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Robert Ross

Griqua leader and hunter in the region that is present-day South Africa, was born around 1770. During the second half of the eighteenth century, his family was one of several families of mixed Khoekhoe and Dutch descent who came to prominence in the dry lands of Namaqualand and along the Gariep River, on the northern frontier of the Cape Colony. Among them were two brothers, known variously as Claas and Piet Bastard or Claas and Piet Barends (sometimes spelled Berends). They first appear in the archival record in the 1760s accompanying Dutch and French expeditions to the Gariep and as overseers on the farms of the Van Reenen family who were then the Cape s most important butchers In time the family grew in wealth prominence and size primarily on the basis of hunting stock farming and trading to the Cape so that it was able to acquire ...

Article

Charles Orson Cook

African “Pygmy” who was put on display at the Bronx Zoo. In 1904, the white missionary Samuel Phillips Verner brought Ota Benga whose freedom he had purchased with a bribe to Belgian Congo officials and seven other Congolese Pygmies to the Saint Louis World s Fair as part of an ethnological exhibit of primitive peoples which included among others the Native American Apache chief Geronimo Verner s agreement with the World s Fair required him to bring several Africans and as much of their village intact as possible He actually brought fewer tribesmen than his contract required and many fewer artifacts but the exhibit was one of the most popular attractions at the fair The Africans were the objects of constant public attention and they also drew the interest of professional and academic ethnologists who measured the physical and mental characteristics of the Pygmies concluding that they were ...

Article

John Howard Smith

fisherman, harbor pilot, and elite member of Charleston, South Carolina's, black population, was executed by the provincial government for purportedly fomenting a slave insurrection at the outset of the American War for Independence. Much of Jeremiah's life is shrouded in mystery. Born to unidentified slave parents, Jeremiah—or “Jerry” as he may also have been known—secured his freedom by some means in the 1750s or 1760s and was married, but the identity of his wife is not known. The marriage apparently produced no children.

Like many other young Low Country slaves and free blacks, Jeremiah became intimately familiar with South Carolina's river transport networks, and by 1760 had established himself as a capable pilot in and around Charleston Harbor He parlayed the time spent on the water into a lucrative fishing business He supplied the port city residents with his daily catches and in time became arguably one ...

Article

Philip D. Morgan

Jeremiah, Thomas (?–18 August 1775), free black pilot and fisherman who was executed for allegedly fomenting a slave uprising was born a slave to unknown parentage Although his birthplace is unknown Jeremiah lived his adult life in Charleston South Carolina By the middle of the eighteenth century he had somehow secured his freedom He married but when and to whom are a mystery There were no known children At least by the early 1750s Jeremiah worked as a harbor pilot In 1755 a newspaper report attributed an accident to the Carelessness of a Negro Pilot Jerry But Jeremiah earned more respect for his skill and courage as a firefighter Indeed in 1768 he capitalized on his good reputation to establish himself as a fisherman offering fresh fish daily to urban residents He became a prosperous member of the Charleston community and perhaps one of the richest free ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

a Congolese pygmy infamously exhibited at New Yorks’ Bronx Zoo, was born into a Twa (pygmy) community living in what is now the Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. He grew up in the domain of Ndombe, a small monarchy ruled by a Luba-speaking clan on the outskirts of the Kuba kingdom. Almost nothing is known of his early life or his family, although he is reputed to have been—like many of his people—an elephant hunter. Samuel Verner, a Presbyterian missionary from North Carolina stationed at the Fwela mission in Ndombe in the late 1890s, agreed to find pygmies to be exhibited at the 1904 Saint Louis World's Fair. Verner visited a town of Baschilele people near Ndombe in March 1904 At a slave market there he found Ota Benga who had been captured by African soldiers in the Force Publique colonial army of Leopold II s ...

Article

Steven J. Niven

elephant hunter, Bronx Zoo exhibit, and tobacco worker, was born in the rain forest near the Kasai River in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. The historical record is mute on the precise name of his tribe, but they were a band of forest-dwelling pygmies—averaging less than fifty-nine inches in height—who had a reciprocal relationship with villagers of the Congolese Luba tribe. Otabenga and his fellow pygmies hunted elephants by playing a long horn known as a molimo to replicate the sound of an elephant bleat. Once they had roused the animal from the forest, they killed it with poisoned spears and traded the elephant hide and flesh to the Luba villagers in exchange for fruits, vegetables, and grains. Very little is known about Otabenga's family life, other than that he was married with two children by the age of twenty.

Around that time while ...