Stop 1: Margaret Garner


Margaret Garner, along with the rest of her family and other Boone County slaves, escaped across the frozen Ohio into Cincinnati in January 1856. Some of the group made it to Canada, but the Garner family was caught in Cincinnati. At the time of capture, Margaret killed her youngest child and appeared to attempt to kill the other children. A lengthy trial ensued to determine if Margaret would be tried for murder by the free state of Ohio or returned to Kentucky under the laws of the federal Fugitive Slave Act. Prior to her escape, Margaret was held by the Gaines Family of Maplewood Farm in Richwood and was a member of Richwood Presbyterian Church.

Story Outcomes:

Margaret Garner and family:  During the legal wrangling over the family, they were remanded to the custody of slaveholder, Archibald Gaines.  Gaines then took Margaret and her family to Louisville and had them sent on the steamer “Henry Lewis” to a relative in the Deep South, avoiding her possible extradition back to Ohio.  Along the way, the boat was involved in a collision and/or on fire, and Margaret either jumped or fell overboard with her infant daughter in her arms. The child drowned, but Margaret was rescued and she and the remainder of her family taken to New Orleans.  They were sent to LeGrand Gaines, a cotton dealer.  They were then sold to a Mississippi slaveholder, where they were put to work on the plantation. It was there, in 1858, that Margaret died of typhoid fever.  Her husband Robert joined the fight during the Civil War, then returned to the Cincinnati area after the war, where he died in 1871.  The two sons, Samuel and Thomas, stayed in the Vicksburg, MS area.