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W. Caleb McDaniel

shoemaker, clergyman, and abolitionist, was born in Chatham, Connecticut, to Sarah Gerry and Cesar Beman, a manumitted slave and Revolutionary War veteran who may have chosen his surname to indicate his freedom to “be a man.” By 1809 Jehiel had moved to Colchester, Connecticut, and married Fanny Condol, with whom he fathered seven children, including the noted abolitionist Amos G. Beman. Jehiel worked in Colchester as a shoemaker and Methodist exhorter until 1830, when he moved to Middletown, Connecticut, to pastor the city's Cross Street African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZ) Church. On 11 August of that same year Jehiel's first wife died, and he married Nancy Scott on 17 October. In 1832 he left Cross Street after being appointed an itinerant missionary by the annual AMEZ conference, but he remained in Middletown as a preacher, shoemaker, and reformer until 1838 at ...

Article

Barbara A. White

prosperous businessman, whaling captain, and community leader, whose court case against Nantucket led to the integration of the public schools, was a member of one of the largest and most influential black families on the island. His father was Seneca Boston, a manumitted slave, who was a self‐employed weaver. His mother was a Wampanoag Indian named Thankful Micah. They had four sons and one daughter. Absalom Boston, the third‐born, went to sea, as did many of Nantucket's young men, signing onto the whale ship Thomas in 1809 when he was twenty‐four. Little is known about his early education. Anna Gardner, in her memoir Harvest Gleanings, mentions him visiting her family and hints that it may have been her mother, Hannah Macy Gardner, who taught the young man to read.

Shortly before he went to sea, Boston married his first wife, Mary Spywood about whom little is ...

Article

Richard Alperin

teacher, coroner, scrivener, selectman, and justice of the peace, was born in New Market (now Newmarket), New Hampshire, the only child of Hopestill, a Portsmouth, New Hampshire, housewright, and Catherine Cheswell. The name is sometimes spelled “Cheswill.” Wentworth's grandfather, Richard Cheswell, a black slave in Exeter, New Hampshire, purchased twenty acres of land from the Hilton Grant after he gained his freedom. The deed, dated 18 October 1716/17 (the discrepancy arises from the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar) is the earliest known deed in the state of New Hampshire showing land ownership by a black man. The land was located in what was to become the town of Newmarket. Richard's only child, Hopestill (1712–? became a housewright and worked mostly in Portsmouth He took part in building the John Paul Jones House as well as other important houses Hopestill was active in local affairs and ...

Article

Richard C. Lindberg

explorer and merchant, was born in San Marc, Haiti, the son of a slave woman (name unknown) and Dandonneau (first name unknown), scion of a prominent French Canadian family active in the North American fur trade. Surviving historical journals record the name of Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable (Pointe au Sable by some accounts), a Haitian of mixed-race ancestry, as the first permanent settler of Chicago. In her 1856 memoir of frontier life in the emerging Northwest Territory, Juliette Kinzie, the wife of the fur trader John Kinzie makes note of the fact that the first white man who settled here was a Negro Several of the voyageurs and commercial men who regularly traversed the shores of southern Lake Michigan in the last decade of the eighteenth century kept accurate records of their encounters in journals and ledger books One such entry describes du Sable as a ...

Article

Monte Hampton

preacher, shoemaker, and founder of the world's third oldest African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church, was born in Charles City County, Virginia. Little is known of his parents, upbringing, or eventual marriage.

En route to Charleston in the 1780s Evans arrived in Fayetteville, North Carolina. According to William Capers, a Methodist bishop, Evans stayed in Fayetteville because “the people of his race in that town were wholly given to profanity and lewdness, never hearing preaching of any denomination, and living emphatically without hope and without God in the world.” Evans's initial efforts to instruct slaves in the vicinity of Fayetteville met with stout resistance from whites. Fearing that his preaching would incite sedition and insurrection, white officials jailed him. Eventually released, Evans continued his evangelistic efforts at clandestine meetings in the sand hills outside of town.

Evans's persistence paid off. By 1802 the public morals of the negroes ...

Article

Lolita K. Buckner Inniss

vendor, was born in Easton, Maryland, as the slave of Philip Wallis of Maryland. The names of Johnson's parents are unknown. Johnson is said to have run away in his early twenties, after having been sent on an errand for his master. Johnson first took a boat from Maryland and later a train. In 1839 he reached Princeton, New Jersey, where he was employed as a laborer and janitor in Nassau Hall in the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University). He had been known as James Collins in Maryland but called himself James Johnson once he reached Princeton.

In 1843 Johnson was recognized as an escaped slave and was seized and put on trial in Princeton as a fugitive slave The son of Johnson s owner Severn Teackle Wallis traveled from Maryland to claim Johnson The younger Wallis was later a well known lawyer politician provost of the ...

Article

Storm Butler

a laborer, shoemaker, and member of the Union Army, was born in 1807 in Granby, Connecticut. He was the son of a newly freed black slave, Earl Percy, who served under Ozias Pettibone, a colonel in the Revolutionary War. Colonel Pettibone was one of the richest men in Granby and one of only a few slave owners. A 1790 census showed that Pettibone had five slaves, three of whom were children. One of these slaves was a thirty-six-year-old woman. This original census does not list an adult male or father among Pettibone's slaves; a later census lists the children as “mulatto,” but does not provide the name of the father. One of the children, Earl Pettibone, was born in 1784 the year in which the legislature passed an act ending lifetime slavery for children born to slave women after 1 March of that ...

Article

John Howard Smith

shoemaker, soldier, and officer in the First New Orleans Battalion of Free Men of Color, was the first African American recognized by the U.S. government as an officer of field grade status. He was also known as “Vass Populus,” and little is known about his life apart from the fact that he worked as a shoemaker before embarking on a military career.

New Orleans in the eighteenth century was already a vibrantly multiracial and multicultural city, with fully a quarter of its black population being free, variously composed of Africans, African Americans, and mixed-race Creoles. The French created a small black militia, consisting of free and enslaved volunteers, to augment the army in repelling Indian attacks in the early 1730s, and which performed admirably against the British and their native allies during King George's War (1739–1747 Those who had been slaves were eventually granted their freedom ...

Article

Wafik Nasry

also known as Abu al-Bishr ibn al-Muqaffaʿ, the Egyptian Scribe, is celebrated as the first Coptic scribe to write theology in Arabic. The dates of his birth and death are currently unknown. However, scholars assign the year 905 as his approximate birth date and estimate his death around the ripe age of eighty. Sawirus ibn al-Muqaffaʿ was a prolific writer; in fact, the certain known dates in his life are all related to three of his compositions, namely his commentary on the Gospels Tafsir al-Amanah (Commentary on the Trust) in 950, which he lost, and then the rewriting of the same commentary in 955; finally in 987 he helped compose a letter to the Syrian Patriarch. All other dates are given as educated hypotheses.

Sawirus grew up in Old Cairo Egypt before the foundation of modern Cairo by the Fatimid caliphs As a young man Sawirus distinguished himself as a ...

Article

Kyle T. Bulthuis

tobacconist, sexton of John Street Methodist Church, and founding trustee of the African or Zion Chapel (later named “Mother Zion,” the first African Methodist Episcopal Zion, or AMEZ, church in the United States), was born on Beekman Street in New York City, the son of the African slaves George and Diana. At the time of his birth as many as one in five New York City residents were slaves, a percentage greater than any other British colonial area north of the Chesapeake. Two events in Peter Williams's early adulthood dramatically shaped his future. At some undetermined time, his owners sold him to James Aymar in New York City From Aymar Williams learned the tobacconist trade providing him skills that would one day make him one of the wealthiest blacks in the city Also as a young man Williams attended Methodist meetings and he converted to Methodism ...