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Jacob Stroyer, 1849-1908
My Life in the South
Salem: Salem Observer Book and Job Print, 1885.


Jacob Stroyer was born a slave on the Singleton plantation near Columbia, South Carolina in 1849 and lived there until the Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in 1863. 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.

The third edition of Stroyer's narrative, My Life in the South (1885), expands upon earlier editions, and was written with the hope of generating enough income to complete his education. The first section of the narrative covers his fifteen years in slavery. It provides information about his family, describes life at his master's summer seat, and discusses 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 interactions with masters and slaves.

Monique Prince

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