Thursday, May 30, 2013

Col. Frank Wolford's Strident Opposition

I am not sure how I have managed to not previously post about Colonel Frank Wolford of the 1st Kentucky Cavalry (U.S.). But, running through microfilm this evening I came across an article published in the March 16, 1864, edition of the Frankfort Tri-Weekly Commonwealth, that explained the incident that got him kicked out of the army and exiled from the state for a period.

For a bit of background information - Wolford was born in Adair County, Kentucky, fought in the Mexican War, and maintained a career as lawyer and politician in the antebellum years. When the Civil War broke out, Wolford was one of the first Kentuckians to form a regiment to put down the rebellion and preserve the Union. As the presidential administration's war aims shifted to include emancipation and African American enlistments, Wolford, like many white Kentuckians, wanted their opposition to be heard.

This particular article covers one editor's opinion of that opposition:
"Colonel FRANK WOLFORD, a gallant soldier, was presented a sword and pistols [by the citizens of Garrard County] at Lexington last Thursday. After his acceptation speech, he launched out into a partizan 'conservative' stump speech, which is lauded to the skies by the rebels and rebel sympathizers, who hope they see in it a long step toward the consummation they are so devoutly praying for. These rejoicings of the traitors should convince the Colonel that he was decidedly wrong in his utterances; and that he was in very questionable company. We feel assured, that the gentlemen who was the organ presenting the sword to Col. WOLFORD, did not expect any such response for the Colonel, as he is reported to have made.


The conduct of Col. WOLFORD is regretted by every truly loyal man, and every reliable friend in the State. Let him, for his own sake, keep out of the ring of partizan controversies and conflicts, while he is in the army. It is the very fewest of men that can be a true, good soldier, and a prudent, wise statesman at the same time. Assuming to be so is the rock on which has foundered some of our best military men; and we fear that Col. WOLFORD will have to be numbered with the number. But, he may retrieve himself, if he will eschew every thing but his duty - his whole duty as a military man, until the rebellion and insurrection is crushed. Then let him retire to the civil walks of life, study political economy; and the people of his day, and posterity, may honor him as a hero, and a sage."

Wolford did not heed the editor's words. He continued to give speeches that disparaged the Lincoln administration and vehemently opposed African Americans serving as Union soldiers. Wolford was discharged from the army, then released, and arrested again when he failed to curb his expressions of opposition. He was eventually escorted from Kentucky, but was in time was allowed to return to the commonwealth.

Although this editor thought Wolford's stand against Lincoln was a poor decision, many Kentuckians appreciated his grit and agreed with his opposition. Wolford's popularity with his constituents was witnessed by his election to public offices after the war, including the Kentucky and U.S. House of Representatives.

Wolford photograph courtesy of the Library of Congress.
Wolford presentation sword image courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Breakdown in the Wagoner's Camp


Artist Edwin Forbes sketched the above image just days after the Union defeat at the Battle of Chancellorsville. It is titled "A Breakdown in the Wagoner's Camp." It depicts two African American teamsters dancing as what looks like a white wagoner plays the fiddle while sitting on a box. Other wagon drivers and a young African American boy stand around watching the scene.

This scene reminded me of a letter I came across a couple of years ago. The letter was written from the camp of the 78th Illinois Infantry in New Haven, Kentucky on January 21, 1863. Writing to his wife, the author told of a runaway slave that was popular in their encampment: "We have a contraband in camp who makes us a great deal of fun. He is the greatest dancer I ever saw. He joins in our debates, and makes a right down good speech. He is employed by the Colonel and works makes fires, works &c. He means to stay with us until the war is over and then go to Illinois with us. He is a slave an ran away from Spencer County [Kentucky] about 50 miles distant."

Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Kentucky Colonization in the Civil War


The above notice ran for several months in the Frankfort Tri-Weekly Commonwealth after first appearing in the July 29, 1863 edition. I have no idea how I would find out, but I would be very interested to know how many free people of color in Kentucky took up the offer.

It seems that this, like other earlier colonization attempts that had been popular among some of Kentucky's citizens, was an attempt to remove or at least mitigate what they likely saw as an unsolvable issue. White Kentuckians, as well as many other Americans, could not fathom living together in communities with large numbers of African Americans without them remaining enslaved and thus subservient. 

Although the Emancipation Proclamation excluded Kentucky, it was not difficult for the Bluegrass state to see the handwriting on the wall as far a slavery was concerned. They were not blind to the large number of runaway slaves that had made their escape from and through the state since the war began. Many Kentuckians, including their governor, Thomas E. Bramlette, were concerned that Kentucky's geographical position would result in a vast refugee camp for runaways from the deeper Southern states. If freed by the war, he, and other Kentuckians felt that they would be a drain and threat to the state's treasury and society. To some, the colonization attempt, although expensive and seemingly negligible in success, was a step toward solving the "Negro problem." It is as if removing the issue was much preferable to dealing with it.    

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Corroborating Confederate Camp Servant Runaways in Kentucky

Soon after I began researching slavery advertisements in Kentucky's Civil War newspapers I became curious to see if I could verify a suspicion that I had with many of the runaways caught from seceded states.

I knew it would be difficult for many of the runaways to make it into Kentucky without being caught in the states they came from. Therefore, I assumed that many of the slaves came into Kentucky at various times in 1861 and 1862 with the Confederate army, and once there, took the opportunity to abscond since they were nearer the free states, and thus had a better chance of making good their freedom.

I have slowly been attempting to cross-check a few of those owners mentioned in the advertisements with 1860 census records and Confederate enlistment records. 


Many of the ads are difficult to cross reference as it seems the jailer often spelled the owner's name (and sometimes the place the slave was from) phonetically.  

In the above advertisement I was able to find Jeremiah Cleveland of Bedford County, Tennessee, in the 1860 census.  Jeremiah appeared to be too old to serve in the Confederate army, but he had a son named Thomas that was of military age. 


I checked the service records with a limited membership I got through Fold3 and found Thomas S. Cleveland, who was a lieutenant in Company G of the 17th Tennessee Infantry Regiment. Then corroborating that information with a volume of Tennesseans in the Civil War: Part 1, which lists regimental information on each Volunteer State unit, I found that some of the men of the 17th indeed came from Bedford County.

Tennesseans in the Civil War also provided a rundown of the battles in which the 17th Tennessee participated. They were at Munfordville and Perryville, Kentucky, in the fall of 1862. And, while the ad mentions that Jim was caught on January 14, 1863, it of course, does not tell us how long he had been on the run and hiding out before being arrested.


Included in Thomas Cleveland's service records was "Form No. 3. Officers' Pay Account." On this document it lists pay for the soldier and pay to the soldier's "private servant, not soldier."  At the bottom of the form it says "Description of Servants," and has a place for his name. Unfortunately that part is cut off. 

So, while I cannot totally 100% confirm that Jim ran away from Thomas Cleveland, I now feel confident enough to say that, in my humble opinion, it is very highly likely.


Another advertisement that ran listed a George Turner as being jailed in Hardin County, Kentucky (ironically the county that produced Abraham Lincoln). Turner told county jailer Isaac Love that his owner was Marshall Spencer from the misspelled Issaquenna County, Mississippi. 


I located Marshall Spencer's service records, and indeed he was enlisted as a lieutenant in Graves' Battery, into which the Issaquenna Artillery was incorporated. Unfortunately, there was not as many detailed records included as Thomas Cleveland.  However, the next soldier listed for the battery was Selden Spencer, who was probably the brother or cousin of Marshall. Selden's service records included mention that he was captured in Lexington, Kentucky. Graves' Battery was part of the Confederate Army of Central Kentucky, which tried to maintain a defensive line across southern Kentucky in the fall of 1861. The unit fought at the Battle of Fort Donelson, in February 1862, where many of its members were captured, most of whom were exchanged in the fall of 1862.

Like Thomas Cleveland's runaway Jim from Bedford County, Tennessee, we do not know when George Turner decided to flee from his owner Marshall Spencer. His advertisement only includes his date of incarceration; September 23, 1862. Whenever he made his get away, I feel certain he, too, was a Confederate camp servant in the war.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

One Owner's Thoughts on His Runaway


William Moody Pratt was a Baptist minister from Lexington, Kentucky, who kept an extensive diary that spanned much of the 19th century. From 1838 to 1891, he noted happenings of national, state, and personal importance. Pratt was also a slaveholder. On April 2, 1865, he woke to find that his slave cook Lucinda had fled. The way he describes that morning and what he found, makes one think that Lucinda had probably thought long and hard about whether to stay, where there was some sense of security, or to runaway, in attempt to experience true freedom. 

Pratt wrote:
"Last night our servant woman left while we were asleep - & we found the kitchen in the morning swept, garnished, & Empty - & wife Mary & myself went about to work to get breakfast – About two weeks before, our cook Lucinda rece’d a letter from Camp Nelson, written by some white man for her husband, Henry, & telling [her] that she was free, & to Either price herself to me, or to somebody Else in town, or to come there, when provision was made for them –she sent the letter for me to read.  I went into the kitchen to talk to her upon the subject, & told her she could leave or stay just as she pleased.  I offered to give her $2 per week if she would stay, & that she might have four days in the week to work for herself – She said she had rather stay with us, that we had always used her well, & that she was satisfied she could not do as well any where else as with us.  I told her, I would be glad for her to stay if she felt contented & would do as she always had & not to be running about to consult with the free negroes – I suppose, however, She was persuaded to leave – I found the kitchen cleaned up – the bread raised & put ready for baking & kindling at hand to make a fire – I hope she & her daughter will do well – they have been faithful servants & I believe it would have been for their interest to have stayed with us."

What owners thought was best for their charges, and what the slaves thought was best, were often not the same thing. Obviously, Lucinda knew she was free by the fact that her husband Henry was a soldier at Camp Nelson. A month before Pratt's diary entry, provisions had been made to free families of United States Colored Troops soldiers by General John M. Palmer's General Order No. 10

Pratt explained in the entry that Lucinda had told him she would stay on, but the desire for freedom must have outweighed any doubts she had about being able to provide for herself and her daughter. It is interesting that Pratt also mentioned that he did not wish for her "to be running about to consult with the free negroes." As he hints, perhaps it was they that finally persuaded her to leave.  And, although he wished Lucinda and her daughter well, he could not help but think that they would have been better off in his paternal care than on their own. The end of slavery taught masters that it was not for them to continue to make decisions for others. I am sure that was a difficult reality for owners to process.

Monday, May 20, 2013

A Visit to Henry Clay's Tomb


I hate to admit it, but until yesterday, I had never taken the time to stop and visit Henry Clay's grave in the beautiful Lexington Cemetery. The towering monument is almost impossible to miss above the trees as one drives west on Main Street past the Mary Todd Lincoln House, but for some reason I had always continued on my way. Yesterday though, in my travels to do some research at the Young Library on the University of Kentucky's campus, I finally took a few minutes to go by and pay my respects to the "Great Compromiser." 


Clay died of tuberculosis in Washington D.C. on June 29, 1852, while serving as a senator. As the above broadside mentions, Clay's remains were brought back to Kentucky.  After arriving in Lexington, a memorial service was held on the lawn at his beloved estate, Ashland. 


An enormous processional covered the short distance across Lexington from Ashland to the cemetery. It is estimated that some 100,000 attended to pay their last respects to the statesman. Soon after his death the Clay Memorial Association was established with the idea of creating a worth monument.


In 1857, the cornerstone was placed for the astounding memorial that would eventually rise above his tomb. However, due to construction issues and costs, the monument was not completed until 1861. Clay's body was not placed in the mausoleum vault until his wife Lucritia's death in 1864. Henry and Lucritia now rest there together.


In 1908, the statue of Clay that tops the towering 120 foot pillar had to be replaced. Lightning storms had damaged the stone statesman and other damages made visiting the monument hazardous.   


In 1975-76, the limestone monument was cleaned and restored, and ownership eventually transferred from the City of Lexington to the Lexington Cemetery. Hopefully repairs can continue to be maintained to keep this monument to one of American's preeminent political icons available for future generations to enjoy and learn from.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Database Time

Taking a survey of slavery ads in Kentucky Civil War newspapers was becoming more and more difficult due the large number of notices published. Ads for captured runaways committed to Kentucky jails were especially tricky. These notices sometimes ran for months on end, and in an effort to note them only once and not duplicate them, it became necessary to devise a means that would allow me to keep track of them better.

Thank goodness for database programs like Microsoft Excel. Now all I have to do to determine if I have already recorded one of the many Johns, or Henrys, or Jims, I can check it against my database.

The database I have created has several categories. First I have the slave's name, then last name if applicable. I note whether the slave is male or female, too. Hopefully that will reveal some interesting information, such as determining which years women slaves most often chose to flee. I list the owner, if given in the ad. This category helps me keep all the common named slaves straight. Next I note the location where the slave left or was from, if, of course it is given. The jail the slave was committed to is also listed. Information such as age, height, weight, and complexion is also taken down when provided. Lastly, I note the name of the newspaper the runaway was advertised in, the date the ad was first observed by me, and if given, the date the slave was incarcerated. If I need to find the ad again for future reference, this allows me to have that information at the ready.

At present I am not sure how helpful all of this information will ultimately be, but right now I have what is probably a good sample size (328 individuals) and many more still to input and others to find. This database is only for runaways captured, which seems to be the vast majority of the ads. I have come across numerous runaway "wanted" ads posted by owners or renters, but for the present my database is only covering those caught. However, I am making paper notes of the wanted ads too. I will try to remember to post occasionally on how things are going as I proceed.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Telling Testimony


I know this image is difficult to see at this size, but it is one whole page from the March 23, 1863, edition of the Frankfort Tri-Weekly Commonwealth. On it are 76 notices for runaway slaves that were incarcerated in Kentucky county jails. There is only one ad not for runaways (bottom right corner).

What is really surprising though is that this page shows only three county jails; Jefferson (Louisville), Warren (Bowling Green), and Franklin (Frankfort). The runaways are noted as coming largely from neighboring state Tennessee. A number also come from Alabama. Some are from as far away as Mississippi, Louisiana, and South Carolina.

The proliferation of ads at this time are due, of course, in part to the disruption that the Civil War caused to a slaveholding society. Enslaved people used that disruption to make their attempt to break away from bondage and get a taste of freedom. Some, like these, were caught. But, it makes one wonder, if this many were captured, just how many remained undetected?

The second reason so many ads appear at this time was that Kentucky passed a new law on March 2, 1863, that dealt specifically with runaway slaves. The previous state law demanded that county jailers advertise captured runaways for six months. If the slaves were not claimed by their owners within that time they were to be sold to pay for their keep. But, apparently due to the large number of arrested runaways in Kentucky caused by the war, the law was amended to reduce their keep to one month, at which point they could be sold. Since many of the slaves were from owners in what was at that time was the Confederate States (another country) there was little chance that these slave owners would "come forward, prove property and pay charges," and thus these people would "be dealt with as the law requires." And additionally, potentially produce some much needed revenue for the county.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Kentucky Civil War Sentiment in a Nutshell


Kentucky's stance in the Civil War was largely that of middle ground, geographically as well as ideologically. The vast majority of the citizenry wanted to maintain the antebellum status quo. That particular position is not difficult to understand when one considers the success the Bluegrass State experienced from 1820 to 1860. But as we know, drastic change came. Instead of embracing that change and seeking ways to make the most of it to keep the state moving forward, Kentucky tried to keep things as they had been.

Last week, while doing my research in slavery advertisements in Kentucky's Civil War newspapers, my eye was caught by a short article in the March 30, 1863 Frankfort Tri-Weekly Commonwealth. It probably sums up the Kentucky mindset better than any same-length piece I have ever found. It read:

"The rebels won't understand Kentucky, nor will the abolitionists of the North. They are equally obtuse. Both wish to Kentucky to act foolishly, but our old State now, as in times past, will keep the even tenor of her way despite the howlings of Northern or Southern fanatics.

Kentucky will not affiliate with secession or abolitionism. The one [secession] will be for the Union only on the condition that the Federal Government will extend slavery. The other is for the Union only on the condition that the Federal Government will use its power to abolish slavery. Kentucky is a unit against both heresies. She is for the Constitution which established that Union, and she is opposed to any infractions of its provisions. She is for the suppression of all movements calculated to overturn the Constitution and the Union. Down with all enemies to either."  

Monday, May 13, 2013

Just Finished Reading - Pathway to Hell

How much can a soldier take before he "shatters?" How many battles - where he sees comrades blown to smithereens or sees them suffer unspeakable wounds - does it take to unnerve him? How many long marches, how much lost sleep, how much bad food? How unhygienic can a man live before it catches up, damages him, and leaves him suffering a mental injury often much worse than any physical wound?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a twentieth century label that was given to an age old product of war. It is a condition that was once called "shattered," "shell-shocked," "battle fatigued,"or the "thousand-yard stare." It does not matter what war. It happened in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, Vietnam, and Afghanistan, and every other war in between. The stress and exposure of combat and campaigning has left many a man mentally damaged.

Soldiers that went off to war in 1861 often went for adventure and to prove their manhood. Many had little idea of what war would truly involve. Men, like the subject of Pathway to Hell: A Tragedy of the American Civil War, a man named Angelo Crapsey, found that the experience of war was just too much to mentally bear.

Angelo was born in 1842 to Reverend John and Mercy Crapsey. John was a bit of a religious fanatic, whose style of preaching brought disdain from even those of the most enthusiastic bent. In their neighborhood on western New York, north central Pennsylvania border, Reverend John was yanked from more than one pulpit. In 1852, Angelo lost his mother, and John his wife, when Mercy died. Surely a disturbing experience for a pre-teen boy. John remarried in less than a year and Angelo eventually moved in with a neighbor friend's family. As Angelo came of age Laroy Lyman was to be almost more of a father-figure than John. Angelo worked numerous odd farming jobs for Laroy and hunted game with him, but when the Civil War broke out he answered Pennsylvania's call. Angelo enlisted in what would become the famous "Bucktails" regiment - the 1st Pennsylvania Reserve Infantry Regiment.

At first Angelo showed no signs of the mental disorder that would later afflict him. He wrote letters back home to friends and family and explained that soldiering was a difficult job, but one he rather liked. He looked forward to defending his state against "rebels" that were positioned in the neighboring state of Maryland. Angelo seems to have weathered the seasoning period well; that time when hundreds of new soldiers caught childhood and sanitary born illnesses.

Angelo's first taste of combat came in an engagement at Dranesville, Virginia, a small affair compared to what he would later see. He wrote home and told of his excitement in battle and what he saw. The Bucktails were next sent to the Shenandoah Valley where they chased Stonewall Jackson and fought at Harrisonburg and Cross Keys.  Angelo survived unscathed, but lost a good friend to a nasty wound. The Bucktails missed the Battle of Cedar Mountain, but saw its ghastly aftermath. Angelo fought hard at Antietam and was an unlucky participant in a burial detail. He remained stalwart though in his letters home. His patriotism and flesh appeared strong at this point in his military career, but apparently his mind was weakening.

The Bucktails fought again at Fredericksburg, where Angelo was captured on the Union left. He was sent to Libby Prison in Richmond for a short stay before being transferred to a parole camp to await exchange, which finally came in May; just in time for the Gettysburg Campaign. When he finally returned to the Bucktails, some saw a changed Angelo. He became distant, less talkative, and complained of his appearance.

At Gettysburg, the Bucktails fought yet again on the Union left. They saw some pretty difficult combat, but it seems that Angelo became "shattered" in the wake of the battle. Difficult, long marches on hot, dusty roads, combined with poor food, diarrhea, and fevered illness apparently did in Angelo's already fragile mind. His erratic behavior landed him in a Washington D.C. hospital. Reverend John could not believe it was his son in the hospital bed when he came to visit. Angelo was discharged and labeled unfit for further service.

Back home in Pennsylvania by October 1863, Angelo continued his difficult demeanor. Despite more strange behavior Angelo and Laroy partook in a hunting expedition to Minnesota. Angelo's illness cut the trip short and they returned to Pennsylvania. Angelo still experienced bouts of mental breakdowns and all doctors could advise was to put him in an institution. In early August 1864, Angelo committed suicide while on a local hunt with friends. His worldly troubles were over.

How many other Civil War soldiers experienced a somewhat similar fate? Family secrets have probably covered up many of these instances, both North and South. In a war so examined for the amount of blood it caused - and rightly so - it does us well to remember that not only physical injures were inflicted in our nation's four year tragedy, numerous mental injuries were suffered as well.

In writing Pathway to Hell, author Dennis Brandt had produced an eyeopening book that will hopefully lead to more similar works on Civil War battle and campaign trauma. Surely, pension papers are filled with other soldiers who did not leave the war behind in their minds in the spring of 1865. I highly recommend Pathway to Hell as a way to see a different side of the war. Angelo Crapsey's letters and journals, as well as those of his friends and family provide keen insight into the anguish that the Civil War caused.  On a scale of one to five, I give Pathway to Hell a 4.75.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Tom Jackson for Sale


The subject of my post yesterday, Tom Jackson, was incarcerated in the Franklin County, Kentucky, jail as a runaway slave in September 1862. Several weeks later he was advertised as jailed with eight other runaways in the Frankfort Tri-Weekly Commonwealth.

As the weeks passed, all of the other co-advertised runaways were claimed, but Jackson solely remained. In that advertisement, Jackson was described as claiming to be a free man, and even offered a third party name to corroborate his story.  Apparently though, the Franklin County jailer did not attempt to locate that source and Jackson continued to remain in jail, and since he was free, no one obviously could claim him.

I found out the next step in Jackson's tragic story today while continuing my survey of slavery advertisements in Kentucky's Civil War newspapers. Six months from his arrest Jackson was offered for sale by the sheriff of Franklin County, R. E. Collins. Jackson's sale advertisement (above), like his runaway ad, provides a physical description, but unlike his runaway notice, his sale ad does not mention that he claimed to be a free man.

Jackson's sale ad states that he would be offered to a "the highest bidder at public auction" and "at the Franklin County Court House door, in the city of Frankfort, about 12 o'clock" on Monday, April 20, 1863. The ad also states that if Jackson's true owner appeared within one year he could be redeemed. Obviously though that would not happen as Jackson did not have an owner.

I was unable to get to April 20, 1863, in the microfilm roll today to see if Jackson continues to be advertised, or sold to that highest bidder mentioned in the advertisement. Hopefully, I will at least be able to find that much out.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Said Boy, Tom Jackson Claims to be Free

Two years ago I wrote about the advertisements shown to the left. In that post I mentioned that cities and larger towns proved be a strong draw for runaway slaves. In urban settings runaways could better blend into the hustle and bustle of crowded streets and hideout in back alleys. There they could also receive assistance from free people of color and hired out slaves.

If I had taken the time two years ago to continue to follow how these advertisements played out, that earlier post may have been somewhat different.

This string of notices actually contained one other that I was unable to fit into the image, making nine total ads. Last evening, while working my way through rolls of mircofilm, and continuing my survey of slavery ads in Kentucky Civil War newspapers, I came across the string of notices again. This time though, I continued on through later issues.

The advertisements first appeared in the November 5, 1862, issue of the Frankfort Tri-Weekly Commonwealth. By November 24, apparently five of the nine captured runaways had been claimed by their owners, as only four were still listed. By December 17, three others were claimed, and thus, only one was left. The lone alleged runaway remaining was the first listed, Tom Jackson.

When one reads in full Jackson's descriptive advertisement, it become clearly apparent why he was the only one not picked up by his owner or master. "The said boy, Tom Jackson, claims to be free, having been purchased by his father from Strother Slaughter and refers to Isaac R. Green, of Louisville, Ky., to prove the fact," wrote the Franklin County jailer H.R. Miller.

Apparently, the good jailer did not take the time to verify Jackson's claim to freedom with Isaac Green of Louisville as the free man continued to be advertised in the newspaper for several more months.

It is unknown how many free men and women were incorrectly incarcerated as runaways. In my ongoing survey I have come across a handful saying so. The Dred Scott Supreme Court decision in 1857 determined that African Americans - whether slave or free - had no rights that whites were bound to respect. So, if free people of color lost or somehow destroyed their free papers, the burden of proof often proved to be more than they could maintain, or that their accusers cared to verify.    

Thursday, May 9, 2013

I Warn all Persons . . .


Slavery died a hard death in Kentucky. There are numerous pieces of evidence that support this fact. One of the most strident though are a number of advertisements that appeared in November and December 1865 in some newspapers in the Commonwealth.

As the last necessary states were in the process of ratifying the 13th Amendment the above notice ran in the November 11, 1865, issue of the Paris Western Citizen. It is obvious that this owner was not willing to give up his command of his slave woman Emma's labor and his rule of her life.

Another ad at this time advised:
"Notice.
I HEREBY give notice that I will enforce the law against anyone employing or harboring my negro man, Anthony. He is of black color, and is about 40 years old. MRS. MARY REDMON"

If these advertisements were in isolation they might be seen as an anomoly, but other similar notice appeared even into December 1865.

One started with an even firmer warning and was endorsed by former U.S. House of Representatives member Brutus Junius Clay. Brutus Clay was a large slaveholder from Bourbon County and the brother of noted emancipationist Cassius Marcellus Clay.

"Violators of Law Attend!  
WE hereby inform all persons who have, or shall hereafter employ, hire, trade with or harbor any slave or slaves of ours - that we will to the full extent of the law, prosecute for every such offense the person who so violates the laws of Kentucky.
B. J. CLAY, WM. CONN, JOHN A. GANO, HORACE BENTON, SIDNEY CLAY, JAS. T. WARE, B.F. FRAKES, Z.M. LAYSON, GEO. MOORE, A. KISER &C.

And yet another ran as late as December 22; a full 3 weeks after the 13th Amendment was ratified. It was much like the former, but stated by an individual rather than a group.
"Violators of Law Attend.
I hereby inform all persons who have, or shall hereafter employ, hire, trade with, or harbor any slave of mine, that I will to the full extent of the law, prosecute for every such offense the person who so violates the laws of Kentucky. PETER BRAMLETT"

As these primary sources bear out, enslaved people were a source wealth, labor, and social status that some owners very reluctantly let go of, even when the institution's end was without doubt.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Drawings of Dick the Cook


The above image was sketched by artist Edwin Forbes and is marked "Dick the cook, sketched near Culpeper C.H. [Courthouse], Sept, 1863."


What looks to be the same subject appeared in one of Forbes' earlier works. This one, apparently done four months before, is marked "Dick, sketched on the 6th of May [1863], the afternoon of Gen. Hooker's retreat across the Rappahannock, on return to camp."

Images courtesy the Library of Congress.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Jake and Bill and Violence


Many of the slave runaway advertisements that I have located include detailed physical descriptions of those that absconded. Of those descriptions a large number mention scars or other deformations. In most cases it is impossible to determine how these markings were inflicted. But one might suspect-knowing the uneven power dynamic that existed between slaves and masters/owners/overseers-that a great percentage were made by those ultimately in control of their charges and the "ruinous influence of arbitrary power," as one former slave called it.

In the above advertisement both enslaved young men mentioned, Jake and Bill, had distinguishing marks.  Jake had "a dent on the side of his head, made by a stroke from a hatchet." Bill had "a large scar on his neck."

When we think of slavery we most often correctly associate violence with the institution. These runaway advertisements vividly remind us of this fact.      

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Committed to the Jail . . . as a Runaway Slave


Today, continuing with my survey of slavery advertisements in Kentucky newspapers during the Civil War, I ran across the February 9, 1864, issue of The Daily Commonwealth, which was published in Frankfort.

Three things struck me as unusual as I perused this edition. First, I was taken aback by the sheer number of jailed runaway advertisements this day's paper included; 43 in total. There were ads on each of its four pages. I have not determined why this particular issue had so may notices, as some of them dated back to the previous summer and fall for the apprehension and incarceration dates. They were also from county jails all across the state. Included counties were: Bullitt, Grant, Livingston, Union, Franklin, Fayette, Nelson, Woodford, Crittenden, Shelby, Livingston, Breckinridge, Ballard, Boyle, Lyon, Harrison, Madison, Rockcastle, Monroe, Adair, and Carroll.

The second thing that caught my attention was the young age of some of the runaways. As shown in the ad above, the boy Adam was only "10 or 12 years of age." Although this youngster did not travel far before being caught, it still seems unusual that someone so youthful would run away on their won. Perhaps he ran away with an older relative and they got separated   But, maybe, it just shows how dear the dream of freedom was to some enslaved people.


Adam was not the youngest of the listed slaves. As shown in the above notice, Lucy was only eight years old. Normally with these type of ads if children were under adolescence and one of the other slaves was the child's parent, they would be listed together in same ad.

For example, in an ad not shown here, but in this issue of The Daily Commonwealth, was listed Louisa, 22 years old, and her two children Henry (four years old) and William (two years old).  All were listed in the same notice. No information was provided on who owned them or where they had come from, but traveling in stealth with two very young children any distance must have been extremely trying.

The third thing that I found intriguing was that in these 43 advertisements there were a larger number of women and girls; a much higher proportion than I had found in other notices in 1861 and 1862. In this group of ads, and in addition to Molly, Lucy and Louisa mentioned and shown above. were: Tennessee Green (who ran away with her husband James who was also caught), Julian Crook (who ran away with her husband Charles, who was caught too), Mary Jane Matthews (who ran away with her husband Steward, who was caught), Matilda, Ester, Sally, Jane, and Charity Toliver.

Yet another rarity was that one man who was listed refused to give his name, but provided the name of his owner. The woman, Jane, listed above, refused to giver her owner's name. The majority of the slaves were from Kentucky and Tennessee, but some had come from locations as far away as Alabama, Mississippi, and Virginia.

These advertisements provide a unique glimpse into the terrible practice of slavery, and show the extreme lengths some enslaved people would go to escape the institution.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Slave Names


I am currently conducting a survey of advertisements printed in Kentucky newspapers during the Civil War that have to do with slavery. There are ads for slave sales, ads for hiring slaves, ads for runaway slaves, ads for selling slave goods, and ads for caught runaways that were housed in local jails. Many of the ads, especially those for runaways and caught runaways, included the enslaved individuals' names, ages, height, weight, and physical description.

At present I am only partly into my survey, but I thought I'd share the names I have come across thus far. Missing are the exotic and classical slave names such as Cuffy, Cato, Pompey, and Caeser that litter antebellum novels and minstrel songs, instead, common names are those most often found. The most unique names I have located are Mingo, Prophet, Sights, and Dump.

Men and boys: Bill Taylor, Pallace, William, Lewis, John, Mingo, Abner, Sights, Jim, Burrill, Clay, George, Ira, Tom, Dump, Andrew, Henry, Aleck, Calvin, James Thornton, Allen, David Brooks, Bill, Isaac, Charles, Harrison, Nathan, Joe Burch, Jack, David, Bob, Thomas, Jeff, John Stratton, Jackson, Hamilton Baker, William Wood, John Jackson, Charles Allen, George, Luke, Hiram, Moses, Mark, Wiley, Burk Grimes, Ben Boyce, Sam, John White, Martin, Ambrose Roan, John Hines, Arthur, Jackson Marlow, Jo Owsley, William Hunter, Willis, Martin Davis, Granville, Prophet, Ben, Oscar, Stephen, Nace, Solomon, Frank, Fred, David, Taylor, Woodson, Fisher, Ellick, Phil, Joseph, Anderson, Bazzle, Cornelius, Bill Bachelor, James, Tim, Valentine, Edward McAfee, Dennis, Jesse, Edmond, Allen, Hardin, Wesley, Leonidas, Albert, Anthony, Jesse Cogar, Sam Emery, Andy Tate, Dow, Joe, Alford, Henry Tate, Andy Fincastle, Robert, Claiborne, Jack, Perry, Kenley Gray, John Davis, Nathan, Jesse, Charles Brown, Logan, Toby, Harvey, Jim Brown, Jim Monroe, Patrick Henry, Ambrose, Robin, Leander, Brace, Ned, Jordan, Grandison, Craig, Nelson, Washington, Owen, William Joshua, Dick, Joseph Bell, Jim Batts.

A number of names such as Henry, Jim, Tom, John, George, Stephen appeared multiple times and seem to be the most common.

Women and girls: Priscilla, Julia, Mary, Evaline, Eliza, Ellen Nora, Hannah, Amanda, Ann, Charlotte, Chaney, Kitty, Jane, Lucy, Mary Evans, Emily, Nancy, Betty, Luan, Fanny, Eliza Cole.

As one can see, women appear in these ads much less frequently than men. But females, too, had some names appear multiple times.  Mary, Ann, Jane, and Julia were the most common found so far.

Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Just Finished Reading - John Brown's Spy

Since becoming interested in the impact of John Brown on America's history, I have often wondered why more scholarship has not been completed on Brown's raiders individually. Almost every book has brief mentions of the men-more on some of them than others-but little has been done to fully explain their personal histories. Finally, their stories are being told.

Steven Lubet's John Brown's Spy: The Adventurous Life and Tragic Confession of John E. Cook explores the intriguing story one of Brown's most compelling raiders.

John E. Cook was born in 1829 to a rather well-to-do Connecticut family. After studying law and clerking in Brooklyn, Cook eventually made his way to Kansas to fight against slavery. There he met the man that would change his life forever-John Brown. Cook, a crack shot, joined up with Brown in June 1856.  In 1858, Cook traveled with the old man to Canada, where he was privileged to Brown's bold plan to attack the United States armory at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. In fact, Brown chose Cook to go to the small town a year in advance and gather information.

In Harpers Ferry, Cook worked a variety of jobs, and his smooth talking and gregarious personality helped ingratiate him to the community. He used his winning personality to gather information Brown needed such as  the best avenues for attacking the armory and the number of slaves in the area, which the two men hoped would flock to their cause once the attack came off.

Cook boarded in Harpers Ferry at Mary Ann Kennedy's. There he met Virginia Kennedy, the landlord's daughter, who he impregnated. They married in April 1859, and a son was born a month later. Cook's smooth talking must have been difficult to dismiss. He had previously gotten a woman pregnant in his days in Kansas and Iowa, but that child was stillborn.

During the fighting at Harpers Ferry, Cook was stationed outside of town and instructed by Brown to move weapons from the raiders' base to a school house closer to town. When Cook saw that he could not make it into town he fired on the gathering townspeople and militia in attempt to draw fire away from the raiders in the fire engine house. After taking a nasty fall in the firefight Cook determined he could help no further and fled with two other raiders. After wandering through Maryland and into Pennsylvania, the always confident Cook attempted to gather some food, relying on his loquacious skills, but was arrested near Chambersburg.

Cook was extradited to Virginia and placed in jail with Brown and the other surviving raiders. And, like his cohorts, he was tried and convicted. In effort to save his life the confessed the details of the raid and implicated others that were involved. The attempt did not work though and Cook was sentenced to hang on December 16, 1859. Cook and fellow raider Edwin Coppoc attempted a breakout of jail the night before their execution, but were quickly caught. Before Brown's execution on December 2, the old man showed his disappointment in Cook's confession by chastising his lieutenant on his way to the gallows. Cook's body was turned over to family who had it buried in Brooklyn.

Cook's hatred of slavery is obvious. From his days in Kansas, to his firm commitment to the plan at Hapers Ferry-witnessed by his spy work there-Cook was determined that the institution would die in the United States. However, his tragic confession has landed him among the so-called turncoats in American history. It is difficult to blame a man though who knew his life was in peril and sought to save it.

I highly recommend John Brown's Spy to anyone wanting to know more about John Brown's raid and the men that made the attempt on Harpers Ferry.  Lubet has produced a book that is very readable and well researched. On a scale of one to five, I give it a 4.75.