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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

Steven J. Niven

body servant and minister, was born a slave at Stafford House, on the Potomac River in Westmoreland County, Virginia. The names of Lee's parents are not known, but shortly after the death of his mother he was taken to the Arlington Heights, Virginia, home of Robert E. Lee, later to command the Confederate army of northern Virginia during the Civil War. William Mack Lee married in 1855, but his brief autobiography does not mention the name of his wife, who died in 1910, nor the names of his eight daughters, the youngest of whom was born in 1875. The couple also had twenty-one grandchildren and, as of 1918, eight great-grandchildren.

Lee does not state precisely when he began serving Marse Robert whom he describes as one of the greatest men in the world but his autobiography notes erroneously that Robert E Lee freed all ...

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Steven J. Niven

cook and laborer, was born in Lawrenceville, Virginia, probably in 1862 or 1863. The names of his parents have not been recorded, and it is not known whether or not they were enslaved at the time of their son's birth. Indeed, but for the discovery of a package of letters written to Channing Lewis by Alice Hanley, a white Irish American woman, his life would have been largely lost to history. The letters, enclosed in a black lace stocking, fell from the attic of a house undergoing renovation in Northampton, Massachusetts, in spring 1992. When workmen opened up a hole in the ceiling, the stocking fell. Its contents provide a unique perspective on the southern black migrant experience and on the everyday life of black and white working-class people in New England at the turn of the twentieth century.

The letters also reveal a far from ...

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Donna Tyler Hollie

chef, restaurant owner, author, and teacher, was born in Orange County, Virginia. She was one of eight children, three sons and five daughters, born to Eugene and Daisy Lewis. Her community, called Freetown, was established by her grandfather, Chester Lewis, a farmer, and other freedmen after the Civil War. Her grandfather's home was the site of the community's first school.

Although little is known about Lewis's formal academic education, she learned to cook by observing and assisting her mother and paternal aunt, Jennie These women cooked in the tradition of their African forebearers using seasonal ingredients frying in oil flavoring vegetables with meat improvising and relying on their senses to determine whether food was appropriately seasoned and thoroughly cooked For example whether a cake was done could be determined by listening to the sound made by the cake pan Wonderful dishes were created ...

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Betti Carol VanEpps-Taylor

adventurer, entrepreneur, and cook, was born a slave near Algood, Tennessee, probably the granddaughter of her white master, Martin Marchbanks, and the oldest of eleven children of a slave woman. Trained as a housekeeper and kitchen worker she lived on her white uncle's plantation, until while still quite young she traveled with a Marchbanks daughter to California during the gold rush, gaining first hand impressions of the West and its opportunities. After emancipation she and several siblings sought their fortunes in Colorado. Lured by the discovery of gold in the Black Hills she arrived in Deadwood on 1 June 1876 Unlike most others however she never intended to mine gold having come to believe that there was more profit in offering services to the miners using skills she already possessed She began her career in the kitchens of the Grand Central Hotel where she soon ...

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 ...

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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

Charles Rosenberg

a leading rank-and-file organizer of the Packinghouse Workers Organizing Committee in Chicago, and member of the subsequent United Packinghouse Workers of America, particularly instrumental in organizing the six “little” packers, providing a base from which to secure recognition at the dominant Armour, Swift, Cudahy and Wilson companies.

Details of Washington's birth have not been documented, but he grew up in Chicago, the son of a butcher at the Swift meatpacking company, who moved the family from Mississippi in 1915. Initially, Washington's father tried to obtain work in bricklaying and plastering, as he had in the Vicksburg area before moving north. Excluded from these occupations by the building trades unions' refusal to accept African Americans, he became a bitter opponent of unionization in the meatpacking industry, literally turning his back when representatives of the Stockyards Labor Council invited him to join.

Between the efforts of SLC to incorporate and advance ...

Article

Graham Russell Hodges

and celebrant of George Washington. Born into slavery on George Washington's plantation, Mary Simpson Washington worked as a domestic for the general and first president. She accompanied him to New York City when it served as the nation's capital; Washington freed her when the government moved to Philadelphia. By that time she had taken the president's name and had opened a small shop on Golden Hill, at the corner of Cliff and John streets in New York. There she sold milk, butter, and eggs; became famous for her pastries and sweetmeats; and specialized in cookies named after President George Washington. Mary Simpson Washington gained further notice in the yellow fever epidemic of 1793, when she begged dozens of sheep's heads from local butchers. She boiled the brains into a salubrious soup for sick humans and fed the leftovers to hundreds of starving cats.

Mary Washington was a devoted ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

anti–labor union activist in the Chicago meatpacking industry during the time of the Stockyards Labor Council (SLC), particularly 1916–1919, was one of the few men known by name for his leading role in anti-union agitation among African American employees, and those seeking work from the large and smaller packing companies.

Williams's birth, previous experience, and later life are unknown, although there are faint clues for speculation. Even his motives and loyalties are unclear, and probably more complex than any partisan for or against organized labor may have credited. He may have been born around 1874 in Texas, the son of Lizar Williams, who had been born, like Williams's father, in Georgia. If so, he was living in 1910 in a rooming house in Fort Worth, working at odd jobs.

According to two African American SLC floor committeemen Williams was the leader of a group of men who came ...

Article

Psyche Williams-Forson

huckster, vendor, and entrepreneur, was born Isabella Wallace in Louisa County, Virginia, south of the town of Gordonsville, the daughter of McKaylor Wallace and Maria (Coleman) Wallace. Little information about her background is available. She credits her mother with having used business profits to build their first house, which burned in the 1920s. Following this tragedy, Winston's mother built another home farther from the road and spent much of her life caring for her livestock and attending church. Isabella married Douglas Winston—the exact date of her marriage is not known—and was widowed by age thirty-seven with ten children.

As head of household Isabella Winston bore the responsibility for feeding her large family Following a generational tradition she made her living as a waiter carrier as they called themselves meeting local trains and serving the passengers fried chicken and other foods In later years sharing her ...