Biographies of Some Former Georgia Slaves
Contributed by Robert Scott Davis Jr.
The records resulting from the Civil War and Reconstruction contain information on the lives of tens of thousands of former slaves. Although the genealogically valuable surviving records of the Freedman’s Bank are being indexed, most of this material remains almost inaccessible for just one name or person. For information on these sources see the new guide to Georgia research being published by the Georgia Genealogical Society.
The following brief biographies of twenty Georgia African Americans comes from The War of the Rebellion (1895), vol. 47, pp. 37-39. They went to Washington to meet with Secretary of War Edwin Stanton and General William Sherman about the future of African-Americans in Georgia on January 12, 1865.
* William J. Campbell, aged fifty-one years, born in Savannah; slave until 1849, and then liberated by will of his mistress, Mrs. Mary Maxwell; for ten years pastor of the First Baptist Church of Savannah, numbering about 1,800 members; average congregation, 1,900; the church property, belonging to the congregation (trustees white), worth $18,000.
* John Cox, aged fifty-eight years, born in Savannah; slave until 849, when he bought his freedom for $1,100; pastor of the Second African Baptist Church; in the ministry fifteen years; congregation, 1,222 persons; church property, worth $10,000 belonging to the congregation.
* Ulysses L. Houston, aged forty-one years, born in Grahamville, S. C.; Slave “until the Union Army entered Savannah;”owned by Moses Henderson, Savannah, and pastor of the Third African Baptist Church, congregation numbering 400; church property, worth $5,000, belongs to congregation; in ministry about eight years.
* William Bentley, aged seventy-two years, born in Savannah; slave until twenty-five years of age, when his master John Waters, emancipated him by will; pastor of Andrew’s Chapel, Methodist Episcopal Church (only one of that denomination in Savannah), congregation numbering 360 members; church property worth about $20,000, and is owned by congregation; been in the ministry about twenty years; a member of Georgia Conference.
* Charles Bradwell, aged forty years, born in Liberty County, GA; slave until 1851; emancipated by will of his master, J. L. Bradwell; local preacher, in charge of the Methodist Episcopal congregation (Andrews Chapel) in the absence of the minister; in ministry ten years.
* William Gaines, aged forty-one years, born in Wills County, GA; slave “until the Union Forces Freed me;” owned by Robert Toombs, formerly U. S. Senator, and his brother, Gabriel Toombs; local preacher of the Methodist Episcopal Church (Andrews Chapel); in the ministry sixteen years.
* James Hill, aged fifty-two years, born in Bryan County, GA; slave “up till the time the Union Army comes in;” owned by H. F. Willings, of Savannah; in ministry sixteen years.
* Glasgow Taylor, aged seventy-two years, born in Wilkes County, GA; slave “Until the Union Army come;” owned by A. P. Wetter; is a local preacher of the Methodist Episcopal Church (Andrew’s Chapel); in the ministry thirty-five years.
* Garrison Frazier, aged sixty-seven years, born in Granville County, N. C.; slave until eitht years ago, when he bought himself and wife, paying $1,000 in gold and silver; is an ordained minister in the Baptist Church, but, his health failing, has now charge of no congregation; has been in the ministry thirty-five years.
* James Mills, aged forty-six years, born in Savannah; freeborn, and is a licensed preacher of the First Baptist Church; has been eight years in the ministry.
* Abraham Burke, aged forty-eight years, born in Bryan County, GA; slave until twenty years ago, when he bought himself for $800; has been in the ministry about ten years.
* Arthur Wardell, aged forty-four years, born in Liberty County, GA; slave “until freed by the Union Army;” owned by A. A. Solomons, Savannah, and is a licensed minister in the Baptist Church; has been in the ministry six years.
* Alexander Harris, aged forty-seven years, born in Savannah; freeborn; licensed minister of Third African Baptist Church; licensed about one month ago.
* Andrew Neal, aged sixty-one years, born in Savannah; slave “until the Union Army liberated me;” owned by Mr. William Gibbons, and has been deacon in the Third Baptist Church for ten years.
* James Porter, aged thirty-nine years, born in Charleston, S. C.; freeborn, his mother having purchased her freedom; is lay reader and president of the board of Wardens and Vestry of Saint Stephen’s Protestant Episcopal Colored Church in Savannah; has been in communion nine years; the congregation numbers about 200 persons; the church property is worth about $10,000 and is owned by the congregation.
* Adolphus Delmotte, aged twenty-eight years, born in Savannah; freeborn; is a licensed minister of the Missionary Baptist Church of Milledgeville, congregation numbering about 300 or 400 persons; has been in the ministry about two years.
* Jacob Godfrey, aged fifty-seven years, born in Marion, S. C.; slave “until the Union Army freed me;” owned by James E. Godfrey, Methodist preacher, now in the rebel army; is a class leader and steward of Andrew’s Chapel since 1836.
* John Johnson, aged fifty one years, born in Bryan County, GA; slave “up to the time the Union Army came here”; owned by W. W. Lincoln, of Savannah; is class leader and treasurer of Andrew’s Chapel for sixteen years.
* Robert N. Taylor, aged fifty-one years, born in Wilkes County, GA; slave “to the time the Union Army come;” was owned by Augustus P. Wetter, Savannah, and is class leader in Andrew’s Chapel for mine years.
* James Lynch, aged twenty-six years. Born in Baltimore, MD; freeborn; is presiding elder of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and missionary to the Department of the South; has been seven years in the ministry and two years in the South.