Three Families

painting depicting a slave coffle, groups of enslaved people chained together being marched under guard.
Artist depiction of a slave coffle, groups of enslaved people chained together being marched under guard.

NPS/Harpers Ferry Center

In spring of 1841, John Ridgely purchased 23 individuals in 3 nuclear families (Gully, Davis and Humphries) of enslaved workers from “Oakland,” the estate of James L. Hawkins, for a total cost of $7,267.46. Hawkins was a banker who became notorious for embezzling huge sums of money (over $100,000) in 1840. Settling his debts required him to sell his enslaved workers on his plantation in southwestern Frederick County.

The Davis Family

William/Bill and Susan/Sukey Davis came to Hampton with their seven young children (Lloyd, Harriet, Ellen, Louis/Lewis, Anne, Caroline, and William Jr.) Two more children (Tilghman and Susan) were later born at Hampton. Some of the Davis children (Louis/Lewis, Anne, Caroline) continued to work for the Ridgelys after emancipation, and descendants of others who left Hampton are still living in the Towson area today.

The Humphries Family

Edward/Ned Humphries, his wife Peggy and five children: John, George, Eliza Jane, Mary, and Eloise, were all farm workers. All of the younger children appear on Didy’s Christmas Gift list, although Eloise received nothing in 1851 “on account of bad behavior.” Eloise later went by Louisa Humphries and in 1861 became the second wife of head waiter Mark Posey, with whom she had three children. Mark and his first wife, Rachel also had children, the first of whom was Rebecca, one of the few young women able to successfully seek her freedom alone in 1852. Another daughter, Alica Posey was recorded by Didy Ridgely on the Christmas Gifts list as being her “first Protégé.”

Many of these family members sought their freedom in 1863, were captured and returned to Hampton. After Emancipation, the Posey family moved to Towson, where Mark worked as a hotel waiter.

Mary Humphries’ son John (1857-lv. 1930) became a paid farm worker at Hampton after Emancipation, serving as an overseer and living in the Lower (overseer’s) House with his wife, her sister, and two sons. One of John’s sons, Eugene, was decorated for his service in the 92nd Division (Buffalo Soldiers) in the US Army during World War I.

The Gully Family

The only daughter to Jim and Catherine (Kitty) Gully was Esther/Hester (1829-lv. 1890). Almost immediately upon her arrival at Hampton in 1841, Esther adopted the surname Baker and is recorded with this name in Hampton records. She had a son, Henry Baker, born in June 1849.

The Great Hall was a multi-purpose space, used for numerous important events, including weddings and funerals. In addition to Ridgely family celebrations, archival documents also record that some funerals for the formerly enslaved were held there as well. There is also documentary evidence related to Esther/Hester Gully/Baker who married Franklin Johnson, a free man of color who is listed as working as a servant at Hampton in the 1860 census. The marriage was carried out on December 24, 1856 in Hampton mansion by a white Presbyterian minister, R.C. Galbraith, who provided religious services for the enslaved at the behest of Eliza Ridgely.

Franklin and Hester had four children together. Tragically, Franklin Johnson died while serving the Union in the U.S. Colored Troops during the Civil War. After his death, Hester moved to Baltimore to earn a living post-Emancipation. In late 1864, she applied for a widow’s pension in order to help support herself and her four children.

Last updated: June 6, 2020

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