A few weeks ago, I came across a sad story about the death of Harrison Worrell, an elder resident of Portsmouth, Virginia.
Anyone who briefly reviews my blog knows I’m a longtime researcher of African American cemeteries throughout the South. Ever since 2007, cemeteries have remained some of the primary sources through which I’ve learned priceless bits of information, details that helped complete our family’s historical narrative often in ways no other sources can. So you’d think it’d be no surprise to me that one can still glean interesting details from years-old cemetery photos, yet this is exactly what happened during a recent routine newspaper dive for family history.
Robert M. Phinney (alias Finney), was born enslaved, about 1818, in Wilmington, New Hanover County, North Carolina. In the 1840s, he escaped slavery via the maritime Underground Railroad, and eventually settled in Weeksville, Brooklyn, New York. Weeksville was established shortly after New York abolished slavery in 1827. The community was named after James Weeks, a longshoreman and one of the earliest African American landowners in the area. Weeksville has been featured in recent publications, as longterm efforts to preserve the history of the site are threatened by a lack of funding and other resources.1
The escape of Harry, carpenter (1849)
On October 5, 1849, Guilford Horn, a slave owner in Edgecombe County, North Carolina, placed an ad in the Wilmington Journal for his fugitive slave, Harry, a carpenter.