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Article

Bowser, David Bustill  

Susan B. Iwanisziw

commercial painter, artist, and activist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the only known child of Jeremiah Bowser from Maryland and Rachel Bustill, daughter of the prosperous black abolitionist and educator Cyrus Bustill. The intermarriage among the region's free black Quaker families headed by Cyrus Bustill, Robert Douglass Sr., Jeremiah Bowser, and David Mapps created a dynamic force that benefited all African Americans and particularly spurred David s personal growth and accomplishments Jeremiah a member of the Benezet Philosophical Society served as a steward on the Liverpool lines and later it seems he was the proprietor of an oyster house near the intersection of 4th and Cherry Streets where David Bowser first hung up his sign as a commercial painter Later the Bowser family moved to the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia into a house at 481 North 4th Street where Bowser remained for the ...

Article

Chelor, Cesar  

Cynthia Staples

lived in Wrentham, Massachusetts, near the Rhode Island border. His birthplace and birthdate are unknown, as are the names of his parents. Tax records suggest that by 1736, a young, perhaps teenaged, Chelor was enslaved by Wrentham woodworker Francis Nicholson. Nicholson is considered the earliest documented American planemaker.

The plane was an especially important tool at this time designed to hold a sharpened blade to accomplish precise woodworking tasks. During Chelor’s life, planes were handmade from wood. The plane could be pushed or pulled to smooth, shape, and straighten the surface of wood. A carpenter required a great variety of planes, each with a specialized function. Different planes were needed for making window frames and doors or for producing architectural moldings. Nicholson was known for his innovative plane designs.

Nicholson s Wrentham woodshop operated during a historic period when there was enormous population growth in New England Demand for ...

Article

Fortune, Amos  

Jeffry D. Schantz

tanner and bookbinder, was born in Africa and brought to the colonies as a slave while very young. Nothing is known of Fortune's parentage, birth, or early years. It is thought that he arrived in America around 1725, but little is known of his life in the colonies prior to the mid-1700s. Ichabod Richardson of Woburn, Massachusetts, purchased Fortune around 1740, kept him as a slave apprentice, and taught him the art of tanning. In December 1763 Richardson drafted a “freedom paper” granting Fortune's freedom but died without signing it. Fortune remained a slave of the Richardson family until 1770, when a valid article of manumission signed by Ichabod's sister-in-law, Hannah, secured his freedom.

Remaining in Woburn for several years, Fortune purchased a small homestead from Isaac Johnson in 1774 and continued to run the Richardsons tannery During his Woburn years Fortune married twice ...

Article

Fortune, Amos  

Jeffry D. Schantz

Fortune, Amos (1710?–17 November 1801), tanner and bookbinder, was born in Africa and brought to the colonies as a slave while very young. Nothing is known of Fortune’s parentage, birth, or early years. It is estimated that he arrived in America around 1725, but little is known of his life in the colonies prior to the mid-1700s. Ichabod Richardson of Woburn, Massachusetts, purchased Fortune around 1740, kept him as a slave apprentice, and taught him the art of tanning. In December 1763 Richardson drafted a “freedom paper” granting Fortune’s freedom but died without signing it. Fortune remained a slave of the Richardson family until 1770, when a valid article of manumission signed by Ichabod’s sister-in-law, Hannah, secured his freedom.

Remaining in Woburn for several years Fortune purchased a small homestead from Isaac Johnson in 1774 and continued to run the Richardson s tannery During his Woburn years ...

Article

Fortune, Amos  

Scott A. Miltenberger

Little is definitively known of Amos Fortune, who lived in Massachusetts and New Hampshire in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Purportedly an African prince sold into slavery at a young age, Amos spent fifteen years as a slave of the Boston bookbinder Deacon Fortune. In the course of his servitude, Amos learned to read and write and converted to Christianity.

In 1738Ichabod Richardson, a tanner living in Woburn, Massachusetts, apparently purchased Amos and began to train him in his profession. In his will, Richardson granted Amos his freedom in 1768, but two years passed before Richardson's heirs lived up to the promise, in fact requiring Amos to purchase his freedom. In 1778 he purchased the freedom of another slave, Lydia Somerset, and married her; within a few months, however, she died. A year later Fortune purchased and married another woman, Violate Baldwin in ...

Article

Foy, (Prosper) Florville  

Patricia Brady

sculptor and proprietor of a large marble yard and monument business, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the eldest son and third child of [René] Prosper Foy (b. 1787–d. 1854), a Napoleonic veteran, marble cutter, businessman, and writer, who had immigrated to the city from France in 1807, and Azelie Aubry (b. c. 1795–d. 1870), a free woman of color, native to New Orleans. Because interracial marriage was illegal, Foy's parents never married, but their sometimes stormy union lasted from 1810 until Prosper Foy's death; Aubry subsequently referred to herself in all public documents as his widow. The elder Prosper Foy prospered in business and fought with distinction at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815. Of Foy and Aubry's children, four daughters and Florville lived to adulthood.

Florville studied with a private tutor, and all the children were well educated, judging by their copybooks and letters. In 1836 ...

Article

Free Frank  

Donovan S. Weight

entrepreneur, pioneer, and town founder, was born near the Pacolet River in Union County, South Carolina, the son of an enslaved woman named Juda. His paternity is a bit murky, but most evidence points to his owner George McWhorter. Little information exists about the West African–born Juda other than that she had been a slave to the McWhorters since 1775. Oral family tradition holds that although George McWhorter sent Juda to the woods with orders to kill the baby at birth, Juda protected Frank, preserved him, and brought him home alive the next morning. The boy who would become Free Frank spent his-formative years learning how to farm in the backwoods country of South Carolina. At eighteen Frank moved with his owner to a temporary homestead in-Lincoln County, Kentucky. In 1798 George McWhorter bought some farmland in newly formed Pulaski County Kentucky In ...

Article

Howard, Milton  

Beverley Rowe Lindburg

Civil War soldier, cabinetmaker, and fifty-two-year employee of the Rock Island (Illinois) Arsenal, was born free but was kidnapped by slave traders at around the age of five along with his mother, father, brother, and a sister (all of whose names are unknown) from their home near Muscatine, Iowa. He was first sold as house slave to a man named Pickett from Alabama, and later to an Arkansas planter whose last name he took for a surname; he was generally known as “Milt.” Reports of his age vary greatly: census, military, and burial records indicate he was born between 1821 and 1845.

Howard and another house slave were married in a formal ceremony at the Pickett Plantation a privilege that was customarily afforded only to house servants Several children were born to the couple but all family ties were severed when Howard was sold to the Arkansas ...

Article

Jones, James Monroe “Gunsmith”  

Verity J. Harding

gunsmith and engraver, was born in Raleigh, North Carolina, the eldest son of Allen Jones, a slave and a blacksmith, and Temperance Jones, a slave. He was one of eight children, a daughter and seven sons, born into a long line of slavery. His paternal grandfather, Charles Jones, was born in Africa around 1770 and brought to America to be sold into slavery some years later. Although born a slave, Gunsmith Jones was freed in 1829 when his father purchased liberty for his entire family Allen Jones was a skilled blacksmith who labored intensely for himself and his family while simultaneously performing his slave duties to earn the vast sum of money necessary to buy his family s freedom After saving the extraordinary amount of $2 000 he was cheated out of the money by his master and left with nothing With admirable determination he ...

Article

King, Horace  

John S. Lupold

bridge designer and builder, was born near Cheraw, South Carolina, the son of Edmund and Susan King, slaves of African, European, and American Indian ancestry. King, his mother, his sister Clarissa (Murray), and his brother Washington were purchased circa 1830 by John Godwin and his wife, Ann Wright Godwin. According to some accounts, King may have been related to Ann's family, the Wrights of Marlboro County, South Carolina. King was already a master carpenter by the time Godwin purchased him, and Godwin expanded King's skills by teaching him how to build bridges. King was literate, although he never attended Oberlin College, as was incorrectly told in family myth.

The Godwins and their slaves moved west in 1832 when Godwin won a contract from Columbus Georgia to construct a four hundred foot wooden bridge across the Chattahoochee River They settled in Girard now Phenix City at the ...

Article

Outlaw, Wyatt  

Carole Watterson Troxler

slave, entrepreneur, civic leader, and murder victim, probably was born in Alamance County, North Carolina. His mother gave her name as Jemima Phillips; she may have been a member of a free African American family named Phillips who lived in Caswell County, North Carolina, in the early nineteenth century. His father is unknown. Some of Outlaw's contemporaries thought he was the son of Chesley Farrar Faucett, a merchant with agricultural and tanning operations in northern Alamance County who served in the state legislature from 1844 to 1847 and from 1864 to 1865.

The judge and writer Albion Tourgée knew both Outlaw and Faucett and characterized them fictionally in Bricks without Straw (1880 Tourgée depicted Faucett sympathetically as an aged justice of the peace known for kindness as a slaveholder quiet wartime Unionism and cooperation with the Union League during Reconstruction Outlaw ...

Article

Washington, Augustus  

Ann M. Shumard

abolitionist, photographer, and Liberian statesman, was born in Trenton, New Jersey, the son of Christian Washington, a former slave from Virginia who operated an oyster saloon, and a woman who is identified only as a native of South Asia. She apparently died soon after his birth, for his father remarried in October 1821. Washington was raised in Trenton and until early adolescence attended school with white students. When access to such schooling ended in the face of growing racism, he was left to continue his education on his own. He worked for his father for several years, studied intermittently, and became an avid reader of Benjamin Lundy's Genius of Universal Emancipation and William Lloyd Garrison's Liberator These papers aroused Washington s hatred of slavery and racial prejudice and inspired him to become an activist Eager to contribute to the uplift of his ...