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Cane River Journal

Solomon Williams

Enslaved blacksmith Solomon Williams created decorative grave markers for family and friends at Oakland Plantation. Though these artistic expressions were forged under oppression, Solomon, like many enslaved blacksmiths of his time, wove together African and Christian symbols into his work, further melding the cultures around him into something more. After emancipation, his skills proved to be a great advantage over many unskilled freedmen, helping him prosper after the war. Solomon's son, William Smith, is thought to have run away from Oakland in 1864 to join the Union Army in and fight for freedom. William later became a member of the famed Buffalo Soldiers that helped conquer the West. Today some of Solomon’s tools can be seen in the National Museum of African American History and Culture.