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  2. Walking into Black History


    Nace Butler’s mother was enslaved by love
    By Emily Mitchell

    I ran away in February 1785 …
    Thus begins the story of Nace Butler, a young man born to a bold Irish indentured servant and an African male slave.
    Nace’s mother Eleanor Butler, known as Irish Nell, arrived on one of the ships of Charles Calvert, the fourth Lord Baltimore.
    At the time of her marriage to Charles Butler, a 1664 law required that any free woman who married a slave would herself be enslaved, as would her children. Even with a warning from Lord Baltimore, love prevailed.
    Irish Nell’s predicament caused Lord Baltimore to change the law by the end of the year so that no white woman could be forced into slavery.
    But Charles Butler’s master held the family — which grew to seven or eight children — to the old law.
    One son, Nace Butler, ran away from a St. Mary’s County plantation while petitioning the state’s General Court for his freedom.
    Find out what happened to Nace Butler and eight other Chesapeake runaways between the years of 1720 and 1860 in Historic Annapolis Museum’s Freedom Bound, Runaways of the Chesapeake exhibit.
    February is Black History Month, and this February marks Maryland’s 150th Emancipation Celebration.
    At the museum, see the newly designed and expanded museum gift shop. An African American Annapolis downtown walking tour map will guide you past historically significant buildings and monuments and introduce African Americans from many walks of life.
    From the museum, continue the journey by visiting additional exhibits at the Waterfront Warehouse and the Banneker-Douglas Museum.

    Historic Annapolis Museum: 99 Main St.
    Waterfront Warehouse: 4 Pinkney St.
    Banneker-Douglas Museum: 84 Franklin St.

    1. Melanie, Thank you very much for calling this to my attention. However, I viewed the display at the museum and came to the conclusion that this Nace Butler is not my ancestor because the dates don't match. My ancestor ran away in 1838 from St. Inigoes Plantation in St. Mary's County, Maryland before his family was put on a ship which was headed to a plantation in Louisiana. This post was very interesting and I really appreciate the tip even though it did not work out for me. However, it has given me some ideas for future research on my Nace Butler.