Swirling in History 9 – Anna Kingsley
Anta Majigeen Ndiaye or Anna Madgigine Jai Kingsley was not always the free Senegalese woman who eventually became a plantation and slave owner. At 18 years old, her owner Zephaniah Kingsley, one of the most powerful men in Florida freed the 18 year-old woman mother of his 3 children and married her. As Florida was under Spanish colonial rule where manumission laws were more liberal than American. Her husband saw slavery as a temporary condition related to economics more than race. Anna learned to operate the plantations as effective as Zephaniah. As a free woman, she petitioned the Spanish government and was granted land across from her husband’s plantations in what is now Jacksonville, Florida.
Secession, the Civil War and US rule brought problems for Anna and her children. She and her husband had grown prosperous. I did not read accounts of how she treated her slaves. She would burn her own home down to prevent the looting and comandeering by troops of property and goods, although Anna sided with Union. Anna and her then 4 children under 7 years old escaped to Haiti where she and her husband built a new home. When Zephaniah died, his white relatives contested his will and tried to keep Anna and her children from their rightful property. It didn’t work. The courts recognized her right and she moved back to Florida and lived until she died in 1884 at 77 years old.
Read the account of Anna’s life via the National Park Service who maintain the Kingsley Plantation as a National Historic Landmark. There are no known images of Anna but she did have descendants three of whom are shown below.
Admiration for a former slave’s self-disciplined, tenacious life (Fascinating account of Anna’s capture, sale and family life).