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Photo of the Month
July 2022
See Previous Photos     Unknown Faces and Places


Susanna (Minerd) Mayle Woody was one of two known cousins in the family to marry a freed slave. She grew up in Evansville, Preston County; Grafton, Taylor County; and Philippi, Barbour County, all in West Virginia, before migrating at about age 18 to Athens County, OH. 

On Aug. 20, 1891, in Athens County, she wed her second spouse, Fleming Woody. Their official Athens County marriage license is still on file in the county courthouse, with  Susanna's name handwritten as "Mifs Susannah Minor." At the time, she was age 28, and Fleming was about 36. Born in 1855, Fleming was a native of Virginia (possibly now West Virginia), as were both of his parents. Although his early years were spent as someone else's property, he was "freed from the bonds of slavery, when about 15 years old," said the Athens (OH) Messenger. According to family legend, as a boy he witnessed the agony of watching as his mother was sold from one owner to another. After emancipation, Fleming migrated to southeastern Ohio, settling near Athens. Added the Messenger, he "spent the greater part of his life" in the vicinity of Stewart, Athens County. Fleming generally was employed as a farm laborer in adulthood.

Susanna and Fleming went on to produce five children -- Lucy M. Kinder Moseley Dalton (born 1892), James Riley Woody (1895), Dow Edward Woody (born 1897) and two who have not been identified. They may also have raised a daughter from an earlier relationship of Susanna's, Inez Gertrude (Hayes) Crippen.

Fleming passed away in Athens County on March 12, 1915. In a short obituary, the Messenger called him "an aged colored man." His death certificate noted that he was "Negro." Susanna outlived her husband by nearly four decades. She surrendered to the angel of death at the age of 97 on Feb. 8, 1953. 

More research needs to be done on this couple, including where Fleming was born and the plantation where he was held in bondage. His grave marker was our "Photo of the Month" in November 2008. Also be sure to see the special Minerd.com Civil War Guide page, "Freed Slaves in the Family."


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