What’s in a name?

Eliza Rone Free­dom bond

The back (envelope) of Eliza's Freedom Bond

Eliza Rone Free­dom bond envelope

Every week we make some dis­cov­ery about the house or the peo­ple who lived and worked here, and last week was no excep­tion. In the fall of 2010, we learned that Robert eman­ci­pat­ed a slave named Eliza in 1857.  Last week we found a copy of her Free­dom Bond that lists her last name: Rone.

Free­dom Bonds were a pledge of mon­ey (in this case, $500) giv­en by a per­son of good char­ac­ter (Robert Camp­bell) who would promise the per­son obtain­ing the license would be gain­ful­ly employed and would not become a nui­sance to the city. You may notice the Free­dom Bond is dat­ed 1861, when she had been eman­ci­pat­ed four ears ear­li­er; the lag was not unusu­al. To learn more about African-Amer­i­can life in St. Louis, click here.

1882 Camp­bell ledger page

Eliza was clear­ly a beloved ser­vant in the Camp­bell house­hold, as evi­denced by this ledger page we found at the Mer­can­tile Library. After Mrs. Camp­bell died in 1882, her estate left mon­ey to a few peo­ple who worked in the house. You’ll notice on the sev­enth line of the page, $100 was left to Eliza. In mod­ern cur­ren­cy, that is equiv­a­lent to $11,000.

(On a tan­gent, the fam­i­ly was very well-read: there are bills paid to not only the Post-Dis­patch, but the Globe-Demo­c­rat AND the Mis­souri Repub­li­can! Cash was sent to “Jim­mie” in New Haven.…this refers to James Camp­bell — the youngest sur­viv­ing son — who was in his senior year at Yale University.)

Now to learn more about Eliza Rone.…


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