BLACK WOMEN SLAVERY

Sara Lucy Bagby Johnson was last fugitive slave prosecuted

Written by Rewindingblack

Sara Lucy Bagby Johnson was last fugitive slave prosecuted in Cleveland: Black History Month | cleveland.com

, the last person prosecuted as a fugitive slave, in a case tried in Cleveland.

In 1860, the 18-year-old Johnson escaped from West Virginia, making her way to Cleveland through the Underground Railroad.

She found work as a maid in the home of A.G. Riddle, who had been elected to Congress. But Riddle worried about political attacks because of his anti- views, so he sent Johnson to stay with a friend of his, a jeweler who lived on Prospect Avenue.

But Johnson’s “owner” from her days as a slave, a real estate broker named William Goshorn, had followed her here. He had her arrested on Jan. 19, 1861, and tried later that month. Rufus Spaulding, a former Ohio Supreme Court member, argued her case.

Sara Lucy Bagby Johnson was last fugitive slave prosecuted in Cleveland: Black History Month | cleveland.com

This undated drawing shows Cleveland’s Sara Lucy Bagby Johnson, the last person prosecuted under the Fugitive Slave Act. Johnson is buried in an unmarked grave at Woodland Cemetery.

 

 

Johnson lost her bid for freedom after Goshorn presented the court with papers showing he had paid $800 for her. Just days before the Confederate forces attacked Fort Sumter, she returned to slavery in Wheeling, accompanied by five federal marshals.

Sometime later, though no one knows exactly when, Johnson was rescued by a Union captain in Tennessee and set free. She eventually married and moved to Cleveland with her husband. She lived here for the rest of her life, occasionally speaking to local groups about her experience.

via Sara Lucy Bagby Johnson was last fugitive slave prosecuted in Cleveland: Black History Month | cleveland.com.

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4 Comments

  • Interesting read on the subject being the last person prosecuted as a fugitive slave, in a case tried in Cleveland. However, you state she escaped from West Virginia in 1860 but West Virginia did not become a state until June 30, 1863. If chronologically correct, that means she escaped from “western” Virginia which was then still part of the Confederacy.

  • Sara Lucy Bagby Johnson had courage . There was a terrible price to pay for being a fugitive slave.
    There exists a shameful history in this country. It’s treatment of American Indians, Japanese, Chinese, Blacks and people of Mexican decent. All history books should be destroyed and in it’s place, the TRUTH should be
    the context of the REAL America instead of skirting the truth with lies and innuendos. The legacy continues today as evidenced by the protests being conducted today all over this country and certain parts on the other sides of the world. It’s time people knew the TRUTH !

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