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Underground Railroad Research Forum

Re: Piatt of Ohio
In Response To: Re: Piatt of Ohio ()

I did quite a lot of research on this subject a few years back. There is no documentation that the Piatts were UGRR agents. In fact, in Wilbur Siebert's first book he identifies them as pro-slavery folks, HIs research notes - including letters from people who had been involved in the UGRR in that area and contemporary news clippings shows clearly that the Piats were not part of the network and as posted by Art earlier, thwarted efforts of freedom seekers to escape. The story about the "mannequin" or lawn jockey first appears in 1951 in Siebert's Mysteries of the UGRR in Ohio. Here in this book he goes from identifying the Piatts in the 1890s as pro slavery to UGRR agents in 1950. He completely leaves out the testimony he had from his earlier research demonstarting the important black network in teh region that ran the UGRR there. I believe that elsewhere on this list serv are posting from a Piatt descendant who believes the claims about Elizabeth Piatt and the lawn jockey were made up by her father (?) or grandfather (?) when he was interviewed by Siebert in 1948-9. This would make sense. The icing on the cake is that lawn jockeys were not even created until after the Civil War. Art explained that teh judge himself was most definitely pro-slavery. His wife may not have been, but that isn't evidence enough to claim she was the UGRR agent, especially when the original history with first person testimony revealed the network was African American centered, not white. These records are located at Houghton Library at Harvard. There is a significant collection of Siebert papers there, some of which are not duplicated in the Ohio Archives collection.

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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