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Part 3
Sojourner's Amazing Life ... And Beyond
The Sojourner Truth Biography

Years in Battle Creek

14-HarmoniaMap-mini.gif (3873 bytes)1857 - sells Northampton property and buys house and lot in Harmonia, six miles west of Battle Creek, Michigan

1858 - visits Ohio, Indiana -- at October meeting in Silver Lake, Indiana, accused of being a man in disguise, bares her breast to the audience to refute claim

1859 - spends several months in Detroit, Michigan

1860 - household, as listed in Calhoun County census, includes daughter Elizabeth Banks, age 35, grandsons Sammy Banks, age 8 and James "Colvin" (Caldwell), age 16

1862 - London World Exhibition awards prize to William Story's statue, Libyan Sibyl, inspired by Harriet Beecher Stowe's romanticized description of Sojourner

1863 - ill for "many weeks," stays with the Merritt family (shown below) in Battle Creek -- her appeal for funds appears in the Anti- Slavery Standard and results in a donations from many sources -- April issue of Atlantic Monthly magazine publishes Harriet Beecher Stowe's article, "The Libyan Sibyl" -- grandson James Caldwell enlists in the 54th Regiment, Mass. Volunteers (the Glory regiment) -- in November, takes Thanksgiving dinner supplies, donated by Battle Creek citizens, to the black soldiers stationed at Camp Ward in Detroit

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1864 - in June, Sojourner and thirteen-year-old grandson Sammy Banks, leave Battle Creek for New York and New Jersey, arrive in Washington, DC in the fall -- in October, visits President Abraham Lincoln at the White House -- employed by National Freedman's Relief Association

1865 - assigned to work at Freedman's Hospital in Washington -- rides the Washington, DC, streetcars to force their desegregation -- grandson James paroled from Confederate prison and mustered out of the army

15-Homestead-mini.gif (4964 bytes)1867 - moves from Harmonia into Battle Creek, converting Merritt "barn" on College Street into her house travels to Rochester, New York, and south to resettle freedmen -- visits suffrage activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton

1868 - visits Detroit, travels to western New York state where she tells Amy Post she has quit smoking

1869 - in Philadelphia, Brooklyn, various towns in New Jersey

16-D_Corbin-mini.jpg (5161 bytes)1870 - College Street household, as listed in the Calhoun County census, includes daughter Elizabeth and her husband William Boyd, eight-year-old grandson William Boyd, nineteen-year-old grandson Sammy Banks -- daughter Diana Corbin and her husband Jacob and nine-year-old grandson Frank live on South Street, near Oak Hill Cemetery -- traveling all year, to New Jersey, New York, New England, speaking against alcohol, tobacco and fashionable dress, delivers her first lecture mentioning petition to give freedmen free land in the west -- in Washington, DC, meets President Grant in the White House -- appears in the US Senate chamber, where Senators sign her Book of Life

1871 - continues to travel around New England and New York -- Frederick Douglass signs her Book of Life -- receives the deed to her College Street house from William Merritt -- sang at dedication of Quaker meeting house -- in June, Nanette Gardner of Detroit records in the Book of Life that she was the first woman to vote in a Michigan state election -- in September, leaves for Kansas with grandson Sammy Banks

12-Lyrics-mini.jpg (13313 bytes)1872 - travels around Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Michigan -- returns to Battle Creek to celebrate 33rd anniversary of "Emancipation Day" in British West Indies with picnic and speeches -- attempts to vote for Grant, refused at the polling place in Battle Creek

11-Poster-icon.gif (7783 bytes)1873 - travels around Michigan

1874 - in spring, leaves for Washington, DC with grandson -- when Sammy falls ill, they are forced to return to Battle Creek -- during winter, Sojourner ill with ulcer on leg

1875 - following operation, Sammy Banks dies and is buried at Oak Hill Cemetery -- to cover the medical costs, she solicits contributions from her friends around the country -- third edition of the Narrative, including the Book of Life, published by Frances Titus of Battle Creek

1876 - improved in health after being treated by "Dr. Orville Guiteau, veterinarian," leaves for Chicago, intending to visit Philadelphia Centennial with Frances Titus -- again forced to return home because of illness

1877 - Frances Titus returns home after traveling with Sojourner around Michigan

26-F_Titus-mini.gif (8087 bytes)1878-79 - Sojourner and Titus travel through New York and other eastern states for six months during the fall and winter -- visit Kansas and Wisconsin during the summer, to campaign for free land for former slaves

1880 - 82 - makes limited appearances around Michigan, speaking for temperance and against capital punishment

1883 - in July, ill with ulcers on her legs, treated by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg of the Battle Creek Sanitarium (shown below), who is said to have grafted some of his own skin onto Sojourner's leg -- November 26, 1883 -- Sojourner Truth dies at her College Street home in Battle Creek, Michigan -- funeral two days later, followed by burial in Oak Hill Cemetery next to her grandson

Battle Creek Sanitarium   Dr. John Harvey Kellogg

This chronology of the major events in the life of Sojourner Truth is based on notes compiled by local historian Berenice Lowe. Lowe spent many years tracking down the details of the career of Battle Creek's most famous citizen.

Her papers are deposited in the archives of the Historical Society of Battle Creek. Additional information is taken from the Martich Black History Collection, Local History Collection, Willard Public Library, Battle Creek, MI. Also Sojourner Truth, Slave, Prophet, Legend by Carleton Mabee (New York, N. Y. University Press, 1993) and Sojourner Truth, A Life, A Symbol by Nell Irvin Painter (New York, W. W. Norton & Co., Inc., 1996).

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