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Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood
January 24, 1861


Wheeling Intelligencer
January 23, 1861

The Fugitive Slave Lucy.—Wm. S. Goshorn, the owner of the fugitive slave girl, Lucy, recently arrested at Cleveland, Ohio, returned from that city yesterday morning, with a view we believe, of procuring evidence to refute a statement made by the girl that she had been taken into Ohio by a daughter of the claimant, with the knowledge and consent of her master.

From the Cleveland papers we glean some particulars of the arrest of the girl from which it appears that she went to Cleveland about three months ago, shortly after leaving here. A great effort was made to ascertain her whereabouts, but in vain. Recently, it is said, information was given to her master by a negro woman in Cleveland, and she was accordingly arrested on Saturday morning last, by the U.S. marshal, at the house of a Mr. Benton, and committed to jail. Judge Tilden afterwards issued a writ of habeas corpus, and when this was known, says the reports, “it was currently asserted that Lucy would be rescued by a negro force large enough to overpower the Sheriff’s posse, and spirited away before a recapture could be made. The officers were aware of this and Sheriff Craw and his deputies acted accordingly. A detachment of city police took possession of and cleared the jail yard, keeping the crowd in front of the Court House. Various rumors were prevalent, and a strict watch was kept to prevent her removal secretly. No such disposition has thus far been manifested by the authorities. The excitement was almost entirely confined to the colored population, for though there was a large number of white people on the ground, the universal sentiment was that the affair must be left to the law.

As the time approached when, it was supposed, the girl was to be taken from the jail and carried before Judge Tilden, the crown increased in size and grew more boisterous in demonstration. As the excited negroes gained new accession, however, those who were there to see the law enforced increased in number and determination. The negroes threatened boldly that the girl should never go back to Virginia alive, and some were evidently prepared for a fight.

Under these circumstances it was not deemed prudent to take the girl from jail, and the hearing therefore proceeded without her presence.

Judge Tilden asked Sheriff Craw if he had council, and the officer responded that he did not deem it necessary, after making his return upon the writ. Judge T. then said, in view of the importance of the case, he desired to take time to consider it. It was said the city of Cleveland was disloyal to the Union, but he knew it was a slander, and the forbearance exercised to day proved it. He cautioned the colored people [missing] and then announced that he should hold the case for advisement until Monday at 9 A. M.

The Judge charged the Sheriff that the prisoner was in his custody, and he should hold her.

On Monday as already reported by telegraph Judge Tilden, ordered the girl to be discharged from the custody of the Sheriff, and was taken to the U. S. Court where at last accounts she was undergoing an examination.

It will be established that the girl escaped, and was not taken away as alleged, when she will be promptly returned to her master. The Plaindealer says that “even the negroes held a meeting a meeting on Monday and resolved to obey the laws.”


Wheeling Intelligencer
January 25, 1861

Return of the Fugitive Slave, Lucy.—Last evening the U. S. Marshall, from the Northern District of Ohio, Mr. Johnson, arrived in this city, having in charge the fugitive slave, Lucy, owned by Mr. W. S. Goshorn. The Marshall was accompanied by Chas. K. Flood, Editor of the Cleveland National Democrat, and Mr. Grey, also connected with one of the Cleveland papers, and a half a dozen other gentlemen, all of whom put up at the McLure House. Mr. Goshorn speaks in high terms of praise of the efficiency of the Marshall, and is also under obligations to other officers and citizens from their activity in seeing the law enforced. There was no attempt made, even by the negroes, to rescue the girl upon her leaving Cleveland. At the town of Lima, however, on the line of the road, a large crowd of negroes, some of whom, it was said, were armed for a rescue, but although the Conductor whistled down brakes he considered it unadvisable to stop. After leaving Lima a negro and a white man, both of whom were armed, were arrested and disarmed by the Marshall, upon the suspicion that they [?] a rescue. The Cleveland gentlemen were entertained last evening at the house of Mr. Goshorn.


Wheeling Intelligencer
January 26, 1861

The Fugitive Slave Lucy.—They had some very interesting proceedings in the U. S. Court room at Cleveland, on Thursday morning, just before the surrendering of Mr. Goshorn’s slave girl, Lucy. There was a large number of people present. Judge Spaulding, counsel for the girl, in withdrawing the defence, said among other things:

“Nothing now remains that may impede the performance of your painful duty, sir, unless I be permitted to trespass a little ferther [sic] upon your indulgence and say to this assemblage ‘we are this day offering to the majesty of Constitutional law an homage that takes with it a virtual surrender of the finest feelings of our nature—the vanquishing of many of our strictest resolutions—the mortification of a freeman’s pride, and, I almost said, the contravention of a Christians duty to his God.”

Mr. Barlow, counsel for Mr. Goshorn, said, as reported in the Herald: “that the course of his friend Judge Spalding was patriotic. The right of slavery, or the Constitutionality of the fugitive slave law, is not involved here. The latter question has been decided. The duty of the Court is to give effect to the law. In justice to the claimants, I must say they are actuated by no mercenary motives. Neither do they come to wake the predjudices [sic] of the North. Virginia now stands in a commanding position, and wishes to show the Southern people that the Northern people will execute the laws, and be faithful to the Union. The citizens of Cleveland have come up to their duty manfully; no man has laid a straw in the way of the enforcement of the law, and for my friend I thank them.”

Marshal Johnson read sundry provisions of the United States laws, and said he had no alternative—he must obey them. The girl could be purchased in Wheeling, and he would give $100 for that purpose. Mr. Barlow asked permission for the elder Mr. Goshorn to speak, when that gentleman arose and said:

Language would not express express [sic] his gratitude to the citizens for his treatment. His mission was an unpleasant one, but it may be oil poured upon the waters of our nation’s troubles. I would the task of representing Virginia had fallen to better hands. The South had been looking for such a case as this. I have no office to gain, I want to save the Union. We must do it if our servants will not. We have charged the North with persuading away our servants—I hope God will forgive them. How pleasant it would be if I could come among you with this same girl as my servant, and enjoy your hospitality as I have now. He continued at some length.

Before leaving Cleveland the Messrs. goshorn [sic] sent the following card to the Cleveland Herald:

Before leaving Cleveland for home, we feel it a duty to the citizens of Cleveland, as well as to ourselves, to express our unfeigned gratitude for the uniform kindness with which we have been treated. Nothing but courtesy has been shown us by all of our citizens, who have even shielded us from the insults of your colored population—as an instance of which we will refer to an incident which occurred this morning at the breakfast table of the Weddell House. A negro waiter refused to serve us, and upon the fact being knowing to Col. Ross, the proprieter [sic] of the House, the waiter was promptly discharged, and ordered to leave the house.

We again thank you all.

Jno. Goshorn.
Wm. S. Goshorn


Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: January 1861

West Virginia Archives and History