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Taliaferro, Clara Hortense Smyth  

Charles Rosenberg

was born in Washington, D.C., the daughter of John Henry Smith, lawyer and diplomat, and Fannie Ellen Shippen Smyth. Although some sources, including the record of her second marriage, list her birth year as late as 1882, her parents opened an account for her at the Freedman’s Bank 24 January 1874 with her birth year listed as 1873. At that time, they lived in Wilmington, North Carolina. She is also documented on a journey with her mother from Liberia to New York in 1879, her age on the ship’s manifest given as eight years ten months.

Her father, born in 1844, appears to have been born free, although he obtained his first education in violation of Virginia laws forbidding instruction of any Negro in anything other than manual labor. He was sent to Philadelphia at age eight and graduated in 1862 from the Institute ...