She’s So Fly | 1940s

Three women, one wearing dark sweater with two daschund appliques, posed around a suitcase in front of brick building, Pittsburgh, PA, 1940s. Charles “Teenie” Harris, photographer. Teenie Harris Photograph Collection, 1920-1970, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA. African American Vernacular Photography courtesy of Black History Album.


Sylvester Magee 1841-1970 (Last Living American Slave Died At 130 Years Old) Also Served In The Civil War.. With Audio Recording Of  Mr MaGee

Sylvester MaGee said he was 130 years old when he died in 1971. He also said he’d been a slave, and that he’d fought for both the Federal and Rebel sides during the Civil War (his Confederate service was involuntary). MaGee’s claims could never be verified, which perhaps explains why he was buried in an unmarked grave until 2012. That’s when the county historical society rediscovered the long-dead local celebrity, and placed a one-ton granite slab over his final resting place. A tall headstone, the biggest in its small churchyard cemetery, now marks the spot.

Sylvester Magee was captured in this footage by historian Mike Mulhern at a South Mississippi nursing home during the summer of 1970. Using his Super 8 camera, Mulhern films Magee as he signs a print of the Vicksburg siege, as well as an application for veteran’s benefits. In the film, Magee also points to a scar on his forearm which he claimed was caused by a wartime wound. This is believed to be the last film of Magee before his death during the fall of 1971…

VIDEO (turn down the music)

He had no birth certificate, but chancery court records in Covington County list him and his father as being passed on to the next of kin when their owner died in 1859. Mr. Magee always insisted his birthday was May 29th, 1841. Now as if being 130 years old when he died weren’t enough, there are a couple of OTHER significant details about his life and death that sets him apart. Not only was he that old, but he was the last American slave to die. And, because he did service with the Union Army in the siege of Vicksburg, he was the last Union Veteran to die.

And since he started the war as an arms bearer to his master on the side of the South, he is perhaps also the last confederate veteran to die. Story by

He’s listed in the book “Black Confederates.” His accounts of the Union Army crossing the Big Black River after the Battle of Champion Hill on their way into Vicksburg convinced historian A. P. Andrews he had to have been there, since Mr. Magee couldn’t read or write. How else could he have known all the minute details and names of the officers?

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