Thursday, December 03, 2009

Illinois' Slave History Talk Set for Dec. 12

Union County historian Darrell Dexter will offer an intersting presentation on Sunday, December 12, 2009, about the history of one particular slave family from Union County. Descendants of both the slave and the slave master's family are expected to attend.

The Southern Illinoisan has an article:
Dexter has traced the life of Daugherty, who was brought into Illinois as a 5-year-old slave in 1810. His master, Owen Evans, was a tavern keeper and territorial legislator who had settled around 1807 in the western part of what is now Union County. Evans became indebted and began selling his slaves in 1819. He took Harry's mother north and sold her to pay some of his debts. A few years later Owens moved to Tipton County, Tennessee, taking Harry along.

In 1833, Harry ran away from the Evans plantation in Tennessee and headed north to find his mother. He was captured in Southern Illinois and turned over to Owen Evans' brother, George, in Union County. Harry filed a freedom suit in Johnson County, but a judge in Vienna ordered Harry to be auctioned off to pay debts that Owen Evans had left behind when he moved from Illinois.

Harry's lawyer was John Dougherty of Jonesboro, who later became an Illinois lieutenant governor. Dougherty purchased Harry at the auction in front of the courthouse for $33.

Dexter's presentation will be at 2 p.m. during the monthly meeting of the Genealogy Society of Southern Illinois in the library at John A. Logan College in Carterville, Illinois. The public is invited.

Dexter, who edited Saga, the society's quarterly prior to going back for his master's degree, has long researched the history of African-American settlements in Southern Illinois, through the mostly-forgotten court records that have survived in our region's courthouses.

I found his early work published in Saga as well as a new history of Union County, extremely helpful in my work on researching the Old Slave House. He has a new book coming out sometime next year based on the work he did for his thesis. The book's title is Bondage in Egypt: Slavery and the Underground Railroad in Southern Illinois. Southeast Missouri State University Press is the publisher.

CORRECTION - Actually it's SEMO's Center for Regional History that's publishing the Dexter's new book. While they are already taking pre-orders ($20, plus, $4 s/h), the book won't be out until "early next year".