Belle Caruthers was born a slave. At the end of the War Between the States, she was one of 437,000 blacks set free (31). Most were completely illiterate. Belle was not. She had cared for a white baby as a slave and, "The baby had alphabet blocks and I learned my letters while she learned hers" (33). Belle later found a Webster's Blue Black Speller and used it to study. Her master kicked her when he found her pouring over its pages (33). This did not phase Belle in the least. "I found a hymnbook one day and spelled out, 'When I Can Read My Title Clear.' I was so happy when I saw that I could really read that I ran around telling all the other slaves" (34). I can imagine her excitement, can't you? It practically leaps from the page even now, over 150 years later.
|Tombstone of Belle G. Caruthers|
She done what she could.
Do you see what happened there? I went into my search looking for one thing and came out with a great story and a new resource. (I can't wait to try this in my genealogy research!) Mrs. Belle may have passed away in 1938 at the age of 91, but I think she still has a lot to teach the world.
Blue Black Speller http://www.blockaderunner.com/Catalog/catpg9a.html
Gravestone at Hill Crest Cemetery - She Done What She Could: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=12301446
Rawick, George P. The American Slave: A Composite Autobiography Supplement, Series 1, Volume 7 Mississippi Narratives, Part 2. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1977. Print.