Aggie’s Family

Aggie, the African-American woman whose life bridges the diaries of Henrietta and Tennessee, may never have been able to write her own story in a diary. Her life in slavery may have begun in Kentucky, with the family of Henrietta Baker. Though this is pure conjecture, it’s possible she came with Henrietta to the marriage as a wedding present from John Baker’s slave holdings. The slave schedule of 1850 does indicate the presence of a young female slave near in age to Henrietta herself.

Henrietta writes frequently of Aggie and her presence in the Embree household. Aggie’s daughter, possibly named Ellen, is born about the same time Jonnie Embree is born and Henrietta writes of the overwhelming presence of both infants. Though she writes later of Aggie’s husband, George, Henrietta notes with distress that she does not know the father of Aggie’s daughter. Aggie had two or maybe three children.

Aggie remained enslaved in the Embree household until Emacipation in 1865. Tennie worried about her departure at the close of 1865, pondering what how much better Aggie was at managing Dr. Embree’s moods. Aggie later returned to the service of the Embree family, cooking for Tennie Embree throughout 1866 and 1867, and living, alone, in a house on the Embree property. She may have died in 1868, when Tennie reports that she is extremely ill.

It is unknown whether Aggie may have taken the surname Embree upon Emancipation or selected another. Voter Registration roles of 1867 do not provide enough information to locate her husband, if he survived until then.

Belton’s African American cemetery, The East Belton Cemetery, has two Embree grave stones. One for Adolphus Embree and another for Pete Embree. It is possible Aggie is buried there without a headstone, or that she is buried elsewhere in Bell County.

Currently, however, she remains lost in history with the other members of her family.  I am, however, still searching and hope that we may yet find more of her story.

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