The new mural in downtown Marshall highlights many key locations and events of this historic city. One of the big questions is “who is the man who is shown inside the “S” in Marshall? Click the image of the mural to get the complete description of the images that are part of the design.
For a complete history of the Adam Crosswhite affair, that happened on January 26, 1847, click this link: http://marshallmich.net/history/
January 26, 1847—was probably the most eventful day in the history of Marshall.
Michigan had become a state exactly 10 years prior on January 26, 1837.
Marshall has been founded only seven years before the statehood date – in 1830 by Sidney Ketchum.
Adam Crosswhite, a black man, was living in Marshall with his family. At 4:00 a.m., four men from Kentucky came into town, to seize Crosswhite and his family under the Fugitive Slave Law of 1793 and return them to bondage. The men of Marshall were notified of the situation by “Auction Bell” a man riding a horse and ringing a bell. He was shouting that “the slave catchers are at the Crosswhites.”
The Marshall group took over and arrested the men from Kentucky, allowing the Crosswhites to escape. There was a price to be paid later, and the history link above show more detail.
But on this page, we wonder, where did the Crosswhites go when they left Marshall and left the United States?
Here are some clues found at the Buxton National Historic Site and Museum, in North Buxton, Ontario, Canada.
This educational panel about the conflict in the United States about slavery before the Civil War features the Adam Crosswhite affair in Marshall
Fighting Back In 1843, Adam Crosswhite and his family had escaped from the Giltner farm in Kentucky to Marshall, Michigan, where they lived until 1847, when Francis Giltner sent a group of men to recapture them.A group of blacks and whites in Marshall resisted the capture and the Crosswhites were able to escape and settle in Chatham. (Canada) They later settled in Buxton, returning to Marshall after the Civil War.”If the slaveholder has the right to seize a fugitive from slavery in a free State, let him appeal to the proper tribunals to maintain that right, instead of midnight seizure, backed by a display of bowie-knives and seven shooters.”- The Signal of Liberty, Sept. 4, 1847
Information about education offered to the people who came to Canada to find a better life.
Information about slavery before Europeans came to Africa. It was more like indentured servitude.
Buxton National Historic Site and Museum. This site was a haven of refuge for those who came to Canada.
Slaves’ descendants keep pride alive in North Buxton, Canada
FOUR years before the Civil War broke out [in the United States, 300 blacks-most of them former slaves from Southern plantations -strode quietly and proudly along the streets of the Canadian city of Chatham to vote in the Court House. They had journeyed ten miles from Buxton, an area settled six years previously by 15 freed slaves of Louisiana educator William King. When the voting ended that day, the incumbent Provincial Parliament member from the area, who had won his seat two years previously on an anti-Negro-immigration platform, had been defeated in the first demonstration of political black power on the North American continent.
Through the Civil War years Buxton enjoyed an economic and social advancement almost miraculous for people who until a few years before had been forcibly denied the right even to marry or to learn to read. In the descendants of Buxton’s settlers, the heritage of an amazing adventure in freedom lives today.
Buxton National Historic Site and Museum, A Terminus of the Underground Railroad
FINALLY, THEY COULD HAVE REAL FAMILIES ANY slaves who fled to Buxton did so not primarily to escape cruel physical punishment but rather to escape something which to many seemed far worse. Unlike the white immigrants who had come to Canada from Scotland or Ireland or from the U.S., the blacks regarded the opportunity to create and raise families as the most precious gem offered by refuge in Canada. In slavery, they had had no real hope of this. A master could at any time sell the children of his slaves. If slave parents objected to the master’s abuse of their children, the parents might be sold away while the children were kept to be further abused. In Canada, having gained freedom and control of themselves and their children, the former slaves and the free blacks who joined them demonstrated a fierce energy and will to succeed. They worked tirelessly throughout the year clearing and farming their land or helping to build the Great Western Railroad which was being extended through the area. Using $3,000 invested by blacks from Toronto and Buffalo, the Buxton settlers formed a cooperative to build a factory for making pearl ash (a type of refined potash), a brickyard and a saw-and-grist mill. The town began producing lumber and barrel staves and selling corn, wheat, oats, tobacco and other crops. Within ten years after the settlement was founded some of the former slaves had paid in full the government price for their land ($2.50 an acre), and some had enough money left to send their children to college Now that these early industries are gone, North Buxton’s wealth is mainly in farmland that has multiplied in value, and in a brilliant history it wants the world to know
This one room school house is where many of the people who escaped to freedom in Canada were educated in Buxtom, Canada.
Here is a photo of one of the classes of students in Canada.
The teachers in the one room school house had a lot of rules.
See the plot of land near the top center that was owned by Adam Crosswhite, in Buxtom Canada, where he was a land owner and tax payer
Learn more about the Buxton Museum in Canada, here:
Learn about other Resistance to Slavery events as seen from the Canadian perspective here:
Sometime after the Civil War ended in 1865, Adam Crosswhite and his wife returned to Marshall, Michigan to live their final days, and years. The couple is listed in the 1870 U.S. Federal Census, still living in Marshall. As per this source: https://nkaa.uky.edu/nkaa/items/show/583
There are two monuments to Adam Crosswhite still to be found in Marshall. One is his grave marker, that shows he died on January 23, 1878. See his site on “Find a Grave” here: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/6928464/adam-crosswhite
There is also a mention of his descendent Benjamin Franklin Crosswhite, who is also buried in Oakridge Cemetery in Marshall.
The other monument to Adam Crosswhite is located across the street from the VFW Hall on Michigan Avenue in Marshall Michigan, not far from Oaklawn Hospital.
See a map of the location of this monument and other freedom sculptures along the underground railroad here: