Aleck Tolliver Who Remembered Slave Tunnel Into Ohio, Dies
Submitted by Lorna Marks
Ironton Newspaper Clipping
Aleck Tolliver, one of the best known colored citizens of this community, died at the Lawrence County infirmary Sunday afternoon. He had made his home there for the past two years or more. The body is at the Gholson Funeral Home.
The deceased spent his childhood in slavery, with his parents who were owned by a Paul family near Russell. While he was never able to ascertain his correct age he recalled many things of a bygone era, i.e. the slave tunnel into Ohio, sanctuaries for escaped slaves in and near Ironton, the slaughter of Union troops near Guyandotte and many other interesting angles of a past age.
Many residents of this community recall Aleck during the days when he was coachman for F.C. FISHER and Nannie Kelley WRIGHT; days when a fine coach and span of spirited animals held the same place as the large motor cars and chauffeurs hold today.
Horses played a big part in Aleck’s life. He recalled during his later discussions with friends that his freedom from slavery was purchased by his father, who had earned $500 in the trading of horses. He knew horses and became horseman for several wealthy families of his days. In the later years of his colorful life, before he made his home at the county infirmary, he “played” the horses at the bookmakers. And then there followed a period in his life when finances made it impossible to back his selection but nevertheless he was so in love with the spirited animals with which he had been identified much of his life that he was often seen, graying beard and cane, seated on the court house wall checking the entries and past performances and making “mind bets”; living with memories of gayer days.
After Aleck Tolliver’s father had gained freedom for his family he remained in Kentucky and became a road boss at old Amanda Furnace. Aleck, on the other hand, came to the Buckeye state and in Ironton started working at the age of eleven with the F.C. Fisher of the Yellow Poplar Lumber Co. He was later identified with the Hiram CAMPBELL family and finally with Mrs. Wright, serving the latter for 20 years.
Aleck Tolliver figured that he was born September 2, 1857, eight years before the Civil War ended.
So far as is known he had no living kin. He was born in slavery. He died poor but his last years were rich in memories of a happy life, for he was happy when he was working with the spirited horses that he drove as horseman, dressed in fine livery, high stovepipe type hat.
His body is at the Gholson Funeral Home where friends may call. Burial will be made in Woodland cemetery but the day and time of service has not been decided.