Tag Archives: us colored troops

Notable Black Toledoans – George W. TUCKER and Dr. Alpheus W. TUCKER

My research of late has shown a lot of connections between my own ancestors who were early Toledo residents and the black communities in SE Michigan, in particular our larger city to the north – Detroit.   I’ve also discovered some connections to Detroit for some of our notable 19th century black residents.

In reviewing some of the black Toledoans who were mentioned as having been involved in Underground Railroad activities in local newspapers, it was noted in the post regard William H. MERRITT, that in 1858 the negroes of Toledo held a meeting to determine who would be the delegate sent from our city to the convention held in Columbus, Ohio.  The delegate chosen, per that news article was G.W. TUCKER.

George W. TUCKER was enumerated in the City of Toledo on the 1860 census.  It was shown that he was born in Kentucky around 1812 and had four younger persons, presumably his children, in his household.  Mary W., aged 23; Georgetta A., aged 18; Alpheus W. (or Alphonse) aged 16; and Caspar M. (or Cassius) aged 14.  In 1860 George was 48 years old and listed as a “mullatto.”  He was a Barber and owned real estate worth $300 and a personal estate worth $250.

In a review of George W. TUCKER’s life, I did not find much more about his residency in Toledo, except for the note below posted in the Toledo Daily Blade on December 30, 1858.

We are advised by the receipt of the proceedings of a meeting of colored people held at their school-house in this city, recently but which are too lengthy for our space, that a resolution was passed to send a delegate to the Under Ground R.R. Convention, to be held at Columbus on the 5th and 6th of January. Agreeable to previous arrangements a mass meeting was then held on Tuesday evening last, for the election of a delegate, resulting in the choice of G.W. Tucker. The officers of the meeting were W.H. Merritt, President, and M.H. Hawkins, Secretary

Per Toledo City Directories starting in 1864, TUCKER was not listed as a resident; however, George W. TUCKER “colored” was listed in the 1858 City Directory, which can be viewed via the Toledo Lucas County Public Library’s online digital archive.  He was labeled as a “barber” and located at “Locust b Ontario and Michigan, east side.”  A review of death registers for the city showed that there was a “colored” man of the same name and age of George W. TUCKER who died in 1862 in the city. It appears that TUCKER moved to the city around 1850.

A quick google of his name brought up a connection between TUCKER and famed black Underground Railroad conductor from Detroit by the name of William LAMBERT.  LAMBERT lead a group of of primarily black men in an organization he called  “African American Mysteries:  Order of the Men of Oppression” also called the “Men of Mysteries.” He and other notable Detroit abolitionists were actively involved in transporting runaway slaves from Detroit to Canada during the antebellum period.  Per the text “The Underground Railroad in Michigan” LAMBERT was interviewed by a reporter in 1886 and spoke of how 60,000 men took the “order” and became members of his secret organization whose primary focus was helping those who “self emancipated” themselves to get to Canada.  Unfortunately his records detailing those transported to freedom and those who worked within “the order” have unknown whereabouts.  In the book mentioned above, it was noted that George W. TUCKER was an agent who handled subscriptions to a newspaper called “The Mystery” founded by Martin DELANY of Pennsylvania, another black abolitionist and Underground Railroad administrator.  TUCKER handled subscriptions for this paper in the Detroit area.

Other information reviewed regarding the history of George W. TUCKER uncovered that he was one of the 9 black/colored residents listed in Detroit’s first city directory published in 1837.  He was listed as a hairdresser and a barber many times in Detroit through the 1850s.  As noted above, he was listed in Toledo with his family in 1860.  It is unknown if he was engaged in activities related to the Underground Railroad in Toledo, but his association with other known UGGR Toledoans like William H. MERRITT and his mention of him being a delegate from Toledo to the UGGR convention make this very likely to be the case.

It seems that George TUCKER died in Toledo in 1862 of “consumption.”  He was listed as being 50 years old and buried at Forest Cemetery but a review of cemetery records does not show his name and year of death.  They may not have information that far back for the online records of the cemetery.

A review of the family of George TUCKER showed that his two son’s Alpheus and Cassius lived with a couple with the surname of HUBBARD in 1850 in Detroit when they were children.  I could not find George TUCKER on the 1850 census so he may not have been enumerated that year.

George’s son Cassius TUCKER moved back to Detroit after 1860.  He was listed as a “colored” barber in the City of Detroit directory in 1864 living on “Mullet bet Hastings and St Antoine.”  He was the only “colored” TUCKER living in Detroit during that year.

Cassius later married Eliza JOHNSON a Richmond, Virginia native.  A marriage record has not been found for the couple, but I believe they may have married in the metropolitan District of Columbia area considering that their first born child Beatrice TUCKER was listed as having been born in DC in 1865 on the 1870 Census.  The rest of their children in 1870 – Alberta, born 1867; and Octavia born 1870 were listed as having been born in Michigan.

The DC connection I felt was plausible considering that Cassius’  brother – Alpheus (or Alphonse or William A TUCKER) was living in the DC area in the 1860s following the Civil War.

Alpheus W. Tucker showed up in numerous queries due to being a physician who was was an early black physician working in Washington, DC after the Civil War.  Research into Alpheus showed that he and his brother Cassius grew up in Toledo and received their early education in the city.  More than likely they attended the segregated public school system of TPS or the private Colored School administered by Warren AME church due to them being children in the city prior to the 1873 desegregation of the school system.  Alpheus later went on to attend Wilberforce College between the years of 1861 and 1863.  One of his classmates included Dr. Charles Burleigh PURVIS, who was the son of two leading black abolitionist families in Philadelphia.  Alpheus attended the Iowa College of Physicians and Surgeons and graduated in 1865.   Dr. Alpheus Tucker worked as a civilian surgeon during the Civil War at Contraband Hospital.  He also had a record listed in the District of Columbia’s Freedman’s Bureau Field Office Records as receiving a disbursement/payment for work after the war.  His payment was provided on October 21, 1865.  He was paid $100 for services rendered in a department called “A. A. Surgeon.”  Research showed that this was an abbreviation for “Acting Assistant Surgeon” and that persons listed usually were employed as civilians by the medical department working for the Bureau.   Alpheus married a woman named Martha Ellen WOOD on the 24th of January, 1867 and they had one daughter – Estella TUCKER.

A review of Alpheus TUCKER shows that as a black physician, he was limited in opportunities for employment primarily due to race.  Information obtained in the reference below regarding the history of the National Medical Association, shows that he and his black physician colleagues of DC often had to work for government positions or some other job during the day and practice medicine at night.  Due to race prejudice, black doctors were not allowed admitting privileges to local hospitals.  They also primarily saw black patients and due to the black population of DC being made up of primarily newly freed slaves, opportunities for a decent living as a black doctor were limited because many of their patients could not afford to pay for medical services.  Due to this a large percentage of black physicians obtained other degrees in other disciplines in order to be able to make a decent living during the period following the Civil War.

In 1869 Dr. TUCKER was mentioned in various newspaper articles from DC where he was listed as a member of the Republican Party and gave comments regarding local elections in the capital.  He was also the cause of a controversy in the medical community when he applied for admission into the District of Columbia Medical Society along with his Oberlin classmate Dr. Charles PURVIS.  Both men and fellow black physician Dr. Alexander AUGUSTA were denied admission due to “color phobia.”  Their request for admission was deemed a part of the “Trouble of 1869 to 1872” by a history of the National Medical Association. Information found showed that:

On the 9th of June, 1869, two colored physicians, Drs. C. B. PURVIS and A. T. Augusta, were proposed for membership in the Society. At the next meeting,
June 16th, they were reported as eligible. They failed, however, to receive the requisite number of votes to elect them. June 23rd, another colored physician, Dr. A. W. Tucker, was proposed; on the 30th he was reported as eligible, but failed of election.

As a response to not being admitted to the medical association, it was noted that TUCKER and his black colleagues took action and formed their own, integrated medical society:

In response to the rejection of Drs. Purvis, Augusta, and Tucker in 1869, the three Negro physicians and their supports formed a new integrated society which they named the National Medical Society (NMS). In December of that year, amongst much publicity in the local papers, the battle moved to Congress when the NMS appealed to Congress for the repeal of the MSDC’s charter. The grounds for the repeal, according to the NMS, was that the Society was acting in dereliction of its charter by refusing admission to all physicians in the District, regardless of color.

Dr. Alpheus TUCKER was enumerated with his wife and daughter in the WOOD household  in DC on the 1870 census.  Research into his work, shows that he worked in DC as a physician through 1878.  Between 1878 and 1880 he seems to have moved to Detroit, where his brother Cassius had relocated to in the 1860s.  Alpheus was listed as having died in Wayne County, Michigan  in January of 1880.  His widow and child stayed in DC where his wife and later his daughter worked as teachers in the public school system for black students in that city.   Martha E TUCKER his widow (shown below) was mentioned in the publication “The Crisis” as an employee of the DC public schools for 50 years.  She served as a teacher, principal and as a social worker.  Her daughter Estelle also became a teacher.

Martha WOOD TUCKER from “The Crisis” NAACP publication vol 22,  no. 1, pgs 22-23 May, 1921


Alpheus’ brother Cassius lived out his life in Detroit and died between 1900 and 1910.  I have yet to locate his death record but his wife Eliza JOHNSON TUCKER was listed as a widow by 1910 in the City of Detroit directory.



Toledo City Directory 1858 (accessed via TLCPL online digital archives 12/10/2017)

“The Underground Railroad in Michigan” Mull, Carol (see link above)

Ohio County Death Records – Death of GW Tucker, colored (accessed 11.9/2017)

District of Columbia Marriages – 1811-1950, Alpheus W. Tucker (accessed 11/9/2017 – see link above)

The Black Past – African Americans in Medicine in the Civil War (accessed 12/10/2017)

The Founding of the National Medical Association (accessed 12/10/2017)

The Crisis – Volumes 22-24 (short biography and picture of Martha WOOD TUCKER accessed 12/10/2017)

National Archives Research and New Information on WHITFIELD Family

Recently I visited Washington, DC and the National Archives.  I was looking into the pension files of US Colored Troops who were either members of my or my spouse’s family, or people of interest on my list of early black/colored Toledo families.

One of the family’s on my list is the WHITFIELD family.  When I first began this blog, I had found some information that lead me to believe that my earliest WHITFIELD ancestor, named Elias WHITFIELD born approximately 1862-1863 was from North Carolina.  I did some extensive research on the North Carolina WHITFIELD family and they did have a person with the same name and approximate same age who I believed had moved to NW Ohio and was a relative.

In my hobby of genealogical research, I often continue to research the same individuals over and over again.  I had a nagging feeling  that Elias may have been related to one of the earliest black families in Toledo also with the surname of WHITFIELD who were enumerated on the 1850 Census in the City of Toledo. I also discovered that the NC Elias WHITFIELD had moved to Washington, DC with his family and I later found a census record of him from the 20th century when my 3rd great grandfather Elias WHTIFIELD died in 1897.  Due to that discovery, I deleted all of the information I had on my NC WHITFIELD line and started from scratch back at Elias.  I did however, make a tentative link of him to the 1850 Toledo WHITFIELD family and decided to do some off-line research on this family so placed John WHITFIELD’s pension file at the top of my list of ones to request on my visit to the National Archives.

On the 1850 Toledo census the WHITFIELD family was headed by a man named John W. WHITFIELD Sr. and his suspected wife named Hannah.  Per the 1850 Census  – John  was born in approximately 1823 in Virginia.  His wife Hannah was born in Canada around the same year.  They had within their household five children in 1850 – John W Jr., Jacob and James (twins), daughter Ann, and baby Robert WHITFIELD.  All the children were born between 1840 and 1850.

While in DC, I reviewed the file of John W. WHITFIELD Jr. in regards to his pension.  Both he and his younger brother Jacob are known veterans of the Civil War and both fought in the US Colored Troops, 5th Ohio regiment.  They both enlisted here in Toledo for the regiment and went to Delaware County for training.  During their service, both experienced some medical issues/illnesses and John Jr.’s pension file centered on him having had a finger shot off during the war along with a cough where he spit up blood, which was labeled as a “lung disease.”  His younger brother  Jacob died in 1868 in the City of Toledo so did not recieve a pension, but John Jr. filed for one first in 1889 then again in 1892 after a law was passed where veterans didn’t have to prove a disability to receive a pension.  John Jr. had lived primarily in Toledo prior to and after the war but died in Cleveland, Ohio in 1905.

In his pension file, John Jr. had to create a statement and tell a bit of his life and service in the military, including any injuries he suffered.  In his statement, he stated that he was currently married but had been married before to a woman named Mary EDWARDS.  EDWARDS is another early black/colored Toledo family and I had them on a spreadsheet for future review.  Due to seeing Mary EDWARDS’ name, I decided to do some digging on her and her family to see if she had any children and if she and John Jr. could potentially be the parents of Elias WHITFIELD.

Reviewing the EDWARDS family showed that Mary EDWARDS and John WHITFIELD Jr. married in Toledo in 1887.  Also that Mary was born in 1851.  Due to the late marriage date and Mary’s year of birth, she could not have been the mother of Elias due to him being born between 1861-1863 and she was very young at that time.  It was possible but not likely for her to have a child so young and the marriage date didn’t make sense.  John Jr.’s pension file also included a note that he had not had any children so this made him not likely to be the father of Elias Whitfield.

However, I discovered that Mary EDWARDS had an aunt named Lavina EDWARDS born approximately 1840.  Lavina was the sister of Mary’s father – William EDWARDS Jr.  There was an entry in Toledo’s marriage records  via Family Search that showed that she married John WHITFIELD Sr. in 1859.  John WHITFIELD Sr. was no longer living in Toledo in 1860 and I had always wondered where he’d moved to or if he’d  passed away.  Doing a query with him and Lavina, showed that a John WHITFIELD was a saloon keeper living in Detroit in 1860 with a woman of the same age as Lavina, who was enumerated as Elvina.  I thought that that may have been a mis-spelling by the enumerator due to it being similar to Lavina  Within their household was also a Robert WHITFIELD who was the  youngest child of John Sr and Hannah in 1850 and it stated he was born in Ohio.  Also within that household were two other children – Samantha WHITFIELD born 1852 and a baby named Mary Ann who was born in 1860.  So I believe that the 1860 household was indeed John and Lavina Whitfield who had been married in Toledo in 1859.

I did some digging into Samantha WHITFIELD and it did show that her father’s name was John WHITFIELD on her death record.  She was also enumerated in the household of William EDWARDS Sr.  in 1870 in Toledo, Ohio.  William EDWARDS Sr., born approximately 1795-1803 was the father of Lavina EDWARDS, he was living with her in Toledo by 1880.  This further solidified a relationship between these two families.

Some digging into baby Mary Ann from the 1860 Census in the household of Elvina and John WHITFIELD Sr., a death certificate turned up showing that she was the daughter of Lavina EDWARDS and John WHITFIELD.

Another person also had a death certificate that showed she was the daughter of Lavina (this time THOMAS – Lavina married Montgomery THOMAS after the death of her second husband Arthur SPENCER) and John WHITFIELD.  This daughter was named Lulu and she was shown to have been born in approximatly 1863-1864.

A review of the 1870 Census looking for Lavina showed that there was a Lavina SPENCE living in Toledo in the household of Arthur SPENCE.  Within that household included a male named Eli SPENCE.  I concluded that John WHITFIELD must have died between 1860 and 1863 as Lavina re-married a man named Arthur SPENCER in 1863 in Toledo.  By 1880, Arthur also must have passed away because Lavina was listed as a widow and she later re-married a man named Montgomery THOMAS in 1884. Due to her having a male named Eli in her household, I thought maybe this Eli SPENCE(R) was more than likely Eli(as) WHITFIELD.  I’ve seen before in censuses where the surnames of family members were incorrect, mostly due to the re-marriages of their parents and them being given the name of the widowed mother or stepfather instead of their biological surname.  I also  never have seen an Eli or Elias Spencer listed in the city directory of Toledo, however starting in the 1880s Eli or Elias WHITFIELD was listed several times until his death in 1897 and later he was listed as the deceased husband of my 3rd great grandmother Martha JONES WHITFIELD.

Unfortunately Elias WHITFIELD died prior to the establishment of death certificates in the City of Toledo.  So his parents were not listed on the death register since that information was not collected prior to the 20th century in Toledo.  I have never found him on census records in Toledo as Elias WHITFIELD, only in the city directory starting in 1883.  Due to these connections discovered via information on the EDWARDS family as a result of reviewing John WHITFIELD Jr.’s pension file, I am 95% sure that Eli SPENCER may be Elias (also labeled as Eli in directory information) WHITFIELD.  I base this on the fact that Eli would have been the middle or youngest child of John WHITFIELD Sr. and Lavina EDWARDS.  Mary Ann was born in 1860, Eli in 1862-63 and Lulu in 1863-64.  Both Mary Ann and Lulu lived until the 1920s so had a modern era death certificate that listed their parents as John and Lavina, so I feel safe concluding that my 3rd great grandfather Elias WHITFIELD was actually the son of John WHITFIELD Sr., and brother of John WHITFIELD Jr.

I am very excited to explore this connection further and the EDWARDS family, especially since William EDWARDS Sr.  would be a potential 5th great grandfather.  He was a Barber in Toledo and worked and/or lived in the same location as Barber William MERRITT who was a known black UGGR administrator in Toledo.


1850 Census – Household of John Whitfield

Marriage Record of John Whitfield and Lavina Edwards 1859

1860 Census – Household of John Whitfield

1860 Census – Household of Willien(William Sr.) Edwards – includes Mary Edwards

Marriage Record of Lovinia Whitfield and Arthur Spencer 1863

1870 Census – Household of Arthur Spence 

1870 Census – Household of William Edwards

1880 Census – Household of Lavina Spencer

Death Record of Lulu WHITFIELD VENABLE


Notable Black Toledoans – Garland H. WHITE

I first came across the name of Garland H. WHITE when I was looking through newspaper articles about black residents of Toledo. Oftentimes looking through online resources of African American newspapers provides me with some interesting stories and insights into the early black community of Toledo and Northwest Ohio.

As noted in the Black Culture Series post regarding education and intellectualism, I discovered an article published on March 3, 1871 in a black newspaper called the “Weekly Louisianian” that stated that Garland H. WHITE of Toledo had filed suit against the Toledo school board for not allowing his daughter to attend the school of the ward that they lived in at the time. She was disallowed attendance due to the City of Toledo and its school board having segregated school facilities at the time; therefore his daughter, named Anna would have had to attend the “Colored School” of Toledo and not the one nearest to her home.

WHITE’s complaint did have an impact in the city, being that by 1873 Toledo Public Schools integrated the system and allowed children to attend the schools closest to them regardless of the race/color of the student.  WHITE, however, moved away from Toledo around 1873 and so his children may not have benefited from the integration of the schools in the city.

After finding this information out about WHITE and the integration of Toledo Public Schools, I decided to place him on my (LONG) list of individuals to research later and this past week, I decided to take some notes on him and others.

When I first begin to focus on an individual, I usually first refer to my transcriptions of the Census data of Toledo from 1840 to 1870.  Then I  use the magic of google and see what comes up with a query of their name and the location of Toledo. I was very surprised that WHITE had a lot of references in a general query so decided to make my next post about him.

Garland H. WHITE was born to a slave woman named Nancy in Hanover County, Virginia around 1829. Biographical information found about him shows that he was taught to read and write as a child. Prior to the age of 13, he was separated from his mother and sold to Senator Robert Toombs of Georgia. During his teenage years, he was a personal manservant to Senator Toombs and accompanied the Senator on trips back and forth to Washington, D.C. Around 1857-1859, WHITE escaped slavery via the Underground Railroad from Washington D.C. He settled in SE Ontario, Canada, then called “Canada West” and became an ordained minister in the London, Ontario AME church.

WHITE first shows up in Toledo on the list of Civil War draft registrations in 1863.  He was living in Ward 2 of the city at the time and listed his occupation as a “minister.”  His draft registration is below on line 15:

WHITE petitioned the government to serve as a recruiter for black troops, even before the federal authorities allowed black men to enlist in 1863.  His requests were denied but he was persistent due to having a goal of recruiting and serving as Chaplain for the first black regiments – the 54th and 55th Massachusetts regiments (the 54th was memorialized in the movie “Glory”).  Unfortunately he was not allowed access to those regiments but was later asked to recruit for Indiana’s first colored regiment – the 28th USCT.   WHITE both joined and recruited black soldiers for this regiment from all over the Midwest and was persistent in his writing campaigns seeking to achieve his goal of becoming a chaplain in the Army.    WHITE’s request was delayed but ultimately approved and he became the Chaplain of the 28th USCT in 1864 and received a rank similar to that of a Captain.  His rank made him one of the few black officers in the USCT during the Civil War (there were less than 20).   Even though he was appointed Chaplain and attained his rank, he was not authorized to wear an officer’s uniform due to the Army not wanting white soldiers being forced to salute him upon sight.

After the war, he returned to Toledo, where as noted above, he filed a complaint against the Toledo Public School board to desegregate the system.  At the time, he was married to wife Georginna and had three children, per the 1870 Census named Anna (born 1862 in Canada), Jane (born 1867) and son Emery/Henry (born 1869).  He was listed in the City of Toledo directory  as a minister between 1867 and 1872.

During the 1860s and 1870s he was also a frequent contributor to black media publications, including the “Christian Recorder” a publication of the AME church.  In one of his more well known correspondences, he described reuniting with his mother, who he had been sold away from as a child.  The letter was written toward the end  of the Civil War on April 12, 1865.:

Among the many broken-hearted mothers looking for their children who had been sold to Georgia and elsewhere, was an aged woman, passing through the vast crowd of colored, inquiring for one by the name of
Garland H. White, who had been sold from her when a small boy, and was bought by a lawyer named Robert Toombs, who lived in Georgia.

Since the war has been going on she has seen Mr. Toombs in Richmond  with troops from his state, and upon her asking him where his bodyservant
Garland was, he replied: “He ran off from me at Washington, and went to ‘Canada. I have since learned that he is living somewhere in the State of Ohio.” Some of the boys knowing that I lived in Ohio, soon found me and said, “Chaplain, here is a lady that wishes to see
you.” I quickly turned, following the soldier until coming to a group of colored ladies. I was questioned as follows:

“What is your name, sir?” “My name is Garland H. White.”

“What was your mother’s name?” “Nancy.” “Where was you born?” “In Hanover County, in this State.” “Where was you sold from?”

“From this city.”

“What was the name of the man who bought you?”

“Robert Toombs.”

“Where did he live?”

“In the State of Georgia.”

“Where did you leave

“At Washington.”

“Where did you go then?”

“To Canada.”

“Where do you live now?”

“In Ohio.”

“This is your mother, Garland, whom you are now talking to, who has spent twenty years of grief about her son.”

I cannot express the joy I felt at this happy meeting of my mother and other friends.

After his service in the war WHITE had aspirations of working for the Freedman’s Bureau but his request was denied.  In the mid 1870s he moved to Indianapolis, Indiana and then to North Carolina and served as an AME minister in both locations.  He ran for a seat in Congress in the 1870s in North Carolina as a Democrat, but lost to John Adams Hyman, a black Republican.  His relationship with the Democratic Party, which back  then was the party of the former Confederates,  placed him in a contentious position with his church family in Halifax, North Carolina and he was forced out of the church by 1880.

WHITE experienced a respiratory illness, which he associated with his service in the USCT and specifically the Battle of the Crater.  He applied for a disability pension in 1884 but it was not approved until 1890 when rules for pensioners changed and all who served were able to receive payments.  WHITE moved back to Washington, D.C., toward the end of his life and worked as a messenger in the Capital.  He died on July 5, 1894 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.


Wikipedia – Garland H. White

Forged Through Fire – Bethel AME Church – Chaplain Garland H. White

1870 Toledo Census – Household of Garland H. White

Find a Grave Memorial – Rev Garland H. White 

Weekly Louisianian – March 3, 1871

Ancestry.com – US Civil War Draft Registration Records – Ohio 10th Congressional District Volume 1

Ancestry.com – City of Toledo Directories 1864-1880