A brief look at the life of Benjamin Banneker
Benjamin Banneker was an African American scientist, surveyor, almanac author and farmer. He was born in Baltimore County Maryland to a free African American woman and former slave. Banneker's knowledge of astronomy and mathematics helped him author a commercially successful series of almanacs. Parks, schools, streets and other tributes have commemorated Banneker throughout the years since he lived; however, many accounts of his life may have exaggerated or falsified so this paper is meant to give a brief tour of Benjamin Banneker’s life. Molly Walsh emigrated from England to the colony Maryland as an indentured slave in bondage for seven years. When her servitude ended, Molly purchased a farm along the Patapsco River near Baltimore along with two slaves. In time she set the slaves free, but ended up marring one of them. That man’s name was Bannaky and they later had several children, one a daughter named Mary. Mary Bannaky grew up and purchased a slave named Robert, whom she later married and lived on the family farm with. On Nov. 9, 1731, a son, Benjamin, was born to Robert and Mary Bannaky. Using the Bible, Molly Bannaky taught Mary's children to read, and soon after, Benjamin would read the bible to his mother and grandmother. For those times, life was good to this little community. Work was hard on the farm but not for little Benjamin who learned to play the flute and the violin in his spar time. There was no school in the valley for the boys to attend until one summer; a Quaker school teacher came to live in the valley. He set up a school for boys that Benjamin Bannaky attended. During his time in school the schoolmaster changed the spelling of his name from Bannaky to Banneker. At school he learned to write and do simple arithmetic, at which time he took over the operations for the family farm. He devised an irrigation system of ditches and little dams to control the water from the springs on the family...
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