Colson lived a more prosperous life than most other free blacks in early nineteenth-century Virginia. For example, in July 1835 he paid a total of $191 for a half year of his daughter's education and to cover his wife's traveling expenses. When his estate was inventoried after his death, the contents of his house and shop were valued at almost $300. In addition, he owned a half interest in the modest contents of a barber shop in Petersburg and a part of Roberts, Colson, and Company. Colson's library included books on biography, history, poetry, and religion. Probably self-educated, he was a careful man of business and kept detailed records. The inventory of the wardrobe that he took on his voyage to west Africa in 1835 suggests his economic status and identification of himself as a successful professional man. It lists new linen and fine cotton shirts, several silk vests, silk handkerchiefs, four pairs of kid gloves, 250 Spanish cigars, and more than twenty-five religious books.
1805 - William Colson is born in Petersburg, the son of a free black barber.
August 23, 1825 - William Colson registers as "a free man of Colour" in Petersburg.
March 2, 1826 - William Colson and Sarah Herreck Elebeck marry in Petersburg.
ca. 1829 - William Colson and Joseph Jenkins Roberts establish Roberts, Colson, and Company to trade between the United States and Liberia.
1835 - The trading firm of Roberts, Colson, and Company purchases a second schooner.
July 1835 - William Colson pays $191 for six months of his daughter's education and to cover his wife's traveling expenses.
Summer 1835 - William Colson leaves Virginia for an extended visit to Liberia.
November 12, 1835 - William Colson dies in Monrovia, Liberia.
Cite This Entry
- APA Citation:
Kenzer, R. C., & the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. William Colson (1805–1835). (2017, September 6). In Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved from http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Colson_William_1805-1835.
- MLA Citation:
Kenzer, Robert C. and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. "William Colson (1805–1835)." Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Humanities, 6 Sep. 2017. Web. READ_DATE.
First published: March 29, 2017 | Last modified: September 6, 2017