Location: Chester South Carolina

Biographical Sketch of Josiah Miller

Josiah Miller, a pioneer newspaper man of Lawrence and Kansas, an ardent free-soiler and public official in the formative periods of the territory and the state, was born in Chester District, South Carolina, November 12, 1828. He gradnated from the Indiana University in 1851, and from the law school at Poughkeepsie, New York, and in August, 1854, came to Kansas. As his father had been waylaid and mobbed because of his anti-slavery views, it was but natural that Josiah should be an ardent opponent of slavery, and on January 5, 1855, he began the publication of the Kansas Free State at Lawrence. A pro-slavery jury found an indictment against him for maintaining a nuisance in its publication, and on May 21, 1856, his printing office was destroyed by the territorial anthorities. In that year he made speeches in several states for John C. Fremont, the republican candidate for president, and in 1857 was elected probate judge of Douglas County. In 1861 he was a member of the first State Senate, but resigned his seat in that body to become postmaster at Lawrence. In 1863 he was appointed a paymaster in the army, with the rank of major, and in 1866 was elected a member of the Legislature. His death occurred at Lawrence on July 7, 1870, after having a leg amputated. The inscription on the monument erected to his...

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Slave Narrative of Josephine Stewart

Interviewer: W. W. Dixon Person Interviewed: Josephine Stewart Location: Blackstock, South Carolina Place of Birth: Blackstock, South Carolina Date of Birth: May, 1853 Age: 85 Phinie Stewart, as she is known in the community where she lives, is a small, black negress, who shows her age in appearance and movements. She lives with Robert Wood, a hundred yards back of the Presbyterian Church manse at Blackstock, S.C. Robert Wood married Phinie’s niece, who is now deceased. Phinie has no property, and depends entirely on the charity of Robert Wood for her support. “Does you know where de old Bell House is, about a mile de other side of Blackstock, on de Chester road? Yes? Well, dere is where I was borned, in May, 1853. “I doesn’t know who my pappy was. You know in them times folks wasn’t particular ’bout marriage licenses and de preacher tying de knot and all dat kind of thing. But I does know mammy’s name. Her name was Celie. Dese eyes of mine is dim but I can see her now, stooping over de wash tub and washing de white folks’ clothes every Monday and Tuesday. “Us belonged to Marster Charlie Bell and his lady, Miss Maggie Bell, our mistress in them slavery days. Does I ‘member who Miss Maggie was befo’ her married Marster Charlie? Sure I does. Mistress was a daughter of...

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Slave Narrative of Robert Toatley

Interviewer: W. W. Dixon Person Interviewed: Robert Toatley Location: Winnsboro, South Carolina Date of Birth: May 15, 1855 Age: 82 Robert Toatley lives with his daughter, his son, his son’s wife, and their six children, near White Oak, seven miles north of Winnsboro, S.C. Robert owns the four-room frame house and farm containing 235 acres. He has been prosperous up from slavery, until the boll weevil made its appearance on his farm and the depression came on the country at large, in 1929. He has been compelled to mortgage his home but is now coming forward again, having reduced the mortgage to a negligible balance, which he expects to liquidate with the present 1937 crop of cotton. Robert is one of the full blooded Negroes of pure African descent. His face, in repose, possesses a kind of majesty that one would expect in beholding a chief of an African tribe. “I was born on de ‘Lizabeth Mobley place. Us always called it ‘Cedar Shades’. Dere was a half mile of cedars on both sides of de road leading to de fine house dat our white folks lived in. My birthday was May 15, 1855. My mistress was a daughter of Dr. John Glover. My master married her when her was twelve years old. Her first child, Sam, got to be a doctor, and they sho’ did look lak brother...

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Slave Narrative of Benjamin Russell

Interviewer: W. W. Dixon Person Interviewed: Benjamin Russell Location: South Carolina Age: 88 Ex-Slave 88 Years “I was born fourteen miles north of Chester, S.C. the property of Mrs. Rebecca Nance. After eighty-eight years, I have a vivid recollection of her sympathy and the ideal relations she maintained with her slaves. “My father was just Baker, my mother just Mary. My father was bought out of a drove of slaves from Virginia. I have been told my mother was born on the Youngblood place. (Youngblood name of my mistress’ people in York County.) My father was a slave of a Mr. Russell and lived two or three miles from the Nance place, where mother lived. He could only visit her on a written pass. As he was religiously inclined, dutiful and faithful as a slave, my mother encouraged the relation that included a slave marriage between my father and mother. My mother in time, had a log house for herself and children. We had beds made by the plantation’s carpenter. As a boy I remember plowing from sun to sun, with an hour’s intermission for dinner, and feeding the horses. “Money? Yes, sometimes white folks and visitors would give me coppers, 3-cent pieces, and once or twice dimes. Used them to buy extra clothing for Sundays and fire crackers and candy, at Christmas. We had good food. In the...

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Slave Narrative of Jesse Williams

Interviewer: W. W. Dixon Person Interviewed: Jesse Williams Location: South Carolina Age: 83 At the end of one of the silent streets of west Chester, S.C., that prolongs itself into a road leading to the Potter’s Field and on to the County Poorhouse, sets a whitewashed frame cottage. It has two rooms, the chimney in the center providing each with a fireplace. A porch, supported by red cedar posts, fronts the road side. In this abode lives Jesse Williams with his daughter, Edna, and her six children. Edna pays the rent, and is a grenadier in the warfare of keeping the wolf from the door. “You say I looks pretty old? Well, you’s right ’bout de old part but I’s far ‘way from de pretty part. I got a hand glass in my house and when I shaves on Sunday mornin’s, I often wonders who I is. I doesn’t look lak me. My best friend couldn’t say I got much on looks, but my old dog rap his tail on de floor lak he might say so, if him could speak. “I’s been off and on dese streets of Chester for eighty-three years. I was born a slave of Marse Adam C. Walker and my old miss was Mistress Eliza, dat’s his wife. “My pappy name Henry and mammy name Maria. I can see them plowin’ in de field...

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Biography of Henry M. Darnall

Henry M. Darnall (deceased) was born in Chester District, South Carolina in 1808. His parents moved to Maury County, Tennessee, when he was four years old. When nineteen he left there and went to Obion County, and lived there and in Lake County until his death. His early education was neglected, though be inherited fine sense from his mother, and his father was well educated. When thirty years of age he was appointed captain of a company of militia; then was made colonel, and finally brigadier general. During the war he was offered the generalship of the army of Virginia, or general quarter mastership of the Southern Confederacy. Mr. Darnall’s reply to the latter was characteristic; he said that “he did not care to go into the service with a load of bacon on his shoulders” but preferred going as a soldier. He took no part in the war at all; politically was a democrat. When the question of secession came up, he was one of two men in that section of Obion County who voted for the Union. His chief occupation was farming and land speculating, in which he was very successful. In 1836 he married Virginia Wright born in Wayne County, Kentucky in 1817. Of seven children born to them two sons and two daughters are living. The oldest son was a representative of the lower house...

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