HISTORY of ABOLITIONIST DAVID PUTNAM, JR.
&
1847 - 1852
GEORGE W. HENDERSON of WOOD COUNTY, VIRGINA (WV)
-vs-
DAVID PUTNAM...
constructed in 1830 on two acres that extended to the back of the Harmar
Congregational Church. The Lydia Hale family were...
Filed in: U.S. CIRCUIT COURT, District of Ohio in Columbus, on June 25,
1849.
Attorneys for the Plaintive: Samuel F. Vinto...
a century before died on January 7, 1892. He rests in the Harmar Cemetery
located below his former dwelling in Marietta.
[...
had proceeded some 50 yards toward the upper part of town, we all went towards them
but they discovered us and fled back i...
Mr. Tomlinson’s house and found the negros had broken loose a skiff and crossed with it
to Ohio, as I supposed I have neve...
been acquainted with the value of negro slaves for a number of years. I was raised in the
state of Virginia. The value I s...
five hundred dollars, or if I would get one of them he would give me $250. I told him I
would go and try and get them or s...
and active, and shrewd. I should count him a very valuable negro -- one of the best. I
live opposite Mr. Henderson’s farm ...
defendant had nothing to do about them after they were brought to the church.
Before James Dunn, Mayer of Marietta Oct. 10...
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Henderson Vs Putnam Fugitive Slave Case Rtf

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HISTORY of ABOLITIONIST DAVID PUTNAM, JR. & GEORGE W. HENDERSON of WOOD COUNTY, VIRGINA (WV) --vs--
DAVID PUTNAM, JR of HARMAR, WASHINGTON COUNTY, OHIO
FUGITIVE SLAVE CASE
INCLUDES DEPOSITIONS OF THOSE INVOLVED.
Time Era: 1847-1852

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Henderson Vs Putnam Fugitive Slave Case Rtf

  1. 1. HISTORY of ABOLITIONIST DAVID PUTNAM, JR. & 1847 - 1852 GEORGE W. HENDERSON of WOOD COUNTY, VIRGINA (WV) -vs- DAVID PUTNAM, JR of HARMAR, WASHINGTON COUNTY, OHIO FUGITIVE SLAVE CASE INCLUDES DEPOSITIONS OF THOSE INVOLVED Abolitionist David Putnam Jr. Marietta, Ohio Written by Henry Robert Burke David Putnam Jr. was born May 17, 1808, at 519 Fort Street, in Harmar, (now part of Marietta, Ohio). He was the son of David Putnam Sr. and Elizabeth (Perkins) Putnam. David Putnam Jr. was descended from a prominent New England family. He was the great-grandson of Major General Israel Putnam, the American soldier who fought in the French and Indian War and the American Revolution. A militant patriot, Israel Putnam reportedly left his oxen and plow standing in the field where he had been working, and went off to fight the Revolutionary war. David Putnam Jr. was also the grandson of Col. Israel Putnam and a relative of Brigadier General Rufus Putnam, the Revolutionary War soldier who was appointed superintendent of the Ohio Company and led the first party of settlers ) in 1788 to establish the Northwest Territory under the United States Government at Marietta. David Putnam Jr. married to Hannah M. Munson on September 26, 1833, and their marriage was blessed with seven children, Peter Radcliff, Martha Munson, Mary Burr, Catherine Douglass, Hannah Hubbard, Rufus Browning and Elizabeth Perkins Putnam. He operated a mercantile business in Harmar, now part of Marietta, Ohio and became a respected retailer. His home was located at the head o f Maple Street. This house was
  2. 2. constructed in 1830 on two acres that extended to the back of the Harmar Congregational Church. The Lydia Hale family were the last occupants of the dwelling. The house was demolished in 1953 to make way for Fort Harmar Drive at the west end of the Washington Street Bridge in Marietta. David Putnam Jr. acquired his antislavery sentiments from growing up across the Ohio River from Wood County, Virginia, then a part of the "Old Dominion" where slavery was not only legitimate, but was also very profitable. Both the south side (Virginia) and the north side, (Ohio), of the Mid-Ohio River Valley began development around the same time (1780s), with people of opposing political views about slavery, settling directly across the river from each other. In all fairness, it must be noted that the overwhelming majority of the Virginians in "western" Virginia eventually rejected slavery and secession, and in 1863 formed the "free", (loyal to the Union), state of West Virginia. David was born at just the right moment, in just the right place, with the necessary of amount of family prestige, to lead the Underground Railroad in Marietta. The Underground Railroad and David Putnam Jr. literally grew up together. As a young man, David had become personally aquatinted slavery in Wood County, Virginia, and had seen slaves - "sold down the river" - to plantations in the Deep South. As a teenager he decided to take an active role in the fight to abolish slavery in the United States. When I use the word fight, I mean it literally. David Putnam was a tall muscular fellow who was equally comfortable settling his disputes either by diplomacy or his with bare knuckles. He would let his opponents choose their own poison, but he would never compromise his anti-slavery principles. In December of 1845, he wrote in a letter to be delivered by one William P. Cutler of Marietta, to one Mr. Guthrie in Columbus, Ohio: " If we cannot catch the kidnappers, the devil will!"; the kidnapers he referred to were bounty hunters in pursuit of fugitive slaves. In 1847, David Putnam Jr. was sued by Virginia plantation owner George Washington Henderson, for the lose of nine slaves, which Henderson claimed Putnam had influenced to run away. The suit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court in Columbus, was dismissed in 1852. Historic Underground Railroad Law Suit: Henderson vs. Putnam-
  3. 3. Filed in: U.S. CIRCUIT COURT, District of Ohio in Columbus, on June 25, 1849. Attorneys for the Plaintive: Samuel F. Vinton and Noah H. Swayne. Attorney for Defense: Salmon P. Chase [G.W. Henderson, Briar Plantation, Wood County, Virginia (Slave Owner) , charged that under provisions of the {1793 U.S. FUGITIVE SLAVE LAW},David Putnam Jr., Harmar (Marietta), Washington County, Ohio, did illegally entice, conceal and otherwise aid (nine) Negro slaves, the legal property of G.W. Henderson, to run away from their owner, and the State of Virginia at various intervals commencing on or about 15 February, 1846, the last instance occurring on or about 11 February, 1847]. The Plaintive filed two Suits for compensation for lost property. Suit 1: Asked $5,500 for the value of the slaves. Suit 2: Asked $10,000 compensation for causing a breech of contract (specified in the provisions of the 1793 Fugitive Slave Law) and for lost labor, and legal fees. The case was dismissed on October 12, 1852 because of language in the [1850 FUGITIVE SLAVE ACT]. Ref. from: INSUPERABLE BARRIERS - A Case Study of the Henderson vs. Putnam Fugitive Slave Case, by William B. Summers. [The complete manuscript, with notes and bibliography are in the Archives and Special Collections Room, Dawes Memorial Library, Marietta College.] Luther Penrose, of Cincinnati, Ohio in 1969 and a descendent of David Putnam Jr., recalled stories told to him by his grandmother Hannah Putnam Sleigh, who grew up in the house, that in 1890 was one of two Underground Railroad houses still standing in Marietta. The other Underground Railroad house was the Eells home located at 508 Putnam Street, which was demolished in 1964. That means that there probably are no longer any houses standing in Marietta that were used to hide fugitive slaves on the Underground Railroad. David Putnam was a good man, and had many supporters in Marietta who came to his defense on several occasions when he was besieged by pro- slavery advocates. He lived to see the collapse of the slavocracy a quarter of
  4. 4. a century before died on January 7, 1892. He rests in the Harmar Cemetery located below his former dwelling in Marietta. [end of article] DEPOSITIONS OF THE LAW SUIT Transcribed by Debbie Noland Nitsche Orginials can be found in the library at Marietta College. Depositions taken before me Daniel R. Neal one of the judges of the county court of the county of Wood & State of Virginia at the Court House in Parkersburg on the 9th day of October, 1850. Present: George W. Henderson, plaintiff and S. S. Cooke his attorney; and Davis Green attorney of David Putnam jr. Ancil B. Cowan of the County of Washington and state of Ohio being of lawful age, and by me first duly sworn, as hereinafter certifies, deposes and says: Question by Plaintiff’s Attorney, What knowledge have you of the escape of one or more slaves from Virginia to Ohio in 1847 belonging to George W. Henderson, and what connection had David Putnam Jr. with their escape? Answer, --- In February 1847 - (the day of the month I cannot remember, but the day of the week was Sunday) Mr. Willard Green came to the house of his son Addison Green in Harmar, Washington county, Ohio -- at which house I was then staying and roused up myself, Addison, George and Charles Green, his three sons; (we being asleep, it being 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning) and asked us to go with him and recapture from the possession of David Putnam Jr. some negro slaves just escaped from George W. Henderson in Virginia~. We agreed to go. Our company divide and Charles Green and myself went immediately to the premises of Mr. Putnam who lives in the outer part of the town of Harmar, to watch the house for the negroes.-- On our arrival at the house of Mr. Putnam we saw a light strike up in the house. The light passed through different apartments of the house and as often as twice it went into the garret of the house, finally the light came down stairs and was blown out. We then left and returned home. This all took place sometime before day light. ~ Willard Green afterwards, during the same day, sent for me and told me he had seen Mr. Henderson the Plaintiff, who had employed him to retake the negros, who had just escaped, as he told me, and engaged me to assist in watching Mr. Putnam’s house that night for the purpose of retaking the negroes. About dusk that evening (Sunday) Henry Thompson, George Green, Charles Green and myself went to watch Mr. Putnam’s house. Willard Green and others went to watch other houses. Our party stationed themselves near and round Mr. Putnam’s house and remained there something near an hour, when we saw two negro men come out of Mr. Putnam’s house (they were accompanied a short distance with a light) and go to a horse standing near the fence and started off, leading or taking the horse with them. When they
  5. 5. had proceeded some 50 yards toward the upper part of town, we all went towards them but they discovered us and fled back into Mr. Putnam’s house. I did not see but one of the negroes then enter the house. I could see plainly they were negroes but could not state who they were further, it being a starlight night. About one hour or three fourths of an hour afterwards, while we were still watching (two of us below and two above the house) George Green & myself saw for neither? I saw) I saw three persons come out of Mr. Putnam’s house and start towards the river. George and myself went immediately up to them, when we discovered that the persons were David Putnam Jr. the defendant, and Comely McCoy and a negro slave belonging to George W. Henderson named Stephen. McCoy then observed there is no chance for us, & they then started back to the house. I was close to lay my hand on Stephen, and as I knew him well, I was not mistaken as to his person. Mr. Putnam before or just as they started to the house endeavored to crowd George Green away from the negro while near him. He told us to leave the place. George & myself both told him Mr. Putnam that we were there after Mr. Henderson’s negroes, and we were a going to get them if we could. He then again ordered us away. George Green called for help. Putnam, McCoy and Stephen, after some angry conversation with George Green went back into the house and in a few moments Willard Gree and James Marshall came up - Some time afterwards a crowd of persons from the town gathered about Mr. Putnam’s house and ordered us off. Myself and two or three others then left. Some of our party remained. Willard Green during the day before told me had authority to recapture the slaves from Mrs. Henderson himself, and engaged and under that authority. The negro slave Stephen was about 22 or 23 years old of age, about five feet-eight or ten inches high of a dark copper color, and was very active and industrious and a very valuable negro as I should suppose.-- Mr. Henderson then resided in Virginia some eight or ten miles above the town of Parkersburg nearly opposite the residence of Willard Green about two miles before Harmar and he Mr. Henderson still resides there. Mr. Putnam the defendant, then lived and still lives in Harmar Washington Co. Ohio -- Further this deponent saith not. Ancil B. Cowan -- And also comes Peter Shears of the County of Wood in the state of Virginia [4 words unreadable] Question by Plaintiff’s attorney: State what you know relative to the escape of several negro slaves into Ohio from the State of Virginia in 1847 belong to George W. Henderson, and also what you know concerning their ages, names & c. together with a full description of their persons, and whether they were slaves of said Henderson for life. Answer: Mr. Henderson had a slave name Isaac who run away in 1846. He was a slave for life. He was a man about twenty-eight years of age was of black color, about five feet ten inches high and was a tolerably heavy made man. I call him a very good negro to work. I have been acquainted with him for as much as 14 years. -- He was a married man and Mr. Joseph Tomlinson then owned his wife. I then lived with Mr. Tomlinson about one and a half miles from the residence of Mr. Henderson. When Isaac ran off he came to Mr. Tomlinson’s house and took his wife and child in the night. When we missed them in the morning (which was in February 1846) I went down to the river at
  6. 6. Mr. Tomlinson’s house and found the negros had broken loose a skiff and crossed with it to Ohio, as I supposed I have never seen or heard of his being back in Virginia since then.-- Mr. Henderson owned another slave for life named Stephen. He ran away in February 1847 on Saturday night. We missed him the next morning, and I was told he was in Ohio. I did not see him run away. I knew him to be at home at Mr. Hendersons on Saturday (before spoken of) and he has never been back since that night as I have heard of.-- He was about 21 years old. He was near the color of Isaac, before mentioned, about five feet ten inches in height. He was a good active, trusty hand to work and was very handy at any farm work. He and Isaac were both healthy and hardy. Mr. Henderson owned another slave for life, named Susan. She ran away from Mr. Henderson in 1847, along in March I think. She was at home at Mr. Henderson’s one Saturday in the month, where I saw her. She was missed the next morning, and has never been back since. As near as I could learn she went to Ohio. She was about 30 years of age, of good health, of rather bright color for a negro. She possessed good qualities. She was an extra woman about the house. Mr. Henderson owned another slave for live named Allen. He was about 16 years, color similar to his mother Susan above spoken of. He had good qualities about work. He was about the usual value of a slave of his age. Mr. Henderson owned another slave for life named Charles. He was about 12 or 13 years old. He was very healthy as far as I knew of, and about as good as the common run of boys of his age. Mr. Henderson owned another slave for life named William. He was about 10 or 11 years old. He was healthy as far as I know of, and as good as the common run of boys of his age. Mr. Henderson owned another slave for life named John. He was about 2 or 3 years of age. I do not think he was a very healthy child -- he had a big head. Mr. Henderson owned another slave for life named Adeline. She was about 16 years old. She possessed good qualities as a house servant as I know from observation. I was frequently at Mr. Henderson’s house before March 1847 with all the aforesaid slaves. The aforesaid said Susan, together with the aforesaid Allen, Charles, William and John her children -- and also the said Adeline run off together in March 1847 as before stated, and none of them has ever been back since, all the slaves aforesaid absconded into Ohio as I was informed from Mr. Henderson’s possession, then and now living in Wood County Virginia. Further this deponent saith not. Peter X Shears (his mark) And also comes Alfred N. Williams of the county of Wood in the State of Virginia of lawful age, and being first duly sworn, deposes and says as follows: Question by Plaintiff’s attorney: Please read over the testimony of Peter Shears and Ancil B. Cowan here and before taken and state as your payment, the value of each slave thee in named belonging to Mr. Henderson. Answer: I have read the testimony of Mr. Shears and Mr. Cowan aforesaid. I have
  7. 7. been acquainted with the value of negro slaves for a number of years. I was raised in the state of Virginia. The value I should fix upon the slave Stephen is eight-hundred dollars. The value of Isaac I should fix at seven hundred dollars. The value of Susan I should fix at five hundred and fifty dollars. That of Allen I should fix at five hundred & fifty dollars. That of Charles I should fix at four hundred dollars. That of William I should fix at three hundred dollars. That of John, I should fix at twenty dollars. And that of Adeline I should fix at four hundred and fifty dollars. I estimate these as the market value of the several slaves aforesaid at the time they absconded in 1846 & 1847, in the state of Virginia. Further this deponent saith not. A. N. Williams George W. Henderson } In Case vs. } Deposition of Willard Green. David Putnam Junr } Question: State what you know about the escape of Stephen and other negroes belonging to Mr. Henderson in Feb. 1847. Answer: On a Saturday evening in the month of Feb. 1847, I was up at Harmar at my son George’s and we were up there till between tow and three o’clock at night. I started home and got down about a mile below Harmar, I was trotting along in the road on a smart trot, I saw two men across the road about a hundred yards before me. They crossed over the road, I kept my eye on the, and they threw themselves over the fence. When I got within fifty or sixty yards of them I jumped the fence and trotted right up to them. I came to the negro first. I had a quart bottle of whiskey in my pocket, I took it out and asked him to drink something, and he thanked me and said he didn’t choose any. I passed along to Mr. Putnam and asked him to drink, he thanked me and said he never drank any, and I said pass along -- two or three times. The first man was Tomlinson’s negro Allen, the other was David Putnam. I then went down about a hundred yards or so, jumped the fence, and took down under the bank up the river and about opposite where the men were standing, I found a skiff laying at the shore not fastened. I went up the bank into the road but could see no one. I run from there up to my son Addison’s in Harmar and waked up three of my sons, and we started towards Putnam’s house, we thought we could cut him and the negroes off before they got there. When we got in two hundred yards from Putnam’s house we saw a light struck up in the house. This was I judge after three o’clock at night. I said to the boys that they had got in and we need not go any further. I went home, two miles below Harmar on the Ohio river. Just after I got home, I saw some one running down the river on the Virginia side. I took it to be Peter Shears. He stopped opposite to me and was talking to someone. I understood from their talk that there was something the matter, which induced me to call and ask what was the matter. Peter Shears answered that Mr. Tomlinson’s & Henderson’s negroes had run away that night. I told him to tell Mr. Henderson come over and I could tell him all about it. He then started down and went into Mr. Henderson’s and came back and called over to me and said that Mr. Henderson wanted me to come over there. I went over after I got my breakfast. Mr. H. told me if I would get the negroes or secure them he would give me
  8. 8. five hundred dollars, or if I would get one of them he would give me $250. I told him I would go and try and get them or secure them so he could get them. He said to me I had better try and get some help to assist me. I then went over home and went from there upon the hill near Putnam’s and watched there until night. I then returned home to get some help to watch at night. I got my two sons, George and Charles & Ancil B. Cowen. I then went to Harmar and got James Marshall, Joe Hill, and Henry Thompson. We got there that I now recollect of. We directed the company to watch. I sent George Green, Ancil Cowen, Henry Thompson & Charles Green up to Putnam’s house to watch. Joe Hill, Jim Marshall, & myself went to watch other houses after watching other houses awhile, we went up to Putnam’s. When about a hundred or 150 yards from Putnam’s we heard George Green and Putnam talking very loud, we stopped a moment & I heard my son George hollow help! Help! Here is the negroes. We run up to where they were. When we got up there, Putnam & George were standing by the gate jawing each other one on each side George remarked yonder he goes into the house. George said if this dammed son of a bitch hadn’t prevented me I would have had him. Put. then remarked we had better leave there, and asked what business we had there. I told him Mr. Henderson had sent me there to secure his negroes. He said if we didn’t leave some of us would get shot. I replied if he wanted to shoot we could shoot as well as he could. I told him then we shouldn’t leave. I was sent there by Mr. Henderson to watch till he came, that he was sent for & that he would be there pretty soon. Putnam said we had better leave or some of us would get hurt, and turned off and walked into the house. We stationed ourselves around the house to guard till Mr. Henderson would get there. I was at the gate-way, in a few minutes Jonathan Soule came up and an altercation took place, and Soule went into the house. Afterwards Comely McCoy came out of the house and met his father Jno. C. McCoy and another man coming towards Putnam’s house. J. C. McCoy asked Comely - Have you got them off yet? Comely replied they had tried twice but the house was watched & they could not get them away. The three then went into town and pretty soon I heard someone call across the Muskingum & said they wanted help. In a short time afterwards, a crowd of 10 or 12 came to the house. They wanted to know what I was doing there. I told them they had Mr. Henderson’s negroes and that I was watching them. A kind of a quarrel took place between me and the crowd. While we were talking I suppose fifty persons had collected, and while we were arguing a constable came up and said he had a warrant for a riot, and said we must leave the premises or go before the Justice of the peace. We did not leave but remained a part of the time with the crowd. While we were standing there I saw a man come out of the yard in company with another man in disguise, and muffled up about the face. I can’t say certain, but I think it was one of the McCoy’s that was with him. Levi Barber hunched me, and said, There he goes now! And said now I am satisfied. I will go home. The two persons that came out of the yard went down towards the stable, and pretty soon, I heard a horse start from there on a gallop up the Muskingum river. We then dispersed and when we got down in town we found Mr. Henderson there. This took place on Sunday night. (on another occasion Mr. Green says: ) I was very cold during the evening, and cannot for that reason speak accurately as to the time the affair at Putnam’s house took place. The negro Stephen, belonging to Mr. Henderson was of a dark copper color, about five feet, nine, ten or eleven inches high, about twenty one or two years of age, and very smart
  9. 9. and active, and shrewd. I should count him a very valuable negro -- one of the best. I live opposite Mr. Henderson’s farm and know the said Stephen well. I knew Stephen to be the slave of Mr. Henderson at the time he escaped, which was the time I have spoken of as I was informed by Mr. Henderson & others. Further this deponent saith not. [not signed] Davis Green --- Was employed by defendant to take depositions, in Parkersburg. The affair was done up without any fairness or justice. The witnesses were together when examined. The depositions are not in the words of the witnesses. Cooke, plaintiffs attorney wrote the depositions & witnesses assented thereto. John Marshall -- Keeps ferry from Ohio to Virginia. Made a bargain with plaintiff to ferry by the year his whole family for a given sum. The slaves of plaintiff were particularly included in the bargain. They were to have the privilege of coming to Ohio when every they wished on plaintiffs account. They frequently came to Ohio with and without plaintiff. A. J. Fulcher -- Knows Allen the reputed slave of Tomlinson. Saw him at my house on the night of the mob there in 1847. Went with him from the house about 9 or 10 o’clock at night to Warren Township some eight miles from Harmar. Saw and conversed with him the next day by day light. Knows that it was Allen and not Stephen the rebuted [sic] slave of plaintiff. J. C. McCoy Jr. -- Was with defendant on said Sunday night. Heard the conversation between Willard Green and Putnam. Don’t know that Green made any demand for the slave or slaves. Is sure he showed no papers or offered to do so. Was but one colored man and is quite sure there was but one. Charles McCabe -- Went down near W. Green’s on the Ohio river, two miles below Harmar, on a certain night in March 1847, and brought up a woman and two or three children. Saw one woman and two boys in Harmar, before he went down. Knows that defendant refused to have anything to do with them and his reason. Knows that they staid [sic] in the M. E. Church in Marietta the next day after they left Virginia and the next night went away from there without defendants knowledge or help. Knows defendant had nothing to about getting them to H. or keeping them there. Joseph McGrew -- Was sexton in M. E. Church in Marietta. On a certain morning in March 1847, rec’d and kept through the following day two colored women and 4 or 5 children. Knows that
  10. 10. defendant had nothing to do about them after they were brought to the church. Before James Dunn, Mayer of Marietta Oct. 10th 1851. Parkinson Reed of Wood county Virginia testified: I kept a ferry across the Ohio river from 1837 to 1849 most of the time. Shortly after 1837 his (plaintiffs) blacks were in the habit of crossing with and without him, and the ferriage was charged to & paid by him. He permitted me to ferry a slave named Ceasar to the time he ran away. Further this deponent saith not. Parkinson Reed

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