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