(b. circa 1848 – d. ?)
Eighteen-year-old Samuel Debtor (also spelled Dettor) was born into slavery on Josiah W. Jones’s farm in Olney, Maryland, around 1848. In 1853 Montgomery County slave assessment records listed “Sam” as four years old and worth seventy-five dollars. That year Josiah W. Jones’ ten enslaved people included one woman, thirty-one-year-old Eleanor, who may have been Samuel Debtor’s mother. By 1860 Samuel was one of thirteen enslaved people living in the farm’s two slave quarters.
On March 22, 1864 Debtor enlisted as a private with Company B of the newly-formed 39th Regiment, Maryland Volunteer Infantry, under Colonel Samuel M. Bowman. The 39th’s muster rolls erroneously named Debtor’s owner as Joseph Jones. The regiment participated in the battles of Petersburg, Spotsylvania Court House, and the Crater. He received his final pay on June 30, 1865.
When Debtor enlisted in 1864, he left behind seven other slaves with the Debtor surname: Tilghman and Mary, both seventeen; Martha, age twelve; Elias, age eight; and Anne, age two.
Samuel Debtor is absent from the Maryland census records following the Civil War. However the 1870 census showed that Martha and Elias Debtor had remained with Josiah W. Jones as domestic servants.
Debtor’s name appears (as “Samuel Detter”) on plaque C-54 among the 209,145 names listed on the African American Civil War Memorial in Washington, D.C.