Category Archives: African American

Stories about Lawrence County, Ohio African American History. Taken by old newspapers and oral history. 

A Bloody Affair in Lawrence County, Ohio

Bloody Affray in Lawrence Co., Ohio 1850
Submitted by: Sharon Kouns


“This story was found in the Oregon Spectator Newspaper, December 12, 1850. The paper quotes the Ohio Journal. The actual incident happened July 15, 1850. As the Ironton Register didn’t begin until August 1, 1850, this is a part of history that would have been lost forever had these newspapermen not recorded it in the far west.”


Lawrence County, Ohio, July 15.
Bloody Affray. – Six Negro slaves who had escaped from their masters on the opposite side of the Ohio river, some eight or ten days previous, called on Josiah Crawford, who lives in Lawrence Co., requesting him to show the road north. Crawford gave directions accordingly. They started on the road as directed, and on reaching Morrison’s bridge, were met by several white men, who, supposing them to be fugitives, attempted to capture them. The Negroes, well armed, fired upon the whites, wounding several badly; they fell upon the remainder with cudgels and beat several until they supposed them dead, after which they made their way towards Crawford’s, who, on hearing the report of guns, started with two of his sons to ascertain the cause.

The Negroes fell upon them with cudgels and wounded each of them severely. It is thought that the old gentleman’s wounds are mortal. Several others were taken up for dead, one of whom received a bullet in the head. The Negroes made their escape into the woods. Some seventy men have started in pursuit.

One of the fugitives belongs to Mr. Stewart, near Guyandotte. In the absence of Mr. S. in pursuit of the Negro, two of his small sons were coaxed into the river by a Negro servant. On the approach of a violent storm, boys fled for shore, but were swamped in deep water instantly, and were drowned. – Ohio Journal.

George Wilson Story, part One

George Wilson Story, part One

Submitted by Betty Webb
The Ironton  Tribune
7 Aug. 1938

Editor’s Note: This is the first of three articles on Theodore [George] Wilson, colored, whose life became so much a part of this section of the country that it is aptly included in the History of Lawrence County which Mr. R.C. Hall has been preparing for The Tribune. The second article will appear next Sunday.


George Wilson was a native of Virginia, having been born in the year 1827. He was born in slavery and was owned for a time by a man named Bailey who lived in the eastern part of the state. But when he was about eight years of age, he was sold to Mr. Fredrick Beuhring, who lived in Cabell County in what is now West Virginia. That of course was long before the division of the “Old Dominion” and Virginia extended to the Ohio and Big Sandy rivers.
It was then quite customary, at least in certain localities, for the slaves to take the name of their master and so Mr. Wilson became commonly known as George Beuhring. He went by this name until after the Civil War or at least until he secured his freedom just previous to that war.

It appears that slavery did not press as heavily upon its subjects in Virginia as it did in the far south. Particularly was this true of western Virginia which later became West Virginia. And it appears that Mr. Wilson led as happy a life as could be expected for one not entirely a free man. But no matter how paternalistic and philanthropic servitude may be it is still servitude and few people who have ever experienced it that did not embrace the first opportunity to free themselves. So it was with Mr. Wilson. Meanwhile, however he had taken on the responsibilities of a wife and family and naturally he was as anxious – even more anxious perhaps – to provide for their future freedom and happiness than he was for his own. George Wilson married Dorcas Franklin, who had been in the western part of Virginia, i.e., what is now West Virginia, and like her husband was a slave. The following children were born to this union: Selena, Louisa, Albert, Arthur, Benjamin, Georgia, Theodore, Marcellus, Jonathan, Julias, Charlotte, and Nancy. Of these, five boys and three girls experienced slavery.

Mr. Beuhring must have been a farsighted businessman, and perhaps a more humane one too than the average slaveholder of his day. He probably realized it was better for himself and his slaves to permit them a certain amount of freedom of action. It not only contributed to their contentment but to his financial gain as well. So he permitted Mr. Wilson to have some time to work for himself and even permitted him to receive pay for his labor for others. In this way Mr. Wilson was able to lay aside a little cash for the comfort of his family and in preparation for the day of freedom which he doubtless saw ahead.

The farsightedness of Mr. Beuhring was further shown by a proposition he made to Mr. Wilson just before the outbreak of the Civil War. That was the chance he gave to the latter to secure his freedom by purchase. In other words, he offered Mr. Wilson the opportunity to ” buy himself ” as was the expression descriptive of an agreement between master and slave by which the latter was to receive his or her freedom upon the performance of a certain amount of work or the paying of a certain amount of money to be earned by working for the owner some one else. In this case, Mr. Beuhring agreed to manumit, i.e., make out papers of freedom for Mr. Wilson upon the latter’s payment of six hundred dollars. Or rather Mr. Wilson was to pay three hundred dollars in cash and the rest when and if he became financially able to do so. However, he gave his note for the deferred payment and set about to earn the money necessary to meet it. He earned a large part of the amount he paid by working on the construction of the old suspension bridge over the Guyandotte River at Guyandotte, West Virginia.

The Civil War came on, the Emancipation Proclamation was issued and all the slaves were freed by these acts the constitutional amendments following in their wake. Naturally the things freed Mr. Wilson of his legal obligation to complete his payment for his freedom. But George Wilson was a man of his word. He believed that a contract was a contract and morally binding on those who made it and so he insisted on paying the rest of the amount – every cent he had agreed to pay. Such was the high standard of Christian character, morality and honesty set by George Wilson and carefully followed by his descendants.

After securing his freedom, he came to Lawrence County, Ohio, crossing the Ohio River at what is now Tenth Street, Huntington, West Virginia. and going to Fayette Township, then to Union, and finally settling near Rome in Rome Township. After coming to Rome Township Mr. Wilson rented seven acres of land from Mr. L.D. Morrison and established his house near the settlement known as Rome. He was a hard working and accommodating man and soon, found plenty of work to do. He began to garden his small tract of land and particularly raise melons, but during the winter and his spare time he added to his small income by handling coal for various persons in the community. By this time all his children had succeeded in getting out of Dixie, as the country south of the Ohio River was generally known to such folks, and their father was anxious that they gain an education. In fact he himself lamented the fact that he had had no such opportunity and determined to remedy that defect. He did learn to read and spell but writing proved to be to much for one of his years and disposition. But he wanted so much to learn to sign his name that he even began to go to school with his children. However he could stand it but a few days and relinquished the matter of education to his children.

After some time at Rome George Wilson bought the seven acres of Mr. Morrison and then added to it by purchasing two and twenty – two hundredths of an acres from what was known as the T. A. Walton tract. He also bought fourteen acres from the Kimble tract, as it was then known. This gave him a nice tract of land for the purposes of small farming and market gardening. Mr. George Wilson was not only a man of thrift and industry but religious as well, and many evidences of his fine Christian character were recognized by his white neighbors. As he was of the Methodist persuasion and had no church of his own in the neighborhood, he was taken under the watch care of the old Rome Methodist Episcopal Church of which he became a faithful attendant. We have heard older folks tell many times how he used to sit in the rear of the church and listening attentively to the services and on Communion Day, after the regular members had taken the Sacrament, the minister would extend the invitation to others and he would reverently advance to the altar for the Sacrament. After the Ebenezer church was established at Huntington, West Virginia he moved his membership there. His wife passed away in 1868, after which he married Mrs. Laura Wyatt. They had two children, Elmer and Ellsworth.

George Wilson Story, part Two

 

The George Wilson Story, part Two

Submitted by Martha J. (Kounse) Martin
The Ironton Tribune
July 28, 1938

Editor’s Note: This is the first of three articles on Theodore [George] Wilson, colored, whose life became so much a part of this section of the country that it is aptly included in the History of Lawrence County which Mr. R.C. Hall has been preparing for The Tribune. The second article will appear next Sunday.


After this narrative, Mr. SLOAN said to him, “I have a log house down on the creek (Indian Guyan), move there and clear up some ground and I will do what I can for you!” Father, with a glad heart, rode back to the cabin where he had left us. On reaching the cabin on the DILLON farm, the Ku Klux had been there again, and left word for him to move out. Mr. DILLON placed a guard over the house. Mother prepared supper, father took the old George horse, a quilt and an arm load of horse weeds and went up to a cliff near by and slept there all night.

The next morning, he loaded us all in the one horse wagon and drove to Mr. SLOAN’S farm. On reaching the place, we moved into the little cabin, with its dirt floor. Making a long story short, we began life.

The Ku Klux Klan tried to run us off from there, but Mr. SLOAN gave them to understand they had to let us alone. After four years on the farm of Mr. SLOAN, we moved to Rome. Father rented seven acres of land from L.D. MORRISON.”

We have quoted the above several paragraphs from some notes we asked Mr. WILSON to prepare on his experiences. As they may tell so vividly of that portion of his life and show so well his ability, even after all these years, to relate the events in which he participated.

After his father got settled at Rome, he looked about for means to educate his children. In this he was assisted by the farseeing and philanthropic citizens of Quaker Bottom who made arrangements to provide a school for colored as well as white students. And it was not long before The Board of Education of Rome Township and also that of Union Township was offering schooling facilities for the colored folks. The WILSON children attended some in both townships and had to trudge a long distance through the snow
and cold of winter to avail themselves of this opportunity. But Mr. WILSON says that they liked it and the result, in his case speaks for itself. For by the year 1876, he was able to secure his teacher’s certificate.

Thus, at the age of nineteen years, Theodore WILSON, entered the
profession of teaching. He secured a school in Huntington, WV, which was just then beginning to show signs of the great city into which it was destined to so quickly develop. And one of those first signs was the progressive attitude taken by its leading business and professional men on the question of education. Moreover, their wisdom was further shown by their sponsorship of schools for the colored citizens such as that to which Mr. WILSON was called. It is interesting to note that this, his first school, was located within four city blocks of his birthplace, namely at the corner of Third Avenue and Twelfth Street, Huntington, WV. His immediate and continued success as a teacher is indicated by the fact that he taught in Huntington for thirteen years.

Naturally his success was due in part to the support given him by the
leading white citizens of the city, and no one could show greater gratitude for this support than Mr. WILSON himself. Of his own accord he has listed for us the names of the following gentlemen who he says were his “ardent supporters” during the thirteen years of his work there: Gen. J.H. OLEY; Col. D.W. EMMONS; Foster STEWARD; D.I. SMITH; George F. MILLER; J. Hooe RUSSELL; Sam GIDEORN; B.T. DAVIS; Dr. BUFFINGTON; W.H. HOLESWADE; Taylor WELLINGTON; B.H. TRACKSTON; W.O. JAMES; J.M. JASPER; Wm. MORGAN and Thomas WELKINS.

Meanwhile, young WILSON had been severely and dangerously injured in playing what was even then perhaps considered as “the great American game”, baseball. Somehow, during a hard game, he had the misfortune to turn one limb in such a way that the hip was dislocated. Such an injury is perhaps always serious, but in those days of comparatively limited surgical skill, it presented a permanent cripple, so far as that one limb was concerned. But even this did not prevent him from continuing his education and his work. After three years of hobbling about on a crutch, he was able to dispense with this assistance and to walk unaided although with a limp, as the accident left him with that limb slightly shorter that the other.

After teaching in Huntington, Mr. WILSON returned to Ohio and was employed to teach at what is known locally as Red Hill. That is the community just over the hill, on the Jackson Road, about a mile north of Proctorville. A half century and more ago, it was essentially a colored community and the Proctorville Board of Education maintained a special school there for the colored folks of that district. The well known colored Baptist church known as Mount Pisgah still stands in that community, but the school, was generally known as the Red Hill School. After a successful tenure as teacher at this school, Mr. WILSON returned to the West Virginia schools
and secured a position as teacher at Guyandotte.

Meanwhile, this progressive and able young man had found knowledge and skill both by study and formal school as well as by experience. Oberlin College at Oberlin, OH, then offered the best and most available means for a young colored person to secure a college education. Accordingly, Mr. WILSON finally succeeded in being able to attend that great institution.

That was in the year 1884. After studying for a time at Oberlin, Mr. WILSON returned home and again took up his work.

Another one of the leading colored schools of Cabell County, WV, at that time was located at Barboursville and Mr. WILSON taught there for a while and the secured a position at Wayne County Court House, as the county seat of Wayne County was then called. After that, he taught in KY, both at Louisa and Blaine. Thus it will be seen that he had a wide and varied experience as a school teacher in three states.

But teaching has been, and was a boisterously poorly paid profession. That is, teachers themselves were poorly paid so far as actual money was concerned although the satisfaction coming to a really interested teacher is something not to be measured in dollars and cents. However, Mr. WILSON wished to establish his permanent home in his boyhood neighborhood and returned to the old homestead to look for a place of his own. He had the opportunity to buy a small tract of land and although he lacked the necessary cash, his reputation for honesty, industry and thrift was such that he had no difficulty in securing the financial backing of Mr. O.A. ASH, who still is a neighbor to him and the late C.H. HALL, of Huntington, this writer’s uncle, that he was able to purchase the farm on which he
still lives. The century naturally was a success and now for many years the Theodore WILSON home has been one of the landmarks, so to speak, of the Rome community in Quaker Bottom, OH.

Mr. WILSON’S first wife didn’t not survive long after their marriage and his life was further saddened by the passing of their son, Kelso Lee WILSON, who was born on 21 September 1882 and passed away in the year 1890.

On 16 July 1897, Mr. WILSON was united in marriage with Miss Emma LAYNE. They had one son, H.C. WILSON, who was born on 15 March 1897. He was but slightly younger that this writer. We were boys together in the same community. We, for a short time, attended the same school, and as our gathers were at times associated with each other in farming ventures, we boys played together. He was a likable boy and grew up to be a bright young man, full of promise and of course dearly beloved by his parents.

But he was stricken ill in the year 1917, and passed away while just on the verge of manhood.

We have just referred to Mr. WILSON’S association with our father in farming and so perhaps should explain, that by that time, which was about thirty-five years ago, Theodore WILSON had become one of the leading gardeners of Quaker Bottom and frequently, in addition to farming, or gardening, his own land, he rented land of neighboring farmers and marketed their produce for them. Thus, for a number of seasons he marketed the strawberry crop produced on our home farm and preformed other services for our family. He had the reputation of being able to handle such crops with the least loss and to sell them for the best prices of any of the hucksters of the community. And our folks found this to be so true that they secured his services, year after year.

No doubt, many people who frequented the Huntington market and groceries in days gone by will remember Mr. WILSON distinctly. He kept a spic and span delivery service, on the side of which was painted in bright letters “Lizzie B”, which was the name of the spirited horse which drew the conveyance. In those days it was necessary for a Quaker Bottom gardener to start with his produce for the market the night before the day of the sale. That is, and was necessary, if he expected to sell his produce for the best prices.

In addition to the many other services Mr. WILSON has rendered, the community in which he lives, he acted for many years as caretaker of Rome Chapel and as Sexton of the Proctorville-Rome Cemetery.

In Christian work, Mr. WILSON has long been a member of the Ebenezer Methodist Episcopal Church in Huntington, WV, having joined under the pastorate of Rev. S.M. JEFFERSON.

He is also a charter member of the A.F. & A.M. Lodge of Masons of Huntington, WV. A charter member of his lodge of Odd Fellows and a member of the Order of Galliean Fishermen.

And now, after some 80 years of life well spent, Mr. WILSON, in a recent communication to the writer, expressed his contentment and peace of mind by simply saying that he is “waiting the call.” However, his many friends on this side cannot help hoping devotedly that “the call” will be long deferred.

The George Wilson Story, part Three

The George Wilson Story, part Three

Submitted by Betty Webb
The Ironton  Tribune
7 Aug. 1938

Editor’s Note: This concludes three articles prepared by Mr. R. C. Hall Ph.D. on the life of Theodore Wilson, outstanding colored man, whose life is identified with Lawrence County, and who now after 80 active years is ” waiting for the call. ” The sketch of the Wilson family has been a part of Mr. Hall’s Lawrence County History, a Tribune Sunday feature. Naturally his success was due in part to the support given him by the leading white citizens of the city, and no one could show greater gratitude for this support than Mr. Wilson himself. Of his own accord he has listed for us the names of the following gentlemen whom he says were his “ardent supporters” during the thirteen years of his work there: Gen. J.H. Oley, Col. D.W. Emmons, Foster Steward, D. I. Smith, George F. Miller, J. Hooe Russell, Sam Gideorn, B.T. Davis, Dr. Buffington, W.H. Holeswade, Taylor Wellington, B.H. Trackson, W. O. James, J. M. Jasper, Wm. Morgan, and James Welkins. Meanwhile young Wilson had been severely and dangerously injured in playing what was even then perhaps considered as ” the great American game,” baseball. Somehow, during a hard game, he had the misfortune to turn one limb in such a way that the hip was dislocated. Such an injury is perhaps always serious, but in those days of comparatively limited surgical skill, it presented a problem often baffling indeed. In this case, although the patient recovered, he was rendered a permanent cripple, so far as that one limb was concerned. But even this did not prevent him from continuing his education and his work. After three years of hobbling about on a crutch, he was able to dispense with this assistance and to walk unaided although with a limp, as that accident left him with that limb slightly shorter than the other. After teaching in Huntington, Mr. Wilson returned to Ohio and was employed to teach at what is known locally as Red Hill. That is the community just over the hill, on the Jackson road, About a mile north of Proctorville. A half century and more ago, it was essentially a community and the Proctorville Board of Education maintained a special school there for the colored folks of the district. The well-known colored Baptist church of Mount Pisgah still stands in that community, but the school was generally known as the Red Hill school. After a successful tenure at this school, Mr. Wilson returned to the West Virginia schools and secured a position as a teacher at Guyandotte. Meanwhile, this progressive and able young man had found time to improve his knowledge and skill both by reading and formal school as well as experience. Oberlin College at Oberlin, Ohio, then offered the best and most available means for a young colored person to secure a college education. Accordingly, Mr. Wilson finally succeeded in being able to attend that great institution. That was the year 1885. After studying for a time at Oberlin, Mr. Wilson returned home again and took up his work. Another one of the leading colored schools of Cabell County, West Virginia, at that time was located at Barboursville and Mr. Wilson taught there for awhile and then secured a position at Wayne Court House as the county seat of Wayne County was then called. After that he taught in Kentucky both at Louisa and Blaine. Thus it will be seen that he had a wide and varied experience as a teacher in three states, West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky. But teaching has been, and was especially a notoriously poorly paid profession. That is teachers themselves were poorly paid so far as actual money was concerned although the satisfaction coming to a to a really interested teacher is something not to be measured in dollars and cents. However Mr. Wilson wished to establish his permanent home in his boyhood neighborhood and returned to the old homestead to look for a place of his own. He had the opportunity to buy a small tract of land and, although he lacked the necessary cash, his reputation for honesty, industry and thrift was such that he had no difficulty securing the financial backing of white friends able to assist him. He says that it was the backing of Mr. A. O. Ash who still lives a neighbor to him and the late C. H. Hall of Huntington, this writer’s uncle, that he was able to purchase the farm on which he still lives. The venture was naturally a success and now for many years the Theodore Wilson home has been one of the landmarks, so to speak, of the Rome community in Quaker Bottom, Ohio. Mr. Wilson’s first wife did not survive long after their marriage and his life was further saddened by the passing of their son, Kelso Lee Wilson, who was born on September 21st, 1882, and passed away in the year 1890. On July 16,1896, Mr. Wilson was united in marriage with Miss Emma Layne, They had one son H. C. Wilson, who was born on March 15, 1897. He was, but slightly younger than this writer. We were boys together in the same community. We for a short time attended the same school, and as at times our fathers were associated in farming ventures, we boys played together. He was a likable boy and grew up to be a bright young man, full of promise and of course dearly beloved by his parents. But he was stricken ill in the year 1917 and passed away while just on the verge of manhood. We have just referred to Mr. Wilson’s association with our father in farming and so, perhaps should explain, that by that time, which was about thirty – years ago, Theodore Wilson had become one of the leading gardeners of Quaker Bottom and frequently, in addition to farming or gardening his own land, he rented land of neighboring farmers and marketed their produce for them. Thus for a number of seasons he marketed the strawberry crop produced on our home farm and preformed other services for our family. He had the reputation of being able to handle such crops with the least loss and sell them for the best prices of any of the hucksters in the community. And our folks found this to be so true that they secured his services year after year. No doubt many people who frequented the Huntington market and groceries in days gone by will remember Mr. Wilson distinctly. He kept a spick and span delivery express, on the side of which was painted in bright letters “Lizzie B.,” which was the name of the spirited horse which drew the conveyance, which pulled the plow across the fields at home and which led him on the proverbial merry chase when her spirit was aroused. In those days it was necessary for a Quaker Bottom gardener to start with his produce for the market the night before the day of the sale. That is, it was necessary, if he expected to sell his produce for the best prices. Accordingly Mr. Wilson after a hard day in the field, a little sleep in the evening and the rest of the night spent on the wagon en route to market and under the river bank waiting his turn on the Proctorville ferry would proceed to Huntington, dispose of his produce, return home and perhaps catch a short nap before returning to the field again. Such was the life of a market gardener in Quaker Bottom thirty years ago. At least such was the life of those, who like Theodore Wilson who made a success of it. It is little wonder he succeeded where so many others failed. Nor should we neglect to mention his faithful help and co-operation given to him by his devoted wife. For many years Mrs. Wilson not only faithfully preformed the duties of a wife and companion but assisted her husband in the field, in a small store which he operated on the premises and by serving a number of wealthy families in various capacities. Like her husband, she was an intelligent and well-educated person. In addition to the many other services, Mr. Wilson has rendered the community in which he lives, he acted for many years as caretaker of Rome Chapel and as Sexton of the Proctorville- Rome Cemetery. In Christian work, Mr. Wilson has long been a member of the Ebenezer Methodist Episcopal in Huntington, W. Va., having joined under the pastorate of Rev. S. M. Jefferson. He is also a charter member of the A. F. & A. M. Lodge of Masons of Huntington, a charter of his lodge of Odd Fellows and a member of the Order of Galilean Fishermen. And now after over 80 years of life well spent, Mr. Wilson, in a recent communication to the writer expressed his contentment and peace of mind by simply saying that he is “waiting for the call.” However, his many friends on this side cannot help hoping devotedly that “the call” will be deferred.

Slavery was never as absolute in Kentucky as in other Southern States, and the Negroes were allowed many privileges

Submitted by: Sharon Kouns

The Ironton Register September 12, 1867

       A correspondent writing from Kentucky describes as follows the domestic life there in the days of slavery:
       “Among the colored people may be found many men of wealth, intelligence and undoubted mental and moral worth. Slavery was never as absolute in Kentucky as in other Southern States, and the Negroes were allowed many privileges. The reason of this will be manifested when we consider the close relation in which the Kentuckian lived with his slaves. He was fond of horses and the black hostler had his confidence; they discussed the merits and points of the horses together, the slave on such questions often proving more intelligent than his master; they bet their money and won or lost together, and were in a great many respects personal and confidential friends. The pretty yellow girls on the plantations were the master’s concubines, and their children he would give to his friends, but seldom or never would sell. The most intelligent slaves were made servants in the family, and were generally treated with great consideration and kindness. Each master has his black boy and every Miss her waiting girl. As is usually the case with the young, these body servants became great favorites, and master and boy, mistress and girl were fond of each other. In the love affairs of the young master the boy was his confidential agent and tried friend. He carried all master’s love notes, and not only the answer, but Sam’s report was looked for with more anxiety than the letter itself, for however formal the reply might be, Sam could tell how old Mistress looked when he delivered the letter; whether Miss blushed and seemed agitated or not; what the servants said, and a thousand other things intensely interesting for the lover to know. Generally, the wily slave made love to the mistress’s maid, and thus the private thoughts almost of the young girl came to the master. If the match was opposed by cruel parents, Sam, somehow or other, nearly always managed to fall in love with a black girl on his master’s sweetheart’s plantation, and it was he who arranged the escape, and waited by the garden wall with saddle horses for the eloping lovers.
       “What the boy was to the master, the young slave girl was to her mistress. – She was consulted on all matters of importance, kept young mistress’s secrets, told her what dress she looked prettiest in, which one her lover liked best, and what Sam told her young master had said of her complexion, her eyes, her teeth and her foot. It was in the lap of the faithful slave the warmhearted Southern girl, when crossed in love or grieved with her lover, laid her pretty head and cried as if her heart would break; and it was into the listening and sympathizing heart of the black all her grief’s and troubles were poured. If young master or mistress went to school, the slave went too, and became for the time being servants in their boarding houses. If the young people traveled, the blacks went along and saw all they did. These body servants generally picked up a great deal of intelligence, learned to read and write, and are now the best informed colored men and women in Kentucky.
       The __delity of the slaves was often rewarded by the kindest of treatment and happiness of life. If the young people married, what less could they do than take their body servants who had shared their sorrows and joys, into their household?”

Special Census of Negros 1863 for Lawrence County, Ohio

Special Enumeration of Negroes, 1863 
Lawrence County Ohio

Submitted by: Sharon M. Kouns

Auditor’s Office, Lawrence County
Ironton, Ohio March 24th, 1863

Mr. R. W. Taylor

Auditor of State —
Dear Sir
In my report of the 21st inst. relative to Colored persons who have emigrated from other States, you will see my reference that the returns from Union Township was rather indefinite, you will please discard my report from said township and receive instead the following which come to hand today.
(Note – all were in Union Twp., Lawrence County and emigrated from W.Va. except Thos. Hill.)
l. Samuel Haley
2. Sarah Haley
3. Sidney Haley
4. Hannah Haley
5. Sarah Haley
6. Louisa Haley
7. Feecilla Haley
8. Alexander Haley
9. George Wilson
10. Darkins Wilson
11. Solona Wilson
12. Laura Wilson
13. Sarah Wilson
14. Geo. Wilson
15. Theodore Wilson
16. Marciious Wilson
17. Sarah Martin
18. Plesant Spencer
19. Caroline Spencer
20. Frances Spencer
21. Geo. Spencer
22. Elizabeth Spencer
23. Ralph Wyette
24. Rhoda Wyette
25. Clark Wyette
26. Robert Wyette
27. Joseph Wyette
28. Lucinda Wyette
29. Augustus Wyette
30. Henry Grant
31. Thos. Hill – North Carolina
32. Fletcher Spencer – West Va.
I certify the above to be correct.
Seth Sutherland, Aud. Law. Co., O.

SOURCE: Special Enumeration of Negroes, 1863, Ohio Historical Society.
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Athalia, Lawrence County, Ohio
March 19th, 1863

To the Auditor of Lawrence County
Dr. Sir:
In compliance with yours of the 9th inst. I submit to you the following report.
Names of colored persons residing in Rome Township who have emigrated from other states since the 1st of March 1861.
Benjamin Franklin – W. Va.
Malissa Franklin – W. Va.
Jenny Allen Franklin – W. Va.
Honor Hartsup Franklin – W. Va.
McKendry Starks – W. Va.
Addison Starks – W. Va.
Alexander Washington – W. Va.
Caroline Porter – W. Va.
Margaret Porter – W. Va.
John Myers – From State of Kentucky
Edward Richards – From State of Kentucky
yours Respt. L. K. Robinson, Assessor Rome Tp.

Service two days.
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Mr. Seth Sutherland, Auditor L. C.

Dear Sir
As required by you I have endeavored to ascertain the no. of Colored persons residing in Perry Township who have emigrated there since March 1st 1861, and I hereby report to you that there are none, the only colored persons now residing in said Township, numbering in all 13 have resided there about 12 years and there is no other persons of African decent now residing in said township.

Yours truly March 20th 1863
Alfred Hastings Assessor

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Burlington March 17th 1863
Auditor Lawrence County Ohio

Sir: – The following are the facts relative to the information asked for in your letter of the 9th inst.
Andrew Osburn – North Carolina
Daniel King – Va.
James Jackson – Ky. (about the 20th Feby. 1861)
Kelley Bell – Ky
Reuben Shaddock – Ky
Mary Shaddock – Ky
Reuben Shaddock Jr. – Ky
George H. Shaddock – Ky
Jefferson Waggoner – Arkansas
It took me three and half days to go over my township.
Yours truly
J. F. (?) Langshore Assessor F. Tp.

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Olive Furnace March 20, 1863
Mr. Seth Sutherland

Dr. Sir
I employed Mr. A. Burroughs to go through our township and found that there are no colored persons in the Township that come from other States since March 1st 1861. He claims pay for one day

Very resp. yours
W. N. McGugin

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March 21st 1863
Mr. Sutherland

I did not get your letter till early Thursday morning and I went to work immeadetly (sic) to ascertain how many Colored person there was in Union township
1. Samuel Haley – Cab. Co. Va. (Cab = Cabell)
2. Sarah Haley – (same)
3. Sidney Haley – (same)
4. Hannah Haley – (same)
5. Sarah Haley – (same)
6. Louisa Haley – (same)
7. Lurana Haley – (same)
8. Precilla Haley – (same)
9. Alexandra Haley – (same)
10. George Wilson – (same)
11. Harkus Wilson – (same)
12. Selona Wilson – (same)
13. Lawra Wilson – (same)
14. Sawrar Willson – (same)
15. George Willson – (same)
16. Theadore Wilson – (same)
17. Marcilous Willson – (same)
18. Sarah Martin – (same)
19. Plesant Spencer – Wain Co. Va.
20. Caroline Spencer – (same)
21. Frances Spencer – (same)
22. George Spencer – (same)
23. Elizabeth Spencer – (same)
24. Ralph Wyett – Cab. Co. Va.
25. Rodah Wyett – (same)
26. Clark Wyett – (same)
27. Robert Wyett – (same)
28. Joseph Wyett – (same)
29. Lucinda Wyett – (same)
30. Augustas Wyett – (same)
31. Henry Grant – (same)
32. Thomas Hill – North Carolina
33. Fletcher Spencer – Cabell Co. Va.
You requested me to let you now how many days employed in serves I was three days
I wish you would let me now if there hast to be a stamp on deeds when the amount is less than one hundred dollars and if so what they will cost

Respt. yours
R. J. Eaton Assessor of Union Township
Law. Co. Ohio

Obituary of Fomer Slave, Lewis Brooks, Sr.

Submitted by: Sharon Kouns

SLAVE DAYS

Lewis Brooks Sr. died last Saturday at his home on Centre-st., aged 80  years. He was a well-known colored citizen of Red Hill, back of Proctorville, until about two years ago, when his property was burned and he moved to Ironton. The deceased was an active participant in the tragic events of slavery days, both in the South and on this side of the Ohio river. He belonged to the Brooks family near Richmond, while his wife and her ten children were owned by the Garland estate nearby, and were freed by Mary Garland, a lovely young lady whose memory of the family has cherished among the most precious things of life. At the same time, the father was freed by the provisions of a will, but the heirs contested the will and he won his freedom by a decision of the courts. So, they were all sent to Ohio by Mary Garland, and crossed from Guyandotte to Proctorville on the 9th of November, 1852, just 44 years from the day he was buried.  

       Edward Brooks, who was then six years old, well remembers how the family went to Richmond to be registered and get their “free papers,” and while there were confined in Lumkins’ “nigger trade pen.” He relates an interesting circumstance in this connection. Miss Garland’s brother objected to her generous act, and in this the famous trader Lumkins joined, saying if the slaves were freed they should be sent to Africa. But their fair mistress said they should go where they wished, and to Ohio they came.

       In due time the war broke out, and the six year old slave as a Union soldier was detailed to take charge of another Lumkins trading pen at Huntsville, Ala. The two Lumkins were brothers. One bought slaves in Richmond, and shipped them to Huntsville to a higher market. Now when the Brooks family passed through the Richmond pen the wife of the Huntsville trader was there, and when she heard Ed’s name as a soldier she remembered him and told him of it. It was then Ed fully understood the desire of the Richmond trader, that the freed slaves should go to Africa, rather than to help swell the tide of anti-slavery sentiment in the north.

       Lewis Brooks’ home back of Proctorville was a station on “the underground railway,” and many were the fugitive slaves who received assistance there, in the hour of great peril.

General Muster, Hotel Incidents and more

OLD TIMES.
(by John G. Wilson)
No. 5.
From: Folklore and Legends

Submitted by: Sharon M. Kouns

Ironton Register, Thursday, August 8, 1895

For the Register.

With what anticipation did we boys await the time of general muster day when the able-bodied citizens of Lawrence county were called together to go through with the military drill prescribed by the law.

General Fuller, of Rome, in chief command, resplendent in gold lace and shining epaulets , mounted, with drawn sword, giving command; then Colonel Andrew P. Kouns, also mounted; also Captain Carter with others I have forgotten. Then the drill with a medley of arms of all kinds, muskets, rifles, shotguns, &c., and the men out of step treading on the heels of those in front to be sworn at and then to swear at those behind. But then to hear the fife and drum pealing out Yankee Doodle and to think as Sam Slick says in his book – “The British whipped the world and we whipped the British,” was glory enough to balance all the worry and trouble they were going through. After the drill, then the dinner and such feasting as only our grandmothers knew how to provide.

John Carter, mentioned above, had a tame bear which he had raised and he would bring it to town for the boys to try their strength wrestling with it, the bear usually coming out victorious. The bear, however, grew so large and strong that he became dangerous, when Carter had him killed and sold the meat at quite a good price.

After the muster came the 4th of July celebration. I remember one in which the town did its best. They had a table about 50 feet long placed on the northwest side of the public square, under some beautiful maple trees, in front of Jas. H. Drury’s residence which had a double porch fronting the square, making a good place for the band and speakers. The Declaration of Independence was read and a speech from one of the lawyers; then the feast. The table fairly groaned with the good things of life. The colored folks were in their glory. An old man named Sam Bland, (whom the young men had made about half drunk and had filled a two bushel sack with the fragments of the feast for him) looked at the bag, then jumping as high as he could, said: “Burn my jacket eberlastin to a day, I wish 4th of July would come eber day.” The colored folks were in their glory on muster, 4th of July and “cote” week as they termed it. They were mostly employed at the different hotels and there was considerable rivalry as to which house was the best.

Aunt Tilda Johnson, mother of Gabe of your town, was head cook at Tom Clark’s Hotel and the autocrat of all the Russias was no more supreme then she was in her kitchen, and the way we used to flatter her in order to get a taste of the good things!

Phillip Linch, an old colored man who died in your town a few years ago, was employed at the same place, and was a great favorite with us boys. He was generous to a fault and would do anything to keep us from getting whipped. Our family boarded there until we had a house built, and I thought Uncle Phil was the best man living. Phil. was a shouting Methodist , at that time, and he wound up his prayer very uniquely, as follows: “Dog my cat by the land, Amen.” Poor old Phil, he is now in the land where trouble, sorrow, toil and fear are gone. For they, the colored folks, were in daily fear of the kidnappers and slave hunters who were constantly on the lookout for a chance to catch some poor runaway, or kidnap one if they thought they could but get him across the lines.

I remember when I was about 10 years old, that Bill Simmons and his gang came to my father’s store, in search of runaway slaves, and I thought as I looked at them (they were large fierce looking men armed to the teeth with pistols, knives &c., and had handcuffs tied to their saddles,) what a poor chance would the fleeing black man have, and my best wishes went out that the slave might reach Canada and be free. Their rude, boisterous, profane language, with breath redolent with bad whiskey and tobacco made them very offensive. The poor colored folks gave a long sigh of relief when they mounted their horses and went out in the country on their search. Simmons was the leader of a band of slave hunters and lived over in Virginia.

There was an underground railroad as it was termed which ran through or near by Burlington and many a poor slave was fed and piloted from one point to another by those who were posted having the North Star as their beacon of hope as they neared the promised land of freedom. They only traveled at night and the halting places were just far enough apart to consume the night, lying by in the day time.

I recollect of an incident related to several years ago by a prominent citizen in which he was an actor. He was out in the hills back of the town picking blackberries and was in quite a wild, lonely place, where rocks and undergrowth were very thick. There was no one near, when he heard close by the words, “Massa, Massa,” and looking around he saw at last a black face peering around a large rock. “I am hungry, Massa, most starved,” said the man. He motioned to the slave, for such he was, to go back into his hiding, and told him he would send him food, which he did. Also he had a guide sent by another citizen and was sent on his way rejoicing. At that time it was at the risk of one’s business and social standing to give any aid to a runaway, but thank God the days of slavery with all their dreadful horrors are banished forever.
G
.

 

Who Killed Andrew Boggs

OLD TIMES.
(by John G. Wilson)
No. 45.
From: Folklore and Legends

Submitted by: Sharon M. Kouns

Ironton Register, Thursday, May 21, 1896

For the Register.

About sixty years ago there moved to what is now called Macedonia, a colored man named Andrew Boggs or Box, as the people called him. He came from North Carolina and had the blood of three races in his veins white, black and red. His wife was almost white. He was a man of enterprise, attended strictly to his own affairs and soon succeeded in accumulating some property, both land and chattel. He was noted for his good horses and cows, keeping them in the best of order. He was a very stern man, speaking but seldom, and then only when his business relations demanded, all of which tended to make him enemies. His credit was good and his word was his bond.

After he had lived here for several years and was well acquainted with the citizens of this township, he mysteriously disappeared. Nothing was thought of it for several days, until his folks were questioned and they could give no account of him. He was not wont to make anyone a confident and went and came without the knowledge of any. They only knew that he was gone but where they could not tell.

After a few weeks and just after a hard rain, his body was found lodged in the willows just below town. Burlington was the county seat then, so the Coroner was notified and the body was hauled up to the Courthouse, where it was recognized by one of our merchants who was well acquainted with him, and with whom he dealt. On examination, it was found that he had been murdered. His head bore the marks of a pick or mattock, and his skull had been broken by the same in many places. The verdict of the Coroner’s jury was that he had been murdered by parties unknown. Warrants were issued for several of the family, as suspicion was aroused on account of their not making inquiry about him. They were arrested and brought to town and the trial began. The prisoners were guarded by armed men, and much excitement prevailed. I was quite a lad but remember that one witness, an old hunter testifying to the kind of blood which was found on the bottom of his Bogg’s wagon, he the hunter, said, that he had killed many deer and had skinned them on his cabin floor, and that there was a very decided difference between animal and human blood; that the animal blood left a different stain from that of human blood and could be washed out, but that human blood could not be washed out; and that in his opinion the blood stains in the wagon were made by human blood. There were indications of the bottom of the wagon being washed to get rid of the stain but like the stain on Macbeth’s hand it would not out.

Examination, also, showed that the clothing of the dead man was covered with creek soil which indicated that he had been buried in the creek bank and had been washed out and into the Ohio river by the hard rain.

The prisoners on examination said that the stains in the wagon were made by hogs which they had killed and hauled in the wagon; and as to the killing of the old man, they knew nothing about it. As it was before the war when this trial took place, the evidence of a colored person had very little weight, and there were people who were ready to convict on the slightest evidence, but fortunately for them there were others who were more reasonable and they had a fair trial. It developed that there had been two strange white men in the neighborhood who were gamblers and very bad men, and they were trying to play a game on the man Boggs, in offering to sell him counterfeit money that would pass; and an old citizen who told me the circumstances said that Boggs informed him of their attempt to induce him to give them $150 for $300 and that he had met them by appointment and that he had his money ready, and that they had a small wooden box, the kind axes are shipped in, but he required them to open the box before he would part with his money. Upon their refusal, he pulled a pistol and made one of them open the box, which revealed as its contents, a lot of scrap iron packed in sawdust. He thereupon threatened them and charged them with acting falsely. Soon after they disappeared and it was not long until he too was missing, and nothing was heard of him until his body was found.

No evidence being offered of a convicting nature, the prisoners were released and who killed Andrew Boggs remains a mystery to this day. My informant said that Boggs had mentioned to him, about the men and their wanting to exchange the money, two dollars for one, and he was advised to draw them on to see what kind of money they had or whether it was a trick. There had been some counterfeit money passed and the authorities were wanting a clue, and when their trick was explored by Boggs nothing more was thought of it, until the body was found, when it was surmised that someone had killed him for his money as he carried it most all the time on his person; but time rolled on and the mystery has never been cleared up. Most all of those who were living here at the time have passed away. G.

How Some Runaway Slaves Weren’t Caught

OLD TIMES.
(by John G. Wilson)
No. 31. From: Folklore and Legends


Submitted by: Sharon M. Kouns

Ironton Register, Thursday, February 06, 1896

For the Register.

About the year 1856, when Ironton was in her infancy, there came word to Burlington, that some half dozen slaves had escaped from Kentucky, and that they would cross, it was supposed at or near Ironton. We had at that time several citizens, both in and near our little town, who were willing to apprehend those who were escaping from bondage. They were soon equipped and as soon as night came on, were on their way to Ironton to stop the poor fugitives for the sake of a few paltry dollars. They were three in number and mounted on their horses rode swiftly down the river road towards the town.

They had received sure word that the slaves would cross that night, about where the East Ironton grade now is, then a woodyard kept to sell wood to steamboats, which burned wood for fuel. The wood was piled in long rows or ricks on the top of the bank and was sold to the brickyards as well as the boats. The three men hunters arrived about 10 o’clock, and after placing one of them (who was my informant) on the top of one of the long ricks of wood, near where a road was, which descended to the river told him, that they would go down into the town and find out all they could, as to whether those who were, also, of like feelings as themselves knew about the runaways. The one left made up his mind that stopping men who were escaping from bondage, was not the easiest thing and that he did not think, on the whole that it was exactly right; and sitting up there in the cool frosty night, his blood got cool and he resolved that if they came he would let them go by unchallenged, and so, with that conclusion, he stretched himself out on the woodpile to await results.

His comrades had told him to keep strict watch, and when he saw them come across the river, to await them at the road and take them into custody and hold them until they returned; that they would be back soon. He said he waited very impatiently for several hours, but neither his comrades nor the runaways made their appearance, and he was about to go and get his horse and ride home, when he thought he heard the faint echo of the oars, in the rowlock of a skiff, putting off from the Kentucky shore. His heart beat rapidly as he saw the boat coming near and when it pulled to the shores, he saw five stalwart blacks get out of the boat, while the 6th who was probably a white man, though he could not tell, rowed his boat back to the other shore. The slaves came up the bank slowly and were evidently looking for someone but they did not pause but came on and passed within a few yards of where he was concealed. He said they were powerful men, in the prime of life, and each one had a large club on his shoulder. They passed on as silent as ghosts and he drew a long breath when they disappeared in the darkness.

About an hour passed by when his comrades came back; the dawn was beginning to mark the approach of day. They wanted to know if he had seen anything; he told them what he had seen when they expressed great surprise that he did not stop them. He said he endured their talk and brag as they told what they would have done had they been there, when he said that he could stand it no longer, but told them that they were a parcel of fools or idiots to think that he was fool enough to try and stop five men armed with clubs, fleeing from bondage, and that they went to town on purpose to escape having trouble if the slaves should come; and as far as he himself was concerned he was glad that they had got away and he was done forever hunting runaways. He said they stormed awhile, but took good care to go home with him and to not follow those who were fleeing.

Afterward it was ascertained that the same band was stopped at the bridge near Getaway, and those who stopped them were badly used up, one having his jaw almost broken and another knocked senseless by the clubs of the runaways. However they escaped and made their way to Canada, the land of refuge for the slave. My informant said he came home with the determination that those who wanted to might hunt runaway slaves but as far as for him he was out of the business.
 G.