Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Maysville, Kentucky Abolutionists -- Huston Connection

 Maysville Academy

"Nobody had ever instructed him that a slave-ship, with a procession of expectant sharks in its wake, is a missionary institution, by which closely-packed heathen are brought over to enjoy the light of the Gospel." 

– Harriet Beecher Stowe 

Refrains of "My Old Kentucky Home" echo "'Tis summer, the darkies are gay," yet reality is sobering. Life in the Bluegrass before the Civil War for African-Americans was horribly oppressive. Kentucky was a slave state bound to the evil institution of bondage. Still, some Kentucky families were instrumental in efforts to free slaves ... the slaves of others and their own human "property."

In 1838, A.M. January and William Huston built majestic homes on Third Street in Maysville, Kentucky, just west of the Maysville Academy. These dwellings were built on a steep incline with stellar views of the Ohio River. After these constructions, other supporters of freedom then pitched their tents around the school. Historians connect the dots.

Speculation has it that Jesse Grant and his son, Ulysses, had a role in establishing a safe network, running across Fourth Street and down to the river. Of course, any evidence of this had to kept secret and likely those records were eventually destroyed. Yet, some facts do exist.

In 1922, the City of Detroit Deluxe Supplement documented the Januarys' freedom work in Ohio. Andrew January helped gift Elsiha Green with money to keep his wife and children from being sold south. William Huston emancipated persons a quarter-century before it became law. The academy, the homes, and the businesses aligned in the direction of the river indicate intentions of logistics to enhance endeavors of freedom.

The question is did these families intentionally give off slave-holding intentions in order to move freely and help the enslaved go free? They may have even employed slaves to aid others running north. The conjectures are intriguing and loosely supported in G.L. Corum's book Ulysses Underground.

Consider …

The same year as the Huston construction (1838), the father-in-law and father of these two men (also named William Huston) wrote out his last will and testament, leaving detailed instructions for the emancipation of all those he held in bondage:

I furthermore do will and desire that all my Negroe slaves be freed from slavery and servitude in the following manner, to wit, my slave Easter to be freed on the Twenty-fifth of December in the year Eighteen Hundred and Forty, my slave Charles to be freed on the Twenty-fifth of December in the year Eighteen Hundred and Forty-four, my slave Patty to be freed on the Twenty-fifth of December in the year Eighteen Hundred and Forty-five, and my slave Margaret to be freed on the Twenty-fifth of December in the year Eighteen Hundred and Fifty-one ...”

(Mason County Court House, Maysville, Kentucky. Will Book #L, 289.)

Then consider ...

Christmas day was the day of the annual Anti-slavery Society gathering in Ripley and Red Oak, Ohio. The Higgins, Williamson, and Poage families had done this forty, thirty, and twenty years earlier respectively. William Huston emancipated persons in Kentucky. And, Andrew's father-in-law acted for freedom twenty-five years before the Emancipation Proclamation made it the law of the land (even longer before it was required in Kentucky).

Yet …

Despite this, A.M. January and his brother-in-law, the younger William Huston, continued to hold persons against their will. In Fact, the number of persons listed under A.M. January's name on the Slave Schedule, increased during the 1830s and 40s. This seeming gives off a mixed message.

However ...

The young Huston prospered financially as a “commission merchant,” making his living traveling to other cities and bringing back goods ordered by other merchants.” (Corum notes: “A great line of work if, in fact, he did assist fugitives. Andrew's uncle Samuel had also been a commission merchant.”). Behind the Huston home, up on enormous ascent, lived a man who, as a boy, attended Maysville Academy and formed an enduring friendship with Ulysses S. Grant.

No documents fasten Ulysses to the January, Huston or Bierbower families, but multiple biographies refer to Ulysses' friendship with William Henry Wadsworth, who grew up in Maysville. Wadsworth ancestral line came out of the Connecticut faction of the American Revolution.

(Wadsworth file, Kentucky Gateway Museum Center, Maysville. Found by G.L. Corum.)

Wadsworth (born in Maysville on July 4, 1821) was educated at the Maysville Seminary. After study at Augusta College, he read law in the office of Payne & Waller and was admitted to the bar. In 1853 he was elected to the state senate. In 1861, he was elected as a Unionist to the U.S. Congress.

(H. Levin, The Lawyers and Lawmakers of Kentucky. Chicago: Lewis Pub. Co. 1897.)

The Grapevine Dispatch cited William Henry three times for defending black persons in antebellum court cases. Wadsworth used his law practice to advance the rights of blacks, augmenting the antislavery force on the south side of the river.

(C. Miller. Grapevine Dispatch, 131, 133, 137.)

A picture of Wadsworth's Victorian Gothic home reads: “So many of the old homes which were built just before the Civil War were constructed with slave labor – but not this one – as Mr. Wadsworth was very anti-slavery.”

(Jean Calvert and John Klee. “The Towns of Mason County – Their Past in Pictures.” Maysville and Mason County Library Historical and Scientific Association. 1986.)

It is clear there were many Maysville connections in the noble struggle for abolition. The names of January, Huston, and Wadsworth attest to this. Imagine the courage and fortitude shown by these people during a time when pro-slavery beliefs and slave holding enterprises were prevalent in Kentucky. 

A Burning Question

My inquiry is about the Huston family. Upon emancipation, freed slaves found themselves having to choose surnames since they'd most often never had any before. It was not at all uncommon to choose the surname of their last owners. In that case, isn't it possible that the Underground Railroad station and black community at Huston Hollow, north of Portsmouth, Ohio, is connected to the slaves of Willaim Huston? The time frame (Is it correct?) is approximately the same. My curiosity is begging for any factual reference.

Established in Scioto County, Ohio in 1830, Huston Hollow was a predominantly African-American community. It was located six miles north of Portsmouth, Ohio. In 1830, whites in Portsmouth drove approximately eighty African-American residents from the city. Many white Ohioans were racist at this time and had no desire to live near or face economic competition from African Americans. Several of the displaced African Americans formed the community of Huston Hollow. Among the community's more prominent residents were the Love and Lucas families. Members of both of these families actively assisted runaway slaves along the Underground Railroad.

Maysville, Kentucky


Monday, February 26, 2018

Red Oak, Ohio and Presbyterians Pledged to Abolition

 Rev. James Gilliland

Follow the north star. Slaves knew a group of stars as the Drinking Gourd. Two stars on the cup’s edge always point to the North Star. By finding the “drinking gourd” in the sky, people traveling at night could always find the North Star that pointed the direction toward a free state. But, once in Ripley, Ohio, escaped slaves would often ditch astronomy and rely upon the Presbyterians and their stations along the Underground Railroad. These brave, faithful Americans helped many to escape a life of bondage.

James Gilliland was born in Lincoln County, North Carolina in 1769. After college, he was licensed to preach by the Presbytery of South Carolina in 1794. He was ordained and installed as the pastor of the Broadaway Congregation in South Carolina in 1796. There, he served his congregation a little less than eight years.

At Broadaway, Gilliland had been silenced because he preached that slavery opposed the will of God. The church courts forbade him to mention slavery from the pulpit, and for eight years Gilliland abided by the court's decision. Yet all the time, he yearned for a place where he could preach as his conscience directed.

Gilliland was determined to reside in another state. After he was dismissed from Broadaway in 1804, he and his extended family came to the free state of Ohio. Gilliland settled at Red Oak in Brown County where he remained the rest of his life with his wife, Frances Baird (who died in 1837), and their 13 children.

Seventeen years later, Hannah Simpson Grant, in her second trimester, carried her first born within her. Less than four months later, she delivered her baby, Hiram Ulysses Grant, in a small cabin, thirty miles downstream from the Rankin family on Front Street. And, it was 1829 when John Rankin moved his wife and nine children (of an eventual total of thirteen) to a house at the top of a 540-foot-high hill that provided a wide view of the village, the Ohio River and the Kentucky shoreline

By that time, the Red Oak congregation had already built their third sanctuary. People with dark skin had been learning to read and write inside the Red Oak Presbyterian Church. The first two sanctuaries were made of log and burned to the ground. In 1817, Red Oak built their third building in stone, which still stands today. Stone could not be ignited by slave owners' torches.

For more than four decades, James Gilliland poured his life and ministry into ending slavery.

The earliest Presbyterian or Reformed congregations in Adams and Brown counties took their names from the creeks which flowed into the Ohio River. One of these streams was Red Oak Creek. Season after season the creek water washed over fugitives' feet, removing telltale scents and confounding slave-hunting dogs.

Reverend Gilliland served both the Straight Creek and Red Oak Presbyterian churches in the years before Reverend John Rankin arrived.

In 1830 Gilliland headed an effort to compose a pastoral letter, together with Samuel Crothers, on the subject of slavery. Eighteen-thousand copies of this letter were printed. The Presbyterian churches at Ripley, Georgetown, Russellville, and Decatur, all of which became well-known for their abolition sentiments sprang from Gilliland's church at Red Oak and for his vehement anti-slavery preaching.

James Gilliland is buried in the pioneer cemetery next to the stone church. He was born in 1769 and died in 1845; his headstone reads, “Faithful Minister, Good Citizen, Ardent Abolitionist, Lover of Liberty, Friend of the Friendless.”

(The church has been recognized by the National Society of Colonial Dames XVII Century in 2000 and the American Presbyterian and Reformed Historical Site No. 289 registered by the Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia, Penn. Samuel Salisbury hosted the installation of Gilliland in 1806; Salisbury family members are still active in the parish. Rosa Washington Riles is one of the most famous members of the church. She is better known as “Aunt Jemima” of Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix fame. Rosa became Aunt Jemima in the 1950s, following the death of Nancy Green, the former Aunt Jemima. Rosa died in 1969 and is buried in the "newer" cemetery at Red Oak, beside her parents, husband and daughter. A collection of Aunt Jemima memorabilia is housed in the church, recording the celebrity of Rosa Washington. Every year a pancake breakfast is even held at the early 19th century Presbyterian church on the same property. The proceeds are used for the upkeep of the old part of the cemetery next to the church where several Revolutionary War veterans are buried. )

The Dunlap Connection

William Dunlap, the reviewer of early road surveys, settled six miles north of the Ohio River, and helped found the Presybyterian congregation at Red Oak in 1797, almost twenty years before Ripley chartered a Presbyterian church.

Fleeing feet were probably foremost in his mind when he helped point Ohio's earliest roads toward Paint Valley and Greenfield. Ohio's freedom train ran on tracks of close family relations in those places.

William Dunlap fathered Dr. Milton Dunlap, a doctor who arrived in Greenfield in 1829 at the age of 22. Strict Orthodox Red Oak Presbyterians focused on duty, especially duty to the God who voiced concern for the oppressed. They understood life as duty expressed through concern for justice.

Greenfield, Red Oak, and the early line of antislavery homes running through Adams County pulled together. When the Greenfield history mentioned Dr. Milton Dunlap's sister, the Widow McCague, it confirmed Dunlap “installed” his sister as housekeeper because she stood up for her convictions. G.L. Corum, author of Ulysses Underground, rightly stated. “These families raised children with spines of steel.”

In 1845, Dr. Dunlap offered hospitality to Frederick Douglass. Enslaved in Maryland, Douglass had disguised himself as a sailor and escaped in 1838. A decade after *Weld lectured in Greenfield, author Frederick Douglass came town for the same purpose and stayed in the home of Dr. Milton Dunlap for a week. It is written, “During his stay he delivered several impassioned addresses in local churches and made many converts to the cause of abolition. When he left, he was presented with a good riding horse and saddle.”

(In 1834, Connecticut-born Theodore Weld ignited an abolition explosion within Lane Seminary, forty miles west of Ulysses Grant's home. Repercussions sent abolition lecturers into every town around the Grant family. Ulysses matured in the middle of this movement and had mentors on both sides.)


G.L. Corum. Ulysses Underground. 2015.

Marla Toncray. “Faith of Our Fathers -- The quiet history of Red Oak Presbyterian Church”
marla.toncray@lee.net. The Ledger Independent. June 10, 2011.

Many people with Greenfield connections made a difference.”

Ripley, Ohio and the Underground Beyond the Rankins


“Sometimes standing on the Ohio River bluff, looking over on a free State, and as far north as my eyes could see, I have eagerly gazed upon the blue sky of the free North … that I might soar away to where there is no slavery; no clanking of chains, no captives, no lacerating of backs, no parting of husbands and wives; and where man ceases to be the property of his fellow man.”

– From the autobiography of Henry Bibb, a fugitive Kentucky slave, 1849

Henry Bibb was born to an enslaved woman, Milldred Jackson, on a Cantalonia, Kentucky, plantation on May 10, 1815. His people told him his white father was James Bibb, a Kentucky state senator, but Henry never knew him. As he was growing up, Bibb saw each of his six younger siblings, all boys, sold away to other slaveholders. Bibb, himself, claimed to have been owned by seven people including a Cherokee Indian.

Bibb made several bids for freedom with the help of the Underground Railroad. (His first escape was at the tender age of ten.) On one of these he spent a few months in Canada in 1838, but when he returned to Kentucky in an attempt to free his first wife and their daughter, he was caught and sold to a group of gamblers. He finally made his way alone to Detroit in December 1840. There he joined the anti-slavery movement, traveling across Michigan, Ohio, and the northeastern states lecturing upon the evils of slavery.

In 1849-50 he published his autobiography Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb, An American Slave, Written by Himself, which became one of the best known slave narratives of the antebellum years. In 1851, he set up the first black newspaper in Upper Canada. He used the Voice of the Fugitive to organize abolitionists in an attempt to help other African Americans immigrate to Canada. Bibb was instrumental in organizing the Refugees’ Home Society that had by his death in 1854 purchased almost 2000 acres of land and allocated 25 acre plots to 40 immigrants.

Crossing the Ohio River into the free state of Ohio represented the first precious steps into freedom for so many escaped slaves like Henry Bibb. There were twenty-three entry points along the Ohio River, where numerous small communities provided safety for slaves in an extremely dangerous territory. The main entry point was a small community called Ripley. Founded in 1803, Ripley was home to a small but extremely important group of abolitionists who assisted thousands of escaping slaves and started them on their journey.

Ripley residents led by the Rev. John Rankin and former slave John P. Parker helped hundreds of slaves to freedom. According to legend, the very title of “Underground Railroad” was coined by slave hunters after losing track of fleeing slaves they were chasing through the dark alleys of Ripley. Johh Rankin's House on “Liberty Hill” in Ripley was an important stop on the Underground Railroad.

The Underground Railroad in the Ripley area had three interlocking components. The first were Presbyterian ministers, most of whom were Southerners, who had begun around the year 1800 to come north to escape the horrific climate of slavery. Later, united through an administrative body known as the Chillicothe Presbytery, they formed an established web of relationships that linked Ripley to Red Oak, Sardinia, Russellville, and other towns in southern Ohio.

The second component included activist abolitionists. The Ripley Anti-Slavery Society, which held its organizational meeting in Red Oak at the Presbyterian church of Rev. James Gilliland, enlisted 337 members in its first year, an exceptionally large number by comparison with other community antislavery societies. They elected Alexander Campbell, president; Gilliland, vice-president; and Rankin, secretary. Five years later, John Mahan of Sardinia led a small group in Brown County who supported the Liberty Party. Rankin did not join them until 1843, though his son Lowry was one of the original Liberty Party men in Ripley.

The third component was a sizable population of free blacks and a small number of courageous slaves who lived across the river in Kentucky in Mason and Bracken counties. Most of the free blacks were members of the two Gist settlements, just north of Ripley, which were comprised mainly of slaves and their ancestors from Virginia, who had been emancipated after the death of their master, Samuel Gist, in 1819.

Further examination of the history of Ripley reveals more families there with strong abolitionist ties to the Underground Railroad. The importance of their efforts to the freedom movement is monumental.

Samuel Hemphill and William Byington Campbell

Samuel Hemphill was believed to be one of the wealthiest people in the Ohio River Valley in the mid 1800s. He became the largest food and commodities broker in Ripley, Ohio. His trade included lumber, tobacco, hogs, whiskey and items manufactured in Ripley. It is said he once loaned money to the State of Ohio to resolve a financial shortage.

Hemphill was the treasurer of the Ripley Presbyterian Church, out of which developed the leadership and strong following of the Ripley abolitionist movement. As a supporter of abolition, Hemphill reportedly financed the defense of a famous and expensive trial of an abolitionist in Maysville.

Samuel Hemphill was William Byington Campbell's brother-in-law and an antislavery descendent. (Campbell was often known as Byington) Byington befriended Ulysses S. Grant during their school years at Ripley. His father, Joseph N. Campbell, served as a Ripley College trustee, and died five years before Ulysses came to Ripley for schooling.

Byington marked the third generation aiding escaping fugitives. Both of his grandfathers, along with all ten of his uncles, paternal and maternal, were known as “immediate abolitionists.”

* (On the first day of January, 1831, William Lloyd Garrison began publishing The Liberator, the country's first publication to demand an immediate end to slavery without compensation to their owners. Within four years, 200 abolition societies had sprouted up in the North and had mounted a massive propaganda campaign to proclaim the sinfulness of slavery.)

In 1816, Byington's parents and paternal grandparents became charter members of Ripley Presbyterian Church. In 1822, the church called John Rankin to be their minister. Upon his father's death in 1833, Byington, at the tender age of eight, became the man in a house open to fugitive slaves.

Then, Ripley was a bustling center of business and commerce. Here is a description of old Ripley by John P. Parker, the famous conductor on the Underground Railroad:

“... Ripley in 1845. At that time it was as busy as a beehive. There was no town along the Ohio River except Cincinnati that was in its class. There was a group of live men there that made it the center of industry and finance. There was Samuel Hemphill,29 Archibald Leggett,30 the Boyntons, Thomas McCague,31 James Reynolds were the leaders.

“There were the upper and lower boatyards, busy the year round. The upper boatyard was the oldest and larger of the two, located at the mouth of Red Oak Creek. There was a jut of land below the creek which gave the boatyard a safe harbor, winter and summer.32 One hundred flatboats were made here in one year for Vevay, Indiana, to float hay down the river. These boats were turned out in quantities and very rapidly all winter long. The mills would turn out the parts, so all that would have to be done in the spring and summer was to assemble the parts into flatboats.

“These boats were assembled bottom side up. When they slid down the way, they were upset so they floated right side up. In winter steamboats were on the ways. The entire riverfront was filled with flatboats loading cargoes for New Orleans and all waypoints. Winter and summer there flowed down the river highways into the town a continuous stream of logs night and day. Only pork was packed, as the south did not feed beef to its slaves. The slaughterhouses were in full blast at all seasons. Flour mills, both water and steam, ground up the grain of the neighboring farms, which were very fertile. One mill located back from the river had an overhead gravity runway, sending the barrels from the mill across the creek down to the bank to the flatboats.

“All winter long the farmer and his family were busily engaged making pork and flour barrels, and tobacco hogsheads. These were brought to town either on sleighs or by four-to-six-horse teams. At times the farmers killed [and] packed their own hogs. A woolen mill made most of the jeans for the town and flatboats.

“There were still Jacksonian gentlemen who wore blue jean suits with brass buttons and swallow coattails, who devoted as much time to keeping their long rows of brass buttons shining as the men of today to preening and cleaning.

“This little town was so rich [that] in the Panic of 1837, it sent its funds to help New York banks over that depression. It was as busy as a beehive and as thrifty as it was busy ...

“Amidst this commercial activity lived and moved the little group of old-time abolitionists. They were by name Dr. Alexander Campbell, Rev. John Rankin, Theodore, Tom, and Eli Collins, Tom McCague, Dr. Beasley, [and] Rev. James Gilliland. The undoubted leader was Rev. John Rankin.

“While the businessmen were not abolitionists, they were antislavery. But the town itself was proslavery as well as the country around it. In fact, the country was so antagonistic to abolitionism at this time, we could only take the fugitives out of town and through the country along definite and limited routes.

“There was also very active a certain group of men who made a living by capturing the runaway slaves and returning them to their masters. These men were on watch day and night along the riverbank the year round. While they captured quite a few it was remarkable how many slaves we got through the line successfully. The feeling grew so tense Rev. John Rankin and his followers left the Presbyterian church forming a new congregation who were given over to the antislavery movement.

“Many of the Methodists were in silent sympathy with the movement, [and] would give us money, but would take no aggressive part. As a matter of fact, this abolitionist group were ridiculed, detested, and even threatened by the town’s people.

“After the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law in [1850], the attitude of the town’s people grew even more critical of our group.37 We had to be more secretive than ever, for it meant confiscation of property, a fine, and [a] jail sentence.

“I had kept a diary giving the names, dates, and circumstances of all the slaves I had helped run away, which at that time numbered 315. As I had accumulated considerable property, as a matter of safety I threw this diary into the iron furnace, for fear it might fall into other hands.

“The other men were equally as cautious, but the work went on just the same. Having now become actively engaged in aiding the fugitives, my contact with the other abolitionists was close, and maintained until the close of the Civil War.”

No one knows how often Byington Campbell, with the aid and support of Samuel Hemphill, escorted slaves through the dark woods six miles north to Red Oak. But, a rare letter does survive. Byington's brother, Joseph N. Campbell, wrote to their brother studying at Marietta College:

Ripley November 15, 1845

Dear Brother,

“... Burgess Collins was walking on ferry street and met Becwith who commenced pulling off his coat and Burgess did the same and wipped him till the bystanders told him it was enough. On yesterday he struck James Patterson for which he was fined five dollars and cost. Byington and Hemphill are busy receiving flour he sold to load to Bartlet and has since bought another. Every few days there is a great excitement about flour ...”

Your affectionate Brother,

Joseph N. Campbell

Joseph relayed his brother's excitement about “flour” in code language for fugitives from slavery. Of course, Hemphill in the letter is Samuel Hemphill. This brother-in-law team of Hemphill and Campbell kept busy shuffling sacks of “flour” every few days.

Silver Point

Silver Point was the family home of Samuel Hemphill. It is located along what is known as Colonial Row on Ripley's Main Street. The stately columned homes there reflect the town's prosperity during the mid-1800s when Ripley was a major river port on the Ohio River with a population of approximately 5,000 people. Hemphill's workers named the home “Silver Point” because he always paid them in silver – somewhat unusual because then silver was hard to come by. Bartering was the “currency” of the day for most trades.

Built in 1840, Silver Point has six bedrooms and five bathrooms, two kitchens, a dining room and two living rooms at the front of the home. The foyers on the main floor and second floor are immense and connected by a beautiful staircase.

The house's 23 rooms are a treasure trove of carved architectural designs, said Greg Haitz, who has frequented the house while researching the design and former owners of the home.The architecture is an excellent example of the Neo-Classical period.

Hemphill was friends with President Ulysses S. Grant and President Rutherford B. Hayes, both of whom were frequent visitors to his home.


G.L. Corum. Ulysses Underground. 2015.

Wendy Mitchell. “Silver Point Readying for Public Peek.” wendy.mitchell@lee.net. February 19, 2015.

“Ohio Was the Promised Land.” http://www.womenhistoryblog.com/2015/03/underground-railroad-in-ohio.html

John P. Parker. His Promised Land: The Autobiography of John P. Parker, Former Slave and Conductor on the Underground Railroad ed. Stuart Seely Sprague (New York: W.W. Norton, 1996),

Marla Toncray. “A visit to Silver Point, on Ripley's Colonial Row.” marla.toncray@lee.net. May 08, 2015.


Saturday, February 24, 2018

The Grants and Underground Railroad Connections In Southern Ohio

 Jesse Grant Tannery, Georgetown

Ulysses S. Grant (born Hiram Ulysses Grant) is known for his accomplishments as a Union General in the Civil War and, of course, for his presidency. What is little known is that the Grant family were stalwarts in the movement for the abolition of slavery. The story of Jesse, Ulysses' father, provides insight into local history and is a touchstone to the all-important freedom movement.

Ulysses' childhood occurred in the middle of a seventy-year span of Underground Railroad history. As early as the 1790s, families moved to what became Ohio and aligned their homes to help liberate slaves. Religious convictions played a big part. In southwestern Ohio, certain Quakers, Calvinists, and Presbyterians worked together in secrecy to develop liberation plans. Communities were often loose but connected considering the times. (Jesse was a member of the Methodist faith – also well-represented in the anti-slavery population.)

Four years before their revival at Cane Ridge, the Presbyterian Church's highest governing body, the General Assembly, directed people to pray to redeem the frontier from “Egyptian darkness” so named for Moses' struggle against Egypt's Pharaoh. In Buckeye Presbyterianism, E.B. Welsh describes the ministers serving the antislavery churches surround Ulysses.

In the southern part of the state, especially in Chillicothe Presbytery, … convinced anti slavery men were apparently in the majority, certainly the more vocal. … most of them were from the South, several from the Carolinas – such men as James Gilliland and William and James Dickey, as well as John Rankin of Tennessee, men who had migrated to this free staate of Ohio for the express purpose of getting their families away from the blight and curse of slavery. With William Williamson of Manchester, Samuel Crothers of Greenfield and Dyer Burgess of West Union and later Rocky Spring, they brought the issue before Presbytery again and again.”

(E.B. Welsh. Buckeye Presbyterianism. 1968.)

Jesse Grant

Jesse Grant's paternal ancestor, Matthew Grant, and wife Priscilla and their infant daughter, embarked from Plymouth, England aboard the Mary and John with a party of 140 emigrants who had been gathered chiefly from South West England. It was one of many Pilgrims of the Puritan movement that fled England to escape religious persecution. After a 70-day journey the party arrived at Massachusetts Bay coloy in Nantasket, on May 30, 1630, and soon moved to and settled in Windsor, Connecticut.

Matthew was a trusted member of the community. He became a surveyor and a town clerk. Jesse's grandfather Noah Grant, and his brother Solomon, fought and died in the French and Indian War, and his son, (Jesse's father) also named Noah, served in the American Revolution, including the Battle of Bunker Hill, soon advancing to the rank of captain. Later generations migrated into Pennsylvania.

Ulysses' father, Jesse Root Grant, was born in 1794 in western Pennsylvania, to Noah and Rachel Kelly Grant. Noah Grant, was married to his first wife, Anna Richardson, who became the parents of two children, Solomon and Peter Grant. Upon Noah's return from service in 1787 Anna died. On March 4, 1792, at Greensburg, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, Noah married his second wife, Rachael Kelly, who became Jesse's mother with the birth of her first born child on January 23, 1794. Noah named Jesse after the Honorable Jesse Root, Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Connecticut.

In 1799, when Jesse was age five, Noah moved his family to East Liverpool, and again in 1804, to Deerfield, both in Ohio. Noah worked in a shoe shop, earning a modest wage in Greensburg.

Jesse's mother, Rachel, died the spring after Jesse turned eleven, and her death scattered the family. For a time Jesse lived with Sallie Isaac Tod, whose husband was an Ohio judge. (Their son would be Ohio's governor during the Civil War.) According to biographer G.L. Corum, “in motherless Jesse, Mrs. Tod helped the young teen acquire a basic education and infused him with a love of reading. Jesse also credited her with his decision to become a tanner.”

Jesse Grant moved to Point Pleasant in 1820 and found work as a foreman in a tannery owned by his half-brother Owen Brown (father of the famous John Brown who led the raid at Harpers Ferry). Owen was a stout and outspoken abolitionist and Jesse often listened to his public orations against slavery, where he became familiar with and supportive of the cause. During this time Jesse lived under the same roof as John Brown, became friends and came to know his abolitionist philosophy.

Later in life Jesse would describe John Brown as "a man of great purity of character, of high moral and physical courage, but a fanatic and extremist in whatever he advocated." Harold I. Gullan, in his book, Faith of Our Mothers, mentioned that Jesse Grant moved to Ravenna, Ohio “because he hated slavery” [in Kentucky].

Jesse soon met his future wife, Hannah, and the two were married on June 24, 1821. Ten months later Hannah gave birth to their first child, a son. At a family gathering, several weeks later the boy's name, Ulysses, was drawn from ballots placed in a hat. Wanting to honor his father-in-law, Jesse declared the boy to be Hiram Ulysses, though he would always refer to him as Ulysses. Jesse eventually gained ownership of many tanning locations.

The 1850 Fugitive Slave Law accelerated vengeance against escaped slaves and those who assisted them. At that time, Jesse Grant ran his interstate commerce sending animal hides, tanning supplies, and leather goods between Ohio and Illinois. Corum states, “He had tanneries on both sides of the Ohio River, with a few extending down into Kentucky and a few more stretching up the Mississippi.”

Jesse wrote about his tanneries …

As tanning was absolutely necessary to the support of a leather store, I set up my youngest son, Orville, then about nineteen, in a new tannery of eighty vats, in the chestnut oak bark region, twenty-four miles from Portsmouth, Ohio, where we got plenty of bark delivered at three dollars per cord. Soon after we bought another tannery of 130 vats, five miles from Portsmouth, where bark cost five dollars. It was not long before we bought still another tannery of 110 vats, in Kentucky, opposite Portsmouth, and where bark cost about eight dollars. These tanneries all employed steam power, but labor, bark, and hides advanced, so as to make tanning rather unprofitable, and the Kentucky tannery has been sold; the other two are still (being) run.”

(Jesse Grant. “Biological Sketches.” 12 No 8. September 24, 1868.)


He talked about tannery and not about slavery, but in the woods halfway between Portsmouth and Sinking Spring, Ohio, where no town existed, more went on.

Helen Christian in Echo of Rarden History revealed the name Galena was adopted when the first plat of the town was made on October 10, 1850. Orville Grant, brother of Ulysses S., named the town for his home in Galena, Illinois (“Galena” refers to a black mineral.)

Orville's new town coincided with Congress passing the Compromise of 1850, containing the ultra-controversial Fugitive Slave Law. Of course, the passage of this law made abolitionists all the more resolved to put an end to slavery. It appears the Grants doubled down on their underground efforts. The timing, placement, and name of Galena, Ohio supports this. It is known that the Grant family helped liberate slaves with through their tannery operations. 


Corum says, “Fleeing feet would have headed north through the woods (now Shawnee Forest) to Galena, Ohio, on their way to Sinking Spring. Ammen (newspaper editor) bragged about helping more fugitives escape than anyone else, indicating he received runaways from various lines.”

Corum believes Jesse was putting up a smokescreen with talk about chestnut bark prices. His Underground Railroad operation even extended into Kentucky – a wide expanse of work for freedom. In Lewis County, Jesse operated a tannery. And, eventually, Jesse even moved his family to Covington, Kentucky, where they were better able to aid fugitives by operating on both sides of the river. Indeed, his tanneries map a way out of slavery during their operations.

Jesse died June 29, 1873, in Covington, Kentucky, shortly after President Grant began his second term.His funeral was held at the Union Methodist Episcopalian Church in Covington. Jesse was buried at Spring Grove Cemetery, in Cincinnati, Ohio. His wife, Hannah, died ten years later in 1883, in Jersey City, New Jersey, just two years before their son Ulysses died.


Jesse Grant” (1794-1873) http://presidentusgrant.com/picture-archives/1630-1822-ancestors-of-u-s-grant/jesse-grant-1794-1873/

King, Charles (1914). The true Ulysses S. Grant

Marshall, Edward Chauncey (1869). The ancestry of General Grant, and their contemporaries. Sheldon

Corum, G.L. Ulysses Underground. 2015.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Mysterious Keepers of the Land: Mound Builders in Ohio

Mound Park in Portsmouth, Ohio

The Mound Builders have long been a subject of speculation and imagination. They made so many physical footprints in the American landscape, but with the absence of written records, we know so little about the source, life, and destiny of these ancient people. Ohio was a preferred home to Mound Builders, and their magnificent works survive to this day.

Those who live in Southern Ohio have a direct historical connection to these people of the Woodland period. Historians now believe Ohio, with it fertile land capable of supporting a wide variety of plants and animal species was also home to a significant human population known as “Natural Americans” that survived on these abundant resources – inhabitants of this area thriving here even before the Mound Builders. Very, very little is known about these people.

What happened to the Mound Builders? There's no evidence that they departed or morphed into another group, but that they were here when another group began filtering in from the south. The facts that the Mound Builders had a vibrant, strong culture and a large population are hard to imagine today. Even more difficult to imagine is that as of yet, we don't really don't understand that much about our ancient ancestral Ohioans.

This is a quotation from The Masterpieces of the Ohio Mound Builders by E.O. Randall published in 1908:

Ohio was a reginon for which the Mound Builders displayed most remarkable partiality. The bands of 'La Belle Riviere,' as the eary French called the majestic Ohio, the Scioto, the Muskingum, and lesser streams were the scenes of his most numerous, most extensive and most 'continuous performances.'

It has been asserted, without dispute, that the localities in Ohio, which testify to the Mound Builders' presence, outnumber the rest of the country. Ohio was the great 'State' in prehistoric times, for over twelve thousand places in the present state-limits have been found and noted, where the Mound Builder left his testimonial. These enclosures on the hill tops, the plain or river bottoms, walled-in areas, each embracing from one to three hundred acres in space, enclosures presenting a variety in design, size and method of construction, unequaled elsewhere, exceed fifteen hundred in number, while thousands of single mounds of varying circumference and height were scattered over the central and southwestern part of the state.

One thing is clearly demonstrated by this tremendous 'showing,' viz., that these people either continued in more or less sparse numbers through a long space of time or they prevailed in vast numbers during a more or less brief, contemporaneous period, for it has been estimated that the 'earthly production' of their labor, now standing in Ohio, if placed side by side in a continuous line, would extend over three hundred miles or farther than from Lake Erie to the Ohio and that they contain at least thirty million cubic yards of earth or stone, and that it would require one thousand men, each man working three hundred days in the year and carrying one wagon load of material the required distance, a century to complete these artificial formations; or it would take three hundred thousand men one year to accomplish the same result.

Supposing the laborers were exclusively men and allowing the conventional average family to each, there would have been a population far exceeding a million people. Whether theses different structures were built synchronously or near the same period, we have no means of knowing. The structures were almost without exception completed before being abandoned; they left no unfinished work, from which it might be inferred that they did not depart prematurely nor in haste.

Their works after their abandonment were not disturbed, except that the single mounds were occasionally utilized by the Indians for intrusive burials. The conqueror of the Mound Builder, if he had one, had respect for the spoils of conquest and left the victorious monuments inviolate and intact; pity is the same cannot be said for his pale-faced successor.”

The Mound Builders flourished in Ohio as they erected what were to become incredible memorials to their kind. How strange that so little is known about these people although it is evident they dwelt here for countless generations in great numbers (5,000-2,000 years). Even their tribal names are unknown, replaced by the white man's terms like Adena and Hopewell.

Randall stated the Mound Builders eventually joined “the ennumerable caravan that moves to that mysterious realm which is the destiny of races as of men; then came at least one other savage successor, the child of the forest, the Indian; bitter and bloody was the struggle of his stay, but his happy hunting grounds were to be the dwelling place of the pale face.”

After seeing the mound circles and huge walled city of Fort Ancient, Ohio, Osman C. Hooper, professor and newspaper editor, composed this untitled verse about the organized society of Mound Builders who erected the works:

Before Ohio knew a name, a thousand years ago,
A great Cazique (tribal chief) stood on the heights and watched Miami's flow;
Tall, straight, majestic as a god, he looked the valley o'er
And heard the hurrying breeze repeat the water's sullen roar.
About him Nature lay full-garbed in leaf and blade and flower,
While he, the Boss, stood clothed upon with little else but power.

Aloof his people stood and gazed – a trembling lot and meek –
And wondered what was holding fast the thought of the Cazique;
Alert to execute his will, they waited his command
And, eager, pressed about him, at the beck'ning of his hand.
What wouldst thou, master ?” they inquired. “Our hands and feet are thine,
Command, and thou shalt have it ere the sun again shall shine.”

What do I want? Look, slaves, and see the beauteous valley there,
The bending sky, the teeming soil and all the hues they wear;
Be hold the stream that leaps and laughs and roars and then is still;
Look on this bit of heaven dropped within this bowl of hill.
Can ye behold nor guess the wish that in my mind has birth?”
He paused, and loud the thousands cried, “Our lord would have the earth.”

E'en so!” the great Cazique replied. “You boast of what thing you
Can do before the morrow's sun drinks up the morning dew;
But I am lenient, O slaves, and give you just a year
To get the earth and bring it in is wondrous beauty here.”

He ceased to speak and waved his hand to bid his people go;
And straight, ten thousand dusky forms, like arrows from a bow,
Sped to the work, each with a bowl and shell for digging fit,
And scratched the earth and took the soil and all that grew in it.

Then, bowl by bowl, they bore the earth to where the monarch 'stood
And piled it on the height where'er his eye considered good;
They dug and carried, night and day, from brown-leafed fall to fall,
And thus they built upon the height a wondrous earthen wall
Upon their work the monarch looked, then glanced the valley o'er
And marveled that the earth was there much as it was before,
Alas!” he cried, “they toil but fail; my wish can never be;
But, if I cannot have the earth, then open, Earth, for me!”

And thus he died, this early Boss of all that mighty clan;
His aim was high like every aim of the Ohio man;
He failed, but still did good and so quite justified the birth
Of that desire within his breast to have and own the earth.


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Morgan's Raid into Jasper and the Death of Joseph McDougal

As John Morgan and his band are now captured, the people can settle down and content themselves with a least of hope that one horse-thieving scoundrel and disturber of the peace of the county, will get his just deserts. If our people don’t shoot him for the raid, the rebel authorities will be sure to, if they ever lay hands on him. He has wasted and destroyed, on a fool’s errand, the best body of cavalry they had in their service, and all to no purpose in the world. Such a senseless expedition never started since the world began. He has failed to perform a single achievement that is worth thinking of a second time.”
Newspaper account of Morgan’s Raid – Cambridge Times, July 30, 1863

Seldom has any movement aroused such intense excitement and bitter feelings as did Morgan's raid into Indiana and Ohio during the Civil War. As evidenced by the account above, to the North, Morgan was a bloodthirsty ruffian. But, to the South, he was a brave and daring hero.

General John Hunt Morgan's raid into Indiana and Ohio really had little or no influence on the outcome of the Civil War. Although it was made to injure the Union cause, it stoked feelings of loyalty in residents who were staunchly bound to the Union

It is recorded that Morgan's theory of waging war was to go deep into the heart of the enemy's country. He had sought long and earnestly for permission to put this theory into practice. A raid into Ohio had long been his fondest dream, and, about the middle of June, 1863, upon his arrival in Alexandria, Kentucky, the golden opportunity seemed to lie before him. The situation in Tennessee was daily growing more pressing for the Confederate armies there. It was soon evident that some solution for their problem must be found.

Into Southern Ohio

From July 13-26, 1863, Confederate Brigadier General John Hunt Morgan led a daring group of more than 2,000 men across Southern Ohio. His mission: to distract and divert as many Union troops as possible from the action in Middle Tennessee and East Tennessee. Union troops under the command of Major General Ambrose Burnside gave chase.

During his daring raid, Morgan and his men captured and paroled about 6,000 Union soldiers and militia, destroyed 34 bridges, disrupted the railroads at more than 60 places, and diverted tens of thousands of troops from other duties.

More than 200 northern lives were lost in the two week period of the raid into Ohio with at least 350 casualties. 4,375 people in twenty-nine counties filed claims for damages and were awarded $428,168. The Union forces were also charged with damages totaling $141,855, the militia being held accountable for $6,202. Upwards of 2,5000 horses were commandeered and collected by Morgan. There were 49,357 militia men called to duty costing the state $450,000. The cost to the state was more than $100,000.

The biggest impact on Ohio at the time was the realization that they were truly unprepared for the war to be in their own "backyard.” They had felt secure by the distance from the south and had not put much effort into preparations for defense. The fact that Morgan was able to almost traverse the whole state, from Harrison in the west to West Point in the east (only about 10 miles from Virginia (West Virginia) and Pennsylvania, with little or no resistance is testimony to this fact.

In West Point, Ohio, there stands a stone monument to the events of July 1863. It was erected in 1909 by Will L. Thompson of East Liverpool. It states:

"This stone marks the spot where the Confederate raider General John H. Morgan surrendered his command to Major General George W. Rue, July 26, 1863, and this is the farthest point north ever reached by any body of Confederate troops during the Civil War."

The Account of the Local Raid

Here is a written account of the raid near and in Jasper, Ohio. It begins on Thursday, July 16, 1863, and is taken in its entirety from Morgan’s Raid Across Ohio: The Civil War Guidebook of the John Hunt Morgan Heritage Trail published by the Ohio Historical Society on November 20, 2014 by Lora Schmidt Cahill and David L Mowery. It is offered here in memory of local resident, Joseph McDougal, who, in giving his life that fateful day, entered into the annals of history.

“The raiders began to move out of Locust Grove shortly after dawn. A small party moved southeast to Rarden in Scioto County as a feint on the city of Portsmouth. The main force moved northeast.

“Three men who were too ill to ride were left behind. The Platter family cared for them until they were able to travel. When they reached their homes in the South, they wrote to their hosts, thanking them for the hospitality they had provide.

“Edward L. Hughes was a well-respected and prosperous local farmer. He was especially proud of his fine horses. When Duke's men appropriated two of them, he appealed to General Morgan for their return. When that failed, he volunteered to serve as Morgan's guide to Jackson, hoping to recover the horse.

“On reaching Jackson, Hughes, a large Irishman, became drunk and boisterous. Morgan dismissed him. Not only did Hughes fail to recover his horses, but when Hobson (Brigadier General Edward H. Hobson) arrived, Hughes was arrested and sent to jail for treason. Out on bail, he fled to Montreal, Canada. After Lincoln's Amnesty Proclamation in 1863, Hughes returned to Locust Grove and took the loyalty oath. He soon discovered that he was no longer welcome in Adams County; he left the area and moved west.

“In 1863, most of Morgan's men used a road that no longer exists; known as the Chillicothe Road, it ran northeast from Hackelshin Road to the Poplar Grove Road. Morgan used the Chillicothe Road instead of the Piketon Road in order to deceive Federal authorities into thinking he intended to attack Chillicothe. This feint worked well.

“A small company of scouts rode up Union Ridge and around to Smith Hill.

“The Kendall farm was locted between Poplar Grove and Arkoe. The raiders took fresh bread from Mrs. Kendall's oven. Near Arkoe, the raiders took Lewis Beekman't horse and 20 pounds of honey from his hives.

“On Chenoweth Fork Road, a large two-story house was the William Henry home. It served as a station on the Underground Railroad.

“Mr. Henry took his livestock to the woods. Not intimidated by Morgan's men, his sixty-six-year-old wife, Jane, drove the raiders out of her house and flower beds with a broom stick. After they showed the respect due her, she fed them and let them water their horses in the creek behind the house. She then requested and received a receipt for her services. When the captain was writing the receipt, another raider slipped into the barn and took a saddle, four bridles, two halters, and a horse blanket. When Mr. Henry returned home, he was not impressed with his wife's account of her dealings with the raiders.

(The original junction of Chenoweth Fork and Tennyson roads was lost when SR 32 was improved.)

"Morgan's men became frustrated by the number of trees felled across the roads. Governor Tod had called forth the axe brigades of southern Ohio, and they were responding. Downed trees were not a major problem for the riders, but they delayed the wagons and artillery pieces.

“Near Tennyson, Benjamin Chestnut, his brother, and his son Isaac had just felled a tree across the road, at a spot where the road dropped off on the left side.

“Confederate scouts, hearing the tree fall, hurried ahead, captured the local “woodsmen,” and ordered the trio to cut up the tree. One of the rebels gathered up the men's horses while another confiscated Benjamin's money pouch. The three dismounted axemen climbed to the top of the hill and watched as Morgan's main column rode by them.

“At Sunfish Creek, the Stewart Alexander mill and residence were located downstream on the right.

“Two of the miller's older sons were ordered to help clear downed trees from the road.

“Three of the younger children had gone berry picking and returned home to learn that Morgan's raiders were approaching. The younger children were sent to hide in nearby woods, while their parents remained to face the intruders. One of the boys made it no farther than the chicken house. A raider opened the door but did not discover him. The raiders broke into the mill and took all the wheat flour and cornmeal. They opened the grain bins and fed their horses.

“When the children returned home from the woods, the raiders were gone, and so were their berries. Alexander lost a barrel full of honey from the cellar, his gun, and one of his horses to Morgan's men.

“The raiders crossed and burned the nearby 125-foot covered bridge over Sunfish Creek. Some accounts credit the raiders with burning the mill. However, an account written by Alexander's granddaughter, Lina Silcott Shoemaker, refutes the claim. She wrote that as soon as the raiders left, Alexander collected corn and wheat from the neighbors and started milling. He knew his customers would need flour and meal to replace that lost to the raiders.

“Morgan sent a company right on Long Fork Creek Road. The men passed over Yankee Hill and followed Long Fork toward the Scioto River.

“Near the crest of Stoney Ridge on Jasper Road, valiant men made their stand.

“News of Morgan's approach reached Jasper several hours before the raiders arrived. Andrew Kilgore was chairman of the Pike County Military Committee. He was assisted by Jasper storekeeper, Samuel Cutler. The committee was responsible for recruiting in the area and for the defense of the county in an emergency.

“Some of the Pike County Volunteer Militia had been called to Camp Chase to help protect Columbus; other members were sent to aid in the defense of Chillicothe and Portsmouth. The militia was fully armed and counld be called up at an hour's notice by the governor. It would later become the National Guard.
“The home guard could be called out only to defend their local area in case of attack. On July 16, it fell to Kilgore's men to protect Jasper. Kilgore chose a spot on Stoney Ridge, about four miles west of Jasper, for the construction of a barricade. From here, the forty citizen-soldiers would have a clear field of fire down the road.

“The town's doctors, lawyers, clerks, and clergymen had joined farmers and laborers behind the barricade. The nervous men waited for Morgan's charge. They were prepared to defend their town even though outnumbered four to one.

“Morgan's scouts arrived about 1:00 p.m. They notified him of the barricade. Morgan realized that he would probably lose men in a direct charge. He ordered several companies of the Second Brigade to dismount and fire a volley at the barricade.

“The surprised defenders were not expecting the dismounted attack. After firing several rounds, they surrendered. (It took Morgan six hours to get past this defended obstacle.) The captured men were marched at gunpoint back to Jasper.

“During the march back to town, the prisoners suffered verbal abuse from Morgan's men. Most of the prisoners said nothing. Forty-sever-year-old Joseph McDougal, a staunch Unionist schoolteacher, made some disparaging remarks to his captors.

“Because Morgan could not take the prisoners with him, he assigned Captian James W. Mitchell the task of paroling the home guard. Before paroling the men, Mitchell asked for directions to the Scioto River ford. No one volunteered the information.

“We do not know what happened next. Written accounts of the incident vary. We do know that McDougal was pulled from the group of prisoners and bound. (Another source: “Money was taken from the prisoner and Joseph only had ten cents. He stated that was ten cents more than he wanted them to have.”) He was asked to step out of line and was taken to another area and questioned. Captain Mitchell ordered him placed in a small boat (canoe) on either the Ohio & Erie Canal or the Scioto River. He then ordered two of his men to shoot McDougal, who was struck below the right eye and in the chest. (Another source: “The canoe drifted along down the river, with the bloody corpse of McDougal as a warning to those who planned to resist the raiders.”)

“We do not know what provoked the raiders to take this action. Very few civilians were killed during the raid, and then only if they fired on the raiders first.

“Joseph McDougal is buried behind the old Jasper Methodist Church at the top of a hill. His broken tombstone inscription reads: 'Joseph McDougal was shot by John Morgan's men July 16, 1863. Aged 47 yrs 7 ms 9 ds.'

“McDougal was survived by his wife, Elizabeth, and five children ranging in age from one to seventeen years. Before leaving town the raiders stole one of the widow's horses.

"A number of other Jasper residents had horses and valuable taken by the raiders.

“In 1863, Jasper was a bustling canal town of about 160 people. The town's stores served both canal traffic and local farmers.

“Angered by the citizens' resistance at the barricade, the raiders were violent in their looting and destruction. They burned all manner of buildings, barns, stables, and mills.

“They torched the Charles Miller sawmill and lumberyard, located between the canl and the river. They also burned Miller's canal boat. An attempt to burn his private bridge over the canal failed.

“After spending several hours in Jasper, the raiders crossed and burned the county bridge across the canal.

“Morgan's men turned left and rode approximately one-half mile upstream to the Scioto River ford.”

Morgan was eventually thwarted in his attempts to recross the Ohio River, and he was forced to surrender what remained of his command in northeastern Ohio near the Pennsylvania border.

Morgan and other senior officers were kept in the Ohio state penitentiary, but they tunneled their way out and casually took a train to Cincinnati, where they crossed the Ohio to safety. Morgan was killed less than a year later in Greeneville, Tennessee by a Union cavalryman after refusing to halt while attempting to escape.

 Harriet Parrott, Daughter of Joseph McDougal       Morgan's Grave


Lora Schmidt Cahill and David L. Mowery. Morgan's Raid Across Ohio: The Civil War Guidebook of the John Hunt Morgan Heritage Trail. 2014.


“Morgan's Raid into Ohio.” https://www.carnegie.lib.oh.us/morgan.

Phyllis Kirkendall. “Jasper, Ohio: Pictures and Information.” Pike County Messenger.

“Morgan's Raid In Indiana.” https://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/imh/article/view/5817/5354


Monday, February 19, 2018

The First in Ohio in Scioto? The Disputed Title of First White Child


Who was the first white child born in the State of Ohio? The first white born in Scioto County? For good reason, there exists much speculation but no indisputable evidence to solidify this claim. This area has been a cradle of European exploration and settlement since the 17th century. And, considering the considerable interaction between these explorers and Native people, who is to say that “white” ethnic heritage is particularly noteworthy or wholly significant?

Nonetheless, historians do busy themselves with claims of “firsts” and primary importance. Genealogy and curiosity are of great interest to so many, even when proof is scant. And, personal accounts speak to the heart of those who love great stories with authentic voice. In the case of the Ohio-born “first,” the tales are engrossing. Read on, perhaps you will find some interest and pursue your own account.

It is commonly believed the first collective body of white people within the limits of the State of Ohio were the French traders as early as 1680. These traders established posts or stores at almost every Indian town. English traders came into Ohio in 1699-1700. They built a small fort or block house among the Hurons on the north side of Sandusky bay, and in 1748 they were driven off by a party of French soldiers from Detroit. Prior to 1763, the English in Ohio were few in comparison with the French. How many settlers lived here before westward expansion? Historical reference says groups were small – ten, twenty, or fifty traders.

These traders would marry (cohabit with) squaws and have children by them. Only in rare cases did white women accompany their husbands on trading excursions that generally lasted for months. Indians preferred to trade and barter with those connected to their people by marriage.

Though it seems most possible the early traders fathered children in Ohio, there is said to be no information that would help ascertain the date of birth of the first white child to any of the French or English occupants of Ohio prior to the peace in 1763 (the end of the French and Indian War).

There are two cases known in which traders did live with white wives in Indian villages.
  1. (First Name Undocumented) Henry (brother of Judge Henry of Lancaster, Pa. And the family of famous gunsmiths)
Henry was living among the Shawnese (Shawnee) as early as 1768. He was domiciled on the Scioto at a Shawnee village called “Cherlokraty” (Chillicothe?) He married a white woman, who had been taken captive as a child. It is not known if they had children born to them in Ohio, but that is likely since Henry continued living on the Scioto for many years while amassing a “fortune” (for the time).
  1. Richard Conner
Conner was a trader from Maryland who lived on the Scioto at Pickaway. He lived among the Western Indians as a trader for years and is believed to have married a young white woman, also a captive among the Shawnee at Pickaway. In 1771, a male child was born unto them. It is impossible to state at what place, though in all probability the birth occurred at Pickaway on the Scioto.

In 1774, agreeable to the treaty of Fort Pitt, all whites residing among the Shawnee were delivered up at the post. Among these were Mr. Conner and wife, but the Shawnee held back their son. The same year Mr. and Mrs. Conner went to reside with the Moravians at Shoenbrun, Ohio. Mr. Conner, having obtained permission from the American Commandant at Pittsburgh, went to the Scioto in search of his son. He left Mrs. Conner ac Shoenbrun. In the spring, he returned without his child, having made a fruitless search at the Shawnee towns.

During the year 1770, Mr. Conner made a second search for his boy and finally found him. Conner succeeded in purchasing his ransom. Mrs. Conner afterward had children at Shoenbrun, though the dates of their birth remain unknown.

Others have claimed to know the identity of the first white child born in Ohio, but this remains conjecture.

The Scioto Connection

Harlow Lindley, curator of history of the Ohio Archaeological and Historical society, said of five prominent claims for the distinction of the first white child born in Ohio, the history concerning Henry Mallow appears to top them all. Mallow, according to the records submitted to the society, was born November 18, 1785, near where Portsmouth is now located.

And here is the standing of other claims, according to Lindley's records:

James Conner, in September 1771, at what was known as Connersville; John Lewis Roth, July 4, 1773, at Columbian; Ephrian Cable, March 15, 1787, in Jefferson County; and Polly Heckwelder, 1790, in Salem.

The records submitted relative to the birth of the Mallow baby make up a thrilling and apparently untold chapter of the days when the French and Indians were battling the British.

"Henry Mallow's mother," Lindley related, "was captured during an Indian raid on a fort in the upper Ohio valley region. She and her two children, a boy and a baby girl, were taken captive."

"The woman's husband was away when the raid was made." Several other occupants of the fort were taken captive with Mrs.Mallow and the two children. All were started down the Ohio river astride logs."

Because the baby girl cried, according to information furnished to Lindley by Clara G. Mark of Westerville, Ohio, a descendant of the Mallows', she was abandoned along a trail and left to die.

"The Indians took their captives, " Lindley continuted, "To a camp on the west side of the Scioto River, but north of the Ohio river and opposite of where Portsmouth is now situated. Because Mrs. Mallow was a fine seamstress, she gained favor with the Indians.”

Then, according to the story handed down in the Mallow family, a baby boy was born to the woman on November 18, 1758. He was Henry Mallow. A statement taken from the record submitted by Miss Mark says "the Indians took the baby and bathed him in cold waters of the Ohio to wash out all the white blood and make a good Indian out of him."

Meanwhile, Mrs. Mallow's other son, identified as Adam, had been taken to another Indian camp near where Chillicothe now stands.

Sometime after the birth of Henry Mallow, Mrs. Mallow and the baby were taken to New Orleans by the Indians and sold to a Frenchman who provided transportation for the woman and the child back to the settlement, in what was known then as Virginia, where she was captured.

Mrs. Mallow rejoined her husband, but they never returned to Ohio, according to the family history. However, Adams Mallow, who has been released by the Indians, made his home near Chillicothe.

Here is another account of Henry Mallow from the Laben & Rachel (Harman) Eye Family:

"Henry Mallow served in Colonel Benjamin Harrison's Regiment in the Revolutionary War. His pension application S45892, was filed October 3, 1832 and granted January 11, 1833, retroactive to September 4, 1832. Henry gave his date of birth as Nov. 18, 1759 in his pension application. His tombstone, in Mt. Hope Cemetery, Upper Tract, West Virginia shows Nov. 18, 1858. He was illiterate, and was likely mistaken about the date. Henry died September 18, 1834.

“Parents: Michael Mallow and Mary Miller; Mary was taken on April 27, 1758 by a band of Shawnee Indians, Killbuck, a half breed Delaware Chief was their leader. They burned the fort and killed the soldiers there and captured many civilians. They captured Mary Miller Mallow, her son Adam about
6 or 7 years old, and her baby daughter. Adam lived with the Indians about 6 years until about 1864.

“Mary's baby daughter which she carried in her arms, began crying. A savage seized the baby, placed it on a rock, and forced Mary to move on. Mary never saw her daughter again.

“Mary was sold to the French fur traders. Mary's son Henry was born Nov. 18, 1758, on a French fur trader's Barge on the Mississippi River. A family tradition holds that Mary and her son Henry, were held in French captivity in Louisiana before making their way home. Michael must have born the Indians a bitter hatred for burning his home, enslaving his wife, and murdering his baby daughter. Michael accepted Henry as his son and left him a large farm in his will.”

And Yet Another Scioto Claim

The saline mines, although not strong, they did serve a good purpose by bringing comparatively cheap salt to the early settlers, and they drew the attention to outsiders of the advantages of settlement in the area. Of course, fertile land did so, too.

Samuel Marshall came down the Ohio River in company with Gen. Anthony Wayne in the fall of 1795. The group left Pittsburgh and passed down the river as far as Manchester, where they remained until Wayne made his famous treaty with the Indians.

Marshall had viewed the mouth of the Scioto and the lands on the border of that river. When it was distinctly understood that there would be no more Indian wars, he immediately returned up the river in the same boat. He then landed about three miles above the mouth of the Scioto, opposite the mouth of the Tygart Creek. His wife was Frances Mary Hazelrigg.

Samuel Marshall is known as the “first permanent settler of Scioto County” because “he was the first settler in the county who came here with the intention of making this his permanent home.” Marshall is also known as the person in the county “who built the first cabin, who raised the first crop of corn, and who fathered the first child.” Francis (Fanny) was born on February 16, 1796. She has the distinction of being “the first child born in the Scioto County. On reaching womanhood, Francis married George Skunkwilder (Shonkwiler?)


A.T. Goodman. First White Child In Ohio. A Historical Society. Number Four. 1871.

Heitzman Family Tree. October 8, 2009.

Williamson and Jolly Family Tree. July 2, 2008. 
C_Braton. Plumb/Surlet Family Tree. April 24, 2009.
1790 United States Federal Census 1. Citation provides evidence for Name, Residence.
Henry Mallow Believed First Ohio White Baby.” The Lima News. March 6, 1935.