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Jacob Stroyer, 1849-1908
Sketches of My Life in the South. Part I
Salem: Salem Press, 1879.


Jacob Stroyer was born a slave on the Singleton plantation near Columbia, South Carolina in 1849, and lived there until he was freed by the Emancipation Proclamation in 1864. As a child, Stroyer helped care for the plantation's horses and mules, which were sold soon after his master's death. He then worked briefly in a carpenter's shop and as a field hand. During the Civil War, he was sent to Sullivan's Island and Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina, where he waited on Confederate officers. While there, Stroyer learned to read. Following his release from slavery, Jacob Stroyer settled in Salem, Massachusetts, and became minister of the African Methodist Episcopal Church there.

Stroyer wrote his narrative, Sketches of My Life in the South (1879), in order to generate enough income to further his education. The first section of the narrative covers his fifteen years in slavery. It provides information about his family and describes the physical abuse he endured at the hands of the Singleton plantation's overseer. Stroyer also discusses the emotional strain that the slave trade put on his and other slave families. The rest of the narrative is a series of brief anecdotes about slave life, culture, beliefs, and the interactions between masters and slaves.

Monique Prince

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