Later Accounts

 

Some stories of the Southampton Revolt emerged many years after the rebellion had been quelled. All of these accounts came from individuals whose lives intersected with the revolt, or with survivors of the revolt, in some way.

 

  • In 1831, Jeremiah Bell Jeter lived in northeastern Virginia, where he witnessed, and personally experienced, the anxiety the rebellion inspired in whites at the time.

 

  • Traveling through Southampton County in 1832, Mary Blackford spoke with members of the family of Caty Whitehead, who was killed in the revolt. Blackford recorded what she heard in her diary. Her son, L. Minor Blackford, later published those entries in a book about his mother’s life.

 

  • William Sidney Drewry was a native of Southampton County with a doctorate in history from the University of Virginia. In the late 1890s, Drewry interviewed relatives of the rebels as well as relatives of the white people killed in the revolt. He published a scholarly account of the revolt, The Southampton Insurrection, in 1900.

 

  • John W. Cromwell was born a slave in Portsmouth, Virginia, in 1846, but his father bought the family's freedom in 1851, and they moved to Philadelphia. Cromwell taught school in Southampton during the 1870s, where he met people who had personally known Nat Turner.

 

  • Born a slave in 1835, Allen Crawford grew up about three miles from where the insurrection began. In 1937, he recounted stories he had heard about the revolt to an interviewer from the Works Progress Administration. He stated that his uncle Henry had been one of the rebels who was hanged. Crawford’s owner, Peter Edwards, had had slaves involved in the revolt. The rebels visited his farm, but no whites were there when they arrived, so Edwards and his family survived.

"This insurrection may be considered an effort of the Negro to help himself rather than depend on other human agencies for the protection which could come through his own strong arm."

 

- John Cromwell, "The Aftermath of the Nat Turner Insurrection," 1920