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Slave Owners in Our Graveyard


In the days before the Civil War, many farmers on Hoopers Island were slave owners including people who are buried in this graveyard.  From census records we know that Edward Simmons, Spare Travers Tolley, Henry Ruark, Matthew Travers, and John Travers of Matthew all owned slaves. 

From the Dorchester County Land Records we can learn more personal information about who was enslaved. 

In 1843 John Travers of Matthew sold to their daughter Susan Simmons a seven-year old slave named Harriet Ann for $15.  In 1826 when one of Edward Simmons' slaves ran away, he advertised a reward in the Cambridge Chronicle for Polly, who he described as a large slave five-foot seven inches tall pitted with small pox.  In 1821 Edward Simmons and Matthew Travers granted freedom to Solomon the son of Jacob Cooper and Phillis his wife. 

Another Hoopers Island planter who is probably buried in an unmarked grave in our graveyard is Levin Parker.  In 1790 he freed his 30-year-old slave Nell and her three children Daniel, Jacob, and Abram.  In 1812 he sold seven acres of his plantation "Parkers Beginning" to a free black named Thomas Bishop for $140.  Thomas Bishop had been freed by his owners Henry Hooper and Henry Matney in 1798. 
Edward Simmons (1770-1839)
Talking about slavery

African Americans, both enslaved and free, were a part of Hoopers Island's economy from its 17th century tobacco plantations to 1864.  Slaves were considered as property that could be bought and sold.  Some were sold South, some were freed, and some ran away.

On February 12th, Lincoln's birthday, Jacqueline Simmons Hedberg spoke at the Dorchester Historical Society in Cambridge about her new book Plantations, Slavery & Freedom on Maryland's Eastern Shore

It's a book about Eastern Shore slaves who gained their freedom and slaves who were "sold South" to the sugar cane and cotton plantations.  The most famous of the former are Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman.

Jacqui will be speaking in Cecil County at Mount Harmon Plantation on Thursday, May 23, 2019, at 6:30 p.m.

This book can be purchased in Cambridge at Simmons Center Market and on-line from Arcadia Publishing, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.