Location: Stafford Ohio

Slave Narrative of Sarah Woods Burke

Interviewer: James Immel Person Interviewed: Sarah Woods Burke Location: Washington County, Ohio Place of Birth: Grayson County, West Virginia Age: 85 “Yessir, I guess you all would call me an ex-slave cause I was born in Grayson County, West Virginia and on a plantation I lived for quite a spell, that is until when I was seven years old when we all moved up here to Washington county.” “My Pappy’s old Mammy was supposed to have been sold into slavery when my Pappy was one month old and some poor white people took him ter raise. We worked for them until he was a growed up man, also ’til they give him his free papers and ‘lowed him to leave the plantation and come up here to the North.” “How did we live on the plantation? Well you see it was like this we lived in a log cabin with the ground for floors and the beds were built against the walls jus’ like bunks. I ‘member that the slaves had a hard time getting food, most times they got just what was left over or whatever the slaveholder wanted to give them so at night they would slip outa their cabins on to the plantation and kill a pig, a sheep or some cattle which they would butcher in the woods and cut up. The wimmin folks would...

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Biography of Hon. George A. Steel

HON. GEORGE A. STEEL. – The subject of this sketch was born in Stafford, Ohio, on April 22, 1846. Coming to Portland in 1863, he soon received an appointment to a clerkship in the Portland postoffice. Afterwards, accepting the secretaryship of the old Oregon Iron Works, he gave such satisfaction that Ladd & Tilton offered him a situation as accountant in their bank, a position which he held for five years. In 1870 he was elected treasurer of Multnomah county, a place he filled with general approval. During the first year of his official life, he and J.K. gill purchased the book and stationery business of Harris & Holman; and for many years the firm of Gill & Steel, in spite of the rather unpromising name, won golden opinions throughout the country as one of the most thoroughly reliable in the metropolis. They increased their business by the purchase of the rival firm of Bancroft & Morse, Mr. Bancroft becoming a member of the firm. The business having reached great magnitude, Mr. Steel bought out his partners, and conducted the business himself under the name of G.A. Steel & Company. In 1872, having invested heavily in real estate, he became financially embarrassed, but with the high sense of honor characteristic of him made no assignment disadvantageous to his creditors, but met his obligations dollar for dollar. From this severe...

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Biography of George A. Steel

George A. Steel, the present Postmaster of Portland, was born in Stafford, Ohio, April 22, 1846, and is a younger brother of James Steel, whose biography appears elsewhere in this volume. At a period when most boys have only fairly began to lay the foundation for their after career, he was thrown on his own resources. The most limited opportunities were therefore afforded him in youth for acquiring even a practical education. The school of experience and self study have been the chief means of preparing him for the part he was to perform in life’s battles. At the age of sixteen he came to Portland, where he first secured employment as clerk in a commission house. In 1865 he was appointed clerk in the Portland Post office, which position he resigned to accept an appointment as secretary of the Oregon Iron Works. He afterwards secured a position in the banking house of Ladd & Tilton as accountant, and was thus employed for nearly five years. In 1870 he embarked in the wholesale and retail book and stationery business with J. K. Gill, under the firm name of Gill & Steel. This partnership was continued for some time, but finally Mr. Steel assumed sole charge of a portion of the business. In January, 1877, he was appointed Special Agent of the Post Office Department for the Northwest Coast. He...

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Biography of James Steel

James Steel, banker of Portland, was born in Woodsfield, Monroe county, Ohio, on September 20, 1834, and is a son of William and Elisabeth (Lawrie) Steel. His father was born in Scotland, but came to America when nine years of age, and was engaged in merchandising nearly all of his active life. He was a man of strong character, and every action in business and private life was governed by the most rigid adherence to a lofty conception of right and justice. He was strongly opposed to human slavery, and was very active for more than twenty years prior to the War of the Rebellion in the efforts made by leading abolitionists toward liberating the bond-men of the South by means of what at the time was termed the “underground railway scheme.” He died in Portland in 1881, after which his wife lived with the subject of this sketch until her death in 1887. The boyhood of James Steel was passed at Woodsfield and Stafford, Ohio, the family removing to the latter place in 1844. His education was limited to the common schools, and at the age of seventeen he began his business career in his father’s store. Two year’s later he entered into partnership with his father, continuing in such relations for three years. He then made a limited tour of the West, visiting Iowa and Kansas, and...

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