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Plummer-Arnold Collection

Subject:
Arnold, William Robert, Reverend
Bladensburg Union Burial Association
Plummer, Adam Francis, 1819-1905
Plummer, Emily Saunders Arnold, 1815-1876
Plummer, Henry Vinton, 1844-1905
Plummer, Nellie Arnold, 1860-approximately 1920
Plummer-Arnold family
Creator:
Fowler, L. Jerome, Reverend
Myers, Johnathan S.
Tompkins-Davis, Lucille Betty
Type:
Collection description
Badges
Banners
Books
Church vestments
Clothing and dress
Flags
Photographs
tea sets
Place:
Bladensburg (Md.)
Maryland
Prince George's County (Md.)
Washington (D.C.)
Description:
Related archival collection: Plummer-Arnold family papers,which is dated circa 2005 and measures .46 linear feet, documents the daily lives and activities of the Plummer-Arnold family, as well as the life and military career of Henry Vinton Plummer. The collection is comprised of black-and-white photographs, a framed proclamation and letter regarding the honorable discharge of Henry Vinton Plummer, and two DVDs. The photographs are undated. Contact the Archivist for more information.
Related archival collection: Bladensburg Union Burial Association records, which dates from 1874 to 1978 and measures 3.64 linear feet, documents the history of the Bladensburg Union Burial Association. The records include the Association’s constitution, by-laws, treasurer reports, receipts, and correspondence. Contact the Achivist for more information.
Adam Francis Plummer enslaved on George Calvert’s Riversdale plantation (Prince Georges County), began to keep a diary in 1841 and maintained it for over sixty years. His diary documents day-to-day life. It also contains poignant stories of the sale and separation of Plummer family members and their long struggle to reunite the family after the end of the Civil War. Adam's daughter, Nellie Arnold Plummer, continued to write in the diary after the death of her father, expanding on the family narrative.
A digital copy of Adam Francis Plummer's diary is available for viewing at http://anacostia.si.edu/exhibits/Plummer/Plummer_Diary.htm
A physical copy of the diary is cared for in the Archives at the Anacostia Community Museum.
Plummer-Arnold Family
Adam Francis Plummer was born in 1819 on George H. Calvert’s Goodwood plantation in Prince George’s County, Maryland. In 1829, the Calverts moved to Riversdale Plantation where Plummer lived until 1870. When George H. Calvert died, his son Charles Benedict Calvert took over Riversdale. Over time, Plummer was given more and more responsibility as well as certain privileges. Calvert allowed Plummer to use three acres of land and a mule, gave Plummer permission to sell whatever produce he grew, and to keep the money he earned. Plummer was also an artisan: working as both a carpenter and a shoemaker. He did this work in addition to fulfilling his responsibilities as a field slave.
In 1841, Adam Francis Plummer married Emily Saunders, who was a slave at Three Sisters plantation in Lanham, Maryland. Their wedding was held at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. The marriage was considered legal and they were granted a marriage license. Over the years Adam and Emily Plummer had nine children. Because he and his wife lived on separate plantations, Plummer obtained permission to visit his wife weekly.
In 1851, Mrs. Plummer was sold to Meridan Hill in Washington, D.C. Three of her children were sent there as well while two of them remained at Three Sisters. In 1855, Mrs. Plummer and her children were moved to Mt. Hebron in Howard County, Maryland. Now Plummer could see his wife only twice a year.
When the Emancipation Proclamation was enacted in 1863, Emily Plummer and her children went to Baltimore. They did not understand that the proclamation did not free slaves in Maryland. So they were arrested and jailed as runaways.
In the end, Emily and her children were released from jail and placed into Adam Plummer’s custody; they all returned to Riversdale. Although slaves in Maryland were set free in 1864, Adam Plummer decided to stay at Riversdale and work as a foreman. Eventually the family moved into their own house built by Adam Plummer; they all moved into Mt. Rose in 1870. Emily Plummer died there in 1876, and Adam Plummer in 1905.
Nellie Arnold Plummer
Born a slave in 1860 to Adam and Emily Plummer, Nellie Arnold Plummer was an educator in the schools of Maryland and Washington, D.C., for forty-five years. Her family narrative and spiritual biography – Out of the Depths, or The Triumph of the Cross – documents, through excerpts from the diary of her father and letters by family members, the trials, hardships, and triumphs of the Plummers through slavery into freedom.
Henry Vinton Plummer
The Bladensburg Union Burial Association’s founder, Henry Vinton Plummer was a man of integrity and remarkable character. He was the eldest son of Adam Francis Plummer and Emily Saunders who were enslaved in Maryland on separate plantations for twenty two years. Plummer was one of eighteen children born from this union into slavery on July 31, 1844 on Sarah Ogle Hilleary’s Three Sisters Plantation in Lanham, Maryland. He escaped slavery in 1862 by running away to the District of Columbia to join the Union Navy during the Civil War, where he served as chaplain for the Union forces before being honorably discharged in 1865. After being honorably discharged, Plummer enrolled in Wayland Seminary, which provided education and training for Freedmen to enter into the Baptist ministry. Upon the completion of his theological studies he became the Pastor of the St. Paul Baptist Church in Bladensburg, Maryland, which was founded by his sister Sarah Miranda Plummer on October 19, 1866. Plummer married July Lomax of Virginia in 1867 and their marriage produced nine children. In 1884, Plummer was appointed as the first black chaplain in the 9th Cavalry, which was one of the Buffalo Soldiers units of the Regular Army. He advocated temperance while with 9th Cavalry. Amidst controversy, Plummer was accused of conduct unbecoming an officer and dishonorably discharged from his post in Fort Robinson, Nebraska by a military court in 1894. Plummer died in 1905. In 2005, Plummer’s descendants successfully petitioned the Army Board for Correction of Military Records to eradicate his dishonorable discharge.
Bladensburg Union Burial Association
In 1870 in Bladensburg, Maryland, undertaker Francis Gasch refused to conduct a burial because the family of the deceased could not afford to pay the exorbitant cost of the funeral. At the time, this plight was quite common for newly freed African Americans. Recognizing the need for action, Henry Vinton Plummer, pastor of the St. Paul Baptist Church in Bladensburg, intervened on the behalf of the family and assumed financial responsibility for the burial. Thereafter, in an effort to empower the community to establish their own resources, Vinton called a meeting in June, 1870, where he proposed the establishment of a society – Bladensburg Burial Society –
which would ensure its members a proper funeral through the collection of membership dues. The society, which was christened the Bladensburg Burying Association, eventually became the Bladensburg Union Burial Association and served several generations of members in the Bladensburg area. The organization provided a social network for members and also provided financial and other assistance to help with family or health emergencies, and with burial expenses.
The Bladensburg Union Burial Association is a fine example of black enterprise during the period of reconstruction. By utilizing self help methods to propel themselves out of difficult and turbulent time’s beneficent societies were able to take care of their own by providing financial resources to its members who paid dues. Through self empowerment, the Bladensburg Union Burial Association would go on to respond to its members needs through active community involvement for many years to come by providing for the needs of formerly enslaved, newly freed and future generations.
Related Texts:
Berlin, Ira. 2009. Knowing our history: African American slavery & the University of Maryland. [College Park, Md.]: University of Maryland.
Branch-Miles, Nathania, Monday M. Miles, and Ryan J. Quick. 2013. Prince George's County and the Civil War: life on the border.
Branch-Miles, Nathania, Monday M. Miles, and Ryan J. Quick. 2013. Prince George's County and the Civil War: life on the border.
Plummer, Keith B., Jeannie Brown-Johnson, and Isaac Prentice. 2006. Restoring honor the case of Chaplain Plummer. Lanham, MD: National Film Network.
Plummer, Nellie Arnold. 1927. Out of the depths or, The triumph of the cross. http://catalog.hathitrust.org/api/volumes/oclc/3048900.html.
Plummer, Nellie Arnold. 1997. Out of the depths, or, The triumph of the cross. New York: G.K. Hall.
Archival Materials:
Plummer-Arnold family papers, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution, gift of Rev. L. Jerome Fowler.
Smithsonian Institution Anacostia Community Museum. "Plummer Diary Website Project." Accessed July 17, 2015. http://anacostia.si.edu/exhibits/Plummer/Plummer_Home.htm
The Bladensburg Union Burial Association records, Anacostia Community Museum, Smithsonian Institution, gift of Reverend L. Jerome Fowler.
Topic:
African American churches
African American clergy
African American families
African Americans
Armed Forces
Clergy
Freedmen
Fugitive slaves
Funeral rites and ceremonies
Military chaplains
Out of the depths, or, The triumph of the cross
Race discrimination
Racism
Slavery
Slaves
United States. Army. Cavalry, 9th
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
Cite As:
Permanent Collection, Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum
See more items in:
Plummer-Arnold Collection
Anacostia Community Museum Collection
Data Source:
Anacostia Community Museum

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