Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Survivors of the Slave Ship Wanderer

Wanderer Survivors

The captives aboard the slave ship Wanderer, which landed on the south end of Jekyll Island, Georgia in 1858, were one of the last known groups of enslaved Africans sold into captivity in America. From Jekyll Island, many were sold to South Carolina.

New Born Infant Clementine Dubignon

Clementine Dubignon was the youngest of the enslaved Africans to survive the crossing. She was born aboard the Wanderer during the frightful voyage. Although John and Henry Dubignon were eventually acquitted for their part in the illegal slave trade, Clementine Dubignon’s very name was evidence of the family’s involvement. Following the Jekyll Island landing, she and her mother were carried inland. “When she was nearly grown, she ‘drifted’ into Brunswick” to be reunited with her brother, Tom Floyd. Following the Civil War, she worked for several families in Glynn County including Theodore Flanders, a Brunswick carpenter with a wife and baby. Clementine was sometimes called “Steamboat” for the rolling hitch in her walk. Although she remained single, she was also called “Mom Clem” by the community, where she was a devoted churchgoer.

Thomas Floyd age 17

Clementine’s big brother, Thomas Floyd, was about 17 years old when he was brought to America aboard the Wanderer. Several months after the landing, he was sold and separated from his mother, baby sister, and brother “Slaughtuh.” Captain Henry Floyd purchased Tom and took him to Camden County, Georgia. Early in 1860, Tom married Silva Floyd. They had four children, Lucinda, Andrew, William, and Neptune. Captain Floyd relocated to Brunswick, bringing Tom and his family along. Sometime after 1870, however, Silva “went to the Yankees” while Tom chose to remain in the South. He was remarried to Charity Floyd. They had three children together, Nora, Lincoln, and Caesar Prince, as well as Charity’s two daughters by a previous marriage, Jennie and Charlotte Slaten. Tom became known locally as a healer. He purchased land on St. Simon’s Island where the home he built for his family still stands today.

Tammany Hopkins

Tammany Hopkins was purchased by Dr. Thomas Spalding Hopkins. Dr. Hopkins was originally from Sapelo Island and later became a plantation owner and mayor of Thomasville, GA. Judge Henry William Hopkins, the son of the family, later remembered that “Old Tammany, the African” had “built himself a hut apart” from the rest of the slave quarters, and said that children were afraid of him.

Lucy Lanham age 14

Lucy Lanham said she was too young to remember Africa, but she was about 14 when the Wanderer landed. She may have been among the 30 Wanderer survivors sold to Sophia Tillman, Senator Ben Tillman’s mother. Lucy worked as a field hand in Meriwether, Edgefield County, SC. She married another field hand, Binjamin Lanham, in 1870. Over 40 years of marriage, the couple raised sons Guina, Benjamin and Punch and daughters Viney, Hettie, Carrie, Eller, Martha, Jane and America.

Yango age 38

Yango was the oldest known captive aboard the Wanderer. Records indicate he may have been 38 years old when he was brought to America. Yango was remembered as unusually short of stature and may have been initially mistaken as a child by his captors. Yango was purchased by Thomas W. Lanham and renamed Thomas Lanham. Thomas was listed as insane in the 1860 inventory, possibly to avoid questioning. By 1870, he was married to wife Gennie and they had two sons, Spencer and Augustus. When Thomas died on January 29, 1920, he was listed as “Perhaps last survivor of cargo of ‘Wanderer.’”

Zow Uncola age 13

Zow Uncola came “from the coast of Africa where the sun rises.” He was traded across the continent before he boarded the Wanderer at age 13. He was sold to Edgefield County, SC where he became Thomas Johnson. He married Lucy Johnson, and they had a son named Peter. By 1880, Thomas was farming in Hammond, Aiken County, SC and had remarried Peggy Johnson. They had two daughters, Mary and Celia. Asked late in life if he would like to go back to Africa, he said “I’m gittin’ so old, I’m ‘fraid I couldn’t git back.”


Mabiala, Manchuella, Tahro, Pucka Geata, and Cilucängy were from related tribes of the lower Congo. Mabiala said they came from near the “Bēzy” River. From Jekyll Island, Mabiala was taken north to Edgefield, SC, where he became known as Uster Williams. In later years, he lost his eyesight. He believed it was "witchycraft" and someone was trying to kill him. By 1908, he was being cared for in the Richmond County Home, near Augusta, GA.

Manchuella age 18

Manchuella had “an heir” when she was sold into slavery in America at age 18. She may also have been sold to Sophia Tillman. Manchuella became Katy Nobles, marrying Albert Nobles. Following the Civil War, the couple lived in Butler and Gregg, SC, both in Edgefield County. Albert earned a sufficient living as a farmer that Katy was able to stay home, keep house, and raise their nephew, Millege Holston.


Tahro was 18 when he was sold and became Romeo Thomas. He was hired out to the Palmetto Fire Brick Works, operating from 1862-65, in Bath, Aiken County, SC. Thomas J. Davies reportedly worked 23 Wanderer survivors there. Romeo made Edgefield face vessels and built an African-inspired straw.

Pucka Geata age 18

Pucka Geata, along with Tahro, came from the village of Kuluwäka. Pucka Geata was about 18 when he came ashore on Jekyll Island. He became known as Tucker Henderson. Lucinda Thurmond, an Edgefield plantation servant, remembered “Uncle Tucker” once scared her by waving a red handkerchief like he was luring her onto a slave ship and teasing “I liked to had ya, I liked to had ya.” In time, Tucker married Ledia Henderson, a much younger woman. They lived in Schultz, Aiken County, SC.

Cilucängy age 12

Cilucängy grew up in the village of Cowāny. He was 12 or 13 when he was transported to America, sold to Sophia Tillman, and renamed Ward Tillman. In 1866, Ward married Rosa Tillman. Rosa was probably African also. If she was aboard the Wanderer, she would have been around 13 during the Wanderer’s crossing. By 1880, Ward and Rosa rejected the name Tillman, adopting the surname Lee. They worked as field hands in Meriwether, Edgefield County, SC, moving to Shaws, Aiken, SC as their family grew. Ward and Rosa had four children, Andrew, Sam, Amelia, and Dempsey. Rosa passed away sometime after 1900. Losing his wife after around 35 years of marriage, Ward became homesick. He wrote a letter expressing his longing to return to Africa. He lived until 1914, but he never saw Africa again. (source: Jekyll Island)

Captain J. Egbert Farnum of the Slave Ship Wanderer 12 November 1860

In Charleston, South Carolina, all charges in the Wanderer slave ship case are dropped.  J. Egbert Farnum, the captain of the slave ship Wanderer, went on trial in federal court in Charleston, South Carolina for piracy in May. After several days of testimony, the jury was sequestered for thirty hours without food or rest but was not able to reach a verdict. A mistrial was declared. Farnum eventually was released on bail and, with convictions seemingly impossible, charges were dropped against Farnum and all others involved. (By John Osborne)


  1. Descendant of Ward Lee right here!

    1. I am the daughter of one of the oldest living descendants of Ward Lee his grand daughter

      Thanks for telling his/their story

      Patricia Bishop

    2. Wow. If you have any more information (letters, diaries, biographies) or photographs of Ward Lee, please let me know.

      It's an honor to share his story.

      I don't know exactly how I came across this story, but it's fascinating. I think I was looking for Pennsylvania and slavery and this story kept cropping up about a Philadelphia woman and pottery from South Carolina that was found buried near Philly. As an extremely curious person, a face jar from South Carolina just piqued my interest. I started looking and connecting the dots. I must have 4 or 5 posts on my findings from "Dave the Slave Potter" to the "Slave Ship Wanderer" to the survivors of the slave ship, plus the phenomena of the pottery craftsmen of South Carolina.

      Now, I still don't have that Philadelphia slave port story yet, but unearthing this story has certainly been interesting.

      If you can point to more, just let me know.

      You can e-mail me at

      --Ron Edwards, US Slave Blog

    3. Descendent of Charles Augustus Lafayette Lamar here...I am so sorry...

  2. Hello,

    I'm the gal with the Philadelphia Face jug. My colleague Dr. Newell and I have followed the stories of the the last imported captives and their personal journey's from captivity to freedom and beyond. We have begun to lecture and a book is in the works! Please follow our blog at and our main web site at

    1. Thanks for the tip. Do either you or your colleague have any of these lectures on youtube or something like that? If not, you should consider doing a digital video recording of your lectures and upload them to get out your scholarship to a wider audience.

      Moreover, with respect to your up coming book, do you have any articles or essays or photographs that can be linked or published?

      Thanks for the follow-up. The truth is always more fascinating than fiction.

      --Ron Edwards, US Slave Blog

  3. I'm glad you guys can find information about your ancestors. I have been looking long and hard; but I can't too much information about my family ancestors from Royston Georgia located in north Georgia.

  4. I am reading a memoir from a relative born in 1888. She makes reference to "old Aunt Teyma, who came over in the last ship, The Wanderer." Aunt Teyma was enslaved on a plantation in Elmore County, AL. She remained on that land after emancipation. I am looking for more information about her. Her daughter's daughter was named Pearl.

  5. Macon Telegraph Sunday, Dec 01, 1912 Macon, GA Page: Two
    Has an article about Lucille duBignon, oldest survivor of the Wander dies at age 110. I have a screen capture of the article.

  6. I am a descendant of Charles Augustus Lafayette Lamar , I am so grievously sorry.

    1. Thank you for your acknowledgement and concern. I accept your apology for the actions of your relatives. Kind regards.

  7. Can you tell me if the Lucinda Thurmond mentioned above was also a captive on the Slave Ship Wanderer??? Thank you.



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