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Charles Rosenberg

landowner, businessman, and state legislator, was born enslaved in Dallas County Alabama, to parents named Sarah and Pete, who had been born in South Carolina. David, like his parents, was the property of a family named Abner. There is some dispute as to his birth date—some giving 1826 and others 1838—but the most reliable date appears to be December 1820, as suggested by a letter from his youngest daughter. It is not known when David took the Abner surname for himself, a common but by no means universal practice for formerly enslaved persons. He was sent to Texas in 1843, driving a covered wagon for the newly married daughter (Thelma) of the man who held title to him.

Her father considered his new son in law unreliable and entrusted David to get his daughter safely to her new home and manage ...

Article

Kecia Brown

college president, minister, journalist, and agriculturalist, was born a slave in Portland, Arkansas, to Albert Clark Book and Mary Punsard. Booker was orphaned at three years of age; his mother died when he was one year old and his father was whipped to death two years later, having been found guilty of teaching others how to read. At the end of the Civil War Booker's grandmother sent him to a school established to educate freed slaves.

Booker excelled in school By the time he was seventeen he had earned the right to open his own subscription school subscription schools were established during a time before the wide availability of public schools Parents paid a monthly fee for their children to attend these institutions Booker saved his money from teaching in order to attend college He attended Branch Normal School later the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff in Pine ...

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Edward J. Robinson

evangelist, farmer, educator, postmaster, justice of the peace, and “race man,” was born Samuel in Prince William County, Virginia. Even though an oral tradition among Cassius's descendants insists that Robert E. Lee was his biological father, circumstantial evidence suggests that James W. F. Macrae, a white physician and politician and relative of Robert E. Lee, was probably his father and Jane, an enslaved African, was his mother (Robinson). After emancipation Cassius probably added the names “Robert” to commemorate Robert E. Lee's kindness of purchasing him and his mother to prevent them from being sold to the Deep South and he may have attached Cassius to honor the ancient Roman general as many slaves adopted names of famous people from classical antiquity Robinson Little is known about Samuel s mother a slave who served in the Macrae household While working for the Macrae family as a house servant ...

Article

Kate Clifford Larson

preacher, farmer, and Underground Railroad agent, was born into slavery on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Although details of his early life and parents are unknown, he probably spent his childhood and young adulthood laboring for white masters in Caroline and Dorchester counties, eventually settling near the town of East New Market with his owner, Henry Nichols. Of mixed race background, possibly American Indian and African descent, Green was eventually manumitted in 1832 by a provision in Nichols's will that required Green be sold for a term of five years and then set free. Green, however, purchased his own freedom within the year.

Green married an enslaved woman named Catherine, also known as Kitty and they had two children who survived to adulthood Though Kitty and their children were owned by a different man it appears that they were allowed to live with Green in ...

Article

farmer, miller, the first elected public official of African American descent in the state of Virginia, and the first and only African American representative to the House of Delegates for Lancaster County. Nickens was born in Lancaster County, Virginia, the youngest child of Armistead Stokalas Nickens Sr. and Polly Weaver Nickens. Armistead Sr. and Polly were wed on 21 January 1819 in Lancaster County, Virginia, and had two other children, Robert V. Nickens and Judith A. Nickens. The Nickens family had been free since the late seventeenth century, and several members of that family served in the American Revolution. Armistead's maternal grandfather, Elijah Weaver, was also a seaman during the Revolution.

Home schooled as a youth Nickens was taught to read and write by his father and went on to further self study with books he purchased on his own Armistead lost his father as ...

Article

Douglas Thomas

founder and leader of a branch of the Tijaniya, one of the Sufi tariqa (religious/spiritual path) in present-day Senegal, was born to a family of marabout farmers in the village of Gaya in the westernmost province of Fouta Tooro north of present-day Senegal. Fouta Tooro was a precolonial state of the Peulh people (also known as Fula or Fulbe). In 1776, an Islamic revolution overthrew the nominal Muslim Denianke rulers and established a theocratic state. Futa Tooro is also the home region of El Hajj Umar Taal, the celebrated nineteenth-century jihadist who propagated the Tijani tariqa throughout the region along with his confrontational conversion style. In the 1850s, Taal recruited for his jihad from Fouta Tooro, further destabilizing the region; in 1861, he would successfully annex Futa Tooro to his Tukuleur Empire. It was into this environment that El Hajj Malik Sy was born.

El Hajj Malik Sy ...

Article

Jarod H. Roll

labor organizer, community activist, preacher, and farmer, was born Owen Hones Whitfield into a sharecropping family near Jonestown, Mississippi, in the heart of the Delta. His father's name was Thomas Whitfield; his mother's name is unknown. Like most children in the cotton South, Whitfield attended school sporadically. The Whitfield family moved frequently in search of better farming opportunities and often supplemented their income with wage work. During moves through Tennessee, Arkansas, and Mississippi, Whitfield was able to save enough money from odd jobs to enroll at Okolona College, a small Baptist college in Mississippi, in 1912. He studied theology for two years, during which time he met and married Zella Glass, a thirteen-year-old cotton picker.

Newly married and with the first of seven children on the way, Whitfield continued his search for profitable farming. In 1922 the Whitfields moved to southeast Missouri ...