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AfriGeneas Free Persons of Color Forum

Free Blacks in Delaware

Republished with Ms. Arday's permission...

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From: Susan Arday
Date: Sun, 21 Mar 2004 23:34:05 -0500
To: Historic Glasgow Park
Subject: More clues to the FREE African-Americans at the LaGrange (Anne
Barczewski) farm in Glasgow, DE

Several decades ago, some of the descendants of Samuel H. and Dorcas M.
Black gave the Black family bible to my grandmother (Anne Barczewski). The Black
family was so grateful and appreciative of what my grandparents did to restore and preserve the history of the LaGrange farm. Dr. Samuel Henry Black, his wife, Dorcas Armitage Middleton Black, and many of their descendants are buried in Pencader Presbyterian Church, which is only a 1/4 mile from the La Grange farm in Glasgow.

Currently, and only temporarily, I have the Black family bible (circa 1807, printed in Philadelphia, PA). It is huge and in fair condition, although very fragile. We have always handled it as little as possible, and usually with clean, white cotton gloves covering our hands.

Very soon, my mother (Joanne Barczewski Lewis) and I are going to take the Black family bible to the DE Public Archives in Dover so that the archives can make microfiche copies of certain historical and genealogically important pages in the bible. After this process is complete, my mother will have the bible appraised by a historical documents appraiser, and then the bible will be donated, on behalf of Anne B., to an appropriate archival source in the state of DE - possibly to the Morris Library at the University of DE in Newark, where many of Dr. Samuel H. Black's journals, letters, and papers already are preserved and archived for careful and controlled public
examination. The bible is not for sale at any price.

Several groups are very interested in the relationship that Dr. Samuel H.
and Dorcas M. Black had with the unnamed FREE African-Americans who were part if the Black household in 1810 and 1820. Dorcas Black wrote the following in the back of the Black family bible, and this may ultimately help me find a link to put names to those FREE African-Americans who were part if the Black household in 1810 and 1820.

Transcribed from page 834, at the end of the Apocrypha, in the Dr. Samuel Henry Black and Dorcas Armitage Middleton Black family bible.

"Kitty Williams a coloured [sic] woman the ages of her children that is [sic] liveing [sic] Ann her eldest November 21, 1831 Priscilla March 22, 1834 Louisa her third child born July 5th, 1836.

William Evans a coloured [sic] child son of Henry and Julia Ann Evans born January 21, 1832."

My theory is that these African-Americans were very special to Dorcas
Middleton Black, such that of all people, who were not members of her immediate
family by blood or marriage, nonetheless Dorcas wrote about them in her family
bible. I am sure that Bible was a treasured possession of Dorcas'. I figure
Dorcas probably considered these African-Americans to be
like family to her. These African-Americans - Kitty Williams, and Henry
and Julia Ann Evans - must have had a very special and likely longstanding
personal relationship with Dorcas Middleton Black. They may have lived at
LaGrange and worked for Samuel and Dorcas Black on the Black farm (LaGrange). They
may have been a comfort and an abiding help on the farm
and in the Black household to Dorcas when her husband, Samuel H. Black, died
suddenly and unexpectedly in his 40s on April 17, 1827.

When Samuel H. Black died, he was 44 years old, leaving Dorcas a widow at
the age of 37 years. I believe that Dorcas M. Black had 9 living children in
April 1827 (Harriet, Charles, Robert, David, George, Samuel, Margaret, Levi,
and xxxxx Jane). The oldest child, Harriet Black, was 17 years old,
and the youngest child, xxxxx Jane, was 8 months old, when their father,
Samuel H. Black died. Dorcas would have had her hands full to manage and run a
huge farm along with 9 children to feed, clothe, and educate. Dorcas
suffered another blow in December 1827 when her and Samuel's four year old son, Levi
B. Black, died. The evidence shows that 1827 was a very
difficulty year for the family of Samuel Henry Black, MD. In 1827, Dorcas
would have needed all the help and support she could get. Therefore, anyone
who was there for her over time, especially during hardship periods such as
1827, would have been near and dear to her heart.

Thus, I wonder if Kitty Williams and Henry and Julia Ann Evans are some of
the unnamed FREE African-Americans who were part of Samuel H. and Dorcas M.
Black's household according to the 1810 and 1820 Federal censuses of Pencader
Hundred, New Castle County, DE? If Dorcas A. Black had a will
and/or if I can find some letters she wrote over the years of her lifetime,
I may be able to find a confirmatory link.

I have searched the later years (1830, 1840, 1850, & 1860) of the New Castle
County, DE, censuses (state and Federal rolls). Although I have not found
Kitty Williams (whose formal first name may have been Katherine), I did find
Henry and Julia Evans, a husband and wife, in the 1860 Federal census for
Newark, New Castle County, DE. The Evans had their own household in Newark,
DE, and were living very geographically close to the place where Dorcas A.
Black was residing in 1860. In 1860, Dorcas A. Black was in her 70s and was a
member of her son's, David William Black's, household in Newark, DE.

1860 U.S. Census Delaware New Castle White Clay Creek Household of
David W. Black

Name Age in 1860 Estimated Birth Year Birthplace Race Home in
1860 (City, County, State) Gender

David W. Black 40 1819 Delaware Newark, New
Castle, Delaware Male

Dorcas A. Black 73 1786 Delaware Newark, New
Castle, Delaware Female

Harriet Black 50 1809 Delaware Newark, New
Castle, Delaware Female

Caroline ?dvuid? 10 1849 Delaware Newark, New
Castle, Delaware Female

Laura ?dvuid? 14 1845 Delaware Newark, New
Castle, Delaware Female

Annie ?dvuid? 8 1851 Delaware Newark, New
Castle, Delaware Female

1860 U.S. Census Delaware New Castle White Clay Creek
Name: David W. Black
Age in 1860: 40
Birthplace: Delaware
Home in 1860: Newark, New Castle, Delaware
Gender: Male
Value of real estate: View image
Post Office: Newark
Roll: M653_97
Page: 561
Year: 1860
Head of Household: David W. Black Household

1860 U.S. Census Delaware New Castle White Clay Creek
Name: Dorcas A. Black
Age in 1860: 73
Birthplace: Delaware
Home in 1860: Newark, New Castle, Delaware
Gender: Female
Value of real estate: View image
Post Office: Newark
Roll: M653_97
Page: 561
Year: 1860
Head of Household: David W. Black Household

1860 U.S. Census Delaware New Castle White Clay Creek
Name: Henry Evans
Age in 1860: 60
Birthplace: Delaware
Home in 1860: Newark, New Castle, Delaware
Race: Colored
Gender: Male
Value of real estate: View image
Post Office: Newark
Roll: M653_97
Page: 552
Year: 1860
Head of Household: Henry Evans Household

1860 U.S. Census Delaware New Castle White Clay Creek
Name: Julia Evans
Age in 1860: 60
Birthplace: Delaware
Home in 1860: Newark, New Castle, Delaware
Race: Colored
Gender: Female
Value of real estate: View image
Post Office: Newark
Roll: M653_97
Page: 552
Year: 1860
Head of Household: Henry Evans Household

1860 U.S. Census Delaware New Castle White Clay Creek
Household of Henry Evans

Name Age in 1860 Estimated Birth Year Birthplace Race Home in
1860 (City, County, State) Gender

Henry Evans 60 1799 Delaware Colored Newark, New
Castle, Delaware Male

Julia Evans 60 1799 Delaware Colored Newark, New
Castle, Delaware Female

Anna Evans 23 1836 Delaware Colored Newark, New
Castle, Delaware Female

John Evans 6 1853 Delaware Colored Newark, New
Castle, Delaware Male

The Black family bible is covered in dark brown leather, no visible printing
on the cover or spine, and it has either vellum or rag paper pages. There
are many religious genre newspaper clippings tucked inside the pages of the
bible, a recipe clipping for Oxford sausages, and a clipping from "The Rural
Economist" on raising fruit tree by planting the scions and using ashes as
a source of potash to improve agricultural soil. There are additional
religious newspaper clippings, vignettes, and poems that have been glued to the
inside front and back hard covers of the bible. The newspaper clippings
typically appear to date from the 1830s, although some maybe be older [from
the time frame of 1807 to 1830].

There is a slip of plain paper tucked in the bible. The slip of paper is a
hand written receipt which says:

"Doctor Black in Au't with James Smith December 25th 1816, Pd 3 months
Tuition of Joseph Middleton $2.25
Dec 29th Rec'd paymt and ???? James Smith"

This receipt may be referring to Joseph Middleton's tuition to the Newark
(DE) Academy, forerunner of the University of Delaware. I wonder if Samuel
Black was paying his brother-in-law's or nephew's tuition?

Another slip of ruled paper (like notebook paper) tucked in the Black family
bible appears to be a running financial tab for various people living in the
vicinity of Glasgow, DE. I cannot be certain whether the tallies represent
money that the Black family owed others, or more likely, that members of the
Glasgow, DE, community owed the Black family. My best guess is that this is
a store tally for various customers that would have been kept by Robert
Middleton Black, son of Samuel and Dorcas Black. It is my understanding that in
the 1850s, Robert M. Black ran a store in Glasgow, DE. There are items such
as potatoes and corn, listed beneath various names on the tally.
Some of the names on the tally sheet include George McDaniel, John London,
George N. Gardener, John M. Sackard, John Hogg, George Lightfoot, George
Simpson, Amos Ruth, D. B. Stewart, Smith Garrett, and Caroline Boulden.

One newspaper clipping glued to the front inside cover of the Bible is a
religious poem titled "Thoughts Amid the Cholera". I am sure that cholera was
quite a scourge and feared infectious disease during Dr. and Mrs. Black's
lifetimes. The Blacks may have lost numerous family members and friends to
cholera. I often wonder as I stroll through Pencader Presbyterian Church
Cemetery in Glasgow, DE, how many of the people who
lived contemporaneously to Dr. Samuel Black as judged by the dates on the
headstones, were friends and maybe patients of Dr. Black's at some point during
their short or long lives.

My husband is a physician and I am a medical epidemiologist, so it must have
been difficult back in the early 1800's to watch your family members and
friends quickly and suddenly succumb cholera. During the 19th century, pandemic
cholera spread repeatedly from the Ganges delta of India to most of the
world. In severe untreated cases of cholera, death may occur within a
few hours, and the case-fatality rate may exceed 50%. With proper treatment
and public health measures available now, but not in Dorcas Black's
lifetime, the case-fatality rate is less than 1%.

There must have been some way that a cholera epidemic personally touched
Dorcas Black's life, such that Dorcas felt compelled to cut out and glue inside
her bible a newspaper clipping of a religious poem titled "Thoughts Amid the
Cholera". I wonder if a cholera epidemic was raging in the New
Castle County, DE, area during July 1832 (which is the date of clipping)?

Thoughts Amid the Cholera

When Pestilence invades our streets,
And frights our friends away,
How calm, but solemn, seems the hours
To us who lonely stay!

Our wont places now no more
Their wonted faces shew;
And silence seldom yields to sound
Of voices which we know.

But, oh! what hours are these for pray'r,
When scarce the world intrudes!
For now we feel that God is near,
The more in solitudes.

We pray for those who're absent far;
And, ah! how blest we'll feel,
When wakes again the social pray'r,
Where lonely now we kneel.

New York, July 10, 1832.

The dimensions of the Black family Bible are approximately: 11 inches long
x 9 inches wide x 3 1/2 inches thick. I would venture that there are close
to 950 total pages in this bible.

The face page of the bible reads:

"The Holy Bible containing the Old and New Testaments: together with the
Apocrypha. Translated out of the Original Tongues and with the former
translations diligently compared and revised. By special command of King James I of
England with marginal notes and references, to which are added an
index, an alphabetical table, and the names of the Old and New Testaments,
with their significations, tables of scripture weights, measures, and coins;
John Brown's Concordance, &c., &c., &c. Embellished with ten maps and twenty
historical engravings.

Philadelphia: Printed and Published by Mathew Carey, No. 122, Market
Street. In the year 1807. "

On the inside back hard cover of the bible, in lovely large longhand black
ink well pen script there is written "Dorcas A. Black's Book 1827".

On the back side of one of the first pages in the Black family bible,
someone at some point in time made a lead pencil rubbing of the reverse side of a
US Capped Bust Half Dollar. This coin was authorized for use in April 2,
1792, and was issued during 1807 through 1839. The rubbing does not
render enough information to tell me what year the particular coin of the
rubbing was minted.

I conjecture that this Bible was likely a wedding gift to Dorcas A.
Middleton upon her marriage on 21 March 1807 to Samuel Henry Black, MD.

Given the perfect and beautiful handwriting, with hardly any misspellings or
misused grammar, along with the numerous newspaper clippings in the bible, I
postulate that Dorcas A. Middleton Black was a well educated woman for her
time, intelligent, literate, and could read and write.

Family records, written in longhand ink well pen, in the Samuel Henry Black
and Dorcas Armitage Middleton Black family bible:

MARRIAGES

Samuel H. Black and Dorcas A, Middleton married 12th day of March 1807

BIRTHS

Samuel H. Black was born 20th December 1782.

Dorcas A. Middleton was born October the 8th 1789.

Harriet Black Daughter of S. and D. Black was born Sunday morning 30th
October 1808.

Charles Henry Black (ink is faded and there is a hole in the page) 23rd
March 18..

Robert Middleton Black son of S. and D. Black was born 28th December 1811.

David William Black son of Sam'l & D. Black was born 7th day of September
1813 (or possibly 1814 - ink is blurred).

George ?Washington? (ink is very faded) Black born 28th April 1816.

Samuel Black son of S. & D. Black born 9th December A.D. 1817.

Margaret Black born December 13th A.D. 1819.

William Black born November 7th A.D. 1821.

Levi B. Black ???? 19th A.D. 1823 (ink is faded and there is a hole in the
page where the month would be written)

?first name illegible? Jane Black born August 28th 1826. (ink is faded and
there is a hole in the page where the girl's first name would be written)

Mary I. (? - not sure of middle initial) Middleton born June 30th 1791.

John T. Cochran born January 3, 1813 son of Mary L. Cochran ?Hanna? (ink
is very blurred) and ???? M. ??? Middleton.

Mary Cochran born March 15, 1814.

DEATHS

Samuel H. Black died ?Senia? April 17, 1827.

William Black died 24th October 1822.

Levi B. Black died December 1827. (There is a big space between the
month and the year, as if the writer hoped eventually that she or he would
remember the specific day Levi died and would then go back and fill in the blank
space.)

Margaret Black died August 28th 1828.

George W. Black died April 8, 1829.

Samuel B. Miles died the 9th of December 1831.

Harriet B. Miles died May 28th 1891 aged 83 years.

James L. Miles died 1856.

Robert M. Middleton died Monday the 10 of January 1825.

Joseph L. Middleton died November (either 12 or 22) of 1827.

Mary L. Cochran died May 26th 1835.

William B. Cochran died Feb (day missing - hole in page) 1829 aged thirty
eight year.

Note: Bottom half of page 679 / 680 is torn off and missing. It is not
clear, though, that any birth or death information is missing as a result of the
long lost lower half of page 679 / 680.

end of forward


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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