Solomon Napier

I found out more about him. More than I think anyone left knows.

He got married in Cincinnati to an Ariel Mitchell, whose family had come from Virginia. He then went to war. He was a private in the 100th infantry, Company E.

He fought here in Nashville. He battled up John Overton’s hill, through his peach orchard.

You can give a boy five hundred dollars and a new family. He will not forget the mother he left here, enslaved.

The Overtons knew the Napiers. Well. They mingled money. They bought a horse together.

Solomon Napier was armed within sight of Traveller’s Rest. Within sight of his father/uncle’s friends. Killing the kinds of men who stole his mother from him.

He lived through the War. He had three daughters that I could find.

In 1870, he lived in Arkansas with his family. He was a farmer. It was a good time to be a black man in Arkansas. By 1875, though, it wasn’t.

His widow and his children are in Minneapolis with her people by 1880.

I find no record of what happened to him. No grave with his name on it.

It could just be shoddy record-keeping, one last indignity, one last effort to erase a person from history.

But you lose a man, a black man who fought for the Union, in Arkansas in the middle of the ’70s with no trace, you start to think you’re looking at the last faint echoes of something really, really bad.

2 thoughts on “Solomon Napier

  1. I did some digging and I just want to make it explicit that his mother came here. Angeline was given to Elias’s brother John, who was to give her to his daughter, Araminta and her husband, John Hudson. John Napier doesn’t own any slaves in the 1850 or 1860 censuses. He does live with his daughter. Her husband owns a ton. In 1850, he owns quite a few mulatto woman who could have been Angeline. By 1860, he claims to only own one mulatto woman, though it’s easy enough to have just called Angeline black, if he still owned her.

    But the important thing is that the Hudson family lived in Nashville. When Solomon came to Nashville to fight, he came to the city his mother had been enslaved in.

  2. Here, also, is how history ties together threads. Elias gave Angeline to his brother, John. John most likely immediately gave her to Araminta and her husband, John Hudson. Angeline would have been in the house when their daughter, Eliza, grew up. Eliza went on to marry Rev. Ward, founder of the Ward Seminary,which later merged with the Belmont College and became, eventually, Belmont University, thus tying my Napier train of thought to my Franklin train of thought.

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