All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Dr Harriet E Amos Doss

Advisory Committee Members

Dr Raymond A Mohl

Dr Robert F Jefferson

Document Type

Thesis

Date of Award

2012

Degree Name by School

Master of Arts (MA) College of Arts and Sciences

Abstract

This study examines the life of an escaped slave named Berry G. Jackson, alias Berry Clyatt. Jackson was born approximately 1851 in Levy County, Florida, on the Samuel Clyatt plantation. Jackson's is a success story of how a teenage slave escaped his young master, boarded a Union steamer, and served in the Civil War. After the war, Jackson claimed to have met General Ulysses S. Grant in Washington, D.C. and received encouragement to continue north where Grant hoped he would become a farmer. Jackson ended up owning several properties and ultimately possessed 21 acres with a farmhouse in Gates, New York. He became a well-respected member of the community and a valuable employee as a coachman. His Civil War career, veteran's involvement, and character proved crucial in 1888 when he provided testimony against a white man accused of murder and Jackson's own trial when he was arrested for killing his white tenant in 1905. During his murder trial in 1905, Jackson's Civil War career, veterans' involvement, character, and property ownership weighed on the minds of the jurors. Primary sources include muster rolls from the USS Clyde; U.S. Federal census records (free and slave) and Civil War service and pension records from the National Archives and New York State Archives; a land ownership map of Gates, New York; Jackson's Pennsylvania death certificate; and a Pennsylvania Veterans Burial Card (completed by the W.P.A. in 1939). Contemporary newspapers reporting his veterans' involvement and the two murder trials offer a glimpse into the coverage this escaped slave and Civil War veteran received. Secondary sources used in this study include a map of Levy County, Florida (location of Jackson's birth on the Samuel Clyatt plantation); G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) history; lynching statistics and legal executions in 1888 and 1905 for blacks and whites; a history of Rochester, New York; and a history of slavery in Florida.

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