John Howe Peyton's Montgomery Hall

Kitty Susan Truss

Kitty Susan Truss was living in Staunton with her mother, Elizabeth “Betsy” Truss and siblings in 1827 and was about 12 years old, born c. 1815. She was appraised in December, 1827, $250.00. Kitty Susan was also a daughter of Matthew B. “Matt” Truss, a shoemaker and bootmaker living and working in Staunton. (John Howe Peyton ordered shoes from Matt Truss.) Truss was a free African-American man, emancipated by John Burgess in 1806. Matthew and Betsy Truss had four children at the time of Margaret Reed’s death: Kitty Susan, Cunningham, Stuart, and Margaret. The children were appraised separately from their mother, but via her will Margaret Reed provided for Matt Truss to purchase his family (valued collectively for $1,000.00) for $300.00. If he was unable to pay this amount, Margaret Reed directed that they be sold together “to some humane master who will treat them well.” Matt Truss desired to purchase his family, but was unable to immediately pay this sum. Eliza Jane McCray, Margaret Reed’s relative who was living with Reed at the time of her death, inherited Reed’s house in Staunton and an enslaved female, Kitty, and her children, William and Eliza. Eliza Jane McCray married Walter H. Tapp in 1828, and they purchased Betsy and her children from Reed’s estate for $1,200.00 in 1829 so they wouldn’t be sold to some other person. Betsy gave birth to another child after the death of Margaret Reed.

Matt Truss was later able to purchase his family and they moved to Canada where he continued to work as a shoemaker. Matt and Betsy Truss died in Canada and their surviving children returned to live in the U. S.


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