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 Solomon Northup

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Solomon Northup

  • Birth 1808 Minerva, Essex County, New York, USA
  • Death 1857 USA
  • Burial Body lost or destroyed
  • Memorial ID 119270646

Solomon Northup was the son of Mintus Northup (1774 - 1829) and Binore Northup, a Northup house cook. It was believed that his father Mintus, was given his freedom in Capt. Henry Northup's will (buried Baptist Churchyard Cemetery, in Hoosick Falls), so that both Solomon and his brother Joseph were born FREE (see below). In Solomon's own words he wrote "As far back as I have been able to ascertain, my ancestors, on the paternal side, were slaves in Rhode Island." "They belonged to a family named Northup." (The Northup family in Rhode Island appears to go back a long way.) He was an educated man for his time and played the violin. He was born and died before America's Civil War, yet he is forever connected to it and man's inhumanities to man.

He married Anne Hampton (died before 16 Aug 1876 obit) of mixed parentage on 25 Dec 1829 and they had 3 known children: Mrs. Elizabeth "Lizzie" Northup Thomas (abt. 1830- 5 Jul 1901), Margaret (abt 1832, husband Philip Stanton) and Alonzo (abt 1832, wife Victoria). In 1841, he was kidnapped, and forced into slavery, sold four times and with his own strengths and the help of others, became a free man again (Jan 1853) and lived to tell it. He gave speeches and fought to free slaves and help them in any way he could.

He coauthored with David Wilson, his autobiographical story titled Twelve Years A Slave. The Narrative of Solomon Northup, a Citizen of New York, Kidnapped in Washington City in 1841, and Rescued in 1853, From a Cotton Plantation Near the Red River, in Louisiana. It was published in 1853. One of the 3 publishers, Derby & Miller of Auburn, NY, advertised it in the 26 Aug 1853 issue of The Liberator (Boston, MA). It was dedicated to Harriet Beecher Stowe. The book includes a drawing of him titled, Solomon in his Plantation suit, and underneath is his cursive signature. We are grateful that he shared his hideous story to shame the horrible institution of slavery and kidnapping.

The heart wrenching story of the same title, Twelve Years A Slave, was made into a movie in 2013. It has brought his story back in the limelight. This emotional story gives us some clues what it felt like to walk in his shoes. It won the 2014 Oscar for best film, amongst stiff competition. Amen.

In 1848, he missed daughter Margaret's wedding to Philip Stanton in Washington Co., New York.

Oct 1854, Alexander Merrill and Joseph Russell (circus employees who used various names) were indicted for having allegedly sold Solomon as a slave. It was changed to kidnapping but Solomon disappeared from the public eye before trial. In May of 1857, due to his disappearance in court, the District Attorney entered "nolle prosequi" (unwilling to prosecute). The true story of what happened to him is unknown, but one can guess. The Bench and Bar of Saratoga County; Or, Reminiscences of the Judiciary and Scenes in the Court Room by attorney E.R. Mann, 1876, page 152 -153 has more details.

In August 1857, Solomon Northup was scheduled to speak in Streetsville, Ontario, Canada. At that event, Solomon fled after the crowd began shouting threats, specifically "brain the blasted Sambo!" and "down with the bloody n___." The incident was first reported in the Streetsville Review, and then republished in two US newspapers, including the Boston Herald. There are articles indicating that he got in bar fights and ran up debts while promoting his book, and failed to pay printing bills for his appearances. Given what he had survived, he may have had post traumatic stress disorder. IG added.

It appears, he died after Aug 1857, and his wife, Anne is listed as married in 1865. The year and record of his death is simply undocumented. There was a 1858 NY newspaper accounting that believed he had left the area. I've also seen he died in 1863 with no source.

On the 1860 Glen Falls, Queensburg, Warren Co., NY census, I found (his wife, living without him) "cook" Ann Hampton Northup, 53; residing with farmer Harry Hampton, 50; and Elisabeth Hampton, 30, all NY born. She has real estate valued at $600 and personal property, $50. I suspect Harry is her brother or similar. Living next to them is (son in law), teamster Phillip Stanton, 40; Margritte Stanton (Solomon's daughter), 28; (grandson) Solomon Stanton, 11 and (granddaughter) Florence Stanton, 2, all NY born.

Solomon and his son Sol are not listed on the 1865 Moreau, Saratoga Co., New York census. Here, I found Philip Stanton, 47; wife Margrett Stanton, 47; son Thomas R. Stanton, 10; daughter Florence Stanton, 7 and MARRIED mother in law, Ann Northup, 66. Solomon isn't found on later censuses to date. (This implies Ann believed her husband was alive.)

Solomon seems to disappear or gone underground, except for a few mentions. In Ann's 1876 obit he is described (below) as a worthless vagabond after exhibiting himself through the country (which meant he was trying to lecture and sell his book).

Henry Northup's nephew, John Henry Northup, wrote in 1909 that "The last I heard of him, Sol was lecturing in Boston to help sell his book. All at once, he disappeared. We believe that he was kidnapped and taken away or killed." 7 Mar 1999 "Solomon's Wisdom" by Michelle Genz, Washington Post.

HM kindly added: It was Henry Bliss Northrup, Esq, the district attorney, who was instrumental in the release of Solomon from bondage.
Capt. Henry Northup, b. 23 Apr 1740 North Kingston, RI; d. 5 Jul 1797, Hoosick, Rensselaer, NY, married Mary Gardiner, b. 3 Nov 1752, North Kingston, RI, d. 20 June 1798, Hoosic, NY. Mintus Northup was BORN a free man. Source: Greenwich Journal - Salem (NY) Press, Thursday August 17, 1978. The following is an excerpt from that article. "The Old Fort House Museum, Fort Edward, NY, has arranged and exhibit of Northup memorabillia. On display are official documents which establish that Mintus Northup, Solomon's father, was born a free man. There is also a copy of the Fort Edward Advertiser of March, 1922, which relates the re-discovery of these documents by then town clerk, Blanche Turney and Justice of the Peace, Willard Robinson." Obviously things have changed. Was Mintus, a free man, also forced to live as a slave? I have to admit, if Solomon believed his paternal kin were all slaves in RI, then there's much more to this story.

Asked about Mintus being a free man or slave, David Fiske author of "Solomon Northup: The Complete Story of the Author of Twelve Years a Slave" stated that Capt. Henry Northup's will definitely states that Mintus is to be freed. David has seen the original document, (signed with an "X" by Mintus) at Fort Edward (Museum) and that he put a "reproduction" of it in his book. He went on to say that "Despite Mintus saying he was born free in Rhode Island, census records there do not show a free person by that name living there." "It could be that he was not treated like a slave, but more like a servant." From HM.

Check out a Middlebury College (Vermont) News Room article dated 27 Feb 2014, H.B. Northup, the College, and "12 Years a Slave" at http://www.middlebury.edu/newsroom/node/470310.

TC adds: Solomon born 10 July 1807 in Schroon, in 1825 it became Minerva. His mothers' name is Binore Northup, she was the Northup house cook since she was age 12. She born in 1775, believed born either in the south or from southern born parents. These 7 original slaves were owned by Immanuel Northup 1699-1890. Mintus' father was Caesar Northup born abt. 1754 his wife died in childbirth to another son whom is buried in Queensbury, Washington NY. Solomon's first born is Elizabeth Northup born 1830 died 5 Jul 1901 in Rochester, Monroe, NY. Buried at Mt. Hope Cemetery sect. BB. Under the name Lizzie Thomas - she has no headstone.* marriage Cert *death Cert. Immanuel passed his slaves 5 at the time of his death to son by 2nd wife, Capt. Henry Northup he is a 1/2 great Uncle to Henry Bliss Northup rescuer of Solomon and is a 1/2 uncle to Henry B. Northup's father, John Holmes Northup. Son, Alonzo's first born was Anna Strickley Northup whom married Harriet Tubman's nephew- All are buried at Fort Hill Cemetery, Auburn, Cayuga, NY. Plus, John Holmes Northup and his three brothers were raised by a Quaker mother who raised them Never to own slaves- none ever did.

Solomon's family:

Have not located wife ANN in 1870 NY censuses.

On the 1870 Moreau, Saratoga Co., NY census, I found farmer Philip Stanton, 53 (can't write); residing with MARGARET (Northup) Stanton, "34," keeping house; farm labor Solomon Stanton, 21 and Florence Stanton, in school, 12, all NY born. In 1860, they were in Queensbury, Warren Co., NY.

On the 1870 Fort Edward, Washington Co., NY census, I located laborer ALONZO Northup, 38, can't read or write; keeping house Victoria Northup 24; and Anna Northup, 6/12, all NY born. By 1880 Alonzo "D" Northup's family has added 6 more kids, residing in Brutus, Weedsport in Cayuga Co., NY.

Ann Northup's obit says "The venerable wife of Sol. Northup, the slave who was taken from bondage several years ago, and after exhibiting himself through the country became a worthless vagabond, died last week at Reynolds' Corners, at the age of seventy-eight." Daily Albany (NY) Argus on 16 Aug 1876.


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  • Created by: LSP
  • Added: 25 Oct 2013
  • Find A Grave Memorial 119270646
  • New York Historian
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Solomon Northup (1808–1857), Find A Grave Memorial no. 119270646, ; Maintained by LSP (contributor 46860931) Body lost or destroyed.