Monday, February 18, 2019

Lucasville -- Its Vital Civic Clubs

What should we learn from our past? Do we study history because we need to understand what went “right” and what went “wrong”? Do we examine long-ago people and events to better comprehend our dutiful dedication to needed change? Or, do we employ the past to better strengthen our obligations to fellow human beings? Perhaps all of these lessons can be solidified through a critical inspection of what occurred long ago … most notably, by taking a deeper look into local history, an investigation that can help us answer that age-old conundrum “Why can't we live like they did in the 'good old days'?”

I believe that direct contact with friends and neighbors builds lasting community. Any area with active civic and service clubs benefits immensely from their work. These groups become a vital fabric of the community, and they establish a critical link between organizations, businesses, and citizens of all ages.

Direct links among community leaders, interested volunteers, and youth are very important components of such civic organizations. The groups serve not only to pool community resources, but also to mobilize access to much-needed area improvement. The work/play interaction “pays back” in civic duty and also “pays forward” to local needs. In this time, establishing connections that pay strong dividends like this are sorely lacking. Nothing creates lasting bonds like working together in active service.

In the past, two important local organizations worked tirelessly for the good of the Lucasville community. The Lucasville Civic Service Club and the Lucasville Kiwanis were vital to the development of a strong locality. Their efforts helped make a small, rural hamlet a vibrant community dedicated to promoting and pursuing the improvement of social and economic conditions. I believe the youth of the Lucasville area benefited immensely from the actions of these civic groups. The clubs undoubedly left an indelible, positive mark.

How would it benefit the Lucasville area to pledge a drive to increase productive interest and membership in such organizations? I believe both groups still exist; however, in this entry, I will use several articles about the past activities of these groups to show you just how influential they once were. As the town continues through the commemoration of its Bicentennial year, residents might benefit from a look back … and consider a challenge to the future?

"July 4th Event Will Raise Funds For Projects in Community"

An all-day Fourth of July celebration will be held Thursday at the fairgrounds at Lucasville in the form of a community picnic which is being sponsored by the Lucasville Civic Service Club.

The organization boasts a membership of 30.

Members of the committee in charge of the picnic include: P.L. Bogan, A.S. Moulton, Coy Dodds, Dean Schuler, and G. Malone.

The club was organized a year ago last May and this is the second Fourth of July celebration held for the purpose of raising funds for community projects.

Admission to the grounds will be free as well as a baseball game in the afternoon between the Portsmouth Moose nine and a Jackson team.

A concert by the Valley Rural High School band will be a special attraction at night. The band is comprised of high school students and other members who have played with the band in past years. The group will be directed by Esto Davis.

Midway attractions, square dancing, and other amusements will help raise money for the club. Families are invited to take picnic baskets and spend the day. Refreshment stands will be on the grounds, and it is planned to keep the rides over for an extra two days, Friday and Saturday.

Last year the club helped purchase new uniforms for the high school band and gave a Christmas party for youngsters with funds raised at the 1945 celebration.

Officers of the club include: W.J. Carver, president; John Collins, vice president; Edward Miller, treasurer; and Mr. Bogan, secretary.

The club has seven standing committees. These and their chairmen are: municipal development, C.M. Purdy; civic improvement, Dr. D.C. Coleman; business, Mr. Carver; advertising, J.W. McKinley; membership, Mr. Moulton; agriculture, Walter Malone; recreation, Mr. Miller.

Portsmouth Times, July 3, 1946

* Historical Note – By 1949, the Lucasville Fourth of July celebration attracted thousands to the fairgounds. It continued for many decades to be the significant event of the holiday season.

Civic Club Plans Community Party For Lucasville”

Children of the Lucasville Community are invited to be present for a Christmas party tonight in Lucasville Community Hall as guests of Lucasville Civic Service Club.

The club sponsors this annual Yuletide program and will distribute treats to all children. The program will start at 7:30 p.m.

Mrs. Kathryn Plum and Miss Evelyn Locke will have charge of singing, and a 30-minute Christmas picture will be shown by C.J. Kent, a member of the club.

Last year the civic club gave approximately 600 treats to the youngsters, and about the same number is planned for this year.

L.T. Comer, secretary of the club, urged parents to bring their children to the community hall at 7:00 p.m.

Portsmouth Times, December 22, 1949

7 Registered Jersey Calves Distributed”

Annual presentation of seven registered Jersey calves to Scioto County youngsters interested in building of better dairy herds was arranged for this afternoon at Scioto County fairgrounds under sponsorship of the Kiwanis Club and the Lucasville Civic Club.

Five of the animals are 'backed' by the Kiwanis and two by the Lucasville club. Youngsters, their parents, and delegations of the Kiwanis and Lucasville club were scheduled to assemble at the fairgrounds for the drawing to determine what boy or girl receives just what calf.

The clubs participate by seeing that registered calves are obtained, by payment of interest on the loans for a year, for insurance, vaccination and extra premiums at the fair.

The seven to be distributed today will make a total of 47 for the county sisnce the program was started six years ago. It will make 37 for the Kiwanis-sponsored youngsters and 10 for Lucasville club boys and girls. The Kiwanis initiated the project in 1944 and Lucasville Civic Club started in 1946.

According to George Wood, county agent, the program as resulted in about 125 registered Jersey calves bing brought into the county. Numerous adults, seeing the results obtained by the youngsters, became interested and invested in registered stock.

The seven calves for today were located by Mr. Wood, Floyd Landrum, Walter Malone, and Raymond Zaler of the Lucasville club and Howard Dale for Kiwanis. Six were obtained from two Clermont County farms and one from Walter Malone or north of Lucasville. Mr. Zaler arranged transportation here.

Portsmouth Times, May 11, 1950

Club Sponsors Goblin Party”
275 Frolic in Village Community Hall

A Halloween party sponsored by Lucasville Civic Service Club Inc., kept a crowd of youngsters and parents busy with fun and frolic Tuesday night in the community hall.

Donuts and cider were served to 275 people and contests and games lasted from 7:30 to 11:00 p.m. Identical prizes of a box of candy and a $1 bill were presented to all winners.

In a masqueratde contest, judged by Mrs. Orville Blankenship, Mrs. Lucille Hacquard, and Esto S. Davis, the following were chosen for best costumes in their classifications:

John Doll, ugliest; Gary Channel, most original; Latonia Thompson, funniest; and Larry Comer, prettiest. Mrs. Pauline Borders won a guessing contest.

A free moving picture was shown by C.J. Kent. The committee in charge of the evening included John Collis, chairman; W.J. Carver and Raymond Zaler.

Portsmouth Times, November 1, 1950

Thursday, February 14, 2019

International Works of Faith -- Geraldine Conway

"An ambassador for Christ to the ends of the earth"

Quote describing Geraldine Conway

Geraldine Logan Conway, a former Lucasville resident, was born July 13, 1917 in Lemoore, California, a daughter of Millard and Beulah Nesbitt Logan. She died November 9, 2012, in Reidsville, North Carolina.

Geraldine was an evangelist and a businesswoman. She was founder of Geraldine Conway and Associates, a non profit charitable corporation. Licensed as a lay speaker of the Methodist Church, she directed her evangelical work at all denominations with an emphasis on prayer and brotherhood.

Conway carried her Christian message worldwide speaking in numerous churches and to many civic and service organizations. She traveled extensively in the United States, South America, and Cuba. She also did missionary work in the Far East, the Middle East, and Europe. Geraldine served with, among others, Dr. E. Stanley Jones, recipient of the Gandhi Peace Award, and Billy Graham, widely considered one of the most influential Christian leaders" of the 20th century.

During the Vietnam War, Geraldine took her inspirational message and team of musicians to the troops in Vietnam where General Eifler made her an honorary member of the first logistic command. She traveled to Saigon to speak to U.S. and Vietnamese troops preparing for battle and convalescing in hospitals.

While in Vietnam, Conway also visited restaurants, bars, and other places where soldiers gathered to present her program of unconventional evangelism. At the invitation of Army chaplains, she traveled within a 25 mile radius of Saigon with a team of musicians and entertainers who also served as evangelists. The group paid its own expenses but were also supported financially by those interested in the project.

Geraldine Conway was of the Methodist faith, a member of the Lucasville Chapter of the Order of Eastern Star, and a 1934 Valley High School graduate.

I found this article about Conway titled “Scioto Native Will Address Prayer Group” in the Tuesday, February 7, 1961 edition of the Portsmouth Times. It speaks of her taking part in the First Lady's Prayer Breakfast during the administration of John F. Kennedy.

You can also hear Geraldine Conway deliver sermons on various online streaming sound files. For example, her "The Harvest Field of Vietnam" (1969) and “How Weak I Am, and How Strong God Is”
(1966) works are available. Here are two active links:

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Portsmouth Times Archives -- Delivering History

I love to find articles from the past in the local paper archive. I do not pay for a retrieval service; however, many old editions are available free online as a tempting “come on” for subscribing. The stories run the gamut from funny to regretful. They make history so personal with their dated factual representations of news, opinion, and advertisements. And, the print adds much insight into current affairs.

Allow me to share a few of the entries from the Portsmouth Times I found interesting and worthy of note. I hope you enjoy reading them.


With all the recent flap about the Southern border and illegal immigration, one might assume the controversy is relatively new. It is not. Even during the European migration to America, public sentiments against immigration were raging. Discriminatory immigration policies aimed at southern and eastern Europeans figured into the quota-based policies of the 1920s.

From 1880 to 1924, more than 2 million Eastern Europeans, mainly Catholics, immigrated to the U.S. Of those, immigrants of Polish ancestry were the largest group. During the same period, roughly two million Jews came to the U.S., seeking opportunity and fleeing the political massacre taking place in Eastern Europe. Italian immigration to the U.S. reached its peak of over 2 million between 1910 and 1920. Immigration quotas passed in the 1920s tended to favor earlier generations of immigrants by giving preference to Northern Europeans.

With the passage of the Immigration Act of 1924, also known as the National Origins Act or Johnson-Reed Act, the U.S. used restrictive immigration policies in the 1920s based on the 1890 proportions of foreign-born European nationalities.

Such arguments such as those outlined in Madison Grant's 1916 book The Passing of a Great Race, held that older immigrants were skilled, thrifty, hardworking like native born Americans and recent immigrants from southern and eastern Europe were unskilled, ignorant, predominantly Catholic or Jewish and not easily assimilated into American culture.

Madison Grant and Charles Davenport, among other eugenicists, were called in as expert advisers on the threat of "inferior stock" from eastern and southern Europe, playing a critical role as Congress debated the Immigration Act of 1924. The act attempted to control the number of "unfit" individuals entering the country by lowering the number of immigrants allowed in to fifteen percent of what it had been previously. Existing laws prohibiting race mixing were strengthened as well. The adoption of incest laws and many anti-miscegenation laws were also influenced by the premises of eugenics.

From the Portsmouth Times, January 4, 1920...

“Immigrants Pouring In”

NEW YORK, Jan. 3 (dateline)

“With hundreds of aliens being shipped from all ports of the country to Ellis Island for deportation as dangerous radicals, it was reported today that 100,000 immigrants are expected on incoming vessels this month. Nearly 50,000 arrived last month and nearly 500 have been landed in the last 18 hours.


In 1900 wealthy people bought cars for pleasure, comfort, and status. Many doctors bought small, affordable cars because they were more dependable than horses and easier to keep ready. Rural Americans also liked cars because they could cover long distances without depending on trains.

People began to employ their cars to take produce to market, go to stores and movies in town, and even to plow fields. Families in towns and cities liked cars because they were handy for errands, going to the train station, visiting relatives, going to church, and going on drives in the country. A family’s house with a car in the driveway has been a common sight since about 1910. Who were among the first to drive their automobiles in Scioto County?

Wonder no more. There is an article in the Portsmouth Times on March 1, 1910 that sheds light upon just that question. I “cherry picked” some names from this book of registration. Many more names are available in the actual article.

From the Portsmouth Times, March 1, 1910 ...

“The state automobile book containing the registrations of every automobile in Ohio from January1 to February 1 came into the county clerk's office Tuesday morning. The registrations ran from 1 to 8150 inclusive. (Note: the entries include name, town, and make of auto.)

John W. Miles, Lucasville, Sears
M.O. Yeager, Rushtown, Olds
Frank Appel, Portsmouth, Maxwell
P.H. Harsha, Poetsmouth, Buick
Joseph B. Peebles, Portsmouth, Olds
Dr. Micklehwait, Portsmouth, Ford
Dr. L.D. Allard, Portsmouth, Regal
George D. Selby, Portsmouth, White

Live and Enjoy Life

Life expectancy and lifestyle of the 1920s? How about age 70 as very old? One posting I found informative was this little nugget of advice posted in the Portsmouth Times, January 11, 1923 ...

“Don't Worry How to live to age of three score and ten – Be moderate."


The last entry I found was about an incident in a local classroom during 1910. I was able to take a photo of the actual article so you could read it for yourself. I think you will find it very descriptive and even a little amusing. It surprised me to see such a report would make the paper. And, the detailed account of incident reveals just how much times have changed.

I was unable to access the original article in “Saturday's Times” that elicited the reply from Rena M. Holmes, teacher at Hope School in South Webster. I do not mean to demean Oliver Stephens or Ms. Holmes in any way. Being a former teacher, I just found this view into a classroom of the past so interesting.

From the Portsmouth Times, January 4, 1910 ...

Monday, February 11, 2019

The Lucas Family -- Quaker Beginnings To Ohio History

2019 marks the 200th birthday of Lucasville, Ohio. As part of the commemoration of the Lucasville Bicentennial, the Lucasville Area History Society is striving to acquaint local students with the extensive, illustrious history of their town. The story of the Lucas family and their various settlements – from England, to Pennsylvania, to West Virginia, and to Ohio – reads like a fabled work of American biography. It is a historical account of an American family that should be shared with all pupils of local history.

It is my sincere hope that Valley Local and other schools in the area will endeavor to include in-depth instruction of such important area history in their Ohio History curriculum. Doing so will draw upon valuable resources that relate directly to our students. As they are exposed to the past, students can take pride in being part of a living heritage while gaining knowledge that will enrich their lives.

In this entry, to stimulate interest in this educational endeavor, I want to share an excerpt from one source that may enlighten local residents. I hope you enjoy this small lesson about the Lucases, and I also hope reading it encourages you to help us put knowledge like this into our schools. There is so much more to learn about our people and our land.

The historical society is a fountain of information and knowledge available to serve the community. It is one of a very few groups within the county available for your inquiry. Please join the society and feel free to employ them to help you with information about the area. And, don't forget to plan now to enjoy all the events of this Lucasville Bicentennial year.

This information has been taken from the Iowa Biographical Series, edited by Benjamin F. Shambaugh. It is titled “Robert Lucas” by John C. Parish, and it is produced by the State Historical Society of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, 1907. 


“The history of the Lucas family is a story of pioneer settlements and frontier life, a tale of Indian wars and boundary disputes, a story with chapters generations long, with ever the same pioneer background and ever the same pursuit of the border-line of civilization from England in the Cromwellian days to the middle of the American continent two centuries later. In a word it is the story of the transcontinental march of the American pioneer — that wonderful tale, already three centuries long and still unfinished, which will some day be the theme when the nation's epic is sung.

“In England the Lucas family had been Quaker; and when the tide of westward colonization set toward American shores there crossed the Atlantic one Robert Lucas who arrived in 1679 and took part in the founding of William Penn's colony.

“Bucks County, Pennsylvania, was his habitat; and here generations sprang forth to carry on the work he had begun. Here Edward Lucas, the grandfather of Governor Robert Lucas (and grandfather of Lucasville founder, John Lucas), was born and reared and married. For his wife he took Mary Darke, a descendent of a Cromwellian soldier named John Rush. This same John Rush had married Susanna Lucas at the close of the war, turned Quaker, and crossed the waters to Pennsylvania in 1683.

“Pennsylvania grew rapidly and prospered ; so that, by the time of Edward Lucas and Mary Darke, Bucks County had ceased to be the frontier. The spirit of their fathers pointed toward the mountains; and so, westward beyond the Blue Ridge peaks and the Potomac River, Edward Lucas led his bride and settled down again on the border land. It was near the year 1735, runs the tradition, that he purchased from Lord Fairfax 10,000 acres of land in Jefferson County, Virginia, and made a home for himself and Mary a few miles above the juncture of the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers.

“In this home, in the course of years, a family of children grew up; and among them, born about 1743, was William Lucas, father of Robert (and father of John Lucas, founder of Lucasville). As he grew into manhood he met and married, at Shepherdstown, Miss Susannah Barnes, likewise of Jefferson County. It was Joseph Barnes, a brother, who a few years later, according to local traditions, successfully propelled against the current of the Potomac River a steamboat of his own invention — Ions; before Fulton's Clermont had plied the waters of the Hudson.

“In William the long slumbering instincts of the Quaker seem to have passed away forever; for when the Revolution convulsed the little line of American Colonies, be enlisted as a private in a company of the 2d Virginia Regiment, captained by Nathaniel Welch. His enlistment was on February 13, 1777, and for a term of three years. Moreover, the army records do not show that be attained in that time higher rank than that of private. His military service, however, did not end with the Continental army.

“In the Shenandoah Valley in those days the Indian troubles were a matter of no small concern. If the colonies needed protection against the civilized nation across the waters, they needed no less protection against the uncivilized nations on the western border. It seems that William Lucas was captain of a company engaged in this frontier duty, and at the muster of this company in January, 1781, was read a proclamation by Governor Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, warning all who had sworn allegiance to England to leave the country.

“It was in these eventful times and stirring environments that Robert Lucas (and brother of John Lucas, founder of Lucasville) was born at Shepherdstown, Jefferson County, Virginia, on the first day of April, 1781.

“To the men who had settled the Shenandoah Valley, the groping for the edge of civilization had become a passion; and to let that enchanted borderline slip out westward and away from them Alas not to be thought of. The Lucas family was no exception to this rule. And so, about 1796, William and Joseph, two older brothers of Robert, left the Jefferson Valley and made their way to the Ohio country, pausing near the mouth of the Scioto River. (John was 12 when he came here with his father around 1800. Another source said he was escorting Joseph's and William’s wives.)

“Where the Scioto empties into the Ohio, they found the land subject to inundations. They therefore moved on up the Scioto River before settling down to Avait (wait?) for civilization. William Lucas became in time a General in the Ohio Militia, in command of the 1st Brigade, 2d Division. Joseph sought more peaceful ways. He entered politics and represented Adams County in the first legislature of the State of Ohio, which convened at Chillicothe in March, 1803. He was also appointed in that year Associate Judge of the Court of Common Pleas; and in this service he continued until his death in 1808.

“Meanwhile, back in Jefferson County, the old Revolutionary soldier felt the spirit of disquiet working in his bones, and the allurements of the west proved too great for him. A Virginian by birth, and a Jeffersonian democrat by everything sacred to politics, William Lucas waited only to cast his vote in 1800 for Thomas Jefferson as President, then moved with his family to the land where two of his sons were awaiting him. Some, at least, of his slaves he took with him and freed in Ohio where they were thereafter known as the Lucas negroes. On either side of the Scioto River he bought land and settled down in what is now Scioto County. Such was the third transplanting of the Lucas family — and the end was not yet.

“The opening of a new century found Robert Lucas just entering upon Ms years of manhood, with the instincts of a Virginia gentleman and the reckless vigor and spirit of a frontiersman. His training under the Scotch schoolmaster in Virginia was just such as would fit him for life in this new country. Land was unsurveyed, claims were indefinite, and boundaries were in dispute. In December of 1803 he was appointed Surveyor of Scioto County; and in this capacity, in connection with Nathaniel Beasley, of Adams County, he ran the line between the two counties of Scioto and Adams.

“In these early days, too, he became interested in the militia movement which throughout his life enlisted his most intense sympathy and support.” (Robert later served in the War of 1812 with his brother John.)

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Northern Newspapers and Slavery -- The Portsmouth Times of the 1860s

Delving into Northern newspapers of the 1860s, I found the actual discussion about slavery to be very different from what I had imagined. My old high school, pablum-filled history texts must have colored and toned down the rhetoric to convince students like me that liberty and justice were loudly trumpeted in most Union papers. The truth is that trumpet was heavily muted, if dared to be sounded at all.

I knew that conflicting beliefs about the institution of slavery and its abolition divided the country at the time; however, I did not suspect that such strong pro-slavery emotions permeated the press in a free state like Ohio. I discovered that anti-Abolition belief was so widely distributed in editorials and articles that it was commonplace. As for the blacks, they were commonly referred to as “property” and “brutes” or “thugs,” especially after staging rebellious uprisings.

Reading actual articles from the Portsmouth Times revealed an understanding of how this most important national issue of slavery personally affected locals. While reading, I felt as if I had been transported back to the homes of these 19th century Scioto Countians reading with them the publications most likely to influence their opinions.

I purposely limited my research to the Portsmouth Times because, to me, local history is of primary interest to citizens seeking information about the development of thought and culture in this small Appalachian community. I found some passages I would like to share with you.

I write this entry to employ historical records that bolster facts. As a realist, I believe a thorough examination of history can reveal the climate, knowledge, and beliefs of a particular time. I do not wish to denigrate those who lived then. Nor do I wish to bemoan the actions and thoughts of others. I do, however, believe in the importance of change and in the need to “look back” to evaluate the progress and/or the declines we have made.


In his book, The Press and Slavery in America (2017), Professor of Journalism Brian Gabrial gives an overview of the newspaper coverage of significant rebellions against slavery from 1791 to 1859. Gabrial contends ...

Between 1751 and 1859, a shifting 70-year conversation about free and slave black Americans, the press, and the nation took place in the pages of American newspapers, with these conversations erupting during significant slave troubles. Media coverage of five such events—Haiti’s 1791 slave revolt, Gabriel Prosser’s 1800 slave conspiracy, Louisiana’s 1811 slave revolt, Denmark Vesey’s 1822 slave conspiracy, Nat Turner’s 1831 slave revolt, and John Brown’s 1859 Harper’s Ferry raid—shows how the nation’s once unifying 'Spirit of ’76' crumbled as white America was increasingly pressed to confront slavery’s injustice.”

Even from its first days of its existence, America took two views of slavery: (1) a conservative view that it was right and constitutionally protected, and (2) a progressive view that it was evil and had to be abolished. One must remember that, for the most part, black Americans were not a part of the conversation, yet events caused current journals to record article after article about slavery.

So, when slave troubles erupted, white America were widely exposed to writings about slavery and, therefore, they became better informed about black America. To say the Northern press of the time was not sympathetic to the system and to the “legal property” employed in the South to is an terrific understatement. For example, the powerful New York Herald editor James Gordon Bennett wrote after John Brown’s raid: “The whole history of negro insurrection proves that there is no race of men so brutal and bloody-minded as the negro. The negro (sic), once roused to bloodshed, and in possession of arms, is as uncontrollable and irrational as a wild beast ...”

In the early days of the Republic, slave society had tacit support from those in non-slave holding areas. In the 1822 essay “North and South,” a writer suggested, that Americans should “view the different states as forming but different parts of one great and happy nation, that will ever rejoice in the suppression of internal commotion (slave revolts), and repel hostile invasion.” In other words, slavery was not a Southern, but a National interest: one handed down from generation to generation. This idea propagated the view that slavery should not be considered a serious moral dilemma.

How could the immortality of bondage be accepted? Cotton – southern, slave-picked cotton – was the mainstay of Northern antebellum economy. There was a direct and critical linkage of Northern industrialization and Southern slavery. Besides the economical reason for accepting slavery, the North was still widely prejudice against blacks.

Free blacks in the North were increasingly ill-treated. Oppressive laws tightly controlled the lives and employment of free blacks, and black families were being driven out of northern towns by being deemed poor or disorderly. Even as the North began to erase responsibility for two centuries of slave-owning from its collective memory, an ideology of black racial inferiority arose to justify the impoverished conditions and harsh treatment of a free black population.

After Nat Turner, there were no Southern apologies for slavery. and slave states entered into an era of denial and repression. The defense of the system reached a zenith in a November 1859 Richmond Enquirer headline, “Slavery – the bond of union throughout the world.”

Over time, newspaper accounts of slave troubles found a major contingent of antebellum white readers largely unsympathetic because of deeply held racist beliefs about black people. These Northerners remaining blind to the impending crisis over slavery. While its social, economic, and political complexities affected both black and white Americans, black Americans, of course, most bore slavery’s heavy weight of suffering. And, eventually, the nation would, too, as a bloody Civil War was looming.

Despite a general indifference in the North, opposition to slavery started as a moral and religious movement centered on the belief that everyone was equal in the eyes of God. Not confined to a single church, early antislavery sentiment was common among Mennonites, Quakers, Presbyterians, Baptists, Amish, and other practitioners of Protestant denominations.

From its religious roots in the eighteenth century, abolitionist sentiment, or the belief slavery should be completely eradicated, evolved into the formation of antislavery societies in the early nineteenth century. These societies aimed to raise awareness about the moral evils of slavery. The moral character of the abolitionist appeals were a common rhetorical feature of the Second Great Awakening, a bubbling social movement of the first half of the nineteenth century.

One must understand that before the Civil War, running a newspaper could be pretty dangerous. Bad things could happen to a white editor who ran pieces against slavery. There are accounts of more than 100 mob attacks against abolitionist newspapers, including one 1837 riot in Alton, Illinois, that killed editor Elijah Lovejoy – Presbyterian minister, journalist, newspaper editor and abolitionist. He was soon hailed as a martyr by abolitionists across the country.

Some free black writers risked writing articles … some very inflammatory. David Walker of Boston wrote An Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of the World, arguably the most radical of all anti-slavery documents. It caused a great stir when it was published in September of 1829 with its call for slaves to revolt against their masters. David Walker wrote, ". . .they want us for their slaves, and think nothing of murdering us. . . therefore, if there is an attempt made by us, kill or be killed. . . and believe this, that it is no more harm for you to kill a man who is trying to kill you, than it is for you to take a drink of water when thirsty."

After Walker published the pamphlet urging enslaved people to fight for their freedom, there was a price on his head: $1,000 to kill him, $10,000 to capture him alive.

Historical Note – African Americans did have their own press. They founded anti-slavery newspapers, such as the Mirror of Liberty, Freedom's Journal, the National Watchman, and the North Star. They sparred with the defenders of slavery in the pages of newspapers and magazines and posted broadsides on city streets.

In additional to traditional news stories about the politics and court cases related to slavery, early newspapers contained editorials, advertisements for slave auctions, and reward notices for runaway slaves. In many instances, reward notices provide detailed biographic information, including the names and relatives runaway slaves, physical descriptions, and geographic details of where they may have traveled.

The Portsmouth Times

The following excerpts were taken from several issues of the Portsmouth Times. They reflect print from stories and editorials of the time concerning slavery, abolition, and even President Abraham Lincoln. The editions used in this entry are the following:

Portsmouth Times; June 2, 1860,
Portsmouth Times, March 1, 1862,
Portsmouth Times, March 7, 1863,
Portsmouth Times, October 17, 1863

June 2, 1860

Lincoln's Record in Congress” in the Times from the Logan County Gazette of Bellefontaine, Ohio

“He (Abraham Lincoln) originated no measure, save the fugitive nigger (racial slur from context) bill referred to; made no speech; and, in one word, demonstrated his utter lack of all the qualities of a statesman. Having said and done nothing worth of remembrance, it was forgotten by the public that he had ever been a member.

“What a contrast with Clay or Webster, Doublas or Buchanan, Seward or Chase! Is such a man fit for President?”

A Northern Minister's View of Slavery”

“In the late Methodist Conference at New York, Rev. Mr. Settel was one of those who opposed the measures of the anti-slaveryites. We have the following brief report of his effective remarks:

“Slavery was called sinful because evils grew out of it. He denied it was necessarily a sin. There were many evils growing out of the marriage relation in the present imperfect state of society, but marriage was not sinful per se ...

“The question was whether they should let loose 4,000,000 of paupers upon the world. He depicted the natural degradation of the negro race, and insisted that they were best off at present.

“The negro in the West Indies was incapable of taking care of himself. Emancipation had blighted one-half of the finest of the Antilles.”

Historical Note – The Haitian Revolution (1791–1804) was a slave revolt in the French colony of Saint-Domingue, which culminated in the elimination of slavery there and established the Republic of Haiti. It was the only slave revolt in the modern era that led to the founding of a state. It is generally considered the most successful slave rebellion ever to have occurred in the Americas.

(Continued) “Toussiant Overture (the best-known leader of the Haitian Revolution) discerned the evils of freedom to the blacks, and established the famout 'Rural Code,' with the intent to finally enslave all his race. Go where you would in our own North, and the negroes were an idle set. If slavery had degraded the negro, why didn't freedom elevate him? He affirmed most emphatically that, under God's providence, slavery in America had been the very thing which had elevated the negro race and he was a bold man who would d deny it!”

What Would Follow the Election of Lincoln” In the Times from the Southern Monitor in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

“Mr. Lincoln says the Southern people have no title to their slave property, and he is pledged to prevent its expansion. This is unconstitutional and Mr. Lincoln and his party will be regarded as outlaws, who have usurped the control of the government. For the Southern people may rebut the humanitarian logicians with the Constitution itself, and with other official documents.

“They can show that the word 'persons' was constructed to mean slaves by Washington, Adams, and Jefferson, under whose administration for twenty years, the Northern shippers were protected in the traffic. They can show that on every slave thus imported, the National Government levied a duty of ten dollars, which went into the National Treasury. And, they can likewise show that the government in its treaties with England demanded and received compensation for the loss of that kind of property. Hence they will insist that slave property enjoys as the sanctions of nationality as any other description of property, and that the outlaws would perpetrate the authorship of treaties as well as the destruction of the Constitution.

March 1, 1862

A Good Sign”

“One of the best signs of the times is the anger displayed by certain Republicans when addressed as Abolitionists. They declare that the charge is a grose slander; that they are not now, and never were Abolitionists; and furthermore, they swear if the charge is repeated, that they will flog the person who makes it. We are glad to notice this healthy change in public sentiment, and hope that the wicked and traitorous Abolition party will become so odious that no honest or honorable man will acknowledge that he has ever had anything to do with it.”

“The Union-feeling South will melt as snow before an April sun, if the abolition, emancipation measures before Congress should pass. It would create a new revolution in Western Virginia, Missouri, and Kentucky, and involve the whole North in inextricable dissensions, and loose (lose?) us the great portion of our army, for brave as it is, it will not fight for the negro – but for the Union.

“Where there is no slavery there is no rebellion. Let this be remembered.” New York Tribune

“It may also be said, where there is no money, no robberies take place. Would the Tribune, therefore, make the possession of the article a crime. Besides when there was no Abolitionism, there was no secession, nor any trouble about negroes in the country; and when this -ism is thoroughly crushed out, we will have some chance of regaining our former prosperity.” Bridgeport Farmer; Bridgeport, Connecticut

October 17, 1863

The Old Flag”

“With eleven or more states wiped out and converted into territories, according to the Sumner Abolition platform, the same number of states must be stricken from the old flag. Here, Abolitionism and Secessionism again join hands to desecrate and mutilate the banner of the Union.”

March 7, 1863

An Oath-Bound Political Order”

“An oath-bound league, patterned after the defunct and despised Know Nothing organization, is being established by the Abolition “no party” patriots. The members are bound by secret oaths to protect each other and to defend the order. The ritual is published in the last number of the Crisis --- taken from a pamphlet copy – and is a rich expose. This is the character of the political organization that is attempting to control the country. Their work requires darkness, and secrecy, and oaths.”


Brian Gabial. The Press and Slavery in America. April 18, 2017.

James DeWolf Perry and Katrina Browne. “The Civil War's dirty secret about slavery.” CNN. April 12, 2011.

Portsmouth Times, 1860-1863

Thursday, February 7, 2019

1919 -- 100 Years Ago in Local Advertisements

Beautiful Ohio
Lyrics by Ballard McDonald (1918). Popular version by Henry Burr (1919).

Drifting with the current down a moonlit stream,
While above the Heavens in their glory gleam,
And the stars on high
Twinkle in the sky,
Seeming in a paradise of love divine,
Dreaming of a pair of eyes that looked in mine.
Beautiful Ohio, in dreams again I see
Visons of what used to be.

During this year, the 200th birthday of Lucasville, I feel it is appropriate to look back and review our local history. What were folks thinking about and doing 100 years ago when Lucasville was commemorating its Centennial? Instead of looking into a history book for a general overview, let's get specific and up close.

I found some very interesting advertisements in two editions of the Portsmouth Times. Here are some of those ads that reveal a very different version of an area than that of today. They all come from two dates – Sunday, May 11, 1919 and Sunday, October 12, 1919. I hope you enjoy them as I did upon discovery.


One of the first cars that were accessible to the masses was the 1908 Model T, an American car manufactured by the Ford Motor Company. It quickly became prized for its low cost, durability, versatility, and ease of maintenance. More than 15 million Model Ts were built in Detroit and Highland Park, Michigan.

Assembly-line production allowed the price of the touring car version to be lowered from $850 in 1908 to less than $300 in 1925. The engine was simple and efficient, with all four cylinders cast in a single block and the cylinder head detachable for easy access and repair. The engine generated 20 horsepower and propelled the car to modest top speeds of 40–45 miles per hour.

TIMES AD:Ford – the universal car. “The Universal Motor Company. Ninth and Chillicothe Streets. 804 Chillicothe Street. Phone 62.

1919 Ford Model T

Now, are you ready for some ads for autos of the time that one might purchase. These ads feature many lesser-known manufacturers, and I venture to say, a few surprises :

TIMES AD: “1920 Hupmobile Auburns on display. The feeling of satisfaction has reached its climax in the Comfort Car.” Johnson Bros. 804 Chillicothe Street. Phone 101.


Historical Note – Robert C. Hupp was an engineer who worked with Ransom Eli Olds and Henry Ford before setting up his own car company in November 1909.

TIMES AD:Allen. Where the Allen excels – on good looks and performance, Allen is superior. Allen has the clean-cut, bevel-edge, streamline sought by buyers of much higher priced cars. The Allen has more power and a quicker 'pick-up' than the engine of any other comparable automobile.” Allen Sales Company, Simon and Barry agents, 1638 Gallia Street. Phone 680.

Historical Note – The Allen was an American automobile, built at Fostoria, Ohio between 1913 and 1921. The 1920 Allen 43 was a handsome craft, featuring bevel-sided touring coachwork and a high-shouldered radiator. Unfortunately, sales of this vehicle were not enough to avert the company's bankruptcy, which followed in 1921. Willys acquired what little was left.

TIMES AD: “It is here! The new Velie Six. With high cowl body design, distinctive radiator and hood, border fenders, octagonal lamps.” Superior Motors. Gay and Gallia Streets.

Historical Note – Velie was a brass era American automobile make produced by the Velie Motors Corporation in Moline, Illinois from 1908 to 1928. The company was founded by and named for Willard Velie, a maternal grandson of John Deere.

TIMES AD: “New Mitchell Sixes. The Victory Model – New in 100 ways. Mitchell Sixes have long been famed for saving oil and fuel. We save you much on operating costs – Add 75% to endurance. The new crank shaft is twice balanced on two new types of balancing machines. A thermostat controls the temperature of liquids, air and gas. The water, until heated, does not reach the radiator. Five passenger touring car $1475 f.o.b. from factory.” Windel Motor Car Company 914-916 Fourth Street Phone 426.

Historical Note – Mitchell-Lewis Motor Company was founded in 1900 in Racine, Wisconsin as a motorcycle maker spin-off from the wagon maker Mitchell & Lewis Company Ltd. The company began manufacturing automobiles in 1903. The wagon business and auto companies were combined into Mitchell-Lewis Motor Co. in 1910. The Mitchell car brand produced automobiles from 1903 to 1923.

TIMES AD: “Dort – the quality goes clear through. Careful records have been kept as to the precise expense of maintaining a Dort in daily service. They show the average cost per mile of travel to be remarkably low.” David Stahler, Agent. 514-516 Second Street.

1919 Dort

TIMES AD: “There's a Republic truck to fit your business. Whether you are a manufacturer, contractor, farmer – or whatever your line, you will find a Republic truck to fit all the requirements of your particular hauling problem. Seven models – three-fourths ton to 5 ton. Every Republic has the eternal gear drive that delivers from 12%-26% more more of the motor power to the wheels than any other form of drive. Universal Motor Company. Ninth and Chillicothe Streets.

Historical Note – The Republic Motor Truck Company was a manufacturer of commercial trucks circa 1913 - 1929, in Alma, Michigan. By 1918, it was recognized as the largest exclusive truck manufacturer in the world, and the maker of one out of every nine trucks on the roads in the United States. It was one of the major suppliers of "Liberty trucks" used by the American troops during World War I.

How about some tires for that ride. Well, vulcanizing is available to refurbish precious, expensive automobile tires. There's a company in Portsmouth that specializes in the “art.”

TIMES AD: “Where vulcanizing, treading, and rebuilding tires is a superlative art. Our plant, as it is equipped now, can be utilized in building new tires.” The Home Vulcanizing Company. Sixth and Gay Streets. Phone 500.

Clothing stores abound in Portsmouth in 1919 – the Whens Store, Schmidt and Son, the Atlas Company, Joseph Brown, Geo. W. Ahrend, Bragdon Dry Goods, Martings, the Hans Store, A. Brunner and Son, and more. It is very popular time for hats – both men and women frequently wore them. Don't forget the shoes. Shopping in the area must have been a vibrant activity.

TIMES AD: “The real millinery event of the season starts Saturday, May 10. 200 Gage hats – New, classy, stylish, every hat worth $7.50-$10.00. $4.95. Gage hats are the premier hats of the world.” Mrs. Anne Rice. 1005 Gallia Street.

TIMES AD: “Sable marmot coats, 50 inches length, $149.50 and up. Wolf scarfs, all shades, $29.50 and up. Silk velvet hats, $5.98 to $14.98.” Liberty Clothing Company. 408 Chillicothe Street. Phone 1493.

TIMES AD:Excelsior Shoes. Notice to mill workers: We have a spendid mill shoe, especially adapted for Hot Mills. No. 1 Welt with Crome sole, no nails. These shoes are well worth $6.00. While they last at $3.95. Open every evening until 7:30, Saturday 10:00.” Munion's Shoe Store. 1508 Gallia Street. Phone 1155-Y.

The Excelsior Shoe Company five story building extended

 along Gallia street from Findlay to John streets.

“What is there to do?” is most often a question meant to elicit answers about available entertainment. I believe you may be surprised to discover some of the ads that address this question. Not only is the sky the limit, but films and record players are making a huge splash in 1919. Let's start with something I would not think would be that popular here at the time – flying.

TIMES AD: “Take a trip in the clouds. Safe planes, skilled aviators. At William Johnson Farm, on the West Side, one mile from new Scioto Bridge. Flights will begin at 9:00 a.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday – October 14, 15, 16. All evening. Straight pleasure flights $15.00. Stunt flights $25.00. Service Aviation Training and Transportation Company, Wabash, Indiania.

TIMES AD: “Portsmouth will be bombarded by the air next Tuesday morning, October 14, by the National Cash Register Company's airship “Cruiser of the Clouds.” Each lucky bomb attached to a number will entitles the finder to the following absolutely free:

“Bomb Number One – One complete overhaul and repair job free.
Bomb Number Two – One full year's supplies for any size or style of register free.
Bomb Number Three – $5.00 gold piece free.
Bomb Number Four – Handsome bouquet of American Beauty roses free.

“Lieutenant C.M. Brunmeth, Retired of the Royal Flying Corp., will do the bombing using the same methods he used on the Western Front bombing the enemy.” The National Cash Register Company, J.C. Yancey, Sales Agent.

TIMES AD: “The new Edison – The phonograph with a soul. A musical ideal that cost three million dollars. Would you spend three million dollars to get music? Thomas A. Edison did. He gave it to all the world. The story of the perfection of the new Edison is like the story of the wizard's other successes.” Summers and Son. 848 Gallia Street.


TIMES AD: “A portable Victrola adds joy to your outings. Let music increase your outdoor pleasures – in the woods or fields; at the mountains or shore. The Victrola is ready to entertain you any time, anywhere; and it is always at your command for dancing too. Easy to carry from place to place. Also easy to possess. We arrange terms to suit your convenience. Call us and let us give you a demonstration.” Kay-Graham Company. 1035 Gallia Street. Phone 1086.

Historical Note – The Victor Talking Machine Company was an American record company and phonograph manufacturer headquartered in Camden, New Jersey. The company was founded by engineer Eldridge R. Johnson, who had previously made gramophones to play Emile Berliner's disc records. After a series of legal wranglings between Berliner, Johnson and their former business partners, the two joined to form the Consolidated Talking Machine Co. in order to combine the patents for the record with Johnson's patents improving its fidelity. Victor Talking Machine Co. was incorporated officially in 1901 shortly before agreeing to allow Columbia Records use of its disc record patent.

TIMES AD: “The Pathe. The perfect phonograph – the crowning triumph of Pathe Freres of motion picture fame. $5.00 cash delivers this Pathe. No needles to change. Guaranteed for life. $95 Pathephone, Easy payments. Levi's Furniture. 1007-1009 Gallia Street.

TIMES AD: Pathe Phonograph Records. On sale now. Hear them at the Pathe shop.” Levi's Furniture. 1007-1009 Gallia Street.

Historical Note – The Pathé record business was founded by brothers Charles and Émile Pathé, then owners of a successful bistro in Paris. In the mid-1890s they began selling Edison and Columbia phonographs and accompanying cylinder records. Shortly thereafter, the brothers designed and sold their own phonographs. These incorporated elements of other brands.

TIMES AD:Columbia Phonographs and Records. No store in the city is better prepared to care for your Columbia wants – either Graphonolas or records. 6,500 records to choose from. Every late Columbia record here – Come and we'll play your favorite for you. Our booths are always at your service. The Distel Furniture Company. 7th and Chillicothe Streets.

Historical Note – At first, like nearly all other early record players, all Grafonolas were driven by a spring motor that the user had to wind up with a crank before playing a record or two. In 1915, Columbia began to introduce electric-motor-driven models, as a majority of urban areas had been wired to electrical grids. The electrified Grafonolas supported both alternating and direct currents from 110 to 220 volts. Electrified Grafonolas never gained the popularity enjoyed by the spring-motor-driven versions due to substantially higher prices and lack of electrical service in rural areas.

TIMES AD: “Adolph Zukor presents Elsie Ferguson in Under the Greewood Tree. “From society belle to gipsy girl.” Film at the Columbia.

TIMES AD: “Anita Stewart in Her Kingdom of Dreams. The romance of marriage of convenience. A picturization of Louise Provost's powerful novel published in the People's Home Journal. Seven reels of exquisite screen drama. Film at the Lyric.

Are you looking for a drink? Well, you may try some buttermilk. 1919 is during Prohibition in the United States (a nationwide constitutional ban on the production, importation, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages from 1920 to 1933). In early 1933, Congress adopted a resolution proposing a 21st Amendment to the Constitution that would repeal the 18th Amendment. Can you imagine the speakeasies the served and the lucrative moonshine business during the ban?

TIMES AD: “14 more days then everybody drinks Lactone buttermilk.”

“It's the drink without tax.
And we're stating the facts
When we say that it's wholesome and pure.

“If you try it today,
There's no doubt you will say
This stuff has me goin' for sure.

“Pure as the sun's rays. Physicians recommend it – everybody drinks it. Why don't you? 5 cents at the fountain – any quantity in bulk. Freund's Pharmacy. Gallia and Offnere.

TIMES AD: “Two and three-fourths percent beer produces 100 percent crimes. Prohibition slogan: 'The long word “yes” on the long ballot; the short word “no” on the short ballot.'” J.B. Hawk, Secretary and Manager. Scioto Dry Federation.

And, keep 'em down on the farm. The local paper assisted farmers with new developments in products and services. I wonder how many were using that mash for something other than chicken feed?

TIMES AD: “The average hen forms about 210 yolks per year, but only lays as many eggs as she gets protein to form the whites, usually about 80, the rest of the yolks being reabsorbed into her system. Whole and cracked grains such as the Scratch feeds only about ten percent protein where Lay or Bust Dry Mash contains eighteen percent protein enabling the hen eating it to lay 240 eggs a year. Your money back if not satisfied.” Coburn Brothers. Phone 745 for a free trial.

It was 1919. 100 years ago. World War I had just ended. With peace, everything felt new again. The year signified a momentous shift in the political climate and social culture of the United States. The 19th Amendment ensuring women’s right to vote was finally passed. Fashion was changing as quickly as the socio-political climate. From high collar shirtwaist blouses and ankle length skirts worn over constricting chest-to-thigh corsets, women began wearing calf-length dresses, with lower necklines and shorter sleeves.

But, life for most people had its serious downsides. Soldiers who had just returned from the Great War discovered there were few jobs for them, and most of those jobs were at wages insufficient to support families. This led to numerous strikes.

Other unrest occurred. Reacting to horrible repression, black Americans struck back at white abuses in a series of violent racial conflicts that rocked both urban and rural communities.

And, the U.S. Attorney General pushed back against a perceived “Red Scare” of communist agitators, leading to mass imprisonments and deportations that reflected more a growing sense of anti-immigrant prejudice than any actual danger.

It seems some things never change. We still struggle with poverty, racial inequality, and anti-immigrant prejudice. We make strides and still suffer pitfalls. What affected the citizens of the small village of Lucasville the most? Maybe it was the daily grind and the goings on of the vibrant environment in which they lived. I know one thing. Ads from our local paper paint an interesting yet much different picture of the time than I ever derived from brief paragraphs in historical texts.

How Ya Gonna Keep'em Down On The Farm
Arthur Fields, 1919

Reuben, Reuben, I've been thinking
Said his wifey dear
Now that all is peaceful and calm
The boys will soon be back on the farm
Mister Reuben started winking and slowly rubbed his chin
He pulled his chair up close to mother
And he asked her with a grin [

Chorus (sung twice after each verse):]

How ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm
After they've seen Paree'
How ya gonna keep 'em away from Broadway
Jazzin around and paintin' the town
How ya gonna keep 'em away from harm, that's a mystery
They'll never want to see a rake or plow
And who the deuce can parleyvous a cow?
How ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm After they've seen Paree'

Rueben, Rueben, you're mistaken
Said his wifey dear
Once a farmer, always a jay
And farmers always stick to the hay
Mother Reuben, I'm not fakin
Tho you may think it strange
But wine and women play the mischief
With a boy who's loose with change

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Crossing the Ohio Into Freedom ... By Decries or By Degrees?

Reproduction of a picture depicting a fugitive slave that is typical of the images that appeared on handbills of southern slave owners searching for escaped slaves. The image was collected by Ohio State University professor Wilbur H. Siebert (1866-1961). Siebert began researching the Underground Railroad in the 1890s as a way to interest his students in history.

Local history records that the “Crossing at Scioto County” was an important stop in the Underground Railroad where William McClain, riverboat captain, would pick up runaways on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River and transport them to Portsmouth. McClain resided with his wife Sarah Ann (Thompson) in a court between Fifth and Sixth Street. They risked facing federal charges for aiding and abetting these fugitives; however, their means of transport was simple yet practically clever and secretive.

McClain would dock his boat at Portsmouth and employ a horse-drawn cart to transport barrels filled with fugitives up the Ohio bank to the brewery crossing at Front and Second Street. Once inside the local brewery, the runaways were taken to the cellar where they would wait to begin the next stage of their journey to freedom. From there, others would deliver them safely to the Portsmouth stations of Joseph Ashton and Milton Kennedy or northeast to J. J. Minor in South Webster. Canada was their ultimate goal.

* Historical Note – William and Sarah Ann McClain are interred in Greenlawn Cemetery. Historian William Cullen writes that the Riverboat Man symbol used by the Portsmouth Brewing Company today likely honors those like the McClains who bravely helped slaves escape.

In addition to the McClains, James Preston Poindexter, an African-American barber and local resident, would pick up fugitives in Kentucky and row them across the river to Portsmouth and deliver them to John Adams in his home on Chillicothe Street near Eleventh.

Poindexter (1819-1907) later became pastor of Second Baptist Church in Columbus in 1858. He was an articulate speaker and prolific writer, speaking out against slavery and discrimination in his many speeches. He became a member of the Columbus City Council, the Columbus Board of Education, the State Forestry Board of Directors, the Columbus Pastor's Union, an Ohio School for the Blind and Wilberforce University trustee, and a contributor to the Ohio State Journal. Poindexter received many honorary degrees and served Second Baptist Church for 40 years.

These stories of freedom still inspire us and remind us of a time not so long ago when slavery existed in the South. The Ohio River was a watery dividing line between bondage and freedom. Yet, Scioto County, Ohio was not a place of safety for runaway slaves. Indeed, it was a perilous location for those seeking asylum. Runaway slaves more often than not were taken as swiftly as possible to the next station north of town because they risked being returned to confinement.

Slavery was abolished in Ohio by the state's original constitution (1802). But at the same time, Ohio, with slave-state Kentucky across the river, took the lead in aggressively barring black immigration. It was evident Ohio’s opposition to slavery did not represent pro-Black advocacy.

Many Northerners did not welcome a fugitive invasion. They sought solutions other than permanent settlement. The American Colonization Society (1816) proposed to raise funds from public and private sources to send blacks “back to Africa.” The society secured Liberia on the West Coast of Africa as a place for relocation. Of course, most slaves had never been there – which makes it impossible to take them “back.” But, Northerners feared colonization efforts would ignite a much greater flood of immigrants into their states.

* Historical Note – In 1822, the American Colonization Sciety established a colony that in 1847 became the independent nation of Liberia. By 1867, the society had sent more than 13,000 emigrants. Beginning in the 1830s, the society was harshly attacked by abolitionists, who tried to discredit colonization as a slaveholder's scheme. And, after the Civil War, when many blacks wanted to go to Liberia, financial support for colonization had waned. During its later years the society focused on educational and missionary efforts in Liberia rather than emigration. In 1913 and at its dissolution in 1964, the society donated its records to the Library of Congress.

What happened in Ohio when slaves sought settlement? You may be surprised. When Virginian John Randolph, Roanoke tobacco plantation owner and member of the Democratic-Republican Party died in 1833 and emancipated his 518 slaves while giving them land near Carthagena, Ohio, so they could begin their own lives as free people, the population rose up in indignation. In fact, an Ohio congressman warned that if the attempt were made, "the banks of the Ohio ... would be lined with men with muskets on their shoulders to keep off the emancipated slaves."

It was not until the 1840s that the former slaves tried to make their way to Carthagena. Randolph's brother had disputed the will and declared that John was insane when he wrote it. After thirteen years, the court ruled in John's favor and granted his slaves their freedom. When the African Americans reached Carthagena, white mobs confronted them and drove them away. The former slaves were forced to scatter. They settled in a number of other Ohio communities, including Piqua, Sidney, and Xenia.

* Historical Note – Exact totals vary, but a large sum of Randolph's money was designated for the purchase of between 2,000 and 3,200 acres of land in Mercer County in the free state of Ohio. Any male slave among the 383 emancipated people who was above the age of 40 would receive “not less than ten acres of land each.” Carthagena was already the site of a functioning black community established in 1835 by Augustus Wattles, an Eastern Quaker – a place with blacksmiths, shop owners, churches, sawmill operators, and teachers.

The incident at Carthagena illustrates that prejudice existed in Ohio during the years before the American Civil War. Ohio was a state that did not allow slavery. Nevertheless, that did not mean that whites were open to granting African Americans equal rights. Free African Americans found that it was difficult to get fair treatment.

There were also anti-immigration laws that could be invoked to harass Negro residents in Ohio. On January 5, 1804, Elias Langham and Nathaniel Massie, Speaker of the House and Speaker of the Senate respectively, created an act designed to limit the actions of Black people in the North. These so called “Black Laws” demanded that any Person of Color caught without freed papers would be sent to the South, regardless of whether they had ever been enslaved before.

Furthermore, those papers had to be recorded by the Clerk of Courts in the Ohio county in which they resided. This also required a fee of twelve and a half cents per family, costly for those who had spent much of their lives toiling for free.

Ohio enacted other Black Laws in 1807 that required black people to prove that they were not slaves and to find at least two people who would guarantee a surety of five hundred dollars for the African Americans' good behavior. The laws also limited African Americans' rights to marry whites and to gun-ownership, as well as to several other freedoms that whites held.

Historian Leon F. Litwack wrote: "No extensive effort was made to enforce the bond requirement until 1829, when the rapid increase of the Negro population alarmed Cincinnati. The city authorities announced that the Black Laws would be enforced and ordered Negroes to comply or leave within thirty days."

Fugitive Slave Act and Dred Scott Decision

Slave owners pursued fugitive slaves into Ohio. Important legislation supported their evil work. In reality, laws required those north of the Mason-Dixon to become compliant with slave catchers who entered free territories to capture runaways.

In 1850, Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Act, which allowed slave owners and their authorized agents to “pursue and reclaim” escapees on free soil. A pursuer could swear out an arrest warrant that a United States marshal was obliged to enforce. The act also permitted slave owners to kidnap people and force them into federal court. After a short hearing, a commissioner would determine the status of the person in custody. Commissioners were paid ten dollars upon ruling that a person was a slave, but only five dollars if they determined that he or she was free. Anyone interfering with the recapture of a fugitive faced prison and thousands of dollars in fines.

The Fugitive Slave Law brought the Southern viewpoint, that a black person was assumed a slave until proven otherwise, into the northern states, where all people, white and black, were assumed free until proven otherwise. It required neither the alleged fugitive slave nor the alleged slaveowner to appear in person to testify.

Even the Cleveland Plain Dealer, noted for its vehement anti-abolitionist opinions, complained that the law was not “confined to the slave States,” but was enforced “wholly in the free States… by free men. The service it requires is not the kind we owe to either God, man, or the devil.”

Lewis Tappan, the abolitionist New York merchant and key benefactor of Oberlin College, minced no words: “It (the act) constitutes at the North, in our neighborhoods, and by our firesides, the most anomalous, overshadowing, insulting, and despotic police that perverted mind can contrive, or guilty power sustain – a police which guilty power cannot sustain, until honor, and purity, and freedom have fled from among us, and we have consented to be the most drivelling, and base, and worthless slaves that ever crawled at the foot of tyranny.”

Over the next few years scores of blacks were arrested under this law, with the vast majority being remanded to slavery. But other than a handful of rescues, Northerners were powerless to do anything about it.

Then, six years later, the Supreme Court went one step further than Congress. In the Dred Scott decision, the Court ruled that, slave or free, members of the “unhappy black race,” “separated from the white by indelible marks,” were not citizens of the United States. According to Chief Justice Roger Taney, although the words of the Declaration of Independence “would seem to embrace the whole human family, . . . the enslaved African race were not intended to be included.”

The decision was a hard blow against abolitionists and a triumphant victory for slave owners. Now, according to the Supreme Court, slaveholders could take their slaves with them anywhere within the United States they chose without the slaves automatically earning their freedom.

Even though there were brief victories of the Free Soilers, the Ohio state government was back to its old ways, and it expelled a black reporter from a freedman's newspaper from the Senate press galley because his presence there violated "the laws of nature and the moral and political well-being of both races."

When the Republicans arose as the Northern political party in Ohio, as in Pennsylvania, they kept their distance from abolitionists and blacks to assure their success. "The 'negro question,' " one state leader of the party wrote as Lincoln's election approached, "as we understand it, is a white man's question, the question of the right of free white laborers to the soil of the territories. It is not to be crushed or retarded by shouting 'Sambo' at us. We have no Sambo in our platform. ... We object to Sambo. We don't want him about. We insist that he shall not be forced upon us."

Of Local Interest

Imagine pre-Civil War days and reflect upon the climate of social acceptance in Scioto County during that time. Examining the past allows us to better understand how a turbulent era truly affected our lives today. Local history is up-close and personal. Allow me to share a few accounts of interest.

Greenup Slave Revolt

Records confirm in the “1850 Slave Schedule” that Greenup County, Kentucky had 135 slave owners, 443 black slaves, 163 mulatto slaves, and 44 free blacks. The county will long be remembered as a place where a foiled attempt for freedom made history.

The Greenup Slave Revolt would inspire Boston’s leading abolitionist David Walker, who recounted it in his electrifying anti-slavery pamphlet the “Appeal.” Walker, unlike better known abolitionists like William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass, advocated slaves rise up violently against slaveholders when they had an opportunity to free themselves.

The “Appeal” was arguably the most radical of all anti-slavery documents. It caused a great stir when it was published in September of 1829 with its call for slaves to revolt against their masters. Walker wrote, ". . .they want us for their slaves, and think nothing of murdering us … therefore, if there is an attempt made by us, kill or be killed … and believe this, that it is no more harm for you to kill a man who is trying to kill you, than it is for you to take a drink of water when thirsty."

Andrew Lee Feight, Ph.D. writes of the Greenup uprising that occurred in August 1829:

“A negro driver, by the name of Gordon, who had purchased in Maryland about sixty negroes, was taking them, assisted by an associate named [Gabriel] Allen [of Paris, Kentucky], and the wagoner who conveyed the baggage, to the Mississippi …

“About 8 o’clock in the morning, while proceeding on the state road leading from Greenup to Vanceburg, (modern-day US Route 23) two of them dropped their shackles and commenced a fight, when the wagoner (Petit) rushed in with his whip to compel them to desist. At this moment, every negro was found to be perfectly at liberty; and one of them seizing a club, gave Petit a violent blow on the head, and laid him dead at his feet; and Allen, who came to his assistance, met a similar fate, from the contents of a pistol fired by another of the gang.”

Here is a further account of the revolt by Nick Douglas, author of Finding Octave: The Untold Story of Two Creole Families and Slavery in Louisiana:

“Early in the morning on the road near Greenup, Kentucky, the male slaves managed to free themselves. The three helpers attempted to resist but each was killed with a club. The slaves held Gordon and attempted to shoot him in the head. The bullets only grazed him but the slaves then beat Gordon with a club, leaving him for dead. The slaves pillaged the wagon that they had been traveling with and 16 slaves escaped into the woods.

“Gordon had not been killed and, helped by a female slave, mounted a horse and fled. One of the freed slaves chased him on horseback with a loaded pistol. Gordon was able to get to a nearby plantation and ask for help. When the slave that had been chasing Gordon saw him arrive at the plantation he returned to the site of the revolt.

“The community was alerted and eventually about 40 of the slaves were recaptured. Eight men and one woman were tried for murdering Gordon’s three helpers, but only four were hanged. When a crowd gathered in Greenup to see them hanged, the slaves shouted that they were completely justified in killing men who were depriving them of their freedom. Julius Bingham of the Western Times reported that they told the crowd 'they had done no more than their judges and executioners would have done under similar circumstances; and that too, with solemn appeal to the Judge of heaven and earth, for the integrity of their motives, and the justice of their cause.'

“On the cart as they were about to be hanged, one of the four exclaimed to the crowd: “’Death! Death, any time, in preference to slavery!’

Black Friday”

On Friday, January 21st, 1831, the following notice appeared in the Portsmouth paper:

“The citizens of Portsmouth are adopting measures to free the town of its colored population. We saw a paper, yesterday, with between one and two hundred names, including most of the house-holders, in which they pledged themselves not to employ any of them who have not complied with the law. The authorities have requested us to give notice that they will hereafter enforce the law indiscriminately.”

This enforcement led to the “Black Friday” forced expulsion of approximately eighty black people from town. At the time, this accounted for much of the city's black population. Historian Nelson Evans noted: “They were not only warned out, but they were driven out … The town authorities had been worked up to the point of agreeing to enforce the savage and brutal ‘Black Laws’ of Ohio.”

A Slave Coffle

Here is a report of an incident in 1834 on the public landing in Portsmouth involving a slave coffle. A coffle is now a little-known term defined as “a line of animals or slaves fastened or driven along together.” What a demeaning reference to the past.

“On a visit to this city, Colonel William Gilmore, of Chillicothe, then a boy of 10 years old, relayed his story. He was on the river bank and a flatboat had just landed, when loud cursing and a fight caught his attention. With a boy’s curiosity, he neared the crowd of people and saw 'three Negro men, handcuffed and tied to a rope, one Negro woman and four Negro men, tied to a rope but not handcuffed, and five Negro girls, from twelve to fifteen years of age, following and carrying heavy bundles on their heads.'

“Three white men were in charge. One carried a double-barreled shotgun and the others carried whips and pistols. One was cruelly beating a slave that was handcuffed and swearing with each hit. One of the other white men cursed and threatened the black citizens watching, that they may not talk to anyone in the coffle or they would get shot. The slave coffle was confined to the Portsmouth jail for the night, and until they could be on their way on another boat down the river.”

I believe it is very important for residents to understand the direct effect of history upon their lives. I think people should read about the perils faced by local abolitionists and fugitives and consider those times not to chastise present-day inhabitants for sins of long ago, but instead to judge rationally the state of our commitment to freedom. Our American Dream of equality is ever evolving. It is not yet a reality. The Free State of Ohio comes closer to fulfilling its promise of 1802 when we examine our progress in terms of our own local history.


“African-American Mosaic.” Library of Congress.

Appendix to the "Congressional Globe,"30 Cong. 1 Sess., p.727.

William Cullen. A History of Brewers in Portsmouth, Ohio with an Emphasis on the Portsmouth Brewing Company. 2017.

Nick Douglas. “Know Your Black History: Slave Revolts, Part 3.” Afropunk. November 3, 2015.

“Early Scioto County African American History.”

Andrew Lee Feight, Ph.D. “The Greenup Slave Revolt & “Walker’s Appeal.”

Nelson Wiley Evans. A History of Scioto County, Ohio: Together with a Pioneer Record of Southern … 1903.

George W. Knepper. Ohio and Its People. Kent State. 2003.

Leon F.F. Litwack. North of Slavery: The Negro in the Free States, 1790-1860. 1965.

“Race In Ohio.” Litwack, North of Slavery, Chicago, 1961

Life Membership Certificate for American Colonization Society, ca. 1840. Certificate. American Colonization Society Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (3)