Sherlene\’s G-LOG

Making Sense of the Census (Fording the Langs, at Present)

Craig Langford, freed black slave, (b. abt 1818, KY, m. Frances or “Fanny” Langford), of Wayne, Butler, Ohio

Notes, as compiled by Sherlene Hall Bartholomew (shb hereafter), about a black man, Craig Langford, who is thought to have been white man Liberty Langford’s slave and to have married Liberty’s mistress “Fanny,” after they were purchased by Quakers (Jesse Stubbs and friends) and freed by Liberty. I submitted a more detailed write-up for a column that my editor asked me to cut, so I am copying over the greater detail, below, and then the shortened version of the column, as published, below that (there is some overlap, and I have added some info, since):

RELATIONSHIP: Liberty Langford, mentioned below, is descended from Stephen Langford, first settler of Mt. Vernon, Rockcastle County, Kentucky (very near Crab Orchard, where my ancestor, Fielding Langford, was born). How our Fielding Langford branch of the family connects to that of Stephen Langford and other early Kentucky area Langfords has not been established. Fielding and wife Sarah Bethurem left early for Indiana, where they converted to the LDS faith, gathered to Nauvoo, and crossed the plains to what is now Utah, as Mormon pioneers. Documenting connections among early Langfords is difficult because the Rockcastle County courthouse burned down, so that most of the early records were lost. Because I feel we must be connected to the Stephen Langford and other area family branches, I am now extracting all the Langfords I can find in early censuses, hoping to find clues and forge lost links. It was the custom for slaves to take on the name of their white Langford owners, as Craig Langford, Liberty’s slave, apparently did. It was also a custom for slave owners to treat slaves as their property. They often bred additional slaves by taking slave mistresses, as was apparently done with Frances or “Fanny” Langford, whom Craig Langford married, after they were freed. So because a black family I find in the census carries the name Langford does not necessarily mean they carry white Langford blood; then again, that could very well be the case. DNA studies may eventually be a way to solve some of the puzzles. It is my goal to gather together into this database all who carry the Langford name–either by white-only lineage or by name-adoption as slaves, along with those mixed-race persons who may be biological descendants of early white Langfords (who may have been brothers of our Fielding). –shb

1860 CENSUS–“CRAIG LANGFORD” IS BLACK, AGE FORTY-TWO, LIVING WITH “FRANCES,” THIRTY-ONE, EIGHT CHILDREN, AND A WILLIAM LANGFORD, THIRTY-ONE–ALL BUT STEPHEN, AGE ONE, WERE BORN IN KENTUCKY. THEY LIVE IN WAYNE, BUTLER, OHIO. Heritage-Quest on-line image, accessed Feb 2006, by shb, via Godfrey Memorial Library:

139/129 Craig Langford 42M[ale] B[lack] Farmer 400 200 [b. in ] Kentucky, can’t read or write
Frances 31 F ditto can’t read or write Kentucky
Mary C. 15 F ditto attended school in year Kentucky
Americus 13 M ditto attended school in year Kentucky
Robert 12 M ditto attendedschool in year Kentucky
Walter 10 M ditto attended school in year Kentucky
Nancy 9 F ditto attended school in year Kentucky
Ann E. 7 F ditto attended school in year Kentucky
Isaac 5 M ditto attended school in year Kentucky
Stephen 1 M ditto Ohio
Wm. Langford 31 M ditto Farm Hand can’t read or write Kentucky

(Source: HeritageQuest on-line image, accessed 3 Feb 2006, by shb, via Godfrey Memorial Library: Wayne Township, Butler County, Ohio, Series M653, Roll 941, Page 278, census taken 9 June 1860.)

A BROTHER GEORGE? In the 1860 Census of P.O. Elkton, Gratis Twp., Preble, Ohio, I find the Jesse Stubbs family. Jesse [ID 66405] is age 50, as is his wife, Mary, along with six children, ages 11-22. Also listed in the household are “George Lankford 36 M B, born in Kentucky (so b. abt. 1824–could have been Craig’s brother–see more on George ID No. 66287–shb) and Ann Schaivalt (?–hard to read), 19 F M (for “Mulatto”), born in Kentucky.] –shb 28 Feb 2006 [Note: In the 1880 Census, I find Jesse and Mary Stubbs, still in Gratis, Preble, Ohio, but do not find George nearby. I do, however, find a D. C. and Samantha H. Stubbs couple, living a few doors down, also in Gratis, living with three children. In their household is listed ANN LANGFORD, A female, black servant, age 22, single, born in Kentucky, both parents born in Kentucky. I found Ann with the Craig Langford family in 1880 Census, there in Wayne, but she could have migrated that year and fudged about her age, as a single woman. I think there is a good chance this is the same Ann, based on their connections to the Stubbs family.

[Note: In the 1910 Census of Gratis, Preble, Ohio, Jesse, Isaac, and Walter are all three identified as “Mu” for Mulatto, where in 1860, they were called “B[lack]”–shb.]

A four year break in ages of the last two children, Isaac (age five, born in Kentucky, and Stephen, age one, in Ohio) sent us looking for another possible child, who might have been left behind in Kentucky. We may have found one. In earlier notes, I found this listing for Liberty Langford’s family, in 1870:

“370. LANGFORD, Liberty 60 M W Farmer 2500 1000 Kentucky
Sallie 60 F W Keeping House Kentucky
Mary F. 25 F W At Home Kentucky
Peter 14 M B Works on Farm Kentucky
Rober t 7 M M [so b. 1863–shb] Kentucky

(Source: Kentucky 1870 Census, Vol. 29 (1-357 A), film 593, Roll 497, p. 58, by Shirley Cummins (Mt. Vernon, Kentucky 40456: Rockcastle County Historical Society, Inc., P.O. Box 930), 1985, searched at the FHL, Salt Lake City, Utah, by shb.)

This listing indicates that a Peter, born about 1856, may have been born of Fanny. Since Fanny was in Ohio by 1860, it is likely that Robert, listed as age 7 and a mulatto, was born of another slave (this record did give us additional pause about Liberty’s liberties). Perhaps one reason Craig and Fanny kept their Langford name, after obtaining freedom, was so that Peter, still living in Kentucky, with Liberty and Shi’s ancestor (his legal, white wife) Sallie could someday find them (if he was, indeed, Liberty’s offspring).

Everyone in the 1860 Ohio household of Craig and Frances Langford was listed as black, with no ‘M’ to indicate ‘mulatto’, though white clerks often listed “B” for any person of mixed racial identity (then again, skin color does not always reflect actual degrees of mix). We can’t discern which children, if any, were born of Craig, since they carried prominent Langford first names instead of names like “Mingo” that were often given to slaves.

Scheduling slaves

Now let’s look at slave schedules found and forwarded by Shiron to see if any listed there could have ended up in the Ohio Craig Langford household [I have added my comments in brackets, like these]:

Writes Shi, “I looked at the slave schedules for 1850 and 1860. Liberty Langford in 1850 had the following slaves;

“1 Black Female age 23
1 Black Female age 5
1 Black Female age 3
1 Black Male age 1

[In the 1860 Census of Wayne, Butler, Ohio, Mary C., age 15, Americus or America, age 13, and Robert, age 12, are the first three listed children, in the family of Craig and Frances Langford–so, comparing ages with the 1850 slave
schedule, above, this does look like a fit. Was Frances the black female, age 23, in this 1850 slave schedule? (She is listed as age 31 ten years later, in the 1860 Census, but census ages are often off by a year or two.) Then Fanny apparently continued, after 1850, having the additional five children listed in Ohio: Nancy (9, in Ohio in 1860), Ann E. (7), Isaac (5), and Stephen (1).]

“In 1860 he [Liberty] had the following slaves:

“1 Black Male age 22
Number of slave houses: 1

[Note that the female slave and the three children shown in the 1850 Census are no longer listed. A probable reason for this will be explained later.]

“Now look at this. I have the slave schedule for Robert Langford from 1850. He has the following slaves:

“1 Black Female age 50
1 Black Male age 31 [Craig Langford was 42 in the Ohio 1860–close enough.]
1 Black Male age 25 [George Langford was 36 in 1860, living with Jesse Stubbs–close enough]
1 Black Male age 23 [William Langford was 31 in the Ohio 1860–could fit.]
1 Black Female age 20 [Frances or “Fanny” was age 31 in the Ohio 1860-could she have migrated between households and been scheduled twice?]

[Shi provides good evidence that a Robert Langford (wife Frances Head) was Liberty’s father, though we still lack that paper trail documentation Shi wisely requires.]

Shiron suggests that these records at least open the possibility that Robert could have fathered Fanny’s children, despite the legend Shi heard from her Cincinnati cousin that it was Liberty.

1870 CENSUS–“CRAIG” LANGFORD IS AGE FIFTY-TWO, LIVING WITH WIFE FANNY AND SIX CHILDREN, IN P.O. JACKSONBOROUGH, WAYNE, BUTLER, OHIO. HeritageQuest on-line image, accessed 22 Feb 2006, by shb, via Godfrey Memorial Library:

Jacksonborough P.O., Wayne, Butler, Ohio
Series M593, Roll 1177, Page 490
Taken 4 Jun 1870

59/59 Beittnar, John MW13200 3500 Bavaria, wife Mary, born in Wurtemburg, and family.

60/60 Langford, Craig 52 MB Farmer 1100 Kentucky
, Fanny 43 FB Keep House Kentucky
, Robert 22 MB Farm Laborer Kentucky
, Walter 20 MB Farm Laborer Kentucky
, Annie 16 FB At Home Kentucky
, Isaac 15 MB At Home Kentucky
, Stephen 11 MB At Home Kentucky [earlier census says Ohio–shb]
, Jesse S. 9 MB At Home Kentucky

61/61 Canarroe, John 50 MW, wife Harriet, 54, and family. [Note that the Craig Langfords still have white neighbors. Note: In 1880, Craig and Fanny’s son Walter is found living in Gratis, Preble, Ohio, livng with wife “Hattie” and son Frank–a neighbor to Walter is the John Canarroe family (see Walter’s notes). –shb 22 Feb 2006

1880 CENSUS–“CRAIG” LANGFORD IS AGE SIXTY-THREE, LIVING WITH WIFE FANNIE, FOUR CHILDREN, ROBERT’S WIFE, AND THEIR GRANDDAUGHTER, ANNA DORA, IN WAYNE, BUTLER, OHIO. LDS Transcription, as posted on Family Search, accessed 22 Feb 2006, by shb:

Household:

Name Relation Marital Status Gender Race Age Birthplace Occupation Father’s Birthplace Mother’s Birthplace
Craig LANGFORD Self M Male B 63 KY Farmer UNKNOWN KY
Fannie LANGFORD Wife M Female B 53 KY Keeping House VA VA OR KY
Anna E. LANGFORD Dau S Female B 26 KY At Home KY KY
Isaac LANGFORD Son S Male B 25 KY Farm Laborer KY KY
Jesse LANGFORD Son S Male B 19 OH Farm Laborer KY KY
Robt. G. LANGFORD Son M Male B 32 KY School Teacher KY KY
Adeline LANGFORD DauL M Female B 31 KY Keeping House KY KY
Anna Dora LANGFORD GDau S Female B 2 IN KY KY

Source Information:
Census Place Wayne, Butler, Ohio
Family History Library Film 1254997
NA Film Number T9-0997
Page Number 313B –shb 22 Feb 2006

[Note: See notes of children Walter and Stephen to see where they are in 1880–shb.]

FAMILY FOUND. I have for some time been in correspondence with Shiron Wordsworth, a descendant of Liberty Langford, of Rockcastle County, Kentucky. I think that her Langfords and mine from Kentucky are related, though we have not yet found the connection. Among many stories Shi told me was one about “Fanny,” a slave-mistress Liberty had and information from a cousin of hers in Cincinatti that Liberty had two daughters named Nancy and Ann (and perhaps other children) who were actually fathered by Liberty. This cousin told that Fanny and at least these two daughters were either allowed freedom or escaped to settle in Ohio. Last week I decided to look for this family and was excited to find them in the 1860 Census of Wayne, Butler, Ohio, after several hours of on-line searching (correspondence about that, below). Several days later, I’m delighted to learn how Craig and Fanny got to Ohio, as helped by Quakers I am quite sure are my father’s relatives (see this site, accessed 11 Feb 2006, by shb, at –

http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Plains/2064/undrgrd.htm , from which I copy over this:

MY STORY ABOUT THE CRAIG LANGFORD FAMILY, AS PREPARED FOR ON-LINE “MERIDIAN MAGAZINE”:

SUBJECT OF COLUMN: I wrote this column about some of what I learned, researching this branch of Langfords, with help from Shiron and my brother-in-law, Barry Wood, who has done some Langford research. I did submit this column, and my editor said she did want to use it, but wanted me to cut it by about one-third. By then, I was tired, and since Shi then told me she objected to the part about Langford temper and possible abuse of slaves and children (all she has heard is about good relationships with slaves and has not seen a history of temper and abuse, at least within Langford families, in her line), and also because there are still so many unanswered questions, I decided to shelve the article, rather than revamp it. Still, there is enough good and factual info. here, I have decided to include it, hoping we can build on that and clear up some of the questions. Here is the longer version of my article (rejected for length). The shorter version can be found in the notes of my ancestor Fielding Langford:

TURNING HEARTS

By Sherlene Hall Bartholomew

Slavery and Redemption
on Every Family Tree

My genealogist mother, Ida-Rose Langford Hall, died almost a year ago. Since then, there’s little doubt but that she and her gregarious clan are tending the unusually bounteous harvest that has since ripened on her family tree. The problem is that we have gleaned some tantalizing fruit, but lack the facility to safely “can it.”

The Rockcastle County, Kentucky courthouse burned down in 1873. According to the County GenWeb site, “virtually all local records-marriage, estate, court, land-were destroyed.” This has made researching in Rockcastle very challenging, though we have faith that God has provided alternative information-we just need to find it. We have gathered stray facts here and there over the years, but it remains difficult to document early Langford family connections.

My ancestor Walker Langford (or Lankford) left Kentucky for Indiana in 1830. There, his son Fielding Langford (1804-1882) joined the LDS Church and soon moved west. After some 175 years our branch has connected with Shiron Wordsworth, a descendant of those who stayed in Rockcastle. Her tales about Langfords in Kentucky have quickened more than one of my Meridian columns. Daniel Boone is her (several times) great-uncle, but she claims “he’s not even remotely as much fun as the Langfords. Certainly I’m proud of him, but there’s not much mystery to his escapades. It’s the unknowns that make our Langfords so much fun.”

Of unknowns there are plenty. Both of us believe that our respective “first settler” Langford ancestors in Rockcastle County – Joseph and Stephen – were brothers, though we have yet to cinch that link. Still, the probability that we are cousins is high, fortified by family resemblance that stares back from family photos from each branch. So Shi and I share our harvests, worms and all, picking through the heap to sort out truth from tall tales.

Langford Liberties

Shi recently renewed my curiosity about a family legend that her third great-grandfather, Liberty Langford, fathered children by one of his slaves. A cousin in Cincinnati told her that he “fathered two daughters (at least) by a slave named Fanny. They migrated to western Ohio somewhere between the years 1855 and 1860 . . . . The girls were named Nancy (b. 1852) and Ann (b. 7 Nov 1853).”

The family has thought that Liberty descended from Stephen Langford, the pioneer who led first settlers into the County in 1790. Though Stephen owned much land and the proverbial southern white mansion, Shiron tells me that in 1810 he only had nine slaves, before he died the next year. As Shi explains: “Rockcastle County never was a plantation society. Its hills don’t prosper such cash crops as cotton and tobacco that required much slave labor. The Langfords farmed, and they did have substantial land holdings. But they prospered from enterprises such as milling, horse trading, timbering, and quarrying.

“For a time there,” she continues, “if my source is correct, Liberty ran Langford Station, their stop in the Underground Railroad, as a type of hotel, probably catering to the stagecoaches passing through the county. So, while the Langfords did lose the monetary value placed on their slaves, prior to the Civil War, their economic welfare was not tied totally to the comparatively few slaves they owned. This may account for their Republican sympathies. They did not stand to lose everything, if their slaves were freed. In fact, after the war, their problems were with Klan warfare in the county. You may remember that Liberty’s son, James H. Langford, was finally killed by the KKK. James’ oldest son Liberty, named after his grandfather, was also murdered in the County, though we don’t know for sure that we can hold the Klan responsible for that one.”

[Insert Photo #1 – Caption]:

Photo in collection of Ida-Rose L. Hall that she labeled as the “old Stephen Langford house,” on the Wilderness Road, in Mt. Vernon, Rockcastle, Kentucky.

Secret Trap Doors

Writes Shiron, “In the book Rockcastle County, Kentucky and its People, 1992, Langford Station is pictured. It’s obviously the same house as the one in the photo your mother took” (as pictured above).

Shi’s grandmother knew Ruth McFerron Leach, who by account in this book, “bought the house in later years . . . had the house taken down . . . and discovered that it had been used as part of the Underground Railroad. This was the way slaves were transported from the South to the North to freedom. The house had many secret trap doors throughout. It had a big cellar used to hide the slaves.”

Jokes Shiron: “Were the Langfords simply lecherous masters making babies with their helpless slave girls? Were they secret, yet principled participants in the cause for abolition? Did they continue to keep slaves during the 1850s as a ‘front’ for the illegal activities on the Underground Railroad? Or were they simply schizophrenic, feeling one way Monday and another, Tuesday, so that they sent their personal slaves to work in the fields, during daylight hours, while helping other people’s slaves to freedom at midnight? Go figure!

“Exaggerated humor aside, there are some missing pieces of the puzzle concerning the Langfords and their relationship with their personal slaves, in particular, and the institution of slavery, in general. James H. Langford’s life was saved, before the Klan finally got him, by a former slave named Uncle Alf. One dark night in Rockcastle County, long after the Civil War was over, the Klan was hot on the trail of that Langford, but this vulnerable ex-slave refused to disclose James’ hiding place. Uncle Alf was roughed up because of his pretended ignorance as to where James had gone to ground. I have to wonder what precipitated such courage and loyalty on the part of Uncle Alf. There’s something more to this story. I just haven’t found it yet.”

[Insert Photo #2 – Caption]:

Side view, home of James Steven or “Tip” Langford, also in Mt. Vernon, Rock Castle’s county seat. Tip was sheriff of Rockcastle County, Kentucky, in the 1920s. He was the son of James H. and Liberty Langford’s grandson. Report is that his home was a stone’s throw from settler Stephen Langford’s original mansion. Neither home survives. (Photo courtesy of Shiron Wordsworth.)

First Name Census Index Searches

Thinking on all this, I once again felt Mom urging from beyond the veil, as I lay awake, wondering how we might find slave Fanny and her two daughters supposedly sired by Liberty Langford. Then I remembered that I could do an on-line census first-name-only search. So I typed spelling variations of “Fanny” in the first-name field for the entire state of Ohio and spent several hours checking the family of every one who came up in the census index. (I was checking HeritageQuest on-line indexed census images.)

I had no luck finding a Fanny with daughters Ann and Nancy, which was quite a disappointment, after all that effort. Then it occurred to me that maybe she kept her Langford name after she was freed. I did a search for all Langfords in Ohio, in the 1860 Census (just typed “Langford” in the surname field), and as the alphabetized list came up, I found her as “Frances,” at first click on “Craig Langford”! What a thrill! (You might have seen me levitate at this point, without any help from deceased Langfords!)

Sensing the Census

I learned that Frances was living in Wayne, Butler, Ohio, in 1860. She was age thirty-one, “keeping house” for head of the family, Craig Langford, who was eleven years her senior. (In two subsequent censuses, she is named as “Fanny” and “Fannie.”) The census taker listed eight children in their 1860 household, including Nancy and Ann, of ages to match the dates Shiron shared from her cousin, as found in county vital statistics (we have not yet seen these records, so cannot confirm that their father really is named as “Liberty,” though that was the report). A William Langford is listed last and is the right age to be Craig’s brother, though he could have been another slave from the plantation (Rockcastle County slaves, like many others, carried their masters’ names). Here is my transcription of that census:

139/129 Craig Langford 42M[ale] B[lack] Farmer 400 200 [b. in ] Kentucky, can’t read or write
Frances 31 F ditto can’t read or write Kentucky
Mary C. 15 F ditto attended school in year Kentucky
Americus 13 M ditto attended school in year Kentucky
Robert 12 M ditto attendedschool in year Kentucky
Walter 10 M ditto attended school in year Kentucky
Nancy 9 F ditto attended school in year Kentucky
Ann E. 7 F ditto attended school in year Kentucky
Isaac 5 M ditto attended school in year Kentucky
Stephen 1 M ditto Ohio
Wm. Langford 31 M ditto Farm Hand can’t read or write Kentucky

(Source: HeritageQuest on-line image, accessed 3 Feb 2006, by shb, via Godfrey Memorial Library: Wayne Township, Butler County, Ohio, Series M653, Roll 941, Page 278, census taken 9 June 1860.)

A four year break in ages of the last two children, Isaac (age five, born in Kentucky, and Stephen, age one, in Ohio) sent us looking for another possible child, who might have been left behind in Kentucky. We may have found one. In earlier notes, I found this listing for Liberty’s family, in 1870:

“370. LANGFORD, Liberty 60 M W Farmer 2500 1000 Kentucky
Sallie 60 F W Keeping House Kentucky
.Mary F. 25 F W At Home Kentucky
Peter 14 M B Works on Farm Kentucky
Robert 7 M M [so b. 1863–shb] Kentucky

(Source: Kentucky 1870 Census, Vol. 29 (1-357 A), film 593, Roll 497, p. 58, by Shirley Cummins (Mt. Vernon, Kentucky 40456: Rockcastle County Historical Society, Inc., P.O. Box 930), 1985, searched at the FHL, Salt Lake City, Utah, by shb.)

This listing indicates that a Peter, born about 1856, may have been born of Fanny. Since Fanny was in Ohio by 1860, it is likely that Robert, listed as age 7 and a mulatto, was born of another slave (this record did give us additional pause about Liberty’s liberties). Perhaps one reason Craig and Fanny kept their Langford name, after obtaining freedom, was so that Peter, still living in Kentucky, with Liberty and Shi’s ancestor (his legal, white wife) Sallie could someday find them (if he was, indeed, Liberty’s offspring).

Everyone in the 1860 Ohio household of Craig and Frances Langford was listed as black, with no ‘M’ to indicate ‘mulatto’, though white clerks often listed “B” for any person of mixed racial identity (then again, skin color does not always reflect actual degrees of mix). We can’t discern which children, if any, were born of Craig, since they carried prominent Langford first names instead of names like “Mingo” that were often given to slaves.

Scheduling slaves

Now let’s look at slave schedules found and forwarded by Shiron to see if any listed there could have ended up in the Ohio Craig Langford household [I have added my comments in brackets, like these]:

Writes Shi, “I looked at the slave schedules for 1850 and 1860. Liberty Langford in 1850 had the following slaves;

“1 Black Female age 23
1 Black Female age 5
1 Black Female age 3
1 Black Male age 1

[In the 1860 Census of Wayne, Butler, Ohio, Mary C., age 15, Americus or America, age 13, and Robert, age 12, are the first three listed children, in the family of Craig and Frances Langford–so, comparing ages with the 1850 slave schedule, above, this does look like a fit. Was Frances the black female, age 23, in this 1850 slave schedule? (She is listed as age 31 ten years later, in the 1860 Census, but census ages are often off by a year or two.) Then Fanny apparently continued, after 1850, having the additional five children listed in Ohio: Nancy (9, in Ohio in 1860), Ann E. (7), Isaac (5), and Stephen (1).]

“In 1860 he [Liberty] had the following slaves:

“1 Black Male age 22
Number of slave houses: 1

[Note that the female slave and the three children shown in the 1850 Census are no longer listed. A probable reason for this will be explained later.]

“Now look at this. I have the slave schedule for Robert Langford from 1850. He has the following slaves:

“1 Black Female age 50
1 Black Male age 31 [Craig Langford was 42 in the Ohio 1860–close enough.]
1 Black Male age 25 [Adding this, after the article was published–this fits close enough to be the black “George Langford” I found living with Jesse Stubbs in the 1860 Census of P.O. Elkton, Gratis Twp., Preble Co., Ohio. (Yes, this is the same Jesse–see ID 66405, who raised over $5,000 and came to Rockcastle Co., KY to free the Craig Langfords. This George Langford with Jesse Stubbs was, in 1860, age 36, born in Kentucky. Had he escaped earlier and convinced Jesse to free the rest of the Langford slaves? Or, was he freed at the same time as the others and brought to Jesse’s home, after he dropped off the Craig Langfords?–shb.]
1 Black Male age 23 [William Langford was 31 in the Ohio 1860–could fit.]
1 Black Female age 20 [Frances or “Fanny” was age 31 in the Ohio 1860-could she have migrated between households and been scheduled twice?]

[Shi provides good evidence that a Robert Langford (wife Frances Head) was Liberty’s father, though we still lack that paper trail documentation Shi wisely requires.]

Shiron suggests that these records at least open the possibility that Robert could have fathered Fanny’s children, despite the legend Shi heard from her Cincinnati cousin that it was Liberty.

Then there is the chance that Fanny’s children, as listed in the Ohio 1860 Census, had more than one white father. It is also possible that these children in Ohio could have been born in Kentucky to more than one slave mother (perhaps the two females listed in households of Liberty and Robert in 1850 were different persons). Since all the Craig Langford family children in Ohio were listed as “black,” we might also learn that Craig, while working as a Langford slave in Kentucky, fathered them all (except Nancy and Ann, perhaps). It is also, of course, possible that not all of Craig’s children were born of the same mother-especially after their master claimed Fanny as his mistress. The complexities, trying to compile family group records for former slaves, can boggle the mind.

There is, however, a grain of truth in most family legends. Shi and I resolved to find all the documentation we can to either strengthen or dismiss this family tale about a white Langford having children by his slave.

DNA Dilemma

I began to think that DNA testing might be the only sure way to place children listed with Craig Langford in Ohio. This hope was fortified by Part II of the PBS special, “African American Life” that traced the DNA of famous black persons like Oprah to specific locales!

However, cousin Delight Heckelman pointed me to an article titled “In Our Blood,” in the Feb. 6, 2006 Newsweek. An insert on page 54 states: “Did Thomas Jefferson father as many as six children with his slave Sally Hemings? In 1998, scientists tracing the Y chromosome from father to son said, ‘Yes, Jefferson was the most likely candidate–at least for one of Hemings’s children.’ But the controversy continues because DNA evidence can’t absolutely prove it; another male Jefferson could have been the culprit.”

Shiron wrote that we may never prove who fathered Fanny’s children. In some cases all we can do is take a combination of facts, common sense, and DNA evidence while continuing the search for better documentation.

In the meantime, I wonder how I should for now enter these children who are listed with Craig and Frances Langford, in the 1860 Ohio Census. I certainly don’t want to lose track of them. For now, I have placed them all in my Craig Langford family group, with accompanying notes about evidence of a potential biological white Langford father.

Rioting in Rockcastle

After all the excitement of finding Fanny in Ohio, I wanted to learn all I could about life in Rockcastle County, just before the 1860 Census. At BYU’s Harold B. Lee Library, I found the history of a bordering county: Madison County: 200 Years in Retrospect,” by William E. Ellis, H. E. Everman, and Richard D. Sears (published by the Madison County Historical Society). This volume, at pp. 123-153, brought alive the rioting, threats of violence, and arson perpetrated by area pro-slavery factions. In one case, John G. Fee, an abolitionist minister, was forcibly removed from his pulpit and marched over ten miles, from Rockcastle County to nearby Crab Orchard. For a while there in Rockcastle, communicants at churches with abolitionist ministers were mainly women, while their men stood in surrounding woods, guns aimed at would-be arsonists, who did succeed in turning one Rockcastle church to ashes. On another occasion, they succeeded in burning down the home of an abolitionist whose young family narrowly escaped the flames.

Jesse Keeps the Peace

In 1860, a pro-slavery Kentucky legislature passed a law that any citizen freeing slaves had to immediately get them out of the state. No freed slaves could enter the state. I googled “Craig Langford,” without expecting to find much. Up came the link to a page about the Underground Railroad. Of all things, this information brought my father’s kin and my mother’s Langfords together in a story fraught with irony–long before my parents met!

Here I learned about Levi Coffin, a member of the Society of Friends (“Quaker”) and reputed president of the Underground Railroad. His home had a hidden door behind a bed and a covered inside well. With the support of his wife Catharine, he helped over 2,000 slaves find their way to freedom! [Click on “Levi Coffin,” above, for photos of their home arrangements for hiding slaves and other detail.] [Please make a link of “Levi Coffin,” first line of this paragraph to <http://www.waynet.org/nonprofit/coffin.htm&gt; — wonderful photos of what I have just described and also of Levi and his wife.]

Levi and I are both descended from Tristram Coffin, born in 1609, in Plymouth, England. He crossed the ocean to become a founding father of Nantucket. The Coffins were very independent, active, principled people, qualities passed down to Levi. Levi was also a distant cousin of Mormon pioneer Heber C. Kimball.

Levi Coffin recorded a visit with the Stubbs family in West Elkton, Indiana, in their joint endeavors to free slaves. The “Squire Stubbs” he stayed with on one stop was probably Jesse Stubbs, then Justice of the Peace. [Please make a link of the word “journal” in the first line to <http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Plains/2064/undrgrd.htm&gt; ]

Jesse advanced most of the $5,062 needed to free an entire slave family. Then he traveled to Rockcastle County to redeem the Craig Langford slave family! (More levitation, without help, on finding that sentence!) I reviewed my notes of the 1870 Census that lists Craig and Fanny and children, in Ohio. Look at the name of their last child:

60/60 Langford, Craig 52M B Farmer 1100 Kentucky
, Fanny 43F B Keep House Kentucky
, Robert 22M B Farm Laborer Kentucky
, Walter 20M B Farm Laborer Kentucky
, Annie 16F B At Home Kentucky
, Isaac 15M B At Home Kentucky
, Stephen 11M B At Home Kentucky [1860 says Ohio]
, Jesse S. 9M B Kentucky

(Source: HeritageQuest on-line image: P.O. Jacksonsborough, Wayne Township, Butler County, Ohio – Series M593, Roll 1177, Page 490, taken 4 June 1870.)

Craig and family prospered in Ohio and managed to pay back most of what Jesse Stubbs and his neighbors raised to free them.

Better than Fiction

Shi and I have a long way to go before we have answered our many questions with adequate documentation. Nevertheless, it appears that my father’s relatives helped redeem a family owned by my mother’s! History sometimes reads better than fiction.

[Insert Photo #3, caption]:

The author’s family in 1976: Back L-R Sherlene, H. Tracy, Jr., Elizabeth, David R; Front L-R Virginia, Charlotte, H. Tracy, Sr. (sustained that day as an LDS bishop), Ida-Rose (Langford), and Nancy Hall.

One thing we soon learn, doing this research: each answer we get only raises more questions. For example, now that I know Jesse Stubbs and his friends purchased freedom for the Craig Langfords, I have sent off letters, trying to find answers to such questions as:

1) Is there a receipt book stating to whom Jesse paid the $5,062?
2) Do you know how the Ohio Quakers found out about this Langford slave family?
3) Why was this particular slave family chosen?
4) How did Jesse get the family safely out of Kentucky in 1858? Did he
perhaps make use of the Langford Underground Railroad that is also legend in our family? Is it possible that Jesse knew that money would go to strengthen the abolitionist cause in Kentucky?
5) Do Society of Friends archives include correspondence from
children of Craig and Fanny? (Early censuses record that the parents could not read or write.)
6) Is there a record of how the Craig Langfords paid off their freedom debt? In what increments, at what times, and by whom and to whom was this repaid?
7) Is there any record of what happened to any descendants of Craig and Fanny? (I have traced several in the censuses, trying to learn more.)

While compiling these questions, I thought that perhaps Jesse knew the Langfords would use that money to fortify abolitionist efforts, there in Kentucky. There has to be a reason why Craig and Fanny named a son “Stephen,” born in Ohio, shortly after their escape. It would hardly make sense that a slave who hated his white master would give his child an important name in his master’s line! I later learned that these same thoughts also occurred to Shi-in fact, our letters crossed, with some of this same speculation. Obviously, Langford ghosts are still alive and well.)

Speculations aside, we’re hoping to soon get answers to our questions, though sometimes the more we learn, the more we don’t know, if you see what I mean. Part of enjoying genealogy and family history is learning to live with a certain level of ambiguity, without getting so discouraged, we stop asking those important questions. That way, we can get answers that invite even more questions.

Anguish at “The Tree”

There are those who never ask questions for fear of what they might learn. To remain in such ignorance is itself a form of self-enslavement. Others very well know the facts, but prefer to sweep them under that already-bulging rug, caring little how their children might fall, tripping over what they cannot see.

We all need to overcome insecurities that make us afraid to know who we really are. Nothing we ever find can override the fact that we are all created in the image of our Savior, who said: “. . . If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples, indeed. And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” [John 8:31-32] Then He went on to explain what His fellow Jews might have learned from their Abrahamic genealogy (and what we might also learn from ours).

Abolitionist Langfords in Nauvoo

As noted above, I descend from Walker Lankford (m. Mary or “Polly” Warren), of Lincoln County, Kentucky and Clay County, Indiana. According to a GenWeb “Table of Events” in Rockcastle County, in 1750, a “Thomas Walker noted a rock on a mountain above Livingston that resembled a castle,” the eventual source of the county’s name. Assuming that my Walker was related to Thomas, I tell Shi my people got there and named Rockcastle before her Stephen even knew it existed.

In 1830, Fielding married Sarah Bethurem (b. 1809, in Rockcastle County, to David P. and Margaret [Kincaid] Bethurem). The young couple soon moved to Indiana. They converted to the “Mormon” faith in 1843 and gathered to Nauvoo, Illinois, in time to join the trek across Iowa to Council Bluffs. In 1850, they were living in Platte County, Missouri, but in 1852 migrated to the Salt Lake Valley.

After surviving all that, Sarah died in 1863 from the bite of a black widow spider. I yearn to find a picture of my Sarah, but perhaps she died too soon. We do have one of Fielding in his old age, posing with children by his next wife, Carolyn Christina Bocker (they married in 1865, in Salt Lake City). She, however, is not in the picture. By then she had divorced him, purportedly for his whiskey habit and the proverbial Langford temper. It probably also did not help that Fielding was Swedish-born Carolyn’s senior by forty-three years!

[Insert Photo #4 caption]:

Fielding Langford (1804-1882) and his children by 2nd wife, Carolyn Christina Bocker (from an old tin-type taken about 1880-82). L-R: Joseph, Fielding, Wm. Henry, Anna Caroline, Cynthia Elizabeth, and Malinda Melvina Langford.

Whatever his faults, I love and honor Fielding for having the courage and stamina to join a new and different religion, pioneer the West, and produce a clan that gave me a phenomenal Langford mother. My Fielding missed all the civil rights excitement in Kentucky, but saw plenty of his own in the form of persecution against the concentrated “Mormon” population in Nauvoo.

Find an ancestor–find yourself!

I feel inspired, learning more about my paternal-line Quakers who, as noted on the above-mentioned site, did not just wink at injustice that for many had become a way of life. They did more about it than complain or write a letter to the editor. Taking action, they slowly changed opinions and altered customs — often at significant personal cost.

I also have empathy for slaveholders who stayed, entrenched as they were, in this system. Can you imagine the psychological effect on also their legitimate children, as they saw what measures their fathers took to control slaves–some of whom quite obviously were half brothers and sisters? One study tracked child abuse among descendants of slave-holding families. It followed that children of slave owners often afflicted their own children, as they saw their fathers punish slaves, long after slavery was abolished.

Some of us don’t like learning that our ancestors were alcoholics or had slaves, much less that they bred additional “property” with them. On the other hand, knowing more about family history helps us better comprehend why we feel and act the way we do and to better guard against what may be inherited weakness.

Speaking for myself, these recent discoveries have fortified my resolve to look at my environment with less complacency–to do what I can to not only change evils in society, but also to adjust attitudes and practices I now see more clearly as part of my own personal legacy. We all might hope, as well, to build on accompanying virtues evident in every family line. God seems inclined to reveal a fair share of both the negative and positive in each of us, both to keep us humble and extend encouragement.

Right now, though, I’m especially grateful for the leveling hand of such a family tree shaker as Levi Coffin. I am also anxious to go back and learn all I can about our new-found relatives Ann and Nancy Langford. I hope that they surmounted all that their mother and stepfather suffered, and appreciated the freedom purchased for them.

I also hope that our black and mixed-blood Langfords value the good-sense practicality, creative adapting, wilderness surviving, hard-work thriftiness, gregarious sharing, leadership and spontaneous hilarity that, along with all the bad, were part of the heritage attached to the Langford name.

Magnificent wonder!

At varying times, some branches on our family tree seem more straight and true than others. All, however, produce fruit that, unless tended well, attracts spoil and canker. We stretch to pick the best and try to ignore the bad. We find soft spots in the past, but excise them for our future, with help from the Master Chef. The result is a fresh pie so divinely aromatic, vibrantly colorful and flavorful that we who taste of it can hardly wait to prepare tables and share it.

The magnificent wonder is that our Father in Heaven, in His great love, invites us, His children all, into His vineyard to help cultivate our inheritance with faith. There each of us not only discovers vital root, but by virtue of our Lord’s tender mercies, becomes more strong, more resilient, and more trusting, as we enjoy His redeeming bounty.

###

Submitted to Meridian Magazine, February 18, 2006

SHORTER VERSION THAT WAS ACTUALLY PUBLISHED:

M E R I D I A N M A G A Z I N E

Slavery and Redemption on Every Family Tree
By Sherlene Hall Bartholomew

My genealogist mother, Ida-Rose Langford Hall, died almost a year ago. Since then, I have sensed that she and her restless clan are tending a glorious harvest that has ripened on our Langford family tree. We have been blessed, thanks to other-world nudging, to glean some of this tantalizing fruit, but so far lack the facility to safely “can it.”

The Rockcastle County, Kentucky courthouse burned down in 1873, so that all local records – marriage, estate, court, and land – were destroyed. We have faith that the Father of us all knew we would still be searching, so has provided other evidence that we just need to find. We have recently found some of that, though documenting family connections is a continuing challenge.

I am not the only Langford who has lost sleep over this dilemma. Shiron Wordsworth, an adopted, if not yet confirmed cousin on the line, recently conveyed worrisome news from a relative in Cincinnati. This woman claims that Stephen Langford – the pioneer who in 1790 led first settlers into Rockcastle County, Kentucky, had a descendant named Liberty who, as Shi tells it, “fathered two daughters (at least) by a slave named Fanny. They migrated to western Ohio somewhere between the years 1855 and 1860… The girls were named Nancy (b. 1852) and Ann (b. 7 Nov 1853).”

This information flies in face of our tradition that Kentucky Langfords were principled, independent thinkers with Republican sympathies, who ran an Underground Railroad stop called “Langford Station.” We know for sure that several fought as Union soldiers in the Civil War. For this they paid dearly, in subsequent years. “You may recall,” Shi writes, “that Liberty’s son, James H. Langford, was killed by the KKK. James’ oldest son Liberty, named after his grandfather, was also murdered in the County, though we don’t know if the Klan’s responsible for that one.”

Though pioneer Stephen owned much land and the proverbial southern white mansion, he only had nine slaves in 1810, before he died the next year. As Shi explains, “Rockcastle County never was a plantation society. Its hills don’t prosper such cash crops as cotton and tobacco that required much slave labor. The Langfords farmed, and they did have substantial land holdings. But they prospered from enterprises such as milling, horse trading, timbering, and quarrying.

[Photo inserted here, is attached, in Mom Ida-Rose L. Hall’s media file–shb.]

Photo in collection of Ida-Rose L. Hall, labeled as the “Old Stephen Langford House,” on the Wilderness Road, in Mt. Vernon, Rockcastle, Kentucky.

Two-Way Escapes

Writes Shiron, “In the book Rockcastle County, Kentucky and its People, 1992, Langford Station is pictured. It’s obviously the same house as the one in the photo your mother took” (pictured above).

Shi’s grandmother knew Ruth McFerron Leach, who by account featured in this book, “bought the house in later years… had the house taken down… and discovered that it had been used as part of the Underground Railroad. The house had many secret trap doors throughout” and… “a big cellar used to hide the slaves.”

Shi frets: “There are some missing pieces of the puzzle concerning the Langfords and their relationship with their personal slaves, in particular, and the institution of slavery, in general. Is it possible that as their attitudes about slavery changed, our Langfords only kept slaves as a front for their illegal activities, moving slaves North?”

Family history further complicates the riddle. Pioneer Stephen’s descendant James H. Langford’s life was saved (before the Klan finally got him) by a former slave called “Uncle Alf.” As Shi tells it, “One dark night in Rockcastle County, long after the Civil War was over, the Klan was hot on the trail of that Langford, but this vulnerable ex-slave refused to disclose James’ hiding place. Uncle Alf was roughed up because of his pretended ignorance as to where James had gone to ground. I have to wonder what precipitated such courage and loyalty on the part of Uncle Alf. There’s something more to this story. I just haven’t found it yet.”

[Photo inserted here, is attached, in Mom Ida-Rose L. Hall’s media file–shb.]

Side view, home of James Steven or “Tip” Langford, also in Mt. Vernon, Rock Castle’s county seat. Tip was sheriff of Rockcastle County, Kentucky, in the 1920s. He was the son of James H. and Liberty Langford’s grandson. Report is that his home was a stone’s throw from settler Stephen Langford’s original mansion. Neither home survives. (Photo courtesy of Shiron Wordsworth.)

The Lost are Found!

Thinking on all this, I felt Mom urging from beyond, as I lay awake, worried about how we might find slave Fanny and her two Langford daughters. Then I remembered that I could do a first-name-only search. Using HeritageQuest on-line indexed census images, I typed spelling variations of “Fanny” in the first-name field for all of Ohio. It took several hours to check the family of every one who came up in the census index. For all that, I found nothing – what a disappointment!

Then it occurred to me that maybe Fanny kept her Langford name, after she was freed. I did a search for all Langfords in the Ohio 1860 Census (just typed “Langford” in the surname field). As the alphabetized list came up, I found her as “Frances,” at first click on “Craig Langford.” What a thrill! (You might have seen me levitate at this point, with help from deceased Langfords!)

Sensing the Census

I learned that Frances was then living in Wayne, Butler, Ohio. She was age thirty-one, “keeping house” for head of the family, Craig Langford, who was eleven years her senior. (In two subsequent censuses, she is named as “Fanny” and “Fannie.”) Eight children are listed in quite regular succession, in their 1860 household, including Nancy and Ann, of ages to match the dates Shiron got from her cousin. A William Langford is listed last and is the right age to be Craig’s brother, though he could have been another slave from the plantation (Rockcastle County slaves, like many others, carried their masters’ names).

A four-year break in ages of the last two children, Isaac (age five, born in Kentucky, and Stephen, age one, in Ohio) sent us looking for another child who might have been left in Kentucky. We may have found him in the 1870 Census, where Liberty Langford and his legal, white wife Sallie are listed, both at age sixty. In their household is a black child named Peter, age 14 (so b. abt. 1856), along with Robert, a mulatto, age 7. Robert must have been born of a different slave mother, since Fanny moved to Ohio by 1860. As usual, there is much to sort, trailing censuses, in such a hunt. Sometimes we uncover information we weren’t looking to find. Since there’s no proof about siring of slaves in his household, we decided not to focus on Liberty’s liberties.

Every person in the 1860 Ohio household of Craig and Frances Langford was listed as black, with no ‘M’ to indicate ‘mulatto’, though white clerks often listed “B” for any person of mixed racial identity. We can’t discern which children, if any, were born of Craig, since they carried prominent Langford first names, instead of the usual tags, like “Mingo.”

Shi and I feel there has to be a reason why Craig and Fanny gave the name “Stephen,” to their son who was born in Ohio, shortly after their escape. It would hardly make sense that slaves who hated their white master would give their first “free” child an important name in their master’s Langford line. Then again, maybe they took Langford names so Peter could some day find them.

Scheduling Slaves

While I worked the censuses, Shi looked up slave schedules and forwarded that fascinating information. In 1850, it looks to us like Liberty’s female slave and her three children have ages close enough to those of Fanny and her first three children, listed in Ohio, in 1860. Where, though, were Craig and Walter, in 1850? Shiron did an additional search and found comps for a Robert Langford, who may well have been Liberty’s father (she forwarded good evidence for that, though Shi as usual insists that we must find that coveted “paper trail documentation”).

As Shi suggests, slave schedules open the possibility that Robert could have fathered Fanny’s children, despite the report that it was Liberty.

Compounded Complexities

There is, of course, the chance that Fanny’s children, as listed in the 1860 Census, had more than one white father. It is also possible that they were born in Kentucky to more than one slave mother. Since all the Craig Langfords in Ohio are listed as “black,” we might also learn that Craig, while working as a Langford slave in Kentucky, fathered them all (except, perhaps, Nancy and Ann). Further, it is possible that not all of Craig’s children were born of the same mother – especially after their master claimed Fanny as his mistress. The complexities, trying to compile family group records for former slaves, boggle the mind!

There is, however, a grain of truth in most family legends. Shi and I resolved to find all the documentation we can to either strengthen or dismiss this family tale about a white Langford’s slave children.

DNA Dilemma

I began to hope that DNA testing might with certainty place Fanny’s children with their father(s). This hope was fortified by Part II of the PBS special, “African American Life” that traced the DNA of famous black persons like Oprah to specific locales!

Then a cousin told me about the article, “In Our Blood,” in the Feb. 6, 2006 Newsweek that cautions about DNA test limitations. An insert on page 54 asks: “Did Thomas Jefferson father as many as six children with his slave Sally Hemings? In 1998, scientists tracing the Y chromosome from father to son said, ‘Yes, Jefferson was the most likely candidate – at least for one of Hemings’s children.’ But the controversy continues because DNA evidence can’t absolutely prove it; another male Jefferson could have been the culprit.”

We may never prove who fathered Fanny’s children. For now, I have placed them all in my Craig Langford family group, with accompanying notes about potential biological white blood. In some cases all we can do is take a combination of facts, common sense, and DNA evidence, while continuing the search for better documentation.

PART II – My Father’s Folk Intervene

After all the excitement, finding Fanny in Ohio, I tried to learn all I could about life in Rockcastle County, just before the 1860 Census. At BYU’s Harold B. Lee Library, I found the history of a bordering county: Madison County: 200 Years in Retrospect,” by William E. Ellis, H. E. Everman, and Richard D. Sears (published by the Madison County Historical Society). This volume brought alive the rioting, threats of violence, and arson perpetrated by area pro-slavery factions (see pp. 123-153). For a while there in Rockcastle, communicants at churches with abolitionist ministers were mainly women, while their men stood in surrounding woods, guns aimed at would-be arsonists, who did succeed in turning one Rockcastle church to ashes. On another occasion, they burned down the home of an abolitionist whose young family narrowly escaped the flames.

In one case, John G. Fee, an abolitionist minister, was forcibly removed from his pulpit and marched more than ten miles, from Rockcastle County to nearby Crab Orchard (where my ancestor Fielding Langford was born in 1804, but left long before).

Jesse Keeps the Peace

In 1860, a pro-slavery Kentucky legislature passed a law that any citizen freeing slaves had to get them out of the state. Also, no freed slaves could enter the state. Perhaps provisions in this law convinced the Langfords to free and transport their slaves. But how, we wondered, did they accomplish that?

I googled “Craig Langford,” without expecting to find much. Up came the link to a page about abolitionist activities of Levi Coffin (http://www.waynet.org/nonprofit/coffin.htm), a member of the Society of Friends (“Quakers”) and reputed president of the Underground Railroad. His home had a hidden door behind a bed and a covered inside well. With the support of his wife Catharine, he helped more than 2,000 slaves find their way to freedom!

Levi and I both descend from Tristram Coffin, my father’s ancestor, who was born in 1609, in Plymouth, England, but left his native country to become a founding father of Nantucket.

Levi’s journal (http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Plains/2064/undrgrd.htm) tells of his visits with the Stubbs family in West Elkton, Indiana, in their joint endeavors to free slaves. The “Squire Stubbs” he stayed with on one stop was probably Jesse Stubbs, then Justice of the Peace.

This site tells how Jesse advanced most of the $5,062 needed to free an entire slave family. Then he traveled, in 1858, to Rockcastle County, Kentucky to redeem the Craig Langfords! (More levitation, this time with spirit from my father’s side.)

I reviewed my extract of the 1870 Census that lists Craig and Fanny and children, in Ohio. Look at the name of their last child:

60/60 Langford, Craig 52M B Farmer 1100 Kentucky
, Fanny 43F B Keep House Kentucky
, Robert 22M B Farm Laborer Kentucky
, Walter 20M B Farm Laborer Kentucky
, Annie 16F B At Home Kentucky
, Isaac 15M B At Home Kentucky
, Stephen 11M B At Home Kentucky [Ohio, 1860]
, Jesse S. 9M B Kentucky [Ohio]

(Source: HeritageQuest on-line image: P.O. Jacksonsborough, Wayne Township, Butler County, Ohio – Series M593, Roll 1177, Page 490, taken 4 June 1870.)

I learned from additional reading that Craig and family prospered in Ohio and managed to pay back most of what Jesse Stubbs and his neighbors raised to free them. In the 1900 Census, I find Jesse Langford at age 39, with his wife and son, living near two brothers and between two white families. Two houses up live Joseph Stubbs, age 65, and wife Esther, 62. They have to have been connected to the Jesse Stubbs who freed the Langfords. I like to think that Jesse shoveled their snow for them, from time to time, there in Gratis, Preble, Ohio.

Better than Fiction

Shi and I have quite a challenge, trying to find documentation, so we can sort fact from fiction, in this family story. For now, it’s fun to think that my father’s relatives helped redeem a family owned by my mother’s! History sometimes reads better than fiction.

[Photo is in Mom Ida-Rose L. Hall’s media file–shb.]

The author’s family in 1976: Back L-R Sherlene, H. Tracy, Jr., Elizabeth, David R; Front L-R Virginia, Charlotte, H. Tracy, Sr. (sustained that day as an LDS bishop), Ida-Rose (Langford), and Nancy Hall.

Since learning about Quaker participation, freeing the Craig Langfords, I have written letters, hoping to learn how these Indiana abolitionists learned about and decided to free this particular slave family. Are there receipts, I ask, telling who accepted the $5,062 redemption for this family? How did Jesse Stubbs travel to Rockcastle, and how did he get these slaves out? Did he perhaps make use of the Langford Station Underground Railroad stop? Is it possible that Jesse knew the money would go to strengthen the abolitionist cause in Kentucky? (I know we’re optimistic, but we can always hope, can’t we?) Is there a record of how the Craig Langfords paid off their freedom debt and to whom? Has correspondence from descendants of Craig and Fanny been preserved?

Anguish at “The Tree”

There are those who never ask questions about their family history, for fear of what they might learn. To remain in such ignorance is itself a form of self-enslavement. Others very well know the facts, but prefer to sweep them under that already-bulging rug, caring little how their children might fall, tripping over what they cannot see.

We all need to overcome insecurities that make us afraid to know who we really are. Nothing we ever find can override the fact that we are all created in the image of our Savior, who said: “… If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples, indeed. And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” [John 8:31-32] Then He went on to explain what His fellow Jews might have learned from their Abrahamic genealogy (and what we might also learn from ours).

Abolitionist Langfords in Nauvoo

I descend from Walker Lankford who married Mary or “Polly” Warren, of Lincoln County, Kentucky and Clay County, Indiana. In 1830, his son Fielding married Sarah, who was born in 1809, in Rockcastle County, to David P. and Margaret (Kincaid) Bethurem. The young couple soon moved to Indiana, where they converted to the “Mormon” faith in 1843. With other “saints,” they gathered to Nauvoo, Illinois, in time to join the trek across Iowa to Council Bluffs. In 1850, they were living in Platte County, Missouri, but in 1852 migrated to the Salt Lake Valley.

After surviving all that, Sarah died in 1863 from the bite of a black widow spider. I yearn to find a picture of my Sarah, but perhaps she died too soon. We do have one of Fielding in his old age, posing with children by his next wife, Carolyn Christina Bocker, whom he married in 1865, in Salt Lake City. She, however, is not in the picture. By then she had divorced him, purportedly for his whiskey habit. It probably also did not help that Fielding was Swedish-born Carolyn’s senior by forty-three years!

[Photo inserted here, is attached, in Mom Ida-Rose L. Hall’s media file–shb.]

Fielding Langford and children by 2nd wife, Caroline Christina Bocker (from an old tin-type taken about 1880-82). L-R: Joseph, Fielding, Wm. Henry, Anna Caroline, Cynthia Elizabeth, and Malinda Melvina Langford.

Whatever his faults, I love Fielding for having the courage to join a new and different religion that has so blessed my life. I admire his thrifty, hard-working stamina, pioneering the West, drawing on skills he saw his colonizing fathers in the US South apply. Learning to creatively adapt, as they faced new, trying situations, he and Sarah managed to raise a healthy clan that gave me a phenomenal Langford mother.

Fielding and his family missed all the civil rights excitement in Kentucky, but saw plenty of their own in the form of persecution against the concentrated “Mormon” population in Nauvoo. Such trials did not seem to dampen their hope for that better future they did carve out for us, their descendants.

Find an Ancestor – Find yourself!

I am also inspired, learning more about my paternal-line Quakers who, as noted on the above-mentioned site, did not wink at injustice that for many had become a way of life. They did more about it than complain or write a letter to the editor. Taking action, they slowly changed opinions and altered custom – often at significant personal cost.

I also have empathy for slaveholders who found themselves entrenched in what had been a way of life for generations. How difficult it must have been to have all that household and field help and then be forced, either by conscience or circumstance, to give it up.

Before then, it must have been perplexing for children of slaveholders to see how different life was for half brothers and sisters. In situations where slave masters were abusive, studies show those tendencies carried down for generations, within families. Again, I admire the fortitude of Langford families who apparently tried to leave the system. Local pressure on those with Union sympathies was not exactly life-promoting.

Some of us don’t like learning that our ancestors were alcoholics or had slaves, much less that they bred additional “property” with them. On the other hand, knowing more about family history helps us better comprehend why we feel and act the way we do and to better guard against what may be inherited blind spots.

Speaking for myself, these family discoveries fortify my resolve to look at my environment with less complacency – to do what I can to not only change evils in society, but also to adjust attitudes and practices I better recognize as part of my own personal legacy.

We all might hope, as well, to build on accompanying virtues evident in every family line. God seems inclined to reveal a fair share of both the negative and positive in each of us, both to keep us humble and extend encouragement.

Magnificent Wonder!

At varying times, some branches on our family tree seem more straight and true than others. All, however, produce good fruit that, unless tended well, attracts spoil and canker. We stretch to pick the best and try to ignore the bad. Finding soft spots in the past, we excise them for our future, with help from the Master Chef. The result is a fresh pie so divinely aromatic, vibrantly colorful and flavorful that we who taste of it can hardly wait to prepare tables and share it.

The magnificent wonder is that our Father in Heaven, in His great love, invites us, His children all, into His vineyard to with faith cultivate our inheritance. There each of us not only finds vital root, but by virtue of our Lord’s tender mercies, becomes more strong, resilient, and trusting, as we reap His redeeming bounty.
__________

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Copyright 2006, Sherlene Hall Bartholomew (on MS I sent them, per our agreement that I could use anything I write however I want, so long as I include a note that it was first published by Meridian–shb.)

© 106 Meridian Magazine. All Rights Reserved. [sic on the year–shb]

[Note: Just as this went to press and too late to be included, I found George Lankford in the 1860 Census (with age to match the 3rd slave in the 1850 schedule of slaves owned by Robert Langford). Who was George living with? The Jesse Stubbs family! One might conclude that Jesse dropped off the Craig Langford family, in Wayne, Butler, Ohio, then took George (and another 19 yr. old female mulatto listed under George in this census) home with him. Or, I speculate that perhaps George escaped earlier, was hired to help run Jesse’s huge farm and was the reason Jesse and his neighbors chose to redeem the rest of the Langford slaves from their bondage in Rockcastle County–who knows? Perhaps some of this surmising will lead us to the facts–shb.]

[Note: Since the above, I have probably also found Craig’s daughter Ann, working in the 1880 Census, in the household of D. C. Stubbs, “Former State Representative,” who lives only four doors down from Jesse and Mary Stubbs, there in Gratis, Preble, Ohio. I find her listed with the Craig Langfords in 1880 at age twenty-six, so she must have migrated and perhaps fudged her age, as if this is the same Ann in the D. C. Stubbs household, she gives her name (or it is falsely recorded) as age 22. She is listed as a single black female “Servant,” born in Kentucky, both parents born in Kentucky–shb.]

*************
[Note: See “QUAKER CONDUCTORS” title, below, for some information copied over from this site that gives more detail than my story, below–shb.]

WILL DNA ALONE SOLVE THE DILEMMA ABOUT PARENTS OF CHILDREN IN THE CRAIG LANGFORD FAMILY? Here’s a letter from Shiron Wordsworth, responding to a note from Delight Heckelman. of 15 Feb 2006 (first below):

“Hi Sherlene,

“What fascinating info about the Langfords & Halls. It would make a great article for the ‘Meridian’ in my opinion. Since February is Black History month it would be very timely.

“There is an article in the Feb. 6, 2006 Newsweek about DNA you might want to read. It is titled “In Our Blood” and starts on page 47. There is an insert on page 54, and I quote, “Did Thomas Jefferson father as many as six children with his slave Sally Hemings? In 1998, scientists tracing the Y chromosome from father to son said, ‘Yes, Jefferson was the most likely candidate – at least for one of Hemings’s children’. But the controversy continues because DNA evidence can’t absolutely prove it; another male Jefferson could have been the culprit.”

“Go for it gal!

“Delight” –shb 16 Feb 2006 I told her this article was very helpful, as after seeing part of a PBS special about DNA I got the impression they had much more positive conclusions than appears to be the case, to which Delight responds: “Talk about ‘coincidence’. My high school friend that lives in Florida sent me the DNA article last week. She knows that I do family research and she thought I would find it interesting. The Lord knew that you would need this information. Cuz”

[Now, Shiron Wordsworth’s response]:

“Hi, Cuz!

“It’s a fine line between DNA and logical assumptions, isn’t it? With regard to Jefferson, since T.J. only had daughters by his wife, Martha, how much chance is there that another Jefferson fathered the children that Sally Hemmings bore while she was the slave mistress of Thomas Jefferson? I don’t recall from the histories I’ve read about Jefferson that he had brothers in or around Monticello or even cousins. Also, Sally’s children were all conceived at times when Jeffferson was home at Monticello. She never bore a child that was conceived when he was away from home.

“Then, too, the fact that Jefferson freed Sally Hemmings’ children when they came of age indicates to me that he might have thought they were his children. At least one daughter went north and “passed” marrying a white man in the city of Boston if memory serves me correctly. Sally Hemmings was Martha Jefferson’s half sister. Sally was a quadroon, and by some accounts looked like her sister, Martha. Also…there are those tales of the redheaded, pale-skinned slaves who served Jefferson’s table and looked enough like him to make guests take note of the oddity and record the fact.

“I think Jefferson is a great example of where facts, logic, and DNA combine to give pretty convincing evidence as to who sired Sally Hemmings’ children. DNA won’t tell the whole tale. But where DNA combines with logic and historical facts, the result is pretty compelling.
“Just some DNA thoughts I have. They may be useless, or maybe…wonder of wonders…they might someday combine to unravel our own history. Sure hope so!

“Shi” –shb 16 Feb 2006

“QUAKER CONDUCTORS ON THE UNDERGROUND RAILWAY [copied over from site listed, above–shb]:

“Every age has its evils, but though the moral quandaries each generation faces differ, the ways in which people react to them are universal. In all times and places the majority accept life as they find it, either seeing no wrong, accepting a ‘necessary evil’ or simply believing that there is nothing that can be done to change matters. In all times and places a precious few have chosen to stand against the evils of their day, to convince others of the rightness of their cause and attempt to change the ‘inevitable’. They have often done so at great risk to themselves and their families, many have lost their lives and liberty. Often they do not succeed or at least to do not live to see that they have succeeded. Most are forgotten, for after the evil is gone the majority do not like to be reminded of the fact that opposing that evil was, after all, possible. These stories are here to remind us– and also to remember and honor the few who have made such a difference in the lives of us all.

“The Underground Railroad

“Prepared by D. P. Stubbs for 1995 Stubbs Cousins’ Reunion
Note: This is from a book by Dan Stubbs. You can contact him at: Dpstubbs@aol.com. Also see his web page at: http://members.aol.com/dpstubbs/.

“In the years before the Civil War many slaves escaped from their masters in the slave states and fled to free states in the north and then on to freedom in Canada. People in the United States became increasingly opposed to slavery during these years and were called Abolitionists for their desire to abolish slavery. Members of the Society of Religious Friends, commonly called Quakers, reflected these attitudes.

“Many Quakers felt the desire to help escaping slaves on their way to Canada. Because of the Fugitive Slave Act, this was, strictly speaking, illegal. Thus, although slavery was strongly opposed by Quakers, there was much disagreement about how to oppose it, particularly in how to deal with slave fugitives. Some members of the Quaker community became active very early in assisting run away slaves. One such person was Levi Coffin who helped fleeing slaves in his youth in North Carolina. Later, after moving to Indiana and Ohio, he was derisively labeled the ‘President of the Underground Railroad’ by angry slave holders. Levi Coffin wrote a detailed account of his life’s work attempting to abolish slavery and to free slaves in 1876. He included many heart rending stories of slave conditions and escape attempts both successful and unsuccessful. His writings are of particular interest to us because of the backgrounds of many families who migrated to this part of Minnesota from Indiana and Ohio. Levi Coffin certainly met Henry Stubbs and influenced many of the Stubbses and other Quaker families of West Elkton to help in the Underground Railroad. Henry’s son (Charles) Rolla Stubbs wrote in his memoirs,

“‘My brother Joel was very active in helping fleeing slaves. He and father Henry helped transport many of them across into Indiana. They fed and clothed them as needed, too. It was 30 miles from our farm at West Elkton to the next ‘station’ and they took a covered wagon at night with the slaves hidden under quilts and supposedly market bound farm produce heading to Richmond. It was a dangerous and risky business with fierce slave hunters seen frequently in our area.’

“While still living in Indiana north of Richmond, Mr. Coffin often had business in Cincinnati. On one trip he was asked to take a slave girl from Boone County, Kentucky to a place of safety. She had made a daring escape across the Ohio River and was being pursued. The party stopped first at Hamilton and

“‘Next morning–it being the Sabbath day–we went on about eight miles to West Elkton, a Friends’ settlement, to attend meeting a spend the day. Meeting had just commenced when we arrived. My wife took the fugitive into meeting with her and seated her by her side. This was the first time the girl had ever attended a Quaker meeting. At its close I introduced her to a number of our friends, as a run away slave from Kentucky. She was the first that had been seen at that place, and a mysterious influence seemed to invest her at once. Men lowered their voices as if in awe, when they inquired about her, and some of them seemed alarmed, as if there was danger in the very air that a fugitive slave breathed. I spoke in a loud, cheerful tone and asked, “Why do you lower your voices? Are you afraid of anything? Have you bloodhounds among you? If so, you ought to drive them out of your village.” We stopped at the house of Widow Stubbs, a thorough abolitionist, and soon afterward one of her neighbors, a man with whom I was well acquainted, came in to inquire concerning the girl.
He asked if she was safe, whether she had not better be secreted, etc., all the time speaking in a low tone. I said, “What is the matter, Henry? What makes thee speak so cautiously? Is there any one in your village who would capture a fugitive slave? If there is, hunt him up and bring him here. I would like to introduce this young lady to him. I think we could make an abolitionist of him. For my part, I have no fears of any one in this village, and think thou may make thyself quite easy.”

“‘In the course of the afternoon quite a number of people came in who seemed concerned in a similar manner for the safety of the girl, but seeing me so entirely at ease, their fear and anxiety passed away.

“‘This public exposition of a fugitive slave, at Friends’ meeting and in the village seemed to have a good effect in the place, for West Elkton afterward became one of our best Underground Railroad depots, and the timid man first alluded to became one of the most zealous workers on the road.”

“Levi Coffin’s book provides us with many details about the life and times in Ohio and Indiana during the middle of the 19th century. He also mentions West Elkton later in his book where he ‘stopped at the house of “Squire Stubbs”, a well known abolitionist.’ This may refer to Jesse Stubbs who was a Justice of the Peace.

“At the beginning of the more organized efforts that Mr. Coffin took part in to help fleeing slaves, his group was driven out of the main body of Quakers in Indiana, for a time. After a few years, the opinions of the majority of Quakers came around to the Abolitionist view and the factions were reunited. Mr. Coffin acknowledges the support of his friend, Jacob Grave from Richmond, Indiana during his efforts to obtain goods made without slave labor. Jacob Grave (Jr.) was Mary Stroud Grave’s (Henry Stubbs’ 3rd wife) father.

“‘Besides the many obstacles I had to encounter in obeying the dictates of my conscience on this subject, I had to contend with innumerable discouragements, and to endure much ridicule. I had to meet the arguments of the pro-slavery party, but I also had the support of many warm friends, who harmonized with me and encouraged me in the work, and were willing, at any sacrifice, to abstain from the use of slave-labor products. In my own neighborhood such prominent men of our society as … were advocates of free labor, and in other neighborhoods I had many true friends, such as William Beard, Jacob Grave, Daniel Worth, and others.’

“Records in the Richmond (Indiana) Historical Society tell of Jacob Grave being removed from the Quaker meeting in 1842 for his views in support of abolition.

“Henry’s [Henry Stubb, an abolitionist friend of Levi Coffin–shb] uncle Samuel also moved to West Elkton in 1805 and his son Jesse remained at the family farm. He was a Justice of the Peace and was involved in the Underground Railroad that spirited escaping slaves to freedom in the North and Canada. In 1858 he traveled to Kentucky to purchase the family of a black man, Craig Langford, into freedom. $5,062 was raised in the community, much of it advanced by Jesse himself for this purpose. This family was bought out of slavery and brought to the slave free states. Mr. Langford was later able to refund most of these contributions.” –shb 11 Feb 2006

After I forwarded this site to Shiron and the rest of our Langfords, she responded, same day:
“This is most interesting! I looked at the email sent to me which first suggested that Liberty had slave children by Fanny and that he ‘sent’ his family north. If it hadn’t been for this email from January 2004, I would have had no idea Liberty even had slave children.

“Here’s what I noticed and what this email says.

“‘Vital Statistics have recorded birth of Liberty’s dau., Nancy, b. 1852 mother (slave) Fanny, Liberty & Fanny had another dau., Ann, b. 7 Nov 1853” [Note: I matched these dates (that Shiron had sent, earlier), in deciding that the Craig Langford family I found in the 1860 Census of Wayne, Butler, Ohio, had to be Liberty’s Fanny and family–shb.]

“Wonder if we could tap into those Vital Statistics which I assume must be from Ohio and get the record of Liberty’s name as father to Nancy and Ann. That would be the ultimate paper trail settling once and for all just which children belonged to Liberty and Fanny and which children belonged to Craig and Fanny. Do you know how to access those records? I’ll give it a look on the Internet, and you let me know if you find anything.

“Once more on the hunt,

“Shi” –shb 11 Feb 2006

Sherlene

OHIO, AS PART OF THE “UNDERGROUND RAILROAD” As posted by Sherry Badgley Ryan, on the Highland County, Ohio GenWeb site: “Ohio was an important route on the Underground Railroad, which was neither underground or a railroad. It was a loose network of safe houses operated mostly by church members, free blacks and others opposed to slavery. Ohio was the only state in which a slave could run all the way to Canada after crossing the Ohio river. There was close to 400 documented sites that were in Ohio . . . .” –shb 19 Jul 2002

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June 7, 2006 - Posted by | Genealogy, Ohio Langfords

3 Comments »

  1. I am in shock. I am descended from the Stubbs family of Preble County, Ohio and have been researching the various lines since finding a treasure trove of artifacts in my mother’s attic after her death. Her ancestors were all Quakers involved in the Underground Railroad. I was fortunate to grow up in the house some of those ancestors built in Clinton County, Ohio.

    I came across your site while tracking down information on some “Mystery Stubbs”, so to speak. What is shocking is that my father’s side of the family are Langfords from Rockcastle County, Kentucky!! What hilarious irony! To think that my mother’s ancestors helped free slaves held by my father’s ancestors, a century before either was were ever born!

    Now, the really good stuff: amongst the treasure trove we found was a large photo album containing photographs of numerous Stubbs ancestors. Included in the album were photos of two African Americans that none of our family experts have been able to identify. My sister and I felt certain they must have been some of the slaves the Stubbs family helped to freedom at some point. You may have solved our mystery!!

    I just cannot stop laughing. Thank you so much for your wonderfully detailed information.

    Comment by Jennifer | June 26, 2007 | Reply

  2. To answer your question on how Jesse stubbs knew about the Langford family i might have some answers. According to some historical records here in Preble County, Ohio (which is where West Elkton is located, not Indiana as u have written) Craig Langford had been freed by Liberty and was living here in Preble County. Butler County census took over the census of the southern part of the county at that time. Anyway, Craig approached Jesse who was a good friend of his about going to Kentucky and purchasing his wife and 7 children who were still slaves. Jesse Stubbs agreed to pay the remaining balance from his own pocket after severeal residents gifted Craig some money. $5,062.00 is what Stubbs paid out of his own pocket. According to records at the Preble County Historical Society, in the winter of 1858 Jesse Stubbs traveled south and bought the Langfords legally and brought them back to Preble County, Ohio. Craig paid Jesse back every cent owed by working it off in trade and paying cash for other jobs he had done. Craig Langford passed away in 1881 and is buried in the cemetery at West Elkton, Ohio. U can search the Find A Grave website using his name and find his memorial along with a photo of his tombstone. According to all our records all children born to Fanny were fathered by Craig. But who knows, he could have just claimed them as his. As for the children having predominantly white names, most of the freed and escaped slaves that settled here in this county had white names. So did Fanny and Craig for that matter. Not all slave owners named their slaves mingo or such names. I hope that this has helped u out in some way. My email is sbresher@yahoo.com if u have any more questions i may help with.

    Comment by Sarah Wallen | July 31, 2013 | Reply

  3. My family and I have been researching the Langford history for years and trying to find the connection. The Langfords in my family are mostly of fair skin and the further you go back they are of fair skin with green eyes. being a woman of color I was curious to know if my ancestors had taken on their owners name or if it had been by blood. After taking a DNA test my test came out positive and showed that I shared DNA with a Cordelia Langford who parents were Quakers. I find the information you mention very informative because my langford family live in Danville,Ky and some migrated to OH.

    Comment by Shannon Langford | June 5, 2015 | Reply


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