African American Entrepreneur

I’ve done a really bad job of keeping my posts consistent.  I think my daily post plan was too aggressive.  Truly, I love selecting the African Americans that I am highlighting this month.  This is a, “it’s not you – it’s me,” moment if ever I saw one.

To salvage the week at least, I’m calling attention to a local African American that is not widely well known.  I’ve found the following brief article to share in this post.


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Samuel Balton           Photo courtesy of SCHS

Samuel Ballton, 1838-1917 – Entrepreneur, musician, “Pickle King of L.I.”

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Photo courtesy of huntingtonny.gov

Born into slavery in Virginia, escaped in 1862 from forced labor (repairing the Confederacy’s Virginia Central Railway), then made two attempts to rescue his wife and family, the second successful, enlisted in the 5th Massachusetts Cavalry Regiment (U.S. Colored Troops), which helped occupy Richmond in 1865, guarded enemy prisoners, and ended its service in Texas. Honorably discharged, he disappears from the record, until 1873, when he reappears in Greenlawn, L.I., NY, where his business and real estate acumen began to really shine, along with the diversification of his many business interests and private and government contracts. Ballton acquired, leased, and rented land growing at one point 1.5 million cucumbers and starting a pickle trade. He became one of a leader in the growth and development and political life of Greenlawn. Several of the homes he built are still standing today. There is an annual Greenlawn Pickle fest held by the Greenlawn-Centerport Historical Society in his honor.   Read more about Samuel Balton’s fascinating life.

Sources:
“The Pickle King of Greenlawn” (Huntington History)


For all the popular historical African Americans remembered through history, Long Island is rich in forgotten or nearly forgotten African American history.  Researching their stories and working to tell them, even in this small blog, is a celebration of their lives, accomplishments.

 

My 300-year-old friend

Today’s post is about my 300-year-old friend, Jupiter Hammon.  There are no known photos of Jupiter but I’m enjoying learning about his life on Long Island.  This was definitely not in any history book in high school.  Ironic too, because he lived only a few miles from my high school.

Jupiter was born into slavery on October 17, 1711, in the manor house of Henry Lloyd in Lloyd’s Neck on Long Island. A slave of the Lloyd family, Jupiter read and studied the bible and was also the first African American published in the United States.  Jupiter became known as a preacher to the slaves on Lloyd Manor and in surrounding communities. He was a gentle person and he taught the gospel of the bible and encouraged slaves to be dutiful yet learn the true teachings of Christianity.

He will bring us all, rich and poor, white and black, to his judgment seat.                              – Jupiter Hammon

Let all the time you can get be spent in trying to learn to read.                                                    – Jupiter Hammon

 

Miss Phillis Wheatley supports General George Washington

Today’s subject is Miss Phillis Wheatley.  Taken from her home in Africa and sold as a slave aboard a ship named Phillis, she was sold to John Wheatley as a servant for his wife. Her intelligence was evident and she was educated by the Wheatley family that owned her.

That education was unheard of for a woman, let alone an African slave. Phillis is credited with being the first African American published in Europe in 1773.  Phillis-Wheatley-book-bw1.jpg

 

 

 

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In a communication to General George Washington, she wrote, “Proceed, great chief, with virtue on thy side. Thy every action let the goddess guide.”

While slaves of the time were being offered freedom by the British in exchange for loyalty to the British crown, Miss Wheatley displayed her support for the Continental Army.  Her support earned her an invitation from General Washington to visit General Washington at his headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Her patriotic writings, in later times, were not held with the same enthusiasm.  Phillis Wheatley died in her early 30s in Boston, Massachusetts, on December 5, 1784.