In Their Own Words: Pvt. John E. Deans, 2nd U. S. Colored Cavalry

African American Civil War Monument DC Copyright 2017 Nadia Orton
African American Civil War Memorial. Washington, D. C. Photo: Nadia K. Orton, August 5, 2017

John E. Deans, of Company A, 2nd U. S. Colored Cavalry, was born about 1845 near Murfreesboro, Hertford County, North Carolina. He enlisted at the (stated) age of eighteen on December 22, 1863, at Yorktown, Virginia, and mustered into service on the same day at Fort Monroe, Virginia. At the time of enlistment, he was described as five feet, six inches tall, with dark eyes, black hair, and a “yellow” complexion. John was appointed bugler on January 16, 1865. He mustered out of service on February 12, 1866, at Brazos Santiago, Texas.

Stories of Old Nansemond: Frank Barnes, Pullman Porter, saves prominent Suffolk businessman

Pullman Porters, courtesy the A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum, via Timeline.

In 1907, Frank B. Barnes, a porter from Como, Hertford County, North Carolina, rescued Ashley Bassett Miner, a wealthy businessman, from certain death, and risked his own life in the process.

In Their Own Words: Cpl. Henry Jolly, 35th U. S. Colored Infantry (1865)

In December of 1865, Cpl. Henry Jolly, of the 35th Regiment, U. S. Colored Infantry, penned a letter to the South Carolina Leader, an African American newspaper based in Charleston, South Carolina, in which he reflected on the racial abuse and hostility towards the freedmen and U. S. Colored Troops in postwar South Carolina.

Photo: Nadia K. Orton, October 17, 2014, New Bern, North Carolina. All rights reserved.

Suffolk, Virginia: Historical Marker, Oak Lawn Cemetery (est. 1885)

Photo: Nadia K. Orton, November 5, 2019. All rights reserved.

I finally had a chance to swing by and see the historical marker for Oak Lawn Cemetery. I first pitched the idea to the other members of the Historic Oak Lawn Cemetery Foundation late last year, and once approved by the existing members (3), quickly got to work on writing the text for the marker. With the assistance of the representative from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (DHR), a working text was hammered out over the early months of this year. It’s wonderful to see this project come to fruition, with the added bonus of the marker being located just across the way from Suffolk’s City Hall (read: lots of traffic!)