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Pearlie Peters

(birth and death dates unknown), an African root magician who was influential in the pivotal fight between Frederick Douglass and Edward Covey and was a coconspirator with Douglass and other slaves in a subsequent plan to escape slavery. Sandy Jenkins was a slave whose spiritual beliefs were deeply rooted in African folk magic and its power as a weapon of resistance to the brutality and inhumanity of slavery. Jenkins also participated with several other slaves in an 1836 escape plan devised by Douglass. Regarding both folk magic and the planned escape, Douglass demonstrated skepticism with regard to Sandy Jenkins's legitimacy. Although married to a free woman who had a cabin on Pot Pie Neck, which was south of the Covey farm where Douglass was hired out for a year by Thomas Auld, Jenkins himself was a slave. He was owned by William Groome of Easton Maryland who had ...


magician, ventriloquist, and entrepreneur, was born in Amherst, Virginia, one of eight children of Peticus Rucker, a farm laborer, and Louise A. Rucker, a cook. In his teens Rucker worked as a cook and then as a contractor building houses. When Harry Kellar (“Kellar the Great”), one of the foremost magicians of his time, came through the area on tour, Rucker performed some handyman tasks for him and became his assistant.

Rucker studied stage magic under Kellar and eventually began performing on his own, taking the stage name “Black Herman.” This pseudonym linked him with earlier black magicians, such as Prince Herman, a traveling medicine show magician, whom Rucker also claimed as a mentor, and James A. Willis and Alonzo Moore whose stage names included Herman in some combination or else billed themselves as the black Hermann or the black Herman implying that ...