Robert Smalls

By:Brianna Faith Poulos

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After the Civil War was over, Smalls returned to Beaufort to live and purchased the McKee house at 511 Prince Street where he and his mother had been enslaved. He lived in this house until his death in 1915.

An important part of the legacy of Robert Smalls is the families that he established over six decades. He married his first wife, Hannah Jones, in Charleston, South Carolina in 1857. Hannah and two of their children, Elizabeth Lydia and Robert, Jr., were on the Planter when Robert and his crew commandeered the ship on their daring trip to freedom in 1862. Robert and Hannah Smalls had three children: Elizabeth Lydia, a younger daughter, Sarah Voorhees, and Robert, Jr. who died of smallpox as a child. Hannah died in 1883, and Smalls married his second wife, Annie Elizabeth Wigg, in 1890. They had one son, William Robert Smalls. Annie died in 1895.

There are approximately seventy-five direct descendants of Robert Smalls living today. All of these descendants are the grandchildren of Robert’s older daughter, Elizabeth Smalls Bampfield and his younger son, William Robert Smalls. Smalls’ younger daughter, Sarah Smalls Williams, had no children and his older son, Robert Smalls, Jr. died in infancy. None of the living descendants carries the Smalls name.