Booker T. Washington's West Virginia Boyhood
By Louis R. Harlan
Between 1865, when Booker T. Washington was nine years old, and 1872, when he left to attend Hampton Institute at the age of sixteen, he grew up in the Kanawha Valley of West Virginia. Here he learned some of the most significant and compelling lessons of his life. He became one of the earliest of the freedmen to learn to read and write. He learned the equally valuable lesson that freedom could not be conferred by a piece of paper, that the poor and the oppressed were not free. He learned to work as a free youth far harder than he had had to work as a slave child. He learned how to work as the houseboy of a frustrated New England former schoolmarm. He learned lessons in class-consciousness that influenced him in later life toward partnership with the white upper classes rather than the masses. And he learned the final lesson that he had to get out of the Valley if he hoped to rise above the poorly paid labor in the extractive industries of the Valley, saltmaking and coal mining.
The slaves on the Burroughs' farm near Hale's Ford, Franklin County, Virginia, learned that they were free in the spring of 1865, but the slave cook Jane, her mulatto children John and Booker, and her black child Amanda, were still milling about the Burroughs' place three months later, searching for aims of their own to replace the purposes given to their lives by the master and mistress. Then from West Virginia came a message to solve their dilemma. Jane's husband, now calling himself Washington Ferguson but soon to lapse again into "Wash" or even "Uncle Wash," sent word that he was working for wages at the salt furnaces of the Kanawha Salines in West Virginia. He sent either a wagon or money to buy one, and about August 1865 Jane and her children set out from Hale's Ford to join him.
The children were ready to skip and dance down Freedom Road. Just as they had never known the harshest aspects of slavery, they had no idea of the tedium and hardships of a mountain journey. Their mother, with palpitations of the heart as her legacy from toil for the Burroughs' comfort, found less joy in freedom and movement and perhaps none at all in the marriage bond, for there were to be no more children. She knew they needed a wagon. They secured a two-horse wagon, perhaps through money sent by Wash Ferguson. On it they loaded clothing, household goods, some coarse-ground corn, and Jane, whose health would not permit her to walk for any long period. Saying goodbye to their aged ex-mistress, who wished them well, the little family started out. The children walked most of the two hundred miles of the journey.
While there is no direct evidence of the route which the family traveled, it seems probable that they traveled to Roanoke and Blacksburg and over the Giles, Fayette and Kanawha Turnpike. This road connected Giles Courthouse, or Pearisburg, with the Kanawha River. Passing through The Narrows, this road went by way of Red Sulphur Springs, Summers County, Beckley, Mount Hope, and Fayetteville to Kanawha Falls, where it joined the James River and Kanawha Turnpike which led along the Kanawha River into Kanawha Salines and Charleston. The Giles, Fayette and Kanawha Turnpike was completed about 1848 and was the usual route of Franklin County slaves hired out to the Kanawha salt furnaces. There is another reason also why that might have been the route. The Union army which moved out of Fayetteville in 1864 went along the turnpike eastward to Beckley and then struck southward to Princeton and Giles Courthouse. In this area many Negroes flocked to the Union lines and freedom, and it may have been then that Wash Ferguson, "by running away and following the Federal soldiers," as Booker later recalled it, "found his way into the new state of West Virginia."1
The journey took about two weeks. The family camped in the open every night and cooked over fires made of fallen branches of the tremendous virgin hardwood trees that lined the road and almost shut out the sun. One of the most hazardous parts of the journey was crossing the New River gorge, descending from the spectacular towering cliffs on one side, crossing a shallow mountain river, then up again by another winding narrow road to the top of the cliffs on the other side. One evening, coming to an abandoned log cabin on the side of the road at dusk, the little family decided to build a fire inside, cook there, and spread a pallet of rags near its warmth for the night. When the fire blazed up, a tremendous black snake fell from the chimney to the fire and writhed onto the floor, later remembered as fully a yard long, as long as a man. Mother and children hastily grabbed their belongings, abandoned the cabin, and moved on. They were not "tempted by the serpent."
There were many small towns along the way, through which they walked in dusty bare feet. After they passed Gauley, where the Gauley and New Rivers formed the Kanawha, settlements along the narrow valley became almost continuous. They entered Kanawha Salines, recently renamed Malden but frequently still called by the old name, and asked for Wash Ferguson. They soon found him and the cabin he had secured for them. It was not in the largely Negro part of the Salines known as Tinkersville but in Malden itself. Washington later remembered the experience with the distaste for town life which never left him. The cabins were clustered close together. As there were no sanitary regulations, the filth around the cabins, the rotting garbage and the outhouses, gave off an intolerable stench. Perhaps worst of all to a country child who had been raised in the open was the closeness of contact with other humans, black and white. Some neighbors were black, but crowded next to them were "the poorest and most ignorant and degraded white people." The boy thought of these whites as degenerates and as the enemies of the black people. "Drinking, gambling, quarrels, fights, and shockingly immoral practices were frequent."2 If freedom meant the conditions of Malden, then the process of disillusionment had already begun. The town seemed an unlikely breeding ground for a black boy's ambition.
During the first half of the nineteenth century the salt industry had thrived in Malden as the principal source of salt for the pork packers of Cincinnati. First known to the buffalo and other game which licked salt at the mouth of Campbell's Creek and then to the Indians who pursued this game, it became known to whites in 1755, when the Shawnees put white captives to work boiling brine dipped from the salt springs into dry salt, and one of the captives escaped. Systematic salt production began in 1794 when Joseph Ruffner, a prosperous Shenandoah Valley farmer, bought a tract and began salt making by the crude process of dipping brine from the springs and boiling it in kettles.
The Kanawha salt industry boomed. Production quickly became more sophisticated, with the boring of wells, piping, vats and furnaces. Wood was an important factor for the salt barrels, flatboats, and fuel for the salt furnaces. As the wood supply decreased, the Ruffners were among the first to begin the mining of coal from the nearby hills. The tin and copper piping used in the works attracted skilled tinsmiths from Europe to settle in Tinkersville. Wells were sunk to more than a thousand feet, and as early as 1832 a steam salt furnace came into use. This furnace used the steam produced by evaporation of the brine to heat the "grainer" pan which finished the drying of the salt. The "grainer" pan was emptied once a day onto the salt board, where salt packers such as Washington Ferguson at John P. Hale's Snow Hill Furnace packed it into barrels for shipment.
The Kanawha salt industry declined in the 185Os and was sick nearly unto death when Booker's family arrived in Malden. Its economic basis was undermined by a number of factors, including difficulties of transportation on the rampaging Kanawha River, the shift of the center of meat-packing westward from Cincinnati to Chicago, and the cheaper and better salt of the new Michigan salt furnaces. The Kanawha salt industry tottered on into post-Civil War period largely because the owners had invested so deeply that they had to continue, when they could, to try to salvage their investment. Put together a decaying aristocracy as represented by the Dickinsons, Ruffners, and Shrewsburys, who had worked slave labor in their furnaces and mines before the war, the social disorganization of a river town, the labor competition and racial hostility of a depressed economy, and you have Malden.3
The Civil War had given a brief false revival to the salt industry. The Confederates extracted all they could of this strategic material in short supply, but the Union forces captured the valley in 1861 and a disastrous flood in the same year swept away boats and wharves, melted accumulated salt stocks and further weakened the industry. By the time the railroads reached Malden in 1872, the era of salt was over and available capital went into coal and timber. The nearby town of Charleston became the dominant city of the valley.
How much Booker and his family understood of these economic forces that doomed Malden is uncertain. They may have had some knowledge of the salt works from other slaves, for Franklin County had long been a source of supply of hired-out slaves. In 1839, for example, the Lewis and Shrewsbury salt furnace at Kanawha Salines issued a pass to nine slaves of Asa Holland of Hale's Ford to visit home. Holland lived just down the road from the Burroughs' place, and just across the road was Bowker Preston, who owned seven slaves employed at the Salines at the time of his death in 1851.4 It may even have been that Wash Ferguson had spent the war there as a salt packer, first as a slave and then as a wageworker.
Quite early one morning, Booker learned one of the reasons his stepfather had sent for him to come to Malden. He was routed from bed and he and his brother John went to work helping Wash Ferguson pack the salt. After the salt brine had been boiled to a damp solid state and dried in the "grainer" pan, it was necessary not only to shovel the crystallized salt into the barrel but to pound it until the barrel reached the required weight. The boys' work was to assist their stepfather in the heavy and unskilled labor of packing. Their workday often began as early as four o'clock in the morning and continued until dark, and the stepfather pocketed their pay. Perhaps he was too poor to behave otherwise, and the exploitation of children by their parents was widespread in the nineteenth century in agriculture, textile mills, mining, and all low-wage industries. Nevertheless, the boys deeply resented Wash Ferguson for his greed and shortsightedness. They turned away from him, and he never became father to them in the sense of a model for their behavior or a person on whom to rely. And in that circumstance was a clue to Booker's later personal success and to some of his later difficulties.
The first thing Booker learned to read was a number. Every salt packer was assigned a number to mark his barrels, and Wash Ferguson's was 18. At the close of every day the foreman would come around and mark that number on all of the barrels that Wash and his boys had packed, and the boy Booker not only learned to recognize that figure but to make it with his finger in the dust or with a stick in the dirt.5 He knew no other numbers, but this was the beginning of his burning desire to learn to read and write.
Education, the opportunity to learn to read and write, was an immediate and insistent demand of the freedmen everywhere. Literally millions of people felt a hunger to be initiated into the mysteries of the book and the letter. This was not a mere fad. It was a recognition that education was next to land ownership as a symbol of status and an instrument of power. The South had never been a bookish region, but book learning made the difference between the condition of whites and blacks, and the blacks recognized it. All over the South white-haired old men and nursing mothers crowded the children on the benches wherever there were schools. They crowded around any literate black youth to hear him read; they welcomed the Yankee schoolteacher no matter how pedantic. Some wanted to be able to read the Bible before they died; others believed that if they could read and understand the ledger book at the crossroads store they would get a more honest reckoning. Above all, they sought education for their children, for were not the children the seed corn of civilization?
Malden, as a river town in a border state, a place of black mobility, soon felt the quickening of educational enthusiasm. None of the slaves back in Hale's Ford could read, nor could any of the free blacks of Malden, even Lewis Rice, the Baptist preacher. But one day in Tinkersville Booker saw a large crowd gathered around a young Negro to hear him read the newspaper. The man was from Ohio, where the Black Laws before the Civil War had denied public schools to Negroes but allowed them to attend private schools if they could afford them. Booker was consumed by envy. He said to himself that if he could ever reach the point of reading as this man was doing, the acme of his ambition would be reached.6 Every day on the way home from the salt works, he paused with the others to hear the Ohioan read the news aloud.
An "intense longing to learn to read" was among Booker's earliest memories and he induced his mother somehow to secure for him a spelling book. One might assume that Wash Ferguson took money for it grudgingly out of his thin pocketbook, for even the additional labor of his stepsons barely paid the cost of their support. Packing was the least skilled and poorest paid of all the jobs in the salt works. It seems more likely, however, that Jane herself earned the money. Her health had not recovered from the toil and privations of slavery, and instead of domestic service apparently she took in washing.
The alphabet was obviously the place to begin learning to read, and the boy quickly memorized it, but following the alphabet in the Webster blue-back speller were such meaningless combinations as "oh," "ba," "ca," "da." He tried every way he could think of to puzzle out their meaning without a teacher. Knowing no black person who could read and being too shy to ask any white people, he was completely baffled. His mother fully shared his ambition, but she was as totally ignorant of book learning as he.7
It was a Sunday school rather than a day school that Booker first saw the inside of. One Sunday morning as he played marbles in the main street of Malden an old Negro man passed by and spoke harshly to the boys about playing on the Sabbath when they should be in Sunday school. His explanation of the benefit they would derive so impressed Booker that he gave up his game and followed the old man. He began to attend regularly the African Zion Baptist Church in Tinkersville, as did his whole family. Elder Lewis Rice, the pastor, baptized him, and he became a "pillar of the church."8
In September 1865, about a month after the arrival of Booker and his family, an eighteen-year-old, light-skinned Ohio youth also appeared in Malden. He boarded with Elder Rice, and when it was discovered that he could read and write he was hired to conduct a school financed by what little money the poor black people of Malden could pay him. Thus began the educational career of William Davis, Booker's first teacher. Davis had been born at Columbus, Ohio, in 1846, and secured a fundamental education during his stay in Chillicothe from 1861 to 1863. According to one account, his home was a station of the Underground Railroad that helped fugitive slaves toward freedom.9 Volunteering in the Union army in 1863, he served as assistant cook with the rank of private and a pay of $7 per month. He served in an Ohio cavalry regiment stationed at the national capital and popularly known as the President's Escort, or "Lincoln's Body Guard." Severe pains of the head sent him to the hospital, where he was discovered to have a mastoid infection. The doctors lanced the sore and arranged for his discharge on June 26, 1865, a few months after the end of the war. His infection did not completely heal, and over the years that followed Davis suffered considerable pain, several lancings, and a deafness in one ear of which we may be certain his students took advantage. For several weeks after his discharge, Davis worked on a boat between Gallipolis and Charleston before his appearance in Malden. He was eighteen years old and only five feet, seven inches tall, but the black people were so eager for a teacher that they agreed to try him.10
The opening of the Tinkersville school appears to have been entirely a self-help enterprise by the poor black people of the village, without assistance from the local whites, the county or township board of education, or the newly established Freedmen's Bureau in Washington. That the school began is explained partly by the eagerness of the freedmen for book learning and the teaching talent of William Davis, but certainly a crucial factor was the leadership of the Rev. Lewis Rice, the illiterate but wise counselor whose work for education and religion earned him the name of "Father Rice" throughout the Kanawha Valley. It was Rice's own home which became the first schoolhouse of Tinkersville, his very bedroom being the classroom. He was accustomed to the inconvenience, for he had been doing it for his church meetings on Wednesday nights and Sundays. The bed was dismantled and removed to make room for three or four slab benches, hewn by hand and accommodating an average of ten persons each.11 Though a state law passed on February 25, 1865, required township boards of education to establish separate schools for colored children whenever their number exceeded thirty,12 the entire support of the Tinkersville school seems to have been borne by the parents. A similar school was established in 1865 at Chapel Hollow, a few miles away, by another Ohioan, the Rev. F. C. James.13
When the Tinkersville school opened, Booker suffered a sharp disappointment when Wash Ferguson refused to allow him to attend. The stepfather decided either that he was too poor to allow his son to live at home without working or that children had economic value in the economy of the salt furnaces. And yet, about this time the family felt able to adopt a little orphan boy, James, several years younger than Booker. James was reared as a member of the family. Booker's disappointment at missing school became keener when he looked out from the salt-packing shed and saw other children passing happily to and from the school. He dug deeper into the mysteries of his blue-back speller, and joined the night class that the enterprising Davis organized primarily for adults. Booker was tired by the time he got to school, but his desire to learn was so strong that he believed he learned more at night than more fortunate children did during the day. In his later educational career he would be a strong advocate of the night school.14
Finally, after many pleas by the boy and his mother, Ferguson allowed Booker to attend the day school if he would agree to work at the salt furnace from four to nine in the morning and return after school for two more hours of work. Getting to school on time posed quite a problem, however. With quitting time at the furnace nine o'clock and school opening also at nine a mile away in Tinkersville, Booker had no time at all to get there. After several days of tardiness, the boy solved his dilemma by setting forward by half an hour the clock which kept time for the hundred or more employees of the furnace. Being among the first to arrive each morning, he succeeded in this game of deception for sometime. This was the earliest recorded instance of the secrecy and deviousness that became part of the pattern of his mature life. Eventually the furnace boss found the time so unreliable that he locked the clock in a glass case.15
His attendance at school posed another dilemma also, with regard to his name. According to his own account, it was on his first day at school that he was confronted with the fact that simply "Booker" was an insufficient name. When asked what his last name was, or possibly what was his father's name, he blurted out "Washington" and it was so recorded. Whether this was a deliberate decision to give himself another name than that of his rather unsatisfactory stepfather or simply a confusion about the nature of first and last names by a small boy recently out of slavery is not clear. His stepfather's first name was Washington, of course, usually abbreviated to Wash. In the manuscript census of 1870, the whole family is listed as bearing the name of "Furgerson," but there are so many other errors in the return as to cast doubt on the census taker's accuracy. The head of the family was listed as Watt Furgerson, his wife as Nancy. John was described incorrectly as black and Amanda incorrectly as mulatto.16 It is not clear when Booker added "Taliaferro," pronounced "Tolliver," as his middle name. He later said that his mother informed him that she had given him that name soon after his birth.17
William Davis remained the teacher of the Tinkersville school until 1871, when he left to become principal of the graded school at Charleston. From the records of the Freedmen's Bureau it is possible to reconstruct many of the details of the school. In the summer of 1867 a large crowd of Negroes of Tinkersville and surrounding villages congregated to meet with General C. H. Howard and three other high Freedmen's Bureau officials during their tour of inspection of West Virginia educational conditions. Seven Negro schools were already in operation in the Kanawha Valley, five of them taught by Negroes from Ohio. The blacks agreed to "use their best endeavors to build houses and put the schools on a per- manent footing," and the Bureau officials promised to send a "first class man" to the region to lead the educational movement and conduct institutes for the Negro teachers.18
The Tinkersville school had only thirty pupils when the Freedmen's Bureau officials visited there, but in the fall of 1867 the number rose to seventy-nine. At that time, the Bureau sent its "first class man," a white New Yorker named Charles W. Sharp, who became principal of the graded school for freedmen in Charleston and supervisor of the smaller schools elsewhere in the valley. He journeyed to Malden to meet with the township board of education. "I presented their own interest in building now, the necessity of some better provision than the present in order to [have] good schools, the state and national policy of educating every class and condition, and met all their objections," Sharp reported confidently to the Bureau. When the board complained that they had already overextended themselves in building white schools, Sharp proposed to get subscriptions from the freedmen. The board eagerly seconded that suggestion. Sharp then visited and talked with the freedmen at Tinkersville, where he got a subscription of $110, and, elsewhere. When he made an appointment to meet the board, however, they failed to meet him. He saw them individually, made his proposition again, and finally met them officially and offered $200 from the Bureau toward each of three schoolhouses, as well as the subscriptions. The board offered endless objections, that the houses would cost more than the Bureau agent estimated, that they had no money to build this year, that rented houses would suffice, that log houses were good enough, that they must provide for white children first, that their taxes were too heavy to bear. "At Tinkersville, they thought no house was needed," reported Sharp. "I explained to them the importance of having desks, and other arrangements convenient for a school, but to no purpose." He found that even when he had persuaded individual members, they gave way to the slightest objection. He concluded that "these School Boards are mostly ignorant, coarse-minded men; and while they are disposed to keep the letter of the law, are not willing to be at the slightest inconvenience in this matter." The freedmen of the area, by contrast, he found "wide awake on the subject of schools." Sharp said that the building used for the school at Tinkersville, which with seventy-nine pupils must have been moved out of Father Rice's bedroom, "cannot be made comfortable in winter, and is in no way suited to a school, though it is better than anything the School Boards have yet provided."19
In November 1867 the Freedmen's Bureau received its first monthly school report from the Tinkersville School, signed by "Wm Davis Colered." (Sic.) He reported that it was a primary school, supported in part by the local school board and in part by the freedmen, in a building owned entirely by the freedmen. He was the only teacher and the enrollment was twenty-nine, seventeen boys and twelve girls, all of them colored. He estimated that three were still in the alphabet, sixteen could spell and read easy lessons, and about ten were "advanced readers." Although the township school board provided $40 for the month's expenses, Davis gave a pessimistic estimate of public sentiment. "General apathy prevails," he said, "where there is not decided prejudice and opposition."20 Charles Sharp agreed with Davis. "Some favor the education of the freedmen in theory," he said, "but do not choose to encounter the violent prejudice of the community, by any positive action."21
Davis's success as a teacher is indicated by his report in January 1868 that all but three of his pupils were "advanced readers." By that time the public money required by law to be furnished for four months a year had been expended, and the school continued through the tuition payments of the Negro patrons. So high was interest in the school that enrollment remained at twenty-nine. In the spring Davis separated his more advanced pupils from the others and called them the secondary school, though he remained the only teacher and presumably taught the secondary pupils simultaneously in the same room as the primary pupils. In the spring of 1868 Sharp reported that the freedmen of Tinkersville had built and owned a good schoolhouse. The white school board of Malden, on the other hand, falsified its enumeration of Negro children for 1868 in order to reduce the number and hence the public funds due for Negro schools.22
There can be little doubt that at a strategic moment in Booker Washington's growing sense of his own identity and purpose in life, William Davis provided something essential for his development. It would seem from Davis's letters and reports, with their frequent misspellings and fused sentences, that his pedagogical reach sometimes exceeded his grasp.23 To judge him by these verbal blemishes, the result of his own haphazard education, however, would be a serious mistake. The warm endorsement of Davis by the county superintendent in 1872, after he had left Tinkersville to head the Negro graded school of Charleston, is closer to an accurate estimate. After visiting Davis's school, the superintendent pronounced him "well qualified in every way" and awarded him a first grade teaching certificate. "He is mild and courteous in his manner, kind to his pupils and conscientious and earnest in the discharge of his duties," the superintendent wrote to a local newspaper. "I found good order, earnest attention, and studied obedience prevailing in his school, and his scholars have profited from his excellent teaching, pious example, and his energy and devotion to the cause of education." Washington was fortunate that his earliest formal education was under a teacher so conscientious and energetic. He looked forward eagerly to the "teacher's day" at his little cabin, when the teacher boarded for a day at the Ferguson home as he did with all of the other patrons in order to make his meager salary cover his expenses.24
At some time during his first few years at Malden, Booker Washington took another fateful step in his informal education. He left the family cabin, its smell of rotting garbage and human feces, the drunken street brawls and bawdiness of the town's low life, his inadequate stepfather and the hard and brutalizing labor that Wash Ferguson had put him to. He moved into what was probably the largest and best-appointed house in the town. He became the houseboy of General Lewis Ruffner and his wife Viola, thus following his mother's vocation of house-servant and developing an early closeness to upper-class whites that gave a class orientation to his later racial strategy.
It is not certain exactly when Washington made this change in his life or how completely he separated from his former home. Viola Ruffner recalled three decades later that "Booker Washington came to me about 1865 as servant."25 This would suggest that the boy came to her quite early, and that his time in the salt works was brief indeed. Governor William A. MacCorkle, who lived in the county and knew both the Ruffners and Washington, similarly recalled: "The reported hard times that he underwent, never really occurred. He lived a thoroughly easy life with General Ruffner."26 It seems more probable, however, that Washington took up employment in the Ruffner household in 1866 or 1867, worked there sporadically, and lived sometimes with his family and sometimes in the Ruffner house. The census taken in 1870, for example, listed Booker in the family of "Watt Ferguson."27
The Ruffners were the leading family of Malden, with the possible exception of the Shrewsburys and Dickinsons, and were the prototypes of those Southerners "of the better class" with whom Booker Washington later sought alliance. Of German-Swiss origin, the Ruffners moved into the Shenandoah Valley in the eighteenth century, discovering and owning the Luray Caverns as well as the farmland around it. They moved into the Kanawha Valley to pioneer in the salt industry, and Lewis Ruffner was the first white child born in Charleston, in 1799. Lewis Ruffner served in the Virginia legislature and engaged in other business in Louisville, Kentucky, but his chief interest throughout a long life was managing the family salt furnaces and ancillary coal mines. Lewis's brother, the Rev. Henry Ruffner, president of Washington College, spoke for western Virginia business interests rather than abolitionist sentiment in his famous "Ruffner Pamphlet" in 1847 which favored gradual abolition of slavery on the ground that the institution retarded southern industrial growth.28 Lewis Ruffner owned twenty-six slaves in 1860 and also leased others to work in his furnaces, mines, and farm operations.29 His moderate and paternalistic attitude toward slavery and Negroes is indicated by his membership in the American Colonization Society rather than any abolitionist group.30 Lewis Ruffner opposed Virginia secession, however, aided in the formation of the new state of West Virginia, served in the constitutional convention and the legislature, joined the Republican Party, and became a Union major general of militia. When Booker Washington first knew him in the postwar era, General Ruffner was in his late sixties but seemingly undiminished in vigor, active in Republican politics, busily trying to revive the dying salt industry, opening new coal mines, and farming nearly a thousand acres of land.31
At the time of Booker Washington's arrival, General Ruffner lived in a large frame house overlooking the river on the edge of Malden with his second wife and daughter. He had had a large family of children by a first wife, and soon after her death in the 1840s had sent north for a governess for the younger children. Viola Knapp, daughter of a cabinetmaker in Arlington, Vermont, took the position and soon married her employer, to the great unhappiness of his children. She was a sharp contrast to the first wife, who had been "a pretty, gentle, pious lady. . . entirely domestic in her habits." Viola Knapp Ruffner, on the other hand, was described by a member of the family as "a handsome woman of very superior mental capacity & of extensive mental acquirements."32
Despite her beauty, something of the Vermonter's granite quality was instilled in Viola Knapp Ruffner by her early life. Her parents were of small means and had seven children. She went to school near her home until she was seventeen, when she began teaching for twenty-six weeks a year for twenty-six dollars and board. Then she asked an acquaintance in Bennington, where there was an academy, if he would board her for three years and trust her to repay him when she could. He cheerfully consented, and after three years in the academy she taught in the same school for two years. The pay as before was a dollar a week, the usual pay of teachers in Vermont, while servant girls got two dollars a week. Seeing she could never pay her debts at that rate, she secured an appointment in Philadelphia but was detained six weeks by snow and ice and reached Philadelphia the same day her place had been filled by another. She had not another dollar, but obtained almost immediately a position in North Carolina and money to go there, earned $300 a year and repaid her Vermont benefactor. Moving to New Jersey, she headed the English department of a secondary school and then established a school of her own until her health broke down. It was at that point that she received news of Lewis Ruffner's search for a governess, and she accepted the position in order to recover her health for a single season with no thought of remaining. She accepted his unexpected offer of marriage.33
From the beginning the shy, introverted Vermont woman was rejected by the older Ruffner children, an outgoing, free-talking brood of country squires. Some of the children refused even to enter the house again, and Lewis's nephew William Henry Ruffner who admired Viola, said of her:
Poor Aunt Viola excites my deepest commiseration. She is a perfectly unique person -- the most sensitive person I ever saw -- far worse than Sally Wat -- & the result is that she has abandoned society & spends her life chiefly in brooding over her wounds, griefs & anxieties until she has become the very embodiment of wretchedness. To think of such a woman being married to a Ruffner! I sometimes talk her into a more genial, hopeful mood, but she falls back in a day or two, & for a day or two she scarcely comes out of her chamber.
He wondered that she was sane, or even alive, so out of harmony did she seem with all the world, so nervous and so frequently hysterical. And yet he greatly admired her strength of will, her discriminating literary taste, broad learning, and terse wit. "But after all she craves most human kindness," William Henry wrote his wife, "& yet does not know how to encourage it. So it is, that with all her superior mental endowments & all her ardent affection, she has not many friends & knows nothing of domestic happiness."34
If Mrs. Ruffner represented to the young mulatto houseboy a godsend to save him from the heavy labor of the furnaces and mines, so must he have been a godsend to her. Married to an old man almost twenty years older, far from her own childhood home, rejected by his children, her own children off to school, Ernest at West Point and Stella at a boarding school in Cincinnati, Booker Washington became the outlet for all the energy, intellectual vigor, and sense of purpose of a frustrated New England schoolmarm.
Viola Ruffner had a reputation in Tinkersville for Yankee strictness, and Booker came at the end of a long succession of houseboys who had tried unsuccessfully for two or three weeks to meet her exacting demands. But he was so anxious to escape from heavier labor that he allowed his mother or stepfather to hire him out to her for five dollars a month, all of which went into his stepfather's pocket. At first he was no exception to her disillusioning experience with houseboys. After a short while, weary of her exacting demands and angry at her badgering tone, he ran away. Going down to the Malden docks, he hired onto a steamboat running to Cincinnati, as a cabin boy. Before the boat had gone many miles, the captain discovered that the boy knew nothing about waiting on table and discharged him. But Booker was so persuasive that the steamboat captain finally agreed to let him go to Cincinnati and back to Malden. As soon as his long voyage ended, he hurried to Mrs. Ruffner, acknowledged his error, and got back his old position. "He left me half a dozen times to try his hand at different occupations," Viola Ruffner later recalled, "but he always came back to me."35
There was little on the surface to attract the youth to his job, since all of his earnings went to his parents and his employer seemed impossible to please. At first he trembled whenever he went into Mrs. Ruffner's presence, but soon he came to understand her and even agree with her, and as the years passed he even came to love and honor her as one of the great benefactors of his life. She was the first person to instill in him the puritan ethic of hard work, cleanliness and thrift on which his social philosophy was based. "I soon began to learn that, first of all, she wanted everything kept clean about her," he later recalled, "that she wanted things done promptly and systematically, and that at the bottom of everything she wanted absolute honesty and frankness."36 Every fence must be kept in repair; no dirt could be swept under a rug. Booker must have noticed the difference in smell, appearance, and feel between the Ruffner way of life on the top of the highest hill in town and the way the common white and black people lived down below. In Malden it was hard to tell black from white among the miners from Monday morning until Saturday night, and low-lying Tinkersville was no cleaner except when occasional floods of the river washed away the debris and sometimes the shacks and even large sections of the village itself built upon the mud flats. In every big rain inhabitants of Tinkersville could be seen half-swimming in mud as they carried their household goods to higher ground.37
Washington learned so well the New England message of cleanliness and good order that for the rest of his life he could never see bits of paper strewn in a house or in the street without wanting to pick them up at once. He could never see a yard cluttered with trash without a restless urge to clean it, a paling off a fence without wanting to hammer it back on, a button off or a grease spot on clothes without wanting to attend to it. Years later while on a speaking tour through Vermont, he stopped in front of the little house in Arlington where Viola Knapp was born, took off his hat and bowed his head in silence. "For me it is a shrine," he explained to the person who had driven him there from his speaking engagement in a nearby town.38
A remarkable bond of affection and trust grew up between the gentle-spoken black boy and the sharp-tongued white woman. The lonely woman even may have made a confidant of the boy and poured out to him all of her loneliness and bitterness, but it is more probable that the sensitive youth simply silently recognized the signs. At some point, he moved from his nearby home to live in the Ruffner home.39 Mrs. Ruffner later remembered that, "as there was little for him to do, he had much spare time which I proposed he should use by learning to read, which he readily accepted. I would help and direct, and he was more than willing to follow direction. He was always willing to quit play for study. He never needed correction or the word `Hurry!' or `Come!' for he was always ready for his book."40 Besides her informal schooling, she offered to allow Booker, if he worked faithfully in the morning, to attend William Davis's school again for a few hours every afternoon.41 Years later Davis loved to tell his Negro friends what a diligent pupil Booker had been.42
The boy did what studying he could during the day, but much of it was done at night, either all by himself or with some other pupil whom he could hire for a few cents a night to teach him what he had missed during the day. "I used to sit up nearly all night burning dear old Mrs. Ruffner's oil," he later recollected. She also encouraged him to acquire a library. He knocked one side out of a dry-goods box, put in shelves, and filled it with every book he could get his hands on. Most of the books came from Mrs. Ruffner. But the most important lessons he learned from her were the informal ones. She had "all the New England ideas about order, cleanliness and truth." And she also offered him a basis for pride and hope. From her he learned "that the difference in social conditions is "principally the result of intelligent energy."43 If a white girl in poverty-stricken Vermont could make her way through "intelligent energy," then so could a black boy in West Virginia.
The youth also learned other things that were perhaps part of the experience of most people in the small towns of America in the nineteenth century, but he surely learned them better and more completely under such a taskmaster as Mrs. Ruffner. She was fond of raising vegetables and grapes, and with characteristic energy she grew more than her own small household could eat, particularly when Ernest and Stella were away at school. Booker not only helped her to cultivate a garden big enough to be called a truck farm, but he was also entrusted with the selling of the vegetables and fruit, and she was too much of a recluse and too much of a lady to hawk her own produce. Filling the boy with the determination to make the farm pay, she sent him off every morning before daylight on a farm wagon to cover the villages and houses between Malden and Charleston, eight miles away. In the narrow Kanawha Valley, settlement was almost continuous along the road into Charleston. The youth went to the homes of the miners and boatmen who were too busy or improvident to raise their own produce, and, as he later recalled, "among the competing neighbors our energy caused consternation and our profits amazement."44 Booker later wondered if Mrs. Ruffner had completely trusted him at first to be honest with the money he collected, but he responded to the challenge in true Horatio Alger fashion. As the cash he brought home steadily mounted, her confidence in him grew proportionally, until she was willing to trust him with anything she owned. He always brought back every cent and also showed her how much of the produce he had had to bring back unsold.
One day, while Booker was hawking his produce, a grown man of his acquaintance, perhaps presuming on their common darkness of skin, walked up and took from his peach basket the largest of all the peaches, the show peach, whose best side was turned up at the top of the basket. To the man's great surprise, the boy stood up to him. If the peaches had been his he would have given the man one, he said, but under no circumstances could he give away what others had entrusted to his care. Neither the man's bluster nor his plea that the peach would never be missed could shake Booker from his duty. He had begun to internalize the morality that Father Rice preached every Sunday and that Mrs. Ruffner taught him by example. But all along his route he was hounded by the threats and entreaties of larger boys who sought to take from him what he had been assigned to sell. He could not later recall a single instance when he had yielded.45
Mrs. Ruffner must have recognized in Booker a very unusual houseboy, and she herself was a rare sort of mistress. Behind his eagerness to please her burned an ambition to escape the toil and poor rewards of the miners and salt packers and to live a life of his own more like that of the Ruffners. He was tractable, but he was also restless. As Mrs. Ruffner later recalled him:
There was nothing peculiar in his habits, except that he was always in his place and never known to do anything out of the way, which I think has been his course all thru life. His conduct has always been without fault, and what more can you wish? He seemed peculiarly determined to emerge from his obscurity. He was ever restless, uneasy, as if knowing that contentment would mean inaction. `Am I getting on?' -- that was his principal question.46
While he lived with the Ruffners, Booker Washington witnessed a riot that dramatized the struggles of race and class with which he would have to live for the remainder of his life. Even in that border community there were night riders, white men with masks, who began to meet up the hollows in the night and called themselves Gideon's Band or the Ku Klux Klan. They brought the beast of unreason into the "peaceable kingdom" of Malden. Violence between the Gideons and the Negroes began on December 4, 1869, payday Saturday, when a white man and a black man fell out and fought in the dusty street of Malden. When the black man "came out first best," the white man was so humiliated that he swore a hard oath and the black man swore out a peace warrant. The Ku KIuxers, who were cronies of the beaten white man, openly threatened that no Negro would be allowed to testify in the assault case before the justice of the peace, a local salt-furnace owner named William D. Shrewsbury. They even went so far as to boast that the Negro plaintiff, Tom Preston, would not be allowed in town on the day of trial.
The Negro residents of Tinkersville and Ruffner's Furnace made plans to join with those in the town of Malden to assure Tom Preston a fair trial of his case. Meanwhile, the Ku Klux Klan was making its own plans up George's Creek hollow the night before the trial. What actually transpired at the meeting is unclear, because the Gideons refused to answer questions at a later grand jury investigation on the ground that their oath to the secret order forbade them to "reveal matters talked of in the Order." They refused to say whether there had been any talk of threats or violence "against the niggers at Tinkersville."47
The next morning ten Negroes armed with revolvers surrounded Tom Preston as he walked from Tinkersville into Malden. Six white men, friends of the defendant John Fewell, ordered the black men to leave town. A fight immediately broke out when John Sneed, a white man, emphasized the point by knocking a Negro down with a brick. After a brief round of gunfire, the Negroes retreated a short distance to George's Creek bridge. There they met General Ruffner running out of Ruffner's Lane into the main road, with Booker Washington behind him. The General had heard the opening shots of the melee from his house. Finding a growing crowd of Negroes at his coal bank, he shouted "put down that revolver you scoundrel," and was obeyed. He moved on, with the Negroes behind him, to restore the peace. According to one report, later denied by the General's son, he told the Negroes "that they should not leave the place in that manner but to return with him and he would see that they should have a fair trial."
Meeting the white men congregated at Daddow's Foundry, General Ruffner began to expostulate with them and "was struck by a `brick bat' while thus trying to quiet the minds of the white men." The brick hit the General in the back of the head and removed him from command. He fell to the ground unconscious, and the battle resumed. In a round of revolver fire, a white man was wounded in the arm and another in the thigh. Both sides, however, soon exhausted the loads in their revolvers. They turned to the poor people's ammunition, and went at each other with bricks, rocks, and clubs. Meanwhile, the General's son David and R. A. Coleman dragged the old man, seemingly lifeless, from the battleground. He lay for days in a critical condition, and never completely recovered from the effects of the blow.48 The Negro youth Booker T. Washington took in the whole scene and carried the memory of it through the rest of his life. "It seemed to me as I watched this struggle between members of the two races," he later recalled, "that there was no hope for our people in this country."49 The danger of a black man transgressing the racial codes of the whites was certainly one of the lessons of this incident. But another lesson was a class one, that the white paternalist was the black man's only friend, albeit never a perfect one and in this case an ineffectual one.
The Klansmen's role in the Malden area continued to be unheroic. None of the Negroes were wounded at Daddow's Foundry, and after the wounding of General Ruffner they retreated in good order. That night some two hundred armed night riders entered Tinkersville in search of the Negroes involved in the fight but found none of them. A few nights later, they sent a written warning to leave town "or their lives would be taken at first sight." Whether any Negroes actually obeyed the order is not clear. What is clear, as a grand jury reported some three months later, is that there existed in the county a secret order, members of which were bound together by solemn oaths. Its object was "to deprive the black race in our midst, of the rights now guaranteed to them by law, and by discrimination against them, in point of labor, and by depriving them of the protection of the laws and other acts of oppression, to render it impossible for this class of citizens to longer live among us in peace and safety." At a Klan meeting they put the matter more succinctly. "To clean out and finish up the niggers at Tinkersville" was, according to a witness, the whole agenda of the meeting.50 Reputedly under the leadership of a Malden physician, Dr. John Parks, as Grand Cyclops, the Klan was probably more a political instrument of partisan Democrats than a factor in economic competition. They ironically styled themselves the "Board of Education." It is impossible to tell from reading the partisan newspapers of the time how large the Klan was, how much terrorism it practiced, or its relationship to the Democratic Party machinery. It was plain enough, however, as a Republican editor put it, that "their objects are to make things so hot among the darkies that they will have to leave the place, and in doing this, every one that is compelled to leave makes a half a vote for the Democratic Party."51
The patronage of the Ruffners was of crucial importance in Booker T. Washington's early life. As the twig was bent, so grew the tree. There were many other influences also, however, among the black and white people of Malden. Either before he went to the Ruffners or during one of his several flights from Mrs. Ruffner's employ, he worked in a coal mine about half a mile up Campbell's Creek from Malden, on the east side of the stream.52 It was a drift mine rather than a shaft mine, as were all of those in West Virginia. That is, it entered the side of the mountain at a "drift mouth" where there was an outcropping coal seam, and tunneled through the sedimentary layer of coal in a more or less horizontal path. Off from the main and subsidiary tunnels or the mine were the many "rooms" or compartments where the miners set explosive charges against the coal face, blasted the coal loose, and shoveled it into the mine carts.
Booker dreaded and detested work in the mines. One reason was that, under Mrs. Ruffner's guidance, he had come to value cleanliness, and coal mining was the dirtiest job in the world. It was so hard to get one's skin clean again after the day's work was over that many miners did not bother until Saturday night. Booker also disliked the darkness everywhere underground, the long trip of more than a mile from the drift mouth to the coal face, the danger of getting lost among the many tunnels and rooms, the occasional dousing of his mine lamp in that day before electricity, and the danger of premature explosions while shooting the coal and of being crushed by falling slate. He had to give up his schooling temporarily, but he took his book into the coal mine and read it during spare minutes by the light of the mine lamp on his cap. Though he sometimes envied those above ground who could stand upright all day and who could seize the educational opportunities denied to the coal miner, Booker's ambition had been kindled by the contact with the Ruffners and lighted his way through the work in the mines that might have been physically and mentally stunting under other circumstances. He sometimes dreamed of what it would be to become a congressman, governor, bishop or even president, or at least a lawyer like Romeo H. Freer, the handsome, friendly young Radical Republican orator of Charleston who, though white, frequently came to Tinkersville to speak of human brotherhood and equality. It was also while he was in the mines that Booker first heard of Hampton Institute in Virginia. He heard two grown miners talking of it, and crept closer to listen. It was his first knowledge of any school for Negroes more substantial than the little school in Tinkersville. He learned that poor boys and girls could work for their board if they did not have the money to pay for it.53 This interest in Hampton was further whetted by Henry C. Payne, a graduate of Hampton who came to take William Davis's place at the Tinkersville school when the latter moved to Charleston in 1871.54 Meanwhile, however, the boy helped the adult miners load the coal and led the mules and their train of mine cars in and out of the mine. The mule drivers cracked their whips as they passed through what they called "Ruffner Gate" into the daylight, where in good weather always sat a crippled black ex-miner, "Uncle" Billy De Haven, with his stiff leg and spear-pointed walking stick.55
Though Washington returned to live with the Ruffners, Malden was not so large a place that he was cut off from his family. He even kept in touch with his Aunt Sophie from the old Burroughs farm, Jane's sister, who had moved from Franklin County to the little coal town of Handley, ten or fifteen miles up the Kanawha on the south side. She married a man named Agee, worked as a midwife, and had a daughter, Booker's Cousin Sallie Poe.56 Washington also kept in touch with the Negro community of Tinkersville through school and through attendance at the Rev. Rice's church. The clergyman, with his usual enterprise, had secured from General Ruffner permission to build a church on a plot of ground of the General's property. He built a single-story frame building with a high roof and sturdy hand-hewn beams. All that was in the church, including the rough but serviceable benches that served as pews for the church and seats for the scholars, was constructed by Negro carpenters of the congregation. Completed in 1866, it was the first Negro church building in the Kanawha Valley. The Rev. Rice, who had meanwhile secured a license to preach and an affiliation with the Providence Baptist Association of Ohio, named his church the African Zion Baptist Church.57
Politics seems to have been another enthusiasm of the young Booker T. Washington, from which he swung away in his early middle years as he did from organized religion, only to return to both in his years of maturity and power. It is probable that only after his return from Hampton Institute did he become clerk of the African Zion Baptist Church and of the district Baptist association to which it belonged. But even before he went off to school he began to play an active if minor part in local politics.
Looking back later on the Reconstruction period, Washington recalled that even as a youth he had had a feeling that mistakes were being made, that Negroes were being used as instruments to help white men into office and to punish the Southern whites, and that in the end it would be the Negro race that would suffer for this. Besides, the focus on political action distracted black people from the more fundamental need to strengthen themselves by industry and property accumulation. He even came to believe, as a conservative, that it would have been wiser to have made voting a privilege dependent on possession of a certain amount of education or property.58
It is evident that the Negroes of Kanawha County had a rich and varied political life, even though the elitist character of the local Republican Party meant that the offices and posts of honor were monopolized by the whites. West Virginia was among the earlier states to ratify the Fifteenth Amendment intended to guarantee the Negro vote, and in May 1870 the Negroes of the county celebrated its adoption by enough states to make it the law of the land. It was an all-day affair beginning with a march through the principal streets of Charleston behind a Negro band imported from Parkersburg, then on to Chalybeate Springs at the foot of the hills in the northeast part of Charleston, a favorite picnic spot. There were speeches in the afternoon by Romeo Freer, the handsome young Radical Republican whose flamboyant oratory later sent him to Congress and a federal judgeship; the local Republican editor George W. Atkinson, later governor; and the current governor, W. E. Stevenson. The orator of the day, however, was the Rev. W. W. DeVan, a Negro from Pennsylvania. It was a fact remarkable enough to warrant comment that, contrary to Democratic predictions, "out of the thousand or more colored people in town on that day, not a single one was intoxicated, and not a single one was arrested, for improper conduct, although the police force had been doubled for the occasion."59
Whether Washington was among the thousand at the Fifteenth Amendment Celebration, there is no doubt that he was involved at a very early age in local Republican politics. In this he was encouraged, no doubt, by the activities of William Davis and the Rev. Rice, and also by the somewhat paternalistic Republicanism of General Ruffner and of Romeo Freer, under whom he was later to study law. Whatever the reason, the first extant piece of writing by Booker T. Washington was in his capacity as secretary of a local political gathering. Written on July 13, 1872, when he was sixteen years old, it appeared eleven days later in the Republican newspaper in Charleston. At a Negro meeting at Tinkersville in behalf of the Republican Party, "On motion, H. C. Rice was called to the Chair, and Booker T. Washington was chosen Secretary." Henry B. Rice was also sixteen, the son of the Rev. Lewis Rice. This usual honor to ones so young may have been necessary, for the Rev. Rice, though a wise and energetic community organizer, was illiterate, as were most of the other adult Negroes of the community. A committee drafted three resolutions which the meeting unanimously adopted, that they would support the principles and the candidates of the Republican Party and would "not countenance or support any man who is in any way hostile to the colored people." After speeches by William Davis and other orators of both races, the meeting adjourned and its minutes were signed by Rice and Washington.60
It is impossible to know what was in the mind of the sixteen-year-old youth as he drifted off to sleep that July night almost a hundred years ago. Yet, surely the politician of high purpose, Romeo Freer, crowded in with William Davis the teacher; Lewis Rice, the minister; and General Ruffner, the man of property as images which symbolized the careers open to the ambitious young Negro. To attain distinction in any of these fields, however, he would have to have more education than the village of Malden afforded.
1. Dr. Otis K. Rice, West Virginia Institute of Technology, Montgomery, to the author, Jan. 21, 1969; Booker T. Washington (hereafter BTW), Up from Slavery (New York, 1901), Bantam ed., 17; "Sketch of the Birth and Early Childhood of Booker Tallaferio [sic] Washington," typescript, President's Office Vault, Hampton Institute.
2. BTW, Up from Slavery, Bantam ed., 18.
3. W. S. Laidley, History of Charleston and Kanawha County, West Virginia and Representative Citizens (Chicago, 1911), 47-48, 232-34; Writers Program of the Work Projects Administration, West Virginia: A Guide to the Mountain State (New York, 1941), 443-46.
4. Pass for slaves, Aug. 24, 1839, Holland Family Papers, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond; William Dickinson, William D. Shrewsbury, and John D. Lewis, appraisal of personal property of the Estate of Bowker Preston, Sept. 25, 1852, Will Book 8, p. 33, Franklin County Courthouse.
5. BTW, Up from Slavery, Bantam ed., 18.
6. BTW, Up from Slavery, Bantam ed., 19-20; BTW, The Story of My Life and Work (Naperville, Ill., 1900), 1915 ed., 23.
7. BTW, Up from Slavery, Bantam ed., 19.
8. BTW, The Story of My Life and Work, 1915 ed., 25-26.
9. Richard H. Hill, History of the First Baptist Church (Charleston, 1934), 5.
10. Service Record of William Davis, Bennett's Company, Union Light Guard, Ohio Cavalry, RG 94, National Archives; Pension Record of William Davis, Folder XC2573366, Veterans Administration, RG 15, National Archives.
11. Thomas E. Posey, The Negro Citizen of West Virginia (Institute, W. Va., 1934), 94.
12. Copy of act in Charleston West Virginia Journal, May 10, 1865.
13. Carter G. Woodson, Early Negro Education In West Virginia (Institute, W. Va., 1921), 28-29.
14. BTW, Up from Slavery, Bantam ed., 21.
15. BTW, Up from Slavery, Bantam ed., 22.
16. Census of 1870, Schedule 1, Inhabitants in Malden Township, Kanawha County, W. Va., enumerated July 21, 1870, p. 30, microfilm roll 1690, National Archives.
17. BTW, Up from Slavery, Bantam ed., 23-24.
18. John Kimball, Superintendent of Schools of the District of Columbia, Delaware, Maryland, and West Virginia, to C. H. Howard, Aug. 1, 1867, BRFAL, RG 105, National Archives.
19. Charles W. Sharp to John Kimball, Sept. 20, 1867, Box 9, BRFAL District of Columbia Superintendent of Education Reports of Sub-District, RG 105, National Archives. According to Carter G. Woodson: "About the only white person who seemed to give any encouragement to the education of Negroes at Malden was General Lewis Ruffner. It seems, however, that his interest was not sufficient to provide those facilities necessary to ease the burden of this pioneer teacher."--Early Negro Education in West Virginia, 31.
20. Teacher's Monthly School Report for the Month of November, 1867, District of Columbia Teachers School Reports, BRFAL, RG 105, National Archives.
21. C. W. Sharp, Sub-Assistant Commissioner's Monthly Report from West Virginia, Feb. 1868, BRFAL, RG 105, National Archives.
23. See, for example, Davis to John Kimball, Nov. 20, 1868, Superintendent of Education of the District of Columbia, Letters Received, BRFAL, RG 105, National Archives.
24. BTW, Up from Slavery, Bantam ed., 20. 25. Viola Ruffner to Gilson Willetts, May 29, 1899, in Willetts, "Slave Boy and Leader of His Race," New Voice, XVI (June 24, 1899), 3.
26. William A. MacCorkIe, Recollections of Fifty Years (New York, 1928), 569.
27. For some reason, the Lewis Ruffner family was omitted from the 1870 population census but appeared in that of 1880.
28. Rev. Henry Ruffner, Address to the People of West Virginia Showing That Slavery Is Injurious to the Public Welfare, and That It May Be Gradually Abolished without Detriment to the Rights and Interests of Slaveholders (Lexington, Va., 1847), 3, 9, 23-29.
29. Census of 1860, Kanawha County, West Virginia, Free Inhabitants, Reel 1356, p. 256, Slaves, Reel 1392, p. 14, National Archives.
30. He contributed fifty cents to the Society in 1829. See George W. Summers to the Rev. R. R. Gurley, July 30, 1829, Con. 17, American Colonization Society Papers, Library of Congress.
31. Census of 1870, Schedule 3: Production of Agriculture in Malden Township, Kanawha County, West Virginia, in West Virginia State Archives; Charleston West Virginia Journal, Sept. 12, 1866, May 17, 1871.
32. MS. genealogy by William H. Ruffner, and Lewis Ruffner to William H. Ruffner, Feb. 4, 1854, Ruffner Family Papers, Presbyterian Historical Foundation, Montreat, N.C.; Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Memories of Arlington, Vermont (New York, 1955), 89-90.
33. Her own account of her life, as reported in William H. Ruffner to Harriet Ruffner, Jan. 19, 1866, Ruffner Papers.
34. William H. Ruffner to Harriet Ruffner, Jan. 7, 1866, Ruffner Papers.
35. BTW, The Story of My Life and Work, 1915, ed., 27-28; Viola Ruffner to Gilson Willetts, May 29, 1899, in Willetts, "Slave Boy and Leader of His Race," 3.
36. BTW, Up from Slavery, Bantam ed., 30.
37. William H. Ruffner to Harriet Ruffner, Dec. 23, 1865, Ruffner Papers; Ernest Rice McKinney to the author, July 5, 1969.
38. Fisher, Memories of Arlington, Vermont, 90.
39. BTW to Walter L. Cohen, Feb. 23, 1907, Con. 35, BTW Papers LC.
40. Viola Ruffner to Gilson Willetts, May 29, 1899, in Willetts, "Slave Boy and Leader of His Race," 3.
41. BTW, The Story of My Life and Work, 1915 ed., 28; cf. BTW, Up from Slavery, Bantam, ed., 31.
42. Byrd Prillerman, "Booker T. Washington among his West Virginia Neighbors," National Magazine, XVII (Dec. 1902), 353.
43. BTW, quoted in Willetts, "Slave Boy and Leader of His Race," 3.
45. BTW, The Story of My Life and Work, 1915 ed., 28-30.
46. Letter in Willetts, "Slave Boy and Leader of His Race," 3.
47. Transcript of grand jury examination of James F. Donally, in Charleston West Virginia Journal, Mar. 30, 1870.
48. Charleston West Virginia Journal, Dec. 15, 22, 1869.
49. BTW, Up from Slavery, Bantam ed., 54.
50. Report of the grand jury investigation, Mar. 24, 1870, in Charleston West Virginia Journal, Mar. 30, 1870.
51. Ibid., Apr. 6, 1870.
52. Charles Carpenter, "Booker T. Washington and West Virginia," West Virginia Review, XIV (July 1937), 345.
53. BTW, Up from Slavery, Bantam ed., 26-29; BTW, The Story of My Life and Work, 1915 ed., 26-27, 31-32.
54. Payne, born in 1847 in Kanawha County, was a member of Hampton's first graduating class in 1871. He later became a teacher in Charleston, an inventor, and owner of city real estate. Helen W. Ludlow, ed., Twenty-Two Years' Work of Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute (Hampton, 1893), 26.
55. William T. McKinney to BTW, Sept. 11, 1911, Con. 429, BTW Papers LC.
56. Sophie Agee to BTW, June 7, 1897 (Con. 124), Sallie Poe to BTW, Oct. 27, 1899 (Conn. 163), BTW Papers LC.
57. Hill, History of the First Baptist Church, 5-7.
58. BTW, Up from Slavery, Bantam ed., 58-59.
59. Charleston West Virginia Journal, Apr. 20, May 18, 1870.
60. Charleston West Virginia Journal, July 24, 1872.
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