Saturday, September 26, 2009

Reminiscences of Slavery

The Marietta Register, January 4, 1894

About thirty years ago, Harvey Martena went to the polls in West Marietta to vote.  A gentleman living there at that time, a worshiper at the shrine of Gambrinus, objected to his voting, on the ground that Mr. Martena was a "nigger."  Mr. Martena was sworn and he testified that he was begotten and reared on the sacred soil of Virginia, the mother of states and statesmen, by a white man, a Dutchman named Martena, who had been a Democratic law-maker in the Old Dominion.  He also stated that in his mother's veins flowed a little white blood.  It is needless to say that his vote went into the ballot box with a whoop.  The late Silas Malcomb of Tunnel, informed the writer years ago that he voted for Harvey Martena's father for the legislature in Virginia.

There lived in Barlow for many years before the late war, during the war and for many years after the war, a quiet, unoffending citizen, rather dusky, but had been considered white and was allowed to vote undisturbed for many years.  What I am about to relate occurred about the time of the war or just before.  This dusky man was about to vote at the polls, in Barlow, when some one in a joke, whispered in the ear of a son of Erin, who despised negroes, to challenge this man's vote.  The dusky man and the son of Erin were not acquainted.  The latter yelled in a stentorian voice, "I object to that man's voten."  Said one of the judges of the election, calling the son of Erin by his name, "Why do you object to the man's voting."  The reply was, "Because he is dom nagur."  The dusky man was allowed to vote.

Somewhere in the fifties a young slave woman escaped from slavery and reached the home of W. S. Heald.  Shortly after she arrived at Mr. Heald's, her owner put in an appearance in the neighborhood in search of his slave girl.  As the boys would say, the circumstances of the affair made it "a ground hog case."  Something had to be done and that immediately.  Miss Martha J. Heald, daughter of W. S. Heald, the old Abolitionist, seemed at once to take in fully the situation and at once dressed the slave girl in her clothes and gave her a veil to hide her face with and they mounted horses and were soon on their way to a locality north of Plymouth, where they arrived in safety, and ere long the slave girl planted her feet on the free soil of Canada.  Miss Heald is the wife of our much esteemed friend, Lawyer Jim Ross.  A cousin of Miss Heald's, a boy of about 15 years, went with Miss Heald and the slave girl, on horseback, a short distance in the rear to protect the girls against the assaults of the slave hunter.  This boy is now a prosperous citizen in Vincent, Ohio.

On a hot, sultry day in August, 1860, a colored boy about sixteen years of age, entered a store in Vincent, without hat or shoes.  The merchant approached him and inquired if he was a run-away slave.  His answer was in the affirmative.  Inquiry was then made by the merchant if he wanted to go to Canada and be free.  He answered that he did.  He was then concealed till night.  In the meantime he was furnished with a hat, food, &c.  Two anti-slavery men then arranged to take him to friends that actually were Friends at Plymouth.  Horses had to be procured for the trip, which were difficult to obtain, on account of the owners being timid about such business.  One more horse was needed, and the question was where can it be procured; finally it dawned upon the mind of one of the Abolitionists that a lady lived in the vicinity, whose husband had horses, who had a brother that was a Wesleyan Methodist preacher.  All Wesleyan Methodist preachers were Abolitionists, and the application would be made to her husband for the needed horse, to which he demurred, but his wife on learning what the horse was wanted for prevailed on her husband to let the horse go.  The following night the slave boy reached Plymouth safe and sound, and next night he was taken further on toward the land of freedom.

The following is from Prof. Ames' notes.  Henry Parker was a slave belonging to Benj. Cooper, who lived near Parkersburg.  In his own auto-biography he says:  "I left my master on the fourth Saturday in October, 1859, and with great difficulty made my way to the Under Ground Railway, fording the Hocking and carrying my mother and sister across."  Mr. Smith piloted him to Jonathan Lee's, who told him (Parker) that he was the one hundred and tenth escaped slave who had been assisted by him and none had ever returned.  Mr. Lee had been so active and so successful in his operations on the Under Ground Railroad that a reward of $1000 had been offered for him.  Henry Parker went to Canada, remained a year, went to Michigan, went blind and there preached seven years ago (1886).  He returned to see his benefactor, Lee, and came to Parkersburg.  His master hearing of his presence in the city sent for him.  The master was now blind and when these two, master and slave, now sightless, met, a feeling of mutual joy took possession of both.

The kidnapping of Peter M. Garner, Creighton Loraine, and Mordecai Thomas, on the Ohio river near the mouth of Little Hocking, created intense excitement, not only in this locality, but throughout the nation.  They were incarcerated in jail at Parkersburg about six months.  Samuel F. Vinton defended them.  The writer never saw Peter M. Garner but once.  He came to our house at Middle Creek, shortly after he was released from his incarceration and stayed over night.  I was but twelve years old at the time and I remember distinctly how he looked or appeared.  The reason why I remember his appearance so vividly is because I listened attentively to the thrilling story of his capture and incarceration as he related it to my father.

The following is taken from Prof. Ames' notes:  "Six slaves, the property of Harwood, Washington's Bottom, had been sold.  Their anxiety to escape to a land of freedom was influenced by the knowledge of the sale to new and unknown masters.  A Baptist minister, Joseph Romine, is supposed to have been the instrument in making arrangements to have a party of Ohio abolitionists meet the negroes at nightfall a short distance above the mouth of Little Hocking river.  The rescuing party was composed of Peter M. Garner, Creighton Loraine, Mordecai Thomas, Titus Shotwell, Burdon Stanton and James Smith.  The latter was prevented from joining his companions by a heavy rain.  A man by the name of Sims, who lived in a house nestled against the cliffs that frown down upon the river at the landing place, led on by hope of reward, had learned of the plot and secretly notified the Virginians of the place of escape and rescue.  Accordingly several armed men from the Virginia side anticipated all parties and secreted themselves in the willows.  As the Ohio men were carrying the baggage from the canoe, the Virginians rushed upon them and captured five of the negroes and three of the whites, Peter M. Garner, Creighton Loraine, and Mordecai Thomas.  One negro rushed through the crowd and secreted himself in a tree-top, densely overgrown with vines and weeds.  He lay there till nearly morning when he climbed the bank and took refuge with Henry Thompson, who lived near Red Bush.  He fell into the hands of Mr. Smith, thence into Conductor Coursey's train."  Titus Shotwell still lives and is as lively as a cricket.   A granddaughter of Burton Stanton's is the wife of one of the most respected and prosperous merchants of Marietta.

The following incident is from Prof. Ames' notes:

"In 1850 a company of six or seven negroes were piloted from Francis Stone's by Mr. Smith, one night, to Doctor Vickers', who lived just beyond the twin bridges at the forks of Hocking.  At that time Mr. Smith was building the abutment for the bridge at the mouth of Davis creek.  Mr. I. W. Putnam, the next morning at breakfast discovering Mr. Smith's late return, jokingly remarked that he must have been running negroes away.  Mr. Putnam's remark was nearer the truth than he knew."

Fifty years ago a company of slaves, consisting of men, women and children, I do not remember the number, made their escape 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 hollow or ravine on the farm of Massa Hovey.  A very huge tree had fallen down and they were concealed by the side of this fallen tree.  There they were kept for three weeks, the Abolitionists not daring to move them, as the woods in that locality were being searched for them by their owners and the "lick spittle" they had hired to assist them in their search.  During all this time the Abolitionists clandestinely furnished food and water for them.  Finally a way opened up by which they were moved on.  Randall L. Wells, a courageous and adventurous man of Middle creek, Monroe county, Ohio, was their Moses who piloted them out of the wilderness to the promised land.  Only two Israelites ever reached the happy land of Canaan, but the whole band of Randall L. Wells' reached the happy land of Canada.  While the search for these slaves was going on two of the "lick spittle" who were given money to buy whisky and tobacco by the slave hunters to do their dirty and nefarious business . . . two birds with one stone," hunt the runaway slaves and also kill squirrels.  One of the men shot a squirrel in the top of a very tall tree, and it fell in the midst of these slaves where they were concealed behind the fallen tree, and he started to get the squirrel when the other hunter said, "Damn it, come on, we are not hunting squirrels, we are hunting niggers."  If he had gone and got his squirrel he would have found the negroes.

In the year 1856, G. E. Smith, jeweler of Parkersburg, was taking an anti-slavery paper, published by Fred. Hasanreck at Cincinnati.  It was a German paper.  Thomas Smith was postmaster at Parkersburg at the time of this incident.  He learned that Mr. G. E. Smith's paper was anti-slavery.  The postmaster said to him you are taking an abolition paper, and you cannot get it through this office any longer.  After that for a while he received his paper in Belpre, then again he received it at Parkersburg through some kind of manipulating that the postmaster did not catch on to.

This will be my last article on the Reminiscences of Slavery.  I have endeavored to write nothing but facts.  No doubt there may be some errors.  No person realizes how difficult it is to get historical facts until he tries it.  I will here make a few corrections.  Whistler's two lines to which he refers to Rev. Whitfield favoring the African Slave trade, I wrote as follows:

"He bade the slave ships speed from coast to coast.
Framed by the wings of the Holy Ghost."

The printer has it, "He leads the slave ship's speed, &c."

In the mob at West Marietta it was Eb Cory who struck Tom Hutchinson, instead of Eb. Corry, as I had and the printer had it Carry.  W. W. McCoy informs me that the mob occurred in 1835 or 1836 instead of 1830.  I presume he is correct.  My informant thought it occurred in 1830, but he was not positive, but he was positive that it was during Old Hickory's Administration and that A. D. V. Joline got the post office under him.  Reuben C. Knowles, of Armenia was my informant.  He was present when the mobbing took place.  In giving the names of the surviving abolitionists of my acquaintance I made two mistakes.  It should be Titus Shotwell instead of Thomas Shotwell.  I have given Jonathan Lee as one of the survivors; this is a mistake for he is long since dead.  The stars in his heavenly crown are numerous, provided he has one for every poor slave he has helped on his way to freedom.  If you cannot get stars in your crown by assisting suffering humanity, how can you obtain them?  I wrote it Wm. Steel was a full cousin of W. E. Gladstone, &c., instead of as printed, E. Gladstone.  Thus far, I believe, I have corrected all the mistakes.

I have been asked why I call slavery, as it existed in this country, the crime of crimes.  My answer is that it was the "sum of all villainies."  It embodied murder, theft, robbery, adultery, forced concubinage, falsehood and piracy.  It was the vilest system of oppression under the sun and finally culminated in the blackest crime recorded in world's history.  I refer to the hideous treatment of the gallant and heroic men who went forth to battle for the glorious stars and stripes, the emblem of personal and religious liberty, who, while in rebel prisons, froze and starved to death, many of whom were eaten up alive with hateful vermin.  It cannot be denied that for many, many long years the American church and clergy were the bulwarks of this crime of crimes.  The old-time abolitionists were the pioneers in the grand cause of universal freedom and they kept agitating the question of slavery at the risk of their lives, many of whom did lose their lives, and many more were persecuted, boycotted, tarred and feathered, ridden on rails and hated by most people.  But they finally put in motion the liberty ball that eventually wiped from this country the curse and blot of the crime of crimes.  Think of the scoffs and jeers, the insulting remarks they have endured, and they never flinched.  How often I have heard it said that they, as a class, were a set of fanatical ignoramuses and withal unprincipled.  Let me say right here, the three hundred thousand slave-holders of this country did not have money enough to buy one of them to betray a runaway slave.  A more noble band of men has never lived in this country.  What would be thought of a man who would favor re-instating slavery as it was in '61.  We, as a nation of liberty loving people, acquiesce in the principles advocated and carried out by that noble band of men.  What would this country be had it not been for them.

Jno. W. Tuttle

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