Freewill Baptist Association Minutes

The Freewill Baptist churches in Southeastern Indiana were significant in that both ministers and lay people were involved directly in the active Underground Railroad. Excerpts from the minutes of the local quarterly association meeting were published in the Morning Star, the national news journal of the northern Freewill Baptists out of Bates, Maine. These minutes include the names of several known UGRR activists. It is believed that association meetings were a natural way of communicating signals and information needed for a secure UGRR network.
Franklin FW Baptist Church, Pilgrim B&W
Franklin FW Baptist, Pilgrim Baptist

Information from Freewill Baptist Quarterly Meetings

22Feb1843 Morning Star

Ripley Quarterly Meeting, Sparta Jan 27-29 1843

Moderator: P. Anthony

Corresponding Messengers to Switzerland QM: Elds R. Kelly, E.F. Stites, Brothers C. Larabee, A. Persinger, N. Hartly, I. Oathoudt, D. Hall, T.S. Grimes

Committee to meet with Switzerland QM to adopt constitution: Eld R. Kelly, P. Anthony, I Oathoudt, T. S. Grimes, D. Hall, E. Fuller, and J. Stevens

Voted to hold next QM with the church at Delaware. Clerk: Jefferson Stevens.

22Feb1843 Morning Star

Indiana Yearly Meeting F.W.B. – Constitution adopted January 1843

Signed by Ripley QM – Richard Kelly, Philip Anthony, Isaac Oathoudt, Thomas S. Grimes, Daniel Hall, Elijah Fuller, Jefferson Stevens

Signed by Switzerland QM – Abram Adkinson, Robert Rickets, Daniel Rickets

28Jun1843 Morning Star

Ripley Quarterly Meeting at Delaware, May 26-28, 1843. Brother Isaac Oathoudt presided, Elders Gould and Adkinson from Switzerland QM met with us;

Preachers: Gould, Adkinson of Switzerland, Kelly and Stites of Ripley

Appointed Corresponding Messengers to next session of Switzerland QM: Elder E.F. Stites, E. Fuller, A. Fuller, T. Gloyd, E. Watson, T.S. Grimes

Appointed Book Agent: Edler E.F. Stites

Next session to be held with the church at Sparta, Jefferson Stevens, Clerk

05Jul1843 Morning Star

Switzerland Quarterly Meeting with the Harmony Church, Switzerland Co, 2-4 June 1843, preachers Elders L. Gould and E.F. Stites, Cheney Munger, Clerk, Posey Township, Switzerland Co, Indiana.

02Aug1843 Morning Star

Dearborn Quarterly Meeting with the Liberty Church, Ripley Co., June 1843. Preaching by Elders N. Meader, Rogers Ide, and Brother Mitchel, a licentiate from Miami QM. Committee to designate next meeting place: C. R. Faulkner, T.N. Burroughs, and Ichabod Sheldon. Have employed Elder I. Sheldon to travel for one quarter. G.S. Walker, Clerk.

27Sept1843 Morning Star

Ripley Quarterly Meeting with church at Sparta on 25-27 August. Brother Samuel Gookins, Moderator. Elders L. Gould and A. Adkinson from Switzerland QM preached with Elders R. Kelly and E.F. Stites. Next session with Mainville church, Warren OH in October. Brother T.S. Grimes publicly set apart to the ministry; ordination sermon and hand of fellowship by Elder R. Kelly, prayer by Eld E.F. Stites and charge by Elder L. Gould. Jefferson Stevens, Clerk at Delaware, Ripley County.

27Sept1843 – Morning Star

Switzerland Quarterly Meeting with York church 1-3 September 1843, protracted 2-3 days by Elder E.F. Stites and others. Next session with church at Mt. Sterling. Cheney Munger, Clerk.

01Nov1843 – Morning Star

Dearborn Quarterly Meeting with Sherburne Church, Ripley Co, 22-24 September. Visiting brethren from Miami QM and Elder S. Hathorn from Maine. Received the Union and Freedom churches which “have been raised since our last QM through instrumentality of Eld. I. Sheldon. G.S. Walker appointed corresponding secretary to Switzerland QM, Elder I. Sheldon to travel until next QM. Preaching by Elders Hathorn, Mitchell and Rogers Ide. Next session to be with Freedom Church, Otter Creek in December. G. W. Walker, Clerk.

31Jan1844 – Morning Star

Dearborn Quarterly Meeting at Freedom Church, Otter Creek Township, Ripley Co 22-24 December. Heavy rains and bad traveling, few delegates present. Received Elder s. Hathorn corresponding messenger from Miami QM. Preaching by Elder S. Hathorn, I. Sheldon and R. Ide. Elders R. Ide and I. Sheldon corresponding messengers to Miami QM. Next session with the Colby Church, Sparta Twp, Dearborn Co in March. G. S. Walker, Clerk at Sparta, Indiana.



Freewill Baptist Churches of Southeastern Indiana

Union FWB church, Flat Rock horiz adj
Union FWB church, Flat Rock Ripley County Indiana

Freewill Baptist Churches – Southeastern Indiana

Pierceville Lot 11, ME old FWB church
Pierceville Indiana Freewill Baptist Church now Methodist


Appendix A

Freewill Baptist Churches in Southeastern Indiana

Revised with G. K. McCarty July 2007
Year Church Location Township County Founder Preachers/Elders Assigned
1820 Bryants Creek (Randall) Nr. Rising Sun York Switzerland Marcus Kilburn Alexander Sebastian
1823 Jefferson Shelby Jefferson Benjamin Leavitt Lewis Gould
1834 Union (Old Liberty) Cotton Switzerland Abraham Adkinson, Sedam, McHenry
1834 Franklin (split from Reg. Baptist) Old Milan Franklin Ripley Ezekial Stites Richard Kelley, Daniel Palmer, D. Moss
1834 York York Switzerland Cheney Munger
1834 Sparta nr Moore’s Hill Sparta Dearborn N. Richmond
1836 Delaware Old Delaware (Lookout) Delaware Ripley Samuel Gookins, Phillip Anthony, Jefferson Stevens
1836 1st Manchester Manchester Manchester Dearborn Ichabod Sheldon Z.M. Palmer, J. Carlton
1836 Clinton Rt 48 & Spades Rd Franklin Ripley Elisha Ransom
1837 Washington Elrod Washington Ripley Roger Ide, Eber Watson, William Watson, John Peterman, Charles Larabee, Thomas S. Grimes, Thomas N. Burroughs, Abraham Persinger, James Henderson, John Peters, T. Gloyd
1838 Providence Wrights Corner Manchester Dearborn Cyrus Dudley
1839 Pleasant Pleasant Switzerland
1841 Mainville Warren Co OH Marcus Kilburn, Moses Dudley, Benjamin Tufts
1842 Harmony (Ohio Co?) Posey Switzerland Cheney Munger, Robert Ricketts
1842 Mt. Sterling nr Vevay Johnson Switzerland
1842 Cesar’s Creek nr Friendship Brown Switzerland Roger Ide Roger Ide
1843 Union (Flat Rock) Flat Rock Jackson Ripley Ichabod Sheldon
1843 Freedom Otter Creek Ripley Ichabod Sheldon
1843 Sherburne Panther Creek Sand Creek Decatur Ichabod Sheldon
1844 Colby Sparta Dearborn Roger Ide, Isaac Outhoudt Roger Ide
1846 Milan Old Milan (Lot 28 Keene’s Add) Franklin Ripley Ebenezer Redlon,Henry Meader, James Parker, Ezekial F. Stites, Elisha Ransom, Stillman Ransom, Abigail and Lucy Brown
1849 Centre Square Centre Square Cotton Switzerland George S. Walker
1853 Franklin (Anderson Schoolhouse) (Old Pilgrim Site) Franklin Ripley John Dorson, Thomas Cone, William Resinger, Ezekial Stites, Albert Fuller, Elijah Fuller, Socrates Swift
1853 Mt. Pleasant Newpoint Marion Decatur George S. Walker
1854 Turner nr Moorefield Pleasant Switzerland
1855 Prattsburgh Prattsburgh Delaware Ripley Richard Kelley, Ezekial Stites, Ebenezer Redlon, Aaron Richardson
1860 Pierceville Pierceville Delaware Ripley Richard Kelley, Ezekial Stites, Ebenezer Redlon
1871 Pleasant Grove
1872 Zion 6 miles NW of Flat Rock Sand Creek Decatur John Tucker, Matthew Oldham, Rev. D. A. Tucker, Rev. William Tucker, Rev. E.J. Tucker
          ? Negangard’s Corner Rt 48 & Spades Rd Franklin Ripley R. Kelley/E. Stites


Franklin FW Baptist Church, Pilgrim B&W
Franklin FW Baptist Church, Pilgrim B&W

Freewill Baptist Churches Cited in Morning Star, the national publication


Church Name
Location Date Founders Citation
Washington Washington Twp Ripley County Sept 1841 Elder R. Ide and Rev. Ichabod Sheldon Morning Star 22Feb1843
Colby Sparta, Dearborn County 2nd Sat Nov 1842 Elder R. Ide and Rev. Ichabod Sheldon Morning Star 22Feb1843
Dearborn Q.M. Ripley & Dearborn Cos 1842 Elder R. Ide and Rev. Ichabod Sheldon Morning Star 22Feb1843
Harmony Posey Twp, Switzerland Co   Elder R. Gould, Adkinson Morning Star 28Jun1843
Liberty Ripley Co 1843 Elder R. Ide, N. Mender Morning Star 02Aug1843
York Switzerland Co 1843 Elder E.F. Stites, Cheney Munger Morning Star 17Sep1843
Mt. Sterling Switzerland Co 1843 Elder E.F. Stites, Cheney Munger Morning Star 17Sep1843
Sherburne Ripley Co 1843 Eld I Sheldon, R. Ide, Hathorn from Maine, and Mitchell from Miami QM Morning Star 01Nov1843
Union Flat Rock,  Dearborn QM 1843 Ichabod Sheldon Morning Star 01Nov1843
Freedom Otter Creek Twp, Dearborn QM 1843 Ichabod Sheldon Morning Star 01Nov1843


Henry Bibb Project Research Report

Detail of surface survey Gatewood site Aug 27, 2005 copy

 Henry Bibb National Heritage Trail: William Gatewood Farm,

Bedford, Trimble County, Kentucky

Initial work on the William Gatewood plantation where Henry Bibb escaped from slavery in 1831 was funded by a grant from the Kentucky Heritage Council. The study included an archaeological survey that has been extended as a public archaeological educaiton site for the next 8 years under the auspices of Jeannine Kreinbrink. The second part of the intial study included a comprehensive search by local historians for documents relating to the birth, ownership, land and tax records, and roadways involved in the life of Henry Bibb. Using Bibb’s well-known autobiography as an initial source, the historicans plowed through court and land records to support or change the information in the book. The third part included a major supplement for teachers using the Henry Bibb autobiography for study of American slavery and a unique set of escapes. One major part of the education section was an original one-act play by Carrider Jones which was produced at the Actors Theatre in Louisville.

Gatewood Plantation House March 2005 copy

Here is the text from the research report portion of the report to the Kentucky Heritage Council as grant provider.

Project Report 2 1


Project Report 2 6 Gatewood site map


Project Report 2 2


Project Report 2 3


Project Report 2 4

Project Report 2 5Dot Carrico with team surface artifact search Aug 27, 2005















Hoagland Family

This article minus the photographs appeared in the Northern Kentucky Enclyclopedia, published by University Press of Kentucky in 2009.

Cornelius Hoagland, pioneer, Hunter’s Bottom, Kentucky

he Hoagland family were among the early settlers of Hunter’s Bottom, Ky., in Carroll Co. Cornelius Hoagland was the fourth generation of a Dutch immigrant family who in 1657 came from Harlaam, Holland, to New Amsterdam (N.Y., N.Y.) Cornelius was born in 1750 on a farm along the Millstone River in Windsor, Middlesex Co., N.J. He was the fourth son of Martinus and Phoebe Van Okie Hoagland. In 1776, four of the Hoagland brothers—John, Martin, Cornelius and Abraham—volunteered for service in the N.J. militia. Martin became a Captain, and their uncle Okey Hoagland became a Major.

Light Dragoons
George Washington’s Light Dragoons

In early 1777, Capt. Cornelius Hoagland organized N.J.’s only mounted horse troop at Middlebrook. His unit, along with four mounted horse troops from Conn. and one from Mass., became the elite Second Light Dragoons Regiment, under the command of Elisha Sheldon. The Dragoons excelled at reconnaissance and at General George Washington’s insistance they cross-trained with saber and with rifle as mounted infantry. Operating most frequently in small groups, the Second Light Dragoons staged numerous harassment raids and supply ambushes throughout N.J., Conn., and upstate N.Y. Frequently, the Dragoons acted as bodyguards for General Washington, covered retreats of the army, and at Valley Forge, Pa., they patrolled the perimeter. The Second Light Dragoons were the last unit dismissed from service by General Washington at West Point, N. Y. on November 20, 1783.

Jacob Ford Mansion, Morristown, NJ

Jacob Ford Mansion, Morristown, New Jersey

Capt. Cornelius Hoagland was stationed at Morristown, N. J., in the winter and early spring of 1776–1777. On May 15, 1777, he married Mary Tuttle, daughter of Captain Moses Tuttle, of Mt. Pleasant, northwest of Whippany, N.J. Tuttle was the owner of a famous iron mine that produced cannon and shot for the colonies’ war effort. The Tuttle family had arrived in Boston, Mass., in 1635, about the same time the Hoaglands came to New Amsterdam, and were prominent members of society in Conn . The original Yale University buildings in N. J. were erected on William Tuttle’s land near the New Haven green. Mary Tuttle, through her mother, was related to the large Ford family; her uncle Jacob Ford’s home in Morristown served as Gen. George Washington’s headquarters in the winter of 1779–1780, and Mary attended dances and social events there.




Immediately following the war, Cornelius joined his father-in-law in running the iron business. Together, they expanded the enterprise which included the original mine, forges, and mills. Cornelius and his brother-in-law Charles Hoff, on March 15, 1781 entered land surveys for 1,000 acres each along the Ohio River in what became Hunter’s Bottom, Ky. A series of financial panics in the mid and late 1780s nearly bankrupted the Tuttle iron business and prevented Hoagland from exercising his use of the Ky. lands until 1797.

Between 1778 and 1798, the first nine children of Cornelius and Mary were born in Windsor, Middlesex Co. In 1793, Cornelius Hoagland paid taxes in Pequannok, Morris Co., N. J. Apparently Hoagland was working through his debts, because he served as carpenter for the Peter Ogden estate in Morristown; Ogden, a relative of the Tuttles, served as N.J. representative and participated in approving the U. S. Constitution.

The lure of open lands in the West continued to attract Cornelius Hoagland and his family. Cornelius Hoagland and his eldest son, Moses, came to Ky. in 1797, entered the survey in the Ky. land records, and cleared this land. They returned to N.J., and Cornelius sold his property there. In 1801, Cornelius brought the entire family—Mary and eight children, and his sister Anna, to Hunter’s Bottom. His older brother, Martin Hoagland, settled in Lexington, Ky., that same year. Cornelius and his sons built a low, one-story, rambling house. Indian mounds were located on the property. George Rodgers Clark is said to have stayed overnight at the Hoagland home. Cornelia and Emily Hoagland were born in Hunter’s Bottom in 1800 and 1803, respectively.

In 1801, upon the recommendation of Presley Gray, Lieutenant. Colonel of the Fifty-first Regiment, Ky. Governor James Garrard (1796–1804) appointed Cornelius Hoagland a Major in the regiment; Hoagland resigned that commission late in 1802.  Cornelius Hoagland replaced Presley Gray as assistant judge of the local circuit court on February 25, 1805. The Ky. circuit of the court’s chief justice, Cary L. Clarke, included Boone, Campbell, Gallatin, Harrison, Pendleton, and Scott counties.

While returning from a court session in Port William, Ky. in July 1806, Cornelius Hoagland stopped to view work being done to clear land, was struck by a burning tree limb, and died at fifty-six, leaving Mary to raise eleven children in the wilderness. Cultured and educated, Mary Tuttle Hoagland is said to have educated several of the neighborhood children, in addition to her own. Her stories of the events she witnessed firsthand during the Revolutionary War, and especially stories of George Washington, were part of the lore and legend of Hunter’s Bottom. A land partition in 1806 divided the Hoagland farm into twelve equal parts, each child and the widow receiving about one hundred acres. Mary died in February 1836, and was buried at Hunter’s Bottom.

The Hoagland family’s eldest son, Moses Tuttle Hoagland, followed in his father’s footsteps, serving in the Ky. Militia’s Second Regiment Mounted Volunteers during the War of 1812. The family history claimed that Moses served on the staff of Gen. Andrew Jackson and was given a battlefield command as a Major at the Battle of New Orleans in January 1815, but there is no validating muster list. He married Sarah Paine (Payne) of Lexington, and lived at Hunter’s Bottom. Okey Hoagland, an attorney that speculated in land both in Ind. and Ky., bought portions of the Hoagland family’s lands from his sister, Delia Morris, and his brother, Martin, who moved west. Okey, who became lame and later blind, constructed what was later known as the Hampton House, a square-set house with a center corridor from architectural plans he acquired while in N.J. Two girls from the Hoagland family, Mary Caroline and Emily, married sons of John Conway, another early Hunter’s Bottom settler, and descendents of the Conway family members who continue to live at Hunter’s Bottom on farms. Jane Hoagland (?) married William White and he built them a home at Hunter’s Bottom that still stands.

Carpenter, Daniel Hoagland. History and Genealogy of the Hoagland Family in America. (Place of publication: publisher; date?)

Hampton, Ella. TM, “Early Settlers in Hunters Bottom,” 1965.

Hoagland, George William. Dirck Jansen Hoogland Family History 1657–1976, Genie Reprint, 1976.

Memoirs of the Lower Ohio Valley, Volume I. (author, place of publication, publisher, date?)

U.S. Treasury Warrants 2014, 2015 for 1,000 acres on the Ohio River, Ky. Survey No. 2341 filed November 3, 1797. (where?)

Tokens and Signals Used by the Underground Railroad


Tokens and Signals Used by the Underground Railroad

Along the Ohio River

Diane Perrine Coon

 published in Northern Kentucky Heritage Magazine as “Great Escapes: The Underground Railroad” Vol IX, No 2, 2002


All attempts by slaves to escape to freedom were subject to extreme danger, not only from the physical challenges – basic food, water and shelter from the elements – but also from paid patrollers that rode ten to twelve mile circuits along the Ohio River between Cincinnati and Louisville. The most critical phase of flight from slavery was the Ohio River crossing itself. Before 1835 most fugitive slaves had to fend for themselves, taking one of the hundreds of skiffs or pirogues. Some fashioned rude rafts or caught a ride on a log. For others they reached the Ohio during drought and swam across the narrower channel or they moved across the ice.1

After 1839 as organized assistance to fugitive slaves developed into the Underground Railroad, a number of courageous Free Blacks that lived on the Indiana side – Elijah Anderson, George De Baptiste, John Carter, Chapman Harris and his sons Henry and Charles Walker Harris managed almost eighty percent of the Ohio River crossings between Lawrenceburg and Madison. A number of White abolitionists, members of the American Anti-Slavery Society that were deliberately posted along the Ohio, served as couriers and organizers and ferrymen. An important ferryman yet to be named was located at Aurora. Three AAS agents that are known to have spent time in this region were George Whitefield and William Phelps from Wheeling, West Virginia, during the 1840s and John Fairfield from Michigan in the 1850s.2

Jacqueline Tobin, in her recent book, Hidden In Plain View: A Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad, told how the Gullah people of South Carolina used the patterns in quilts to narrate the secret pathway to freedom. Here in the Ohio River valley, the Underground Railroad used a number of different kinds of signals and tokens, some as simple as beating on a copper pot. Each section of the Ohio River from Cincinnati to Louisville developed its own secret system of communication between the slaves and abolitionists in Kentucky and the U.G.R.R. workers in Indiana. Each vignette tells its own story of bravery, sacrifice, and daring.3


Great Escapes: Tokens and Signals along the Ohio


Page One


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End Notes

 The Introduction

 S. Army Corps of Engineers; Ohio County (West Virginia) Public Library, Wheeling Room,; The Cincinnati Enquirer, The Ohio River was at least ten to fifteen feet shallower and had large encroaching sand bars all along its twists and turns. Sometimes the channel was down to 300 feet or less. In 1843, the river was so low at Madison that all river traffic was suspended for weeks; fugitives could walk across. Ice packed the river five weeks in 1827, four weeks in December 1831 and several weeks in 1851/52; and in the winter of 1856/7 the ice hit in January and stayed until March 17. Other years the floods impeded escape, but even then one or two intrepid souls caught a ride on a drifting log or managed to get a skiff across the current.

Drusilla Cravens papers; John Carr and Chapman Harris obituaries in The Madison Courier; Elijah Anderson’s trial found in the governor’s papers in the Kentucky State Libraries and Archives; George De Baptiste interview in The Detroit Post, Sunday, May 13, 1870.

Jacqueline L.Tobin, Raymond G. Dobard, Cuesta Ray Benberry, Hidden in Plain View: A Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad, New York: Doubleday Division of Random House, 1999.


The Anecdotes

Eagle Hollow: The story of the Blacksmith’s Anvil came from Druisilla Cravens papers; John Carr, Chapman Harris and Patsy Harris obituaries in The Madison Courier.

 Todd at Clifty Falls: Charles Heberhart, “From Out of the Veiled Past Come Interesting Stories of the Civil War. The Old Todd House Relative to the Underground Railway,” Madison Courier, May 16, 1935. Harry Leman of Madison, Indiana, told the story of the Todd Station. As a teenager in 1917, Harry Leman photographed the house and drew the famous chimney shortly before it was torn down. Information about the Todd families comes from Helen Einhaus, County Historian for Ripley County, Indiana, and a Todd family genealogist. John Buchanan Todd was a first cousin of President James Buchanan and a more distant relative of Mary Todd Lincoln. His brother in Kentucky was James Mulherin Todd of Shelby County. Lyman Lathrop was born and raised in Oswego, New York, a center of abolitionist activities; he moved to Madison before 1845 and became prominent in anti-slavery Methodist circles and moved to Trimble County, Kentucky, prior to 1850. John Lamond’s lands lay west of Milton, Kentucky, across the Ohio River from Clifty Falls and Devil’s Backbone, key physical features of the Indiana shoreline.

 Candles at Hicklin Settlement: Family genealogies often provided anecdotal information proving in sites and routes of the U.G.R.R. Among the best, a family history, in fact, was Pasha Palomi Smith’s Hicklin, Vol. I and II, Malton, Washington: D&P Enterprises, 1987. Other stories of the Hicklin settlement came from a very fine local history, Opal Sullivan Schuck, Lillian Anderson Taylor, and Mary Jo Schumann Wahlman, Memories of Bigger Township, North Vernon, Indiana: Bigger Township History Committee, 1999. Another account was found in Historical Black American Sites and Structures in Jennings County, North Vernon, Indiana: Jennings County Preservation Association, Inc., 1996.

 Red Gates: M. Merrell to Wilbur H. Siebert, 1898. Frank Merrill was raised in a pro-slavery family in Section 25, adjacent to the Hicklin U.G.R.R. Station at Bigger Township. As a young man he converted to a radical anti-slavery position, influenced greatly by his maternal uncle, John Van Cleave, a member of the U.G.R.R. at Benville. After the Hicklin’s moved to Oregon, Frank Merrell opened a new Station #3 just off the Paper Mill Turnpike, inside the Jefferson Proving Grounds/Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge. His chatty letter to Professor Siebert, found in the Siebert Papers, described many of the men that worked in the U.G.R.R. along his route from Madison to Holton, Indiana

Coins as Tokens: “Underground Railroad, Reminiscences of the Days of Slavery,” The Detroit Press, May 13, 1870. George De Baptiste, in this long 1870 interview, described in detail how slave owners sent trusted slaves to entrap U.G.R.R. workers and discover routes by offering favors or, in some cases, their emancipation. The story of the coins comes from both Decatur County U.G.R.R. sources and from Madison.

Coded Messages: George De Baptiste in “Underground Railroad Reminiscences” ibid, told how he got coded messages from Louisville’s U.G.R.R. workers. Other references came from various Decatur County sources: Lewis Harding, Decatur County History, Indianapolis, Indiana: Indianapolis Printing Company, 1915; N.T. Rogers, “Decatur County’s Part in the Historic Underground Railway of Slavery Days,” Greensburg Daily News, February 3-17, 1914.

 Agents Arranging Meetings: There are several sources about American Anti-Slavery Society agents working in the Ohio River Valley. Two agents from Wheeling, West Virginia, George Whitefield and William Phelps, worked out of Madison for three years. They are described in Sol Yewell’s investigative report in the Indianapolis News, an article reprinted in The Madison Courier, September 12, 1889, as well as the Drusilla Cravens Papers; John Fairfield’s activities around Madison, Boone and Gallatin counties and in Aurora and Lawrenceburg came from “Underground Railroad Reminiscences,” ibid; and Gabriel Smith’s accounts were recorded by the son of a Liberty, Indiana, U.G.R.R. Station Master in the Siebert Papers, ibid.

Couriers: Several incidents were described in the Druisilla Cravens Papers. A rather detailed account of the Bethel Community (George Shannon) use of couriers was narrated by Miss Mattie Wagner, age 78, to Charles Heberhart, Jefferson County historian, May 15, 1909, TM.

 Speaking Old English: Lester Hansell to Diane Perrine Coon, August 2000; “The Clan of John Hansell,” TM from the Hansell Family Papers. For the larger story of the role of the Methodist Protestant Church in developing the U.G.R.R. in Dearborn County, Indiana, see “History of East Fork Stone Church and Methodist Protestant Church,” Privately Printed, 1921.

 The Cave Deposit: Freman Anderson, a slave that worked for the U.G.R.R. from his plantation in Trimble County, Kentucky, was interviewed by The Indianapolis Freeman, October 31, 1891. Anderson described how he used Butler Cave in South Hanover to deposit runaway slaves. The use of Wilson Cave came from the Drusilla Cravens Papers, and the use of Hughes Cave from Ripley County sources.

 The Barrickman Inn: Bicentennial Committee, “Napoleon and Vicinity, Privately Printed, 1970; Ripley County Book Committee, Ripley County, Indiana, Vol. 1, Second Edition, Dallas, Texas: Taylor Publishing Co., 1998.

 Neighbors Giving Directions: William Wesley Woolen sent a letter to the editor of the The Madison Weekly Courier, February 18, 1860, collected in the Druisilla Cravens Papers.

 Gunshot Sounds in the Night: Richard Daily’s story how he, as a slave living in Hunter’s Bottom, Kentucky, aided the U.G.R.R., comes from John W. Blassingame, ed. Slave Testimony, Two Centuries of Letters, Speeches, Interviews and Autobiographies, Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Louisiana State University Press, 1977. The account is corroborated in the Fearn Family Folder at the Kentucky Historical Society.

 Arrangements in Person: Drusilla Cravens Papers; George De Baptiste, “Underground Railroad Reminiscences,” ibid; Interview with Chapman Harris, The Indianapolis Journal, January 8, 1880;

 The Huckster Stand: The Drusilla Cravens Papers; George De Baptiste in “Underground Railroad Reminiscences,” ibid.

 False Papers: George De Baptiste used his own free papers on twelve different occasions, “Underground Railroad Reminiscences,” ibid.

 Carpetbag Trick: This story comes from the George De Baptiste in “Underground Railroad Reminiscences,” ibid.

 Spur of the Moment Decisions: This and several other stories about the U.G.R.R. operations in Decatur County, Indiana, come from the trial testimony in State of Indiana vs. Luther A. Donnell. Also, after the Civil War, Thomas Hamilton, who accompanied Luther A. Donnell during the adventures related to Caroline and her four children, provided a long narrative, published in the Greensburg News

 Using Dummies: See Hicklin, ibid.

 Outfoxing Right Rea: Robert Elliott Family Papers; Druisilla Cravens Papers.


Database: Early African-American Congregations

Early African-American Congregations

in North Central Kentucky


Before the Civil War


  1. White Churches, with Large or Prominent Slave Populations


Photo Year Congregation City County Notes
1770 St. Paul’s Methodist Paris Bourbon Claims to be first Methodist Church in KY
1783 Methodist Society Harrodsburg Mercer An early Methodist center with slave members
1789 Methodist Society Lexington Fayette Short & Deweese, small log building
1789 Coloured Charge of Lexington Circuit Lexington Fayette Later became Old Branch Church, Old Mill Church, Asbury, and Gunn, Wesley Methodist
1790 Methodist Society Port William Carroll Then Gallatin County; Bishop Asbury stayed overnight in 1808; First church 1809. In 1824 the George Boorom Class had four slaves.
1790 First Methodist Frankfort Franklin 1821:28White and 31 Black members
1790 First Baptist Lexington Fayette
1797 Harrod’s Creek Baptist Harrods Creek Jefferson Claims to be first African-American Baptist Church in the area
1799 Drennon’s Creek Baptist New Castle Henry Became First Baptist, New Castle
1799 Christiansburg Baptist Christiansburg Shelby Men listed first, women and slaves last
Yes 1801 Drennon’s Colored Meeting Place New Castle Henry Now Main Street Baptist; Rev. Alex Taylor; separate site; where Elijah P. Marrs received his certificate to preach.
Yes 1803 Corn Creek Baptist Above Milton Trimble Slaves 19% of congregation by 1831
1804 Versailles Methodist Versailles Woodford “Uncle Isaac” a slave introduced Methodism to Versailles; part of the initial Lexington Circuit
1808 Mt. Olivet Baptist Pendleton Henry Richard and Miss Lucy prominent slaves
Yes 1811 Plum Creek Baptist Waterford Spencer
1812 Johnson Meeting House Mercer On Munday’s Landing Road, N.E. area of Mercer and 2 miles from KY River; later Joseph’s Chapel nearby.
1816 First Baptist Frankfort Franklin
Yes 1816 First Presbyterian Shelbyville Shelby 3 Galleries for Slaves
1818 Buck Run Baptist Woodlake Franklin
1818 Six-Mile Baptist Shelby Over 50 Black members
1818 Hopewell Baptist Lacie Henry A large slave part of congregation
Yes 1819 Clay Street Baptist Shelbyville Shelby 1840s – 143 Black: 290 Total;

1854 – 181 Black: 309 Total

1819 White’s Run Baptist Carroll A few slaves
1820 St. Paul’s Mission Lexington Fayette Methodist mission became St. Paul’s A.M.E. and in 1891 Quinn A.M.E.
c 1820 Washington M.E. Washington Mason 90 Blacks, no White
1825 Black Burying Grounds Little Mount Spencer Members of Little Mount Baptist
1827 Versailles Methodist Versailles Woodford Building completed
1828 First Presbyterian Lawrenceburg Anderson Slaves had full membership



  1. Separated “Colored” Services/Churches
  2. Year Congregation City County Notes
    1829 The African Church Louisville Jefferson Became Fifth Street Baptist in 1844; original Baptist mission to slaves in Louisville, 1815
    Yes 1830 Carrollton Methodist Carrollton Carroll South end of brick church on Highland Avenue had stairway leading to gallery where Negro members were seated.
    Yes 1830s Colored Church Simpsonville Shelby Now First Greater Baptist; in 1851 Rev. Charles Wells, in 1864 Rev. Sandy Bullitt and Deacon John Bullitt
    1830s Methodist Teacher Bedford Trimble Miss Davis taught Henry Bibb and others to read until stopped by the patrols
    Yes 1832 Jackson Street M.E. Louisville Jefferson Originally met in Old Frog Pond Church in early 1830s.
    1832 Colored Baptist Church Louisville Jefferson Market Street, between 7th & 8th
    Yes 1833 First Baptist Frankfort Franklin Founded by Free Blacks in Frankfort.
    Yes 1833 First Baptist Jeffersontown Jefferson Reverend Henry Adams came out from Louisville to found a separate Black congregation from among the members of the Union Church. A log meeting house was erected c. 1850 on the corner of Watterson Trail and the Taylorsville Road. A larger frame church was built c. 1900 and a still larger one in 1976.
    1837 Asbury M.E. Lexington Fayette Mother Church of Lexington Conference
    1838 Bethel House of God Louisville Jefferson 2nd & Main across from old Galt House; became Quinn Chapel A.M.E., mother church for A.M.E. in the area.
    Yes 1839 St. John A.M.E. Frankfort Franklin Formed chiefly by numerous Free Blacks in Frankfort.
    Yes 1839 Jackson Street M.E. Louisville Jefferson
    Yes 1839 Zion Hill Methodist Bethlehem Henry Black velvet rope separated
    1839 Ninth Street M.E. Covington Kenton
    Yes 1840 Second Baptist Campbellsburg Henry Separate slave church building. Members came from as far away as Sulphur, Port Royal, and New Castle.
    1840 Hill Street Methodist Lexington Fayette Large anti-slavery contingent broke away in 1866 to form Centenary as an M.E. Church; In 1858 congregation had 219 White and 570 Black; KY average was only 28% Black.
    1841 First African-American School in Louisville Louisville Jefferson Rev. Henry Adams, African Baptist, moved to Fifth Street Baptist in 1864
    Yes 1842 LaGrange M.E. LaGrange Oldham Some slaves members; Preachers on circuit by 1840; never more than two colored members listed officially. Led to formation of the Second Methodist Church on Adam Street, Kynett Church..
    1842 African Baptist Harrodsburg Mercer
    Yes 1842 Plum Creek Colored Baptists Waterford Spencer Separate services, 3rd Sunday, two elders to report disorderly conduct
    1843 Hopewell Baptist Lacie Henry Edmund to conduct separate services for slaves 2nd Sunday in church; permitted to baptize
    Yes 1844 First Baptist Church Frankfort Franklin Clinton & High Street
    1845 Fifth Street Baptist Louisville Jefferson
    1846 Pleasant View Baptist Mountain Island Owen Colored services, 3rd Sundays
    Yes 1846 Little Vine Church Goshen Oldham Served the Goshen, Skylight (Oldhamburg) and part of Brownsboro district.
    1846 Green Street Baptist Danville Boyle Now First Baptist
    c. 1850 New Liberty Baptist New Liberty Owen Separate slave church building
    c. 1850 Methodist Class Simpsonville Shelby E. P. Marrs attended class
    1850s Center Street M.E.-South Louisville Jefferson A.M.E. Zion 1866 KY Conference formed; Bishop Miles won court case to take Center back to C.M.E
    1850s Green Street M.E.-South Louisville Jefferson M.E. – South
    1850s Jackson Street M.E. – South Louisville Jefferson M.E. – South
    Yes 1852 Negro Methodists Carrollton Carroll Brick building on Sycamore Street given to Negro members for Sunday services; also a school from 1852-1859 taught by Lizzie Dowling. Building used until 1890s when Second Methodist was built on Eighth Street.
    1853 First Baptist Versailles Woodford
    Yes 1853 Shiloh Baptist Scott Station Shelby Old Harrington Mill White Church moved to Antioch Rd
    1855 Green Street Baptist Louisville Jefferson From Walnut Street Baptist
    1857 First Baptist Paris Bourbon
    1858 Cottontown Methodist East Paris Bourbon Now St. Paul’s M.E.
    1860 Evergreen Baptist Lawrenceburg Anderson
    Yes 1860 Elk Creek Missionary Baptist Spencer North section of Spencer near Shelby County
    Yes 1860 Clay Street Baptist Shelbyville Shelby Purchased Lots 54 & 55
    Yes 1860s Colored Methodists Simpsonville Shelby First Street
    1860s Buck Run Baptist Shelby 128 Blacks separate from Buck Run Baptist Church. Most of the rural churches in Shelby County had a large slave population. (See St. John A.M.E.)


  1. Free Black Churches, Civil War and Post-War


Year Congregation City County Notes
1864 First Baptist Covington Kenton
Yes 1865 First Baptist Eminence Henry The congregation goes back into the formation of Eminence as a town on the railroad tracks. After the Civil War, the congregation separated and built its own building on the south side of Eminence.
Yes 1865 Kynett Methodist LaGrange Oldham Often called the “Colored Methodist” Church. Founded out of the old M.E. South Church at LaGrange; named for Alpha Jefferson Kynett of the Board of Church Extension. Complete union as Covenant U.M.C. in 1996. Called a woman to teach the Methodist children in 1869, paid in part with Freedman’s Bureau funds.
1866 Lampton Missionary


Louisville Jefferson
Yes 1866 Second Baptist Taylorsville Spencer Served the former slave population on the upper Salt River at Taylorsville, the county seat of Spencer County. The old church building has been preserved next to the new building.
Yes 1867 Bethel A.M.E. Shelbyville Shelby Rev. W. D. Certain, Rev. H. C. Ashley; grew out of the substantial African-American Methodist population at Shelbyville. Located in the old “Stray Pen” lot where stray pigs and cattle were kept next to the first jail in Shelbyville.
1867 Centennial Baptist Hinesville Shelby Still an active congregation located north of Shelbyville on the railroad tracks at Hinesville.
Yes c. 1867 Second Baptist Warsaw Gallatin This congregation goes back to the earliest settlement of Gallatin County and was separated from the White Baptists after the Civil War. They purchased the old Christian Church and are still an active congregation.
1869 First Convention Colored


Louisville KY 12 of 17 congregations represented; 1869 –

55 churches and 12,620 members

Yes 1868 First Baptist Pewee Valley Oldham Founded after the Civil War to serve the African-

American community at Stumptown on the old

Floydsburg Road on the west side of Pewee Valley.

These former slaves became servants at the big

houses in Pewee Valley. After the Ford plant was

built, this became a prosperous community and a

new building was added to the grounds.

1869 First Convention Colored Methodists Harrodsburg Mercer Christian Methodists (C.M.E.) and Lexington

Conference of M.E. emerged

1869 Second Christian Church Lawrenceburg Anderson
1869 Fifteenth Street A.M.E. Louisville Jefferson Now Young’s Chapel; Split to form Twelfth Street

now Broadway Temple

1869 Negro Baptist Mt. Gilead Fayette
Yes 1869 St. John C.M.E. Shelbyville Shelby This was the largest “Negro” congregation in Shelbyville when it built a white frame building on College Street from 1887-1897. Since then the congregation split into the Congregational Methodists and the United Methodists. The African-American Methodists were nurtured by Reverend John Tevis, a staunch anti-slavery pastor.
1869 Simpson C.M.E. Black Hills Woodford Versailles area
1871 Calvary C.M.E. Louisville Jefferson
Yes 1871 Second Baptist Ghent Carroll Given permission to set up separate church from the

Ghent Baptist Church; soon afterwards built their

own church building on Liberty Street.

Yes 1871 Sycamore Chapel


Fraziertown Oldham Building says M.E., but probably C.M.E.
1872 New Hope Baptist Louisville Jefferson
1872 Zion Hill Baptist Scott
1872 New Coke C.M.E. Louisville Jefferson
Yes 1874 First Baptist Anchorage Jefferson
Yes 1875 Muir Chapel C.M.E. Eastwood Jefferson Still listed as C.M.E.
Yes 1876 St. John’s A.M.E. Christiansburg Shelby Congregation part of a large slave population

around Christiansburg. Active until 1968.

Yes 1876 First Corinthian Baptist Frankfort Franklin Originally located in The Craw, next to the

Kentucky River. After urban renewal devastated

that area, the church moved to serve the southside

population nearest the new State Capitol.

Yes 1876 Allen Chapel C.M.E. Finchville Shelby Congregation goes way back as part of the White

Methodists in the area. James Allen, who

emancipated his own slaves, organized the

congregation and donated the land and money to

help build the chapel. Patsy Allen, who married

Chapman Harris, a leader of the U.G.R.R. at

Madison, Indiana, and her brother James Allen

were emancipated by the Allen family in the mid


Yes 1870s Colored Methodist Church Warsaw Gallatin
1870s Lick Creek Area Baptist Sparta Gallatin
1870a Colored Baptist Ripyville Anderson Joined to form Sand Spring Baptist, met at


Yes 1870s Taylortown A.M.E. Zion Taylortown Jefferson On Ballardsville Road, east of Louisville; served a

large rural area from Westport Road to U.S. 42.

Yes 1870s Greencastle Baptist Prospect Jefferson Located on Rose Island Road. Served the Prospect

and western Goshen area, that had a heavy slave

population before the Civil War. Little Vine served

the eastern section of Goshen. A small mission used

to be on the Ohio River as well.

1870s Salt River Baptist Anderson Joined to form Sand Spring
1870s Ebenezer M.E. Cynthiana Harrison


Early African American Congregations


Early African-American Congregations

North Central Kentucky

 Diane Perrine Coon


Compilations are always a work in progress. We have missed some congregations, and we need to extend the research into other parts of Kentucky. But it is a fruitful beginning. This research began as a method to understand the complex communication systems used to aid hundreds of runaway slaves through the north central part of Kentucky. Separated black congregations, both Free Black and Slave, became lodestones detecting how information about safe routes and Ohio River crossing points, connecting links to knowledgeable plantation slaves and agents of the Underground Railroad cells at Louisville, Covington, Madison, Vevay, Rising Sun, Aurora were dispersed among slaves running away from their plantations. But the research surfaced its own story of early leadership within the African-American enslaved communities, and the continuous quest for self-determination, education, and a place of respite relative safety. The first section of the compilation reveals the earliest form of “nesting” within a generally supportive white congregation that controlled everything. The second set of data highlights the emergence of a separated congregation still controlled by whites, but with increasing independence. A third section, to be run in the next edition, features the enormous growth in African-American congregations once freedom came, despite hostility, violence, and withdrawal of financial support from the white community.


Part 1: Emerging from the Shadows


The historic marker on the church building may well say 1867 to celebrate the founding of a church based on the first deed of land or first independent constitution or charter; however, the congregation within those walls can be traced back into the earliest records of Kentucky history, the records written by white slaveholders. The first preachers, elders, deacons of these congregations had slave names. Some of those names can be brought out of obscurity into a new appreciation of what stamina, courage, and dedication it took to create worshipping, learning, socializing communities within the structure of institutional slavery.1
This compilation details one major aspect of the long, complex pathway Kentucky’s slaves and free people of color followed toward independence and freedom. The study began as a search for the communication networks established by white and black abolitionists aiding runaway slaves on Kentucky soil. Therefore, geography was important. The first congregations studied were located along known Underground Railroad routes. Then the spatial links widened. As fact after fact appeared from the annals, the story of early African-American congregations becoming social networks and centers of learning took center stage. And finally, the story focused on the struggle toward independence of enslaved people emerging from out of the control of white slave owners long before the Emancipation Proclamation or the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution.2
Two sections of the compilation – White Churches, with Large or Prominent Slave Populations, and Separated “Colored” Services/Churches – reveal how monumentally significant slave baptisms were as an integral part of the slaveholding culture of Kentucky. So long as the whites controlled the churches, baptism and membership by slaves was not only tolerated but supported and frequently promoted.3
Beginning as early as 1823 but with more frequency in the 1830s, slaves used the same buildings for worship, but separated from the white congregation. By that time blacks constituted a large proportion of Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian congregations. White slaveholders apparently were concerned about decorum and were uncomfortable with so many blacks in the church service. Clearly whites distinguished outdoors tent or revival behavior from expected normal Sunday services. Separation occurred generally when slaves requested it; slaveholders backed the proposed separate services with enthusiasm whenever a “trusted” deacon or elder could be appointed.4
Institutional slavery in Kentucky was not at all a sure thing before 1797; a substantial number of early settlers despised the plantation culture of Virginia and the Carolinas. Reverend David Rice, the Presbyterian evangelist associated with the founding of several churches and Transylvania College, was one of several pioneer preachers that not only called for baptizing slaves but eliminating institutional slavery itself. In fact seven preachers, delegates to the 1792 Constitutional Convention at Danville, voted against inclusion of Article IX, that permitted slaves to be brought into Kentucky with their owners and local jurisdictions to regulate slavery.5
Before 1790 a few isolated white anti-slavery congregations emerged, the most recognized one being Concord Presbyterian in Bourbon County (now Nicholas County). In attempting to keep institutional slavery out of the Kentucky constitution, members of Concord spread anti-slavery tracts through the region. These tracts focused not only on the economic issues but implored slave owners to emancipate their slaves in their will, to avoid such a mortal sin upon meeting their maker. Guilt worked only to a certain degree. Manumission in Kentucky outside of the major cities, was popular only in isolated situations such as Mountain Island where in 1846 and 1856 the Herndons, brother and sister, emancipated 24 slaves and in Jessamine where 50 slaves were freed in one will.6
The plantation culture did emerge rapidly a the time of the second Constitution of Kentucky in 1799 when institutional slavery became the law of the commonwealth. Large numbers of slaves were imported as slaveholders poured in from Virginia, Maryland, North and South Carolina. By 1820 Shelby County had over 50% black population, and most of the interior Bluegrass counties had over 45% slave population. Just as in Eastern Tennessee, many of the Kentucky anti-slavery leaders moved into Indiana, Illinois, and west of the Mississippi.7
As pioneer circuit riders and evangelists moved into Kentucky’s north central region – from Maysville to Harrodsburg, Danville and Lexington to Bardstown and Louisville – a few individual slaves were baptized as requested by their owners. Reverend John Taylor, a slaveholder himself and clearly supportive of institutional slavery, had baptized thirty-one slaves at the Bullitsburg Baptist Church in Boone County, Kentucky, by 1803. When he moved to Corn Creek Baptist in Gallatin County (now Trimble County), he baptized slaves regularly. By 1831 slaves constituted 19% of the membership, yet there were only 12% slaves in the entire county. Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists frequently baptized slaves in Kentucky’s early settlements. Such baptisms were less a form of competition among Protestant denominations and more a testimony to the presence of evangelistic fervor.8
By the time the Second Great Enlightenment swept across Kentucky from its 1801 origins at Cane Run, slaves were attending camp meetings in large numbers. Some Baptist preachers, in particular, were concerned that slaves might become rowdy when the spirit fell upon them. The revivals brought a new, freer form of worship into the Methodist, Baptist, and even into the New Light Presbyterians. But as long as white slave owners controlled the congregations, Sunday worship involved hours of preaching, long, tedious prayers, and fervent exhortation with emphasis on sin, sinners, and sinning.9
What began as Christianizing a few individual house slaves or trusted fieldhands, became a movement that grew exponentially through the 1820s and 1830s. Quite simply it became “the thing” for upper class whites to have their slaves baptized and become members of their church. As a result before 1845 there were several white congregations in Kentucky where slaves outnumbered the white members.10
The earliest African-American congregations in Kentucky began, thus, in the shadows of the slave master’s church, a building slaves probably had constructed. The shadows were real — unlit upper galleries, rear benches, standing outside and listening through the open windows of white churches—and self-chosen shadows as small groups of slaves met together at night in a wooded area.
But the shadows were also figurative – preaching designed to enforce institutional slavery as Scriptural, as designed by God, children of Ham bound to serve the white man forever, direct control of whether or not the slave could be baptized, could attend services, could be a member, could receive a letter of dismission, indirect control through continuous preaching, “watching” and focus on sin and eternal damnation.11
All slave members of these early congregations whether in the country or in Louisville or Lexington had to have their master’s permission to attend services, to become baptized, to become listed as a member of the church. In the early days, free people of color also had to have permission from the White deacons or elders to attend church. For those denominations that baptized by immersion, both Black and White members used the nearby river, stream or pond. As slave churches, separate congregations under direct control of the white church, emerged in the 1820s and 1830s, trusted elders were appointed to hold services and sometimes permitted to baptize slaves and free blacks. By the late 1830s these congregations began to call their own preachers; the African Church in Louisville called a Free Black, Henry Adams, who could not only preach but teach children and adults.12
Separation of the races for worship was defacto within the white meeting house long before the slaves were given a different time to meet or a separate building. At Bethlehem, in Henry County, slaves sat on rude benches behind a black velvet ribbon stretched across the pews. At Shelbyville, the slaves of Presbyterian masters sat in three upper galleries. Slave galleries modeled on those of Virginia and the Carolinas were common in the urban and even rural areas. At New Castle, from 1801 slaves were members of the Drennon Meeting House. Land was given for a separate congregation in 1832. These Baptists met in the open, under trees, until a rude shack could be constructed with materials brought from the various plantations. At the Methodist church at Carrollton, a separate exterior door led slaves and Free Blacks to the upper balcony; slaves did not enter the White sanctuary except to clean it.13
Separation within church cemeteries also stretched back into the earliest days. Separation occurred chiefly because the white slave owners desired it and made it happen. But it generally required some enterprising slave or free person of color to request a separate service.14
Attendance at church was a major opportunity for communication and socialization across plantations. Taking produce to market and to wharfs and steamboat landings was another. Studies of how the Madison, Indiana, Underground Railroad operated within the north central Kentucky counties from 1838-1861 showed Free Blacks such as George De Baptiste, Elijah Anderson, Archibald Taylor, George Evans, and later Rev. Chapman Harris recruiting free people of color and slaves in place on plantations (1838-1845). Several signaling systems and channels of communication developed among black and white abolitionists along the Ohio River that greatly enhanced the success of getting past the patrollers Ohio River crossings and getting runaways to the safe routes.15
This compilation showed how varied the relationships between white, dominant slaveholders and the separate slave and Free Black populations became. In some cases, whites gave land, buildings, supported the deacon or elder. In other cases, control was exerted directly; no service could be held without a white slave owner in attendance. Yet the energy and motivation to hold separate services for African-Americans during Slavery expanded throughout North Central Kentucky. These were functioning communities with local leadership well before ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment finally freed the slaves of Kentucky.

 End Notes

  1. The story of the earliest baptisms on the frontier is recorded in the minutes and membership lists of white Baptist, Presbyterian, and Methodist congregations. Kentucky, like most slave states, was particularly conscious of designating color in its public and private records. Typical of church membership lists in the Antebellum Period – the first name of the slave is followed immediately by stated owner; sometimes only the owner’s name appears, i.e. male slave of Mrs. Ethridge. There is no systematic method of finding church minutes; some are found in seminary archives, some in historical societies and genealogy sections of public libraries, and some were found in the attics, barns, or shelves of individuals. Association minutes and statistical tables were spotty at best; however some discussion of slavery and slaves as members can be found in Association letters.
  2.  Albert J. Raboteau, Slave Religion, The “Invisible Institution” in the Antebellum South, Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1978; Janet Duitsman Cornelius, Slave Missions and the Black Church in the Antebellum South, Columbia, South Carolina: University of South Carolina Press, 1999; Victor B. Howard, The Evangelical War against Slavery and Caste, The Life and Times of John G. Fee, Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania: Susquehanna University Press, 1996; Richard Sears, The Kentucky Abolitionists in the Midst of Slavery 1854-1864, Exiles for Freedom, Lewiston, New York: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1993. These are seminal studies worthy of wide general readership. Raboteau describes the tensions between African and European nexus in the development of the Black church during slavery and the emergence of regional and denominational differences in the liturgies as a result. Cornelius explores the complex motivations and relationships between white and black evangelists and the people who flocked into slave missions. Howard and Sears narrates the impact of the few white abolitionists that worked within institutional slavery.

    Preachers who opposed slavery such as Rev. David Rice and Rev. John Rankin, Presbyterian, and those who were slaveholders themselves such as Rev. John Taylor, Baptist, advocated baptizing slaves. The situation for Free Blacks was slightly more problematic, because the church deacons or elders had to approve. Both Rice and Taylor penned autobiographical accounts of their ministries in early Kentucky.

  3. Louis B. Weeks, Kentucky Presbyterians. Reprint. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1983; Chester Raymond Young, ed., Baptists on the American Frontier, A History of the Ten Baptist Churches of Which the Author Has Been Alternately a Member, by John Taylor, Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press, 1995. Containing the third edition of Reverend John Taylor’s 1823 book.
  4. Typical case was that of Plum Creek Baptist in Spencer County whose white leaders permitted separate black services on the third Sunday, but assigned two slave elders to report back on any infringement of behavior or lack of decorum in church and in the community. Very atypical were the cases of Second Christian in Midway and Henry Green at Green Street Baptist, Danville, where the white leaders actively insured ordination of a promising black leader.

    Journal of the 1792 Constitutional Convention at Danville, Kentucky, Kentucky Libraries and Archives. Reverend David Rice was not only an influential Presbyterian clergyman associated with the founding of Transylvania College, but also led the anti-slavery forces prior to and at the first Kentucky constitutional convention until his health failed. In the 1792 Danville convention, two slaveholders from Mason County joined seven preachers in opposing Article IX, permitting slaves to enter the state and localities to proscribe laws regulating slavery. Rice opposed slavery at its core.

  5. An excellent insiders view of the anti-slavery activity at Concord Presbyterian was a short monograph: John Rankin, A Short Memoir of Samuel Donnell Esq. Privately Printed. c. 1850. Of the abolitionists at Concord, the Donnells, the Hamiltons and McCoys migrated to Decatur County, Indiana, where they operated a highly successful Underground Railroad line leading up to Levi Coffin’s station in Wayne County. Most of the Henry family stayed in Kentucky. The Mountain Island case has been preserved by James C. Bryant, Mountain Island in Owen County, Kentucky, The Settlers and Their Churches, Owenton, Kentucky: Owen County Historical Society, 1986.
  6. Most Kentucky histories document the emergence of the plantation culture from Virginia into Kentucky. Two older works still hold together: J. Winston Coleman Jr. Slavery Times in Kentucky. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 1940; and Lewis Collins, History of Kentucky. Vol. 2. Covington, Kentucky: Collins & Co., 1878. For the slave’s own view of plantation life in the upper south see, Henry Bibb, The Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb, An American Slave. Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2001. Original publication, New York,1849.
  7. Young, Ten Churches of John Taylor, ibid. Taylor was a slaveholder his entire life, yet he probably baptized more slaves than any other frontier evangelist.
  8. Criticism of slave behavior generally is described through various forms of censure or discipline in church minutes or through codes of behavior ingrained into church constitutions. See details in the compilation.
  9. Descriptions of church services were retained chiefly through the preachers’ autobiographies. The differences between revival and regular church service behavior is often elucidated during the ferocious debates between New and Old Presbyterians, Regular, Separated and Free Will Baptists, and sometimes through association circular letters.
  10. Major transitional events occurred in 1823 when George Dupree was freed by purchase, led Pleasant Green Baptist in Lexington, and established other congregations in the Bluegrass Region and in 1832 when the separated African Baptist Church, Louisville, called Henry Adams, a mulatto from Edgefield, South Carolina, who had been ordained at Mt. Lebanon, Louisiana, to preach and teach. Adams and Dupree forged a statewide association of black Baptists that carried momentum into the post-Civil War era.
  12. Of the hundreds of church histories analyzed, some are very, very good, citing proofs and detailing the personalities of the early church leaders and pastors. Others are as much legend as fact. And some offer only the bare bones of property acquisition and church building events.

    By far the most bizarre case of separate cemeteries or cemetery sections took place at Plum Creek Baptist in Spencer County, Kentucky. By mistake the sexton buried a slave in the wrong section of the new church cemetery. Accordingly the sexton was chastised and the slave was re-interred on the other side of the fence. Noreen Day, The Story of Plum Creek Baptist Church, Taylorsville, Kentucky. Taylorsville, KY: Privately Printed, 1985.

    For a crisp readable version of recent research findings, J. Blaine Hudson, Fugitive Slaves and the Underground Railroad in the Kentucky Borderland. Jefferson, NC: MacFarland & Company, Publishers, 2002. My own Kentucky and Ohio River crossing research can be found in Southeastern Indiana’s Underground Railroad Routes and Operations. Indianapolis: Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Historic Preservation and Archeology, 2001;”Great Escapes – Secret Signals of the Underground Railroad.” Northern Kentucky Heritage Magazine, 2002; and two TMs lodged in the Madision Public Library:”Reconstructing the Underground Railroad Crossings at Madison, Indiana,” and “Reverend Chapman Harris and St. Paul’s Baptist Church of Madison, Indiana,”

Researching the Underground Railroad

This Powerpoint Presentation was given at Kentucky State University and was prepared for the Speakers Bureau of the Kentucky Humanities Council.


Kentucky State University Feb 15 2011 

Tiny Teacups Chapter One




Tiny Teacups

Glimpses of Family and Friends over 300 years


Diane Perrine Coon



Dedicated to Alison, the bright, loving daughter I’m so happy to claim is mine, to my brothers George, whose passing in 2013 is still a hole in my heart, and Bill who shared so much of my life, and to my wonderful sister in law, Jane Myers Perrine, a genuine author and inventor of memorable characters. In remembrance of Ollie Conway Perrine and George Bierce Perrine, M.D. whose lives shaped ours and encompassed so much of America when it was special.

To the Simpson cousins, Nancy and Judy, and to the Bauman cousins, Dorothy and Linda, as our lives intersected at Grandma’s, with Anne, Ollie, and Hope, the three Conway sisters keeping us all a family.

To the pirate Conway who walked a plank, to the Huguenot Perrines, to the patriots, preachers and poets, farmers and carpenters, and above all to Naomi, the Lena Lenape Delaware Indian, we found after many years of searching.

And to Connor and Colin Runser, my grandchildren, who have no idea their ancestors were so weird and wonderful.


Chapter One: People from My Earliest Memories

Grandma Conway and Ruth Lyons

1st Grade: Four Schools, Four States

Grandpa’s Ohio Farm

Aunt Emily and Ozma of Oz

Going to Sharon

Baby Brother or a Pet Dog




Ruth Peters Conway with grandchildren – Judy and Nancy Simpson, Dorothy Hacker, and Diane Perrine




Before Oprah, Ruth Lyons Reigned

My grandmother Conway never missed the Ruth Lyons show. During the 1930s, the 1940s and until her death in 1952, Grandma put her dough to rise in the kitchen, finished churning her butter, pulled the quilt frame out away from the wall, and turned on the radio, readied her thimble and spent the next hour with her friends in downtown Cincinnati. There Ruth Lyons and Frazier Thomas hosted the Ohio Valley’s most influential talk radio show on WKRC and later WLW and its 50 watt clear channel station beamed the show all the way from Louisville to Indianapolis to Ashland to Chillicothe and Columbus.

She became the darling of Cincinnati when she broadcast non-stop during the 1937 flood, giving news and information and imploring citizens to give aid to those stricken by loss of homes and food and household goods and clothing during the great flood. And every year she hosted the Ruth Lyons Christmas Foundation gala to raise money to give toys to children in the area hospitals at Christmas time. When she was stricken with small strokes during the 1970s, her progress became front page news in the regional newspapers.

Ruth Lyons was the female version of Arthur Godfrey, and the toast of daytime television in the Ohio River Valley. Every entertainer who passed through Cincinnati or its nightclubs over in Northern Kentucky, came on the show. And once Ruth Lyons started the 50 club on television, all the headliners like Bob Hope, Pearl Bailey, Nelson Eddy, David Letterman and Phil Donahue appeared so that the show became more a variety entertainment show than a talk show.

Today the signature ending of the show would be considered hokey – all the 50 women dressed up in their finest dresses and hats with white gloves, waving to the television audience as they all sang “The Waving Song.” But my grandma did not think it was hokey; she might have been all alone in a farmhouse 30 miles from downtown Cincinnati, but these were her friends. And there was a three-year waiting period to become one of those 50 gals.

Grandma would not tolerate any crudeness on radio or television. When Grandpa was home, the radio and/or television were dedicated to the Cincinnati Reds games. On Sunday afternoon, she always listened to the Grand Opera program out of New York City and found it very educational; Grandpa found lots of things to do in the barn or out on the farm at those times. At her monthly Coffee Klatch meeting in Norwood with several Cincinnati German/American friends, they would discuss the operas and major singers that month as they imbibed Kuchen and coffee with lots of cream and sugar.

She and Grandpa enjoyed Fibber McGee and Molly, and Lum ‘n Abner’s Jot Em Down store, and they loved Bob Hope chiefly because of his service to the country during World War II. I suspect Grandma never saw one of his movies.

But one of their major entertainments, believe it or not, was to turn page after page in the new Sears Catalog, when it arrived in the mail. Grandpa’s section was toward the end of the catalog where men’s clothing, smoking stuffs, farm equipment and fencing and hunting/fishing supplies were located. Grandma’s section was ladies’ clothing, household implements and kitchen pots and pans, fabrics and chicken brooders. They never purchased an item on time, and they always discussed the purchase together.

When I was little, I thought Grandma liked Ruth Lyons because Grandma’s name was Ruth. When I became older, I realized that Ruth Lyons was Grandma’s best friend. In the days when farms were two or three miles from each other and city center required three transfers of trains, trolleys and streetcars, those radio shows and regional television shows made people feel part of something greater than their own family. America had come through the Depression and World War II, in large part because Grandma and Grandpa Conway and all those thousands of other farm families believed that our citizens were kind and honorable and neighborly and the country was worth saving. Thanks Ruth Lyons, wish there were more of you

Clifton Elementary c. 1942

First Grade, Four Schools, Three States

I started first grade in September 1943 in Cincinnati, Ohio, at Clifton Elementary School. We lived on Cornell Place in a rented house; Mom was a nurse at Cincinnati General Hospital, and Dad was overseas with the U.S. Navy as ship’s doctor on the U.S.S. Hobson, a hunter-killer destroyer. Because my birthday was in November, I started first grade at age five. I remember that beautiful school so well. It had a fountain in front that had developed a teal color patina, and when you entered the main doors a   large lobby with a marble staircase that went up and then divided going both left and right. I think first graders did not go up the stairs. To get to school, we never had to cross a street because we walked through people’s yards. I distinctly remember the next door neighbor had a mulberry tree that had a lovely shape. I thought that the berries were good to eat when they turned from green/white to red. Not so. I had a tummy ache of major proportions. During World War II in Cincinnati, everyone looked out for each other, and walking to school was very safe. We must have had baby sitters because Mom worked as a nurse and my baby brother, George, was only two years old.

Then in the spring of 1944, Mom bundled us up and drove her old Chevy to her aunt’s house in North Carolina. Aunt Dorothy and Uncle Chub had purchased a motel in Henderson, North Carolina. It was one of those family style motels; each cabin had a tiny sitting area, a bathroom, and a bedroom but no kitchen, and an outdoor wooden bench. The motel cabins strung out along the ridge road so that every cabin had a view of the mountain valley below. The reason we were there was because Mom got word that Dad was being transferred to the U.S. Marines who needed experienced doctors for the Pacific theatre. While Dad was stationed at Camp LaJeune, I went to school for three weeks in Henderson, North Carolina. The only thing I remember about that school was coming home to teach my little brother his ABCs.

The third school was in Coral Gables, Florida, in spring 1944 where my Dad, as 2nd Lt. in the U.S. Navy was in the process of being transferred to the Marine Hospital in Hawaii. But first he had to go to take special courses in south sea island diseases and surgical procedures for badly wounded soldiers and sailors coming off the Pacific islands. Dad had been taken off the Hobson about three weeks before the ship was engaged in bombardment and rescue operations for the Normandy landing in June 1944. However, he had already undergone substantial naval
engagements at Casablanca landing, shepherding merchant ships carrying armaments and airplanes across the southern Atlantic route, going after the Quislings and Germans in Norway out of Scapa Flow, and running the Murmansk run more than once, so missing the big operation at Normandy was not something Dad regretted. How ironic, when many years later doing Dad’s genealogy, I discovered that the Perrine family were Normans and had originated in the Channel Islands of Guernsey and Jersey, just a short distance from where the Hobson was stationed at the famous assault.

I have only a faint memory of the Coral Gables school; as I recall it was one story and meandered among lush bushes. But I do recall very clearly the first day of my first grade at Coral Gables. I went to the corner of our street and I had my nice new satchel, a tablet with lines, and new pencils. No one told me that school buses were yellow; I got on the city bus instead and was a little surprised to find there were no other children aboard. Thank heavens the lady sitting next to me was inquisitive about a little first grader alone on a city bus. When she found out I was supposed to go to school at Coral Gables, she immediately got us off the bus and phoned the school, they in turn got a hold of my Mom, and I eventually got to school, but very late.

Then just a couple of weeks later, we headed for Key West, where Dad was taking yet more courses. I was in that school so few weeks that I can’t remember anything about the school. I just remember lush foliage and everyone watching a sunset.

Sunset at Key West, a memory






All of my transcripts from the four schools in three states followed me back to Cincinnati, where in September 1944; my second grade started at yet another school, because we had moved to Union Street near Mom’s work as head operating nurse at Cincinnati General Hospital. There we made scatter paintings of fall leaves, made silhouettes of Washington and Lincoln, and pasted hundreds of war bond stamps into our stamp books. I guess we had a lot of reading, writing and arithmetic too.

By the time I had completed my MBA and was taking the second of a series of post graduate courses, I had attended 12 different schools. Thinking back on my education, I think four schools in the first grade is the reason why I am so comfortable with new situations and new adventures. But I can see where a shy person might have been traumatized by my early schooling. Of course career military families pick up and move all the time.

It’s funny what a six year old remembers apart from family lore and legends. Of our time in Florida, I recall the ocean on both sides of the roadway going south from Miami towards Key West. And I remember the wonderful sunset at Key West, Cincinnati had too many hills for great sunsets. But then we had the great river running by.


Grandpa Conway’s farm at Okeana, Butler Co, Ohio


Grandpa’s Ohio Farm

During my formative early years, we lived in the city of Cincinnati surrounded by brick and concrete and blacktop. Although we kids ran through the neighborhood playing all kinds of games, we were all pretty poor. It was not just a matter of coming out of the Great Depression, it was the coming of World War II in which Daddy was going to be gone for four years, and Mom was working as operating room nurse at Cincinnati General Hospital. For those who don’t remember, our daily lives were pretty much dominated by coupon books, school, pasting War Bond stamps, and playing noisy games outdoors. So few people had cars or gas to put in them that our streets were relatively safe to play stickball, but we were supposed to skate on the sidewalks. The skates fitted on the bottom of our shoes and you tightened them with a big key.


Although Cincinnati had a marvelous zoo and a lovely park near our house, Mom’s work meant that we had little opportunity to see much greenery. Mom’s father, William Conway, worked full time as a master carpenter building houses in the Cincinnati suburbs and during the War years he had a lot of work to do; however he had been raised on a farm in Uniontown, Indiana, about half way between Indianapolis and Louisville. Well before World War II started, Grandpa purchased a farm in Okeana, Butler County, Ohio, not too far from the Indiana border, and he worked that farm nights and weekends. He modernized the farmhouse for Grandma by putting in indoor plumbing and winterizing the exterior. But he refused to get a tractor. Instead the grandchildren were delighted with two big farm horses, Red and Blackie, who knew “Gee,” “Haw,” “Whoa,” and “Giddyup.” Smartest horses I ever knew. They lived in stalls in the back of the big hay barn, and their yokes and gear were mounted on large pegs on the side of the barn. Grandpa had a plow and harrow for the team, and he put in a corn field and a hay field in the bottom lands down by the creek. He always put in one row of popcorn for the grandchildren.


The big red hay barn

The reason I know so much about the horses and the barn is because every summer my brother George and I were sent out to Grandpa’s farm in Okeana. Mom came out on Sunday afternoons when she could get away from her nursing duties.

The hay barn was amazing. There was plenty of room for the two horses and a place for the sow and her piglets on the left side. Great bales of hay were stacked above the right side of the barn, and underneath the hay was a space for the cows to be milked and in the back area for his plow and harrow. Grandpa caught a huge black snake up in the hayloft and brought it out on a pitchfork. We kids were horrified, fascinated, terrified, and curious all at the same time. Grandpa said he did not want a snake near his pigs.


The other Grandpa Conway “kick in the bucket” concept of farming was his dairy cows. He had one of each kind. It’s almost as if William Conway liked all the types of dairy cows. He had a Swiss, a Jersey, a Guernsey, and a Holstein and they were named after the grandchildren – Nancy, Judy, Dorothy and Diane – in that order. My brother George, that we called Butch, didn’t get a cow named after himself, because they were all girl cows, and Grandpa didn’t have a bull.


Years later when I understood how much work was involved in milking four cows every morning and evening and working a full day I admired Grandpa for his total work ethic. As a child I was just thrilled when Grandma let me churn the butter or when I rode with Grandpa down the lane to where the creek went under the road. There he left the big milk can in a stone hut built over the creek. Grandpa said the creek would keep the milk cool until it was picked up by the Dairyman’s big truck. Grandpa would not let me milk the cows. He said he had to get to work and I would hold him up. I think he suspected I’d kick over the milk pail.


Speaking of the milk cows, Grandpa had a wonderful farm dog, an Airedale Terrier. I can’t remember his name, but I thought he was the smartest dog in the whole world, because he knew when it was time for milking and he would go down in the big field and bring those cows up to the barn. At the time I did not know that cows would have come up by themselves without the dog.


Grandpa’s horses liked the Airedale too. I imagined they thought he was a small pony. The only time he barked was if he found a groundhog up on the clay cliff. Then all you would see was his tail as he burrowed into the cliff side. Whenever Grandpa got his shotgun out to go get rabbits that were eating his garden, the dog would go too. And Grandma fixed rabbits the same way she fried chicken; dredged them in flour, browned them in her cast iron deep skillet, and then put the heavy cast iron lid on to smother them. “Chew carefully,” she’d say when eating rabbit or game bird that Grandpa had shot, “don’t bite down on a pellet.” I think it was an Ohio thing.


While Grandpa was responsible for the barn and the farm, Grandma took care of the chickens and the vegetable garden. She had about a dozen laying hens, a number of chickens for eating and one beautiful rooster with a very loud voice. Her henhouse provided lots of fresh eggs. Grandma loved little Bantam chickens that would run loose, but it was too hard collecting the eggs, so she raised Leghorns inside the chicken coop that Grandpa built. I was allowed to gather the eggs, but Butch was too small and too afraid of the rooster. I had to promise Grandma I’d latch the gate and carry the egg basket very carefully. When Grandma needed more chickens she would get the brooder out and place a dozen eggs under the heater lamp. I was thrilled when the eggs cracked and the tiny little yellow chicks popped out. But Butch wasn’t so interested in chickens.

Every Sunday, Grandma made fried (smothered) chicken. That meant on Saturday I was seated on the back porch plucking feathers off the newly killed chickens. Grandma’s technique was to wring their neck then place them in a bucket of hot water. Then I’d have to pluck the feathers. Ick! I don’t remember her ever using a hatchet or an axe.


There was a huge vegetable garden on the farm. Grandpa would plow a large space up by the house on the side away from the barn when the chicken coop and the old outhouse were located. The garden had all kinds of lettuce and peas and squash and onions and tomatoes and pole beans and lima beans, Grandma canned everything. She had quart jars of vegetables all standing up properly inside the jar. And Grandpa put in some fruit trees so she canned applesauce and peaches. Somewhere she got pecks of berries because she made jams and jellies in enormous quantities. The colors of Grandma’s pantry were spectacular to a five year old. But I was not allowed to get anywhere close to the boiling pots of produce and jars and lids. And Grandma had a big wooden spoon that would rap you across the knuckles if you got too close to something dangerous.


Butch was too young to appreciate the garden, the barn and the farm workings, but he loved one thing that we did each day in the summer – making a swimming hole down in the creek by the cornfield. The Airedale went down with us but soon disappeared looking for critters while we worked. The creek did not have any natural swimming holes, so we would have to use the loose rock to make a dam. The two of us would work and work carrying rocks and looking for small ones to plug the spots where the water poured through. Finally, we would get enough water behind the dam to sit in it and splash. Then we would hear the cow bell ringing, and that meant it was time for lunch (usually peanut butter and Grandma’s own jelly). So the two of us would trudge up the hill with the Airedale dog panting from his long exertions, and Grandma would towel us off before we could come in the kitchen. Usually we had nap times, so our swimming adventures were normally in the late mornings. Of course the next day we would have to start all over again, because the water had pushed aside our feeble dam and scattered the loose rock.


Grandma’s sayings still run around inside my head — “I always plant holly-hocks around the privy,” “cut the asparagus down below the soil,” “the best beans are Kentucky Wonders,” (But I thought the runners on those bean pods were too strong) “The bread dough rises twice.”

And Grandpa said “the corn must be knee high by the Fourth of July.” The funny thing is that I don’t remember ever making pop corn with the corn Grandpa planted just for us. I think that was the corn on the cob we loved eating.

When you opened the refrigerator at Grandma’s house, there was always a large jar of milk left to separate with the cream rising to the top. That’s how we made butter on the farm. At first she had a wooden butter churn, but I remember the year that the glass jar butter churn arrived from Sears Roebuck, and I was allowed to make sweet, sweet fresh butter.


One morning I made a mistake. Not watching what I was doing, I poured the wrong milk on my Cheerios, it was full of cream, not milk. I started to throw it away in the sink when Grandma saw what I was doing. She sat me down and made me sit there all morning, because I was too stubborn to eat the cereal with heavy cream on it, and she was equally stubborn to teach a grandchild not to use the cream she needed for butter. It was not exactly a Mexican standoff, because when she was distracted by a telephone call (party line), I gave the cereal to the dog. But I always made sure I got the milk, not the cream after that.

My cousin Dorothy who was my same age would visit on the farm and bring her miniature metal kitchen appliances, a cook stove and oven and tea cups. We would go out in the meadow and gather burdock’s dark brown seeds and pretend that it was coffee. She was as horse crazy as I was, but interestingly enough we did not consider Grandpa’s work horses as interesting to us. She liked Palominos and I liked Misty of Chincoteague, my favorite book at the time.

Grandpa Conway’s brother, Charles who was called Cecil, purchased a much larger farm at Okeana. His children were Rupert, who inherited the farm, John Thomas, and Virginia who married and lived with her husband on a farm across the main road. One afternoon, Mom was visiting and brought us over to meet her cousins on Cecil’s farm. The boys took me up to their huge barn and in the loft was a gigantic door on the upper floor which was wide open. A crane was used to bring bales of hay up to the loft. But even more interesting was an iron contraption that took the kernels off dried corn leaving just the husk. The boys showed me how to put the corn into the machine and turn the handle. We were making feed for horses and cows.

Then they took me over to the open door in the loft and when I looked down I saw the biggest haystack ever in the whole, whole, world, at least to a six year old. One boy jumped down from the loft onto the haystack shouting with glee. Then the other boy jumped. Then I jumped too. Everything was great until I landed off the haystack into the smelliest gunk, probably made by pigs, cows, and whatever other animal peed and pooped in that barnyard. The aunts and uncles hosed us off before they let us come in the house. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that smell.

Many, many years later, in 1997, I drove my mother up to see her childhood places in North College Hill outside of Cincinnati, and we went out to Okeana. We pulled up to the farm across from Rupert’s farm, and Virginia Conway and Ollie Conway saw each other for the first time in more than 50 years. What a great celebration that was with the two of them chatting away as if it had just been a few months passing, not many long years.

As much as I loved, loved, loved Grandpa’s farm, I’m pretty sure my little brother was not enchanted by farm life. He actually did not like the big horses or the cows that switched their tails unexpectedly or the rooster that rushed toward you and Grandma would not let him do any of the kitchen stuff. I just remember him tagging along and trying hard not to get left behind. Grandpa was pretty tired at night and just wanted to read his paper and listen to the Cincinnati Reds play baseball and did not make time for a very small boy. And Grandma, who raised three girls, had no idea what little boys liked to do. So George really looked forward to the end of summer when he could get back to his house in the city. Since that meant school started, I was happy to go home too. But I, on the other hand, looked forward to next summer on Grandpa’s farm.



Emily  Behrman Buchanan


Aunt Emily and

Ozma of Oz

Aunt Emily Buchanan was not my real aunt, she was my Mom’s best friend. The two of them attended Medical School in Cincinnati in 1936 at a time when girls rarely made that choice. It was in that first year of Med School that my Mom met my Dad, the dashing young lab instructor, and Emily met and subsequently married Richard Buchanan, a fellow Medical student. For more than 40 years the Perrines and the Buchanans visited at Wilmington, Ohio, or Pewee Valley, Kentucky, once every year or two.

It was Aunt Emily who opened my young eyes and eager mind to the magical world of books. Through her I learned there were many more characters in OZ than Dorothy and the Wizard. There was Ozma and Toby and Tik Tok, and Glenda and the Scarecrow had more adventures than in the first book. Even on into Middle School, it was Aunt Emily who each year for birthdays and Christmas would send a special package, the next book by Marguerite Henry, Misty, Stormy Misty’s Foal, King of the Wind, Black Gold, and so on. By the time I was in second grade, I had become an avaricious reader. Thank heavens Cincinnati and later Cleveland had just great library systems, because we were devouring dozens of books a week. And I had learned a great lesson, that once you find a wonderful author, look for more books by the same person.

Their house was larger but similar style

But books were not the only thing interesting about Aunt Emily. She came from a German-American family who lived in Norwood. And they had the most fantastic house on Oak Street in Norwood. The William Behrman family had been early German immigrants to Newport, Campbell County, Kentucky, (before 1835) and moved across the Ohio River into Norwood sometime in the late 1920s. They dwelt in a huge, rambling and tall frame house a little like the one in the photograph. It seemed to have porches all over the place, and everyone in the family had their own bedroom.


Donald Behrman, Emily’s brother, had an enormous collection of classical records and a grand piano. He was a full-tine artist. Emily’s sister Marjorie Behrman was a school teacher of some renown. Neither of them ever married, and when their parents died, Donald and Marjorie just kept living where they had always lived. They went to concerts and the opera and both read widely. For our family who seemed to move every two years, it was incredible to live and die in the same house. To my young eyes, the Behrmans appeared to be the most cultured family I knew.

Mom said that when she and Emily were in Med School they used to take the streetcar from the University of Cincinnati over to Norwood, munching a package of crackers and cheese and a small coke for a nickel. At the Behrman home there was quiet and a place to spread out their books and study. It is strange that both women gave up their dreams of becoming a doctor and, instead, became wives and mothers so their doctor husbands could set up practices. Both men served in World War II so there were many similarities. However, Emily and Mom were quite different personalities. Emily was intense and talked a mile a minute without taking a breath; she was a person who needed causes. Mom was a more humble person, a quiet listener. Her causes were usually one little old lady or one orphan at a time.

I’m certainly glad they became such good friends, because Aunt Emily clearly enriched my life.

Dick Buchanan was a marvelous photographer. Each year at Christmas Mom would receive an updated photo of the family as the children grew up and the Buchanan family took interesting vacations.

I can’t recall why I was in Cincinnati, but Marjorie Buchanan drove me to Louisville. I must have been in the 7th or 8th grade. The old Route 42 from Cincinnati to Louisville had heavy truck traffic, so I told Marjorie to get off and go down to take Route 22 and it would take us directly home, well at least to Crestwood. I was correct on that end of the road. What I didn’t know, because I’d never been on that part of the road at that time, was that Route 22 wound through some of the most treacherous, winding, part of Kentucky – through the ravines of Grant and Owen and Henry counties before it ever reached Oldham County, and that road from Ballardsville to Crestwood wasn’t much better. It was just more familiar. We reached Pewee Valley about three hours late. “Why you ever paid any attention to a pre-teen’s driving instructions, I’ll never understand,” Mom said shaking her head at Marjorie. “She seemed to know what she was talking about,” Marjorie said.

All the Buchanans thought I was smart, even after the Route 22 episode. However, Marjorie went back to Cincinnati along Route 42.





Going to Sharon, Pennsylvania


The other grand parents lived in Sharon, Pennsylvania, within “spltting distance” of the Ohio border where Dad was born in Hartford, Trumbull County Ohio. Although my Dad’s grandfather, George Bierce Perrine and wife Ella had stayed on the farm at Hartford, his father, Lewis Bierce Perrine, left farming at Harford and worked his way up to become a cost accountant at Westinghouse’s main plant at Sharon, Pennsylvania. Dad’s mother, Katherine Lucretia Hawk Perrine came from a long line of early settlers in Westmoreland and Allegheny counties in Pennsylvania. She had attended a two-year teachers college and taught high school in Farrell, adjacent to Sharon.


Like Grandma Perrine’s rose arbor

Both my grandmas were substantial women, heavy in build and stern looking and very determined. While Grandma Conway’s home in Ohio was a plain rural farmhouse, and her kitchen always smelled of rising dough or something baking or cooking, Grandma Perrine’s home in Sharon was citified with lots of dark wood and thick drapes, and her kitchen was decorated with several sweet-potato plants in the window. Their vines seemed like ferns below a dazzling glass crystal that flashed sunlight beams. Later when I learned the old children’s hymn about being a little sunbeam, I thought of Grandma Perrine’s kitchen window.

Grandma Conway’s farmhouse had a back stoop, but no porch front or back. Grandma Perrine’s city house had a large front porch overlooking the entire valley toward the Westinghouse plant with a double swing. The contrast continued in the back of the two houses – at the Conway farm there was a large vegetable garden, privy, and chicken coop, at the Perrine back yard there was a formal lawn and flowering bushes. Half way down the little path, Grandma Perrine had installed a gracious Victorian rose trellis that you walked through toward the lawn beyond that structure. The white of the trellis and the deep red of the climbing roses were enchanting to a small girl.

Another big difference was that at the Conway farm, Butch and I slept on folding cots under quilts. At Grandma Perrine’s house I had a whole bedroom to myself with a big Victorian bed, a chenille bedspread, and two dark walnut dressers, one a Tallboy, the other a normal dresser. Both had heavy crocheted runners on top. I’d never seen anything so fancy. When I caught a cold while we were in Sharon, Grandma Perrine gave me some milk with bread crumbled in it and lots of sugar. My Mom would have given me cod liver oil in a spoon with some orange juice to camouflage the taste. Grandma Conway would give chicken noodle soup. See what you learn about adults as you grow up.


Grandpa Perrine was very inventive when thinking up things young children might like to do. Firstly he had a Buick sedan that had velour curtains that pulled down against the back seat windows. Those were the days before car seats or seat belts, and the back seat was soft and made for jumping up and down and then pulling the cords to let the window curtains snap up and down. Secondly, although Grandpa worked as a cost accountant in the main Westinghouse plant at Sharon, he must have known the men that worked in the switching yard, because he took me down to the site and the switcher engineer let me sit in the engine compartment. I don’t think he let the switcher move, but it was thrilling to be lifted up into that huge train engine. We were not supposed to tell Grandma or Mom. It was a secret. So that’s another thing that Grandpa Perrine knew about small children. They loved secrets, especially if they were part of the secret.

I didn’t know that Grandma Perrine had been diagnosed with a terminal cancer. She died in 1942 while Dad was in the Navy. My Mom went up to Sharon to help nurse her mother-in-law leaving Butch and me in Cincinnati with Grandma Conway. Another nurse named Charlotte tended Grandma and eventually married my Grandpa Perrine and when he retired they moved to Florida. They would come to Kentucky every year or so in their camper trailer. Actually no one told me Grandma Perrine had died until I was much older and happened to run across her photograph. Then the memories of those early days in Sharon came flooding back. And I remembered the sweet potato vines and the shimmering crystal .


Baby Brother or

A Pet Dog






Diane, Ollie and baby George







I had three years to grow up as the only child, and then a baby brother arrived in October 1941. We were living in Fort Thomas, Kentucky, because it was cheaper than living in Cincinnati, and then Dad received an internship in Louisville, Kentucky, at the old St. Joseph Hospital on Eastern Parkway near the University of Louisville. So off we moved to a rented shotgun house on the railroad tracks between U of L and St. Joseph Hospital. Then Dad was called up by the Navy to serve as physician on the U.S.S. Hobson.

George Bierce Perrine III was an incredibly beautiful baby, and I liked the idea of being a big sister, but he would not run and play. He just drank milk and cooed or cried. I had long outgrown the crib and now George, or Butch as he was called, inhabited the crib. Because we were moving around so much, and because of potential sibling rivalry, my Mom decided to bribe me with a dog of my very own, the most lively little terrier. I can’t remember the name of that little dog, but I loved it and held it and squeezed it and took it everywhere I went. The strategy must have worked, because I never felt any sibling rivalry at all


A small row of shotgun houses near the railroad tracks within a couple blocks of the main University of Louisville was our home for a few months while Dad was dong an internship while awaiting his orders from the U.S. Navy. It’s funny now, but I don’t remember any of our houses having any paint on them. Our homes in Cincinnati and the Perrine house in Sharon, PA were brick. The Buchanan house in Norwood was a large frame house but not painted. Our rental houses in Fort Thomas and Louisville were unpainted. Grandma’s farmhouse had paint, white, but the barn red paint was peeling off so you could hardly tell the underlying color.

I remember two very significant events from Louisville. First I followed the neighborhood children when they went to school, and crossed the tracks with my little terrier dog on a leash. Mom was beside herself with panic, so she got a dog harness that would go around my body and used the dog leash to tie me to the front of the house. The leash snapped in the back so I could not untie it. Sadly I watched the children go to the school that I longed so much to attend.


Secondly I remember Mom washing the clothes in a large copper pot. Those were the days when most women washed clothes by hand. I’m pretty sure that Mom’s copper wash pot was the one that Grandma Conway used to make lye soap and boil her sheets and towels. It wasn’t until the 1950s that people started to put washing machines, the big round ones with a wringer on top, in their basements. They still used clothes pins and clothes lines and hung their wash outside to dry in the sunshine. Or sometimes rush like crazy to bring in the clothes before the rain came down, although sometimes one just left them out there.


George became more of a person to me when he was three. We had returned to Cincinnati and Mom was head operating room nurse at Cincinnati General Hospital. We lived in a rented house on Union Street, and it was about a third of the way down one of Cincinnati’s famous seven hills. She rented rooms to young women who were either nurses or doing war work in the city. Because they all had different shifts, there was always one adult there to watch Butch and me when I came home from school.


Everyone in our neighborhood was poor, so we only got one Christmas present and in our stocking we got fruit, like an orange or nuts. When I was seven I received the best present ever, Tom Mix cap pistols with a holster and extra caps. I then organized all the neighborhood children to play Cowboys and Indians. Butch, who was like an appendage to his big sister, invariably became the Indian that we tied with clothesline to the clothesline pole in the back yard. Unfortunately, George was pretty much a cry baby, and within a few minutes one of those adults would come out of the house and rescue him from the cap shooting cowboys. I can’t tell you how many times I got spanked growing up. It’s a good thing I wore overalls with good sturdy denim or corduroy.

The Union Street house was just two blocks downhill to the elementary school where I spent the second half of second grade through fourth grade. I loved, loved, loved school. It was so exciting to learn stuff. We made scatter paintings of fall leaves and silhouettes of Presidents Washington and Lincoln. We pasted war bond stamps in our books that we kept in our desks. We had ink

wells on the upper right corner of our desks. We took cardboard and made a large salt and flour paste map of North America and painted the countries with bright colors.


And we read lots of books, I completed the entire Dick and Jane series in one weekend, and headed for the library to pick up dozens of books. Meanwhile George started kindergarten. He went a half day in the afternoon. The teacher asked Mom to transfer him to a morning class, because when the children lay down for a nap, George fell so soundly asleep they had trouble waking him for the rest of the class.


Roy Rogers and Trigger






The Lone Ranger and Tonto


The best thing about the Union Street house was that near the school was a neighborhood movie house that showed serials on Saturday morning. We were totally immersed into Tom Mix, Lone Ranger, Hopalong Cassidy, Roy Rogers and Trigger, Green Hornet, and many other exciting adventures. For a dime each, George and I could see a news reel (not so exciting), three comics, and three cowboy serials. You didn’t dare miss a Saturday or you would get mixed up on the story lines. The movie theater was always packed with neighborhood children.


Our only problem was earning two dimes for Saturday. I finally hit on a great idea. George and I took Mom’s folding card table, and lots of that thin white wrapping paper. Spending a couple of hours, we would gather and wrap all kinds of outgrown toys and rolled up comic books and some of Mom’s doo-dads. We set up our grab-bag store on the sidewalk in front of the house in the middle of the sidewalk so people would have to stop and see what we had. Once we had our two dimes, we would close up shop, waiting for the next week to sell our wares. If we ran out of items to sell, we would set up a lemonade stand and sell a glass of lemonade for a nickel. Mom’s card table saw a lot of use, and we saw a lot of movies.

One of the girls in my class had a doll house with furniture and I wanted to see it very badly. So I went home with her after school and was delighted to play with her beautiful tin doll house. Back home on Union Street, my mother was frantic. She had no idea where I was and had just called the cops when I came in the house just before dark. Needless to say I got spanked and was not allowed to go to the movies that week. Poor George, he missed the movies and he didn’t even do anything, but he could not go alone.


A black Cocker Spaniel named Scamper came to live with us on Union Street. He was a very determined dog; he chewed the bottom rung of Mom’s maple dining room table and he did not tolerate children grabbing him around the neck very well. Both George and I had several bite marks on our arms. But the story about Scamper that I remember best was when we took him in the car out to Okeana to Grandpa Conway’s farm. I got to sit in the front seat with Mom, and George and Scamper sat in the back. It was summer, and the back windows were open, because cars did not have air conditioning in those days. As we turned the corner where Grandpa’s road came into the main highway, there was a large turkey farm, and the next thing we knew Scamper had jumped out of the window and was barking furiously at those turkeys. Mom had quite a time getting a grip on that dog and putting him back in the car. Needless to say he was not the best farm dog. Scamper barked at the cows, he barked at the pigs, he barked at the chickens, he barked at Grandpa which was not such a good idea. Grandpa quickly tied that dog up and spoke in a commanding language that Scamper seemed to understand. We did not hear any more barking the rest of the day.

When we moved to Cleveland after World War II, we stayed overnight at a hotel in downtown Cleveland, and Scamper stayed in a dog hotel in its basement.


Union Street was a wonderful experience. It was close enough to take a street car to the Cincinnati Zoo, and there was a park at the top of the hill. One of the most exciting adventures was taking the incline up Mount Eden to the Botanical Gardens. From the incline’s car you could see the entire city of Cincinnati spread out below you. And the gardens at the top were a riotous display of colors and greenery and an exotic sense of faraway places. Mom said that when she was in high school, they lived on the top of Price Hill on the western side of Cincinnati. It had an incline too, and Mom said that the boys in her high school used to throw rocks at the people riding the incline. They had to be careful, however, because the men who rode the incline coming home from work did not tolerate any rock throwing.

The viaducts of Cincinnati were very exciting to a child, especially if there was a flood in the valley below. But I did not like crossing the Ohio River on the old iron bridge. The river was too big and I was afraid of Mom’s driving. She always clenched the wheel so tightly I thought it was going to come off in her hands just as we crossed the river.