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.