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Bethany Veney
The Narrative of Bethany Veney: A Slave Woman
Worcester, Mass: [s.n.] ; (Boston : Press of Geo. H. Ellis), 1889.


Bethany Veney was born a slave on James Fletcher's plantation in Luray, Virginia in 1815. She had a daughter by her first husband, identified in this narrative as Jerry, and a son by her second husband, Frank Veney. She served a number of different masters, and was separated from her family for a time before being sold to a northern businessman, G.J. Adams, who freed her and her son. Veney worked for Adams and his family in the North. After living for a short time in Providence, Rhode Island, Veney settled in Worcester, Massachusetts, with her daughter and three grandchildren.

Bethany Veney published The Narrative of Bethany Veney, a Slave Woman in 1889, over twenty years after slavery was abolished. It includes details of her childhood, incidents that occurred while serving various masters, the way she received her freedom, and her new life in the North. Although the work is organized chronologically, one of the chapters, "Religious Experiences," is thematic. In it, Veney gives a brief account of her own religious conversion and stresses the importance of her faith. The narrative concludes with letters from two clergymen, the first emphasizes the sinfulness of slavery, while the second confirms Bethany Veney's strength of character.

Work Consulted: Clark, Edward, Black Writers in New England. A bibliography, with biographical notes, of books by and about Afro-American writers associated with New England in the Collection of Afro-American Literature, Boston: National Park Service, 1985.

Harris Henderson

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