#Sara Lucy Bagby Johnson, 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-#slavery 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.
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.