Tuesday, February 07, 2012

News--- Freedman's Letter To His Former Owner [Part Four: Historical Detection]

From: Roy E Finkenbine [mailto:finkenre@udmercy.edu]

This letter -- which is 100% legitimate -- "makes the rounds" every once in a while over the 147 years since it was first published in an Ohio paper, then copied in the NY Tribune, then in Lydia Maria Child's Freedmen's Book. In fact, it was oft-reprinted in a variety of publications between 1865-67, including in French. Then again during the 1960s/1970s. And again in the internet age.
Jordan (how his name was really spelled) and P.H. Anderson were real people. I've traced them and their story and am writing a book on both men and the letter. It's a fascinating story.

P.H. Anderson was "hip deep" in debt in August 1865 and had written Jordan, who had played a slave "managerial" role at Big Springs, to return I'm sure to help get in the harvest, help recruit back some of the slave laborers who had fled the plantation for nearby towns, and save the old plantation. Jordan didn't return, the plantation was lost, and P.H was dead by 1867.

Jordan and his family lived in Dayton, Ohio, from 1864 until his death in the early 20th century. He worked for the V. Winters mentioned in the letter.

Roy E. Finkenbine
Interim Dean and Professor of History
College of Liberal Arts and Education
University of Detroit Mercy

Text Source: H-NET List for the History of Slavery February 6, 2012

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