From Enslavement to Freedom
A unique and important aspect of Elizabeth O. Carter’s diary is that it documents the transition from enslavement to freedom. Societal and economic changes, both big and small, are reflected in her writings. She and the people she once enslaved navigated this new environment day by day. Insight into their new lives in freedom can be gleaned from the entries in the diary. People like Sophia, Fan, and Eve, who had labored for the Carters with no freedom and financial benefit, transitioned to a life where they had choices, could make decisions for themselves, and were paid for their work.
SOPHIA MOTEN HOWARD
As a young wife and mother, Sophia must have wondered if she would ever have a home to call her own and raise her family. Nine years after freedom came, she and her husband Jacob Howard purchased land near Bellefield. Others soon followed, and the community of Howardsville was formed. Their descendants still own property there.
Diary entries about Fann, also written as Fann and Fanny, suggest that she was one of the cooks. She baked bread and made fruit cakes. Fann was a midwife and acted in the capacity of caregiver or nurse. She stood her ground with Elizabeth, knowing her rights as a free woman and demanding respect – an act that her former enslaver described as insolence.
Eve was related in some way to Sophia. She was skilled at raising and managing farm animals and growing food in the kitchen garden. Eve’s daughter Frances was born into slavery and grew up to marry George Henry Russ, a man who had also been born into slavery at Oatlands or Bellefield. He was active in the late 1800s civil rights movement, representing Loudoun in the Colored Republicans of the Eighth Virginia Congressional District.