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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 ...

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Charles Rosenberg

a Civil War soldier and veterans leader and Reconstruction-era legislator, was born and lived all of his life in Louisiana. Felix Antoine was born into the distinct community of gens de couleur libre, free persons of color, which existed in the New Orleans area and some other parts of Louisiana since French colonial times. His father was a veteran of the War of 1812, who fought under General Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans, and his mother was a native of the West Indies. His paternal grandmother was reputed to have been the daughter of an African prince, who purchased her freedom from slavery; she saved $150,000 as a free woman (Shreveport Journal obituary of C.C. Antoine, 14 Sept. 1921). Antoine was the younger brother of Louisiana Lt. Governor Caesar C. Antoine who moved from New Orleans to Shreveport prior to ...

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Michelle Kuhl

businessman, anti-lynching advocate, and pioneering member of Seattle, Washington's black middle class, was born in Kentucky, but exactly when or where has not been established. Some indications of Burdett's background, however, emerge from the 1850 census of Bullitt, Kentucky. One “Sam'l Burdett” is listed as a four-year-old black child living in the household of a white Burdette family headed by a fifty-year-old man named Pyton Burdett, who had a wife and seven children. A black woman named Louisa Burdett is also included in the household along with three black children, among them, “Sam'l.” The status of Louisa and her three children as either slaves or free persons is not indicated. Whatever her background in 1850, it is clear that ten years later Louisa had prospered. In 1860 the Bullitt Kentucky census listed Louisa Burdett 36 with three children including a fourteen year old Samuel living in their ...

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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 ...

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Caryn Cossé Bell

businessman, Civil War veteran, and Reconstruction politician, was the son of the influential Creole New Orleanian Joseph Dumas, one of the owners of the Dumas Brothers French Quarter clothiers, a firm that specialized in imported French cloth and luxury apparel. Joseph Dumas invested his share of the firm's profits in real estate and accumulated a considerable fortune in property holdings and slaves. In 1860 African American Louisianans like François and Joseph Dumas constituted the wealthiest population of free blacks in the United States.

Joseph Dumas's import business necessitated that the Dumas family sojourn frequently in France, and it was there that François, was born, raised, and educated. François arrived in New Orleans shortly before the Civil War to manage the family business. He married Marguerite Victoria Victor, and the couple had five children, three girls and two boys. By 1860 he had become one ...

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Steven J. Niven

blacksmith and politician, was born a slave in Hardin County, Tennessee. It is unknown whether he was still living there in April 1862, during the battle of Shiloh, one of the bloodiest of the Civil War. By 15 September 1863 he was living in Little Rock, Arkansas, more than 250 miles west of his birthplace. On that day, five days after Little Rock fell to the Union army, Gillam enlisted in Company I, Second Regiment, Arkansas Infantry, which was later renamed Company I, Fifty-fourth Regiment, U.S. Colored Infantry. Since he immediately assumed the rank of sergeant, he probably knew how to read and write (noncommissioned officers in the Union army were expected to be able to read orders and file reports). After serving for three years, primarily in Arkansas and Kansas, he left the army in 1866, having reached the rank of first sergeant.

Gillam settled in ...

Article

Michael F. Knight

former slave, buffalo soldier, corporal in the U.S. Army, Indian Wars veteran, and Medal of Honor recipient, was born in Madison County, Virginia, to John Greaves and a mother whose name is unrecorded. Clinton Greaves enlisted in the U.S. Army on 21 November 1872 at Baltimore, Maryland, and on 19 March 1873 he was sent to the Western frontier to join Troop C, Ninth U.S. Cavalry Regiment, in Texas. The Ninth Cavalry was one of four black regular army regiments later given the name the “buffalo soldiers.” Greaves distinguished himself in 1877 during the height of the Apache campaigns when he became one of twenty-three black soldiers to receive the Medal of Honor for his service in the Indian wars.

Clinton Greaves was a laborer in Prince George s County Maryland when he decided to journey to Baltimore to enlist in the army Like many former slaves Greaves ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

music teacher and conductor, bass singer, Civil War veteran, and active member of the Grand Army of the Republic, author of the first African Methodist Episcopal Church hymnal (working with Bishop James C. Embry), was born in Eulesstown, New Jersey. The 1860 census lists several free families of African descent named Layton, but none have been definitively identified as his. Charles and Harriet Layton, of Warrenville, may have been his parents, but the ages of their children (often the subject of error by census takers) are not a definitive match.

Layton enlisted in the U.S. Navy on 25 August 1864 at Jersey City, giving his occupation as laborer/farmer. Assigned the rating of Landsman, he served on the vessels Larkspur and O.M. Pettit Both were tugboats assigned to the South Atlantic Blocking Squadron towing and repairing ships of the squadron while gathering intelligence on shore and ...

Article

Glenn Allen Knoblock

Seminole Negro Scout and Medal of Honor Recipient, was a native of Florida. While nothing specific is known about Payne's life prior to his military service, his ancestors were formerly enslaved before running away and seeking refuge with the friendly Seminole Tribe in Florida. Indeed, the Seminoles treated the large number of black runaways that sought freedom so well that many became assimilated within the tribe, adopting its language and culture. When Payne left Florida for the southwest is unknown; he may, as several biographers claim, have been among the last group of native peoples that traveled on the Trail of Tears after 1842 when the U.S. government forcibly expelled most of the remaining Seminole Tribe after the end of the long-running Seminole War to territory in what is now Oklahoma.

Payne began his military service on 12 November 1873 enlisting in the U S Army as an Indian ...

Article

Daniel W. Hamilton

Reconstruction politician, civil rights leader, and murder victim, was born free in Kentucky, the child of parents of mixed ethnicity whose names are unknown. When he was a child Randolph's family moved to Ohio, where he was educated in local schools. In 1854 he entered Oberlin College's preparatory department, before attending the college from 1857 to 1862. At Oberlin Randolph received instruction both in the liberal arts and at the college's theological seminary. Soon after graduation he was ordained as a Methodist Episcopal minister. During the Civil War Randolph served as a chaplain in the Twenty-sixth Colored Infantry, which was dispatched to Hilton Head, South Carolina, in 1864.

After the war ended in 1865 Randolph applied for a position with the Freedmen s Bureau He was not initially given an appointment but was instead sent to South Carolina by the American Missionary Association a ...

Article

Steven J. Niven

slave, soldier, and politician, was born and reared in Beaufort, South Carolina, to parents whose names are unknown. Little is known of Rivers's life other than that he was literate, was raised in the home of his master, and was working as a coachman both in Beaufort and in Edgefield, South Carolina, on the eve of the Civil War. Reputedly the finest coachman in Beaufort, he once drove the Confederate general P. G. T. Beauregard from that city to Charleston. Rivers was also a recognized leader of the slave community of Beaufort and was once chosen to present a petition to the governor of South Carolina requesting the redress of certain grievances. It is unknown whether he was successful. He was married to Rina Green, also a slave, who lived on a neighboring plantation.

In 1862 shortly after federal forces occupied Beaufort and other South ...

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Alice Eley Jones

carpenter, statesman, and inventor, was born free in Bertie County, North Carolina, the eldest son of John A. Robbins, a farmer and carpenter, and Mary Robbins. Robbins hailed from a family and community of mixed-race, free black, and Chowanoke background in the counties of Bertie, Gates, and Hertford in northeastern North Carolina. The Algonquian-speaking Chowanokes lived on the west bank of the Chowan River that bears their name in northeastern North Carolina. Governor Ralph Lane was impressed by their villages in a 1585 Roanoke Island expedition. Parker's grandfather John Robbins was one of the chief men of the Chowanokes in 1790.

War and disease greatly reduced the Chowanoke population, and by 1790 during a sale of Chowanoke land it was reported whether falsely or not is unknown that the Chowanoke men had all died and the remaining women had intermarried with several free ...

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 ...