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Susan King Taylor
*Susan King Taylor was born on this date in 1848. She was a Black writer.
Born a slave on the Grest Farm in Liberty County, Georgia, her mother was a domestic servant for the Grest family. At the age of 7, Susan (Susie) King Baker and her brother were sent to live with their grandmother in Savannah, GA. Even with the strict laws against formal education of Blacks, they both attended two secret schools taught by Black women. Young Baker soon became a skilled reader and writer. By 1860, Baker befriended two white individuals, a girl and boy, who also offered to teach her lessons even though they knew it violated Georgia law and customs.
During the American Civil War, on April 1, 1862, at age 14, Baker was sent back to live with her mother around the time federal forces attacked nearby Fort Pulaski. When the Union Army captured the fort, Baker fled with her uncle’s family and other Blacks to Union-occupied St. Simons Island. Since most Blacks were not educated, word of Baker’s knowledge and intelligence spread among the Army officers on the island. Five days after her arrival, Commodore Louis M. Goldsborough offered Baker books and school supplies if she agreed to organize a school for the children on St. Simon’s Island. Baker accepted the offer and became the first Black teacher to openly instruct Black students in Georgia. By day she taught children and at night she instructed adults.
Baker met and married her first husband, Edward King, a Black non-commissioned officer in the Union Army, while teaching at St. Simon Island. For the next three years, Susan Baker King traveled with her husband’s regiment, working as a laundress while teaching Black Union soldiers how to read and write during their off-duty hours. She also served as a nurse, helping camp doctors care for injured soldiers. In 1866, the Kings returned to Savannah, where she established a school for freed Black children. In that same year, Edward King died in September only a few months after their first son was born.
By the early 1870s, she moved to Boston where she met her second husband, Russell Taylor. With nursing being a passion of hers, Baker soon joined and then became president of the Women’s Relief Corps, which gave assistance to soldiers and hospitals.
In 1890, after a trip to care for her dying son, Baker wrote her memoirs, which she privately published as a book in 1902 as "Reminiscences of My Life in Camp with the 33rd US Colored Troops". Susie Baker King Taylor died in 1912 at the age of sixty-four in Boston.
Reminiscences of My Life in Camp With the 33D
United States Colored Troops Late 1st S. C. Volunteers,
By Susie King Taylor,
With Illustrations, Boston
Published by the Author