Alfred "Teen" Blackburn

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Alfred "Teen" Blackburn (April 26, 1842 – March 8, 1951) was the last Confederate Civil War veteran to receive a Class B pension in North Carolina.[citation needed] He was known throughout Yadkin County for his strength, size and longevity.[1] He was the last living person in Yadkin County to have been a slave. He was also believed to be one of the last living survivors of slavery in the United States who had a clear recollection of it as an adult.[citation needed]

Born a slave[edit]

Blackburn was born into slavery on the plantation of the Hampton and Cowles families in Yadkin County, North Carolina. According to family accounts, he was called Teen and was the son of Fannie Blackburn, a mixed-race Cherokee-African held as a slave, and Augustus Blackburn, a white plantation owner.[2]

Teen described holding "the best job" on the plantation as a boy. "It was my duty to shoo the flies from the table, serve at parties when the well-to-do . . . were guests and take care of the children." He said the field slaves were jealous of his job.[3]

During the American Civil War, Blackburn served as the "body servant" of his father, Col. John Augustus Blackburn of Company F, 21st North Carolina Regiment. Blackburn's brother, Wiley Blackburn, is listed in Co. B, 38th North Carolina Regiment roster also as a "body servant".[4]

Blackburn was a cook, servant and helper for the regiment for almost two years during battles, including the First Battle of Bull Run. In a 1938 interview, Blackburn said he did not carry a gun during his service because "a knife was handier." He described defending Col. Blackburn with his knife, "he just turned around and walked off," he said. "He didn't say a word." [3]

He returned to Yadkin County after Col. Blackburn was furloughed due to injuries. At the close of the war, Blackburn described seeing Gen. George Stoneman's men in Hamptonville, "riding three abreast and burning everything along the way." [5]

Post-Civil War[edit]

After the war, Teen Blackburn moved to Davie County and farmed for four years. Then, he worked for Sheriff Tom Watts. He next started work for Clayton Cooper Mines in Ashe County, but quit after one day.

Blackburn returned to Hamptonville. In 1883, he became a contract mail carrier for the United States Post Office, supervising other carriers, black and white. He worked for 60 years, carrying the mail on foot and later by horse from Jonesville to Hamptonville, a distance of more than 10 miles (16 km) every other day.[6]

In 1880, Blackburn married Lucy Carson, the daughter of Robert Carson, an uncle of Kit Carson. They had 10 children together.[2] He worked other jobs around the county and on his 75-acre (300,000 m2) farm, tending tobacco, in order to help give each of his children a formal education.

For his service during the Civil War, Blackburn received a Confederate Class B veteran's pension of $200 per year.[7] Blackburn died on March 8, 1951, at the age of 108. He is buried in the Pleasant Hill Baptist Church cemetery in Carsontown, a community in Iredell County south of Hamptonville.

Legacy[edit]

  • The road in front of his house was named for him, as Teen Blackburn Road. His house survived on that road, south of U.S. Highway 21 and U.S. Highway 421, until being destroyed by a fire in December 2003.[8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ W.E. Rutledge Jr., An Illustrated History of Yadkin County, 1850-1980, 1981, pp. 21-22
  2. ^ a b Charles Mathis, "Memory of Yadkin's Last Slave Honored," The Yadkin Ripple, February 26, 1998
  3. ^ a b "Northwest Almanac," Winston-Salem Journal, November 1, 1998
  4. ^ Frances H. Casstevens, The Civil War and Yadkin County, North Carolina, Page 188
  5. ^ Casstevens, The Civil War and Yadkin County, North Carolina, p. 101
  6. ^ Northwest Almanac, Winston-Salem Journal
  7. ^ Casstevens, The Civil War and Yadkin County, North Carolina, p. 32
  8. ^ "Fire destroys historic home," The Tribune, 29 December 2003