Posted by: Ron DuBour | April 10, 2012

American Heroes~ SOJOUNER TRUTH (ISABELLA BAUMFREE 1797-1883) ~by rldubour



Was born Isabella Baumfree
She was one of thirteen siblings.
Born to Elizabeth and James
In slavery was their beginning.

At nine years of age she was sold
During that time only spoke Dutch.
The new master was very cruel
She was beaten and suffered much.

During her stay with John Neely
She found refuge in religion.
Was only Dutch that she could speak
He would beat her for this reason.

Soon after Martinus Schryver
Who needed help in his tavern.
Was morally questionable
For her abuse was now a pattern.

In eighteen-ten was sold again
To Mr. and Mrs. Dumont.
Again she was treated cruel and harsh
For her this stay would haunt.

Eighteen-fifteen she met Robert
This relationship was forbade.
Because his owner did not want
Him having children with other slaves.

He snuck to meet Isabella
And was beaten savagely.
They bound him and dragged him away
No longer would she ever see.

A daughter came shortly after
She named her child Diana.
Although Robert never returned
The only love for Isabella.

In eighteen-hundred-and-seventeen
She was forced to marry Thomas.
Together they had four children
Dumont would renege his promise.

Dumont promised Isabella
In one year he would set her free.
She satisfied her obligation
With her infant daughter she did flee.

On June first, eighteen-forty-three
Changed her name to Sojourner Truth.
Preached about abolitionists
And tolerance despite her youth.

Women’s rights and prison reform
Against capital punishment.
Sojourner a true heroine
For women preached of betterment.


Sojourner Truth was born in 1797 on the Colonel Johannes Hardenbergh estate in Swartekill, in Ulster County, a Dutch settlement in upstate New York. She was sold to John Neely, along with a herd of sheep, for $100. Neely’s wife and family only spoke English and beat Isabella fiercely for the frequent miscommunications. She later said that Neely once whipped her with “a bundle of rods, prepared in the embers, and bound together with cords.” It was during this time that she began to find refuge in religion — beginning the habit of praying aloud when scared or hurt. When her father once came to visit, she pleaded with him to help her. Soon after, Martinus Schryver purchased her for $105. He owned a tavern and, although the atmosphere was crude and morally questionable, it was a safer haven for Isabella. But a year and a half later, in 1810, she was sold again to John Dumont of New Paltz, New York. Isabella suffered many hardships at the hands of Mrs. Dumont, whom Isabella later described as cruel and harsh. Although she did not explain the reasons for this treatment in her later biography narrative, historians have surmised that the unspeakable things might have been sexual abuse or harassment or simply the daily humiliations that slaves endured.
In 1817, forced to submit to the will of her owner Dumont, Isabella married an older slave named Thomas. They had four children: Peter (1822), James (who died young), Elizabeth (1825), and Sophia (1826). The state of New York began in 1799 to legislate the gradual abolition of slaves, which was to happen July 4, 1827. Dumont had promised Isabella freedom a year before the state emancipation, “if she would do well and be faithful.” However, he reneged on his promise, claiming a hand injury had made her less productive. She was infuriated, having understood fairness and duty as a hallmark of the master-slave relationship. She continued working until she felt she had done enough to satisfy her sense of obligation to him — spinning 100 pounds of wool — then escaped before dawn with her infant daughter, Sophia
Sojourner Truth has been posthumously honored in many ways over the years:
a memorial stone in the Stone History Tower in Monument Park, downtown 
 Battle Creek (1935);
a new grave marker, by the Sojourner Truth Memorial Association (1946); 
a historical marker commemorating members of her family buried with her in the cemetery (1961);
a portion of Michigan state highway M-66 designated the Sojourner Truth Memorial Highway (1976);
induction into the national Woman’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York (1981);
induction into the Michigan Woman’s Hall of Fame in Lansing (1983);
a commemorative postage stamp (1986);
a Michigan Milestone Marker by the State Bar of Michigan for her contribution (three lawsuits she won) to the legal system (1987);
a marker erected by the Battle Creek Club of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs (also 1987);
a Mars probe named for her (1997); and
a community-wide, year-long celebration of the 200th anniversary of her birth in Battle Creek in 1997, plus a larger-than-life statue of her by artist Tina Allen. 


  1. Excellent piece. How is it that a pearl is formed? Taking the most irritating and enclosing it in a pearly covering? Seems that Sojouner Truth did that about most of her life.

    • very true and thanks partner

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