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The Citizenry

Divin Glover sits with hands placed one atop the other, her furrowed brow and heavy eyelids bearing witness to her age. She is attired in a plaid dress with white collar, turban and earrings similar in style to those worn by slave women in antebellum America. Aside from her name, only one other detail of her life is known: The man pictured here or his family enslaved her: George Frederick Glover, a Confederate officer and son of a wealthy plantation owner.

Diven Glover. Ninth-plate ambrotype by an anonymous photographer. Dan Schwab Collection.
Diven Glover. Ninth-plate ambrotype by an anonymous photographer. Dan Schwab Collection.

How their lives intersected traces back to George’s father, Allen, a South Carolina native who moved to Alabama in 1819 with his wife, children, slaves and livestock. He settled in Marengo County, part of the Black Belt region, so named for the color of its rich topsoil that spawned a lucrative cotton plantation industry consuming a large number of men, women and children held in bondage.

Allen became a founder of the town of Demopolis and built an empire, first as a merchant trader with area Native American communities, and then with planting interests. His wife, Sarah, died in 1824. Six years later, at about age 54, he married a Virginia-born woman 30 years his junior. Her name was Mary Ann Diven.

How Mary Ann and the slave pictured here came to share a name is not exactly known. One possible explanation holds that Allen made a wedding gift of the slave to his new wife, and at that time the slave became Diven Glover.

Mary Ann gave birth to three children, including George, in 1835. He barely knew his father, who died five years later. Young George inherited a share of his father’s wealth, and perhaps Divin after his mother passed in 1858. According to the 1860 census, his estate had a value of $200,000, or $6 million today.

Capt. George Frederick Glover. Quarter-plate ambrotype by an anonymous photographer. Dan Schwab Collection.
Capt. George Frederick Glover. Quarter-plate ambrotype by an anonymous photographer. Dan Schwab Collection.

After the war came, George became a second lieutenant in the 43rd Alabama Infantry and advanced to captain and commander of Company A. He was present for the duty during the Battle of Chattanooga, and the Chickamauga and Knoxville Campaigns. He resigned due to poor health in early 1864 and died in 1875 at age 39.

The fate of Divin is not known.

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