Saturday, December 31, 2011

Slave Preserves Daniel Boone from Capture

After he had settled Fort Boone, subsequently known as Boonesborough, Daniel Boone befriended Thomas Goff  (1747-1824), who had come west from Hardy County, Virginia in 1790. Boone, a mediocre surveyor and land speculator, helped Goff find land that he held a patent for.

Some time later Boone invited Goff to "hunt in that paradise for hunters, the former region of Eskippakithiki," according to Patsy Woodring. Called Indian Old Fields by Anglos, Eskippakithiki was the site of a former native village, since burned and abandoned. The hunting party included Boone, Goff, and several others, including Goff's cook. The cook, perhaps named David, was a slave Goff likely inherited from his father-in-law, John Gray of Calvert County, Maryland.

The hunting party was attacked. "Indians got them scattered by going after them," according to a family history account in The Four Goff Brothers of Western Virginia. Mounted on horses, the hunters were able to make their escape. Boone and Goff reunited at Boonesborough. The enslaved cook did not return there.

Word arrived from Virginia: after spending a considerable period of time lost in the wilderness, the armed slave had made his way back to civilization. In Woodring's account, the cook makes it known he does not want to live in Kentucky again.

It is likely that Boone and Goff realized their escape was in large part due to the slave's presence in the hunting party. It was said (though I find the idea unlikely by 1790) that their attackers had never before seen African-American skin. The natives were 'bewildered' by it. The warriors were said to forgoe pursuit of Boone, Goff and the others, in favor of chasing down a person of such distinctive color.

Perhaps implying Goff's recognition that the Anglos likely went unmolested due to his enemies' diversion in favor of the cook, Woodring reports Goff freed said slave.

It is known that Thomas Goff's 1824 will (penned perhaps three decades after the incident) provided $125 to a slave styled 'Old David.' If he lived a further one year, the "negro man slave" was to have received his freedom.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

To Hear Them Tell the Story

I look forward to reading The Accidental Slaveowner in its entirety. In researching the life of 4x gr-grandfather, Rev. William Hardesty (1776-1846), whose father George and uncle Rev. John Hagerty (1747-1823) preceded him into Methodism, I became aware of the sect’s migration from founder John Wesley’s unconditional opposition to slavery. After Wesley's death in 1791 and prior to the church’s 1840 decree that holding slaves was deemed no barrier to becoming a minister or assuming higher office, it was general custom for men entering leadership roles or inheriting slaves to transfer ownership of their living property to family members.

“…many Methodist preachers, taken from comparative poverty, not able to own a negro, and who preached loudly against it, improved, and became popular among slaveholders; and many of them married into those slaveholding families, and became personally interested in slave property (as it is called). [SIC] Then they began to apologize for the evil; then to justify it, on legal principles; then on Bible principles; till lo and behold! it is not an evil, but a good! it is not a curse, but a blessing! till really you would think, to hear them tell the story, if you had the means and did not buy a good lot of them, you would go to the devil for not enjoying the labor, toil, and sweat of this degraded race …” 

UPDATE: To Discover a Kinsman in You flowed from Cartwright's surmise, and the first comment following below.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Slaves Sent Forward Labored Under Tremendous Risk

"[W]ere they free people I dont know that it would give me Any uneasiness, but to Send a parcel of poor Slaves where I dare not go myself [should anything happen] I fear it would prove a great drawback on my future happiness in this Life." - Thomas Hart to his brother Nathaniel, proprietor of the Transylvania Company; land speculators backing Daniel Boone's founding of Boonesborough, Kentucky, 1780.
It was common for pioneers (particularly those intent on speculation), when taking advantage of lands opening to settlement in Kentucky, to send slaves to build a cabin and prepare the land for farming.

Slaves bore their share of the brunt of Boone's first (1773) attempt to establish a permanent settlement in Kentucky. While making slow progress as he blazed a forest trail with enough equipment to build a village, Boone dispatched his son James and the Mendinall brothers to procure flour from Captain Russell's outpost at the edge of civilization.
"Russell sent forward his oldest son, Henry; two Negroes named Charles and Adam, together with Isaac Crabtree and a youth named Drake, with several horses ladened with farming utensils, provisions, and other needful articles and a few books," according to Draper in The Life of Daniel Boone.
Five of the six Anglos trailing Boone's main party were killed in a predawn Indian attack in Powell's Valley, Virgina.
"The Negro Adam fortunately escaped unhurt, hid himself in some driftwood on the bank of the creek close at hand, and was an unwilling spectator of the painful scene enacted at the camp." "The other Negro, Charles, older and less active than Adam, was taken prisoner by the Indians, who carried him off with the horses and every article they esteemed of any value. When they had gone about forty miles, and getting into a dispute about the ownership of the Negro, the leader of the party put an end to the quarrel by tomahawking the poor captive."
The main body of pioneers lost heart when they discovered the loss of life. Despite Boone's urging to the contrary, they abandoned the enterprise and returned to civilization. The Crown's Indian agent convinced principal Cherokee chiefs to put one of their own, a Chief Not-ta-wa-gua, to death for this abrogation of their treaty. It was also suspected that Shawanoes were involved in this cross-cultural enterprise of slaugther.

In Diversity and Accommodation, Eslinger documents slaves living in exposed conditions on Virginia's Kentucky frontier:
“An early Kentuckian named John Bruce, for example, erected a small cabin in Bourbon County and left a man and a woman slave there to open the land for cultivation, arranging for hunters to occasionally supply them with meat. How long they remained there is unknown, but one day the man was discovered scalped and tomahawked, and the woman was missing and supposed taken prisoner.”
“Slaves also endured harsher conditions because of their inferior status in the frontier household, as illustrated by the fate of Bob, the property of a prominent early settler named John Floyd. In November of 1779, Bob slipped and severely wounded himself in the foot with an ax while erecting a cabin for Floyd. Throughout one of the harshest winters, Bob languished in a temporary shelter, perhaps the same shelter previously used by Floyd and his family. Frostbite led to gangrene, and, 'reduced to a mere skeleton,' Bob finally died three months after receiving his injury. Floyd and his young family, meanwhile spent the winter huddled in the cabin. No doubt conditions were miserable, as they were for all westerners that particular winter, but the suffering of the Floyds can hardly compare with what Bob endured before he finally expired.”

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Jonathan Pointer, Enslaved, finds Stature among the Wyandots

My previous post pertained to Richard Pointer, a slave eventually freed ... decades after he demonstrated impressive valor during a 1778 Indian attack on Fort Donnelly, in Greenbrier (now WV) where, one year earlier, James Berry (c1752-1822) had enlisted to serve in Revolutionary forces. Slave Dick's son Jonathan was also born into slavery. Johnathan Pointer was captured by Wyandot Indians at a young age. It was another band of Wyandot warriors that captured Uncle Monk from Estill's Station in 1782.

In Facing East from Indian Country, author Daniel Richter addresses tribal groups that were fractured by disease and a collision of cultures.
"Hurons mixed with other Iroquoian-speakers to become the people known as Wyandots, Ottawas, Miamis, Illinois, Ojibwas, Potawatomis, Foxes and others who spoke Algonquian languages lived interspersed with one another, sometimes in the same villages, more often in separate towns clustered near French posts such as Michilmackinac or Detroit."
He continues, speaking of fragments of populations coalescing in Ohio country:
"This diverse lot often settled in multiethnic and multilingual villages where they discovered that they had much in common with each other. Many were refugees twice-removed, having left homes in the Susquehanna watershed [Or, in the case of the Wyandots, having left homes in Michigan. - RDH] to which they or their parents had earlier migrated from elsewhere. [Canada]"
Racial distinction was almost insignificant among the Wyandot. Two clans were led by mixed race adoptees: Anglo/Indio men. With his red hair, one of the sub-chiefs could have passed for white, yet he had the allegiance of his mother's people. Richter confirms lore that was reported popular at the time of Monk's capture.
"White colonists who had similarly squatted on Indian country were often slaughtered or sent fleeing to the east, while - revealing the racial dimensions of the movement - enslaved African Americans were often spared."
Monk resisted capture, but Richard Pointer eventually found acceptance among his new masters. He became a person with status: the tribe's Chief Interpreter. It was in this capacity, translating for an itinerant Methodist preacher, that Pointer converted, then helped establish the Methodist's first mission. See Felkner's In the Wigwams of the Wyandots for a more complete description of Pointer's role in the Wyandot tribe's embrace of Christian teachings.

Pointer refused to accompany Christianized Indians on their pilgrimages to Mission Societies back east. No longer an Indian captive, he never went to visit his father, who died in Virginia in 1827. Pointer stayed behind in 1842 as the tribe was pushed onto non-existent preserves in Kansas. Jonathan Pointer chose instead to move to Negrotown, 8 miles north of the abandoned Wyandot village he'd lived in: to have left Ohio would have made Pointer vulnerable to re-enslavement. The U. S. government did not recognize his adoption by the tribe; slave property captured by Indians would be returned to its rightful owner ... and while repatriation was most likely to occur in slave states, it was a rule of law in force in Ohio until the time of his death there in 1857.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Enslaved Dick Pointer Saves Fort Donnelly - 1778

Perhaps Uncle Monk had heard of Slave Dick's exploits before expressing his own heroic nature in 1782. 

"On May 29, 1778, Dick Pointer, a black slave, helped to save about 60 settlers in the Greenbrier Valley. Warned that a band of Shawnee Indians had left the Ohio Valley with the intent of attacking the Greenbrier settlements, the settlers with Pointer among them decided to shelter at Fort Donnally near Lewisburg. The Indians attacked the fort the next day.
On the morning of the attack Pointer and a white man, William Hammond, were the first to hear the alarm, given by settler William Hughart as he rushed to close the fort door on the attacking Indians. The Indians began hacking at the door with tomahawks. Their effort failed due to the quick thinking of Pointer and Hammond, who rolled a hogshead of water behind the door. Pointer also managed to fire at the invaders, thus alerting the sleeping inhabitants.
The surprised settlers fought the Indians as they jumped from their beds. At dark, the Indians retreated and the attack was over. For his bravery Pointer was granted a life lease to a piece of land, where he lived until his death at about age 89 in 1827. In 1795, the thankful friends of Dick Pointer petitioned the Virginia Assembly for his freedom but were refused, although he was purchased and freed in 1801. In 1976, a stone was dedicated in Lewisburg to honor Dick Pointer’s heroism. His musket is now in the State Museum in Charleston." [SOURCE]
If Dick Pointer's exploits were carried into the Kentucky District of Virginia, the message conveyed was that slaves could demonstrate courage, not that valor brought freedom.

Deed Book 1, pages 400-401 Greenbrier Co. VA March 1801 [Spelling and capitalization are as found in original document.]

"Know all Men by these presents That I James Rodgers of the County of Greenbrier & State of Virginia Do agree to Immancipate & Set free My Negroe Man Named Dick pointer on the Conditions hereafter attentioned havit that if the said Negroe Dick Doth Well  Truly behave himself in all things so that I Never Come to Trouble on his Account then this Immancipation to be finel but if he Should fail in any of the above obligations so that I May Sustain any injury Thereby he Shall from That instant Return To his Usual Slavery & forfit Every part of the Restitution he has given to Obtain it at present-after A True performance of the above I bind MySelf My heirs etc firmly by these presents Sealed With my Seal & Dated this 2th Day of March 1801.
James Rodgers" [SOURCE]

Freedom had its drawbacks as well.

In grateful thanks, the settlers wrote to VA asking the State to give Dick Pointer his freedom, but this did not happen as a result of their request. Dick Pointer and his family were later sold by Col. Donnally to the See family. Pointer was eventually freed by a Mr. Rogers, only to die in poverty because, as they became old and infirm, Pointer and his wife could not sustain themselves on the small farm which neighbors provided them. [SOURCE]

It is probable that James Berry (c1752-1822), whom Monk carried to safety, had a pre-existing relationship with Greenbrier (then in Virginia, now in West Virginia). Berry had there enlisted with Revolutionary forces one year prior to the attack on Fort Donnally.

An interesting footnote is that history suggests that Dick Pointer's son was captured 'while young' by native warriors. For his able services as a translator, Wyandot elders granted Johnathan Pointer his freedom. Johnathan continued to reside among native peoples for many years, working with a Methodist preacher to convert them to Christianity.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Slave Saves Woods Family c1782, perhaps traumatized

Monk is not the only slave to encounter violence in Anglo struggles to displace Native Americans in the Kentucky District of Virginia, c1782.

From the Campbell County Historical Society: "In 1782 near Crab Orchard an aged, lame slave defended a white woman and her daughter when Shawnees attacked their cabin. The Black man struggled with a warrior who had entered the house before the woman bolted the door. While he held him, the young girl killed the invader with an ax."

There is no mention of the slave's age in the following accounts.

From Lewis Collins' 1877 History of Kentucky:

In the year 1781 or 2, near the Crab Orchard, in Lincoln County, a very singular adventure occurred at the house of a Mr. Woods. One morning he left his family, consisting of a wife, a daughter not yet grown, and a lame negro [sic] man, and rode off to the station near by, not expecting to return till night. Mrs. Woods being a short distance from her cabin, was alarmed by discovering several Indians advancing towards it. She instantly screamed loudly in order to give the alarm, and ran with her utmost speed, in hope of reaching the house before them. In this she succeeded, but before she could close the door, the foremost Indian had forced his way into the house. He was instantly seized by the lame negro man, and after a short scuffle, they both fell with violence, the negro underneath. Mrs. Woods was too busily engaged in keeping the door closed against the party without, to attend to the combatants; but the lame negro, holding the Indian tightly in his arms, called to the young girl to take the axe from under the bed and dispatch him with a blow on the head. She immediately attempted it; but the first attempt was a failure. She repeated the blow and killed him. The other Indians were at the door, endeavoring to force it open with their tomahawks. The negro rose and proposed to Mrs. Woods to let in another, and they would soon dispose of the whole of them in the same way. The cabin was but a short distance from the station, the occupants of which having discovered the perilous situation of the family, fired on the Indians and killed another, when the remainder made their escape.

From History and genealogies of the families of Miller, Woods, Harris, Wallace, Maupin, Oldham, Kavanaugh, and Brown (illustrated): with interspersions of notes of the families of Dabney, Reid, Martin, Broaddus, Gentry, Jarman, Jameson, Ballard, Mullins, Michie, Moberley, Covington, Browning, Duncan, Yancey, and others, by Wm. Harris Miller, Richmond, Ky.  (1907)

(Pages 195-196)
Michael Woods, born perhaps about 1746, married Hannah Wallace, a daughter of Andrew Wallace and Margaret Woods. In about the year 1780, he emigrated with his family to Kentucky, and first stopped at Crab Orchard Station, where he was living in 1781-2, when the incident or adventure occured at his house as narrated in Collins' History of Kentucky, and also described by the Tattler further on in this chapter. He afterwards moved to Madison County, Kentucky, and entered, surveyed, and patented 1000 acres of land in Madison County, on Muddy Creek, adjoining of James Bridges' settlement and pre-emption claim on the lower side.

Michael & Hannah bore a son John Woods. John married his first wife, Mary H. (or Polly) Thomas, on July 2, 1812, in Madison County, Ky. Their first child was ...

"Elizabeth Woods, born April 23, 1813, near Milford or old town, in Madison County, Ky. She married Edward C. Boggs, Sept. 19, 1833. Their home was on the Big Hill Road, near the south eastern limits of the city of Richmond, Ky. where they died. 

"Mrs. Boggs has many times heard her father tell the true story of an incident related in Collins' History. One night, most likely in the spring of 1782, the Indians made a raid on the Station at Crab Orchard and stole all the horses. The next day all the men in and about the fort went in pursuit, leaving only a negro with a lame hand at Mr. [Michael] Woods' cabin and a white man sickly in another cabin close by. The children had been going to and from the spring all morning and had noticed nothing suspicious, except their sagacious dog would walk slowly in the spring path and look towards the spring and growl, but never bark. Towards dinner time, Polly Woods, then seventeen years old, had gone with her little brother, John to a knoll, not far from the house to gather salad, and the negro man, was in the yard playing on a buffalo robe with little Betsy Woods.

Suddenly, Polly saw a huge Indian stealing up the spring path with his body bent, and on tiptoe leading a band of warriors, and she at once gave the alarm, at the top of her voice. The negro ran to the house in an instant to shut the door, but the Indian leader rushed in the door at the same time and there they clinched in a tremendous struggle, the negro being as good a wrestler as the Indian. During the scuffle at the door, little Betsy though only three years old, slipped in between them. In a minute or two they had gotten inside and Mrs. Woods, the mother of the family had secured the door. In one corner stood a rifle and the struggle was for the gun, the Indian forgetting to use his knife and tomahawk, which hung in his belt, but jabbering all the time to his companions out side who were trying to break down the door with their war clubs. Mrs. Woods ran for a knife near by, but seeing it was of no use, seized the broad axe and hewed the Indian down. Utterly cutting him to pieces before they could stop her. Meanwhile Polly had rushed with her little brother to the house of the sick neighbor, who though hardly able to move, seized his rifle and shot one of the Indians out side. The savages then beat a hasty retreat, taking the dead body of their comrade with them.

They had been concealed near the spring, and seized their opportunity to slaughter the family, but failed. By the continual practice the sagacity of the lower animals in the old days was almost perfectly developed. The intelligent dog mentioned above was a very valuable animal. On one occasion William Woods with his twelve-year-old brother John, had gone to the salt works on Goose Creek, for salt, accompanied by this dog, on their return they had stopped for the night and had lighted a fire when this old dog looked back in the direction they had come and growled, but knew better than to bark knowing that Indians were about, William scattered the fire and came to the station, that night before stopping. A day or two after several men were killed in the same place by Indians.

This slave is not portrayed as lame:
From the Virginia Gazette and Weekly Advertiser (Nicolson & Prentis), Richmond, December 6, 1783:
BEDFORD COUNTY, Nov. 20, 1783. CAME to my house on the 12th inst. a negro man who says his name is DAVID, and that he is free; he brought with him a discharge and pass from Colonel William Davis, dated at Charlestown the 24th of June last, but since has confessed he is a slave, and that he belongs to Michael Woods, living at the Crab orchard in Kentucky. He is about twenty five years of age, five feet ten inches high, well proportioned sensible, and active. Should the said negro remain at my house, the owner may get him, by applying to me, living at the head of Black water. THOMAS ARTHUR.

What if David, traumatized by the invasion of the frontier cabin, sought to return to civilization?

Friday, September 30, 2011

Charter Review Commission Testimony

Portland's governing charter is up for review. On 26 Sep 2011 they sought public input. As part of my ongoing mission to bring civilian oversight to the Portland Police Bureau (PPB), in the hope that citizens can force institutional change upon the city's prime bastion of racism, I testified as to my perceptions of the Independent Police Review Board (IPRB).

I asked the city charter be amended so that the IPRB could achieve some independence. Currently the City Attorney does double duty: he defends police misconduct in lawsuits against the city (the top 25 settlements have cost the city $6,000,000) and the attorney is responsible for getting to the bottom of police misconduct, through the IPRB. An amendment to the city charter could restructure the IPRB so that it has its own council and so that a city council could not disband it by a simple majority.

I got cotton mouth. It sounded like I was completely out of breath. I managed to speak to the importance of a separation of powers. I gave some historical context (Oregon's consitution prevented Blacks from being in state after sundown until the late 1920's; Oregon did not pass the 15th Amendment, giving Black men the right to vote, until the end of the 1950's, only more than twenty years after the PPB not only infiltrated peace groups, but sought to get clergy and academics fired during their opposition to the Viet Nam war in the 1960's did the public become aware of this kind of police activity).

I have made another (raspy) attempt to eliminate racial disparity in the treatment of my brothers and sisters of color by City of Portland employees. I forgot to put my testimony in the context of an effective, proactive response to the Civil Rights investigation Portland is now undergoing by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Monk Estill's Words Preserved between 1936-1938

Two things strike me about this account. One, that the capture and preservation of this account was the result of the nation's investment in the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration, a 'make-work' project in times like our own ... of dire financial outlook among workers. Secondly, this is purported to be a slave's account (Monk himself was long dead, I assume): I was skeptical about any of the Estills taking care of Monk's financial needs. Other accounts report this was the doing of James Estill's brother Samuel, who subsequently moved to Tennessee. James Estill's oldest heir (Wallace Estill, 1771-1860) was only ten years old. How likely is it that he cared for Monk "in comfort for the rest of his life?"

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Black Sam Saves young Cabell Daughter

Another slave saved the life of an Anglo on the frontier of the Kentucky District of Virginia in 1782. In addition to Uncle Monk, who saved the life of my 4x gr-grandfather, James Berry (c1752-1822), I have discovered that Black Sam, property of Edward Cabell, saved his owner's daughter.

From Slavery in the South: a State-by-State History, by Clayton E. Jewett, John O. Allen
Page 101:

"In another oft-told rememberance, Black Sam, a chattel of the Virginia-born Edward Cabell, saved the youngest member of his master's family, Augusta, after Indians attacked the homesetead and torched their cabin. Cabell's wife and other children perished in the flames. Sam rescued the young girl and carried her to safety to the nearest fort. He hid during the day, gathering berries for sustenance, and after three nights was able to reach help. There he met his master who had just returned from Virginia, bringing along with him other Cabell slaves, including Black Sam's father, mother and wife. (Coleman, 1940, p8)"

Thursday, September 22, 2011