The Devotional Family Bible (Vol. II), Rev. Alexander Fletcher, D.D.

All too often, the stories and histories of enslaved African Americans have been lost. In the case of the men, women and children enslaved by the Beall family, most of their stories – both before and after emancipation – are unknown to us at the Historical Society. Thanks to legal documents like deeds, wills, census and tax records, and inventories, researchers have been able to learn the names of 81 enslaved people who were owned at one time by the Bealls.  In most cases, only their names are known to us.

Known to us is the key phrase. All of these people (a full list of the known names can be found at the bottom of this post) had individual lives, stories, and experiences, known to (and important to) their families and descendants. The Historical Society is fortunate in that some descendants have offered to share their histories with us, to help us better tell the story of life in the Beall-Dawson House, in Rockville, and by extension in Montgomery County as a whole. Here is one of those stories.

Lucinda Jackson Moore (1822-1898) was born into slavery to Flora Jackson, an enslaved African American woman owned by Upton Beall. Upton’s widow Jane purchased Lucy (as she was usually called) from her late husband’s estate in 1827, and gave the young girl to her daughter Margaret Beall; Lucy, five years younger than Margaret, worked as Margaret’s maid.  Lucy probably went with Margaret to Georgetown when the latter attended Miss Lydia English’s Seminary as a teenager.

Lucy Jackson married William Henry Moore in 1855, while she was still enslaved. They had five children: William Henry Jr., James Richard, John Lewis, George, and Harriet Augusta. The four boys were born into slavery, and like their mother were owned by Margaret Beall (Harriet, the youngest, was born in 1868). By 1855 Lucy had been hired out by Margaret Beall to a family in Georgetown, where she worked as a laundress and housekeeper (this was a common practice in the area; the Beall sisters hired out a number of their slaves).

Large family Bibles like this one often include space to record important dates and histories. The Moore family noted the births of Lucy and William Henry Moore's five children on this page. Another page contains deaths including that of George, the youngest son, who died July 7, 1862, only a few months after he had been freed.

On April 16, 1862, Congress passed “An act for the release of certain persons held to service or labor in the District of Columbia,” abolishing slavery in Washington. The Act also provided monetary compensation to slaveholders who were “loyal to the United States.” Because Margaret and her sisters hired out many of their enslaved people in Georgetown, they were subject to the Act. Margaret Beall received $1,900 for Lucy Jackson Moore and her four young children. In her petition to receive payment for the family, Margaret Beall described Lucy as a “mulatto woman about five feet five inches… [she] is an excellent house servant, first rate cook, ironer and washer, honest and industrious, valued at one thousand dollars.” Seventeen other people, working in D.C. and owned jointly by all three Beall sisters, were also emancipated in 1862. (The remainder of the Beall slaves were freed on November 1st, 1864, when slavery was abolished in Maryland.)

After she attained her freedom, Lucy continued to work as a laundress in Washington, DC, where she died in 1898. Family stories remember her as being of a delicate appearance that belied her strength and determination.

We know most of these details thanks to Lucy Moore’s descendants, who provided us with copies of Margaret Beall’s petition for reimbursement and of five-year-old Richard Moore’s freedom papers, which “certif[ied] that the bearer thereof. . . was manumitted and set free,” as well as written reminiscences and stories from her life. Sonia Bontemps donated a pair of silver spoons that were given to Lucy by Margaret Beall upon her manumission, and Sylvia Walls donated the Moore family Bible, shown here. These documents and artifacts not only fill in some details, such as names and ages, they also make those details personal and relatable. Lucy Jackson Moore was more than just a name written on a list of Upton Beall’s property, and her story did not end after she was freed.

Historical Society researchers have been able to identify over 80 people who were enslaved for all or part of their lives by the Bealls between 1812 and 1864.  Although in many cases all we know is their first name, that’s still better than “anonymous” or “unknown.”  History is always personal to someone (if you ask me, it should be personal to all of us), and names can serve as a small reminder of that fact.

Walter. Richard. Jacob. Robert. Charles, a trained blacksmith. John. Dennis. William. “Little” Dick. Mayse. Jinney. Polly and her daughter Caroline. Flora Jackson and her daughters Lucy and Mary Ann. Hessy and her daughter Rebecca. Margaret. Ann. Ellen (known as Nelly). Eliza. Sophy Clements. Margery and her daughter Mary. Charity. Molly and her daughter Massey. Becky. Tracy. Sisters Harriet and Louisa Smith. A younger Hessy. Edward Wood. Jesse. Morris (or Maurice).  A younger Charles. Charlotte Plowden and her child. Henny. Cicely Talbott. Rose. Frank. John Henson. William Hatton. Romeo. Hillary. Mariah and her daughters Mag and Catherine. John. Henry and Theresa Tyler. Catharine (Kitty) Smith. Alfred Ross. Julia. Mary Simms. William T. Gabriel Smith. William. Robert. Cornelius. William A. Sarah. Julia. Janet. Laura. Alice. Lucy. Jane. Amelia. Lavinia. Isabella Smith. Charles Plowden. Ann Marie Tyler. Siblings Jennie, Bell, Margery, Billy, Mary Jane and Charles Smith.