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Underground Railroad Research Forum

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

Hi Kate,

Thanks for the history on how the lawn jockey legend came about. I had seen mention of "mannequin" on earlier postings in this thread, also on some webpages I came across (regarding Piatts of Ohio).

I'll give you an overview of some of the things I've come across in my research on the Piatts. This was all fairly recent information for me, as I have the much larger fugitive slave project ongoing. I think that all of this bears closer scrutiny, but each point is pretty well documented.
*Jacob Piatt (father to Benjamin of Logan County), built his home on the Ohio River, directly across from Lawrenceburg, IN. He dedicated his war pension to the building of a Presbyterian church, of which he was a founding member and deacon for 30 years. Rev. Henry Ward Beecher preached there as a young man for several years, and it is now named for him. Of course, this doesn't constitute a smoking gun, but it is an interesting paradox.

*Daniel Piatt (brother to Jacob above) had a daughter, Martha, who married Benjamin F. Bedinger, of Boone County, who was a third generation preacher of the Richwood Presbyterian Church, all spoke frequently of their abolitionist feelings, though the eldest owned slaves (?)

Of the Benjamin/Elizabeth Piatt family, I find the following:

* Donn Piatt, (I'm sure you've come across him in the information on his parents), was a close friend of Salmon Chase, and many sources I've encountered describe Piatt as "strongly anti-slavery". The story goes that he clashed with Lincoln over his aggressive recruitment of slaves in Maryland. Lincoln was angry that he would alienate too many slave owners, shifting Maryland to the Confederacy.

*Benjamin Piatt Runkle, son of Hannah Issabella Piatt (Benjamin and Elizabeth's daughter)- was the US Chief Supt. of the Freedman's Bureau of KY (also served in Memphis)- although he had legal wranglings after his term regarding disbursement (he was exonerated), the striking thing I encountered was his speech of 1868, Louisville, KY, given to an audience of mostly Freedmen, praising the military accomplishments of the "colored troops", extolling the importance of education, and demanding the right to vote. It seemed quite progressive for the time. I still want to look at the mis-management piece of the puzzle, though.

I digress, there are other items, but they still need a hard look. I kept seeing mention of Elizabeth B. Piatt's family as having strong abolitionist view, but I have yet to find specifics of this.

I agree about the importance of the free black communities and their role in aiding and protecting fugitives. Boone County felt the presence of Elijah Anderson (born in VA, moved to Indiana, eventually) pretty fully when he helped so many local slaves to freedom.

Thanks again for all of your contributions to this ongoing study. I will post again if/when I come up with something interesting.

Thanks again,


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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