Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Sites, Slaves, and Soldiers: The Terraces


Frankfort, like other old towns, unfortunately has lost some of its most beautiful historic buildings over the years. One antebellum home that only remains in photographs and memories is "The Terraces." This gem, built on the banks of the Kentucky River along Wapping Street, was the home of Philip Swigert.  


Swigert was the first mayor of Frankfort when it earned city status in 1848. He served in this executive position for several terms. On the 1860 census he was listed as having the occupation of clerk; probably the Franklin County Clerk. Swigert was 61 years old at that time and lived with his wife Jane, who was 50. Also in the household was Otho Swigert, who was 50 and was noted as being a farmer with $3,000 in personal property. 


The Terraces eventually ended up in the Hendricks family. When John Buford Hendricks died in the 1950s, the home was purchased by the city of Frankfort, who proceeded to razed it. Today, the rather recently constructed Paul Sawyier Library stands where "The Terraces" once entertained the town's elite. 

Philip Swigert was quite well off. In 1860, he owned $65,000 in real estate and $71,800 in personal property. He owned 22 slaves, evenly divided between men and women. The 11 males ranged in age from 10 to 16, while the females had an even greater margin in years, 1 to 65.

At least three of Swigert's enslaved men made their way to Lexington to enlist in the Union army.    


The 5' 5" Joe Washington enlisted on June 29, 1864. Washington was advanced in age compared to most soldiers. He was 50. Washington was placed in Company I, 114th United States Colored Infantry and trained at Camp Nelson.


Doc, or Doctor Hall, too, was placed in the 114th USCI, but ended up in Company H. Doc enlisted the same day as fellow Swigert slave Joe Washington; June 29, 1864. Hall, however, was listed as almost half a foot taller than Washington.


Harrison Caldwell enlisted the earliest of the Swigert slaves. The 31 year old Caldwell joined up nine days before Washington and Hall. He was put into the Company A, 116th USCI. While Joe Washington and Doc Hall's complexions were listed as black, Caldwell was described as "copper." All three men were marked as being born in Franklin County.  

Fortunately, as shown above, photographs of the Terraces remain in the Kentucky Historical Society to remind us of what this bygone-home looked like. Combining these images with other historical documents it is possible to piece together some of the history of the individuals and places of the past.

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