Caroline Hammond (b. 1844 - d. circa 1939)
MSA SC 5496-15145
Fled from slavery, Anne Arundel County, Maryland, 1850s
Caroline Hammond was one of many former Maryland slaves who chronicled her life's struggle under the Federal Writer's Project (FWP) in the 1930s. Though much of her story remains unverifiable, it nevertheless offers insight into the ceaseless hardships all slaves encountered in antebellum Maryland.
Caroline was born in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, on November 22nd, 1844. She claims that her father was a free man and that her mother was one of many slaves owned by Thomas Davidson, a wealthy landowner in what is now known as Davidsonville. She spent her youth on Davidson's farm, watching as her master entertained the local aristocracy at dinner parties and rubbed elbows with Navy elites. Caroline stated that her mother was purchased by, and eventually married to, a free man named George Berry. Over the next three years, Berry paid regular installments totaling seven hundred and fifty dollars to compensate Davidson for his new wife. It is unclear whether Berry was Caroline's father or step-father.
Davidson died in 1868, three years after the end of the Civil War and the abolition of slavery in the United States. However, Caroline reported to the FWP in 1938 that her family fled from Mrs. Jane Davidson after Thomas passed away, since she and her mother were still in bondage.
After living in both Hanover and Scranton, Pennsylvania, Caroline moved to Baltimore in 1869. She married a waiter from the Howard House named James Berry, who died in 1927 at the age of eighty-four. Caroline lived to be at least ninety-five years old, and provided her life's story to the FWP in meticulous detail. Though much of Caroline's narrative remains uncorroborated, it serves as a testament to an entire generation of African-Americans who struggled through the final years of the peculiar institution.
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