Skip to main content

Craft and Crum families papers

 Collection
Identifier: AMN 1102

Collection Overview

The collection includes photographs, scrapbooks, legal documents, correspondence, artifacts, and other materials relating to William and Ellen Craft and their descendants. It is arranged into four series: Series one and two contain Craft, Crum, and Kinloch family materials, series three relates to the Brown Fellowship Society, and series four contains compiled newspaper clippings.

Materials relating to William and Ellen Craft include photographs, correspondence, and a tribute book collectively containing images, letters, and notes of family and friends, including well-known abolitionists and other historical figures with whom the Crafts associated. Other materials include deeds for Woodville Plantation, on which the Woodville Co-Operative Farm School operated, 1860 publication of Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom documenting the Crafts' escape from slavery, jewelry box constructed by William Craft, and other materials.

Materials relating to Charles and Emeline Craft include a family bible, autograph book containing the signatures and notes of family and friends, including prominent members of African American society, correspondence and postcards, photographs, and other materials.

In addition to photographs of family and friends, materials collected by Julia Ellen Craft and Herbert A. DeCosta relate to Howard University and alumni of Howard University, the H. A. DeCosta Company, and Charleston-area social clubs such as the Owls Whist Club, Entre-Nous Bridge Club, Charleston Chapter of Links, Inc., and others. Materials relating to Herbert A. DeCosta, Jr. and Bernice DeCosta Davis include family photographs, documents relating to Avery Normal Institute graduation, scrapbook documenting the marriage of Bernice DeCosta and Albert Miles Davis, and other materials.

Materials relating to William and Ellen Craft Crum include scrapbooks, photographs, visiting cards, correspondence, and other materials documenting the William Crum's service as minister to Liberia (1910-1912). Also included are a scrapbook of newspaper articles and poems compiled by Ellen Craft Crum and a speech delivered by William Crum on the occasion of Ellen's birthday.

Kinloch family materials include documents relating to Kinloch family history, 19th century cased photographs, a temperance card signed by Richmond Kinloch, and sampler embroidered by Emeline Aubin Kinloch in her youth.

Materials relating to the Brown Fellowship Society include an account book containing minutes for both the Daughters of the Century Society (1904-1940) and Brown Fellowship Society (1940-1975), newspaper clippings, biographical information on Jehu Jones (founder of the Society), and material relating to the Society's 200th anniversary. Prior to the acquisition of this collection in 2011, no meeting minutes of the Brown Fellowship Society were known to exist after the year 1916.

Newspaper clippings cover topics such as Charleston architecture; properties constructed or remodeled by the H. A. DeCosta Company; well-known African Americans; free people of color in history; obituaries of friends or other people not of direct relation to the family; various opinion columns and stories relating to art, artists, and culture; and family history, including the Healy family.

Dates

  • 1780-2007

Creator

Access Restrictions

No restrictions.

Copyright Notice

The nature of the Avery Research Center's archival holdings means that copyright or other information about restrictions may be difficult or even impossible to determine despite reasonable efforts. The Avery Research Center claims only physical ownership of most archival materials.

The materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to U.S. copyright law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source.

Biographical Note

William Craft (1824-1900) and Ellen Smith Craft (1826-1891) were slaves who met and married on a plantation in Macon, Georgia. Ellen's mother was a mixed-race slave and her father was Major James Smith, the white master of the plantation on which she was born. Ellen was very fair-skinned, and because she often was mistaken for a member of the family, she was given to Eliza Cromwell Smith, daughter of James Smith, who then married Dr. Robert Collins of Macon, Georgia. William had been trained as a carpenter by his first master, who also mortgaged him to obtain cash for an investment. When his master was unable to pay the debt, the bank auctioned William to Dr. Robert Collins.

Unwilling to raise children in slavery, in December 1848 William and Ellen Craft devised a plan to escape to Philadephia, Pennsylvania, where they would be recognized as free citizens. As a carpenter, William was a for-hire slave and saved earnings to purchase the necessary transportation and disguises needed for the trip. Ellen dressed as an invalid man, her arm in a sling to avoid writing (neither William nor Ellen could read or write) and face in bandages to obscure her feminine voice and lack of facial hair. William accompanied her as a servant. Arriving in Philadelphia on Christmas day, they we were welcomed and assisted by well-known abolitionists, who promoted their stories within their circles. They then lived in Boston, Massachusetts, until 1850, when the Fugitive Slave Act was passed. Pursued by bounty hunters attempting to return them to Dr. Robert Collins, they fled to England, where they settled and had five children, Charles Estlin Phillips (1852-1938), William II (b. 1855), Brougham (b. 1857), Ellen (1866-1917), and Alfred (b. 1869). The details of their escape have been well-documented in a number of sources, including William Craft's first-hand account, Running a Thousand Miles to Freedom (1860).

In 1868, the Crafts returned to the United States with Charles, Brougham, and Ellen, while William II and Alfred remained in England. In 1870, they purchased Woodville Plantation in Bryan County, Georgia, where they opened a school for newly-freed slaves. Woodville Co-Operative Farm School closed for lack of funding shortly after William was accused of using charitable donations for personal purposes in 1876. He attempted unsuccessfully to sue for libel in 1878. In 1890, the Crafts moved to Charleston to live with their daughter Ellen Craft Crum. Ellen died in 1897 and William died in 1900.

SOURCES: (1) Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom by William Craft, 1860. (2) William and Ellen Craft in the New Georgia Encyclopedia: http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-622. (3) Craft and Crum Families Collection, Avery Research Center, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC, USA. (4) Craft and Kinloch Families, H. A. DeCosta, Jr. Papers, Avery Research Center, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC, USA.

Extent

7.0 linear feet (11 archival boxes)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

William Craft (1824-1900) and Ellen Smith Craft (1826-1891) were slaves who met and married on a plantation in Macon, Georgia. Unwilling to raise children in slavery, in December 1848 they devised a plan to escape to Philadephia, Pennsylvania. Ellen dressed as an invalid male, her arm in a sling to avoid writing (neither William nor Ellen could read or write) and face in bandages to obscure her feminine voice and lack of facial hair. William accompanied her as a servant. They arrived in Philadelphia on Christmas day, where they we were welcomed and assisted by well-known abolitionists, then lived in Boston, Massachusetts, until 1850, until the Fugitive Slave Act was passed. Pursued by bounty hunters, they fled to England, where they settled and had five children, Charles Estlin Phillips (1852-1938), William II (b. 1855), Brougham (b. 1857), Ellen (1866-1917), and Alfred (b. 1869). In 1868, the Crafts returned to the United States and in 1870, they purchased Woodville Plantation in Bryan County, Georgia, where they opened Woodville Co-Operative Farm School to educate newly-freed slaves. Within a decade, the school closed for lack of funding, and in 1890 the Crafts moved to Charleston, South Carolina to live with daughter Ellen Craft Crum until their deaths. Ellen Craft Crum had married William Demos Crum (1859-1912), who, in addition to practicing medicine, served as Collector of Customs from 1902-1910 and minister to Liberia from 1910-1912.

The collection includes photographs, scrapbooks, autograph and tribute books, correspondence, legal documents, artifacts, and other material relating to William and Ellen Craft and their descendants; minutes and other material relating to the Brown Fellowship Society and Daughters of the Century Society; and newspaper clippings covering a range of topics such as family history, famous African Americans, art and culture, and others. Photographs and correspondence are heavily represented and document the lives of William and Ellen Craft and their children, Charles Estlin Phillips, William II, Brougham, and Ellen, and their families. Additional materials relating to William and Ellen Craft document their escape from slavery (including an 1860 publication of Running a Thousand Miles to Freedom), associations with well-known abolitionists and prominent African Americans, and the purchase of Woodville Plantation in Georgia. The Kinloch family of Emeline Aubin Kinloch Craft, wife of Charles P. Craft, is also represented with material such as cased photographs, a temperance card, embroidery sampler, and other material dating to the 18th century. Additional materials relating Julia Ellen and Herbert A. DeCosta document schooling at Howard University, the H. A. DeCosta Company, and participation in Charleston-area social and benevolent clubs. Materials relating to their children, Bernice DeCosta Davis and H. A. DeCosta, Jr. include Avery Normal Institute programs and announcements, photographs, and other materials. Materials relating to William and Ellen Craft Crum include scrapbooks, photographs, visiting cards, correspondence, and other materials documenting William Crum's employment as minister to Liberia (1910-1912) and other events in the couple's life. Also represented in photographs and correspondence are the descendants of Brougham and Mary Claggett Craft.

Collection Arrangement

1. William and Ellen Smith Craft, 1780-1996

1.1. Charles Estlin Phillips and Emeline Aubin Kinloch Craft and Family, 1879-2007

1.2. William Craft II and Family, 1890s-1960s

1.3. Brougham and Mary Claggett Craft and Family, 1880s-1992

1.4. Ellen Craft and William Demos Crum, 1890s-1912

2. Richmond and Sophia Kinloch, 1794-1838

3. Brown Fellowship Society, 1904-1990

4. Newspaper Clippings and Subject Files, circa 1910s-1992

Acquisitions Information

Donated by Julia Ellen Craft Davis and Vicki Lorraine Davis, April 2010 and April 2011.

Related Material

H. A. DeCosta, Jr. Papers (AMN 1084)

DeCosta Family Papers (AMN 1101)

Frank Augustus DeCosta Papers

Frank A. DeCosta, Jr. Papers

Separated Material

1102-OPF/1

2010.030.001

Processing Information

Processed by Jessica Farrell with Aaisha Haykal, October 2011

Encoded by Jessica Farrell, October 2011

Creator

Source

Title
Inventory of the Craft and Crum Families papers, 1780 - 2007 AMN 1102
Status
Completed
Author
Finding aid prepared by Processed by: Jessica Farrell with Aaisha Haykal; machine-readable finding aid created by: Jessica Farrell
Description rules
DACS
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Description is in English

Repository Details

Part of the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture Repository

Contact:
125 Bull Street
Charleston South Carolina 29424 United States
843-953-7608