Prince Edwards was born a slave in Mississippi. At the start of the War, he was forced into the Southern Army but deserted at the first opportunity. On April 15, 1865 in Macon, Georgia, he mustered in as a private of Captain William G. Kinscott’s Company A, 136th Regiment, U.S. Colored Volunteer Infantry.
He received a gallant record for meritorious service and soldierly conduct at all times, with an Honorable Discharge at Augusta, Georgia on January 4, 1866.
An early pioneer of Riverside, Edwards and his family arrived with other families from Georgia in the mid 1880s. Prince Edwards served as wagon master for the group from Georgia. He married Jennie Cook in Fulton County, Georgia on January 1, 1871. Jennie was born in Georgia, also a slave.
Prince and Jennie were among the 13 founding members of the 2nd Baptist Church, established in 1890 at Twelfth and Howard avenues in Riverside. Another founding member was Jennie’s mother, Parthenia Cook, also buried at Evergreen, as well as Robert Stokes. Stokes was considered the first black man to settle in Riverside, arriving with a white family. Stokes is also buried at Evergreen and was related to the Edwards family.
Prince Edwards was a member of Riverside Post 118, Department of California and Nevada, Grand Army of the Republic. He was Officer of the Guard for two years and an Ancient Odd Fellow. A framed certificate, dated 1915, detailing Prince Edwards’ merits hangs in the office at Evergreen Historical Memorial Cemetery. It was obtained from the Soldiers and Sailors Historical & Benevolent Society and provided by Lorraine Edwards Taylor, his granddaughter. He participated in Riverside’s Memorial Day Parades and was conspicuous with his white hair as he followed the flag he so proudly defended.
A partial quote from his obituary stated, “Prince Edwards, one of Riverside’s prominent and highly respected and much loved colored citizens.”
Prince and Jennie were married 50 years at the time of his death and were the parents of 6 children. William, (Willie) served in the Spanish American War in the 24th U.S. Infantry at Ford Baird, New Mexico. He was in the engagement of San Juan Hill, Cuba and a musician of his Regimental Band.William died in 1913 at age 38 and is buried at Evergreen. Alberta and Otis died young. Thaddeus was a cook at a café in Riverside. Lawrence Eugene (Eugene) resided in Los Angeles where he was a chauffeur for the mayor of Los Angeles in the early 1900s. His wife’s name was Wilma. Eugene served in the Coast Guard during World War II.
Charles (Charlie) Thomas was a porter at many locations in Riverside. He was musically talented and Prince and Jennie provided music lessons for their children. Charlie joined the Ringling Brothers Circus as a Drum Major and traveled throughout the United States. He married Anna Louisa Mackey, born August 28, 1894. They had 10 children. The oldest was named Prince Alexander Edwards. Three of the four who survive, as of March 2010, reside in Riverside.