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Sylvia M. DeSantis

wife of the famous Seminole war leader Osceola, born in Alabama around 1802, was a Creek woman of Afro-Indian descent, also known as “Morning Dew.” Che-cho-ter may have been the daughter of a former slave and a prominent Creek or Seminole man. She was one of two wives taken by Osceola during the turbulent years in which the United States first occupied the Florida Territory. During those years, the U.S. government was attempting to make the Florida Territory safe for the institution of slavery by evicting the Seminoles from their homeland.

Osceola was the son of an English trader, William Powell and a Muscogee Indian woman of Creek heritage The Seminoles who first became prominent in European records during the late eighteenth century were a nation of Florida Indians who had close ethnic and cultural ties to the Creeks of Georgia and Alabama Historians believe that Osceola first ...


Dubois, Silvia  

Michael Berthold

backwoods legend, was born on Sourland Mountain, New Jersey, the daughter of Cuffy Baird, a Revolutionary War fifer who may have seen action at the battles of Trenton (1776) and Princeton (1777), and Dorcas Compton. Although they had different masters, both of Dubois's parents were slaves. Dubois may in part have inherited her own ferocious desire for freedom from her mother, who tried repeatedly but unsuccessfully to buy her own freedom. Dubois was owned by Dominicus (Minna) Dubois, a strict yet accommodating master much more congenial to Silvia than was his wife, who beat Silvia badly. Aside from Dubois's memories of moving as a young girl to the village of Flagtown and as a teenager to Great Bend, Pennsylvania, where her master kept a tavern, little biographical information exists about her childhood.

An imposing physical presence the adult Dubois stood approximately 5 10 ...



Glenn Allen Knoblock

survivor of the battle of the Alamo, was a slave about whom little is known. He was living with his master in Harrisburg, Texas, in May 1833 and was sometimes rented out as a laborer. One man that rented him was a young lawyer named William Barret Travis. Having arrived in Texas in 1831, Travis was undoubtedly in need of hired help while establishing his law practice. He purchased Joe on 13 February 1834, while living in San Felipe. The time that Joe was owned by Travis, though short, came during the most legendary time in Texas history.

Joe's specific activities from 1834 to 1836 are unknown that Joe would remain a slave he likely knew well as his master was occupied during his first years in Texas working to gain the return of runaway slaves harbored at the Mexican garrison at Anahuac However Joe s ...


John Henry  

John Garst

“steel-driving man” and legendary hero, may have been a historic person born a slave in Mississippi, Virginia, or some other Southern state. In ballad and legend he is simply “John Henry,” but “John Henry” is a common combination of given names, so Henry may not have been his surname.

Songs about John Henry were collected as early as 1905. In 1916 the former West Virginia governor W.-A. MacCorkle confused him with John Hardy, an African American gambler and murderer who was hanged in Welch, West Virginia, in 1894 and is the subject of his own ballad. By the mid-1920s the ballad “John Henry” was being recorded commercially by Riley Puckett (1924), Fiddlin' John Carson (1924), and other white “hillbilly” performers, and shortly thereafter recordings by such African American bluesmen as Henry Thomas (1927) and Mississippi John Hurt (1928 began ...



Kofi worked as a cooper, making and repairing wooden casks on a plantation on the Berbice River. He emerged as leader of one faction of the Berbice slaves who rose up in rebellion in 1763 The rebels successfully held most of the territory of Berbice for ten months After ...



Jeremy Rich

anticolonial slave rebel leader, was born somewhere in southern Ghana sometime during the early eighteenth century. His name was extremely common in Akan-speaking communities such as the kingdom of Asante. Kofi was shipped from his homeland across the Atlantic and eventually made his way to the Dutch colony of Guyana. Kofi was said to have been a domestic servant. He worked with Accara and several other men to organize a major revolt along the Kanje River. On 23 February 1763 slaves rose up and burned plantations beginning at the Magdalenenburg settlement They also killed over thirty white settlers A yellow fever epidemic scoured the colony and provided Kofi with the perfect opportunity to launch the attack The goal of the rebels was to flee from the colony A small military expedition ordered by the Guyanese colony s governor Van Hogenheim failed utterly to curb the rebels Settlers from the ...


Silva, Xica da  

Michelle Gueraldi

In every version of her life story, Francisca “Xica” da Silva is described as a slave who was freed by João Fernandes de Oliveira around 1760. Fernandes was a contratador, or a vassal of the Portuguese Crown, sent to the province of Minas Gerais in colonial Brazil to explore the soil for diamonds and gold. Da Silva lived and worked as a slave until she was purchased by Oliveira, who lived with da Silva as her husband despite the racial prejudice that existed at that time in Brazil.

Instead of sending the mineral riches he discovered to Portugal Oliveira kept them for himself and became a very rich man He and da Silva lived a luxurious life in Arraial do Tijuco a small village in Minas Gerais He built a palace imported gifts for da Silva from all over the world including gold and diamonds and built her ...