Leon Reporter, Leon, Iowa Thursday, January l5, l903
'Slaves Were Once Held as Chattels in Decatur County' ----------------------- In a recent issue of the Daily Capital there appeared an editorial entitled "Leaves from History."The editorial gave some important historical events in connection with the settlement and early history of Iowa, and ended with this statement: "It seems strange to think that slavery existed so close to Iowa.It is pleasing to reflect that her soil was never stained."The early history of Ringgold County somewhat disproves the statement, and tells that two young slaves were actually sold in this county many years ago.
As a matter of fact, however, slavery as an institution was never countenanced in the State of Iowa.The sale spoken of was in Middle Fork Township.In the early days it was often difficult to locate the boundary line between Missouri and Iowa, and the man who sold the slaves must have thought that he was doing business in Missouri and not in Iowa.
The discussion was brought about by GREER SPRINGER of Decatur County.He happened to be familiar with the early history of Decatur and Ringgold Counties, and of Iowa as well, and in a letter to the Capital says there are several instances where "slaves have been owned and sold on Iowa soil."Continuing, he says: "On page 411, "History of Ringgold County, Iowa, I find the following very interesting bit of history:"
"One authentic instance is known of slavery in this county (Ringgold).L.P. ALLEN, a native of buncombe County, North Carolina, came to this county in the spring of l852, and settled in what is now Middle Fork Township.He possessed at that time and for six months afterwards, two young negroes, a boy and a girl, aged about l4 and l6 respectively.
In the autumn he sold them to a man from near St. Joseph, Missouri for $l,l00.WILLIAM FIERCHALL, now of Worth County, Missouri, was a witness of this sale, and saw $600 of the money paid.ALLEN lived in Ringgold County for thirteen years.
Again on page 711, "History of Ringgold and Decatur Counties," I find the following:
"Before the settlement of the boundary question (referring to the dispute between Iowa and Missouri on that point) several slaves were held in the south part of Decatur County.We find the following among the early records:
"I, JOHN MCDANIEL, of the County of Decatur and State of Iowa, do hereby release, give up and set at liberty as a free man, GEORGE A. BLACK, a colored man, who has resided in my family from boyhood.Said man is about 45 years old at this time, about five feet eleven inches high."
"Witness my hand and seal this 25th day of February, A.D. l852.[L.S.]"JOHN MCDANIEL"
Continuing the account says:
"GEORGE died in the south part of the county or the edge of Missouri, MCDANIEL moved to Oregon years ago."
I think that many instances of human slavery existing in Iowa can be shown but this is sufficient.
The reason for slaves being held on Iowa soil is that for years the boundary between Iowa and Missouri was in dispute.Iowa claimed her southern line to be the southern survey which began at the foot of the Des Moines rapids in the Mississippi.Missouri claimed her northern line to be the northern survey which began at the head of the rapids -- a difference of about nine miles in distance.Iowa finally won her point and the southern survey was finally made the line.Men owning slaves on Iowa soil contended they were in Missouri."
Copied by Nancee(McMurtrey)Seifert "With permission from the Leon Journal Reporter" February 20, 2003 * I have shared with all of you that JOHN MCDANIEL was my gggg grandfather, and he came from Mercer Co., Virginia in l837 and lived in Burrell Township.The story goes that after freeing GEORGE, he and several members of his family went via the Oregon trail to Jackson County, Oregon, where they operated the first saw and flour mill there.His son, JOHN ANDREW MCDANIEL married a mulatto woman by the name of Priscilla Johnson.Her family had at one time resided in Decatur County and had accompanied the McDaniels to Oregon where they had adjoining land.The story also goes that GEORGE stayed with Allen Scott until he died -- staying in the same area where JOHN MCDANIEL had lived.