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.