Black Abolitionists: John Price Rescue

0 Posted by - September 27, 2018 - LATEST POSTS

By Lestey Gist, The Gist of Freedom

Click and Listen to The Gist of Freedom as host,Preston Washington welcomes Kimberly Simmonsdescendant of The Militant Abolitionist Lewis Leary, (John Brown Raider and The “John Price Rescue”). Kimberly will share stories of her family legacy in social activism, from Lewis Leary and The Underground Railroad Movement – Langston Hughes and The Harlem Renaissance.

www.blackhistoryBLOG.com 8pm ET Sunday

Kimberly’s relatives: Two John Brown Heroes, Lewis Leary and John Copeland; Hiram Revels, (first African American United States Senator, filled the seat left vacant by the Confederacy President Jefferson Davis) two Revolutionary soldiers and the famous Poet, Langston Hughes
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“John Price Rescue
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Oberlin, Ohio a free border state Oberlin was a magnet for Kentucky Bounty Hunters, who ranged across Ohio in search of successful black escapees.

As word of a kidnapping spread, a crowd of outraged Oberliners gathered in the town square. At least a hundred of them—both white and black—soon started off on the ten-mile trip to Wellington, traveling on horseback, in wagons, and on foot. The crowd of students, teachers, ministers, and townsfolk rushed headlong toward Wellington without coordination and without pausing to create any sort of organization.

After only a few minutes, the abolitionists burst through the door and knocked several of the slave hunters to the ground. Although some of the rescuers were armed, not a shot was fired. Instead, they lifted John Price onto their shoulders and carried him downstairs and into the public square. Cheering in victory, the rescuers hurriedly threw Price into the back of a waiting wagon— Price was back in Oberlin. The freed slave was hidden for a few days in the home of a senior professor, and then he was taken surreptitiously to Canada.
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Oberlin, Ohio a free border state Oberlin was a magnet for escaping black men and Kentucky slavehunters, who ranged across Ohio in search for refuge and runaways respectively. It was therefore hardly surprising when, in the early spring of 1856, a black stranger named John Price showed up in Oberlin.

Nearly starving and wearing ragged clothes, and speaking with an unmistakable Kentucky accent, there was little question that Price was a fugitive. But the people of Oberlin did not care.

Price was entered on the town records as a “poor stranger,” and granted a stipend of $1.25 per week until he could find work. The payment to Price was authorized by the village clerk, John Mercer Langston, a free black man, born in Virginia.

A graduate of Oberlin College, Langston was one of the first black lawyers in Ohio, and one of the first black public officials anywhere in the United States. Charles Langston, John Mercer’s older brother who was also an Oberlin graduate, would soon play the central role in the last great fugitive slave trial before the Civil War.

Price was one day recognized by a slavehunter.

The slaver with a The small posse arrived back in Oberlin on September 11, with only one step remaining in their plan. They needed some way to lure John Price out of town, so that he could be captured without risk of interference from abolitionist Oberliners. They were referred to a local farmer named Lewis Boynton whose twelve year old son—named Shakespeare—turned out to be willing and available to act as a decoy in exchange for a $10 payoff.

Price and the decoy had only driven about a mile out of town when they were met by a buggy carrying the bounty hunters. The three slavecatchers quickly overpowered John Price, forcing him at gunpoint from the farm wagon into their own buggy.

As word of the kidnapping spread, a crowd of outraged Oberliners gathered in the town square. At least a hundred of them—both white and black—soon started off on the ten-mile trip to Wellington, traveling on horseback, in wagons, and on foot. The crowd of students, teachers, ministers, and townsfolk rushed headlong toward Wellington without coordination and without pausing to create any sort of organization.

After only a few minutes hesitation, the abolitionists burst through the door and knocked several of the slavehunters to the ground. Although some of the rescuers were armed, not a shot was fired. Instead, they lifted John Price onto their shoulders and carried him downstairs and into the public square. Cheering in victory, the rescuers hurriedly threw Price into the back of a waiting wagon—driven by an Oberlin bookseller named Simeon Bushnell. In little more than an hour, Price was back in Oberlin. The freed slave was hidden for a few days in the home of a senior professor, and then he was taken surreptitiously to Canada. Nothing more was ever heard from John Price, but John Mercer Langston later expressed confidence that “John Price [now] reposes under his own vine and fig tree with no one to molest him or make him afraid.”

A graduate of Oberlin College, Langston was one of the first black lawyers in Ohio, and one of the first black public officials anywhere in the United States. Charles Langston, John Mercer’s older brother who was also an Oberlin graduate, would soon play the central role in the last great fugitive slave trial before the Civil War. Some of the rescuers were armed, including forty-one-year-old Charles Langston who carried a loaded pistol in his waistband.
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Kimberly

“As a member of the Langston / Quarles family, these stories, (“John Brown’s Raid with Five Black Vigilantes)
are not lost to us.

The family’s involvement in Freedom from Virginia to Oberlin to Detroit to Canada are weaved throughout our heritage. Lewis Leary married to Mary DID NOT die at Harper’s Ferry. He lived long enough after the Harper’s Ferry raid (10 days) having been shot in the back trying to escape by swimming the Shenandoah River to write a letter explaining to his wife why he would not be returning to her. As a Langston cousin, Leary was recruited by John Mercer and Charles Langston for their personal friend, John Brown as a member of his “Army”. Mary Leary later became Mary Leary Langston, wife of Charles Langston, Wellington “Jerry Rescue” hero and Oberlin Society member. Mary Leary is the sis in law of John Mercer, Gideon, and Maria Langston.

Her grandson, Langston Hughes wrote proudly of her presence as the only living widow of the Raid on Harper’s Ferry at the dedication / commemoration ceremony years later. My cousin Langston’s poetry as it is written is a lyrical tribute to our family story in many ways.

The Langston children were born to Ralph Quarles, Virginia planter and his emancipated slave, Mary Langston. They lived openly as man and wife (common~law) and had the 4 children. At the time of Quarles death, the children inherited~ according to his will~ everything, but as they were born of a black mother the inheritance would not have stood the courts and the children were deemed in danger by family friends and sent to Ohio for safety.

This is where Oberlin becomes a significant part of the family legacy. My 5Great Grandfather, was Robert Quarles ~ Ralph Quarles’ brother and another Virginia planter. Ralph and Robert as Virginia Revolutionary Militia members and sons / nephews of brothers, John and James Quarles who mustered into the war at Valley Forge with General George Washington separated with my 5GGrandfather Robert leaving VA. and siblings

………..to settle in St.Louis by LAND GRANT after the Revolutionary War.

My 3Great Grandmother, Caroline Quarles(Quarlls) was born in the Quarles family home in St. Louis at Sixth & Pine Streets in 1826 to the son of the house, Robert Pryor Quarles and an enslaved young woman” named Maria, my 4GGrandmother. Caroline Quarles(Quarlls) became a freedom seeker on the Underground Railroad on July 4, 1842 and escaped to Sandwich(Windsor)Canada through Detroit. The Leary / Langston /Quarles legacy has ties to Oberlin thru to Chatham, Ontario where in May 1858 the Chatham Convention was held.

Source: https://www.facebook.com/lesley.Gist/media_set?set=a.4273972932933.2152976.1394470264&type=3&pnref=story&__mref=message_bubble

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