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Shani Roper

was born on the island of St. Kitts in the British West Indies. Little is known about how he came to be in Falmouth, Virginia, in the 1770s. However, both the towns of Falmouth and Fredericksburg sat on the banks of the Rappahannock River and were bustling eighteenth-century port cities. Many ships leaving the Rappahannock traded goods and provisions in the West Indies. Jeffery Bolster (1997) argues that in the eighteenth century, enslaved Africans worked extensively on ships and schooners, thereby participating in the complex shipping network in the Americas. Many of these enslaved Africans were skilled seamen who were familiar with the geography of major ports throughout the region. Norman Schools (2010 suggests that it is possible that John DeBaptiste was one of many enslaved Africans from the Caribbean who arrived on these ships visiting the port and who either escaped or took residence in ...

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Valika Smeulders

was born in Paramaribo, Suriname, on 26 August 1846. He was one of ten children born to Johannes Ellis, who was a senior civil servant, and Maria Louisa de Hart. He was born at a time when slavery was still legal in the Dutch colonies, where abolition did not occur until 1863. His paternal grandmother and his maternal great-grandmother were both born in Ghana. They were both enslaved and had children by white men. Several authors, J. J. Vrij (2001) in most detail indicate that Ellis s paternal grandfather must have been Abraham de Veer the governor of Elmina Castle the Dutch trading post De Veer was Dutch born on Curaçao where his father was governor He was a married man and did not officially recognize Johannes Ellis or the other children he fathered out of wedlock but he did take young Johannes with him ...