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Sun, 02.10.1833

Emily Goodridge Grey, Abolitionist born

Mural in York, PA

*The birth of Emily Goodridge Grey is celebrated on this date in 1833.  She was a Black homemaker, writer, and abolitionist sympathizer. 

Born in York, Pennsylvania, she was the daughter of William and Emily Goodridge; she had three brothers, William, Glenavon, and Wallace, and one sister Susan.  Her father, a former slave, work with the Underground Railroad abolitionist movement.  Around the age of 20, she married Ralph Toyer Grey, and after their first child William T. was born, they moved to Minnesota territory in 1855.  Minnesota became a state in 1858, and Charles Vanderburgh was the magistrate in Hennepin county after statehood.  Her family lived in the St. Anthony Falls area of what became Minneapolis, part of Hennepin County.   Grey eventually had two more sons and one daughter. 

Many sources, however, note that the complex racial dynamics of the time meant that some Black settlers did not have the luxury of being quite as vocal as their white allies about their abolitionist sentiment. Like many other entrepreneurs in early St. Anthony and Minneapolis, the Greys had to rely on business from pro-slavery clients, including many slave-owning visitors from southern states.  Grey worked as a seamstress, sewing clothing, mats, and rugs.  She was instrumental in assisting a slave woman Eliza Winston get legal consent to become free in Minnesota in 1860 in his court.  Grey was active in the Minnesota Territorial Pioneers and the First Congregational Church.  Her published memories are in the manuscripts of the Minnesota Historical Society. Emily Goodridge Grey died on January 16, 1916. 

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