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King, Ada Copelandlocked

(23 December 1860?–14 April 1964)
  • Martha A. Sandweiss


King, Ada Copeland (23 December 1860?–14 April 1964), wife of the eminent geologist, explorer, and writer Clarence King, wife of the eminent geologist, explorer, and writer Clarence King, was born in or around West Point, Georgia. Though little is known of her early life, she was almost certainly born a slave, acquiring the name of Ada Copeland as a young girl. The names of her parents are unknown. In the mid-1880s, Copeland moved to New York City and found work as a nursemaid. In late 1887 or 1888 she met a man who introduced himself as a Pullman porter named James Todd. They were married in September 1888 by the Reverend James H. Cook, a prominent minister with the Union American Methodist Episcopal Church. Although Todd represented himself to Copeland as a Marylander of African American descent, this was a false identity. He was in fact Clarence King (1842–1901), a socially and politically prominent white man from Newport, Rhode Island, educated at Yale, who had led the Fortieth Parallel Survey across the western United States, written a popular book called ...

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