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Kelly Boyer Sagert

Edward Covey, about twenty-eight years old in 1834, lived with his wife and infant son, Edward, on a rented farm of 150 acres located about seven miles from Saint Michaels, Maryland. The Covey home was small, unpainted, and hidden nearly a mile from the main road. Before setting up as a small farmer, Covey worked as an overseer, where he may have gained his reputation as a “Negro breaker.” In 1834 he rented the services of Frederick Douglass for an entire year. Douglass, nearly sixteen years old, initially submitted to the regular whippings but he eventually fought back and later recorded that this was when he finally felt like a man.

Douglass's owner, Thomas Auld, leased his slave's services to Covey; through this arrangement, Covey would receive low-cost farm labor and Auld could expect a more submissive slave in return. On 1 January 1834 Douglass traveled the ...

Article

Caroline DeVoe

businessman, landowner, farmer, and lynching victim, was born into slavery in Abbeville, South Carolina, the youngest son of Thomas and Louisa, slaves on the plantation of Ben Crawford in Abbeville, South Carolina. After Emancipation and Ben Crawford's death, his widow Rebecca may have bequeathed land to her former slave, Thomas, Anthony's father. Thomas continued to acquire land, and in 1873 he purchased 181 acres of fertile land from Samuel McGowan, a former Confederate general and South Carolina Supreme Court Justice. Thomas Crawford's “homeplace” was located in an alluvial valley, approximately seven miles west of the town of Abbeville. The rich land was flanked on the east by Little River and on the west by Penny Creek.

While Crawford's brothers worked the family farm Anthony was sent to school walking seven miles to and from school each day Seventeen year old Anthony was ...

Article

Eric Gardner

The oldest child of Harriet Bailey, Downs was born enslaved to Aaron Anthony, the overseer for Colonel Edward Lloyd, a wealthy planter on Maryland's Eastern Shore. Like his younger brother Frederick Douglass, Downs probably saw his mother only intermittently, as Anthony regularly hired her out; Downs was reared by his grandmother Betsey Bailey and the extended kinship network of Bailey's relatives and children. Douglass's autobiographies relate only two stories of Downs's childhood, both of which speak directly to the complexity of a child's life as a slave. When Douglass was brought from his grandmother's cabin to live on Lloyd's plantation, Wye House, in late 1824, Downs tried to comfort the frightened six-year-old with gifts of peaches and pears. Days later, Downs—only eleven years old himself—was savagely beaten by Anthony.

When Anthony died in 1827 his slaves were divided among his heirs Douglass was sent to ...

Article

Melissa Nicole Stuckey

attorney, freedman, father of the eminent historian John Hope Franklin, and Tulsa race riot survivor, was born Buck Colbert Franklin in the Chickasaw Nation, Indian Territory, now part of the state of Oklahoma, the son of David Franklin and Millie Colbert. David Franklin raised cattle, horses, and other livestock for sale. He also farmed. Millie Colbert taught school. The seventh of ten children, B.C. went by his initials as an adult to prevent whites from calling him by his first name. His efforts were only partially successful, as many whites called him Ben, assuming that he was named after Ben Franklin. In reality he was named Buck in honor of his paternal grandfather and Colbert to honor his mother's family name.

Franklin s parents were freedmen a term used to define the black citizens of the Cherokee Chickasaw Choctaw Creek and Seminole Nations known ...

Article

Steven J. Niven

laborer and lynching victim, was born Samuel Wilkes near Macon, Georgia. The names of his parents, who were probably farmers or sharecroppers, have not been recorded, but it is known that his father died when Samuel was a child. Samuel, his mother, his sister, and his brother then moved a few miles south to Marshall, in present-day Crisp County in Georgia, where they earned a reputation for honesty and hard work. Samuel learned to read and write and was considered in the town to be an intelligent young man, but there were few opportunities in Marshall for African Americans other than to work as a laborer picking peanuts or cotton.

Sometime before 1896 when Samuel was nineteen years old his sister married and his mother became seriously ill leaving Sam to be the sole breadwinner in the family since his brother was severely mentally handicapped Wilkes worked for ...

Article

Kenyatta D. Berry

a black Seminole, was born around 1857 or 1858 in Nacimiento de Los Negros, the settlement established in northern Mexico following the emigration of Indian and Black Seminoles from the United States Indian Territory in 1849. In 1849 about two hundred Seminoles and blacks left the reserve without the permission of Indian agents or government officials and headed to Mexico. Nine months later they crossed into the Rio Grande at Eagle Pass. The Mexican government settled the new immigrants into two small military colonies at Muzquiz and Nacimiento de Los Negros. At its peak in 1850 this colony provided a home for more than seven hundred Black Seminole men women and children The tribes of Black Seminoles were a mixture of Seminole Indians and African American slaves fleeing from Florida after the Seminole War This group became famous for their thorough clearing of marauders from their territory ...

Article

Philippe Girard

also known as Anta Majigeen Njaay or Anna Madgigine Jai, was an African-born slave, freedwoman, and planter who spent her adult life in North America and the Caribbean. Kingsley, originally named Anta Majigeen Njaay, came from the present-day country of Senegal on the western coast of Africa. Her exact birth date is unknown. Her ethnic background was Wolof, so she may have come from the Jolof Empire. She may have been exported through Gorée Island, a prominent slave-trading emporium near present-day Dakar, Senegal. After enduring the Middle Passage, she arrived on the Danish ship Sally in Havana, Cuba, in July 1806.

In October 1806 Kingsley was purchased by Zephaniah Kingsley Jr a Bristol born Quaker planter and merchant who had successively lived in England the United States and the Danish West Indies He was supportive of slavery an institution that underpinned his vast wealth but also progressive in ...

Article

Steven J. Niven

slave driver, farmer, and Democratic Party activist was born a slave probably in Washington County Mississippi The names of his parents are not recorded On the eve of the Civil War and only sixteen he was working as a driver of slaves on a Delta plantation a position generally reserved for experienced laborers in their thirties or forties That Lucas achieved such a position at such an early age is suggestive of his willingness to work hard and to both obey and command authority Drivers enjoyed a fair degree of autonomy in their work and occupied a difficult middle position between their fellow slaves and those who owned them but most understood that the needs and desires of their owners came first Though some drivers interceded to protect the slaves from harsh treatment by white overseers or masters a minority abused their position by seeking sexual favors ...

Article

Donald A. Ritchie

a Pentagon employee who became a celebrated witness during Senator Joseph McCarthy's investigation of Communism in the government, was born in Chester, South Carolina. One of six children of Katie and Clemon Crawford, tenant farmers, she began picking cotton at the age of five. While in her teens, she moved with her parents to Salisbury, North Carolina, where she attended but did not graduate from high school. At twenty-one she married Ernest Moss, a worker at a tobacco factory in Durham, North Carolina. They had one son.

Moss moved to Washington, D.C., in 1941, where her husband took a construction job and she ironed at a laundry. In 1943 she became a dessert cook for the Welfare and Recreation Association which assigned her to the Pentagon cafeteria As a condition of employment she joined the Washington Cafeteria Workers union a local chapter of the United Federal ...

Article

Fiona J. L. Handley

slave, freeman, and successful agriculturalist, was either born in Natchitoches, Louisiana, or arrived in the French colony as an enslaved young adult. He may have been born in Africa, as Pacalé is not a Catholic name, while the name Yves would have been given at his baptism. In some records he is called Yves dit Pacalé—Yves known as Pacalé. He was baptized on 2 January 1736 as the son of Jean Baptiste and Marie, black slaves of the white French Derbanne family. Little is known of Pacalé's years as a slave. The period of the mid- to late eighteenth century was one of great change in Louisiana; the state was a French colony that in 1763 became Spanish making Natchitoches s role as a frontier post with Spanish Texas redundant The area s economy transformed from defense and trade to plantation agriculture focusing on the ...

Article

Mark Andrew Huddle

fugitive slave, antislavery agitator, memoirist, and farmer, was born in Caswell County, North Carolina, the son of a white planter, Henry H. Roper, and his mixed-race (African and Indian) house slave, Nancy. Moses Roper's light complexion and striking resemblance to his father proved embarrassing to the family. The animosity of the wife of his father, coupled with the death of Moses's legal owner, probably a man named John Farley, led to Henry Roper's decision to trade mother and son to a nearby plantation when Moses was six years of age. Soon after, he was sold to a “Negro trader” and shipped south. He never saw his mother again. Over the next twelve years he was sold repeatedly in North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.

Moses Roper s light skin had an impact on his value on the slave market Unable to ...

Article

Harold S. Forsythe

farmer and sharecroppers union activist, was born Ned Cobb in rural east-central Alabama. Shaw was one of six children of former slaves Hayes and Liza Culver Shaw. Ned Cobb is best known under the pseudonym Nate Shaw, because of the magnificent oral autobiography Shaw shared with Theodore Rosengarten. The book, All God's Dangers: the Life of Nate Shaw (1974), was perhaps the best single source for the consciousness and politics of the millions of illiterate black women and men who struggled in the decades after Emancipation to create a life in freedom. The fictionalized names of people and places in All God's Dangers are the best guide to this rich story.

Nate Shaw s father Hayes put Nate to work at farming tasks while he was a still a young boy Shaw s mother Liza died when he was nine years old and although he ...

Article

John Saillant

, slave, farm laborer, plaintiff in a civil suit, and freedman, was purchased as an infant in 1754 along with his mother and father, Dinah (b. c. 1735) and Mingo (b. c. 1734), by James Caldwell of Rutland District, Worcester County, Massachusetts. As a freedman, Walker married Elizabeth Harvey in 1786. The date of his death is unknown; an 1812 public record in Barre, Massachusetts (part of Rutland District that was incorporated separately in 1774 and renamed in 1776), refers to Walker as deceased. Prince Walker (c. 1762–1858), another freed slave who lived nearby, may have been Quok Walker's brother.

Sometime in Walker's youth Caldwell promised him his freedom, to be granted when he was in his mid-twenties. However, Caldwell died intestate when Walker was a minor. Caldwell's widow, Isabell inherited at least some ...

Article

Floyd Ogburn

farmer, was born a slave in Southampton County, Virginia. Almost nothing is known of his parents, who were also slaves. Until his nineteenth or twentieth birthday he belonged to a Dr. Seaman, who also owned his mother and father. In August 1841 Walker's master sold him to Natt Blake and General Downs, who kept him and six hundred other slaves in a slave pen in Petersburg, Virginia, pending transportation to cotton farms in the Deep South. After penning the slaves for six weeks amid “echoes and groans,” Blake and Downs marched them aboard the Pellican, which immediately sailed to New Orleans, Walker never seeing or hearing from his parents again (Gaines, 10).

The Pellican a floating carcass on the sea held six hundred slaves like cattle among toxic air and cholera It reached New Orleans six weeks after departing Petersburg losing thirty six of its human ...