(by John G. Wilson)
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.
(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.