George Washington Buckner

Born enslaved, Dr. George Washington Buckner moved to Indianapolis after the Civil War, where he attended the only school for Black students in the city.  He later completed a teacher training program and taught Black students before earning a medical degree and becoming a doctor. In 1913, he accepted President Woodrow Wilson’s nomination and served as the American Minister [Ambassador] to Liberia, living there for several years. See the full document for a detailed description of Dr. George Washington Buckner’s education and career after enslavement.

In this interview, recorded in the third person, the interviewer shares Dr. George Washington Buckner’s memories of the Civil War. 

*Historically-used terms that are offensive, marginalizing and/or disparaging have been removed from the transcripts and replaced with [redacted].  See more information.
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…A story told by Dr. Buckner relates an evening at the beginning of the Civil War. “I had heard my parents talk of the war but it did not seem real to me until one night when mother came to the pallet  where we slept and called to us to ‘Get up and tell our uncles good-bye.’ Then four startled little children arose. Mother was standing in the room with a candle or a sort of torch made from grease drippings and old pieces of cloth, (these rude candles were in common use and afforded but poor light) and there stood her four brothers, Jacob, John, Bill, and Isaac all with the light of adventure shining upon their [faces] … They were starting away to fight for their liberties [freedom] and we were greatly impressed.”

Dr. Buckner stated that officials thought Jacob entirely too aged to enter the service as he had a few scattered white hairs but he remembers he was brawny and unafraid. Isaac was too young but the other two uncles were accepted. One never returned because he was killed in battle but one fought throughout the war and was never wounded. He remembers how the white men were indignant because the [redacted] were allowed to enlist [join the army]…

Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
George Washington Buckner1852 (Unknown)Lauana CreelStanton Buckner, Dickie Buckner
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Vanderburgh County, ININKY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Civil WarGreen County, Third Person, Sold