UPDATE: The winner is…Debra Guyette!
Josephine was born into slavery in Williamston, NC around 1856, but was emancipated when she was nine. She married Archer Leary in 1873, moved to Edenton, N.C. and opened a barbershop. Without formal education, she taught herself about real estate and by 1881 owned six properties. Unfortunately, these properties were destroyed by fire in 1893. While others quit, Josephine rebuilt three of them in one building in 1894, which bears her name. You can see the building and a picture of Josephine here:
Josephine contracted cancer, forcing her to sell properties to pay for her medical care. She died in 1923. Native North Carolinian author Kianna Alexander learned about Josephine on twitter. In the preface to Carolina Built (it’s FREE in KU!), her 2022 fictionalized account of Josephine’s life, Alexander shares her amazement that she never heard of a businesswoman as accomplished as Josephine. At the time of her death, her estate was valued at $8,825, over $10 million in today’s dollars.
Her business papers are kept in the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Duke University. These papers, other primary sources and a forty-seven-page booklet, The Life and Legacy of Josephine Napoleon Leary, 1856-1923, written by North Carolinian historian Dorothy Spruill Redford aided Alexander in writing her novel.
Knowing she had a right to a better life, Josephine Napoleon Leary is just one of hundreds of former slaves that didn’t let oppression or deprivation keep them from achieving their dreams. They had the will, and they made a way.
For a chance at a $10 Amazon gift card, share a dream of yours or a dream of someone you know that came true because where there’s a will there’s a way.
One Breath Away by Michal Scott
Sentenced to hang for a crime she didn’t commit, former slave Mary Hamilton was exonerated at literally the last gasp. She returns to Safe Haven, broken and resigned to live alone. Never having been courted, cuddled or spooned, Mary now fears any kind of physical intimacy when arousal forces her to relive the asphyxiation of her hanging. But then the handsome stranger who saved her shows up, stealing her breath from across the room and promising so much more.
Wealthy freeborn-Black Eban Thurman followed Mary to Safe Haven, believing a relationship with Mary was foretold by the stars. He must marry her to reclaim his family farm. But first he must help her heal, and to do that means revealing his own predilection for edgier sex.
Then just as Eban begins to win Mary’s trust, an enemy from the past threatens to keep them one breath away from love…
Excerpt from One Breath Away…
Eban grinned. “My shoe fits too.”
Life at sea had placed the philosopher’s shoe on him. He hadn’t the maturity or the patience for reflection before then. If he had, he wouldn’t have leased the family homestead to his cousin for get-out-of-town money. The lease would terminate provided he paid Judah back with interest within three years. Judah had smiled then, certain Eban wouldn’t be able to. Eban smiled now. He’d amassed enough to repay Judah three times over. Rescuing kidnapped expatriates proved an extravagantly lucrative sideline to being a sailor. In his wanderings, he’d barely spent one-tenth of his fortune. No, money didn’t pose a problem. The second part of the agreement did.
He shouldn’t have agreed to the marriage stipulation, but Judah wouldn’t return the land to a bachelor. At the time marrying hadn’t entered Eban’s mind. Without Nora, he had no desire to leave a legacy anyway. And after sampling women of many races, Eban accepted he’d never marry. Then the stars changed his mind.
He glanced at them now. They shimmered as they had the night of that fateful watch. According to the first mate who swore by astrology, he’d perceived a special celestial alignment for Eban. The stars foretold a coupling resulting from a rescue in which Eban would meet his wife. Having found Mary, Eban knew that prophecy would be fulfilled.