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Cooper, Arthur  

Barbara A. White

African Methodist Episcopal (AME) elder and leader in the African American community on Nantucket, was born on the plantation of David Ricketts on the outskirts of Alexandria, Virginia, where he was called George. The names of his parents are unknown.

There are conflicting accounts as to when Cooper fled Virginia. It is also unclear whether he fled with his wife, or whether he married a free woman in New Bedford, Massachusetts. (Little is known about his wife, Mary, other than her birth year of 1785.) All accounts do agree that he fled from Virginia with other fugitives on the packet ship Regulator, which hailed from New Bedford. Shortly after his arrival in New Bedford, George assumed the name Arthur Cooper and the following year, the Coopers' first child, Eliza Ann, was born. Sons Cyrus and Randolph were born in 1812 and 1814 respectively Randolph was probably ...


Ferebee, London R.  

Laura Murphy

writer, sailor, soldier, teacher, and minister, was one of ten children born in North Carolina to Abel Ferebee, a slave and minister of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion Church, and Chloe (maiden name unknown), a slave. When London was young his mother was sold, apparently because of her unwillingness to submit to her master and her ability to beat him in a fight. She was sold to a speculator, who offered to sell her to her husband or his master, who had allowed Ferebee to hire himself out to a local farmer so that they both profited from his labor. When she was subsequently bought by one of the two men—it is unclear which—London and two of his siblings were allowed to move with her, though they all remained enslaved.

Once he was old enough to begin laboring London was immediately set to ...


Osborne, William T.  

Edith L. Blumhofer

pastor and educator, was born in slavery at Burnt Corn, near Monroeville, Monroe County, Alabama, one of twelve children born of John (surname unknown), a Native American (probably Creek), and Rachel (surname unknown), a Virginia-born mixed-race slave of the Tait family. In the late spring of 1865, Osborne, an eleven-year-old attracted by uniforms and drums, followed the soldiers of the 117th Illinois Infantry as they marched through Monroeville for points beyond. He made himself useful in practical ways to the officers and men, and he won the sympathy of Lt. Col. Jonathan Merriam (whose horse became Osborne's special responsibility). When Merriam was mustered out of the army on 5 August 1865 Osborne accompanied him to Merriam s farm near Atlanta Logan County Illinois Merriam was a prosperous farmer who was active in Illinois politics and was an ardent Protestant and he promised the illiterate Osborne a home ...


Singleton, William Henry  

Timothy J. McMillan

slave, Civil War veteran, author, and itinerant minister, was born in New Bern, North Carolina. His mother was Lettice Nelson, a slave on John Nelson's plantation at Garbacon Creek in eastern North Carolina; his father was a white man believed to be William Singleton. As a young child of four, William was sold by his owner and thus separated from his mother and two brothers for the first time.

Singleton was purchased by a Georgia widow who speculated in slaves buying people cheaply when they were young and selling them at a premium when they had reached adulthood He was given the common tasks of a slave child running errands and carrying goods Around the age of six Singleton decided to escape the constant whippings and his bondage in Georgia and return to New Bern He was able to ride a stagecoach from ...


Smith, Owen L. W.  

Steven J. Niven

minister, magistrate, and diplomat, was born Owen Lun West Smith in Giddensville, Sampson County, North Carolina, the son of Ollen Smith and Maria (Hicks), both slaves. Although Owen was only ten years old when the Civil War broke out in 1861, he served for part of the war as the personal servant of a Confederate officer, most likely his owner or a son of his owner. Several accounts suggest that Smith was present at the Battle of Bentonville in North Carolina near the war's end in March 1865. Some of these accounts insist that he was still a body servant for a Confederate soldier. Others claim that that by the age of thirteen, in 1864 Smith like many eastern North Carolina slaves and some buffaloes poor whites hostile to the area s wealthy and all powerful slave owners had fled the Confederate lines to ...


Tilmon, Levin  

Jared Winston Hickman

pastor and community activist, was born in Caroline County, Maryland, to an unnamed father and Sidney Rotter, both slaves. After he was manumitted at a young age, Tilmon's mother (who was also manumitted) indentured him in or around 1815 to a farmer in Northern Delaware. Life as an indentured servant was not much better than life as a slave, and on multiple occasions Tilmon physically resisted cruel masters. Around 1824 Tilmon escaped on a vessel via the Delaware River to Philadelphia but was quickly recaptured and jailed While in jail Tilmon learned that his insolvent master planned to sell him out of state to a slave trader which was considered kidnapping under Delaware state law With the help of the community and through legal means Tilmon was able to free himself from his master and finish the four remaining years of his indenture in Wilmington Delaware serving ...