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Daryle Williams

also known as the “Intrepid Mariner Simão,” freeborn Cape Verdean seaman who arrived in Brazil amid the last days of the clandestine transatlantic slave trade, and who distinguished himself as the hero of the 1853 wreck of the steamship Pernambucana. “Simão” (as he was nearly universally known) quickly garnered international fame, but the celebrity faded upon his return to his homeland, where he died of cholera. His maritime feats inspired numerous literary and visual works, chiefly the remarkable O Retrato do Intrépido Marinheiro Simão, Carvoeiro do Vapor Pernambucana (Portrait of the Intrepid Mariner Simão, Coalman of the Steamship Pernambucana), an undated (c. 1855) oil-on-canvas by José Correia de Lima (1814–1857), a painter of Brazilian historical scenes who taught at the Academia Imperial de Belas Artes (Imperial Academy of Fine Arts).

Simão was born around 1824 in the village of Ribeira Grande on the windward ...

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Sharon E. Wood

former slave, entrepreneur, steamboat worker, nurse, and church founder, was born in Bourbon County, Kentucky, in 1801 or 1804. Although her father was a white man and also her master, his name is unknown. Her mother, Lydia, was his slave. While she was still a child, Baltimore's father sold her to a trader who carried her to the St. Louis area. Over the next few years, she passed among several masters, including the New Orleans judge Joachim Bermudez, working as a house servant for French, Spanish, and Anglo-American households in Louisiana and eastern Missouri.

In New Orleans Baltimore joined the Methodist Church Her piety so impressed one preacher that he purchased her then allowed her to hire her own time and buy her freedom Baltimore worked as a chambermaid on steamboats and as a lying in nurse According to tradition it took her seven years to earn the ...

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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

Rachel Malcolm-Woods

slave craftsman, bateau man, and business agent for John Jordan and the Jordan and Irvine Company of Lexington, Virginia, was born in Amherst County in western Virginia. He grew up along the James River where he apprenticed in blacksmithing, carpentry, and navigation and earned the sobriquet “Dick the Boatman.” Bullock was likely a descendant of the Igbo, who were the predominant cultural group of the region. Many of these people and their descendants became skilled craftsmen. From 1740 to 1790 many Igbo people were brought directly to Virginia from Igboland by William and Thomas Randolph, who were slave traders and plantation merchants. By 1744Nicholas Davies, the former bookkeeper for the Randolphs, brought vast slave holdings to Amherst County derived from the same source. Upon his death in 1794 Davies manumitted many of his blacks bequeathing each family one hundred acres of land The mobility with which ...

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David M. Carletta

William Pancoast Clyde was born in Claymont, Delaware, the son of Thomas Clyde and Rebecca Pancoast. His father, a Scottish immigrant, settled in Chester, Pennsylvania, where he worked as a civil and marine engineer. In 1844 Thomas Clyde built America's first screw propeller steamship and launched the Clyde Steamship Line, which became the nation's largest coastal steamship company.

William Clyde attended Trinity College in Connecticut, but at the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861 he left his studies to join the Union forces as a Philadelphia Gray Reserve. In 1865 he married Emeline Field with whom he had seven children and entered the merchant shipping business in which his father had prospered At the age of thirty four Clyde became president of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company enabling him to dominate American shipping on the Pacific coast while his father dominated shipping on the Atlantic coast Clyde became ...

Article

David H. Anthony

adventurer, mariner, and African emigrationist, was born to Susan Cuffe and John Dean in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Harry Foster Dean followed the family profession when he decided to become a seafarer. By the age of thirteen he was on an around-the-world cruise captained by his Uncle Silas. A decade later he had made his way to Southampton, England, where he was mentored by a Captain Forbes. He later reported that he won his captain's license in that port, beginning a new phase in his life. According to Dean, his mother, Susan, was a granddaughter of the black Yankee Paul Cuffe As the progeny of the Cuffe family Dean considered himself a black aristocrat Since Cuffe was a merchant and back to Africa advocate Dean dreamed of reversing the effects and trajectories of the Middle Passage and removing himself to his ancestral continent of origin Much of what ...

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Kathryn L. Beard

soldier, sailor, and shipbuilder during the War of Independence, was born free in the British colony of St. Kitts of mixed race parentage. Little is known about his early life. Prior to adulthood he became literate, fluent in French and English, and he trained as a skilled craftsman in building dwellings and ships. As a free person of color in one of the older sugar colonies, he would have benefited from an increasing emigration of whites and, by 1745, a plantation system characterized by a high level of absenteeism by white landowners. These factors contributed to the growth of a small colored elite, financed largely by credit given by white relatives but still facing legal and de facto discrimination. For example, until 1830 the laws of St Kitts prohibited free people of color from attending the colony s few public schools although they paid taxes to ...

Article

Thomas Aiello

football player and entrepreneur. Melvin Farr was born and raised in Beaumont, Texas, the son of Dorothea Farr, a domestic worker, and Miller Farr, a truck driver. There he attended the segregated Hebert High School, where he played baseball and basketball and earned All-State honors in football and track. Farr played at Hebert in the shadow of his older brother Miller, who went on to play collegiate football at Wichita State before a long professional career as a defensive back. Mel's success, however, drove him far from Wichita or Beaumont: he earned a football scholarship to UCLA in 1963 Although Farr remained healthy throughout his high school career he broke his arm the first of many football related injuries during his sophomore year in college Following that injury Farr was an All American running back as a junior and senior gaining 1 630 yards in those ...

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Steven J. Niven

flatboat captain and lumber retailer, was probably born a slave in the mid-South in the early nineteenth century and brought to Mississippi in the 1820s after the Indian removal policies of President Andrew Jackson opened up the Deep South for exploitation by American businessmen and planters. The rich, alluvial soil of the Yazoo-Mississippi river basin offered prime opportunities for cotton cultivation, but the region, also heavily wooded with cypresses, first needed to be cleared. As a result an extensive lumber industry emerged in Mississippi in the 1830s and 1840s alongside the expansion of cotton cultivation. Slave labor was central to both enterprises. The hundreds of ambitious businessmen who flocked to Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama needed lumber for the plantations they hoped to construct with the vast profits to be made from cotton. They also built wood cabins for the more numerous slaves whose labors would create those profits.

Nothing ...

Article

Andrew W. Kahrl

real estate developer, general contractor, philanthropist, and shipping and excursion steamboat owner, was born in Orange, Virginia.

Jefferson spent his youth in Washington, D.C. In 1881, at the age of fifteen, Jefferson enlisted in the Navy after falsifying his age. He traveled around the world working as a coal heaver. During his service, Jefferson secured connections with wealthy, influential whites, including Canadian shipping magnate Sir Hugh Allen, from whom Jefferson received a significant bequest after his death in 1882 Following his service Jefferson returned to Washington and started a small business that furnished manure and other fertilizers to city lawns and gardens and collected and shipped it out of town His wealth grew as a result of real estate investments Partnerships and friendships with influential whites in the city s business community helped to mitigate the effects of discrimination and protect him from ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Carl E. Meacham

railroad fireman and union activist, was born Matt Meacham in the township of Springfield, Greene County, Alabama, the fifth of seven children of Anthony Meacham, an ex-slave and farmer, and Hazel Cooks, also a farmer. Almost five years old when the Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1863, Anthony became a sharecropper in Greene County, but relocated, following a racially motivated financial dispute with the landowner, to nearby Pickens County about 1915. A defining moment in Meacham's life, it influenced his decision to confront the pervasive racism in the railroad industry in the 1940s.

Meacham's odyssey began at seventeen in July 1922 Like thousands of poorly educated yet ambitious rural Alabama black youths in the 1920s he migrated to the thriving small city of Tuscaloosa seeking a better life and in the process assumed a new surname Mitchell Hired as a coal heaver on the ...

Article

Sandra Opdycke

Isaac Myers was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of free African American parents, whose names and occupations are unknown. Myers was barred from public education, but he did attend a private day school run by a local clergyman. Leaving school at sixteen, he served an apprenticeship with a leading black ship caulker and then entered the trade himself, becoming by the age of twenty a supervisor, responsible for caulking some of Baltimore's largest clipper ships. During this period he married Emma V.; neither the precise year nor her full maiden name is known. They had three children, the first born in 1859.

Myers worked as a porter and shipping clerk for a wholesale grocer from 1860 to 1864 ran his own store for a year and then went back to ship caulking Soon after he returned to this trade however the city s white caulkers ...

Article

Sandra Opdycke

labor leader, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of free parents whose names and occupations are unknown. Myers was barred from public education, but he did attend a private day school run by a local clergyman. Leaving school at age sixteen he served an apprenticeship with a leading black ship caulker and then entered the trade himself, becoming by the age of twenty a supervisor, responsible for caulking some of Baltimore's largest clipper ships. During this period he married Emma V., though neither the precise year of the marriage nor her full maiden name is known. They had three children, the first born in 1859.

Myers worked as a porter and shipping clerk for a wholesale grocer from 1860 to 1864 ran his own store for a year and then went back to ship caulking Soon after he returned to this trade however the city ...

Article

David Killingray

African‐Americanseaman, evangelist, and missionary born in the United States, the child of freed slaves. As a seaman he travelled over a large part of the world, living what he later described as the dissolute life of a prodigal. He arrived in Edinburgh sometime in the early 1870s. While living in Leith, in 1873, he entered a mission hall and was converted to Christianity. From then on he became an evangelist, first in Leith and then as an itinerant preacher with a travelling tent mission in the Scottish midlands.

Newby wanted to go to Africa as a missionary, and so he trained at the Harley Institute in east London from 1874 to 1876. He sailed for West Africa in July 1876 to work for the Church Missionary Society in the Niger delta region As part of his evangelistic work he went with an expedition into ...

Article

Trevor Hall

was a ship owner and discoverer, colonizer, and governor of the Portuguese Cape Verde Islands off the Guinea coast (now known as Senegal). Born into a prominent family of cartographers in Genoa, de Noli played an important role in the fifteenth-century slave trade when he sailed to West Africa and transported Africans to Portugal as slaves. There is no information about his marriage; however, he had a daughter, the Portuguese noblewoman Branca de Aguiar. She inherited his Cape Verde governorship in 1497, when she married the Portuguese nobleman Jorge Correa de Sousa. Other relatives were his younger brother Bartholomeu and nephew Raphael de Noli, who like Antonio were ship captains.

Just before 1460 the three de Noli captains sailed their ships from the Mediterranean to Portugal where Prince Henry the Navigator hired Antonio to deliver horses to West Africa The Christian Prince Henry had formed a military alliance ...

Article

Ian Rocksborough-Smith

civil rights, peace, and social justice organizer, and writer, was born Hunter Pitts O'Dell on the west side of Detroit, Michigan. Jack's parents were George Edwin O'Dell and Emily (Pitts) O'Dell. His father was a hotel and restaurant worker in Detroit who later owned a restaurant in Miami, Florida. His mother had studied music at Howard University and became an adult education teacher, a classical and jazz pianist, and an organist for Bethel AME Church in Detroit. His grandfather, John H. O'Dell, was a janitor in the Detroit Public Library system and a member of the Nacirema Club, which was a club for prominent African American Detroiters. Jack O'Dell later took his grandfather's signature, “J.H. O'Dell” as his nom de plume when he became a writer.

Raised by his paternal grandparents O Dell grew up during the Great Depression and witnessed the sit down ...

Article

Adam W. Green

football player, lawyer, and business executive, was born to Lawrence C. Perry, a dentist, and Lillian Bass Perry, a homemaker, in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Perry's father set an example for his children with not only professional but also civic success, running a prominent dental practice and serving as a member of the city's board of education.

The youngest of four children, Lowell attended Ypsilanti High School, where he played quarterback on the football team, receiving All-State honors in 1948. After graduating in 1949 Perry attended the University of Michigan his father s alma mater As an ROTC cadet majoring in history with an eye toward law Perry found triumph in athletics running track and playing for the Wolverines football team In his sophomore year Perry played both sides of the ball as offensive end and safety helping Michigan to the Big Ten Championship and a ...

Article

Christopher Paul Moore

sailor and trader, was born in Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic), probably the son of an Afro- Caribbean mother and a European father. Like other Atlantic Creoles—persons of African descent whose names suggest that they had long experience in the western Atlantic world—Rodrigues was among those navigators, traders, pirates, and fishermen who traversed the Atlantic as free men, before and during the slavery era of the Americas. Knowledgeable in the many languages, laws, religions, and trading etiquettes of the larger Atlantic world, their presence suggests the porous character of racial lines in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, which allowed people of African descent to be employed and even rise to positions of authority in a world suffused with African slavery. Rodrigues arrived in the northeastern territory of North America following the arrival of at least two other free black men, including Esteban Gomez and Mathieu Da Costa.

In April ...

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A. J. Peluso

deckhand, scowman, sailor, and marine artist, was born in Mobile, Alabama, the son of Nelson Selby and Margaret Hicks, occupations unknown. Nothing more is known of Selby's family, and little is known about his youth. By 1905, as a child of twelve, he was employed as a deckhand working the ships in Mobile Bay—schooners from ports around the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. One day his leg was mangled in a snapped towline and had to be amputated. In spite of the loss he managed to engage successfully in various manual and unskilled jobs and earn a precarious living.

Selby spent some of his early working years in Baltimore Maryland as a scowman for the Atlantic Transport Line Even with a peg leg he could climb a rope ladder as deftly as anyone without his disability Nor did the work of scowman suppress ...