Friday, July 13, 2018

History For Sale: Sargent's Station on Wakefield Mound Road

3174 Wakefield Mound Road, Piketon

Would you like to buy a beautifully restored home with a farmhouse? How about one with a very rich history that used to be a stop for the Underground Railroad? The Sargent home at 3174 Wakefield Mound Road in Piketon is your dream come true. It is for sale. You have the opportunity to own a piece of history.

The Sargent family, which had manumitted their slaves in Maryland in 1781, moved to the Ohio frontier for the express purpose of combating "the horrors of slavery." The Sargents' home was built around 1799 by Snowden Sargent, a Revolutionary War patriot, at a site overlooking the Alembic. (Alembic – a uniquely shaped ancient earthwork, about the size of a football field, relocated in 2006 alongside Rt. 23.)

The Sargent Home was positioned to overlook Pike County's most elaborate Indian earthworks. In front of the Barnes Home lay the Barnes Works, a complex arrangement of geometric mounds. The structure served as a central marker along the Great Scioto Trail. The home, which still stands, has extensive underground tunnels emanating from its cellar.

In Ohio, the Sargents linked with a prominent political clan of like convictions, the Barnes family. James Barnes served as owner and editor of the Scioto Gazette (now the Chillicothe Gazette), while helping to establish Underground Railroad connections in Ross County. His nephew, John Barnes, Jr., built a grand home just south of the Sargent estate. Both James and John fought fugitive slave laws as Ohio state legislators. The Barnes Home also is well preserved.

Three of John's male descendants would marry Sargent girls, uniting the families and creating a nexus of UGRR activity at the strategic center of southern Ohio. Together, the Barnes and Sargents founded the Sargents Methodist Episcopal Church. A spin-of that church was established as Bailey Chapel in Wakefield, the first and only Methodist parsonage in south-central Ohio. The parsonage served as a training center for liberationist preachers.

Sargents Station, located between Piketon and Wakefield, was founded and named around 1800. It was named after the three Sargent brothers who came from Maryland in the 1790s, to establish stations to help Negro slaves who had managed to get across the Ohio River. Strategically chosen at the center and narrows of the Lower Scioto Valley, astride both the land and river routes going north from Portsmouth. Sargents Station was a principal stopover along the Scioto Trail, en route to Chillicothe and the Pee Pee Settlement in northwest Pike County. The term “station” came from the Stations of the Cross but now is termed the Underground Railroad.

Snowden Sargent IV, who was born at Sargents Station, Ohio migrated to eastern Illinois in 1830, at the age of 19. He became a wealthy rancher, and the patron of a Whig attorney his same age, named Abraham Lincoln. At Snowden's arrangement, Lincoln visited Sargents Station in 1848, on his way to serve out his term in Congress. He stayed at the Barnes Home, hosted by Isaac Newton Barnes and Mary Sargent Barnes. This visit may explain why Lincoln took his first public stand against slavery immediately upon his arrival in Washington, authoring a bill to outlaw slavery in the District of Columbia.

Barnes Home at Sargent

John Barnes, Jr. served the area for many terms as state representative and judge, and founded the Whig Party of Henry Clay in Pike County. Henry Clay, himself, and the famous archaeologist Ephraim Squier were regular guests at the Barnes home. The house was rebuilt around 1870, faithful to the original home, probably to preserve it as a shrine to Lincoln.

In 1900, the last passenger pigeon ever seen in the wild was mounted and displayed in the house, was mounted and displayed in the house, then occupied by the former Pike County sheriff, Henry Clay Barnes and his wife, Blanche, who died as a likely result of arsenic poisoning from her taxidermy.

Today, the Sargents Historic Preservation Project works to preserve the historic and prehistoric sites of Sargents Station and to establish a Sargents Station Historic District.

A Monumental Connection

John R.T. Barnes was born near Waverly on May 17, 1830. His father, William, had served as an adjutant in the War of 1812 and his grandfather, John, had served as a lieutenant with the 7th Virginia in the Revolutionary War. John had come to Portsmouth in 1858 and had worked as a clerk at a dry goods store on Front Street owned by William Elden.

When war broke out, John R. T. Barnes enlisted in Company G of the First Ohio Volunteer Infantry on April 16, 1861. He was killed at the battle of Vienna, Virginia (now in West Virginia) on June 17, 1861 along with five of his comrades from Portsmouth including Eugene G. Burke, Thomas C. Finton, Joseph C. Smith, Philip Stroad and Daniel Sullivan.

A news item dated February 14, 1918 in the Waverly Watchman is about Henrietta Roe, who died at the home of her nephew, J.B. Kinney. The article relates that “Miss Henrietta Roe, aged 85, departed this life. Miss Roe was born 1834 at Richmond Dale, moving to Waverly with her parents when she was but 5 years of age. She has resided here ever since.”

The Watchman article explains the Barnes and Roe relationship ...

The death at Waverly of Henrietta, familiarly known to many residents of Pike County as: 'Aunty' Roe, at the advanced age, recalls to the mind in her life that few other persons remember. When the Civil War broke out, she was engaged to wed John Barnes, who at Lincoln’s call enlisted in Co. G. VI and went to the war front. He was the first to give up his life from this county in the war and a statue of him is above the soldier’s monument in Tracy Park in Portsmouth beside Chillicothe Street.

Naturally Miss Roe (Rowe) mourned the death of her lover, as his true sweetheart, she never married, but spent her life at the old home, surrounded in her declining years by friends and relatives who ministered to her every wish.

In the years following the war the Ladies of the Union Soldiers’ Aid Society raised funds to erect a monument to honor those who served and gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country in the Civil War.

"It took a dozen years to raise the $7,500 for the 40-foot monument. On May 30, 1879, a dedication took place in Tracy Park. Atop the monument is a statue of John R.T. Barnes, who was the first man from Scioto County to die during the Civil War.”

* Extra Trivia – We all know the first shots of the Civil War occurred January 9, 1861. But, did you know this? The Star of the West was fired upon as it approached Ft. Sumter. The ship was captured by the Confederates, being the first prize taken in the war by either side. It was sunk in the Yazoo River. Captain William Moore, brother-in-law to the ship’s captain and a steamboat captain himself, wishing a remembrance, visited the wreck and obtained a port hole window that is a part of the family’s mausoleum in Greenlawn Cemetery in Portsmouth, Ohio.


“A Civil War Romance.” Sargents Historic Preservation Project. Waverly Watchman. April 04, 1918.

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