Archive for Slavery
When the West Virginia Bill was introduced into the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, statehood supporters soon discovered that passage was improbable without adequate provisions affecting slavery.
On Tuesday, June 3, 2014, Robert Thompson will present “Wayne County: Slavery and the Civil War” in the Archives and History Library in the Culture Center in Charleston. The program will begin at 6:00 p.m. and is free and open to the public.
Slavery in western Virginia was not as widespread as it was in the Tidewater and Piedmont regions of Virginia; however, it was an economic and political factor in the most western county, Wayne. While the number—143 slaves in the 1860 U.S. Census—was not large, it was a similar amount to that of the surrounding counties of Pike and Lawrence in Kentucky and Cabell and Logan in Virginia. Thompson will share the story of the Pauley family children and their return to slavery in 1850, after they were kidnapped from Ohio and sold to William Ratcliff of Wayne County. Later, Ratcliff, as a delegate of Wayne County, was instrumental in the statehood movement that formed West Virginia.
The second part of Thompson’s presentation will examine the life and career of Milton Jameson Ferguson, a local attorney with a flourishing practice, handling chancery and other property actions. When the Civil War erupted he became a colonel of the Confederate 16th Virginia Cavalry. This unit was formed primarily of men from Wayne County and the surrounding area. Slavery and the county political leaders produced a very complex and volatile situation as Virginia became engulfed in the Civil War and West Virginia was born.
Robert Thompson has researched Wayne County and its history nearly all his life. He is a product of Wayne High School and a 2010 graduate of Marshall University, the alma mater of Milton J. Ferguson. A lifelong Wayne Countian, he currently teaches social science at Wayne High School and is on the Wayne Town Council. He has authored 10 books on the history of Wayne County including Few Among the Mountains: Slavery in Wayne County; Fear No Man: The Life of Colonel Milton Jameson Ferguson; and his latest book, Badges & Bullets: Wayne County, WV Sheriffs 1842-1942.
On June 3, the library will close at 5:00 p.m. and reopen at 5:45 p.m. for participants only. For additional information, call (304) 558-0230.
Greg Carroll presented the talk “Slavery in Virginia: 1619-1860” on Thursday, April 11, 2013, in the Archives and History Library at the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston.
Carroll addressed the development and spread of slavery from Virginia’s early years to the Civil War. He discussed how the slavery system in Virginia differed from the types of slavery practiced in South Carolina, the Caribbean, South America, and even the serfdom techniques used in Russia. Carroll explained the main aspects of slavery in economic and social terms. He also explained the contradictions that the system fostered, especially in Virginia, and how the reliance on a slave economy in the southern states split the U.S. in 1860 and brought about the Civil War.
Carroll is a graduate of Marshall University. He was a staff historian for the West Virginia Division of Culture and History’s Archives and History Section for 23 years until his retirement in October 2012. His primary focus was on Native Americans, African Americans and Civil War history.
At the August 11, 2011, Thursday night Archives and History genealogy program in the West Virginia State Archives library in Charleston, Greg Carroll made a presentation on slaves and free people of color in western Virginia. Carroll noted some of the materials available for research on African Americans in West Virginia but indicated a need to collect more information, such as oral histories.