William Ellison Photo

William Ellison

Death: Dec 5, 1861

Birthplace: South Carolina

Nationality: United States

William Ellison

Date of Death : Dec 5, 1861
Birth Place : South Carolina

William Ellison Jr, born April Ellison, was a cotton gin maker and blacksmith in South Carolina, a free negro and former slave who achieved considerable success in business before the American Civil War. He eventually became a major planter and one of the medium property owners, and certainly the wealthiest "black" property owner, in the state. He held 40 slaves at his death and more than 1,000 acres of land. From 1830-1865 he and his sons were the only free blacks in Sumter County, South Carolina to own slaves. The county was largely devoted to cotton plantations and the majority population were slaves. Ellison and his sons were among a number of successful free people of color in the antebellum years, but Ellison was particularly outstanding. His master had passed on social capital by apprenticing him to learn a valuable artisan trade as a cotton gin maker, at which Ellison made a success. He took a wife at the age of 21. After buying his own freedom when he was 26, a few years later Ellison purchased his wife and their children, to protect them from sales as slaves.

Source: Freebase, CC-YY
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