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Key, Elizabeth  

Steven J. Niven

early legal petitioner for freedom, was born near present-day Newport News, Virginia, to an unknown slave woman and Thomas Key, a white Englishman. Key served as a burgess in Virginia's colonial assembly. That Elizabeth's mother is described in colonial records simply as a “slave” is significant for two reasons. First, it means that she was probably not a Christian, since African-born or descended slaves and servants who followed that faith were usually characterized as such in the legal record. Second, it suggests that at least some Africans were being classified as lifetime chattel in Virginia as early as the 1620s, when there were only a few hundred blacks in the colony.

Like that of her mother and of others of African descent in seventeenth century Virginia the precise legal status of Elizabeth Key was not clearly defined Was she free like her father Or a slave like her mother ...


Leiper, Fanny  

Nicole S. Ribianszky

free woman of color, property holder, and washerwoman, was born into slavery in Natchez, Mississippi. The exact date of her birth is not now known. She was born to an enslaved woman, Hannah Frey, and to J. S. Miller, a white planter who lived outside of Natchez near the small town of Washington. Mrs. Margaret Overaker, a white woman, and her husband, George, owned Leiper and her mother. While Leiper was still a young girl, her mother was manumitted, but Leiper herself remained enslaved. Sometime around 1831, when Leiper was approximately twenty or twenty-one, she was freed, reportedly at the insistence of her father, who paid her owner $300. In 1834 or thereabouts, following the instructions of her white father, she was taken by boat up the Mississippi River to Cincinnati, Ohio, in the footsteps of her mother.

As was the case with ...


Morgan, Nathaniel  

David Brodnax

racial murder victim, was born between 1805 and 1815. The place of his birth and his parents' names are unknown. In fact nothing is known about Morgan's life until after he moved from Galena, Illinois, to Dubuque, Iowa Territory in 1833. At that time Dubuque was a violent frontier town where several thousand whites, most from Ireland or the American South, worked on the Mississippi River or in lead mines alongside several dozen free blacks and slaves.

In 1834 Morgan's wife Charlotte maiden name unknown was one of twelve charter members of the Iowa Territory s first church Records show that several slaves also offered small donations to help build the edifice which also served as a courthouse schoolhouse and town meeting hall Despite being marginalized by a society that did not appreciate their presence the Morgans and other black Iowans were determined to have a ...


Walker, Quok  

John Saillant

, slave, farm laborer, plaintiff in a civil suit, and freedman, was purchased as an infant in 1754 along with his mother and father, Dinah (b. c. 1735) and Mingo (b. c. 1734), by James Caldwell of Rutland District, Worcester County, Massachusetts. As a freedman, Walker married Elizabeth Harvey in 1786. The date of his death is unknown; an 1812 public record in Barre, Massachusetts (part of Rutland District that was incorporated separately in 1774 and renamed in 1776), refers to Walker as deceased. Prince Walker (c. 1762–1858), another freed slave who lived nearby, may have been Quok Walker's brother.

Sometime in Walker's youth Caldwell promised him his freedom, to be granted when he was in his mid-twenties. However, Caldwell died intestate when Walker was a minor. Caldwell's widow, Isabell inherited at least some ...


Webb, Jane  

Terri L. Snyder

litigant, born in Northampton County, Virginia, was the daughter of an indentured mother, Ann Williams, and an enslaved father, Daniel Webb. In accordance with a Virginia law that stipulated that children would be slave or free according to the status of their mother, Jane Webb was born a free person. However, because she was the product of a mixed-race, out-of-wedlock union and because her mother gave birth while under an indenture contract, the law also required that Jane Webb be bound out as a servant until she reached the age of eighteen. Throughout her lifetime she was variously referred to as Jane Webb (her father's surname), Jane Williams her mother s surname and Jane Left her husband s first name These variations reflect the uncertainty of her status in early eighteenth century Virginia as the colony s lawmakers worked in earnest to both limit the numbers ...