Born in Slavery, Woman Becomes Oregon Pioneer in 1852

Sep 2, 2016

Susannah Mask, believed to be the third child of Dudley Mask of North Carolina and his slave, Nellie, became an Oregon pioneer in 1852.

Another slave owner purchased her mother when Susannah was three years old, and they were freed shortly thereafter.  The mother fled with her family to Tennessee after the Nat Turner slave revolt.

Susannah married when she was 15.  By age 28 she was a widow with five children in Missouri. In 1852, Susannah and her children emigrated with her mother’s family to Oregon.  

Susannah and her sister settled outside Jacksonville in near-womanless One Horse Town, later called Kanaka Flats, where they were welcomed by the miners living there.

Susannah’s daughter, Mary Missouri Ana, was not welcome in Jacksonville’s only school, where racist parents forced her dismissal.

Susannah bore three children in One Horse Town before moving closer to relatives in the Shady Cove area.  In 1862 Susannah married George Weeks and together they had three sons.  By 1877, Susannah called herself a widow again after Weeks abandoned her and moved to Montana. 

Susannah died in 1909, at the age of 86.


Sources: Hegne, Barbara. Saga of the Mask Plantation North Carolina, Slaves Journey to Oregon: Author, 2014. Print; Fletcher, Thomas. Author's Journal 1 (1853): 94. Print.