Robert Gleed

Robert Gleed (Lowndes County)

State Senate: 1870-1875

Born: 1836 in Virginia
Died: July 24, 1916 in Harris County, TX

Born into slavery in Virginia. A prominent merchant and civic leader in Columbus, MS.

In 1872, there was an incident involving Gleed taking a seat on a segregated railroad car, and a crowd of white men forcibly removed him. The Vicksburg Herald wrote, “The negroes as a mass do not seek nor want equality. It is only vagabonds like Gleed who wish to menace the peace” (April 16, 1872).

Gleed was appointed lieutenant colonel in the Lowndes County militia in 1873.

Following a violent incident during his run for sheriff in 1875, Gleed feared for his life and moved his family to Texas. He returned to Mississippi for a brief time; in 1883, as a representative of the Central Earnest Workers Association, he began giving lectures around the state on economics, morality, and education.

Gleed died in Texas survived by several children, including Anna Louise (1862-1938, a teacher), Virgil Cain (1866-1945), Robert Jr. (1869-1932), and Bruce (1880-1968).

Gleed, his wife Susan, and some of their children are buried in historic Sandfield Cemetery in Columbus, MS. Members of the Gleed family are often portrayed in the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science’s annual Eighth of May Emancipation Celebration, held at Sandfield Cemetery, where high school students tell the stories of notable African Americans who lived in Columbus.

Click here to view records of cases involving Robert Gleed in the Lowndes County Chancery and Circuit Courts.

Click here to browse the minute book of the Columbus Board of Aldermen, beginning with the first appearance of Gleed’s name on page 113.

“Robert Gleed, of Columbus, was a man of fair education, good character, and some financial ability, although he had been a slave until the close of the war. An excellent speaker, he was employed by the Democratic administration after the overthrow of the Republican regime to lecture to the Negroes of the state on educational and agricultural matters.”
(Vernon Lane Wharton, The Negro in Mississippi, 1865-1890, 1965)

“Gleed was a man of unusual intelligence. Before the War Columbus officers had arrested him as a runaway slave. He refused to tell where he came from or the name of his master. According to law, the officers sold him to the highest bidder. He kept his identity a profound secret as long as he lived. He was prominent in politics during reconstruction.”
(Thomas Battle Carroll, Historical Sketches of Oktibbeha County, 1931)

Signature of Robert Gleed
Signature of Robert Gleed from an 1870 Chancery Court document

Memorial on Find A Grave
“Taking Away the Vote – and a Black Man’s Land”
1871 Testimony about the KKK
“MSMS Students to Bring Local History to Life for Eighth of May”

Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science student Niyah Lockett depicts Gleed’s daughter, Anna, as part of the school’s annual Eighth of May Emancipation Celebration in Columbus’ Sandfield Cemetery. May 8, 2021.

Clarion-Ledger, May 13, 1869
First mention of Robert Gleed in the Columbus Board of Aldermen minutes, May 25, 1869
Gleed in aldermen minutes, May 25, 1869
Freedman's Bank record, January 2, 1871
Freedman’s Bank record, January 2, 1871
Petition to support Blanche K. Bruce as a trustee of Alcorn University
Petition supporting B. K. Bruce, May 13, 1871
Hinds County Gazette, June 7, 1871
Committee for new charter, Dec. 27, 1871
New National Era, February 22, 1872
Vicksburg Herald, April 16, 1872
Vicksburg Herald, October 11, 1872
Vicksburg Herald, September 17, 1873
Clarion-Ledger, October 2, 1873
Petition signed by 8 legislators, Mar 21, 1874
Petition of legislators, Mar 21, 1874
Letter to Governor Ames, Nov 1874
Letter to Governor Ames, Nov 1874
Weekly Mississippi Pilot, June 26, 1875
Letter from Robert Gleed to Governor Ames, Nov 18, 1875
Letter to Governor Ames, Nov 18, 1875
Daily Evening Express, May 8, 1876
Vicksburg Herald, August 31, 1877
Vicksburg Evening Post, August 16, 1883
Natchez Democrat, August 29, 1883
State Ledger, February 15, 1884
State Ledger, February 15, 1884
Vicksburg Herald, April 17, 1885
Vicksburg Herald, April 18, 1885
Vicksburg Evening Post, April 24, 1885
Vardaman's Weekly, June 20, 1908
Vardaman’s Weekly, June 20, 1908
Columbus Commercial, July 30, 1916
Robert Gleed headstone
Gleed gravesite, May 8, 2021