AfriGeneas Free Persons of Color Forum
New Book - Israel on the Appomattox
Israel on the Appomattox - A Southern Experiment in Black Freedom from the 1790's Through the Civil War by Melvin Patrick Ely. 2004. Knopf PUblishers.
Usually I wait until I have finished a book before I post, but in this instance I will make an exception, because for those of you who research FPOC in Prince Edward County (and probably the surrounding counties - Cumberland, Lunenburg, Buckingham) this is a must read, actually a good read for anyone researching FPOC in VA, who find the folks we research doing all kinds of things that the law in VA says they were not allowed to do.
"Israel Hill" does not refer to a person but is the name given to an area in Prince Edward County by the individuals who lived there (350 acres it was suppose to be 400). They were emancipated in the will of Richard Randolph,Jr. who opposed slavery. At age 21 he received a share of his fathers estate (Richard Sr.) which included land and slaves. His father had mortgaged the slaves to creditors and until those obligations were met the slaves were not legally Richard Jr.'s to liberate. Richard, Jr. writes his will in 1796, and dies a couple of months later at age 25. His wife Judith is named as exectutor....... to make a long but interesting first chapter short it is not until 1810 that most of those slaves were fully emancipated.
The original families that live on Israel Hill are: Hercules White, wife Fanny chidren Tony, Hercules, Jr. and Dick (in their 20's); Sam White, wife Susan (Sooky) 10 children, Tina (Teny Carter) 15 children: Hampton & Phobe Giles; Isham & Nancy Patterson, 6 kids; Rose Johnston (wife of Ceasar slave of William Randolph of Cumberland) 2 children; William & Eve (Edy) Wilkerson 5 chidren and Titus and Amy Gibbs 5 children.
The author has used extensive resources (150 pages worth of endnotes) to chart the life that these men and women were able to make for themselves, in a county in which 99% of the blacks were enslaved. They "established farms, plied skilled trades, and navigated the Appomattox River in freight carrying "batteaux"....bought and sold boats, land and buildings". "free blacks and white people do business with one another, sue each other, work side by side for equal wages, join forces to found a Baptist church, move West together, and occasionally settle down as man and wife"....
The authors Postscript and Sources and Interpretations - I read those first (citing the works of Berlin, Bogger on Norfolk, Butler's dissertation on Goochland, Watkinson on Lancaster Co, Denise's favorite Stevenson on Loudoun and others), make for very interesing reading ........will wait for others to read.......should make for an interesting discussion.