It was 1848 when Susie King Taylor was born a slave on a plantation in Liberty County, Georgia.
There she was raised by her grandmother, who wanted to make sure Susie would grow up educated. She sent Susie to a school that was run by a friend, a free woman. Everyday at 9am, Susie and her brother would go the half a mile, their books wrapped in paper to prevent the police or white persons from seeing them. That’s how she learned to read and write.
Susie was barely in her early teens when her family fled to St. Simons Island in Georgia, a Union controlled area. With her inquisitive eyes and kind demeanor and her education, she impressed the army officers. They asked that she become a teacher for children, and even some adults. “I would gladly do so, if I could have some books,” she replied. And so she became the first black teacher of freed black students to work in a freely operating freedmen’s school in Georgia.
Not long after, Susie married, and joined her husband and his regiment as they traveled. She became their teacher, teaching the illiterate men to read and write. It was also during this time that she became a nurse to the men, thus making her the first black army nurse in the Civil War.
All this she accomplished before the age of 18.