On the "Spanish Esplanade" overlooking the Mississippi River, there is a magnificent home that for years was believed to be the original home of one of the Spanish dons who colonized the area. Recently, this story was discovered to be a myth.
The original owner was actually a free man of color named Robert D. Smith, who built it himself in 1851, 12 years before the Emancipation Proclamation.
The new homeowners, Ruth and Jim Coy, have been actively pursuing the history of Robert Smith and they have a question. According to a recently discovered record, Smith arrived in New Orleans on a slave ship.
How did Robert Smith go from traveling on a ship full of captive individuals destined for servitude to owning a luxurious home?
The History Detectives trace the rise of this unique individual.
- Also in Season 1 Boarding House Flag Did this flag once save a boarding house from being burned down at the height of the Civil War?
- Related Investigation Army Muster Roll What can a Continental Army muster roll tell us about this remarkable African-American soldier?
- Related Investigation Lincoln Letter Does this cryptic letter reveal Abraham Lincoln's secret strategy for winning political power?
- Also in Civil War: 1850-1877 Lookout Mountain Painting What can this painting tell us about a turning point in the Civil War?
- Also with Tukufu Zuberi Bill Picket Saddle Did this saddle ride into cowboy history with one of rodeo's most daring innovators?
- Also in Season 1 Flint Lock Rifle Was this the gun of one of the most infamous bandits operating to undermine the birth of our nation?
This is a place for opinions, comments, questions and discussion; a place where viewers of History Detectives can express their points of view and connect with others who value history. We ask that posters be polite and respectful of all opinions. History Detectives reserves the right to delete comments that don’t conform to this conduct. We will not respond to every post, but will do our best to answer specific questions, or address an error.