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Washington County, Ohio
History & Genealogy


History of Belpre, Washington Co., Ohio
By C. E. Dickinson, D. D.
Formerly Pastor of Congregational Church
Author of the History of First Congregational Church
Marietta, Ohio
Published for the Author by
Globe Printing & Binding Company
Parkersburg, West Virginia


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     AFRICAN Slavery was introduced into Virginia in 1620.  The same year that the first settlement was made in New England, at Plymouth, Mass.  Slavery then existed in England and as a consequence it was recognized as a legitimate institution in all the American Colonies.  In the northern colonies the farms were generally small and were worked by the owners themselves so there was little use for slaves.  In Virginia, and the colonies farther south, the settlers often took up plantations of considerable size where they could advantageously use slaves.  As a result slavery soon disappeared from the Northern Colonies but found a congenial soil in the South were the labor of slaves was profitable to the planters.  At the time of the Revolutionary War leading citizens both north and south considered that slavery was morally wrong and therefore should be abolished.
     One of the serious charges made against Great Britain at that time was that she had introduced slavery into the Colonies.  It was then supposed that slavery must soon disappear and perhaps for this reason this word does not appear in our Constitution, though there is an evident allusion to it in Article I, Section (9) which is as follows:
     "The immigration or importation of such persons as any of the States think proper to admit shall not be prohibited by Congress prior to one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such importations not exceeding ten dollars for each person."  This was the prevailing sentiment at that time among the people as well as in the minds of the members of the Constitutional Convention.  And the importation of slaves was from all the States north of what became known as "Mason and Dixon's Line," which was the South boundary of Pennsylvania and the Ohio River.  The invention of the cotton gin and the introduction of industries in the Southern States which increased the profit of slave labor strengthen

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ed the institution of slavery.  It is a very common characteristic of human nature to find, if possible, some moral justification for a practice which is pecuniarily profitable.  As years passed the people in the Southern States made moral as well as commercial apologies for the continuation of slavery, for example: "Negroes are not capable of caring for themselves,"  "They are in a much better condition as slaves here than in a wild state in Africa."  "They will be Christianized in this country."

     Scripture was also quoted in justification of slavery.  It was claimed that slavery existed in New Testament times as well as Old.  It was not condemned by Christ and justified by Paul when he sent the fugitive Onesimus back to his Master Philemon, and, strange as it may now seem, there were a few quite eminent clergymen in Puritan New England who took a "South Side view of Slavery."

     The Ordinance of 1787 prohibited slavery in the Northwest Territory, but recognized the right of the Slaveholder to recover his run away slave from the free States, and a fugitive slave law was enacted by Congress in 1793 to aid the slave owner in recovering his slave who had used his legs in leaving a Slave State.  A half century later the Anti-Slavery sentiment had so far increased in the free States that Congress enacted another law in 1850, increasing the power of the slave owner in securing his escaping property.  This law really increased the anti-slavery sentiment in the North and made the return of fugitives more difficult.  There is in the human soul an innate love of liberty, although the slaves were kept in ignorance they had a consciousness that they had a right to themselves.  This was increased during the early years of the nineteenth century by the fact that unscrupulous speculators some times kidnapped free negroes in the border states and, hastening with them into Slave States, sold them as slaves.  Although not allowed to learn to read, the slaves became more intelligent from year to year through their association with white people, and a desire for freedom was aroused in the minds of many.  Some fled to swamps and forests where they lived in caves or rude huts and subsisted by hunting, fishing, and such help as they could se- cure from friends in night visits to plantations.

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     In later years, and especially after the abolition of slavery in all British provinces it became known that there were many in the free States who would befriend escaping fugitives and assist them in gaining their freedom.  During the half century preceeding our Civil war many thousands of slaves left the plantations of the South and started on a pilgrimage with the North Star as their guide.  Some of these were run down by slave hunters who received a reward for returning them to their masters, many found homes in the Northern States, sometimes under assumed names, while many others reached Canada where they were legally free.
     The process of escaping from Slavery in those days came to be known as "The Underground Railroad."  Those who aided the fugitives were denominated conductors and the homes where fugitives were fed and concealed were the stations. The origin of this name has been given as follows.  "A certain negro escaped from a plantation in Kentucky and was closely pursued by his master.  At the Ohio River the master was hindered for a short time in securing a skiff but he found this in time to keep the fugitive in sight as he swam the river and landed on the Ohio side.  Landing only a few minutes later than the fugitive the master utterly failed to find any trace of him, and remarked "that nigger must have gone off on an underground road."  This name was so appropriate that it came into quite general use in describing the escape of fugitives.
     As the slaves became more intelligent and began to understand the real meaning of slavery and the hopelessness of a betterment of conditions, either for themselves or their children, they began to regard the privilege of owning themselves as worth a strenuous effort. This is illustrated by an incident given by Prof. W. H. Siebert.
"One day before the Civil War a bright looking negro entered the sitting room of a country tavern in Canada.  'I suppose you are an escaped Slave' remarked a gentleman, the negro acknowledged that he was.  A by-stander remarked 'we are glad you got away, but you do not look very poor, had you good clothes down South?' ' Suttenly

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Sar, same clothes as my Massa;'  'You got a good many whippings, eh?'  'Neber was whipped in my life, Sar.'  'Never thrashed?'  'Well I suppose you did not always get enough to eat did you?'  'Always had enough gemmen, neber went hungry.'  'What,' said the interrogator, 'good clothes, no punishment, plenty to eat!'  'Now just think of it' he added, 'addressing a group of loungers, this fellow has left a position where he enjoyed all these privileges, for an uncertainty.'  'Gemmen,' replied the darkey, 'All Ise got to say respecting dem privileges is dat if any ob you wants to avail hisself of dem, de situation am open.' "
     It was the anti-Slavery sentiment of the people of the North which secured the article in the Ordinance of 1787 prohibiting slavery in the Northwest Territory, and nearly all the first settlers in Belpre were in accord with that sentiment, though there may have been a few exceptions, and more in the case of persons who came later, some from Virginia.
     In the History of Washington County by Prof. M. R. Andrews we find the statement that during the first years two slaves were reported to assessors in Belpre as personal property, such a case was evidently illegal.  In those early years slaves were some times hired from their Masters by Belpre farmers.  It has been reported that some were employed from Mr. Blennerhassett.  In the lower settlement farmers sometimes "changed work" with their neighbors on Washington's Bottom in Virginia, in which cases the farmers worked themselves for their neighbors.  In the return the masters sat in the shade and their slaves did the work.  Such facts tended to arouse in the minds of the sturdy sons of New England a warmer sympathy for the industrious slaves than for their indolent masters; this made them more willing to aid the negroes when they escaped across the river.

     The early anti-slavery sentiment in Belpre, and its practical fruitage may be learned from the following found among early documents.

"To all to whom these presents may come, Know ye,
     That in October, 1817, I bought of George Neal of Wood County, Virginia a black man named Harry Gray Bartlette, and that he lived with me four years in Belpre,

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Ohio, for which he was to have his freedom, and he is now free both by my consent and by the laws of Ohio.

     Given under my hand and seal, March, 1824.


    This philanthropic gentlemen really loaned this slave the means to purchase his freedom and allowed him to pay the debt as a free laborer.  There is evidence that there were other similar cases during those early years.
     As the years passed and the subject of slavery was more generally discussed the jealousies between free and slave States increased and it became more difficult for philanthropists to secure the manumission of slaves by purchase.  There were very few negroes in Belpre previous to the Civil War.  The proximity to Slave territory made it somewhat unsafe for the home of colored people and the census of 1860 enumerated only four negroes in Belpre, one male and three females. Many fugitives passed through here in their efforts to gain freedom.  There were several reasons why Belpre became an important locality on the underground railroad.  As the country increased in population and wealth, slave labor became much less profitable in the northern tier of Slave states than in the gulf states where cotton and sugar cane were staple products.  As a result a large part of the pecuniary profits from slavery in Virginia and Kentucky was derived from breeding slaves and selling them to planters farther South.  Traders visited these States annually and sometimes oftener to purchase young negroes for the Southern market.  These were taken in groups often chained together.  This traffic caused divisions in families and many hardships.  Colored parents were constantly in fear that sons and daughters would be taken from them never to return. It was easier for slaves from the border States to escape than for those farther South and so Ohio was a middle ground to be traveled in escaping from slavery to freedom.  Another significant fact was that soon after the Ohio Company's settlement was made, the State of Virginia opened a road from Alexandria to the mouth of the Little Kanawha River (Parkersburg)  Mr. Thomas Wallcut went east along this route as early as 1790.

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     This became one of the most extensively used roads both for Stage Coaches and freight wagons, and continued until the completion of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.  While the escape of fugitives must be secret the slaves naturally continued near the traveled lines where they might be helped on their way by other slaves.  This brought many to the river in the vicinity of Belpre.
     If now, we add a third fact, namely, that Belpre is so related to the Ohio river that it has about fourteen miles of river front, we may understand why many fugitives crossed the river here.  If all the adventures of escaping Slaves who passed through Belpre could be written we might find some cases as thrilling as the crossing of the river on floating ice by Eliza, described by Mrs. Stow in "Uncle Tom's Cabin."  There were varieties of sentiment among people on both sides of the river, the majority on the Virginia side were pro-slavery.  On the Ohio side were some settlers from Virginia and a few who sympathized with them but the majority of the people realy believed that slavery was wrong; at the same time they accepted it as an existing fact which they could not destroy and many excellent people discouraged any agitation as tending to create animosities between different portions of the country.  This is shown by the records of a Social Circle in Marietta in 1844 in which we find the following language:  "Most of the Circle were thorough Whigs, and at one table might be heard anathamas hurled at Abolitionists, who, in their zeal for the welfare of the poor slaves, have taken this very course to bind their chains still closer and make their hardships harder."
     There were in Belpre as in nearly every Northern community some people who fully believed that slavery was a sin which should be exposed and destroyed, and that it was their duty to keep the matter agitated.  Nearly all the people of Belpre at that time were pleased to have slaves escape from bondage but only a few were known as actively employed on the underground railroad.  Such people gloried in the name of "Abolitionists" though it was given to them by both Whigs and Loco Focos, as a term of reproach.  Among these were Capt. John and Mr. Jonathan Stone, Perley Howe, Daniel Goss, Joseph Smith, T. B. Hibbard and others in different parts of the town.  There were a

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few persons in Parkersburg who would lend their aid to escaping fugitives and there was a free Negro woman called Jennie living in a cabin near the mouth of the Little Kanawha who was an efficient helper.  The anti-slavery sentiment gradually increased throughout the North until the Civil War.
     The Slaves for some distance back in Virginia came to know the names of their friends in Belpre and how they could be reached.
     For many years there was a large cornfield on the Stone farm in which many fugitives were hidden.  Mr. John M. Stone told the writer that when a lad he saw a colored family with several young children hidden beside a small pond in this field.  The children were kept so quiet during the day that they were not discovered.  Meanwhile during the day word was sent to a friend near Barlow who came down during the night and took the fugitives on to another station.  In many cases fugitives were concealed and fed for several days and when it was considered safe to pass them along a gentleman would take them to a well understood point where he would give a certain sign, perhaps hoot like an owl or bark like a fox; when this signal was answered, the fugitive was directed to remain where he was until a friend came to his relief.  The benefactor then started on his homeward journey.   He had neither seen nor spoken to any one and so had not made himself liable to prosecution.  A gentleman still living has related to the writer how he once turned a would be slave catcher on the wrong road at Lewis' Corner in Porterfield.  At one time two young ladies in Belpre, Melissa Stone and Abbie Browning, took provisions across the Ohio in a skiff and left them on a hill a little ways below Parkersburg for a slave who was afterwards caught, flogged, and put in jail.  Mrs. Lydia L. Moore, a daughter of Capt. John Stone, still living, remembers that Francis Stone used to bring negroes to their house at night, whom her father would take in his wagon to the house of a friend about six miles away, by whom they were concealed and moved on towards Canada, while he returned home the same night so that no one except his family knew of his trip.  She also remembers that slaves were hidden in the attic of their house while hunters were searching the barns, corn shocks and other places for

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them.  She also relates that she at one time attended an entertainment in Parkersburg in the evening with other young people, and a violent storm prevented them from returning home that night.  She was entertained at a certain home and the fear that the host might ascertain that she was a daughter of the hated abolitionist prevented her sleeping at all during the night.
     While the anti-slavery sentiment was increasing in Belpre, the antipathy against abolitionists increased in Virginia.  Captain John Stone did not cross the river to Parkersburg, at least in day light, for more than twenty years.  It has been said that a price was offered for him by certain citizens of the baser sort who wished to treat him to a coat of tar and feathers or to injure him in other ways.
     On one occasion, about this time, when Mr. David Putnam of Marietta landed from a steamboat on the wharf in Parkersburg he was discovered and immediately assailed by a mob of roughs.  Being a strong, muscular man, he defended himself with his fists until he fell backward into the river.  The Captain of the boat which he had just left, rescued him and took him to a safer place.
     In the year 1845 there was an occurrence in Belpre of great significance to the whole country and which awakened very great interest.  It illustrates the enmity between the different sections of the country which continued to increase until it culminated in the Civil War.  We will here quote substantially from an Article in the Centennial issue of the Ohio State Journal by Dr. Frank P. Ames.  This seems to be based quite largely on the testimony of one of the negroes who was present at the time:
     "The Slaves of a planter by the name of Harwood, living on Washington's Bottom, were prevailed upon by an intinerating Baptist preacher by the name of Ronaine to make an effort to gain their freedom in order to escape the danger of being sold to a trader from down the river, of which fate they were in constant fear.  The plan, as arranged by Ronaine involved aid from friends on the Belpre side of the river at a secluded spot in the narrows just above the mouth of the Little Hocking.  The company of Slaves consisted of Daniel Partridge, Frederic Gay, his wife Hannah, and three children, Mary (14), Harriet (6),

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and Burnet (3) .  These left Virginia in an old Pirogue and landed on the Ohio side at two a. m. July 10, 1845.  Meanwhile Mr. Harwood had become acquainted with the plot and his son, several nephews, and others secured from Parkersburg, making in all about sixteen men, fully armed, crossed the river and were hidden in the bushes, when the other party landed.  The five Ohioans took the baggage of the slaves and directed Daniel and Fred to take up the two children and follow them, with the wife and daughter, up the bank to their homes.  One of the white men went directly up the steep bank with his load, while the others took a diagonal course.  When the first man reached the road Daniel said he heard him exclaim "Don't stab me; shoot me if you dare."  He did not hear a word from the Virginians lying in ambush till the Ohioans who were leading them up the bank turned about and ran down the river in hope to elude their pursuers in that direction.  Upon this movement of the escaping party, Daniel said he soon heard the loud tramping of the Virginians in the road above, running with all speed to head those who were endeavoring to flee from them.  They ran in this way for some distance when a party of Virginians poured down a small ravine and came to the river ahead of them.  Here a scuffle took place, in which Daniel said two Ohioans were taken. These, with the one taken in the road, made three that were captured and taken over the river and lodged in Parkersburg jail. When the Virginians came down to the river and were endeavoring to secure the abolitionists the slaves turned and ran down the river to make good their escape. They were pursued by George Harwood, their young master, and Perry Lewis a cousin. Loaded as the Slaves were their pursuers gained upon them so fast that Daniel was forced to drop Harriet whom he had carried in his arms until then. Soon after he set down the child his foot struck a rock which brought him to the ground, he recovered as soon as possible and flung himself under the roots of a large Sycamore tree upturned to the wind. Just as he fell a pistol shot was fired by one of his pursuers, probably to frighten rather than to injure.  Ensconsed under the roots of the old Sycamore his pursuers passed without seeing him and soon after at the command of young Harwood another pistol was fired at the fleeing

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Slaves.  This brought them to, and they were all brought back in view of his place of retreat.  When passing Harwood asked his Cousin Lewis if all the slaves were taken.  He replied that he believed they were.  At this juncture Daniel heard a cry from one of the Ohioans, "Don't choke me so; if I have done anything against the laws of my State I am willing to answer for it, but I am not willing to be taken over the river to be tried by your bloody slave laws."  At this a voice,—the voice of Wyatt Lewis he thinks,—was heard "Come along you D—d abolitionist and get into the boat or I'll drag you into it—get up then on to your feet you rascal and get into the boat."  After this Daniel says he heard nothing that he could distinctly make out, except oaths and loud talk, till the marauding party of brigands set up a shout of victory and fired a triumphal volley from their rifles.  Daniel now crept from his hiding place and made his way up the bank to the road above.  There he soon fell in with friends, who took him to a house and immediately started him North.  Daniel says he is perfectly sure that George Harwood, his young master.  Perry, Frank and Wyatt Lewis his cousins, were among the sixteen armed Virginians who boldly attacked six unarmed citizens of Ohio in the dead of night while these citizens were engaged in the discharge of what they considered their Christian duty.
     The three men captured were Daniel Garner, Creighton Loraine, and Mordacai Thomas, two escaped with Mr. Romaine, Titus Shotwell and Burdon Stanton both Quakers and citizens of Washington County.
     Efforts to bail the three prisoners from Parkersburg jail led to a series of interesting and exciting events.  Under Virginia law only freeholders could sign a bail bond.  So bitter was the feeling against the Abolitionists that no freeholder, though he might be willing, would dare sign a bond to release the despised prisoners.
     Nathan Ward, William P. Cutler, and Anselm T. Nye. three substantial and wealthy citizens of Marietta, Ohio, offered to sign an indemnifying bond if any citizen of Virginia would furnish bail for the prisoners, but without success.  Mr. Ward then offered to sign a note payable at the time, if the prisoners failed to appear when summoned, only to fail.  A young Virginian offered to sign a

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bond but as his property was in the form of bank stock his signature was not lawful.  The dispute over the law on the part of the court officers of Parkersburg and the energetic efforts on the part of the citizens of Marietta to release the prisoners aroused the people and the press of Ohio to frenzy, especially did the Abolitionists seize upon the occasion to agitate and promote their propaganda.  Governor Bartley of Ohio became interested and called into council William P. Cutler, who then represented Washington County in the Legislature and set before him the plan, viz: to select one hundred picked men from the Militia, who should secretly proceed to Parkersburg jail and rescue the prisoners by force.  Mr. Cutler counseled delay hoping that time would allay the bitter feeling and that the difficulty might be settled without resort to arms.  Virginia for a time nightly guarded the point at the junction of the Little Kanawha and Ohio.  In the darkness a noise was heard in the mud along the river edge one evening; thinking the enemy was upon them the guard fired in the direction of the noise and wounded the town bull. * *
     Governor Bartley abandoned his military project and resorted to correspondence with Governor McDowell, of Virginia.  In the latter part of September Governor Bartley made requisition upon Governor McDowell, at the same time expressing his anxiety to preserve peace and harmony between the states.
     Oct. 21 Governor McDowell refused to surrended the prisoners and reminded the Governor of Ohio "that a faithful compliance with the fugutive slave laws will be more powerful than any other instrumentality in preserving peace and good will between the States."
     Governor Bartley replied Nov. 3 as follows:  "To redress the wrongs of this outrage to the rights of our citizens and to the sovereignty of the State resort has thus far been had alone to the peaceful remedies of judicial proceedings; but if your excellency is not disposed to lend your aid and the exercise of your authority to redress these wrongs by the course of legal proceedings; if injunctions of the National compact are to be made secondary to strained construction of mere statutory enactments and matters of local expediency, if a diabolical outrage of this kind is to be perpetrated by citizens of Virginia upon the persons

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of the citizens of Ohio and the perpetrators escape with impunity, be assured Sir the friendly feeling and intercourse between the two States will be greatly endangered, and it is feared the people of Ohio will take justice into their own hands and redress their own wrongs without recourse to the authority of Virginia.  I do not say this by way of threat nor without due reflection.  I believe your excellency to be acting from good motive, but, sir, it is not human nature for any people to submit calmly, and see their people kidnapped and imprisoned in a foreign jurisdiction. I tell you plainly, Sir, with proper respect and due deliberation that Ohio will not submit to such wrongs.  Still I trust. Sir, the admonition will not be entirely useless.  I am firmly of the opinion that the administration of the criminal laws ought not to be relaxed unless it be intended to let the people avenge their own wrong by resort to violence."  As regards the legal question involved in the transaction it was really a question of the boundary between Ohio and Virginia.  Virginia claimed that these prisoners were arrested in Wood County, Virginia when aiding fugitives to escape.  The claim of the Governor of Ohio was that the men were kidnapped in the State of Ohio, and forcibly imprisoned in another State.  We have in Williams History of Washington County the following account of these prisoners and their trial.
     "Intercourse with their friends from Ohio was denied them, and Marietta Lawyers employed to defend them were rejected.  Subsequently the wives of the prisoners were permitted to visit them under guard. 
     Aug. 15th a public meeting was held at the Court house in Marietta to take into consideration further measures for the liberation of Ohio citizens now in jail at Parkersburg, and the vindication of the rights of Ohio.  September 2nd the prisoners, each collared by two men, were taken from jail to the Court house in Parkersburg and there pleaded "not guilty" to the charge of  "enticing and assisting in the county of Wood, Virginia the six negroes to escape from slavery."  Bail was again refused except by a Virginia freeholder and the prisoners went back to jail.  The jury found a special verdict of quilty turning on "Jurisdiction in the case, to be tried by a higher court."  The question of jurisdiction or boundary between the two

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States was argued before the court of appeals at Richmond, Dec. 10-13 and the court divided equally on the question, whether the State line was at low water mark on the Ohio side or above that.  The men had been captured just above low water mark.
     At this trial Hon. Samuel F. Vinton of Gallipolis, Ohio, a member of Congress, made a very able argument in which he showed conclusively that the boundary line between the States had been and should be low water mark, therefore the men were kidnapped in Ohio and not Virginia.  This address was published in the Ohio Archarological Magazine, Vol. 4, Page 67.
     Though the judges in this case divided equally in their opinion of the question of jurisdiction the case was really settled by the argument of Mr. Vinton.  At a special term of the court of appeals held at Parkersburg.  Garner, Loraine, and Thomas were admitted to bail in the sum of one hundred dollars each, on his own recognizance, Jan. 10th, 1845.  After confinement in jail for six months.  The case was never again called.
     This case was one of so great local and general interest that we will insert several contemporary documents.
     Aug. 7, 1845 only a short time after the kidnapping, the following article appeared in the Marietta Intelligencer:  "From what we can learn, we are pained to announce it, — there exists among some of the people of Parkersburg very little of the feeling of responsibility which should result from the outrage of Virginia in capturing and transporting Ohioans for acts done in Ohio.  There is exulting over the feat of capturing these men.  The deep feeling of indignation which is spread in Ohio seems to be utterly contemned and disregarded.  The claim to jurisdiction is as coolly asserted as would be the right of a master to punish his servants at his own good will and pleasure.  Let us hope the Virginians do not generally sympathize with this feeling.  Will the thousands of good people of Virginia risk their peace and safety to protect a few men in kidnapping Ohio citizens?  Are they willing the peace of this fair valley should be compromised?  The people of Ohio are slow to wrath but it is dangerous to despise them."

Continued in the Family until the Present Time.


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     The local prejudices of that time, as well as the effect of the able arguments of Hon. S. F. Vinton may be learned from the following quotation from a letter of Mr. Vinton to Caleb Emerson, Esq., editor of the Marietta Intelligencer, dated Dec. 20th, 1845 after speaking of the presentation of arguments he added.  "The Judges had it under consultation for another term of four days, when the court, which was composed of fifteen Judges, divided as follows, seven for rendering a judgment for Virginia, seven against it, and the other Judge, having doubts what the judgment ought to be, the case was continued till the next term of the court.  I was informed, by a letter from Richmond, that Judge McComas, before leaving that city said he should call at Parkersburg and put the prisoners to bail in some small amount.  This may be looked upon as a decision in favor of Ohio.  Indeed before that argument the prevalent opinion at Richmond was that the prisoners would be condemned.  After the argument I was told often by gentlemen of the first respectability that the opinion among the Richmond bar, and the outdoor opinion generally was that the jurisdiction over the "Locus in quo" was exclusively vested in Ohio.

                                      Very respectfully yours,
                                                  SAMUEL E. VINTON

     The importance of this case and the interest taken in it at the time in all parts of the State is shown by the following extract from a letter written to Caleb Emerson, Editor of the Intelligencer by Salmon P. Chase then a lawyer in Cincinnati.  Afterwards Governor of Ohio, and Secretary of the Treasury during the Civil War.
     "I see that our abducted fellow citizens are released. I am glad they are out of a Virginia jail.  I thank God for that, but I must still express my regret that they did not find the power of the State their sufficient bail.  Had I been in their places, I know not how, in the weakness of human nature, with strong yearnings for home, children, wife, and friends stirring at my heart, I should have acted.  I think however I know how I ought to have acted, that I ought not by word or deed, by recognizance bond or otherwise to have admitted the jurisdiction of Virginia to try me for an act done in Ohio and innocent by her laws."

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     The case seems to have been dropped after the release of these men without any effort to recover damages from Virginia for the kidnapping of Ohio citizens and holding them in an illegal imprisonment for six months.  This really shows the spirit of long suffering in the North.  This was probably wise as the time had not yet fully come for the Civil War. 
     It is very evident that the kidnapping was planned beforehand by the Virginians.  Had their object been merely to retain the slaves they could easily have prevented the start from the plantation.  Instead of this sixteen armed men crossed the river secretly and lay in ambush to take back the slaves, indeed, but also to kidnap and punish by the laws of Virginia citizens of Ohio, who were not guilty of any violation of the laws of their own State. 
     Some of those engaged in this transaction lived to see Virginia a bloody battle ground of the Civil war and African Slavery forever abolished in our country.
     Mr. Joseph Smith of Vincent estimated that six hundred fugitives passed through Washington County between 1850 and 1860, and probably nearly or quite as many had passed through in previous years.  Several very interesting books have been written reciting incidents connected with the underground railroad.  Since many of the most thrilling events occurred in the night, and were known only to the actors, it is probably true that the half of that history will never be written.  Since we are each year receding farther from the days of American Slavery we have thought best to record the following representative incidents that those who come after us may have a better understanding of the realities of slavery and of the Underground Railroad.
     During the period of which we have treated there lived in Hockingport a man named Moses Davis who, like many in more modern days, had a decided aversion to work and made a living by hook and crook.  In those days it was a common thing for slaves, who did not see the justice and pleasure of working for nothing and boarding themselves and their masters, to slyly cross the Ohio and make their way to Canada.  When slaves ran away a liberal reward was often offered for their arrest and return.  Davis conceived the idea of replenishing an empty purse by inducing

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slaves to run away and then betraying them and obtain the reward.  A man named Kincheloe who lived in Virginia a little below Hockingport had five Slaves a man and wife and three half grown children.  Davis promised to help them on the road to freedom if they would come to this side on a certain night.  The slaves not expecting treachery came over and Davis, under pretense that he was not ready to start that night, secreted them in a ravine opposite Mustapha Island.  The next day men from Virginia were over, looking for the lost chattels.  Davis met them easily, of course, and in answer to their inquiries intimated that he could put them in a way to capture the slaves if suitably rewarded.  The slave hunters refused to pay anything until they got possession of their property and he was obliged to tell them where the slaves were secreted.  In answer to the inquiry why they had stopped there, instead of getting farther away the slaves told their master that Davis had induced them to run away and promised to forward them.  This perfidious act enraged the slave owners and they not only refused to pay any reward but sent word to Davis that he would be shot if they caught sight of him.  The liberty loving citizens of Ohio were so furious over the treachery of Davis that they threatened to hang him, and he fled the country never to return.
     The ravine is now and probably will always be known as "Nigger Run."  Case related by A. L. Curtis.  "About the year 1820 a man named William Neal owned a farm opposite Newbury, and had an active intelligent Slave called Harry of whom he was very fond and it was hinted that the master and slave were very closely related.  At any rate Neal did not want Harry taken South to work under the lash in the cotton fields.  My father, Walter Curtis, and his brother Horace bought him.  They agreed to credit him a certain amount per month against the purchase price which was $700 and when that was paid he was to be a free man.  Harry came over and went to work on the farm but left a wife behind.  The wife was a slave and liable to be sold.  One night she came across the river to get away from the slave traders.  Harry secreted her in the woods and built a little fire to keep her warm.  The owners, suspecting she was in this vicinity, came over.

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Harry was plowing on the hill, overlooking the road and saw two men coming with a woman walking before them.  Seizing a stout hickory cudgel, which he had ready, he rushed across the creek and hid by the road side.  When the men came along with their captive, he sprang out, cut the cord which bound the womans hands and she ran back, while he, with his club raised, told the hunters to get on the other side of the river if they valued their lives.  That night Harry and his wife started for Canada by the underground route and the investment in Slave property was very unprofitable to the Curtis Brothers."
     The following Statement by J. W. Tuttle is furnished by Dr. F. P. Ames:
     In 1850 a company of six or seven negroes were piloted from Francis Stones one night by Mr. Vickers just beyond the twin bridges.  At that time Mr. Smith was building the abutment of the bridge at the mouth of Davis Creek.  The next morning Mr. I. W. Putnam, noticing that Mr. Smith was late at breakfast remarked that he must have been running negroes away.  Mr. P's remark was nearer truth than he knew at the time."
     At one time a company of slaves consisting of men, women and children, I do not remember how many, escaped from Virginia not far from Marietta and reached the farm of Massa Hovey on Duck Creek, about fifteen miles from Marietta; their pursuers were so close on their track that it became absolutely necessary that they should be concealed in a deep ravine on the farm of Mr. Hovey; a very large tree had fallen and they were concealed by that by the side of the tree.  There they were kept for three weeks, while the woods in the vicinity were searched for them by their owners and the "Lick Spittle,"†† hired to aid in the search.  During this time friends clandestinely furnished the fugitives with food and water.  Finally a way was opened by which they were moved on.  Randal S. Wells, a courageous and adventurous man of Middle Creek, Monroe County, was their Moses, who piloted them out of the wilderness to the promised land.  Only two Israelites reached the happy land of Canaan but the whole band of Randal L. Wells reached the happy land of Canada.  While the search for these fugitives was going on, two of the "lick

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spittle," who were given money to buy whiskey and tobacco by the slave hunters to do their dirty and nefarious work took their rifles and went out to hunt the runaways and also to hunt squirrels.  One of the men shot a squirrel in the top of a tall tree and it fell in the midst of these slaves where they were concealed behind the fallen tree.  When the man started to get his game the other hunter said:  "Come on we are hunting niggers."  If he had gone for the squirrel he would doubtless have discovered the fugitives for whom they were hunting.  As it was we may think these were providentially preserved.
     We will introduce another letter which relates occurences in a locality several miles from Belpre, but illustrates the conditions in southern Ohio at that time.  A considerable number of Virginians, had settled in this part of Ohio and with those who sympathized with their pro-slavery sentiments were very bitter against Abolitionists.  Judge D. S. Gibbs of Hutcihnson, Kansas, wrote his reminiscences as follows:
     "From 1840 to 1855 it was very unpopular to be the friend of the slave.  About 1845 H. L. Preston, a resident of Columbiana County, came into our neighborhood (Port Soakum near Dudley Station on the C. and M. R. R.) and was employed to teach our school.  Soon afterwards it became known that he was a prominent Anti-Slavery man, and he had the manhood to declare his sentiments in public.  An effort was made to have him discharged but it failed.  My father and Oilman Dudley were directors and both Anti-Slavery men.  Mr. Preston commenced to lecture on the subject of slavery in our school house on a certain evening.  A mob came in led by a Methodist class leader, all full of whiskey, and with their best and only arguments, rotten eggs and scandalous and blasphemous language, the mob took possession by force and besmeared the school room, books, and many ladies dresses with rotten eggs, and gave Mr. Preston more than his share.  This outrageous conduct made the cause of freedom many friends.
     During the same winter I made an appointment, through Isaac Lund, for Mr. Preston to lecture at Macksburg.  There he was again assaulted by a mob, who threw rotten eggs while he was speaking.  hit him on the

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shirt bosom, but he went on with his speech, remarking that the arguments used were not very pleasant, but as they (the mob) had no better ones to offer, he would pardon them.  These accounts of the increasing animosity between the peoples of the North and South will help us to understand the causes which led to our great Civil War.
     The following are samples of the advertisements for runaway slaves seen in those days.


     Ten dollars for my woman SibyVery much scarred about the ears and neck bywhipping.
BRYANT JOHNSON, Fort Valley, Ga.


     Run away, a negro woman named Maria - has many scars on her back from being whipped.
                                                         JAMES NOE, Red River Landing, La.


     Twenty dollars reward.  Ran away from the subscriber, on the 14th inst, a negro named Molly.  She is 17 years of age, slim, branded on the left cheek thus, "R" and a piece taken off her ear on the same side; this same letter on the inside of both her legs.
                                                        ABNER ROSS, Fairfield District, S. C.


     Ran away, a negro girl called Mary.  Has a small scar over her eye, a good many teeth missing.  The letter A is branded on her cheek and forehead.
                                                        J. P. ASHFORD, Adams Co., Miss.



Ohio Archilogical Magazine; Vol. 4 Page 57
Ohio Archilogical Magazine; Vol. 4 Page 47.

†† A name then given to those willing to aid slave catchers for the reward offered.

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