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Mary Krane Derr

slave and later servant, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, to Perry Blake, a free African American, and his wife Charlotte, a slave in the household of a prominent merchant, Jesse Levering. The couple had several other children. In 1897 Jesse's daughter Sarah R. Levering published a booklet about Margaret Jane Blake's life through the Press of Innes & Son in Philadelphia. As of 2011 other sources concerning Blake s life were unknown Thus we should read this account with care recognizing that it provides only one perspective on Blake s life and that it comes from a member of the family who once owned her It nonetheless offers several insights on the life of an urban African American woman in slavery and freedom Levering designated the proceeds from the booklet s sale to a Presbyterian affiliated manual labor school for the benefit of the ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

baker, community leader, cautious abolitionist, and patriarch of a talented African American family well known into the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, was born in Burlington, New Jersey. His narrative records that he belonged to “the Estate of Samuel Bustill of the City of Burlington, but he Dying when I was Young I was Sold to John Allen of the Same City” (Bustill, p. 22). The name of Bustill's mother is recorded only as Parthenia; Samuel Bustill, an English‐born lawyer who died in 1742, was his father as well as his owner.

Many sources, including Lloyd Louis Brown's detailed history of the Bustill family in The Young Paul Robeson: On My Journey Now (1997), leave out the Allen family, and assert that Samuel Bustill's widow, Grace, arranged for Cyrus Bustill to be apprenticed to Thomas Pryor Jr. However Bustill s own account ...

Article

Richard Alperin

teacher, coroner, scrivener, selectman, and justice of the peace, was born in New Market (now Newmarket), New Hampshire, the only child of Hopestill, a Portsmouth, New Hampshire, housewright, and Catherine Cheswell. The name is sometimes spelled “Cheswill.” Wentworth's grandfather, Richard Cheswell, a black slave in Exeter, New Hampshire, purchased twenty acres of land from the Hilton Grant after he gained his freedom. The deed, dated 18 October 1716/17 (the discrepancy arises from the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar) is the earliest known deed in the state of New Hampshire showing land ownership by a black man. The land was located in what was to become the town of Newmarket. Richard's only child, Hopestill (1712–? became a housewright and worked mostly in Portsmouth He took part in building the John Paul Jones House as well as other important houses Hopestill was active in local affairs and ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

the son of a Revolutionary War veteran of the same name, was born in Wolcott, Connecticut, and served as the first clerk of the African Ecclesiastical Society in New Haven. Although sparse and sometimes conflicting accounts in published literature have confounded records of the father and son, recently genealogical research in Tompkins County, New York, has clearly identified and distinguished the two from original records.

On 18 July 1756 “Prince, the negro servant child of Samuel Riggs & Abigail his wife” was baptized, according to church records in Derby, Connecticut. Although the word “slave” was not routinely used during that period, he was a servant “for life,” valued at £50, and was inherited at Rigg's death by his daughter Abigail, married to a Reverend Mr. Chapman. Duplex enlisted 18 May 1777 in one of the Connecticut regiments commanded by Colonel Sherman and Colonel Giles Russell formed to fight ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

one of at least 289 people of African descent who enlisted in the Connecticut Line during the American Revolutionary War, was born in Southington, Connecticut, where by the laws of that time he was the property of Samuel Riggs, a status inherited from his mother. He was baptized on 18 July 1756. Historical sketches published in 1875 mention that he had a brother named Peter, whose later life is unknown.

Prince's mother and father were later assigned as servants for Reverend Benjamin Chapman, pastor of Southington Congregational Church, who had married Riggs's daughter Abigail in 1756. When Riggs died in 1770, probate of his property listed “a negro boy Prince £50,” who presumably was part of Abigail's share of her father's estate. The young men's parents may be the Peter and Hannah initially bequeathed by Riggs to his wife The entire family eventually ...

Article

Alexander J. Chenault

former slave, slave owner, and pioneer for the legal rights of free blacks, was born a slave in 1802, probably in Virginia, although the precise place of his birth is unknown. Court records show that he was once owned by William Chenault Jr., a prominent lawyer and a member of the lower house of the Kentucky legislature. Prior to emancipation Jones resided on the Chenault family's farm, near Richmond, Kentucky, which was purchased in 1787 from the brother of Kentucky pioneer and settler Daniel Boone. Four years before Chenault died he emancipated Jones (31 May 1830). At the time Jones was married, although not legally, to Sally Ann, a slave woman, with whom he had four children. Although the date of Levi and Sally Ann's union is unknown, marriage between free blacks would not even become legal until 1825 Moreover ...

Article

Chaitali Korgaonkar and Robert Smieja

porter, clerk, and civic leader in Hartford, Connecticut, was born in Guilford, Connecticut, the son of Ham Primus, a sailor, and Temperance Asher. His grandfather, named simply Primus, is recognized in one local history as a servant and apprentice to a Dr. Wolcott in East Windsor, Connecticut, in the mid-eighteenth century. Later on, inspired by Dr. Wolcott's work, this Primus became a doctor himself, setting up his own office. We know little about Holdridge Primus's early life, but we do know he was earning a living by age twelve. In his early teenage years, he made his way to Hartford, Connecticut, where he worked and apprenticed for William Ellsworth, (later governor of Connecticut from 1838 to 1842). When Ellsworth served in Congress around 1840 he chose to take Primus with him based on his merit intelligence and dedicated service Primus was employed in a ...

Article

Edward E. Andrews

slave, renowned pastry maker, and entrepreneur, also referred to as “Charity,” was born on the Gold Coast of Africa to a minor royal family. In the middle of the eighteenth century she was taken captive, sold into slavery, and transported to Newport, Rhode Island, where she became a domestic slave in the home of William Channing, a prominent attorney.

Like many of that port town s female slaves Quamino would have been responsible for a variety of activities that maintained the household One job in which she excelled early was baking a skill which would hold her in good stead in later years The historical record does not indicate what kind of personal relationship Quamino had with her master but it is significant that she converted to Christianity while working and living with the Channing family Her exact motives for doing so are not certain she ...

Article

Gary Y. Okihiro

Race and ethnicity have always mattered in the American experience. But their meanings and actualizations have changed over time and space, suggesting that they are social, not scientific, categories. Neither fixed nor permanent, they are continually negotiated and renegotiated. Race and ethnicity, or supposed physical and cultural groupings, respectively, were not always so defined or distinguished. America's first peoples formed economic, political, and ethnic groupings by language, kinship, and religious belief. They created idealized hierarchies that favored their own group over others. These perceived commonalities and differences justified belief systems and practices, alliances and fractures, cooperation and exploitation that shifted as time passed and situations changed.

Article

Laurel Horton

enslaved servant of John Snoddy, Spartanburg, South Carolina. Her place of birth and the names of her parents are unknown. John Snoddy and his family emigrated from County Antrim, Ireland, in 1773, and by the time of the 1790 census, he owned ten slaves. When his will was executed in 1808, John owned eighteen slaves including a “boy Bill and girl Dilsey” (Spartanburg County Probate Records, #1756), who were bequeathed to his son Isaac and noted as already in Isaac's possession. Dilsey was eighteen years old and valued at $400. This made her one of the most valuable slaves in the estate, along with a man named George ($482.50), and a woman named Fan and her child, Ransom ($500). Dilsey's attributed value strongly suggests that she was a skilled house servant rather than a field hand. Isaac, his wife, Jane their children and their ...

Article

Melanie R. Thomas

emancipated slave and antebellum businesswoman, grew up on a tobacco plantation in Albemarle County, Virginia. Information about her parentage is scarce, but some reports suggest that Sally Thomas was of mixed racial heritage. She had two sons, John and Henry, apparently by John L. Thomas, who was the brother of her enslaver, Charles L. Thomas. Years later, she had a third son, James P. Thomas, whose father was Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice John Catron.

Following the death of her owners, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Thomas, the remaining members of the Thomas family, led by John L. Thomas, transported Sally Thomas—and about forty other servants of the family estate—to Nashville, Tennessee, in 1817 Charles Thomas s will stipulated that Sally and her two sons John and Henry remain together She feared being sold separately from her sons and worried for the safety and well ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

who accompanied the Continental Army during the revolutionary war as a cook, was enslaved at birth, owned by four different men over half a century, and by the end of the war was a free woman, settling in Philadelphia and living to the age of 104.

One of the few contemporary written accounts is that of John Fanning Watson, who writes that his sister saw Till alive at the age of 104. Later published accounts say she died at 102. Her date of birth is not recorded, estimated only by subtracting the length of her life from the year she died.

Watson wrote that Till had told him her childhood name was Hannah Long Point—a name her father acquired for successful deer hunting at a place called Long Point. She was born in Kent County, Delaware, assigned by law as the property of John Brinkley Esq He sold ...

Article

Elizabeth Kuebler-Wolf

slave, was born in West Africa, possibly in Futa Jallon (later Senegal-Gambia). The exact year of his birth is unknown, and little is known of his early life in Africa. While his name is often given as Yarrow Mamout, Yarrow is his surname, the spelling of which has appeared over time as Yarrah, Yorro, and Yoro. Yarrow's appearance in two portraits painted in his old age has led modern scholars to suggest that he may have been a member of the Fulani/Fulbe people. A Muslim, Yarrow fell victim to intra-African religious conflicts when he was captured as a young man and sold into slavery in North America.

According to the painter and naturalist Charles Willson Peale's diary account of meeting Mamout Yarrow, the captain of the ship on which Yarrow endured the Middle Passage was Captain Dow Though no Captain Dow has been located in surviving shipping ...