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Blake, Margaret Jane  

Mary Krane Derr

slave and later servant, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, to Perry Blake, a free African American, and his wife Charlotte, a slave in the household of a prominent merchant, Jesse Levering. The couple had several other children. In 1897 Jesse's daughter Sarah R. Levering published a booklet about Margaret Jane Blake's life through the Press of Innes & Son in Philadelphia. As of 2011 other sources concerning Blake s life were unknown Thus we should read this account with care recognizing that it provides only one perspective on Blake s life and that it comes from a member of the family who once owned her It nonetheless offers several insights on the life of an urban African American woman in slavery and freedom Levering designated the proceeds from the booklet s sale to a Presbyterian affiliated manual labor school for the benefit of the ...


Snoddy, Dilsey  

Laurel Horton

enslaved servant of John Snoddy, Spartanburg, South Carolina. Her place of birth and the names of her parents are unknown. John Snoddy and his family emigrated from County Antrim, Ireland, in 1773, and by the time of the 1790 census, he owned ten slaves. When his will was executed in 1808, John owned eighteen slaves including a “boy Bill and girl Dilsey” (Spartanburg County Probate Records, #1756), who were bequeathed to his son Isaac and noted as already in Isaac's possession. Dilsey was eighteen years old and valued at $400. This made her one of the most valuable slaves in the estate, along with a man named George ($482.50), and a woman named Fan and her child, Ransom ($500). Dilsey's attributed value strongly suggests that she was a skilled house servant rather than a field hand. Isaac, his wife, Jane their children and their ...


Tanner, Sarah Elizabeth  

Charles Rosenberg

founder, treasurer, vice president, and president of the Women's Parent Mite Missionary Society of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, sometimes known affectionately by her family as Sadie, was born Sarah E. Miller in Winchester, Virginia, where her parents were by state law considered the property of persons whose names are lost to history. Her life paralleled that of her husband, AME bishop Benjamin Tucker Tanner, but reflected her own distinct service to church and community.

In 1843 her family escaped via the Underground Railroad, settling in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she attended day school and Allegheny Institute, established by Reverend Charles Avery in 1849 as a school for young Americans of African descent (see Brown, 1988, and Verdino-Sullwold, 1991). Benjamin T. Tanner the freeborn son of a Pittsburgh river boatman also attended Avery working as a barber to pay his way before ...


Terry, Lucy  

Anthony Gerzina

first known African American poet, was born in Africa. The facts of her early years are not known with certainty. But, as best as can be determined, she was brought to New England about 1729 through the port of Boston by Barbados-based slave merchants. As the property of Samuel Terry, a Harvard-educated aspiring minister, she lived initially in Mendon, Massachusetts, west of Boston and perhaps in Union in northeast Connecticut. She was sold to Ebenezer Wells, a Deerfield, Massachusetts, merchant and tavern holder, sometime before 15 June 1735 which is the date of her baptism Her baptism record notes her as servant to Ebenezer Wells as slaves were often euphemistically described in New England Many Deerfield slave owners had their slaves baptized during the Great Awakening and Terry s baptism proved the beginning of her lifelong religiosity She was admitted to the fellowship of the Church ...


Till, Hannah  

Charles Rosenberg

who accompanied the Continental Army during the revolutionary war as a cook, was enslaved at birth, owned by four different men over half a century, and by the end of the war was a free woman, settling in Philadelphia and living to the age of 104.

One of the few contemporary written accounts is that of John Fanning Watson, who writes that his sister saw Till alive at the age of 104. Later published accounts say she died at 102. Her date of birth is not recorded, estimated only by subtracting the length of her life from the year she died.

Watson wrote that Till had told him her childhood name was Hannah Long Point—a name her father acquired for successful deer hunting at a place called Long Point. She was born in Kent County, Delaware, assigned by law as the property of John Brinkley Esq He sold ...


Truth, Sojourner  

Nell Irvin Painter

abolitionist and women's rights advocate, was born in Hurley, Ulster County, New York, the daughter of James and Elizabeth Baumfree, who were slaves. Named Isabella by her parents, she took the name Sojourner Truth in 1843. As a child, Isabella belonged to a series of owners, the most memorable of whom were the John Dumont family of Esopus, Ulster County, to whom she belonged for approximately seventeen years and with whom she remained close until their migration to the West in 1849. About 1815 she married another of Dumont's slaves, Thomas, who was much older than she; they had five children. Isabella left Thomas in Ulster County after their emancipation under New York State law in 1827, but she did not marry again.

In the year before her emancipation Isabella left her master Dumont of her own accord and went to work for the ...