William B. Gould

William B. Gould was born into slavery in Wilmington, N.C. in 1837. During the Civil War, Gould escaped with seven others on September 21, 1862, by sailing 28 miles down the Cape Fear River where he was picked up by the USS Cambridge. He served for the rest of the war in the United States Navy, chasing Confederate ships to shores as far away as the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, and England.

While in the Navy, Gould kept a diary that is today one of only three known diaries kept by slaves during the Civil War. After the war, Gould settled on Milton Street in East Dedham with his wife, Cornelia. There they raised two daughters and six sons while he worked as a building contractor and plasterer. Among his notable works is the plasterwork of the Bellamy Mansion in North Carolina and St. Mary’s Church in Dedham.

William and Cornelia Gould with their children.

While living in Dedham, Gould became a pillar of the community, including as one of the founding members of the Church of the Good Shepard in Oakdale Square and serving as commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. When he died in 1923, the Dedham Transcript reported his death under the headline “East Dedham Mourns Faithful Soldier and Always Loyal Citizen: Death Came Very Suddenly to William B. Gould, Veteran of the Civil War.” He is buried in Brookdale Cemetery.

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