Kitty Payne

Quick Facts

Place Of Birth:
near Huntly, VA
Date Of Birth:
Place Of Death:
Gettysburg, PA
Date Of Death:

Catherine "Kitty" Payne was a slave, born to her owner, Samuel Maddox of Rappahannock County, Virginia, and one of his slaves. She married Robert Payne, a free black, in 1836, and they had four children. When Maddox died in 1837, she and her children were left to Maddox's wife Mary who emancipated them in 1843. Mary Maddox then moved with them to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania where Robert Payne died. Maddox's nephew, however, did not recognize Mary's right to free the Payne family and so hired a band of "slave catchers" to kidnap the Payne family and return them to slavery in Virginia.

Kitty Payne fought the nephew in court, and after a year of complex proceedings, re-won her family's freedom. The Paynes then returned to Gettysburg where Kitty remarried. Kitty Payne died in 1851, but Eliza Jane, one of Kitty's daughters, was still living in Gettysburg when the Union and Confederate armies collided there in July 1863. Eliza recalled hiding during the battle, not only from shot and shell but also from Confederates roaming the town in search of blacks to abduct. Another of Kitty's children, James Arthur Payne, would later enlist in the 27th U.S. Colored Troops and fight at the Battle of the Crater.

Last updated: September 14, 2017