Gravestone of Solomon Perteet, Greenwood Cemetery, Tuscaloosa, AL

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Gravestone of Solomon Perteet, Greenwood Cemetery, Tuscaloosa, AL


Perteet, Solomon, 1789-1863


Solomon Perteet, a free man of color, was an entrepreneur and businessman in Tuscaloosa prior to the Civil War (name also spelled Perteat and Petite).

Perteet died on Oct. 3, 1863, in Tuscaloosa at 76 years of age and is buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Tuscaloosa, Ala., among whites, breaking a tradition. He made a reasonable fortune and was able to buy a plot for himself and his family. His plot contains only one headstone, but a fence surrounds it and there are other graves, one said to be the burial site of the child of his daughter Martha.

His gravestone reads: "Solomon Perteat, a free man of color, born in Wilkes County Georgia, died at his home near this city, Oct. 3d.1863, aged 76 years. By an industrious, sober, frugal, and honest life, he earned and left to his wife and children a handsome and comfortable estate. He is not dead but sleeping."

According to Gary B. Mills, Department of History at the University of Alabama, Perteet was born in Wilkes County, Ga., in 1789, the illegitimate son of a white mother named Ruth Perteet, who was a member of a respectable family of small-scale slaveholders. At age 11, Solomon was bound out to Burwell Green to serve as an apprentice bricklayer until age 21. As a free adult, the married his first wife, a free woman of color named Diannah Rogers.

About the time of his arrival in Tuscaloosa, Perteet purchased Lucinda, the slave woman who became his second wife, together with her son William, born to her of a prior union. He then petitioned the legislature for permission to manumit (free) both.

In the 1850 census Perteet lists his occupation as plasterer. While he did work at this trade, even having a contract to do some work in the Capitol building, he made most of his money in real estate, buying and selling several pieces of property in Tuscaloosa during his lifetime.

As an entreprenuer in Tuscaloosa, Perteet not only loaned money to whites, but when they did not repay, took them to court with the juries ruling in Perteet's favor in every case.

In addition to manumitting several of the slaves he owned, Perteet provided the means for others to free themselves. He purchased slaves with the specific understanding that after they repaid him, they would be free.

Ned Berry, purchased under such an agreement, took only one year to repay the $700 to Perteet. Berry then began a very successful business hauling all manner of goods from one side of Tuscaloosa County to the other with his sturdy wagon and four good horses. Berry was later able to free his wife, Cynthia, and son Daniel under similar agreements.

Both Perteet and Berry owned holdings in Newtown that were damaged when the tornado of 1842 devastated the area.

One of the properties owned by Perteet when he died was the three-story building on University Boulevard next to the Kress building.

Information on Perteet can be found in the following Tuscaloosa News issues:

"Free Negroes Prospered in Land Deals,"The Tuscaloosa News, April 23, 1969, page 2D
"Successful Businessman helped many slaves," The Tuscaloosa News, Feb. 15, 1987, Black Heritage Supplement, page 9.
"More Information on Solomon Perteet," The Tuscaloosa News, Feb. 22, 1987, page 24A
"Free Blacks Thrived Before Civil War," The Tuscaloosa News, Feb. 9, 1992
"Entrepreneur Leaves Richly Shaded Legacy," Ben Windham, The Tuscaloosa News, Mar. 18, 2001


Brenda Harris


April 22, 2013


Betty Slowe (Description)
Brenda Harris (Description)






Tuscaloosa (AL)

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