Reminiscences written by

 

MRS. PHEBE L. MARVIN SUTLIFF IN 1906

DAUGHTER OF CAPT. JOSEPH MARVIN & TEMPERANCE MILLER, HIS WIFE

Capt. Marvin born March 25, 1772

Temperance Miller, born June 14, 1781

Married at Lyme, Conn. on Jan. 22, 1797, where they were born.

 

They were the parents of 15 children: 13 were born in Lyme, Conn.; last two born in Bazetta, Ohio.   Four children died in Conn. in childhood; one drowned in a well.  William, 6 yrs. old, had gone with older children for berries.   Getting tired, he returned to the house for water; supposed in reaching over the well curb, he fell in. When found, he had his little-cup in his hand, lying on his back in the water, April 1821.

Capt. Marvin and wife prepared to move to Ohio, he having previously been to Ohio to look for a place in the country for himself and family; buying 1,000 acres of land in Bazetta, Ohio, to divide with his sons and himself. Wagons could not be used in the woods to work with, so he put two carts together to make a wagon for the journey, with canvas top and a bed corded up in the back part of the wagon; a stand of drawers, with paper, pen, and ink for the sick daughter, Laurane to keep a journal of the journey from Conn. to Ohio. The Dr. said she would die on the way; she improved and when she reached the end of the Journey, she was able to walk and well.

Three yoke of oxen were hitched to the wagon, and things necessary for use were put in the wagon to be used on the way & farm. April 2nd, 1821, they started on their tedious journey; father, mother, 9 children, 2 hired men, a carriage with one horse for mother and baby Elizabeth, 2 years old, to ride in. Afternoons father and mother would ride ahead of the ox team, to secure a place to stop overnight. Mother would have the meal ready when the wagon and family arrived. When all would rest for the next day. Was very hard for poor mother. Father said he never heard her say once during the journey, she was tired.  They were 40 and nights on the way; this way of living was repeated every day during the 40 days.

Trumbull County

The first night they stayed in Trumbull County was in Warren, with Mr. Scott. He lived in a house, the yard near the street, now called High Street, where his two daughters now live, Misses Eliz and Olive Smith. Mr. Scott and family did all they could for their comfort through the night, and in the morning, he went to Bazetta (5 miles) through the woods with the family, the way being marked by chips cut out of the trees as a guide to the way. The road was crooked, to get around the swamps and muddy places.

After getting to the place where they were to build the frame house, they then drove on miles through the woods to an Indian log cabin.  They stayed there until the new house was built. The men slept in the wagon box, with their guns, and mother and children slept in the loft of the cabin with ladder pulled up, to protect them from the wild beasts.     

 

They stayed here until October, when they moved into their new house of 12 rooms, on the road from Warren to Bazetta, on the banks of Mosquito Creek. The men worked hard to get the house done before winter set in.  Mother would take their dinner to them, one mile through the woods on her horse, then

blow the tin horn and call them together for their dinner.  While they were eating, she would set fire to the brush heaps. Two families of Indians were living in a log hut down the creek a little way from the house. They were friendly. Mother said the poor Indians were more sinned against, than sinning. She was good to them, in giving food and clothing.

 

The winter was a long, cold one. Log pens had to be built high and strong to put the cattle and sheep in, to keep the bears and wolves from killing them. If one did get into the pen, the oxen would bellow; then the men would go out and shoot it. July 10th, 1822, I was born, and named Phebe Lord Marvin--the 14th child. All were so happy then, for the new home on the road. Trees had been cut away; fields were ready for crops; and all things looked more like living.

William Marvin, the 15th child, was born on March 26, 1824 on his father's 52nd birthday. He and I are the only living children of the 15, up to this date, November 16th, 1906, both of us in our 80's. Of the eleven children who lived to marry and have families, 4 sons and 4 daughters were teachers, professors in schools, seminaries, and colleges; one a Methodist minister; one a lawyer. 

My first remembrances when a little girl were the bears and wolves, and snakes of all kinds; the bobcat was the worst of all. The opossum was a funny one. If you hit him, he would roll over and pretend to be dead. Get out of sight and he would jump up and run off. These two animals used to kill the chickens. The deer we liked because the little fauns were so pretty. We did want to put our hands on them and pat them. The buck deer was a bad one. He would fight with his big horns. One was killed on father's farm. Father kept the skull, with horns attached, from that one. When I was married, he gave it to me, killed the year I was born--1822.   I have it yet. The hair is off the skull, but the horns are still attached, measuring 3 feet from skull to the tips of the horns.

We were taught not to run if we saw a bear, unless we were near the house, for they would run after us and catch us. We had a dog named "Watch". He was a big fella, brought from old Connecticut. When I got old enough to go to school, he would go with us as a protection from the wild beasts. Sometimes my father would harness him to a sled, and he would draw me the two miles to school. Then I would unhitch him from the sled and tell him to go home. He would go, but at 3:00 Mother would tell him to go for the children, and he would come, barking when he got there, to let us know he had come for us.

 

My brother, Ezra Marvin, married Lucinda Hale of Vermont.  His was the only house between my father's and the schoolhouse, one mile away. They had three children, one daughter, and two sons (all Teachers). My brother and I, and their three children sometimes were the only ones at school. Then they called it the Marvin School. His youngest son, David, is still living on the farm father gave to his father, Ezra Marvin. David is 80 years old at this date, 1906.

Ride to Warren

The parents who sent children to school, had to pay for each child. No such thing as public monies for school purposes. Brother Matthew Marvin married Sarah Lord from Lyme, Conn. on May 24, 1822. He taught school winters for several years. Sisters Laurane, Mary Ann, and Matilda taught us children during their vacations from their teaching. In that way the three younger children got good educations.

When I was 8 years old, my mother wanted a corn broom. It was at harvest time; father could not spare a boy to go five miles to Warren for a broom. (The Indians had made mother splinter Brooms.)  I asked father if I might go, as I could ride a horse as well as the boys. He said I might, but I must not get off the horse, going or coming, as the woods were full of wild animals. I told him I would not get off the horse, and I started on the five-mile ride.

When I got to a place called Mud Run, where big logs had been rolled in, so people could drive over the mud and water, I saw a little black dog sitting on the bridge. I rode as fast as I could to the store, thinking all the way that I did not think father would mind if I got off the horse, and got the little bright-eyed dog, for our old Connecticut dog was so old and cross. I wanted this dog, for I did not like Watch. Mr. Smith told father I was in such a hurry, that after he tied the broom to the saddle, I started as fast as I could for home. My little dog was gone; I had to whip the horse to get him by the bridge. 

            

When I got home, my father saw that I was troubled about something. He put his hand on my shoulder and said, "Did my little girl mind her papa and not get off the horse?" I told him I wanted to. He asked, "What for?" I told him I saw such· a pretty black dog with such bright eyes that I wanted it, because old Watch was so cross, I did not like him. My father put his hand on my shoulder and said, "That was not a little dog, but a little cub bear, and its mother was in the bushes watching her cub. That was why the horse was afraid, for she saw the mother bear in the bushes watching you." If I had gotten off the horse, she would. have eaten me up, and then father would not have had any little girl to come home to mama and papa.    I had a long cry about it.   As it was the custom of my mother to pray with her little children when she put them to bed, as she knelt beside the bed, with my hand in hers; she prayed, thanking the Lord, that he had taken the little cub away that I should not disobey my earthly father, and that my Heavenly Father should bring her little girl safely back to the parental home. Although so young, my mother's prayer made a great impression on my mind; that children are the safest when they have minded their parents.   How much sorrow it would save.

When our neighbor went back to Vermont to get his money to pay for his farm, sister Mary Ann went to stay with. His wife in an Indian cabin down the creek, and through the woods. He came back sooner than expected. Mary Ann started home just at dark. We children were playing with our corn cobs, building houses and Indian huts, and all other things we could think of, or use the cobs for. Father would read aloud to us all, and mother would sew or knit. Sometimes father's foot would slip, and all our houses would go; then we would have a laugh. Right in the midst of our sport, father stopped reading and said, "Hark!". We all sat still to see what had happened. Father said, “Mary Ann is coming home, and the wolves are on her track." We all sat very still. Mother dropped her knitting, and father jumped to his feet, took a torch of hickory bark that he always kept for use when needed, set one on fire, took a second one for Mary Ann. He met her coming on the run, with the wolf after her. He gave her the lighted one; set fire to his, putting her in front of him, both ran. The wolves came so close they could see their eyes. No word was spoken after father went out, until he opened the door and put her in the house. Then my mother said, "Bless the Lord, my child. You are safe home, again home."  The wolves were sneaky animals; never saw where or when they were, until they let up a howl.

The little deer were so pretty. We loved them. Their meat was so good.  When the Indians killed one, they "Would bend down a small tree that the bears could not climb and tie the meat to the top; then let the tree fly back in place. They called it "jerk", we thought, because the tree jerked it higher than the bears could reach.

Church

As the nearest church was in Warren, five miles from our home, We went there. There was only one house on the way to the Presbyterian Church. The roads were so bad. Sometimes when muddy, we children had to take off our shoes and stockings and get through the mud as best we could, for it was all the horse could do to draw the buggy with mother in it through the mud. Then we would wash our feet and put on our stockings and shoes and go to Church. We took our dinners with us, as there were morning and afternoon services, and Sunday School at noon, after we had eaten our lunches. Very few people lived in Warren then. People came to Church from Bazetta, Howland, Champion, Lordstown, Weathersfield, Braceville. We all had such nice times eating our dinners together. Sometimes it was passed around. We children liked that way of doing. There was a big fireplace in the Church, but no stoves. In winter, people had to carry foot stoves, with a basin of live coals in to warm our feet with. Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Dr. John Harmon used to fill the foot stoves, for the people from out of town. Dr. Harmon used to tease me and tell me that I did not want any fire in my foot stove, that I just came in to see his pony. He teased me so much that I used to cry. Mother would say he did not mean to make me feel badly. He was a good doctor, and I must like him. His wife was so good and kind and was sorry we had to come so far to Church.

My father and mother held their memberships in the Warren Presbyterian Church during their natural lives. It is very dear to me to this day. It was hard for us, living so far away from church. There were no evening meetings; people could not come from the towns about. Sometimes father and mother would ride in on horseback, with a child behind the saddle. After a while, missionary meeting was held in Bazetta, and we attended.

We never were late to Church in Warren. We were always up earlier on Sundays than any other day, so as not to be late.  Mrs. Kinsman and Mrs. Rudge King were my Sunday School teachers. Sometimes they would take me home with them Sunday noons, as they lived just across the street from the Church.

After Bazetta was more settled, they had an old double log meeting house this side of Bracer's Burgh (now called Cortland) where the old cemetery is now. When an Evangelist, or an itinerant Methodist preacher would come to preach there, or in a new barn, people would take a potato and two tallow candles, cut the potato in half with a hole cut in for the candles. These were set on board tables, to give light in the room. Earlier they used melted bear's grease in a dish, with a button tied in a rag and set lighted in the grease. That would give light to see to work by.

Farm Life

 

When men went out to work, they took their guns with them as a protection from the wild beasts. It was nothing strange for a bear to go through the yard and carry off a pig. There was plenty of game for meat. Beside the bear, deer, turkeys, quails, ducks, wild geese, fish, squirrels were in abundance.  All kinds of berries that were good to eat, and nuts; black walnuts, butternuts, hickory nuts, chestnuts, hazel nuts, beechnuts, huckleberries, Juneberries, blackberries, raspberries, winter green berries, wild strawberries, wild cherries, grapes, and the wild onions that grow on the banks of the creek; spearmint, peppermint, catnip, Tansy, maple sugar and syrup were the staple meats. People were more healthy than now. The Indians would tell us what we might eat, and what was poisonous. When they vent away, they gave us the stone they used to crack their corn with for hominy. It is as large as a man's head. We kept it to crack nuts on. I have it now. They made baskets for us little girls. We were good to them, and they were good to us. 

                                           

The wild geese would come north in the spring.  For several years they built their nests in the brush near the creek, lay their eggs, hatch them, and if not killed, go south with their little flocks. In the winter, the hunters would come from town on hunting trips. Sometimes they would get lost. Then they would go up a tree and hallo, calling for someone to guide them in. Father would answer them. If it was in the night, he would take his lighted torch and go out tracing their call. He would bring them out of the woods to his home, where they were cared for until they returned to town.

Our schoolhouses had boards put around the wall of the room. There were plank benches with wooden legs for us to sit on. When we wanted to write, we had to turn around with our backs to the teacher. Some teachers were good; some were cross. When the little children who had come a long way to school, and were tired, would go to sleep, the good kind teachers would put a coat under the child's head, and let him sleep. The cross teacher would whip the poor tired sleepy child who had walked so far to school. When school was out, we would run fast as we could to get home before dark. When the dog was with us, we felt safer. When we got on the top of the hill across the creek, we could see our mother looking for us. If it was getting dark, she would have a candle in the window to let us know she was waiting for her little ones to come home. She would have a nice warm supper for us, for we would be real hungry, having a lunch for dinner. We were happy then, to feel we were safe at home, with our dear, good mother, where the wild beasts could do us no harm. We younger children were taught at home some, and that made it not so hard for us at school.

When I was fourteen, I went alone by stage to Rushville, Ohio to Sister Laurane's School for Young Ladies.  (She was the sick sister that came from Conn. to Ohio).It was the first time I had been away from my mother; I was so homesick to see my dear good mother that I only stayed one year. I was so happy to get back; home never seemed so dear to me as then. What is home without a mother to the child? 

 

My mother was always full of love and sympathy for her family. She never scolded us.   When we were naughty, she would take us to her room and pray with us, asking God to make us good children, and obedient.

We children had our part of the work to do to help our mother. I would stand on a stool and wash dishes, while the older girls would do other work. Mother taught her girls to spin the yarn to make cloth for shirts and clothing. We had to help knit our stockings and sew our garments to wear. We learned to milk the cows, to make butter and cheese for market. Father wanted to teach my younger brother William and I to milk. He had a cow that did not give much milk, so he put us to milking her, thinking the milk would dry up. We could milk her on either side.  We each had a tin cup to milk in; when it was full, we would put it in. a pail. We soon learned. It pleased us to think we could do it as well as the boys. When the milk was warmed, the rennet was put in to make a curd.  Then a large, clean linen cloth was put in the cheese hoop. After scaling the curd, it was put in between weights and pressed until all the whey was pressed out. Then it was taken out and greased all over and put on a shelf to dry. Every day this had to be done until the outside was hard. Then it was ready for market. It was a great deal of hard work to make cheese.

When we wanted to play, we had so much to do first; then the rest or the time we could play or read, or anything else we wanted to do. In sugar making time, the maple trees were tapped, and spills put in for the sap to run into troughs. When they were full, the sap was put into kettles and boiled down to syrup or sugar. Mother would have a large crock filled with sugar for us children as our own. We could use that sugar just as we wished. We would spread our bread with butter and sugar, then go down to the creek and pull up wild onions, and have a good time eating. When the Indians went away, they left one of their canoes, made from a tree. Our older brothers would take us sailing in it on the creek. We did enjoy those rides. Mother would let us put on our old clothes and wade in the water. In the summer, the water snakes would be out sunning themselves. We would throw stones at them to see them swim. Some were very large snakes but would not bite us. It was great sport for us children. We all grew to be a strong healthy family.

 

In 1824, the Postmaster General at Washington, D.C., appointed my father, Joseph Marvin, Postmaster of the Bazetta Post Office. He held the office over fourteen years. The mail was sent once a week from Warren to Ashtabula, on Lake Erie, in a leather bag carried on horseback by a boy or man, stopping at each Township on the route. It cost 25 cents for each letter sent.

Sutliff Family

In the house my father built in 1821, at Bazetta, Ohio, on October 1st, 1840, Phebe L. Marvin was married to Levi Sutliff, Esq. Vernon, Ohio. In April 1841, they moved to Johnston, Ohio, living on a 600-acre farm for nine years. Four sons were born to them:

Flavel Sutliff - born Sep 13, 1841, died May 22, 1846. Aged 4 yrs. 8 months

Samuel Sutliff - born May 26, 1844, died Oct. 6, 1844. Aged 4 months

Levi Granger Sutliff, born June 25, 1845

Plumb W. Sutliff, born August 6, 1847

These were born in Johnston, Ohio, In the fall of 1850, we moved to Warren, where Levi became a law partner with Judge Mathew Burchard. We bought a home on High Street, where 3 daughters and one son were born:

Mary Ruth Sutliff, born March 25, 1853

Phebe Temperance Sutliff, born January 16th, 1859

Lydia Bostwick Sutliff, born August 2nd, 1861

Marvin Sutliff, born and died Dec. 7th, 1863

Mary died at 11 years and 9 months old, Dec. 16th, 1864, of diphtheria, after an illness of only four days. 

A short time before she died, she repeated the 23rd Psalm, then said she saw her Father and the angels coming for her. She said to me, "Mother, don't ·cry. I am weary and must sleep." As I held her hand in mine, she fell asleep in Jesus, that sleep that knows no waking. Oh, I did miss the dear child. The little girls were so happy together. She was a great pet of her father. After his death, she seemed so anxious to lighten my sorrow. She was a good scholar, beyond her years in intellect. That year I lost my babe, my husband, mother, and Mary out of my family, all in 1864. My son, Levi, did all he could to lighten my grief. He said as far as possible, he would fill the place of his father. He was a faithful son and brother to his sisters. Did all he could to help them.

Levi Granger Sutliff married Aurelia Bennett of Norwich, Conn. on April 26th, 1870, where he settled and died, Oct. 7th, 1880, aged 35 years, leaving one daughter Edith Granger Sutliff, born June 20th, 1874. She married Gilbert Eugene Talbot, of Lisbon, Conn. She has one son, Levi Sutliff Talbot, born July 20, 1903.

Plumb W. Sutliff married Ella H. Bennett, June 2nd, 1869, at Hartford Ohio. He did Died 23rd, 1900, aged 53 yrs. 6 months. He is buried by his father in Warren. He left one son, Edward Milton Sutliff, born June· 29th, 1870.   He married Gertrude May Lantz, June 6th, 1900 at Pekin, Ill., a graduate of Rockford College while Phebe was President of Rockford College. He is in business in New York City.

 

Lydia B. Sutliff, born Aug. 2nd, 1861, married Edward P. Brainard, in Warren, Dec. 24th, 1885. Married in the same house she· was born in. She had two children; a daughter, Mary Sutliff Brainard, born and died August 13th, 1893; a son, Edward Sutliff Brainard, was born Aug. 7th, 1896. His mother was a graduate of our high school. She lived at home after her marriage until her little son was four years old, then Mr. Brainard's business called him to Toledo, where he is now a fine businessman, true to the letter. The dear little son of 10 years, at this date 1906, is a beautiful child, bright and intelligent beyond his years. It is the delight of his heart to come home to see his grandma and Aunty Phebe.

 

Phebe graduated from our high school, then went to Vassar College for a four-year course. After she graduated from Vassar, she was Lady Principal at Hiram College, then accepted a professorship in Rockford College. She took her second degree at Cornell Univ. then went abroad and studied at the Univ. Zurich, Switzerland. On her return, she was made President of Rockford College and retained that position until her sister Lydia moved from home. She resigned her position as President to come home to me. When I objected, she replied, "I shall never have but one mother and there will be plenty of colleges."  She is engaged in philanthropic work and lectures. Is a busy woman, and cares for me with a daughter's tender love and devotion.

 

After her father's death that summer, I heard Phebe talking in the sitting room, and went to see who was there. She was standing by the window with her little hands clasped, saying, “O God, please let my papa come home once more, that I may kiss him, and he can kiss me." She loved her father. He was always a kind father, and husband, never gave me an unkind word during the 24 years of our married life. Oh how we did miss him.  No more home coming from his office to his family.    He told me just before he died to do the best I could, and that was all that would be required of me. It was hard to give him up, but such is life. Lord help me to do right at all times.

 

When Levi Sutliff was a little boy, he was put on a horse with a bag of wheat to take to the grist mill, in Kinsman, four miles through the woods. When part way there, the horse frightened, and threw the bag of wheat off the horse. He was too small a boy to put it on again. He did not dare leave it for fear the wild beasts would destroy the wheat. He waited until almost noon for help.  A hunter heard him, and came and put the boy and grain back on the horse, tying it with rope so it would not fall off, and telling Levi to tell his father he was too little a boy to send to the mill, he started home again When it began to get dark, he saw a light coming toward him.  When he got home, his mother sat up in bed, as she was sick, and made him a shortcake from the flour, for his supper. His mother was a feeble woman all her life. She was a great Bible student. If you repeated a verse in the Bible, she would repeat the one next to it, and tell what chapter and book of the Bible it was in.   Judge King, on a visit to her home, said she was the greatest Bible student and historian he had ever met. She was feeble in body, but strong in spirit. Her sons were much like her. Of her six sons, two are farmers, four are lawyers, all permanent men of strong minds, kind and affectionate to each other, and to their families. Milton and Flavel never married. Milton bought the old Academy building, where he had his law office until his death in April 1878. He left means to erect a building called Sutliff Social Hall, for the amusement of the youths of Warren, Ohio; a place where reading was available, and where no profanity, drinking, or tobacco were to be used in the building.

 

A younger brother, Calvin L., went to the spring house to get water and a bear chased him. He climbed up the corner of the log spring house and screamed. His mother heard him and blew the horn. His father heard it, and started with his gun from the fields, to shoot the bear. When the bear saw him, he took a pig from the pen. Father Sutliff shot the bear, but the pig escaped.

 

The horn mother used was a shell, called a conch, and came from the West Indies. The horn could be heard a mile. Mother Sutliff gave it to me because I could blow it. It served me many a good turn when my husband and I lived on the farm in Johnston as a warning to the hiding slave to keep quiet, as danger was near. Men were in the vicinity looking for them to take them back to slavery. What a rejoicing when the war was over and Pres. Lincoln freed the slaves.  A few years after the war, I took my daughters Phebe and Lydia, to Florida for the winter. Phebe had just graduated from Vassar College; a winter south was thought a benefit to her health. We stayed a few days at Jacksonville, Fla.

 

Samuel Sutliff, of Hartland, Conn. was born April 9, 1765; died Feb. 7, 1840 Ruth Granger, his wife, born Dec. 23, 1770; died Aug. 7, 1840

 

They were married May 19, 1793.  In 1798 they moved to Litchfield, Herkimer Co., New York. In June 1804, they moved to Vernon, Ohio. Six sons were born to them:

Allen Sutliff, born Dec. 27, 1796; died Mar. 6, 1873, in Iowa

Samuel H. Sutliff, born Jan. 15, 1803; died Sept. 30, 1843

Levi Sutliff, born July 12, 1805; died Mar. 25, 1864

Milton Sutliff, born Oct. 16, 1806; died Apr. 24, 1878

Calvin Granger Sutliff, born Apr. 17, 1808; died Feb. 2, 1852

Flavel Sutliff, born June 24, 1811; died Feb. 5, 1843

Levi Sutliff married Mary Plumb.at Vernon, O. Sept. 17, 1834. She died in 1836. Marriage to Phebe L. Marvin Oct. 1, 1840, at Bazetta, O. They moved to Johnston, O. April 1841.

Underground Railroad

 

Levi Sutliff, when a young man, with his brother, Calvin, went south on a business trip, stopped at a hotel in Kentucky, when dinner was served, a little slave girl came in with a small tray with a cup of coffee. The mistress, in turning to take the cup, upset it, burning the child's arm. She was so angry, she left the table, took up a cowhide and whipped the child, causing great welts on her neck and shoulders.    It was the first time my husband had ever seen a slave whipped. He sprang to his feet, saying as he took the whip from her hand, "For God's sake woman, don't kill the child." With that, the woman's husband, with knife in hand, sprang at Mr. Sutliff. Mr. Brown and Calvin Sutliff both took a chair; the three stood in defense, when the landlord said, "Gentlemen be seated, and we will settle this after dinner. You have laid yourselves liable to the law of Kentucky." Mr. Sutliff said, "We will settle this now." The landlord replied, "Be seated, and I will give you my word you shall not see another slave whipped here." After dinner all of the boarders went to the bar for their bills, as they would not stay and witness such cruelty. The landlord said it would ruin his business if they left, as he had not been open long, and that such a situation would not be repeated. They did stay three weeks, and never saw another slave punished. This was the beginning of Mr. Sutliff's hatred for the slave traffic.

His father's home, as well as his own home, were. Havens for the slave. Deacon Sutliff, Mr. Plumb, and Samuel Bushnell joined together and founded the first anti-slavery society in the County. Each did all in their power to help the slave to freedom.     Both Father Sutliff's and my husband's home here were stations on the underground railroad.

 

Mary Bushnell and Mary Plumb would take a slave to a place of safety until the men could meet them.  Beyond where they were watched, they made a bargain with a boat captain to take the slave to Canada for a certain sum. At one time the two Mary’s took a slave in a wagon, with a little hay covered over them, for several miles, until they met Mr. Sutliff and Plumb to take them on to Ashtabula.

When the fathers were holding Anti-Slavery meetings, their sons would stand guard outside for protection. Father Sutliff had a casing put on around his chimney in the attic, with a sliding door, where he put the fugitive slave, when hard pressed, until such time as the slave hunter would leave. While we lived in Johnston, we had a room upstairs where a low roof made a good place for the slave to jump to the ground and run through the corn field that was near to the house. This gave the slave the chance to run through the woods to Father Sutliff's house.

When a slave was in hiding in the house, someone was always on the watch for the slave hunters. If one should come, my husband would keep him talking in his office until he thought the slave had fled away; then they might search the house, but of course no slave would be there. It was a terrible state of affairs, and fear reigned supreme.

When we left the farm in 1851 for Warren, Ohio, our house was always a home for the runaway slave. Mr. James Brown, of Bloomfield, and Mr. Sutliff took a slave to a blacksmith to have a shackle removed from his ankle. It was an iron band of nine inches wide and 27 inches long, bent like a bar around the slave's ankle, and riveted together. He said he stole "misses’ clothesline, turned the ends in front, put the rope around the rivets, and over his head, and ran away. He was almost white. I have the cruel shackle in my house, where many a black man found refuge.  Sometimes there would be four slaves at once. Sojourner Truth was in our home in Warren all one winter, until Levi Sutliff, with a few friends, raised $400.00 for her freedom, and they succeeded.

The Disciple Church was the only Anti-slavery Church in Warren. Being a member of the Presbyterian Church from a child, and where my parents were members ever since they moved to Ohio, I felt it hard to leave and go to another church.   Mr. Sutliff said he could not go to the Presbyterian Church, but if I could go to the Disciple Church, he would go with me, and I did. After he died, I joined the Baptist Church with my sister-in-law, Calvin L. Sutliff's widow. Our children attended the Sunday School together. I am still a member there.

My son, Plumb Sutliff, enlisted in 1865 in the Civil War - Reg 196, OH  1. Oh! that cruel war! Such sacrifice of human life! John Brown struck the first plan to free the slave. He was a grand, good man. It was a blot on humanity to execute him. My daughter, Phebe and I visited his home at North Elba, in the Adirondacks.  We stayed all night and slept in the room he and his wife used to occupy. His grave is near the house, by a large boulder, a massive rock, where he used to pray daily for Divine Guidance, that he might do what was right in all things. As we stood by his grave, read his name, and thought of his three sons slain with their father, we asked, "Could it be that in the United States of America that such an unholy thing could be endured so long as slavery?". It was a terrible war; so many fathers and sons were sacrificed for freedom of the slave.

Phebe and I went up on the top of the rock and there read his name. It was surrounded by a large tract of land. Watson Brown, the son’s skeleton, was used as an anatomical specimen in a Southern hospital, until bought by a physician. Twenty years later, he offered to restore it to the family.  He is now buried besides his father at North Elba, not far from Saranac Lake.

 

Ode to John Brown

Written at North Elba, in the Adirondacks, 1866 by George S. Hale.

 

Stern champion of our first and dearest right,

Who, dying, deal'st the fatal blow that broke

The iron welded for a native’s yoke, 

Falling like captive Sampson in his might

When his blind strength a waste of ruin spread.

This honor Freedom to her servant gives,

The way for her to open with their lives.

Then live immortal with the mighty dead,

Rest then, upon the heights where freedom sits,

Whence, as of old, her victory she sent,

And at thy feet the massive monument

Where native grandeur best thine own befits    

No "storied urn" is needed for thy deeds,

On every aide their wide-sown ripening seeds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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