5,901 pounds, 19 shillings (Cox, 1984).

La Grenade was not ...

Article

Louise Roger

a member of the British Honduras Forestry Unit (BHFU) in Scotland during World War II, was born on 18 February 1910 in Punta Gorda Belize then known as British Honduras The sixth of eleven children born to Francisco and Estephana Martinez his birth name was Simon James Peter but he was commonly known as Sam He lived his early years in the village of Barranco ten miles south of Punta Gorda where the language and culture of the Garifuna who were originally from the island of St Vincent and of mixed African and indigenous Caribbean descent was still prevalent His parents worked on banana plantations and Martinez remembered the material poverty of his family and most of the local population It is not clear why or when the family moved to Belize City but Martinez went to a Baptist school there following a curriculum promoting loyalty to the British ...

Article

Vickey Kalambakal

soldier, ranchero, and politician, was born at the Presidio of San Diego, one of the twelve children of María Eustaquia Gutierrez and José María Pico. His father, like many immigrant men, was a soldier at the Presidio or fort, and he died when Andrés was nine. After his death, the Presidio helped support his widow and children. Andrés Pico's maternal and paternal grandparents had arrived in California in 1776 with two hundred immigrants in an expedition led by Lieutenant Colonel Juan Bautista de la Anza. Like most families who journeyed from New Spain (Mexico), they were poor and of mixed race: African, Indian, and possibly Spanish. Census records classified Andrés Pico's grandmother and uncles as “mulatos.”

After working as a customs official and managing his brother's ranch, Pico chose a military career in the 1830s and rose through the ranks, becoming a captain in 1844 ...

Article

Glenn Allen Knoblock

Civil War soldier and Medal of Honor recipient, was born in Stark County, Ohio. His father was a native of Virginia, while his mother was from Pennsylvania. Federal Census records of 1870 classify Robert Pinn as a “Mulatto,” an indicator that one of his parents was probably white, or perhaps that he was fair in complexion. Little is known about Pinn's early life, but he was most likely raised in Massillon, Canton, or the surrounding area in Stark County. The early years of the Civil War found Pinn a resident of Massilon, Ohio, making a living as a farmer. At the age of twenty, on 15 September 1863, Pinn set aside his farming tools and traveled the eighty-odd miles westward to the town of Delaware to enlist in the 127th Ohio Regiment, the state's first regiment of black soldiers raised to fight in the Civil War.

Little prior ...

Article

Jacob Doerfler

Revolutionary War soldier, was born in Norwich, Connecticut, to unknown parents. On 19 August 1753 he was baptized in the Norwich First Congregational Church. Quy was an enslaved African American. Until the Revolutionary War, his master was Daniel Brewster of Norwich.

Libbeus Quy was recruited into General Israel Putnam's Third Regiment, probably between May and April of 1775. He was one of a few African Americans who served in the Patriot cause in the Revolutionary War before 1777. It is not known whether Quy served in place of his master, a common practice in the Revolutionary War. But it is known that Daniel Brewster did not enlist in the military. Quy served under Colonel John Durkee in the Third Company, and in May 1775, the Third Company marched to and camped around Boston, Massachusetts. Quy was stationed in Cambridge, Massachusetts, until December 1775 when the ...

Article

Glenn Allen Knoblock

Civil War soldier and Medal of Honor recipient, was born the son of an African slave named Hannah and a white father in James City County, Virginia, on the farm of Nathaniel Hankins. Two years later, when Alexander Hankins inherited his father's 400-acre farm, he also inherited the slaves that worked it and their families, including the infant Edward. Married before the war to a woman, also a slave, named Grace, Ratcliff continued as a slave until one day in early 1864 when he “laid down his hoe in the field” and walked the distance to Yorktown to join the Union camp there as a contraband (Virginia State Senate Joint Resolution, 484). He joined the 38th U.S. Colored Troop Regiment (USCT) when it was organized in Virginia on 28 January 1864 thereby becoming a free man and hoping that soon his family would also be free ...

Article

Jane Ailes

veteran of the American Revolution and farmer, enlisted at Winchester, Frederick County, Virginia, served for four years in the First Regiment of Light Dragoons of the Continental Army, and was later a resident of Hardy County, Virginia (later Grant County, West Virginia). Nothing is known of John Redman's life prior to his enlistment in probably late 1778. Information about his service in the Continental Army comes from his and his widow's applications for pensions (Revolutionary War Pension Application File, roll number 2013, application number W5691).

It is not easy to estimate the number of black men who served in the Continental forces. Skin color and ethnicity were recorded in very few of the military records that survive, making it difficult to quantify their numbers. Benjamin Arthur Quarles refers to earlier works that estimate there were a total of about 5 000 black soldiers in the Continental ...

Article

Stephanie Gordon

the first black deputy marshal west of the Mississippi, was born in Paris, Texas, although some historians believe he was born near Van Buren, Arkansas. The son of slaves, Reeves spent his early years on a small farm in Grayson County, Texas, owned by George Reeves a former colonel in the Confederate army Very little is known about Reeves s early life and even less is known about his parents Early on he labored in the Texas cotton fields as a water boy where he learned stories and songs about black outlaws He liked them so much according to one source that he worried his mother with his preoccupation with badmen violence and guns Reeves was chosen as companion for Colonel Reeves s son and he served in this capacity until he was a young adult The relationship came to a quick end however when the two argued during ...

Article

Carolyn Warfield

Union soldier, farm worker, and Union Army veterans' leader, was born Moses Fauntleroy, in Clarksville, Montgomery County, Middle Tennessee. He was one of ten children born to Emalina Fauntleroy. As the son of a slave woman, Moses was also born a slave. According to the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Moses asserted that his parents were born in Virginia; however, no name was given for his father.

An elderly Moses Slaughter of Evansville, Indiana, was interviewed for the Indiana Writers' Project, Slave Narratives, conducted by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in 1936–1938. The published interview is accessible in several formats, however, the descriptive source material has incorrect dates of certain events, likely due to an old man's declined health.

As the personal property of Joseph Murdock Fauntleroy, a prominent tobacco planter, the young Moses was separated from his family in 1854 when he ...

Article

Orlando Romero

former slave, soldier, farmer, and sergeant of the Thirty-First United States Regiment, was, according to a statement he gave to a New Haven Register reporter during the Civil War, born a slave in Louden County, Virginia. Somers was sold many times until he was bought by a man who lived in Ralls County, Missouri.

Somers s journey to freedom began when he joined an expedition to Pike s Peak Colorado Twelve men from Ralls County agreed with Somers s owner to take him on as a cook Somers later described his journey We reached Denver City on the 18 of June and went up the mountain We prospected for gold and found 5 cents worth in a pail full of clay We thought we had a good claim and worked But when we had laid the bottom bare we could find no more gold We gave ...

Article

Michael Frank Knight

farmer, soldier, and Medal of Honor recipient, was born free in Carroll County, Louisiana, the son of sharecroppers. His parents' names are unknown. Before his enlistment at the age of nineteen as a private in the army, Stance worked crops like his parents, but as he later noted, farming did not agree with him. As a member of the Ninth U.S. “Buffalo Soldiers” Cavalry Regiment fighting in the Indian Wars in Texas, he became the first African American soldier after the Civil War era to receive the Medal of Honor for bravery and leadership.

Stance learned to read and write during his childhood or teenage years. He may have received some schooling in Freedmen's Aid Society Schools, which opened their doors during the early years of Union occupation of Civil War Louisiana, or perhaps later in Freedmen's Bureau schools during Reconstruction. In 1866 Stance left the ...