Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Singer Family Tragedy

Yesterday I posted about Covington, Kentucky, African American barber John Singer. Singer utilized his skills as a barber to become an important part of his community although most free people of this era experienced racial prejudice at almost every turn. By entrepreneurship, thrift, and hard work Singer was able to provide well for his family. However, despite his many successes, Singer, like many other free blacks saw their fair share of tragedy, too.

I located this newspaper article in the September 28, 1861 edition of the Covington Journal, while searching for more information on John Singer for yesterday's post. This tragic incident occurred shorty after Kentucky declared their allegiance to the Union through their elected representatives in the state legislature.

Of course, at this time African Americans (whether slave or free) were unable to serve as soldiers in the Union army. Despite this fact, Kentucky blacks, again, both free and enslaved, served in forming Union units in various labor capacities. We do not know if  John Singer was proud of his son Joseph in helping the Union cause as a cook, or if John Singer would have preferred his son stay away from the soldiers' encampment to prevent potential harassment or worse. Regardless, one can only image the heartbreak the "well-known barber" felt when he learned of his son's death at such a young age while only attempting to help.

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