Black Women : Anna Kingsley: Slave To Slave Owner

Discussion in 'Black Women - Mothers - Sisters - Daughters' started by cherryblossom, Jun 18, 2009.

  1. cherryblossom

    cherryblossom Banned MEMBER

    Feb 28, 2009
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    In the early years of the nineteenth century, the population of Spanish Florida was small but diverse. Americans and Europeans came seeking wealth by obtaining land and establishing plantations. The forced labor of enslaved Africans secured that wealth. Those Africans who were freed by their owners or who purchased their own freedom became farmers, tradesmen, or black militiamen who helped protect the colony. On the frontier, away from the settlements and plantations, the Seminole Indians and the Black Seminoles kept an uneasy vigil on the encroaching development of Florida.

    Among those striving for freedom and security in Spanish Florida was Anna Kingsley. Anna was the African wife of plantation owner Zephaniah Kingsley. At an early age she survived the Middle Passage and dehumanizing slave markets to become the property of Kingsley. After manumission by her husband, Anna became a landowner and slaveholder. She raised her four children while managing a plantation that utilized African slave labor. She survived brutal changes in race policies and social attitudes brought by successive governments in Florida, but survival demanded difficult, often dangerous, choices.

    Anna Kingsley was a woman of courage and determination. She is an example of the active role that people of color played in shaping their own destinies and our country's history in an era of slavery, oppression, and prejudice. She left, however, no personal descriptions of her life. She was not a famous or powerful person who figured prominently in accounts of that era. Today we must find Anna in the official documents of her time and in the historic structures that she inhabited. There, her story may be discovered.

    Anna Kingsley: A Free Woman
    On the first day of March 1811, in the Spanish province of East Florida, white plantation owner Zephaniah Kingsley put his signature on a document that forever changed the life of a young African woman. The document was a manumission paper which ensured her legal freedom. The young woman, a native of Senegal whom Kingsley had purchased in a slave market in Havana, Cuba, was his eighteen-year-old wife and the mother of his three children. That paper not only marked the beginning of the young woman's freedom in the New World, it was also the beginning of the written record of a remarkable life. Her name was Anna Madgigine Jai Kingsley.

    A free woman, Anna Kingsley petitioned the Spanish government for land, and land grant records show that in 1813 she was granted title to five acres on the St. Johns River. The property was located across the river from her husband's plantation, Laurel Grove, south of today's Jacksonville. Anna purchased goods and livestock to begin a business--and she purchased slaves. She became one of a significant number of free people of African descent in East Florida. They included farmers, craftsmen, and members of a black militia. Some of these people, like Anna, owned slaves. Although slavery was supported, Spanish race policies encouraged manumission and self-purchase and slavery was not necessarily a permanent condition. The free black population held certain rights and privileges and they had opportunities to take an active part in the economic development of the colony. Anna Kingsley was determined to be an independent businesswoman, selling goods and poultry to neighboring settlers.

    Her blossoming business lasted only months. During an effort to wrest East Florida from the Spanish, armed American forces entered the province. Together with a number of rebellious Floridians, they looted and occupied the homesteads of planters and settlers to obtain supplies and set up bases. If these insurgents succeeded and an American system replaced the comparatively liberal Spanish policies, what would become of the freed people and their rights? When the Americans approached, Anna herself lit the fire that consumed her house and property. Then she escaped with her children and slaves on a Spanish gunboat. The insurrection later ended in failure and, as it turned out, Anna's loss was not total. Although a Spanish commandant reported of Anna's property "the flames devoured grain and other things to the value $1,500," the governor rewarded her loyalty with a land grant of 350 acres.

    Laurel Grove was also destroyed as a result of the conflict. In 1814 Zephaniah and Anna Kingsley, along with their children and slaves, moved to Fort George Island, a sea island near the mouth of the St. Johns River. On this thousand-acre island with palm-fringed beaches, birds of every description, and ancient Indian mounds of oyster shell, they restored an abandoned plantation. In a fine, comfortable house with views of the tidal marsh and ocean beyond, Anna spent the next twenty-three years of her life.

    During the years at Fort George, Zephaniah Kingsley's Florida landholdings increased to include extensive timberland and orange groves, and four major plantations producing sea island cotton, rice, and provisions. He also owned ships that he captained on trading voyages. Kingsley had managers at his various properties to whom he entrusted his business operations when he was away. At the Fort George plantation, Anna took this responsibility and, Kingsley later declared, "could carry on all the affairs of the plantation in my absence as well as I could myself." These "affairs" included overseeing the lives of about sixty men, women, and children who lived on Fort George Island in slavery. The labor of the Kingsley slaves provided the wealth of the Kingsley family.

    Conditions for all of Florida's people of color, free and enslaved, changed drastically when Florida became a territory of the United States in 1821. An influential planter, Zephaniah Kingsley was appointed to the 1823 territorial legislative council. He tried to persuade lawmakers to adopt policies similar to those of the Spanish, providing for liberal manumission and rights for the free black population. He published his opinions in A Treatise on the Patriarchal, or Co-operative System of Society As It Exists in Some Governments, and Colonies in America, and in the United States, Under the Name of Slavery, with Its Necessity and Advantages in 1828. But Kingsley's arguments did not convince Florida legislators. Legislative councils used fear of slave rebellion to justify policies that were increasingly oppressive. Legislation of the 1820s and 1830s reflects racial discrimination that blurred the distinction between freeman and slave until there was virtually no difference.

    The cession agreement between the U.S. and Spain was supposed to protect the status of free people of color living in Florida in 1821, but the Kingsleys had reason to be concerned. Parish records reveal that a fourth child was born to Zephaniah and Anna in 1824. Their new son was subject to the harsh enactments that Zephaniah Kingsley called "a system of terror." Even Anna and her older son and two daughters were not necessarily secure as racism increased. Anna decided to leave Florida and go to Haiti. Slave revolution had made Haiti the first independent black republic of the New World, the "Island of Liberty" as Kingsley called it. Anna and her sons intended to start a plantation on the northern coast of the island. Their work force would consist of more than fifty of their former Florida slaves, freed to work as indentured servants to comply with Haitian law which prohibited slavery. In 1837 Anna Kingsley left Florida and sailed to "Mayorasgo De Koka," her new home in Haiti.
    Zephaniah Kingsley described Mayorasgo De Koka as "heavily timbered with mahogany all round; well watered; flowers so beautiful; fruits in abundance, so delicious that you could not refrain from stopping to eat..." Roads and bridges were built and the Kingsleys planned a school for the community, but they did not live happily ever after in their tropical colony. In 1843, in his seventy-eighth year, Zephaniah Kingsley died.

    With an estate worth a fortune at stake, some of Zephaniah Kingsley's white relatives contested his will and sought to deny Anna and his children their inheritance. After much dispute, courts upheld the rights of the black heirs, but the family suffered another loss. Anna's older son, George, was returning to Florida in 1846 to defend land interests, when the ship in which he was travelling was lost at sea. Her younger son, John Maxwell Kingsley, took over management of Mayorasgo De Koka and Anna Kingsley, for unknown reasons, returned to Florida. She could not return to Fort George Island--that plantation had been sold years before. She settled near her daughters who had married and stayed in Florida. Once more Anna lived on the St. Johns River, this time in a young town called Jacksonville.

    When the Civil War divided the country, Anna and her daughters' families supported the Union. With Florida's secession and hostility from Confederates intensifying, Anna had to leave her home again. In 1862, she travelled with relatives to New York. They returned to Florida later that year, but lived in Union-occupied Fernandina until the end of the conflict. In 1865 Anna Kingsley returned to the St. Johns River for the final time.

    Anna Madgigine Jai Kingsley died in 1870. No intimate letters, diaries, or other personal reflections on her life are known to exist. No portrait or photograph of any kind remains of her. Even her grave is unmarked. Her story, however, endures. In the legal petitions and official correspondence, probate and property records, the details of her life emerge. And on Fort George Island, near the mouth of the St. Johns River, the house where she lived for twenty-three years still stands.

    Document A - Manumission Paper
    1 March 1811
    St. Augustine, Florida
    In the name of Almighty God, Amen: Let it be known that I, Zephaniah Kingsley, resident and citizen of the St. Johns River region of this province hereby state: That I have as my slave a black woman named Anna, about 18 years old, who is the same native African woman that I purchased in Havana...

    I recognize [her children] as my own; this circumstance, and as well considering the good qualities of the already referred to black woman, and the truth and fidelity with which she has served me, impels me to give her freedom graciously and without other interest, the same accorded to the aforementioned three mulatto children whose names and ages are for the record: George, three years and nine months old; Martha, twenty months old; and Mary, a month old...I remove my rights of property, possession, utility, dominion, and all other royal and personal deeds which I have possessed over these four slaves. And I cede, renounce and transfer [my rights] to each of them so that from today forward, they can negotiate, sign contracts, buy, sell, appear legally in court, give depositions, testimonials, powers of attorney, codicils, and do any and all things which they can do as free people who are of free will without any burden...

    Excerpted from document in Escrituras, Reel 172, Bundle 378, 17A-B, 18A-B, of the East Florida Papers, Library of Congress (microfilm copy at P. K. Yonge Library of Florida History, University of Florida). Document is in Spanish; this version was translated by Caleb Finnegan.

    Document B – Will
    Know all men by these presents, that I Anna M. Kingsley of the County of Duval and State of Florida being of sound mind and memory but feeble in strength, do hereby, and by these presents constitute and appoint my daughter Martha B. Baxter my true and lawful attorney in fact and trustee...And I have and hereby place in her hand the full and undisturbed possession of the following amount of money and property, viz: three thousand dollars in cash and four Negro slaves viz: Polly a woman aged about 17 years, Joe a boy about 14, Elizabeth a girl about 12, and Julia a girl about 9 years. Also all my right title and interest in and to a certain claim I have as one of the Legatees of and under the will of Zephaniah Kingsley late of East Florida in which he the said Kingsley bequeaths and devises to me, one twelfth part of an amount or sum of money that shall be allowed his heirs by the government of the United States for losses sustained by him during the War of 1812 and 1813 by the operations of the American Army, the principal having been allowed, the interest money is now pending before the Congress of the U.S....Given under my hand and seal this 24th day of April, one thousand eight hundred and sixty.
    Anna M. Kingsley

    Excerpt from trust/will of Anna Kingsley. Typescript of complete document in NPS files at Kingsley Plantation (made from Duval County probate file 1210-D).
  2. cherryblossom

    cherryblossom Banned MEMBER

    Feb 28, 2009
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    21) Kingsley Plantation

    The Kingsley Plantation, administered by the National Park Service, is located on Fort George Island and includes the plantation house, a kitchen house, a barn, and the ruins of 25 of the original slave cabins. The history of the island spans more than 1000 years beginning with the Timucuan Indians. The structures at the site, however, date to the plantation era of the island. The Kingsley Plantation was named for one of several plantation owners, Zephaniah Kingsley, who operated the property from 1813-1839. Kingsley operated under a "task" system, which allowed slaves to work at a craft or tend their own gardens once the specified task for the day was completed. Proceeds from the sale of produce or craft items were usually kept by the slaves.

    Purchased as a slave, Kingsley's wife, Anna Madgigine Jai, was freed in 1811. She was active in plantation management and became a successful business woman owning her own property. As an American territory, Florida passed laws that discriminated against free blacks and placed harsh restrictions on African slaves. This prompted Kingsley to move his family, impacted by these laws, to Haiti, now the Dominican Republic, where descendants of Anna and Zephaniah live today.

    Kingsley Plantation is at the northern tip of Ft. George Island at the Ft. George inlet east of Jacksonville off Florida A1A. Open daily 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. For more information write or call: Superintendent, Kingsley Plantation, 11676 Palmetto Avenue, Jacksonville, FL, 32226. (904) 2513537.
  3. cherryblossom

    cherryblossom Banned MEMBER

    Feb 28, 2009
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    I. Senegal

    p1 Anna lived in a village in Wolof country, a dry, barren
    region north of Cayor. In April 1806, near the end of the
    dry season, she and other members of her family were
    enslaved by tyeddo horsmen with "long, braided hair and
    warrior apparel."

    p1 The Tyeddo warriors were royal slaves of Amari Ngoone
    Ndella, the king of Cayor. They formed a professional army
    loyal only to the king, whose job was to protect Cayor and
    raid enemy villages to obtain slaves to sell along the
    coast. The European traders provided cloth, liquor, guns
    and powder, horses and luxury goods in exchange for slaves.

    p1 Tyeddo slave raiders operated during the winter and spring
    (dry season).

    p1 Cayor was one of the four parts of the legendary Wolof
    kingdom, but Cayor was unstable since 1790 when it became
    divided by a series of religious wars.

    p1 The Tyeddo were only supposed to attack non-Wolof people,
    but when supplies of slaves from other sources ran low, they
    sometimes attacked Wolof villages too.

    p2 As the situation deteriorated 1790-1806, many residents of
    Cayor fled south and west to Cape Vert, where they built
    independent walled cities for protection against the Tyeddo.

    p2 The Tyeddo attacks spread in all directions, and even
    involved the Muslim state of Futa Toro. When they captured
    slaves, they conveyed them to the coast at Rufisque for sale
    to Europeans.

    p2 In the raid on her village, Anna's father was killed. The
    raid began before dawn and lasted until the late morning.
    After looting, they burned the village and led the captives

    p2 Unlike many of the captives in the column that marched to
    the coast, Anna and her family were not already slaves.
    Most of the surrounding villages were "slave villages" whose
    mostly Bambara inhabitants belonged to local Wolof owners.

    p3 Anna's family was distinguished. Her father's side was
    Ndiaye, descended from the legendary Njaajaan Njaay, founder
    of the Jolof Empire. Her mother's lineage, Majigeen, had
    already produced two Burbas Jolof (Jolof leaders). Her
    family was free, and owned both land and slaves.

    p3 The route to Rafisque led from Wolof through Cayor. As they
    marched, Tyeddo warriors left some of the captives in their
    home villages as "spoils of war."

    p3 Anna's slave column was unusual because it contained more
    female slaves than male slaves. Most slave convoys had 2-3
    males per female because the American market preferred male
    slaves for agricultural work. On the other hand, the
    African market preferred female slaves who could be easily
    incorporated into their lineage group.

    p3 Anna's column was also unusual because it contained Wolof,
    who were rarely enslaved and brought to the coast. Is this
    evidence of increased demand for African slaves in 1806,
    that induced slavers to get all of the "product" that they
    could find?

    p3 One unusual factor was that Ndella's Tyeddo warriors had
    recently crushed Muslim resistance in Cayor and sent them to
    the coast. ...
    p4 ... As the war widened, Ndella's warriors began to obtain
    slaves from neighboring regions including Wolof and Futa
    Toro. The European posts at St. Louis and Goree did a
    booming business in slave trading.

    p4 In Rufisque, the captives were offered for sale at the
    central market to mulatto buyers from Goree. They were the
    descendants of European men and African women who controlled
    the sale of slaves along the coast.

    p4 Ndella controlled all of the slave trading at Rufisque, and
    used agents to handle his "product."

    p4 Late in the afternoon, after all of the trading was done,
    Anna and others were transported in long canoes along the
    coast towards Cape Vert and Goree Island.

    p4 Goree Island in 1806 was small with few buildings. One was
    an "imposing two-story building flanked by several long and
    narrow one-story structures." The one-stpry buildings were
    holding pens for slaves--dark, with manacles hanging from
    the walls.

    p4 Except for daily delivery of food and occassional exercise
    sessions, Anna remained imprisoned for days. On the first
    occassion when she was taken out for presentation to
    European buyers, Anna was sold.

    p5 Some days after that, she and others were loaded into long
    canoes for transport out to a larger vessel offshore. It
    was the "Sally," a Danish vessel, which sailed with nearly
    150 people in May 1806. A few of the other slaves were
    known to Anna, so she had some comfort as she traveled
    through "the Middle Passage."

    II. Havana

    p6 The demand for slaves was high in Cuba in 1806, because new
    sugar plantations had opened to take advantage of the loss
    of Haiti's sugar production following the revolution of
    1789-1803. JJ: Instead of sugar, Zephaniah Kingsley planted
    cotton. Perhaps Zephaniah Kingsley chose cotton, which was
    in demand by English textiles mills.

    p6 The demand for slaves was increased further by the
    expectation that a number of nations, including England and
    the United States, would outlaw the slave trade in 1807.

    p6 The "Sally" was captained by a man named Gisolfo, who had
    sailed with this vessel to Havana several times already.
    This was the first time that he carried a cargo with more
    females than males. In this cargo of 120 Africans, there
    were 99 women and 22 teenager females. (From the info on
    page 5, the ship's crew must have been about 30, or a ratio
    of 4 slaves per crewmen.)

    p6 New, unacculturated Africans were known as "bozales."

    p6 Anna and the other slaves were in bad condition when they
    reached Havana, after subsisting on inadequate food and
    water in the tightly-confined, overheated (120øF) hold of
    the ship.

    p6 Medical precautions were minimal. Cuban doctors examined
    each slave and ...
    p7 ... quarantined them briefly to prevent the spread of
    epidemic disease. They were fed good food, bathed, and
    oiled to give them a healthy appearance for the market.

    p7 The Havana slave market was a major center for commerce in
    Spanish America. It attracted buyers from all over the
    Caribbean and North America, and as far away as France and
    Norway. Major exports included sugar, rum, pork, and
    African slaves.

    p7 By coincidence, Zephaniah Kingsley was in Havana the day
    that Anta went up for sale. Although he had come to buy
    molasses and rum for resale in North America, he had
    experience as a slave trader (sold 250 slaves in Havana in
    1802), and he outbid everyone else for Anta.

    p7 Zephaniah Kingsley and Anta remained in Havana for three
    months while he waited for his ship to return from the
    Danish West Indies. His ship, the Esther, was captained by
    Henry Wright, and returned to Havana in October. Kingsley
    added his Havana purchases to the cargo, including four
    hogsheads of molasses, 28 half pipes and 12 whole pipes of
    rum, and "tres negras bozoles," one of whom was Anta.

    p7 The Esther left Havana on 1806/10/10 and reached St.
    Augustine, Florida, in 14 days (1806/10/23). After clearing
    customs, the ship continued and reached the St. Johns River
    on 1806/10/25.

    p8 The Esther anchored at Doctor's Lake, about 40 miles from
    the mouth of the St. Johns River. Anta saw another, similar
    vessel already anchored there when they arrived.

    p8 Kingsley took Anta to live with him in his own house, not in
    the slave quarters. She was already pregnant with his
    child, and would live with him for the next 37 years as
    husband and wife. She added his name to her own, becoming
    Anna Madgigine Jai Kingsley. (Zephaniah Kingsley must have
    died in 1843).

    III. Laurel Grove

    p9 AK was sold in Havana in 1806/07 to Zephaniah Kingsley, who
    impregnated her and took her to his Eastern Florida
    plantation within the next three months, by 1806/10. Anna
    Kingsley was thirteen years old, so she must have been born
    in 1793.

    p9 Everyone at Laurel Grove was African except for Zephaniah
    Kingsley and an occasional craftsman hired to work in the
    shipyard. Africans performed both unskilled and skilled
    labor, including blacksmithing and carpentry.

    p9 The more than 100 slaves at Laurel Grove came from all over
    Africa. Two field laborers, Jacob and Camilla, lived as a
    couple with their son Jim. Jacob was an Ibo from Nigeria
    and Camilla was a Susu from Rio Pongo (Guinea). Jim was
    born at Laurel Grove.

    p9 Jack and Tamassa were from East Africa, from a place called
    "Zinguibara" by Kingsley (Zanzibar). Jack was one of the
    plantaiton carpenters, and by 1812, he and ...
    p10 ... his wife Tamassa were the parents of four children.

    p10 Laurel Grove plantation had separate slave quarters behind
    the house and at a nearby location called Springfield.
    Besides houses and slave quarters, there were barns, poultry
    houses, carpentry shops, mill houses, and corn and pea cribs
    at each location.

    p10 The manager of Zephaniah Kingsley's plantation at Laurel
    Grove was Abraham Hannahan Kingsley, a mulatto deeded to
    Zephaniah Kingsley by his father, Zephaniah Kingsley Sr., a
    Quaker in Charleston, SC. He arrived in Florida in 1804 so
    presumably, Zephaniah Kingsley arrived there the same year.
    He probably borrowed his first money from his father, and
    used it to transport slaves to Charleston in 1802. With
    that money, plus additional help from his father, he bought
    a plantation in Florida.

    p10 An African named Peter was in charge at Springfield,
    directly under Abraham's command. Kingsley referred to
    Peter as a "mechanic and valuable manager" worth at least
    $1000 in 1812. The workers under Peter's direction produced
    800 bushels of corn and 400 bushels of field peas in a year,
    and cared for hogs, poultry, and cattle. Peter also
    supervised a mill house.

    p10 At Laurel Grove, Zepheniah Kingsley's workers farmed 200
    acres of Sea Island cotton. They also had 760 Mandarin
    orange trees and 2000 feet of other edible orange trees.
    They also grew potatoes, beans and corn to feed the
    plantation's population.

    p10 Kingsley also operated a general store that sold to families
    in the neighborhood.

    p12 Zephaniah Kingsley bought another Wolof woman named Sophia
    Chidgigine around the same time as Anta. (see page 31) ...
    p13 ... Sophie became the wife of Abraham Hannahan Kingsley.

    p13 Other white plantation owners had African wives. John
    Fraser married Phenda from the Rio Pongas River, where
    Fraser owned a "slave factory." Fraser also operated his
    own ships to bring slaves from Africa to the Americas.
    After the USA outlawed the importation of slaves in 1808,
    Fraser moved to East Florida and brought 370 slaves to farm
    rice and cotton on his plantations.

    p13 Molly Erwin was the African wife of James Erwin, who owned
    fifty slaves on a plantation on the St. Mary's River.

    p13 George Clarke, an important official in the Spansih
    government of East Florida, had two African wives and

    p13 Francis Richard, Francisco Xavier Sanchez and several other
    men all had black wives or mistresses, and interracial

    p13 Kingsley, Clarke and Richard were all planters who hoped to
    strike it rich in East Florida and believed that slavery was
    essential to their prosperity. "Yet they felt race did not
    automatically and permanently consign persons to either
    slavery or freedom. According to Kingsley, `color ought not
    to be the badge of degradation. The only distinction should
    betwen slave and free, not between white and coloured.'"

    p13 Kingsley justified African slavery by claiming that they
    were better suited to work in the semi-tropical climate than
    whites were. In his mind, whites either had to employ
    slaves or else give up in East Florida.

    p13 In order to reduce the likelihood of slave rebellion,
    Kingsley proposed liberal manumission laws, encouraged
    humane treatment, and encouraged slaves to live as families.
    For instance, Kingsley freed Abraham Hannahan Kingsley in

    p13 During the nearly forty years that the Kingsleys were
    together, Anna held the position of first wife in a
    polygamous household--familiar in Africa but controversial
    in Florida.

    p14 Zephaniah Kingsley emancipated Anna Kingsley on 1811/03/04,
    along with their three children, George (3y9m, born 1807/06,
    so probably conceived in 1806/09, after Zephaniah Kingsley
    had owned Anna Kingsley for more than a month), Martha (20m,
    born 1809/07), and Mary (1m, born 1811/02).

    IV. Mandarin

    p15 Zephaniah Kingsley also emancipated his general manager,
    Abraham Hannahan Kingsley, on 1811/03/04.

    p15 Zephaniah Kingsley entered the slave trade in 1802 at age
    39, and by 1811, he was a rich man. He owned at least eight
    ships between 1802 and 1817. He also hired men to captain
    his ships when he had other responsibilities. His ships
    traded between Cuba, Jamaica, St. Thomas (DK), Puerto Rico,
    Charleston, Wilmington, New York and Fernandina (north of
    modern Jacksonville).

    p16 In 1812, soon after Anna Kingsley received her freedom, she
    moved off of Zephaniah Kingsley's land and established her
    own farm at Mandarin, on five acres across the St. Johns
    River from Laurel Grove (South Jacksonville). She owned 12
    slaves of her own. She raised corn, poultry and "farm
    animals," and at one point had 50 bushels per slave stashed
    in her storage area. How much corn was a bushel?...

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