"Uncle Billy" Toombs

The Courant American
Cartersville, Georgia
September 1, 1887, page 1
Transcribed by:  

“Uncle Billy” Toombs
Death of the Only African Who Refused to Accept His Freedom After the War.

Washington, Ga., August 23. – Today the body of “Uncle Billy” Toombs was buried in the colored cemetery here in the presence of a large number of the best white citizens, as well as almost the entire colored population.  Prominent among those present and taking charge of the arrangements were the family of the late Gen. Robert Toombs.  “Uncle Billy” was born eighty two year ago, the slave of Maj. Toombs, and was 11 years of age when the Major’s son, Robert was born.  Billy was assigned to duty as the boy in waiting to the baby, and took great interest in his development.

When young Mr. Toombs grew up and married, his father presented him with Billy, and ever after the closest friendship existed between the two.  Billy accompanied his master to Washington, to the fashionable watering places, and Europe.  In this way he became familiar with many distinguished people.  In all this change of life, however, Billy never lost his head, but was polite and faithful to his master’s interests.  Before the war he had an intense hatred for the abolitionists, refusing to countenance them in any way.  When the war was over and the Toombs family had gathered once more at the old family mansion, Billy returned there too as well as the rest.

“You are free now,” said Gen. Toombs to him.

“I’ll never be free from old master,” said he “but I will follow you all the rest of my life.”

To this Gen. Toombs relied: “Very well, then, I’ll take care of you.”

Even after this Billy was the most devoted of servants, looking after his master’s interests as though they were his own.  When Gen. Toombs died two years ago he left full provision for “Uncle Billy’s” maintenance, and no mourner at the general’s grave shed warmer tears than did the faithful old African who lingered there long after the crowds had melted away.  “Uncle Billy” will be remembered as the only African who absolutely refused to accept freedom.


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