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Untold Stories: Hannah Reynolds

Actress as Hannah Reynolds
A historical reenactor as Hannah Reynolds. NPS photo.

Slavery was a primary cause of the Civil War. An enslaved person was legally the property of another person. Enslaved people did not have the same legal rights as free people. For example, they could not travel, vote in elections, own property, marry, visit family on other properties, and many other activities without permission.

General Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House changed slavery in the United States forever. Some of the untold stories of African Americans who lived there demonstrate the significance of the end of the Civil War.

Hannah Reynolds
Hannah Reynolds' story is typical for Appomattox Court House. Read about Hannah Reynolds, then answer the questions.

  • Was Hannah Reynolds enslaved or free?
  • In your own words, what is Hannah’s story?
  • What is the significance of Hannah’s story?

Put It Together
Using the information you just read about Hannah Reynolds and the register of death below, imagine the last few days of her life. Draw a picture, write a poem or play, or use your imagination as you wish to tell her story in your own words.

Can you find Hannah's name in the register of death below? It says that Hannah Reynolds was a colored (meaning, African American) woman who died at Appomattox on April 12, "Wounded by Shell." According to her enslaver, Samuel Coleman, Hannah was either 40 or 60 years old (the register is difficult to read). The names of her parents and her birthplace were unknown. Her consort (meaning, a partner or spouse) was Abram Reynolds.
Register of death for Hannah Reynolds
Hannah's register of death.

Part of a series of articles titled After Appomattox: Artifacts of Slavery and Freedom.

Appomattox Court House National Historical Park

Last updated: December 8, 2020