Adam Crosswhite, Slave Escape with Entire Family

 This article was published in the Encyclopedia of Northern Kentucky, 2009, University Press of Kentucky.

 

Crosswhite, Adam (b. October 17, 1799, Bourbon Co., Ky.; d. January 23, 1878, Marshall, Mich.). Adam Crosswhite was a fair-skinned mulatto slave from Bourbon Co. His father was a white slave owner named Powers, who was a half-brother of Miss Ann Crosswhite. Ownership shifted to Miss Crosswhite prior to her marriage to Ned Stone. In turn, Stone sold Adam Crosswhite for $200, and in 1819 Adam was traded to Francis Giltner, a planter in Bourbon Co. There, Adam married Sarah in a slave ceremony and raised four children. Before 1830, Francis Giltner moved the entire family and his slaves to Hunters Bottom in Carroll Co., Ky. along the Ohio River.

In August 1843, Adam learned that Francis Giltner planned to sell part of his family. Crosswhite sought help from the Underground Railroad organization in Madison, Ind. As runaway slaves, and after having two narrow escapes using the newly organized safe routes through Ind., the Crosswhites—Adam, Sarah, Benjamin, Johnson, and two girls. Another child was born in Michigan. The Crosswhites managed to escape to Marshall, a city in south central Mich. There, Adam maintained a low profile. He worked, built a cabin, and became accepted in the village.

In response to the increased number of runaway slaves through the 1840s, slave owners in the north central river counties and the Bluegrass of Ky. sought to recover their financial investments. In 1846, a coalition of slave owners met in Covington, Ky., and hired a spy to ferret out runaway slaves in southern Mich. In late fall 1846, this spy, who called himself Carpenter, arrived in Marshall and in Cass Co. Masquerading as an abolitionist from Worcester, Mass., he visited the homes of free people of color. The information he gathered led to two major raids by Kentuckians, the earliest at Marshall in Calhoun Co., and the second in Cass Co.

In December 1846, acting on sources gathered by the spy, a young attorney in Lexington, Ky., Francis Troutman, grandson of a former owner and nephew of Francis Giltner, came to Calhoun Co., Mich., posing as a schoolteacher seeking a place to settle. He hired local Deputy Sheriff Harvey Dixon to pose as a census taker to scout the Crosswhite family. On January 20, 1847, Troutman reappeared at Marshall with three other Kentuckians—William Franklin Ford, David Giltner, and James S. Lee—- and, accompanied by Deputy Sheriff Dixon, went to the Crosswhite cabin. There they attempted to capture Adam, but he and his son Johnson fled through a cornfield; Crosswhite accompanied Deputy Sheriff Dixon to secure counsel, and Troutman stayed in the Crosswhite cabin with drawn pistol as several neighbors attempted to enter the house, one of whom, a Mr. Hackett, was assaulted by Troutman.

When Dixon returned, he charged Troutman with assault and battery on Hackett and with trespassing and housebreaking. Troutman paid $100 in fines the next day in the local court before Judge Randall Hobart. Meanwhile, the townspeople hid the Crosswhite family in the attic of George Ingersoll’s mill. Isaac Jacobs, the hostler at the Marshall House, hired a team and covered wagon and,on the night of January 27, Ingersoll and Asa B. Cook drove the Crosswhite family to Jackson where they boarded a train to Detroit. George De Baptiste, the former Underground Railroad leader at Madison, Ind., met the Crosswhites in Detroit and took them into Canada.

The Kentuckians were furious, and several slave owner meetings were held. Citizens of Trimble and Carroll counties, led by Moses Hoagland of Hunters Bottom, met at Kings Tavern on February 10 and drew up three resolutions demanding that the Ky. legislature call upon its U.S. senators and congressmen to pass federal legislation giving slave owners redress and imprisoning and fining those who enticed, harbored, or aided runaway slaves.

By June 1847, Mich. newspapers along the southern tier were equally outraged that Ky. posses were seizing fugitives in a free state whose citizens detested slavery. In August 1847, a large Ky. raid led by Boone Co. (Ky.) slave owners George W. Brazier and Benjamin Stevens was repulsed from Cass Co. after attempting to recapture several former slaves.

The legislative wheels were set in motion. Joseph Underwood’s report and resolutions from the Ky. legislature were sent to the U.S. Senate on December 20, 1847 and, in May 1848, Senator Andrew P. Butler of S.C. printed his report favoring strong federal sanctions against those aiding runaway slaves; 10,000 copies were distributed. Momentum built for passage of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act that made it mandatory for U.S.  marshals to seize runaway slaves, for representatives of the slave owner to identify the runaways, and for severe fines to be levied on all those aiding and harboring fugitive slaves. Henry Clay, a personal friend of Francis Giltner, proposed a clause mandating restitution of property to southerners reclaiming runaway slaves.

Attorney Francis Troutman returned to Mich. in May 1848 to gather evidence and press charges against those who aided the Crosswhite family. On June 1, 1848, in Detroit, Justice McLane of the federal bench heard Giltner vs. Gorham et al. McLane charged the jury with ignoring their attitude toward slavery and deciding the case based only on the plaintiffs right to the services of the fugitives, and therefore, the right to obtain financial redress. The first trial jury hung and was discharged on June 12. A second trial was held and the jury awarded Giltner $1,926 in damages and heavy court costs, for a total of about $4,500. Zachariah Chandler, a leading antislavery Whig in Detroit, paid the greater part of the fine. Juryman Philo Dibble, a resident of Marshall, was publicly chastised from the pulpit by his Presbyterian minister for his participation in the verdict.

Northern reaction to passage of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act was swift. By 1854, Ind. Mich., and Ohio had formed significant Republican parties that were obtaining antislavery majorities in their state legislative bodies, sending anti-slave congressmen and senators to Washington, and, by 1860, giving Abraham Lincoln the presidential candidacy.

The Crosswhite family returned to Marshall, Mich., after the Civil War; in 1878, Adam Crosswhite died and was buried in the Oakridge Cemetery in that city. In 1923, Michigan erected a bronze marker set in a stone boulder near the old Crosswhite cabin. The marker commemorates the runaway slave from Carroll Co., Ky., and the role of the people of Marshall in repulsing the Ky. posse.

Battle Creek Enquirer, July 14, 1907, January 28, 1929, July 3, 1930, April 1960.

Battle Creek, Michigan, Journal, 1927.

Battle Creek, Michigan, Tribune, January 20, 1847.

Crosswhite File, Calhoun Co., Mich., Public Library.

The Enquirer and Evening News of Battle Creek, Michigan, February 18, 1923, February 11, 1945, February 17, 1974.

Giltner vs. Gorham et al; Case No. 5,453, Circuit Court D, Michigan [114 McLean 402: 6 West Law J, 491].

Fuller, George N. ed. Michigan: A Centennial History of the State and Its People. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co, 1939.

Gara, Larry. The Liberty Line, University of Kentucky Press. 1961.

Gardner, History of Calhoun County, Michigan, 1913.

History of Calhoun County, Michigan, L. H. Everts & Co., Philadelphia, 1877.

Journal of the (Ky.) House of Representatives, (February 13, 1847): 338–41.

Michigan History, 53, no. 2 (1969): 131–43.

20th Congress, First Session [Senate] Ref. Com. No. 143.

The Weekly Commonwealth, Frankfort, Ky., February 23, 1847.

Diane Perrine Coon

 

 

Richard Daly, Underground Railroad Conductor, Escape to Canada

 This article was published in the Encyclopedia of Northern Kentucky, 2009, University Press of Kentucky.

 

Richard Daly line drawing from Detroit Sunday News-Tribune Jul 22, 1894Daly, Richard (date and place of birth unknown), The birthplace and birth date of Richard Daly, like those of many Ky. slaves, are unknown, but he was still alive in 1894 in Windsor, Canada, when interviewed by a reporter for a Detroit, Mich., newspaper. Richard Daly’s four children were born between 1840 and 1850 in Hunter’s Bottom, in Carroll Co., Ky. His oldest girl, Mary, was listed as being age seventeen in the 1860 Detroit census.

In the 1850s, Richard, his brother, Joe Daly, and Tom Owen were slaves owned by Samuel Fearn Sr. at Hunter’s Bottom, Ky. The Fearn family came to Ky. from Buckingham Co., Va. In 1803, Samuel Fearn (1766–1828) and his oldest son George (1796–1869) came to Hunter’s Bottom, a ten-mile stretch of Ohio River bottomland between Canip and Locust creeks. The Fearns had first moved to Bourbon Co. in Ky., but encountering some kind of land interference issues there, proceeded north.

Samuel Fearn, the family’s fourth child, was born at Hunter’s Bottom in 1806 and married Elizabeth Owen in 1826. George and Samuel Fearn together owned about 1,000 acres along the banks of the Ohio River, straddling the Carroll and Trimble county line, but Samuel Fearn’s main income came from his gristmill and packet steamship businesses in Milton, on the Ky. side of the Ohio River opposite Madison, Ind. He also purchased timberland in Jackson Co., Ind., on the White River. George Fearn speculated in land along the wharf area in Madison and along the Ind. shoreline on the east side of Madison. The two Fearn brothers were quite wealthy.

Sam Fearn's home c. 1910 Hunters Bottom
Sam Fearn’s plantation house at Hunter’s Bottom, Kentucky

Samuel Fearn had three slaves; his brother George, a bachelor, owned four or five slaves. The Fearn family history states that George Fearn had become an ardent Methodist and emancipated all of his slaves in his will. George was so pro-Union and so openly opposed to slavery that horses were stolen from his farm in a targeted attack by Confederate raiders during the Civil War.

In his 1894 interview, Richard Daly referred to Samuel and George Fearn as “kind,” and it appeared that Richard had many advantages over other slaves in the region. He lived in a brick house behind the main Samuel Fearn homestead and was permitted to take produce to market in Madison, in order to earn money to purchase his freedom. In fact, Samuel Fearn had set an extremely low purchase price, $100, for Richard’s freedom , with comparable prices for slaves of Richard’s age and ability rising well above $800-$900. Richard claimed that by 1856 he had already saved $100 “in his pocket.” Fearn, like many of the Hunter’s Bottom slave owners, allowed frequent conjugal visits by Richard to his wife Kitty, a house servant owned by Moses Hoagland who lived east of the Fearns along the Ohio River toward Carrollton, Ky. Richard and Kitty had four living children that by law and custom were owned by Moses Hoagland.

Eagle Hollow Vertical
Eagle Hollow on Indiana side of Ohio River

But the most unusual fact about Richard Daly was that he had worked actively in the Underground Railroad (UGRR) for some years. He stated that he had ferried thirty fugitive slaves across the Ohio River before 1856. He would meet the fugitive slaves two miles above Milton and row them across in his small boat. During the 1850s, this route through Eagle Hollow in Carroll Co., Ky., was one of the most active crossing points on the Ohio River between Cincinnati, Ohio, and Louisville, Ky. Richard’s method of signaling his friend, a white leader of the UGRR (probably John Carr) was also highly unusual. Richard said that he would row into the middle of the Ohio River and shoot a revolver in the air. The UGRR agent would then shoot his revolver in response. By the time Richard arrived at the Ind. shore, his white friend would be ready and take charge of the runaways.

It was well known that Samuel Fearn enjoyed hunting and had several hunting dogs always running through the house and farm. But for a slave to have access to a revolver and ammunition is remarkable. Further, the sound of gunshots in the middle of the Ohio River at night carried to both shores. If the Indiana UGRR agent heard it, the Fearns would have heard it also. Therefore, it has been suggested locally that the Fearn brothers were tacitly, if not actively, approving Richard’s aiding of runaway slaves.

Richard said that he was happy in his circumstances and had no plans to escape, but then his wife Kitty unexpectedly died. Richard was concerned about his children and asked Mrs. Hoagland (Sarah Payne of Lexington, Ky.) to keep them in Hunter’s Bottom, and she agreed. However, a short time later, the Hoagland daughter married a doctor and moved to Louisville and asked for Mary, the oldest Daly girl, to go with her permanently. When Richard learned his family was to be separated, he went that same night to pick up all four children. They crossed the Ohio River and took the Madison UGRR route north through Ind. Richard said that they rode horses northward successively accompanied by two sets of UGRR agents, one from dark to midnight and another from midnight to dawn. The Daly family slept in various farmhouses until they reached Mich. There, they boarded the Michigan Central Railroad to Detroit, and then crossed over the ferry to Windsor, Canada.

In Canada, Richard worked feeding cattle for a man named Hiram Walker, an exporter of livestock to Great Britain from a farm located along the Detroit River. Daly said that he had crossed the Atlantic Ocean several times with these shipments. At some point, Richard married a second time. In 1894, three of the children who escaped with him were living in Detroit, and one child had died in Windsor.

Fearn Hill enhanced, hunters bottom
George Fearn’s Fearn Hill Plantation at Hunter’s Bottom Kentucky

Apparently Joe Daly and Tom Owen continued to live with Samuel Fearn at Hunter’s Bottom even after the Thirteenth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution freed all slaves. When George Fearn died in 1869 he left Fearn Hill, his antebellum home, to his nephew, George Fearn. The emancipation clause was still in George’s will, but it was moot since his slaves were already free by law.

Blassingame, John W. ed. Slave Testimony. Baton Rouge, La.: Louisiana State University Press, 1977.

Coon, Diane Perrine, “Southeastern Indiana’s Underground Railroad Routes and Operations,” TM, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, and “Chapman Harris and the St. Paul’s Baptist Church, Madison, Indiana,” for University of Louisville graduate program.

Emma McClaran Fearn family Bible in possession of Larry Douglas Smith of Louisville, Ky.

Smith, Larry Douglas, “The Fearns of Hunters Bottom, Kentucky,” TM at Kentucky Historical Society.

Interview with Richard Daly, 1894, Detroit Sunday News Tribune, Michigan State Library Newspaper Project.

Windsor, Ontario, Canada, 1864 Census.

Diane Perrine Coon

 

Miles Withers Conway, Pioneer Mason County, Kentucky

The following article was published in the Encyclopedia of Northern Kentucky, 2009, University Press of Kentucky

Conway, Miles Withers (b. 1752, Stafford Co, Va.; d. February 28, 1822, Mason Co., Ky.). Sometime before 1786, Miles Withers Conway and his brother, John (1757–1842), settled in Mason Co., Ky. Unlike most of the early surveyors in Ky., Miles Conway and fellow pioneer, Henry Lee, were familiar with the use of new surveyor’s instruments, such as quadrants and transits with the mathematical underpinnings of professional surveying.

Miles W. and John Conway were the sons of Captain Withers Conway and Dulcibella Bunbury of Stafford Co., Va. The Bunbury family was socially well connected but improvident. The Conway family was descended from Dennis Conway, an early settler (1665) of Va’s Great Wiccomico River, and his fifth son, Christopher Conway, who married Sarah Withers, one of the wealthiest women living in the American colonies.

Although Miles inherited 300 acres in northeastern Fauquier Co., Va., from his grandmother, Sarah Withers Conway, the family’s main fortune, as well as 1,350 acres of Stafford Co., Va., lands, were entailed to the Withers family’s male heir in England upon Sarah Withers Conway’s death. Powerful landed gentry in Va., such as Augustine Washington and Col. Henry Fitzhugh, wanted the Withers family’s land, but Sarah refused to vacate her plantation. Fitzhugh called her “that old hag,” but Sarah apparently outlived them all, including her own son, Capt. Withers Conway, because when she died at age ninety, she was still residing on her plantation’s lands.

Captain Withers Conway, Miles Conway’s father, served as captain in the Va. Militia during the French and Indian War and for his military service was entitled to land warrants in Ky. The DAR lists Miles Conway and his brother, John Conway as Revolutionary War soldiers from Spottsylvania, Va. Somehow, the Conway brothers became friendly with the sizeable Berry family clan in Frederick Co., Va. John Conway married Mary (Mollie) Berry. and Miles married Susannah, who was probably Mary Berry’s sister. The Conway brothers’ father-in-law was Joseph Berry, who was married to Mary Fairfax Berry, from the well-connected Fairfax family of Va.

In 1787, Miles Conway filed a survey and patent in his name, using a 1785 Fincastle Co., Va., treasury warrant from Joseph Berry for 637.5 acres along the Kentucky River in what was then Fayette Co., Ky. From the transaction sequence on these lands, it appears that this might have been a dowry or a wedding gift from Joseph Berry to his son-in-law Miles W. Conway. That land was not sold until after the Miles Withers Conway’s estate was settled in 1831, and by then, at least thirty acres from the original tract was located in Owen Co., Ky.

In 1786, Miles Conway purchased several in-lots and became a trustee of the town of Washington, Ky., in Mason Co. Joseph Berry owned two houses down the street. Miles soon began work as a surveyor.  Miles’s brother, John Conway, meantime, had purchased land along the Mill Creek southeast of the town of Washington with two of the six Berry families then residing in Mason Co.

Miles Conway fit easily into the class of people who became magistrates in Mason Co. He served on the first court as a gentleman justice, and, in August 1786, became district commissioner of the western side of Mason Co. Conway platted the town of Mayslick, Ky. and was called upon by the Va. courts to resurvey disputed earlier land claims. Miles was elected sheriff of Mason Co. in 1790. He had the dubious distinction of serving a warrant issued in Bourbon Co., Ky., for breach of contract and non-payment of debt on Simon Kenton, the famed pioneer and Indian fighter who was, at the time, a Major in the local militia. Using uncommon judicial restraint, Miles, as the arresting sheriff, set a parole perimeter wherein Kenton was to stay. The ten-mile diameter of the parole perimeter included the taverns located in Limestone, Ky., (Maysville), Kenton’s house, and Kenton’s favorite hunting and fishing spots. Upon such good and popular judgment, Miles was re-elected sheriff in 1792 and as a delegate from Mason Co. to the state constitutional convention at Danville, Ky., in the same year. At Danville, this slaveholder from a slaveholding Va. family did a surprising thing. He voted with the seven preachers present to strike Article IX of the proposed constitution. Although not going so far as to institutionalize slavery in Ky., Article IX permitted slaves to be brought into the state with their masters, and it provided for local governments to regulate slaves within their jurisdictions. The article passed over the raised objections, and Miles, in the end, signed the first Ky. Constitution. The 1795 Mason Co. tax list showed Miles owning six slaves, seven horses, and twenty cattle.

In December 1802, Miles W. Conway and Henry Lee were appointed associate judges to the circuit court in Ky. Both men were well acquainted with the land interference and criminal mischief cases that dominated early Ky. court dockets; thus they were uniquely qualified to assess many overlapping claims brought into their respective courts.

Sometime between 1802 and 1805, Miles Withers Conway wrote a Treatise on Practical Surveying based on Robert Gibson’s Treatise on Surveying, a two-volume text that used English land claims in Northern Ireland for its worked examples; the second volume was entirely given over to log tables, sine, cosine, and tangent tables. Gibson’s first editions were printed in London, England. Joseph and James Cruckshank of Philadelphia, Pa., printed the fourth edition in 1785. Miles W. Conway used Gibson’s seventh edition of 1794, also printed in Philadelphia, as the guidebook for his own treatise.

In May 1805, Miles Conway took a simplified version of his earlier treatise to Thomas Tunstall, Clerk of the U.S. District Court, where Conway cited his publication as being “an act for the encouraging of learning by securing the copies of Maps, Charts and Books to the authors and proprietors or such copies during the time therein mentioned.” By this action, Conway had applied a very early copyright protection for his surveying book.

Daniel Bradford, son of John Bradford, the pioneering editor of Ky.’s first newspaper, the Kentucky Gazette, published Conway’s book in 1807 at Lexington, Ky. Its full title was: Geodosia, or a Treatise of Practical Surveying, wherein Several Things that Are Useful and Necessary in that Art are Considered and Explained, particularly several Very Consise Methods for Determining the Areas of Surveys by Calculations in Different Forms, and several Different Tables Adapted for that Purpose, Made for the Use of the Western Surveyors in Particular, or May be Useful to Any Other. Recognizing that few frontiersmen in America had a sufficient knowledge of math or the proper surveying instruments to apply Gibson or John Love’s more exacting scientific surveying principles directly, Conway emphasized, in his treatise, a method called Latitude and Departures. Applicable chiefly to plane surfaces, this method required a compass reading of latitude and then the establishing of a grid of measurements of deviations from that latitude, by use of a compass ring and simple calculations.

Obviously written to satisfy basic surveying in wilderness areas, Conway’s book had only sixty-four pages and is 4¾ inches by 7⅞ inches, easily portable in a saddlebag, or in the inside pocket of a greatcoat or hunting jacket. All examples given in the book were very practical and taken directly from Miles Conway’s experiences surveying in Ky.

Conway died in 1822 and is buried in Mason County.

Conway, Miles W. Geodosia, or a Treatise of Practical Surveying. Lexington, Ky.: Daniel Bradford, 1807.

Journal of the First Constitutional Convention of Kentucky, Held in Danville, Kentucky, April 2 to 19, 1792, Lexington, Ky.: State Bar Association, 1942.

The Kentucky Gazette. January 2, 1790, May 17, 1792, May 25, 1793, June 4, 1796, November 5, 1796, May 17, 1796, August 15, 1798, September 15, 1800, December 28, 1802, March 22, 1808.

Lane, Ben, Richmond, KY, personal collection—“A Few Facts and Events Surrounding the Town of Washington in 1786,” George H. S. King to the Rev. Melvin Lee Steadman, January 20, 1962, and Mrs. Stanley Reed to George H. S. King January 15, 1962, original in Va. State Archives, “Stations and Settlements and Preemptions in and Around Washington.”

“Surveyor’s Measurers,” TM, from Kentucky Historical Society vertical files.

Diane Perrine Coon

 

 

 

 

Freedmen Bureau Schools

This article was published in the Encyclopedia of Northern Kentucky, 2009, University Press of Kentucky.

Freedmen’s Bureau Schools. Before the Civil War, free people of color residing in Ky. could with great difficulty obtain basic reading and writing skills through subscription schools sponsored by their churches or by leaving Ky. to attend schools in states north of the Ohio River. In some urban areas of Ky. church pastors taught in the subscription schools; however, in the state’s rural areas such educational opportunities rarely existed.

Slaves had even more difficulty learning how to read and write. Very few slave owners in Ky. permitted their slaves to learn to read the Bible, as this practice was frowned upon both by social custom and by various local ordinances. In Bracken Co. in Ky., during the mid-1830s, a slave owner named Jack Tabb taught his slaves to read and “figger” because this suited Tabb’s interests. However, Tabb’s actions were quite unusual. Most slave owners feared that slaves, if taught to write, would forge “permission to move” slips and escape to the North. Such fears were particularly acute for those holding slaves in the river counties of Northern Kentucky. Eventually, one of Tabb’s slaves, Arnold Gragston, did just that, leaving Ky. with his entire family for Canada.

At the end of the Civil War, the nation faced the fact that there were nearly four million illiterate freedmen, with almost 250,000 of these living in Ky. In the massive confusion following the war’s end, federal and state governments focused on reestablishing political and economic stability rather educating the free blacks and former slaves who lacked a basic education. Rebuilding the railroads and transportations systems were instead among the war-scarred nation’s first priorities. The Radical Republicans in the U.S. Congress sought legislation that would redistribute land from Confederate officials and military leaders to former slaves and provide welfare assistance and jobs for freedmen. Over strong objections and a veto by President Andrew Johnson (1865–1869), Congress enacted legislation establishing the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands in mid-1865 (Freedmen’s Bureau). Part of its mission was to create a system of education for former slaves.

Initially, Ky. was not covered under this legislation. However, the Ky. General Assembly’s failure to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment, to eliminate the slave codes, and to provide for the education of former slaves caught the attention of Major Gen. Clinton B. Fisk, the Freedmen’s Bureau administrator in Tenn. Fisk’s January 1866 report to Washington, D.C., detailing Kentucky’s intransigence, led to the establishment of a Freedmen’s Bureau in Ky., an action seen by Ky. lawmakers as treating their state as conquered territory.

Northern abolitionists, working chiefly through the American Missionary Association (AMA) and Western Freedmen Aid Commission (WFAC), poured money as well as preachers and teachers into the South from 1865–1867. In Ky., these benevolent societies established schools at Covington and then eventually across the rest of the state.

Appointed as Chaplain and Chief Superintendent of Freedmen’s Bureau Schools, Rev. T. K. Noble (working under Major Gen. Jeff C. Davis, the Freedmen’s Bureau’s Assistant Commissioner for Ky.), began the arduous task of supervising the education of 250,000 former slaves; Noble’s priority throughout his tenure as superintendent was to educate the 37,000 freed school-aged children in Ky. In December 1865, Ky. had only eighteen schools educating African Americans—nine subscription schools and nine schools funded through the AMA and WFAC.

The federal government funded the Freedmen’s Bureau’s staff salaries, some limited construction funds for schools, part of the teachers’ transportation costs, and a small portion of the teachers’ salaries at the Freedmen’s Bureau schools. The bulk of funding for these schools in Ky. was supposed to come from taxes paid by freedmen. Since few African Americans owned property in 1866, the taxes collected were miniscule. For several years, the Ky. General Assembly insisted that freedmen paupers should receive the bulk of taxes paid by freedmen, leaving very little money for the schools operated by the Freedmen’s Bureau. As a result, the Freedmen’s Bureau schools were financed only partly by a shoestring budget from the federal government. Religious and abolitionist sources financed some Freedmen’s Bureau schools, many of the teacher salaries, and even some teacher training. Tuition fees from freedmen themselves defrayed costs of buildings and some of the teachers’ salaries. Freedmen, especially in the rural areas, had little access to cash, and therefore most contributions were in kind such as donating labor in constructing the schools and by using their church buildings as schools. Had it not been for the financial resources from AMA, WFAC, and the Baptist, Episcopal, and Methodist missionary associations, the educational effort at the Freeman’s Bureau schools would have failed quickly.

Reverend Noble established three regional districts in Ky.—Louisville, Lexington, and Paducah—and began appointing district superintendents whose task it was to educate black citizens. The Freedman Bureau’s first statistical report on progress at these schools, by Jesse Duns, was submitted to Washington, D.C. in June 1866; only slight gains had been realized in the first six months, and these were mainly in the urban areas. There were eighteen schools in Louisville and Lexington and seven in the rest of the state, serving 80 adults and 2,800 children. Most of these schools operated only three months each year. Moreover, it was reported that operational budgets at these schools were extremely small.

The task in Ky. was so monumental that Noble decided to allow the abolitionists to concentrate on developing freedmen schools in the state while Noble, in turn, would focus on developing community-based initiatives and support for educating freedmen. Accordingly, Noble encouraged the AMA, a longtime supporter of Berea College, the WFAC, an early supporter of efforts in Covington, and the Baptist, Episcopal, and Methodist missionary societies to continue working on developing the freedmen schools statewide. By design, the Freedmen’s Bureau thereafter focused its limited resources on sharing some expenses of freedmen churches in order to open their buildings for day and night subscription schools, paying for teacher transportation and funding school buildings where necessary.

One critical shortage–the lack of qualified teachers—was solved initially by using abolitionist agencies to recruit young black and white teachers from the North, many from Oberlin College at Yellow Springs in Ohio, and from New England and N.Y. Kentuckians disliked the idea of former slaves learning to read and write and despised these abolitionist teachers from the North. Noble’s monthly reports detail examples of these teachers being harassed and terrorized by local citizens. Noble placed a high priority on establishing African-American teacher training and certification at two locations, and with the aid of AMA and WFAC, the new Ely Normal School in Louisville was launched with forty teacher certification candidates by December 1868; the same resources funded Berea College in Berea, Ky., that had space for 150 students, half of them white.

Colored School Idlewild Boone Co KY Scheben Library
Colored School Idlewild Boone Co KY Scheben Library Similar to early Freedmen’s Bureau schools.

The second critical shortage was the lack of buildings that could be used as schools for the freedmen’s children. Most of the earliest schools were housed in African-American churches or in buildings described as shacks. Noble lobbied hard to use the meager Freedmen’s Bureau funds to build new school buildings. Among the earliest schoolhouses built in Northern Kentucky were: a 30 by 60 foot wooden structure at Washington, Ky., in Mason Co., completed in April 1867; and an 18 by 30 foot schoolhouse costing $200 at Warsaw, Ky., in Gallatin Co., completed in mid-1868.

In the schoolhouse construction program, either the Freedmen’s Bureau or the local freedmen trustees acquired titles to the land. Under contract with local freedmen trustees, the Freedmen’s Bureau supplied the lumber, nails, and other materials while local freemen provided free labor. The Freedmen’s Bureau schools were simple structures, no more than rectangular boxes, but at a time when there were few rural common schools for whites, these schoolhouses were treasured by freedmen and despised by many whites. As such, they were often the target of reprisals by night riders, some of whom belonged to the Ku Klux Klan.

In October 1868, reporting on fall classes, the Freedmen’s Bureau maintained 135 day schools, 1 night school, 6 white teachers, and 144 black teachers, with 6,022 students enrolled. However, there were “outrages:” such as the church schoolhouse operated by the Freedmen’s Bureau in Germantown, Ky., Mason Co., which had been burned down by arsonists. By 1869, Ben Runkle, Noble’s replacement as superintendent in Ky., reported substantial gains, with a total of 248 schools operating. Thirteen schools, newly constructed with Freedmen’s Bureau funds, were completed.

In Northern Kentucky, the Freedmen’s Bureau activity was uneven. Augusta, Covington, Maysville, and Washington were quick to embrace the education of freedmen. But the river counties of Boone and Carroll, and inland in the heavily Confederate strongholds of Grant and Owen Cos. there was little interest and often violent hostility. In 1870 in Boone Co., for example, there was only one freedmen school operating at Caladonia, now Petersburg, Ky.

In some Ky. counties, great losses of the slave population immediately prior to and during the Civil War combined with antipathy to create a general indifference toward educating former slaves. Across the Ohio River at Madison, Ind., the Freemen’s Bureau funded a school in fall 1868 so that freedmen’s children from Carroll and Trimble Cos. in Ky. could be educated. Hundreds of former slaves from these and other Ky. counties fled into Ind. and Ohio. The small A.M.E. church school at Hanover, Ind., funded in part by the Freedmen’s Bureau, taught seventy-five students while another seventy per year were being taught in Madison’s black churches. At the same time, the large influx of former slaves out of Northern Kentucky into Cincinnati, Ohio, was being prompted as much by the promise of access to education as to the promise of wage jobs. Boone and Kenton Cos. in Northern Kentucky experienced 60% reductions in their African-American populations between 1850 and 1870.

Ky.’s state funding of black schooling remained a chronic problem throughout the five years, 1865–1869, that the Freedmen’s Bureau schools were operating in the state. And later during the 1870s, once Confederates supporters had taken control of the Ky. political structure, funding for the freedmen’s schools essentially ceased. Ultimately, Northern abolitionists had no sustaining interest in further occupying the South. In January 1869, the Freedmen’s Bureau was ordered closed and by April 1869 its schools in Ky. were left, forsaken and still unfunded.

Many of the black churches continued educating former slaves in subscription programs in spite of the lack of cash and blatant hostility toward their activities among whites. Clearly, the Freemen’s Bureau had made a start in the task of educating former slaves. More than 10,750 black children had received at least three months of schooling, about a third of what was needed. Additionally, more than one hundred buildings usable as schools had been designated for freedmen; and a small, but eager, cadre of newly trained black teachers had graduated from Berea College and the Ely Normal School in Louisville.

One of the most important steps that the Freedmen’s Bureau accomplished was their aid, working with AMA and WFAC, in forming a statewide convention of black educators. The first meeting in 1867 in Lexington petitioned the Ky. General Assembly for support for black schools; the second meeting in Louisville was a three-day conference that featured distinguished national and state speakers. Attended by Covington African-American leaders Jacob Price and Isaac Black, the conference’s resolutions petitioned the Ky. General Assembly to add the African-American population to the common school system. The resolutions denoted that the Freedmen’s Bureau was leaving the state, and therefore it was even more critical for the state to take responsibility.

Cities such as Covington and Newport, Ky., that had charters from the state legislature, were able to take advantage of their respective mayor’s and city council’s authority to fund their black schools through taxes and then sinking funds, much drawn from the white school system. However, it was 1874 before the state legislature acted to include African-American children in the common schools system.

In April 1875, the first of the checks funding segregated black common schools in Ky. were sent from state government in Frankfort to Campbell, Carroll, Kenton, and Pendleton counties. . The Freedmen’s Bureau had established 18 schools in Northern Kentucky with space for 443 students. By 1900, under the common school program, there were 54 schools in Northern Kentucky dedicated to educating 3,959 black students, the descendants of former slaves.

Bentley, George R. The History of the Freedmen’s Bureau, New York: Octagon Books, 1970.

Cover Letters and Narrative Reports, Rev. T. K. Noble, Chaplain and Chief Superintendent Freedmen Schools, State of Kentucky to Rev. J. W. Alvord, General Superintendent, Washington, D. C., July 8, 1867, October 1, 1867, January 1, 1868, March 8, 1868, April 1, 1868, May 1, 1868, January 13, 1869.

Marrs, Elijah Preston. “Autobiography of Elijah P. Marrs,” from Documenting the American South at University of North Carolina. Ledger, Superintendent of Schools of Kentucky (Colored), 1875–1885, Kentucky State Archives.

Narrative Reports from Ben R. Runkle, Louisville, KY, to Brig. Gen. E. Whittlesey, Washington, D. C., July 20, 1869.

Reports to Superintendent of Public Instruction, January 3,1839—January 3, 1849, Kentucky State Archives.

Statistical Report, Freedmen’s Bureau–State of Kentucky, December 1868, February 1869.

Turley-Adams, Alicestyne. Rosenwald Schools in Kentucky, Frankfort: Kentucky Heritage Council and African-American Heritage Commission, 1997. Webb, Ross A. “The Past is Never Dead, It’s Not Even Past,” Benjamin P. Runkle and the Freedmen’s Bureau in Kentucky, 1866–1870, in Donald G. Nieman, ed. The Freedmen’s Bureau and Black Freedom, II, New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1994.

Wilson, George D. A Century of Negro Education in Louisville, Kentucky. Louisville” University of Louisville, 1986, from original Works Progress Administration and Louisville Municipal College, ca. 1935.

Freedmen’s Schools in Northern Kentucky

July1867-February1869

 

County Town Date Sponsor Teacher* Note
Mason Wash-  ington July 1867 Freedmen’s Bureau Building 30×60 Wood
Mason Mays-        ville Apr 1868 Freedmen’s Bureau Amanda Perkins
Mason Mays-        ville Apr 1868 Freedmen’s Bureau Avene Casey
Mason Mays-        ville Apr 1868 Freedmen’s Bureau Mary E.   Wilson
Mason Wash-  ington Apr 1868 Freedmen’s Bureau Elizabeth Wilkerson
Bracken Augusta Apr 1868 Freedmen’s Bureau
  1. M. White
Pendle-  ton Brandy-  wine Apr 1868 Freedmen’s Bureau Mary  Southgate
Pendle-  ton Fal-  mouth Apr 1868 Freedmen’s Bureau Ellen Kinny
Kenton Coving-      ton Apr 1868 Freedmen’s Bureau
  1. C. Wilmot
Kenton Coving-      ton Apr 1868 Freedmen’s Bureau Ellen N.   Leavitt
Kenton Coving-      ton Apr 1868 Freedmen’s Bureau Richard Singer
Bracken Augusta Dec 1868 Church & School Jeptha Griffin—c 13 male, 15 female
Camp-  bell New-  port Dec 1868 Alex Howard Alex Howard—c 26 male, 16 female
Camp-  bell New-  port Dec 1868 Mary Williams Mary Williams—c 12 male, 13 female
Camp-  bell New-  port Dec 1868 Henry Graham Julia Warner—c 8 male, 9 female
Kenton Coving-      ton Dec 1868 Church
  1. E. Willis—c

Eliza Skillman—w

44 male, 45 female
Mason Mays-       ville Dec 1868 Church Amanda Perkins—cGreen Casey—cThird unintelligible 39 male, 47 female
Mason Wash-  ington Dec 1868 School Marcia    Dunlap—c 20 male, 21 female
Pendle- ton Fal- mouth Dec 1868 Church Ellen M. H. Southgate—c 10 male, 6 female
Gallatin Warsaw Jan 1869 Freedmen’s Bureau Building 18×30 $200
Bracken German- town Jan 1869 Freedmen’s Bureau Freedmen’s Church and School burned
Boone Cale-    donia Feb 1869 School Joshua    Kendall—c 18 male, 18 female
Bracken Augusta Feb 1869 Church Unreported 12 male, 15 female
Pendle-  ton Fal- mouth Feb 1869 Church Ellen M. Southgate 9 male, 4 female
Camp-   bell New-  port Feb 1869 Henry Graham School Mary    Warmus—w 12 male, 13 female
Camp-  bell New-  port Feb 1869 Closed
Kenton Coving-    ton Feb 1869 Church
  1. C. Wilmot—w

Eliza Skillman—c

56 male, 48 female
Kenton Coving-    ton Feb 1869 Church
  1. C. Wilmot—w (night)
17 male, 12 female
Kenton Union     Hall Feb 1869 School William A. Patterson—c 20 male, 15 female
Mason Mays-     ville Feb 1869 Church Amanda Perkins—cGreen       Carey—cMary Nelson—c 50 male, 52 female
Mason May- slick Feb 1869 School Emma Gardner—c 25 male, 27 female
Mason Wash- ington Feb 1869 Church Narcissa Dunlap—c 20 male, 20 female
Pendle-  ton Brandy-  wine Feb 1869 School Mary South- gate—c 6 male, 6 female

* Note c—colored, w—white

 

Diane Perrine Coon

 

Elijah Anderson, Underground Railroad Conductor

This article was published in the Encyclopedia of Northern Kentucky, 2009, University Press of Kentucky

Anderson, Elijah (b. ca. 1808, Fluvanna Co., Va.; d. Frankfort, Ky., March 4, 1861). Dubbed the “General Superintendent” of the Underground Railroad (UGRR) by Rush R. Sloane, an abolitionist in northwest Ohio, Elijah Anderson became a major “conductor,” bringing hundreds of runaway slaves to freedom from Northern Kentucky counties.

Born a free person of color in Va., Elijah Anderson was forced from his native state by restrictive black laws passed after the 1831 Nat Turner Rebellion. Sometime before 1835, Elijah relocated to Cincinnati, Ohio. Trained as a blacksmith and skilled in making wrought iron undercarriages and decorative fences, Elijah found ready employment as a laborer fixing metal and steam fittings on Ohio River steamboats. . He forged strong friendships with other free blacks—George De Baptiste, Chapman Harris, and John Lott—as well as John Carter, a Lexington, Ky. native who had settled in Cincinnati among the large free black community. Carter fled to Canada during the 1830 riots and then returned when things calmed.

Both De Baptiste, a barber, and Carter, a grocer, worked as stewards, a high-ranking position for free blacks. According to Lott, these men were introduced to Ohio Underground Railroad (UGGR) leaders through Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, who, during the 1830s, was at Cincinnati’s Lane Seminary and also at his first pastorate, the Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Presbyterian Church. Between December 1837 and early 1840, all five of these free blacks relocated to Madison, Ind., and soon provided energy and impetus to the UGGR’s operations there. Elijah met and married Mary J., a native of Ohio ten years his junior. Their only child, Martha, was born in 1840 at Madison. Elijah established his blacksmith shop on the southeast corner of Third and Walnut Sts. He prospered and, before early 1842, had purchased a brick town home valued at $800 in the Georgetown section of Madison on Walnut St. near Fifth St. taxed at $3.00. He was listed as the owner and taxpayer on that property through 1847.

Soon, Elijah attained leadership in the Madison UGGR. He excelled at opening and developing secure routes. Often he went over into Ky., particularly along the Kentucky River artery, contacting free blacks and slaves on plantations. Elijah Anderson developed a solid relationship with free blacks at Carrollton, Ky., Frankfort, Ky., and Lawrenceburg, Ind. He worked well with white abolitionists. By 1845, the black conductors at Madison managed most of the Ohio River crossing points. These free blacks, shifted Madison’s UGGR operations from a passive to an active state. George De Baptiste claimed to have aided 108 runaways before 1846; Elijah said that he brought 200 through before 1850.

In 1845, two top agents of the American Anti-Slavery League—William Phelps and George Whitefield—originally from Wheeling, Va. (W.Va. today), but most recently working out of Cincinnati, came to Madison and over the next three years developed routes on Ky. soil, giving recruited plantation slaves information on safe routes and pick-up times and places. Later that year, a wealthy black abolitionist, John Simmons, was welcomed to Madison. Shortly thereafter, major routes were compromised and near captures occurred. Elijah Anderson, Chapman Harris, John Lott, and a number of other activists believed that Simmons had betrayed their cause for monetary reward; they beat Simmons severely and threatened him with death. Simmons sued in Ind.’s Jefferson Co. court; the legal fees over six years caused Anderson to lose his property at Madison.

A one-hundred-man posse of Kentuckians and local sympathizers marauded through Madison targeting the UGRR leadership. Free black activists, charged with inciting a riot, were fined sums of fifty and twenty-five dollars. George De Baptiste fled to Detroit, Mich., and became active there. John Lott headed for Canada. Chapman Harris hunkered down in nearby Eagle Hollow Indiana becoming a major leader during the 1850s. Griffin Booth was nearly drowned in the Ohio River by a mob. Amos Phillips was shot several times, recuperating at Lancaster, In. and then moved to the Little Africa settlement south of Vernon, Ind. It took Harris and Carter three to five years to rebuild the UGRR base back to its original capabilities.

As a result of increased danger, the fines levied against him, and the Madison riots, Elijah Anderson moved his operations base to Lawrenceburg, Ind. Both Elijah and Mary J. were fair-skinned, and in the 1850 Dearborn Co. Ind., census they both apparently passed as white. Quite likely at this time, Elijah became an agent of the American Anti-Slavery League or was funded in part from Detroit’s African-American leadership because he spent months on the road away from his blacksmith business. His Madison experience was helpful because Lawrenceburg, Ind., was hostile to free blacks and, by 1861, was trying to evict them from the city. During the early 1850s, Elijah was frequently linked to Cincinnati and to routes to Cleveland and Sandusky, Ohio.

As an experienced conductor, Anderson realized that bringing fugitives across by ones and twos was inefficient and likely to run afoul of the runaway-slave patrollers.  Working with William Wyman, station master at Aurora, Ind., with American Anti-Slavery League peddlers and ferrymen agents, and with his own local free black recruits, Elijah Anderson soon was able to bring large groups of fugitives out through Boone Co., Ky. Results showed almost immediately. In 1847, the David Powell family of six vanished from the John Norris plantation between the Lawrenceburg and Aurora, Ind., ferry landings. In May 1848, eight slaves owned by Benjamin Stevens opposite Rising Sun, Ind., made their escape. Gabriel Smith, an aged free black from Brookville, Ind., participated in helping Elijah bring fifty slaves north to Sandusky, Ohio. Boone Co., Ky., slave owners reported that twenty-nine slaves escaped between September 1 and November 17, 1852; in April 1853, they lost another forty slaves.

One clue as to how Elijah recruited among free blacks came from Lawrenceburg’s city records. On January 1, 1853, Israel Moody, as executor of the estate of Sandford Moody (deceased), sued the trustees of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), claiming that Sandford had paid several debts owed by the trustees, including $6.50 to Elijah Anderson. The other debts claimed were for wood and plastering. The a.m.E. congregations along the Ohio River Valley supplied many of the Underground Railroad activists during the 1850s.

During summer 1856, Elijah took a group of fugitives to Cleveland, Ohio, via the railroad’s network. He sought work to earn money before returning to Lawrenceburg. An abolitionist gave him the name of a person in Detroit, and Elijah worked in Detroit through fall 1856. He returned through Cincinnati and boarded a steamboat there.

In a case of mistaken identity, a Madison UGRR activist, William J. Anderson, was arrested at Carrollton, Ky., and accused of pirating hundreds of runaway slaves and carrying incendiary abolitionist materials into Ky. Anderson, who claimed in his defensive autobiography, that he had never worked south of the Ohio River and only had loaned his carriage to the UGRR, was defended by anti-slavery lawyers from Madison and released. Within a day or so, Elijah Anderson was recognized at Cincinnati or turned in, and Delos Blythe of the Alan Pinkerton Detective Agency at Louisville, Ky., came up to arrest him once the steamboat was underway. The free black community at Madison was certain that William J. Anderson had bought his way out of jail by turning in Elijah Anderson, and he was forced to flee to safer ground at Indianapolis, Ind.

At Carrollton, Ky., Elijah Anderson was accused of enticing a slave owned by Gen. William O. Butler, a peculiar charge since Butler had emancipated most of his slaves when he returned from the Mexican War in the late 1840s. It was among Butler’s freed slaves living near the mouth of the Kentucky River that Elijah Anderson likely had established a solid base for UGRR routes from the Bluegrass State. One of those freed slaves, Sandy Duncan, moved to Madison.

James T. Allison, an anti-slavery attorney from Madison, represented Elijah at Carrollton and won acquittal. But on the steps of the courthouse at Bedford, Ky., the Trimble Co. Sheriff arrested Elijah and incarcerated him. At Bedford, Elijah was accused of assisting and abetting a Negro boy named George to run away from his master living in Henry Co., Ky. Elijah claimed to have gone north for work. Found upon his person was a chatty letter he had written but not mailed to Mary J. that gave the name of several abolitionist friends in Cleveland and Detroit. Sensationalist newspaper accounts in Louisville claimed that finding the letters broke the back of a ring of abolitionists that had been stealing slaves in Ky. Depositions from G. W. Burrows of Cleveland, Ohio, stated that Elijah Anderson was in Cleveland on September 1, 1856, and sought employment from him, and that he had referred Elijah to a friend in Watertown, Wisc. A second deposition from John P. Clark stated that he had hired Elijah from November 1 to December 13, 1856, at his blacksmith shop at a Springwell, Mich. dry-dock.

But it was the eyewitness testimony of Right Ray, who headed a ring of slave-catchers operating in southeastern Ind., that led to Elijah Anderson’s ten-year sentence at the Kentucky State Penitentiary in Frankfort, Ky. Right Ray testified that he had seen Elijah Anderson in Madison on May 11, 1856, ascending the Texas deck of a mail boat headed to Cincinnati. Elijah had a carpetbag and was in company of a boy answering the description of George, a runaway slave owned by John Scott of Henry Co. The boy escaped on May 8, and Scott had come to seek the services of Right Ray at Madison on May12, 1856.

During the next few months, Chapman Harris, then a leader of the free blacks and slaves active in the Madison UGRR, attempted twice to mount a posse to free Elijah from jail. Meanwhile the anti-slavery attorneys at Madison tried to negotiate an interstate gubernatorial pardon. When Elijah’s daughter, Martha, came to Frankfort to pick him up in April 1861 he was found dead in his cell of unexplained causes. The body was released to his family for burial. According to Wilbur Siebert and the Firelands Pioneer, Elijah Anderson claimed in 1855 to have brought out more than 1,000 runaway slaves, 800 after passage of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act.

Bordewich, Fergus M. Bound for Canaan, the Underground Railroad and the War for the Soul of America. New York: Amistad of Harper Collins, 2005.

Commonwealth of Kentucky vs. Elijah Anderson from Trimble Co. Circuit Court, Governors Papers, Ky. Libraries and Archives, Frankfort, Ky.

Dearborn Co. Civil Cases: Israel Moody vs. The Trustees of the African Methodist Episcopal Church January 1, 1853.

Griffler, Keith P. Front Line of Freedom, African Americans and the Forging of the Underground Railroad in the Ohio Valley. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2004.

Hudson, J. Blaine. Fugitive Slaves and the Underground Railroad in the Kentucky Borderland. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 2002.

Jefferson Co. (Ind.) Deed Book 6:320.

Lawrenceburg Register, May 11, 1848; November 17, 1852; November 14, 1853.

Madison, Ind., annotated plat C. 1848–50.

Madison Tax Assessment Book 2: 1838–1847.

Siebert, Wilbur H. The Underground Railroad from Slavery to Freedom. New York: The McMillan Company, 1898.

Diane Perrine Coon

 

Post publication author’s note: 

Elijah Anderson, like several other African American conductors of the Underground Railroad, had a skilled craft as a blacksmith working with wrought iron for steam fittings, under-carriage fasteners, and iron fencing. So long as he was in Madison, Indiana, he was making a living, purchased a house and could still conduct fugitives up into Ripley County, Indiana, chiefly because there were so many other active Free Blacks in the UGRR there. However, once the Madison race riot occurred in 1845-46, the subsequent fines and attorney fees forced Elijah to move his family to Lawrenceburgh, Indiana. There the Free Black base for his operations was much smaller and his strategy of going down into Kentucky, to Boone and the other river counties to bring out a dozen or more fugitives at a time, taking them as far as Sandusky and Cleveland, Ohio, put strains on his financial support for his family. He was almost totally reliant on funds from abolitionist sources or from working at odd jobs in Ohio and Michigan.  Almost desperate at times to get resources back to Mary in Lawrenceburgh, Elijah came off as a charlatan to some Ohio abolitionists, to others who saw the effectiveness of his conducting tactics he was the “General Superintendent of the Underground Railroad.”

Once Elijah was jailed in the penitentiary at Frankfort, Kentucky, his friend and colleage, Rev. Chapman Harris, tried twice to recruit arms and men to break Elijah out of jail. Harris was arrested in Louisville trying to obtain one or more guns, but he managed to cook up a story that he was going to a church function in Indiana and his boat drifted with a high current to the Kentucky side. dpc

 

Civil War in Carroll County, Kentucky

This article was published in the Encyclopedia of Northern Kentucky, 2009, University Press of Kentucky

 

The Civil War in Carroll Co. Alarms, rumors, and anxiety swept through the Ohio River counties of Northern Kentucky in the months leading up to the Civil War. In late 1860, a local militia of about fifty men and boys, calling themselves “The Invincibles,” was created in Ky. at Hunter’s Bottom in Carroll Co. These young men included Capt. W. J. Hoagland, First Lt. William H. Bradley, Second Lt. Henry Spillman, and Third Lt. Jarrett Banks. They were organized as part of Simon Bolivar Buckner’s Ky., State Guards. Brothers Harvey, George, and Clinton Conway were among the privates.

Within months, Buckner, who rejected a commission in the Union Army to become as Confederate brigadier general, had taken most of the Ky. Guards and their arms and equipment into the Confederacy. From “The Invincibles,” eight went into the Union Army and sixteen to the Confederates. Many of the boys from Hunter’s Bottom eventually joined Col. Henry L. Giltner’s Fourth Kentucky Cavalry, CSA.

In September 1861, a number of men from Carroll Co. rendezvoused with General Buckner and the Confederates at Camp Boone including Moses T. Pryor and his brothers-in-law Gideon B. Giltner and Henry Liter Giltner. Almost immediately, Gen. Humphrey Marshall appointed Henry L. Giltner as his aide de camp.

In summer 1862, as Major Gen. Don Carlos Buell of the Union chased Gen. Braxton Bragg of the Confederacy from Tenn. into Ky., the Confederates were mounting a major recruiting drive in central Ky. Col, (later Gen.) John Hunt Morgan, commander of the Second Ky. Cavalry, CSA, and Gen. Kirby Smith among others were convinced that thousands of Kentuckians around the Bluegrass would swarm to the Confederate cause.

Meanwhile, Union troops were being deployed and trained in Ky., and Union Home Guards were being equipped. This led to a number of skirmishes in the lower regions of the Kentucky River. From June 20–23 1862, Confederates were sighted in Owen Co., and on August 31 a skirmish took place near Monterey, Ky., along the Kentucky River. Carroll Co. was full of news and rumors.

In July 1862, Henry L. Giltner, previously the Sheriff of Carroll Co., now a CSA Col., and Captains Moses T. Pryor, Nathan Parker of Bedford, Ky., Peter Everett of Montgomery, Ky., and sixteen other officers sought additional Confederate troops, especially for the cavalry. Although the overwhelming sentiment in rural Carroll Co. was in favor of the Confederacy, the CSA recruiters found a substantial number of entrenched Union forces in the region. They were part of the Union troop positioned along the Ohio River in defense of General Bragg’s incursion.

On September 17, Giltner, astride his dapple-grey warhorse, “Billy,” led about one hundred Confederate cavalrymen into Carrollton, Ky. In an act of retaliation for the recent arrest of rebel leaders [Thomas] Dugan, Southgate [probably William, John or James Southard], and Barnum [Edwin Burnham], the Confederate calvarymen seized the courthouse, tore down Union flags and hoisted the Confederate flag, arrested a number of citizens, including Charles Emery, R. H. Jett, and Monticue T. McClure, and hunted unsuccessfully for the Provost Marshal, Benjamn E. Archer. A number of Union supporters had already fled across the Ohio River to Ind. The Cincinnati Daily Commercial claimed that the Carrollton raid was backed up by 1,200 CSA nearby, but that may have referred to CSA cavalry activities relating to the sweep across to Lawrenceburg in Ind. and back to Perryville in central Ky. that culminated October 8, 1862.

Between October 15 and October 20, Union forces swept through the Northern Kentucky region, and the newly recruited Confederates headed inland to join with Gen. Humphrey Marshall in preparation for the Battle of Perryville. According to the muster lists, the Fourth Ky. Cavalry, CSA, began with 900 men in total. Many of the Carroll Co. men were in Company F and came from Carrollton Eagle Station, Ghent, Hunter’s Bottom, Jordan, Mill Creek, Northville, Preston Ville Sanders, and Whites Run.

The new cavalry unit was placed under the Department of East Tenn.; later the Fourth Ky. Cavalry, CSA, was placed under the Department of Western Va. and East Tenn. The field officers were Col. Henry L. Giltner, Lt. Col. Moses T. Pryor, and Major Nathan Parker. The Fourth Ky. Calvary, CSA, saw substantial action in eastern Tenn. and participated in various raids into eastern Ky. One of the high points of the unit’s combat came November 10, 1863, when Confederate cavalry units under Col. Henry L. Giltner as commander of the Confederate Second Cavalry Brigade, captured 550 prisoners, thirty wagons of military and commissary equipment, four brass 6-pounder James guns, a large number of horses and arms belonging to the Second East Tenn. Mounted Infantry, Seventh Ohio Cavalry, and Phillips’ battery at Big Creek in Tenn. Among the Confederate officers singled out and complimented in the Giltner’s field report on the engagement were Lt. Col. Trimble of the Tenth Kentucky Calvary and Major Parker of the Fourth Ky Calvary.

In June 1864, Giltner’s forces participated in Gen. John Hunt Morgan’s “Last Raid” through Ky. including the battles at Mt. Sterling and Cynthiana, and they proved themselves battle-hardened campaigners in spite of the Confederate losses. The death of General Morgan (September 4, 1864, at Greeneville, Tenn.,) affected many of the men in the Fourth Ky Calvary, CSA.

Had the war ended the summer of 1864, Giltner and his cavalry regiments would have achieved high praise. However, in October 1864, Col. Henry Giltner, as commanding officer of the Seventh Battalion Confederate Cavalry, was ordered to defend the salt and lead mines and the East Tennessee & Virginia Railroad. Thus, the Kentuckians became enmeshed in one of the most despicable acts of the Civil War, the deliberate massacre of wounded and captured Negro troops of the Fifth U.S. Colored Cavalry (USCC) at Saltville, Va. Although chiefly undisciplined cavalrymen conducted the atrocities, nevertheless, several Ky. officers failed to halt the killings, including Capt. Edward O. Guerrant. At one point George Dallas Mosgrove, of Carroll Co., who wrote the Ky. Fourth Calvary CSA’s regimental history, although present, failed to prevent the murder of captured black soldiers inside a cabin. Eyewitnesses from the Union Twelfth Ohio and the Eleventh Mich. attested to the massacres. Estimates of the number of black soldiers massacred vary wildly from New South historian William Marvel’s estimate that only five were killed and no more than a dozen, to the National Park Service claims that thirty-five Fifth USCC were killed in action. A more recent study by Thomas Mays and other researchers concluded that upwards of 50 of the 400 men of the Fifth USCC were killed. After the Civil War, CSA guerilla leader Champ Ferguson was hanged for a series of murders of Union soldiers and civilians during 1861–1865, including taking five wounded USCC soldiers from the Union surgeon at Saltville and murdering them.

In the fading days of the Civil War, Colonel Giltner was given supreme command of CSA forces in Lee, Scott, Russell and Wise counties in Va. on February 16, 1865; the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse in Va. took place on April 9, 1865, and the Fourth Ky. Calvary, CSA, returned to Ky. and surrendered at Mt. Sterling, Ky. on April 30, 1865.

Most of the men from Carroll Co. returned home. Henry Giltner became a merchant at Milton, Ky., but by 1880, he had moved to Tenn. During the next few decades the legend of Gen. John Hunt Morgan’s Second Ky. Cavalry, CSA, and Henry Giltner’s Fourth Ky. Cavalry, CSA, merged somewhat and became much romanticized.

Several strong Unionist families lived in Carrollton. In an interesting dispatch dated September 14, 1862, a letter from Unionists in Carrollton to Capt. Joseph H. Williams, commander of the gunboat Cottage, was quoted in the Cincinnati Daily Commercial: “Respected Sir—Please accept these refreshments from the undersigned Union ladies, with our many thanks to you and your command for your timely protection; and we remain, respectfully, your obliged friends, Mrs. Mary D. Nely, Mrs. H. Hamilton, Mrs. F. Rabb, Mrs. S. McClure.”

Among the merchants at Carrollton were a number of Northerners: Theoderick Fisher from N. H.; Peter C. Adams, B. B. Bennett, Henry Gilbert, W. H. Swain, and John W. White from Mass.; Lyman Martin, James T. Root, William Root, from Conn.; John D. Ames, Samuel Ball, and John W. Root from N.Y.; Theophilus Reed, Joseph Vance and from N.J.; James Robb and his son David Robb, who was a cadet at West Point Military Academy in N.Y.

In addition, a number of Carroll Co. men served in the Thirteenth Ky. Volunteer Infantry, Union. Officers from Carroll Co. in that regiment included: Capt. Albert M. Jett, Carrollton; Second Lt. Charles McCracken, Carrollton; Capt. P. Gilbert Fisher, Carrollton, dismissed January 5, 1863; and First Lt. William L. Lee, Carrollton, killed in action, April 28, 1862. Carroll Co. men also served in Louisville-raised and southern Ind. Union units as well, but the muster lists are inconclusive.

Throughout the war, small detachments of Union Naval forces patrolled the Ohio River and stopped at Carrollton occasionally. Once the western Ohio and Mississippi river campaigns began, most of the inland Union Navy was engaged around Vicksburg, Miss., and New Orleans, La. The Union received most of the news and information along the Ohio River from friendly steamboat captains such as Captain Hildreth of Switzerland Co., Ind. who manned The Florence and reported regularly in Cincinnati, Ohio. It has been claimed that Abraham Lincoln stopped at Hildreth’s house between Lamb and Vevay, Ind. during his 1864 presidential campaign.

The Union Army posted troops at Carrollton during the Civil War. Many residents, particularly in the surrounding rural area, saw these troops as enemies occupying their land. The Union officers and men, in turn, felt hostile enemies and spies surrounded them. At Carrollton, in 1862 the officers irritated local legend Gen. William O. Butler who had declared neutrality before the war began. Men and horses from the Union Army were posted in the Presbyterian Church, Butler’s home congregation, and the local lore claims that much damage was done to the building and grounds.

Whatever neutrality or pro-Union sentiment was apparent among the white citizens of Carroll Co. disintegrated quickly with the Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863 and the subsequent arrival of Negro troops in Ky. Around August 22, 1864, a U.S. Colored Troop (USCT) squad, posted at Ghent, Ky., to protect recruiters for the Fifth U.S. Colored Cavalry, arrested James Southard, a leading Confederate advocate and local ferryman. He owned land along the Ohio River that formed the Ghent landing. Southard’s brother notified Col. George Jesse in Henry Co. in Ky. that James Southard had been taken by USCT troops. Jesse’s hardened remnants of Morgan’s last Ky. raid quickly routed the raw recruits of the 117th USCT (Gex Landing, Skirmish at). Rumors spread, fed by Louisville-based Union officers and a friendly newspaper that another Saltville-like incident had occurred, a massacre of Negro troops. The record was set straight only after Col. Jesse released the captured USCT officer and men at Owenton, Ky., the next month.

With few exceptions, after the war, the Confederate soldiers returned to Carroll Co. and gradually took positions of political power and civic responsibility. By 1880, most leadership positions in church and state were held by former CSA soldiers. Each funeral of a Confederate veteran called forth marches or honor guards in full regalia prominently chronicled in the Carrollton Democrat. A succession of former CSA officers was elected Ky. governors, including Simon Bolivar Buckner (1887–1891).

A Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Post #78 was established at Carrollton and named the William L. Lee post after a Carrollton native who had died in 1862, with the Union’s Thirteenth Ky. Infantry at Bowling Green, Ky. The Carrollton GAR Post had five members that attended the 1895 state GAR convention: W.M. Bowling J. G. Bunton, A. C. Jones, J. T. Lewis, and A.N. Jett who was listed as commander. In 1889, the Carrollton post had seventeen members, and in 1906, thirteen.

Adjutant General’s Report, Kentucky: Confederate Troops.

 

Adjutant General’s Report: Kentucky Union Troops.

 

Brown, David E. “Was There a Massacre in Saltville in 1864?” Review of Thomas D. Mays The Saltville Massacre, Albuquerque, N.M.: Ryan Place Publishers, 1995.

Carrollton Democrat, May 24, 1884.

CDC, September 14, 1862, September 19, 1862.

Field Report by Col. Henry L. Giltner. Commander, Second Cavalry Brigade, CSA, November 10, 1863 to Major Thomas Rowland, Assistant Adjutant General available at home.cinci.rr.com/secondtennessee/giltner.html, accessed May 7, 2006.

Gentry, Mary Ann. A History of Carroll County. Madison, Ind., 1984.

Marvel, William. “The Battle of Saltville: Massacre or Myth?” Blue and Gray Magazine, August 1991.

Mosgrove, George Dallas. Kentucky Cavaliers in Dixie: The Reminiscences of a Confederate Cavalryman. Reprint. Lincoln, Neb.: University of Nebraska Press, 1999.

Prichard, James. Review of Kenneth A. Hafendorfer, They Died by Twos and Tens. KH Press, 1995.

Diane Perrine Coon

.

Abolitionists in Northern Kentucky

The following article was published in the Encyclopedia of Northern Kentucky, 2009, University Press of Kentucky.

Abolitionists. The term abolitionists refers to those in the antebellum U.S. who wished to “abolish” slavery completely. In this way, abolitionists differed from other antislavery proponents such as “emancipationists,” who supported gradual emancipation of slaves with compensation to their owners, and colonizationists, who promoted sending freed slaves to Africa.

The religious base for early abolitionism came directly from Quakers such as Arnold Buffin, Elihu Embree, and Charles Osborne and was well established by 1830. The evangelical basis for national abolitionism began in 1833 with the founding of the American Antislavery Society by William Lloyd Garrison, Lewis and Arthur Tappan, and Thomas Weld among many others. Disagreements emerged among these abolitionists relating to the constitutional framework of the U.S. and how it pertained to slavery. Garrison and others argued that the U.S. Constitution favored slavery and must be overthrown through civil disobedience; James G. Birney and many others argued that political action by amending the U.S. Constitution would achieve the ends of eliminating slavery. Garrison was adamantly against political action believing it would diffuse the religious and moral foundation of the antislavery movement. The Liberty Party ran Birney as an antislavery candidate for president in 1840 and 1844 and Gerrit Smith in 1848, but by then the emerging Free Soil Party had absorbed most of the antislavery abolitionists. Those abolitionists favoring direct action against slavery encouraged boycotting southern goods and services, aiding runaway slaves through the Underground Railroad, and running antislavery candidates for state and national offices. The Tappan brothers were credited with much of the financing of the Underground Railroad and for helping to place its agents along the Ohio River. By the mid-1850s, the American Missionary Association had begun direct confrontation on the issue of slavery by placing colporteurs throughout the South, by bringing Bibles to slaves, and by distributing antislavery tract materials to slave owners and yeomen farmers.

Southern slaveholders retaliated against abolitionists by employing their political power in the U.S. Congress and by direct action to mount posses, pay for detectives, extend the patroller system, and increase the rewards for returning runaway slaves. Once the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act was passed, Ky. slave owners vigorously challenged Underground Railroad operators in federal courts, winning either large judgments or having large fines levied against these operators for the slave owner’s lost slave properties. In 1849, slaveholders in Ky. won a huge political battle, sending an overwhelming majority of delegates to the Kentucky Constitutional Convention and in the Ky. Legislature that rolled back whatever antislavery legislation and protection free blacks had achieved over the previous fifty years. The abolitionists in Ky. were defeated, demoralized, and in disarray. John G. Fee’s autobiography cites many cases where pro-slavery mobs targeted the remaining few white abolitionists in Ky. and drove many of them out of state.

To abolitionists in the North, by the 1850s moderate tactics had not worked; slave states had aggressively expanded slavery into Tex., Ark., Mo., and threatened to bring it to Kans. The 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act repealed the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which had prohibited slavery north of longitude 36°30,’ thereby opening up all federal territories to the possibility of slavery. With the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, abolitionists could no longer trust that the U.S. Congress would rectify the matter of slavery. Likewise, they lost hope in the U.S. Supreme Court which, in the 1857 Dred Scott decision (Scott v. Sandford), declared the Missouri Compromise invalid, made any Congressional attempts to prohibit slavery in the territories unconstitutional, and regarded slaves as property protected by the U.S. . Constitution. With seemingly no recourse left to legislative or judicial action, the war of words erupted into armed aggression. John Brown’s antislavery raids in Kans. and his attack on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Va. in October 1859, were the first large-scale overt abolitionist confrontations and helped to divide the nation’s opinion on slavery into opposing camps.

Passive support to aid runaway slaves now became active tactics, emboldening even more slaves to escape from the South. From 1836 to 1840, antislavery societies espousing political, economic, and direct action against the institution of slavery spread throughout Ohio and Ind. Slave losses from the river counties of Ky. and the state’s Bluegrass region mounted significantly during the late 1840s and 1850s. Each time a Ky. posse went into Mich., Ind., or Ohio to retrieve runaway slaves, angry abolitionists determined to wrest the evil from the nation met them. Furthermore, abolitionist “agitators” from these and other Northern states began reaching down into Ky. with greater frequency.

In his 2005 book, Bound for Canaan, Fergus Bordewich points to the 1852 death of Isaac Tatum Hooper in New York City, N.Y., as the end of the early period of the abolitionist movement, a period characterized as being one in which humble and religious friends of fugitives simply were aiding other human beings. In Northern Kentucky, one might mark the watershed of this change to 1847, when armed mobs rebuffed the slave catcher Francis Troutman and his Carroll Co., Ky. posse at Marshall, Mich.; or when the Reverend Benjamin Sebastian and George W. Brazier’s posse from Boone Co., Ky., was confronted at Cass Co., Mich., and summarily dispatched from the state. Further marking these changes were the dramatic incursions of Elijah Anderson and John Fairfield in Ky. into Boone Co. taking dozens of slaves out of this county.

Northern abolitionists who used aggressive strategies sometimes used military terms and tactics. They also sent spies and colporteurs into the South deliberately to confront slaveholders and they routinely accosted any “southern kidnappers” coming into northern antislavery states to capture runaway slaves. The new contemporary popular faces of the abolitionist movement included the talented black orator Frederick Douglass and the soon notorious John Brown.

The continuous uproar from antagonistic abolitionist tactics was not received well in Ky. Conservative antislavery leaders and even Cassius Clay disavowed both this period’s abolitionist leaders and their tactics. The few abolitionists remaining in Ky. were easily targeted for reprisal. John G. Fee and his tiny coterie living in Madison, Lewis, and Bracken counties during the 1850s were particularly vulnerable, because they acted openly and confronted deeply-held local prejudices. Even across the Ohio River in Ripley, Ohio, a number of leading citizens were opposed to the overt abolitionist actives of such locals as Rev. John Rankin and John Parker.

According to an overwhelming majority of Ky.’s citizens, the despised abolitionists were agitators from the North, people who interfered with Ky.’s states rights, who enticed and stole slaves from decent, law abiding citizens, and who broke national, state, and local laws. According to most newspapers in Ky., it was these abolitionists who confronted Ky. posses lawfully trying to retrieve “lost slave property” in Ind., Mich., and Ohio. It was also these zealot abolitionists who persisted in destroying the national unity of the Methodist Episcopal and the Presbyterian denominations by their activities. Moreover, it was these radical abolitionists who forced President Abraham Lincoln (1861–1865) to issue the Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863 and to accept Negro troops to fight for the Union. Kentuckians may not have been united on many issues during these difficult times, but they were, generally speaking, united in their abhorrence for the white abolitionists.

Ky.’s abolitionists who were white were easy to spot and few in numbers. On the other hand, Ky.’s abolitionists who were black were numerous and concentrated into the state’s large urban areas–Louisville, Lexington, Frankfort, Northern Kentucky, and across the river in Cincinnati, Ohio. They were also congregated in small separate rural slave churches and were spread out geographically as individuals still in bondage across the hundreds of plantations in the north central and Bluegrass regions of Ky. Although black preachers were suspected of abolitionist leanings, and isolated free blacks certainly were among the first to be accused of aiding fugitive slaves, few slave owners actually thought their own slaves might be abolitionists who were providing direct help to runaway slaves.

As their slave losses mounted, slave owners in Ky. took action against the abolitionists in their midst and also crossed the Ohio River. Bounties were set for people like John Carr, John Fairfield, the Reverend Charles Ide, and other white abolitionists active in the Underground Railroad.

Author Ann Hagedorn tells of several attacks on abolitionists in Brown Co., Ohio, led by Mason Co., Ky., slave owner Col. Edward Towers. In late fall 1844, his posse inflicted more than one hundred lashes of the whip on Harbor Hurley, a longtime free black at Sardinia, Ohio, attacked and killed Robert Miller, lynched a runaway slave, attacked Absalom King and several who were helping to defend him, and burned Miller and King’s homes. The Georgetown, Ohio, sheriff appeared unable to stop the marauding Kentuckians.

The most celebrated attacks by Ky. slave owners were associated with a secretive organization of slave owners established in Covington, Ky., in 1846, modeled after the Western Horsemen’s Association set up in the western U.S. to deal with horse thieves. A spy calling himself Carpenter was hired and sent to Mich. to find runaway slaves from Northern Kentucky. This spy came back with detailed reports that supplied names, places where slaves were hiding, and the names of plantations where they had been enslaved. Based on this information, in December 1846 young Lexington attorney Francis Townsend along with David Giltner, the son of a central Ky. slave holding family, William Franklin Ford, James S. Lee, and several other Kentuckians traveled to Marshall, Mich., to recapture the Adam Crosswhite family, slave runaways from the Giltner Plantation. The invaders from Ky., however, were turned away by an armed mob, arrested, and subsequently fined for having disturbed the peace.

George W. Brazier, a slave jobber, and Benjamin Stevens from Boone Co. in Ky. mounted a posse to recapture as many as fifty runaway slaves identified by a spy known as Carpenter who was sent to Cass Co., Mich. This posse too was met by armed men, arrested, fined and escorted out of the state.

Cassius M. Clay was a dramatic and significant figure in Ky.’s antislavery movement, not only for editing The Lexington True American, but also for his public speeches and frequent bouts with pro-slavery advocates in Ky. Although Clay was feted and applauded as an antislavery Southerner at Abolitionist Society meetings in New York City, he clearly favored gradual emancipation with monetary recompense to slave owners. Of all the colorful episodes in Clay’s experiences, none was more lasting than the 600 acres of land he assigned in Madison Co., Ky., to John G. Fee to start the northern emigrant community of Berea. This community, along with Camp Nelson in Jessamine Co., became the nexus for true abolitionist sentiment and actions in Ky.

Clay and Fee could not remain united in their thinking for long; Fee was disappointed by Clay’s political expediency, and Clay felt that Fee’s radicalism mixing feminism and anti-caste sentiments with antislavery beliefs actually damaged the antislavery case in Ky. The break between the two Ky.-born abolitionists was public and painful. Fee believed that Clay’s denunciation of him led directly to harassment and mob actions to evict the abolitionists from Madison Co. in 1859, however, it is more likely that Berea College with its Oberlin, Ohio, trained teachers as northern abolitionists, and because white and black men and women were being educated together at the college, was enough to create a pro-slavery furor in Berea, with or without Cassius M. Clay’s approval or disapproval. After all, Fee’s closest associates in Bracken and Lewis counties in Ky. were driven out by pro-slavery mobs about the same time, and Clay had nothing to do with those cases. Simultaneously, abolitionist societies, such as the American Missionary Association and particularly the Western Freedmen’s Aid Commission at Cincinnati, continued to provide immediate supplies and relief materials to former slaves. Additionally, clothing, building materials, and even garden tools and seeds were being sent to assist free blacks who had remained in the South.

Also active in these sorts of activities were sectarian agencies such as the Baptist Home Missionary Society, the Episcopal Missionary Society, and the Methodist Home Missionary Society. In July 1864, a convention at Indianapolis, Ind., cited the following agencies as cooperating to provide direct aid to freedmen–the Cleveland (Ohio) Freedmen’s Aid Commission, the Contraband Relief Commission at Cincinnati, the Friends’ Aid Committee of Richmond, Ind., the Indiana Freemen’s Aid Commission at Indianapolis, the North-Western Freedmen’s Aid Commission at Chicago, Ill., the Western Freedmen’s Aid Commission at Cincinnati, and the Western Sanitary Commission at St. Louis, Mo. Even following the Civil War, efforts were made to improve the lot of blacks remaining in the South as many of the Freedmen’s Bureau Schools became completely dependent on teachers recruited and paid by abolitionist groups, such as these.

 

 

Black Abolitionists of Northern Kentucky Active on the Ohio River

Place Name Date(s) Activities
Madison Elijah Anderson 1838–46 Conductor, Organizer (200 aided)
Lawrenceburg Elijah Anderson 1846–56 Conductor, Organizer (800 aided)
Madison George De Baptiste 1838–1845 Conductor, Organizer (180 aided)
Madison John Carter 1838–1860 Organizer, Conductor, and Recruiter
Madison Griffin Booth, George Evans, and John Lott 1830–1846 Conductors, safe houses
Milton, Ky. Peter Scott 1840–1850 Local agent, Organizer
Eagle Hollow, Ind. Reverend Chapman Harris 1845–1860 Conductor, Manager River Crossings
Hunters Bottom, Ky. Richard Daly 1845–1856 River Crossing to Eagle Hollow
  1. Hanover, Ind.
John R. Forcen,Simon Gray, and

Mason Thompson

1840–1860 Conductors
Coopers Bottom, Ky. Freeman Anderson 1850s Slave in place, river crossings to S. Hanover
Carrollton, Ky. Wheeling Gaunt and Samuel Lightfoot 1840s, 1850s Safe houses
Warsaw, Ky. John Brookngs and Lewis Hamilton, 1838–1861 Gallatin Co. grand jury
Rising Sun, Ind. Rabbit Hash, Ky. Samuel Barkshire, Joseph Edington, and William Thompson 1840–1850s Safe houses, Thompson a conductor from Clarksburg Ind.
Covington, Ky. John R. Bradley 1830–1860 Lane Seminary debates
Cincinnati, Ohio John Malvin 1830s Aided Susan Hall and 8 children
Cincinnati ,Ohio Henry Boyd 1820–1860 Safe House and organizer
Cincinnati, Ohio Framces Scroggins, Williams Watson, and John Woodson 1830–1840s Safe House and conductor
Cincinnati, Ohio John Mercer Langston and Major James Wilkerson 1830s-1840s Organizer, defender against mobs
Cincinnati, Ohio Rev. Allen E. Graham 1840s Union Baptist Church, Cincinnati, Ohio, columnist for the Palladium of Liberty
Cincinnati, Ohio Joseph Carter Corbin 1850–1860s Editor, The Colored Citizen, Cincinnati; graduate Ohio University, later president University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff
Felicity, Ohio Will Sleet 1840–1850s Leader of Free Black community aiding fugitive slaves
Red Oak, Ohio Harbor Hurley and George Williams 1844      1856 100 lashes given by Mason Co., Ky., posse in Ind. unprovoked; Williams jailed in Ky. penitentiary and died, forced confession
Ripley, Ohio Aunt Polly Jackson, Rhoda Jones, Uncle Billy Marshall, and John P. Parker 1840–1850s Maysville, Ky., Crossings to Ripley, Ohio
Bracken Co., Ky. Arnold Gragston and Julett Miles 1850s Conductor, Crossing to Ripley, Ohio; Julett a woman jailed at Frankfort, Ky., for trying to get her children to freedom visited by Fee.

 

White Abolitionists of Northern Kentucky Active along the Ohio River

Place Name Date(s) Activities
Eagle Hollow Charles Almond, John Carr, John and Samuel Ledgerwood, Charlie Lutz, Jared Ryker, John Taylor, and William Woolen 1839–1861 Organizer, conductor, safe houses
Carroll, Trimble, Gallatin, and Franklin William Phelps and George Whitehead American Antislavery Society agents from Wheeling, W.Va.
Carrollton, Ky. Alex Fuller and the William Lee family 1850s Organizer, conductor
Lamb, Ind. George C. Ash, Captain Hildreth, William and John Shaw, and Thomas Wright 1840s-1861 Ferrymen, safe houses
Vevay, Ind. Rev. James Duncan and Stephen Stevens 1824–1830 Founders of the Liberty Party in Ind.
Vevay Ind. Stephen Girard and John and Stephen H. Pavy 1830–1861 Organizer, safe house, conductors
Warsaw,  Sugar Creek ,Ky.,and Patriot, Ind. Alex and Duncan Fuller and Daniel and Johnathan Howe 1840s, 1850s River crossings and safe houses
Florence and Quercus Grove Indiana Rev. Alexander Sebastian 1840s-1861 River crossings and safe houses, antislavery churches
Switzerland and Dearborn counties Ind. Rev. Charles Ide and Orthaniel H. Reed 1840s Organizer, bounty set for his capture by slave owners
Aurora, Ind. Daniel Bartholomew, Dr. Myron Harding, John Hope, John Milburn, the Harding, Shockley, and Shattuck families, and William Wymandon 1835–1861 Station Master at Aurora, Ind., managed three major routes, safe houses
Manchester, Ind. John Angevin, John and Ralph Collier, Joseph Hall, Thomas and John Hansell, and Seth Platt 1835–1861 Safe houses, conductors
Guilford and Lawrenceburg, Ind. Henry Beecher, Rev. John Clarke, Martin C. Ewbank, Benjamin Metcalf, and Thomas Smith 1835–1850 Organizer, co-founder of Indiana Antislavery Society, safe houses, members of Dearborn Co. Antislavery Society
Covington, Ky. Thomas Carneal and Rev. Joseph Cabell Harrison 1850s Political activist, safe house
Newport, Ky. William Shreve Bailey 1839–1850s Newspaper editor
Cincinnati, Ohio Harriet Beecher, Salmon P. Chase, Levi and Catherine Coffin, Mark Campbell McMaken, Calvin Stowe, Zebulon Strong,, Theodore Weld, Samuel and Sally Wilson 1830–1850 Student, Author, Teacher, Activists, safe house, Free Store, political leader, railroad guide
Cincinnati, Ohio James G. Birney and Cassius M. Clay 1840s-1850s Newspaper editors
Cincinnati, Ohio John G. Fee, William Hamilton, Thomas Metcalfe, and the Ky. delegates April 1854 Antislavery convention focused on repeal of 1850 Fugitive Slave Act and repudiation of Kansas-Nebraska bill, Hamilton editor of the Patriot, Metcalfe former governor
Cincinnati, Ohio Rev. D. H. Allen, Rev. C. B. Boynton, Levi Coffin, Edward Harwood, Rev. C. Kingsley, J. F. Larkin, James B. Luplton, Rev. G. M. Maxwell, William P. Nixon, Rev. Adam Poe, Rev. R. H. Pollock, Richard B. Pullan, M. Sawyer, Hon. Bellamy Storer, Rev. H. M. Storrs, Dr. J. Taft, Rev. M. L. P. Thompson, Rev. John M. Walden, and Dr. J. P. Walker 1850–1860s Western Freedmen’s Aid Commission, relief materials—clothing, supplies, tools, school supplies, and teachers, industrial arts schools,
Pendleton Co., Ky. to Clermont Co., Ohio Rev. Silas Chase, Andrew Coombs, Arthur Fee, Oliver P. S. Fee, Robert Fee, Thomas Fee, Nelson Gibson, Dr. Mathew Givson, Joseph Parrish, and Andrew Powell 1840–1850s Felicity, Ohio, station master and conductors; Moscow, Ohio, safe houses and conductors
Bracken Co., Ky. James B. Cripps 1850s Delegate to Free Democratic convention in Pittsburgh, Pa., arrested for aiding fugitive slave falsely
Bracken Co., Covington, Mason Co., and Madison Co., Ky. John G. Fee, Mr. Fields, John D. Gregg and John Humlong at Bracken Co., Ky., Vincent Hamilton (John G. Fee’s father-in- law), Mr. Marsh in Madison and Garrard Co., Ky., Ham Rawlings, William Stapp, James Waters, and W. B. Wright 1840–1860 Organizer, antislavery churches and antislavery societies, major Ky. abolitionist and activist
Germantown, Ky.
  1. M. Mallett
1850s Teacher at school at Bethesda, Ky., driven out by pro-slavery forces
Augusta, Ky. Arthur Thome 1840–1850s Organizer, safe house
Sardinia, Ohio John B. Mahan 1840s Tricked by William Greathouse, tried in Ky. in Mason Co., jailed in Washington, Ky., organizer for Liberty Party and Philanthropist subscriptions, died of tuberculosis contracted in jail
Maysville, Ky.—Ripley Ohio Dr. Alfred Beasley, Dr. Alexander Campbell, Thomas Collins, Rev. James Gilliland, Archibald Leggett, Thomas McCaque, Dr. G. Norton, and Rev. John Rankin 1840s-1861 Organizer, safe houses, conductors, physicians
Washington, Ky. James A. Paxton 1830–1861 Safe house
Lewis Co., Ky. James S. Davis 1850s Cabin Creek, Ky., antislavery church.

 

Abolitionists from Other Regions and States

Active in Northern Kentucky

Place Name Date(s) Activities
Mason Co. Rev. Calvin Fairbanks and Delia Webster 1844 Escape of Lewis Hayden from Lexington, Ky; from Oberlin, Ohio, and Vt.
Boone Co., and other parts of Northern Kentucky John Fairfield Late 1840s Brought 28 out at one time, dare-devil exploits; from Va. and Mich.
Bracken Co. Edward James “Patrick” Doyle 1848 Aborted escape of 40 to 75 runaway slaves from Lexington, Ky., area; from Ireland, Bardstown and Danville, Ky.
Boone Co. Laura S. Haviland 1850s Disguised as free person of color, went into Boone Co., Ky., to get word to John White’s wife, from Adrian, Mich.
Trimble, Carroll, Gallatin, and Franklin counties William Phelps and George Whitefield 1840s Agents of American Antislavery Society, organizers establishing routes and safe houses, from Wheeling W.Va.
Bracken Co. Rev. Daniel Worth June 1853 Wesleyan minister from Ohio, active in AMA; joined John G. Fee in preaching in Bracken Co., Ky.
Lewis and Bracken Co. Rev. Edward Matthews 1850s Antislavery preacher from the Free Mission Baptists, preached with John G. Fee several times
Madison Co. Wiley Fisk 1850s Controversial preacher with AMA
Rockcastle Co.
  1. G. W. Parker
1853 Colporteur from AMA arrested falsely—charged with aiding fugitive slaves—to break up a protracted meeting of John G. Fee
Northern Kentucky William Haines and James West 1850s Colporteurs from AMA distributed antislavery literature and Bibles to slaves
Berea, Camp Nelson, Pulaski, Jackson, and Garrard counties John Burnham, George Candee, Dr. Chase of N.H., John G. Hanson, Roger Jones, Bros. Myers, Thomas E. Renfro, Bro. Richardson, John A. R. Rogers, Miss Tucker, and Otis B. Waters  1850–1860s Close allies, teachers, and companions of John G. Fee
Ohio River Valley Arnold Buffin andRev. Lewis Hicklin 1840 Buffin, president of American Antislavery Society and a Quaker, Hicklin a Methodist Protestant preacher and brother of Thomas Hicklin, a major Underground Railroad activist in Ind., both men associated with early organization of the routes from the Ohio River north to Levi Coffin and other Wayne Co., Ind., safe houses
Cabin Creek, Lewis Co. Francis Hawley 1852–1853 Antislavery Baptist minister came from Syracuse, N.Y., came to baptize John G. Fee and his wife in Cabin Creek, Ky. .

 

Bordewich, Fergus M. Bound for Canaan. New York: Amistad, 2005.

 

Coon, Diane Perrine. “Early African American Congregations of North Central Kentucky,” Afro-American Journal of History and Genealogy, Spring, 2005.

_________________ “Southeastern Indiana’s Underground Railroad Routes and Operations,” U.S. Park Service and Indiana DNR, 1999.

Drummond, Dwight Lowell. Antislavery: The Crusade for Freedom in America. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1961.

Fee, John G. Autobiography of John G. Fee. Chicago: National Christian Association, 1891.

 

Griffler, Keith P. Front Line of Freedom, African Americans and the Forging of the Underground Railroad in the Ohio Valley. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2004.

Hagedorn, Ann. Beyond the River. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002.

Harrison, Lowell H. The Antislavery Movement in Kentucky. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 1978.

Howard, Victor B. The Evangelical War against Slavery and Caste, the Life and Times of John G. Fee. Selinsgrove, Penn.: Susquehanna University Press, 1996.

Hudson, J. Blaine. Fugitive Slaves and the Underground Railroad in the Kentucky Borderland, Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, 2002.

Kentucky Educational Television, Underground Railroad Educational Resources. “Westward Expansion and the Development of Abolitionist Thought,” available at www.wcvn.org, accessed on September 19, 2006.

LaRoche, Cheryl Jenifer. “On the Edge of Freedom: Free Black Communities, Archaeology, and the Underground Railroad,” Ph.D. diss., University of Maryland, 2006.

Martin, Asa Earl. “Pioneer Antislavery Press,” Mississippi Valley Historical Review, 2 (March 1916): 510–528.

Rabb, Kate Milner, ed. A Tour Through Indiana in 1840, The Diary of John Parsons of Petersburg, Virginia. New York: Robert M. McBride & Company, 1920.

Ripley, C. Peter, ed. The Black Abolitionist Papers, III, IV and V. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1991.

Tallant, Harold D. Evil Necessity, Slavery and Political Culture in Antebellum Kentucky. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2003.

Turner, Wallace B. “Abolitionism in Kentucky,” RKHS, 69 (October 1971): 319–338.

 

Diane Perrine Coon

 

 

 

Anti-Slavery in Northern Kentucky

The following article was published as part of the Northern Kentucky Encyclopedia, 2009, University Press of Kentucky.

 

Antislavery. Antislavery movements in Ky. have been characterized by historians of slavery as Caucasian experiences, each new intellectual concept capturing attention, galvanizing sporadic actions, and then running out of steam. Biographies of Henry Clay, Cassius Marcellus Clay, John G. Fee, Robert J. and William Breckinridge, and even John Speed, champion the antislavery credentials of each of these prominent Kentuckians. Yet in spite of nearly continuous antislavery activity from 1830 to 1860 by some of Ky.’s leading social and political figures, slavery as an institution was stronger and more widely fixed in the state in 1860 than it was in 1830.

Several recent histories recall free people of color who provided aid to fugitive slaves, including Elijah Anderson, John P. Parker, George De Baptiste, Sheldon Morris and Washington Spradling. There are even a few slaves living in Ky. who have been identified as aiding other slaves during escapes–Arnold Gragston in Bracken Co., Richard Daly at Hunters Bottom, Uncle Simon and Ben Swain at Henderson, and Uncle Elias at Cattletsburg.

The only continuous antislavery activities from 1780 to 1860 in Ky. involved free people of color and slaves themselves. The black antislavery position required direct action–to purchase their freedom, escape to freedom, aid others escape to freedom, and to resist slavery in place. These actions alone did not overturn the institution of slavery, but they gave hundreds of slaves a free life and helped to injure slave owners economically. Neither the white antislavery pamphlets and conventions nor the pinpricks of black activism, however, were successful in removing slavery from Ky’s. soil. That required a bloody Civil War, the defeat of the Confederacy, and passage of the Thirteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

When the Reverend David Rice stormed out of the 1792 State Constitutional Convention at Danville, Ky., the first antislavery movement in ky. involving whites had already reached its political zenith. Rice was among the early white Presbyterian, Baptist, and Methodist preachers and elders attempting to keep a perpetual slavery system out of Ky. For the early settlement in Ky., there were two models, that of the Northwest Territory just to its north across the Ohio River that was established free of slavery in 1786, and the Va. model that institutionalized slavery for people of African descent.

Passage of Article IX in the 1792 Ky. Constitution, over the objections of sixteen white preachers and lay leaders, permitted slave owners to bring their slaves into Ky. and gave local jurisdictions authority to regulate slavery. Rev. John Rankin’s short Memoir of Samuel Donnell shows some of the efforts to defeat Article IX’s passage in the activities, during the 1790s, of leaders of the Concord Presbyterian Church, located in Bourbon (later Harrison) Co

During the first three decades of the nineteenth century, the Va. planter system that had been brought to Ky. by the children of the Va. gentry solidified through landholdings and political power. And the number of slaves imported into Ky. rose from 40,843 in 1800 to 126,742 in 1820. In those twenty years, the slave system won out in the Commonwealth of Ky. through overt political power of the landed gentry and failure of the yeomen farmers to perceive that slavery was detrimental to their own welfare. The state’s planter class took control as magistrates, as judges, as elected legislators, senators, and governors, and large sections of middle Ky. became Whig in its political leanings, Henry Clay territory. Most significantly, property rights, i.e. land and slaves, became defined like a religious dogma standing above justice, mercy, and equality under God.

Yet in those same twenty years, the Second Great Awakening in religion sent evangelistic tremors through and around mainstream Protestant denominations in Ky. Religiosity spread chiefly through the yeoman classes into Ky. It originated with the Separate and Freewill Baptists denominations that sprang from George Whitfield and Stubal Stearns, with the Pentecostal experience of Presbyterians, Methodists, and Reformed Baptists at Cane Run in Ky. in 1801 and subsequent tent revivals, and from the peeling away from Presbyterians by Associate Reformed, Cumberland and Rankinites, from Methodists by Methodist Protestants, and later the Wesleyans. And in all this turmoil, many Kentuckians found slavery incompatible with their new heightened sense of divine purpose, deciding that slavery was evil and was bringing harm to the new nation. The contemporary question, therefore, was what to do about the problem?

Between 1800 and 1827, a number of second generation Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Reformed preachers advocated moral persuasion to convince slaveholders to free their slaves in their wills and leave sufficient land or financial resources so the slaves could make a living in Ky. or go to the North. A few of these ministers advocated educating slaves for future freedom, baptizing slaves, and identifying trustworthy slaves that could act as elders and deacons for separate black congregations.

For the Baptists, between 1803 and 1806, the issue came to a head at Mt. Sterling, Ky., in the person of David Barrow, a minister in the Separate Baptist tradition who served the Mt. Sterling, Goshen, and Lulbegrud churches. Through political pressure from the Regular Baptists of the Elkhorn Baptist Association and their fledgling Bracken Baptist Association, David Barrow was expelled from the North District Baptist Association in 1806 for advocating the gradual emancipation of slaves and eventual abolition of slavery itself.

Barrow not only preached continuously against slavery, but he published British Baptist Thomas Clarkson’s Essay on Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species, a 1785 treatise that greatly influenced U.S. abolitionists. Barrow himself wrote Involuntary, Unmerited, Perpetual, Absolute, Hereditary Slavery Examined on the Principles of Nature, Reason, Justice, Policy and Scripture that was printed in 1808 by John Bradford at Lexington, Ky. That same year, Barrow joined Carter Tarrant and founded the Baptized Licking-Locust Association, Friends of Humanity, also known as the Emancipation Baptists. The Baptized Licking-Locust Association, Friends of Humanity, included the Licking Locust, Gilgal, and Bracken Baptist churches from the Bracken Baptist Association, and Lawrence Creek Baptist Church from Mason Co.

Because of religious convictions, some slave owners in Ky. would decide to manumit their slaves. However, because in Ky. the average number of slaves held were generally not large these separate individual actions by white slaveholders did not significantly reduce the numbers of slaves held statewide. In the entire period from 1799 to 1868 in Bracken Co. in Northern Kentucky, for example, slaveholders filed only 156 emancipation records in the courthouse, 14 of them in 1834–1836 by Arthur Thome of Augusta. In Owen Co. in 1847, Susan Herndon Rogers freed ten slaves, the Locust family, and gave them 403 acres known as Free Station, or Mountain Island. Her brother James Herndon executed a bond in 1853 for $21,000 in order to have his twenty-two slaves manumitted. The Vinegar, Smith and Carroll families divided 125 acres at Mountain Island (Theodore Vinegar). By 1827, the Emancipation movement in Ky. that had been spurred on by the Great Awakening ran out of steam as the movement’s leaders died or moved away, the impact of moral persuasion proved anemic.

It was Kentuckian Henry Clay, long an advocate of gradual emancipation, who in 1817 stimulated the founding of the national American Colonization Society, an idea originally floated in 1800 by Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe. It was not until 1823, that the first of the local colonization societies were created in Ky. Even though there were few free people of color in Ky. in those early years, white slaveholders continuously tried to get them to leave the state, fearing these freedmen would inspire blacks in bondage in Ky. to seek freedom. Colonization was fundamentally an answer to the reality that if slavery were ended, the South would have hundreds of thousands of freed slaves, a nightmare scenario to whites who dominated and controlled the slave system. Colonization as an antislavery concept built on the underlying racism and fear by the white power structure.

Many historians described the reaction of slaveholders to Nat Turner Rebellion in Va. in 1831 as a near hysteria that swept through the entire South producing far more stringent controls on slaves and heightening fears that free blacks might become agitators. In step with these times, contemporary newspapers in Ky., including ones in Northern Kentucky, regularly published sensationalized accounts of all slave revolts in the U.S. and in the Carribbean.

Colonization, then, had more to do with white fear of freed blacks, than it did with ending slavery. Through Clay’s legislative skills and support from many of the Southern delegations, the federal government was persuaded to purchase land in Africa. Ky.’s Colonization leaders—Henry Clay, Robert J. Breckinridge, William L. Breckinridge, John C. Underwood, some Old School Presbyterian congregations, and some Methodist Episcopal Church’s congregations—embraced the colonization concepts, because it would rid Ky. of the perceived twin evils, perpetual slavery and the fact that the nation had 250,000 freed blacks. By sending all blacks back to Africa, Ky. and the nation would thus be able to eliminate its race problem. Moreover, by supporting gradual emancipation, Ky. slaveholders would continue to benefit from their slaves economically until properly compensated for their “loss of property.” The only problem with the often-debated scenarios of the colonization movement was that the free people of color living in Ky. did not want to go to Africa. In the thirty years of activity, Ky. sent only 658 freed blacks to Africa, and some of them returned. Maysville had an active colonization society which, in May 1827, met at the Presbyterian Meeting House and elected the following officers:, Adam Beatty, John Chambers, Rev. John T. Edgar, William Huston Jr., Andrew M. January and as Managers: Johnston Armstrong, Lewis Collins, Peter Grant, James Morris, Captain Thomas Nicholson, Isaac Outten, Major Valentine Peers, James M. Runyon, Francis Taylor, and Rev. Walter Warder.

Many, if not most, of the early antislavery people left Ky. as soon as the land title offices opened in Ind. and Ill. They found themselves neighbors to fiercely antislavery farmers from Me., N.H., Vt., and upstate N.Y., and among these antislavery peoples in Ind. and Ill. early runaway slaves found people willing to give them food, rough shelter, and direction where another safe place might be found. By mid-1824, several friendly communities aiding runaway slaves dotted the shoreline across from Ky. on the north side of the Ohio River–Vevay and Pleasant Township in Switzerland Co., Ind.; the Free Will Baptists, Methodist Protestants, and Universalists of Aurora and Dearborn Co., Ind.; and the Seceder and Associate Reformed Presbyterians of South Hanover and Carmel and Rykers Ridge outside Madison, Ind. In Ohio, major assisting communities for runaway slaves were forming in Clermont and Brown counties.

As people migrated from N.C. and eastern Tenn. into and through Ky., information about the Quaker and Separate Baptist- inspired manumission societies filtered into the Commonwealth of Ky. A total of eighty-nine manumission societies had been established before 1830 along the Va. and Carolina tidewater cities and in Tenn. There were fifty manumission societies in N.C., and twenty-five societies, totaling 1,000 members, were formed in eastern Tenn., particularly in the area around Jonesboro. Quaker abolitionists transported hundreds of former slaves, purchased intact by family or manumitted by slave owners under the proviso that these freedmen would be taken out of the South. Soon free black agricultural communities emerged all along the southern regions of Ohio, Ind. and Ill. Each of these communities became a haven for runaway slaves.

Runaways found shelter among Ky.’s Free Blacks that had been brought, sent or who migrated naturally into the Northwest Territory. In 1821, E.S. Abdy, a British scholar, found runaway slaves hiding among formerly enslaved Kentuckians at Graysville, near Hanover, Ind. These transplanted Kentuckians, black and white, often guided by evangelistic religious denominations, were natural adherents of antislavery societies of the late 1830s, were often activists in the emerging Underground Railroad, and were promoters of antislavery political parties.

In the river counties north of the Ohio River, Universalists and Free Will Baptists, Seceder and Associate Reformed Presbyterians—all denominations that promoted true equality and slavery as the root of evil in the American political system—had only a modest influence as religious denominations on both sides of the Ohio River, but they clearly had a major impact on those individuals choosing to aid fugitive slaves.

Prior to 1838, when local and statewide antislavery societies were formed in Ind. and Ohio, aid to fugitive slaves was handled informally by small cells of antislavery black and white families that had relatives or trusted friends further north. Even with regular meetings and attempts to create secure routes to handle increasing numbers of runaway slaves, the so-called Underground Railroad was never very organized and continued to rely on experienced free black conductors such as Elijah Anderson and John P. Parker to bring large numbers of runaway slaves out of Ky. to freedom.

Cheryl LaRoche’s recent work comparing and contrasting free black agricultural communities in southern Ill., Ind., and Ohio concluded that harboring and aiding runaway slaves was a natural activity, an extension of their own experiences as former slaves and now freedmen. She also points out the significance of Bishop William Paul Quinn’s evangelism on behalf of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), the founding of aggressive antislavery churches, and Prince Hall Masonic orders as being significant components in establishing successful Underground Railroad routes. On Ky. soil, the AME congregations–Quinn Chapel in Louisville, St. James in Lexington, St. John in Frankfort, Bethel at Shelbyville, Ky., and Mill Creek in Cincinnati, Ohio–were all associated with black abolitionist and Underground Railroad activities.

Alarmed by the large free black community at Cincinnati and the economic loss of slaves along the Ohio River, Northern Kentucky newspapers provided a steady drumbeat over the 1840s and 1850s portraying abolitionists and free people of color with extreme pro-slavery prejudice. The 1829 and 1841 race riots at Cincinnati were portrayed as proof that blacks could not make good citizens while ignoring that Ky. invaders and white troublemakers had brought about this violence, even to the point of employing cannons in use against the black community of Cincinnati. The 1831 Lane Seminary debates in Cincinnati by Theodore Weld, James Bradley, and others were not covered as being challenges to slavery as an institution but rather as examples of unruly and disruptive elements among the seminary’s students. To Ky. newspapers, the 1836 mob violence against James Birney’s antislavery newspaper press in Cincinnati was not an infringement of U.S. Constitutional rights, but rather showed that even in Ohio, the vast majority of citizens objected to formation of the Philanthopist, an avowed antislavery newspaper. Underground Railroad agents, John G. Fee’s congregations in Ky. in Bracken, Madison and Lewis counties, Berea College in Ky., the Liberty Party, and the Indiana and Ohio Antislavery Societies all, in turn, were portrayed by these newspapers as irresponsible agitation by outsiders interfering in Ky.’s affairs. Were the newspapers representing prevailing sentiment among Ky.’s citizens or goading latent prejudices into action? The arguments cut both ways among recent historians.

In the debates leading up to the 1849 Ky. Constitutional Convention, 475 supporters of constitutional emancipation met in 1848 at Maysville in Mason Co. However, the antislavery resolution they drafted at this meeting was in reality a principal plank of the colonizationists–a plan for gradual emancipation and immediate colonization rather than the outright repeal the early Emancipationists desired.

During the 1850s, abolitionists in Ind. and Ohio, concluded it was time to press hard for an end to slavery in the U.S. The “Slave Power” of southern states had broken the Missouri Compromise and was in the process of extending slavery beyond the Mississippi River; no southern state seemed likely to abandon institutional slavery on its own. a point driven home further when the institution of slavery was reaffirmed by Ky.’s new State Constitution in 1850.

Immediatists in Ind. and Ohio split, however, on the means. Boycotting southern products, actively supporting the Underground Railroad, political action through the Liberty and Free Soil Parties, and creating communities sympathetic to northern views on slavery—such as John G. Fee had done at Berea, Ky.–in the midst of southerners were some of the concepts followed. On the national level, Abolitionist William Garrison disapproved of any action other than moral persuasion. John G. Fee’s Berea plan was attractive to the Garrisonites. However, many northern abolitionists believed that only through political action would slavery ever be overturned. James G. Birney turned from gradualism to outright abolition in what he advocated as a leader of the Liberty Party. Salmon P. Chase of Ohio and many of the Ind. leaders pushed the Free Soil Party’s agenda to prevent further encroachment of slavery in the western territories. Infuriated by passage of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act, these abolitionists helped to influence the nomination of Abraham Lincoln for U.S. President by the new Republican Party in 1860.

Direct political action to overturn slavery took many forms. Levi Coffin championed a boycott system by northerners and antislavery people refusing to buy Southern products made from slave labor. His store in Cincinnati sold goods made by free labor, and eliminated cotton products among many others agricultural products tied to the economy of the South. The American Missionary Society tried to distribute thousands of Bibles and antislavery tracts through the South through colporteurs, religious men, and women who traveled with suitcases and satchels full of what pro-slavery forces in the South termed “incendiary literature.” John G. Fee was very much associated with colporteurs in Central Kentucky.

Eli Thayer and John C. Underwood are credited with pushing the American Missionary Society’s activity beyond colporteurs to promote and finance the concept of “northern emigrant communities.” This direct action placed Northern abolitionist Christians living in the middle South and in the disputed western territories to model wage egalitarian societies so slaveowners could be shown how freedmen might act if they were educated and treated as citizens. The emigrant community established Kansas in the 1850s, so much associated with John Brown and the Missouri raids, was the first attempt to test these ideas. The emigrant community established at Ceredo, W.Va., near Ashland, Ky., was a far more successful venture focusing on mining and milling as a profit center. But in Ky., the most famous and controvesial of these abolitionist efforts was the failed community John G. Fee tried to establish in 1859 at Berea that also included a co-educational, integrated college. Located in Berea on lands granted by Cassius M. Clay, both the planned abolitionist colony and the college were immediately targeted by pro-slavery forces angered by John Brown’s October 1859 violent raid on Harpers Ferry, Va., and Fee and his colleagues were forced to flee across the Ohio River.

Typical of the reaction in Ky. to the expulsion of Fee and his associates was a resolution on January 21, 1860, at a meeting at Orangeburg in Mason Co., declaring: “No Abolitionist has the right to establish himself in the slaveholding community and disseminate opinions and principles destructive of the tranquility and safety.” Northerners, therefore, should look to their own salvation and leave Kentuckians alone.

Antebellum newspapers in Northern Kentucky aligned with either the Whig or the Democratic parties and treated news about runaway slaves, slave uprisings and Underground Railroad activities as crime stories. They also reported legislative acts of U.S. Congress concerning slavery, foreign news about the African slave trade, and announced local meetings of abolition, pro-slavery or colonization society meetings. In the 1840s and 1850s, Democratic newspapers took a decidedly anti-black position, running alarmist news stories about the Patrick Doyle slave revolt, Margaret Garner’s trial in Cincinnati for murdering her child , the Henderson slave revolt, runaway slave recaptures, and wherever possible, examples of escaped slaves who returned to their masters voluntarily. The villains in these articles were always Northern agitator abolitionists. Free blacks were characterized as buffoons, criminals, or puffed up by self-importance and by “trying to imitate their betters.”

In 1835, James Gillespie Birney, a slave owner who emancipated his slaves that year, and forty others founded the Ky. chapter of the American Antislavery Society and announced plans for a newspaper, the Philanthropist, to be printed at Danville, Ky., along with a postal campaign to send one million pieces of antislavery literature throughout the South. Danville literally ran James G. Birney and his antislavery publication out of town. Ironically, Birney’s father had supported Rev. David Rice, a Presbyterian minister, in attempting to keep slavery out of Ky. at the state’s 1792 constitutional convention.

Undaunted, Birney published the first issue of the Philanthropist on January 1, 1836, at New Richmond, Ohio, opposite Campbell Co., Ky., He subsequently moved the paper to Cincinnati where an angry mob destroyed the press on July 30, 1836. Birney continued publication of a paper with widespread support among antislavery people in the Northwest states. Editorially, the Philanthopist broke with William Lloyd Garrison’s emphasis on moral persuasion and actively encouraged political action. Birney founded the Liberty Party and ran for president in 1840 and again in 1844. Most of the leading antislavery people in the nation contributed articles to the Philanthropist.

Northern Kentucky made its own contribution to the establishment and printing of an antislavery newspaper through William Shreve Bailey’s The Newport News beginning in 1839 at Newport, Ky., in Campbell Co. Editorially, Bailey was a one-man show, championing the economic interests of working class people and claiming that slavery diminished their chances to earn decent wages. He was not at all interested in religious motivations to end slavery. As a result, abolitionists such as John G. Fee prevented the American Missionary Society from sending funds to Bailey after his newspaper press was burned out by arson. Bailey later traveled to New England and England seeking funds to restart his presses .

Some of the national antislavery newspapers found a few subscribers in Ky., especially in the cities; however most of their influence was through the antislavery societies in Ohio and Ind. The truth was that the Ky. educational system was so poor in quality that few yeomen could read or write. Ironically, it was the landed gentry, the slaveholders that educated their children.

Despite the fact that Abraham Lincoln’s had been born in Ky., his candidacy for president in 1860, seen as being antislavery and anti-southern by his critics, was immensely unpopular in Northern Kentucky. All three of the other candidates out polled the Republican Lincoln in Ky. . The old line Whig constituencies tended to favor John Bell, the Constitutional Unionist from Tenn., while the Democratic vote split in Ky. with native-son John C. Breckinridge, the Southern Democrat, picking up the old Andrew Jacksonites and Stephen Douglas of Ill., the Northern Democrat, the national Democratic vote. Only in the urban communities of Covington and Newport did Lincoln poll respectable numbers in Northern Kentucky in the 1860 election. Just across the Ohio River, both Ohio and Ind. gave major support to the election of Abraham Lincoln and the new Republican Party ticket.

Northern Kentucky’s Antislavery Vote in 1860

 

County

 

Potential

Vote

1860

Republican

  1. Lincoln
1860

Constitutional Union

John Bell

1860

Independent Democrat (South)

  1. Breckinridge
1860

Democrat

(North)

  1. Douglas
 

Percent Voting

Boone 2,409 1 881 228 739 77.2%
Bracken 2,358 4 881 246 644 75.3%
Campbell 5,125 314 854 960 520 51.7%
Carroll 1,352 0 436 76 572 79.7%
Gallatin 1,018 0 383 34 420 82.2%
Grant 1,742 0 677 112 709 86.0%
Kenton 6,170 267 1327 1312 670 57.6%
Mason 3,468 26 1305 247 799 58.5%
Owen 2,468 0 539 43 1760 94.9%
Pendleton 2,252 2 758 231 807 79.8%
Robertson NA NA NA NA NA NA

Source: Shannon and McQuown, Presidential Politics in Kentucky 1824—1948.

Four years later in 1864, with Ky. under military occupation, with rumors afloat that the Union Army was proposing enlisting black slaves and freedmen, and with many Kentuckians serving in Confederate Army units, the total vote in the state was suppressed significantly. Differences within the region were exaggerated in the 1864 election. Although McClelland won Ky. by a margin of two to one, Lincoln actually won in Kenton and in Campbell counties, albeit with a suspicious and remarkable 107% of eligible voters. By 1864, the overwhelming issues centered on the individual voter’s position in regard to supporting the Union or Confederacy as well as resentment toward Ky.’s continued treatment as a hostile region under military rule. A vote in Ky. for or against Abraham Lincoln now centered more on current political issues and the importance of the antislavery movement in Ky. had been eclipsed in the wake.

Northern Kentucky’s Presidential Vote in 1864

 

County

 

Potential

Vote

1864

Union

A/ Lincoln

1864

Democrat

General McClellan

 

Percent Voting

Boone 2,385 200 1063 53.0%
Bracken 2,506 268 922 47.5%
Campbell 2,597 1504 1286 107.4%
Carroll 1,408 82 324 28.8%
Gallatin 994 109 391 50.3%
Grant 2,022 220 373 29.3%
Kenton 6,990 1716 1375 44.2%
Mason 3,412 368 1197 45.9%
Owen 2,648 0 0 0
Pendleton 2,492 629 688 52.8%
Robertson NA NA NA NA
Soldiers Vote* 1194 2823

                   Note: Robertson not formed yet and Soldier’s Vote was statewide tally

REPOSITION THIS TABLE.

Bryant, James C. Mountain Island in Owen County, Kentucky, The Settlers and Their Churches. Owenton, Ky.: Owen County Historical Society, 1986.

Drummond, Dwight Lowell. Antislavery: The Crusade for Freedom in America. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1961.

Harrison, Lowell H. The Antislavery Movement in Kentucky. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 1978.

 

Howard, Victor B. The Evangelical War against Slavery and Caste, the Life and Times of John G. Fee, Selinsgrove, Penn.: Susquehanna University Press, 1996.

LaRoche, Cheryl Jenifer. “On the Edge of Freedom: Free Black Communities, Archaeology, and the Underground Railroad,” Ph.D. diss., University of Maryland, 2006.

Martin, Asa Earl. “Pioneer Antislavery Press,” Missouri Valley Historical Review, 2 (March 1916): 510–528.

Nowlin, William Dudley, Kentucky Baptist History 1790–1922. Louisville: Baptist Book Concern, 1922.

Ripley, C. Peter. ed. The Black Abolitionist Papers, III, IV and V. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1991.

Shannon Jasper B., and Ruth McQuown. Presidential Politics in Kentucky 1824–1948. Lexington: Bureau of Government Research, College of Arts and Sciences, University of Kentucky, 1930.

Sparks, Elder John. The Roots of Appalachian Christianity, Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2001.

Spencer, J.H. History of Kentucky Baptists from 1769 to 1865. Lafayette, Tenn.: Church History Research & Archives, 1976

Tallant, Harold D. Evil Necessity, Slavery and Political Culture in Antebellum Kentucky. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2003.

Turner, Wallace B. “Abolitionism in Kentucky,” RKHS, 69 (October 1971): 319–338.

 

Diane Perrine Coon

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?)