The Hunt For John Price


The Hunt for John Price
One fugitive slave case that came to national attention began in August 1858 in Maysville, Kentucky, when Andrew Jennings crossed the Ohio River and headed north. Jennings was described as a big, brawny man well over six feet in height. His purpose for going to Ohio was to track down fugitive slaves and return them to Kentucky. He was also a slave owner but in August 1858 his job was that of a bounty hunter. His destination was the small college town of Oberlin Ohio. Why Oberlin? Ever since its founding by Congregationalists in 1833, Oberlin College had a reputation as a base for abolitionists and the education of women. Both were radical departures from the conservative beliefs of many Americans. Jennings suspected that there were fugitive slaves being harbored in or near Oberlin. He quickly contacted Deputy U.S. Marshal A.P. Dayton of the northern district of Ohio, a political appointee, who provided Jennings with information about fugitive slaves in the Oberlin area. The name of John Price, an alleged fugitive from Kentucky, was given Jennings. Jennings learned that a power of attorney from Price's owner, a resident of Kentucky, had been given to another bounty hunter. Jennings quickly obtained the power of attorney and then departed Oberlin for Columbus. Once in Columbus he went to the office of Stone Chittenden the U.S. Commissioner for Ohio to obtain a warrant as required by the Act of 1850. By September 10 Jennings had a warrant issued by Chittenden for "John" a fugitive escaped from his owner John Bacon of Maysville, Kentucky.
Jennings acted quickly on his warrant for "John" and together with Marshal Dayton seized John Price while he was digging potatoes in a field near the village of Pittsfield not far from Oberlin. The citizen of Oberlin who led the men to John Price received $20 for his information. It was a small amount considering the $500 Jennings expected to receive when he delivered John Price to his owner in Maysville.


The Calamitous Conflict:
An Attempt to Learn Why
E.G. (Jay) Ruoff
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E.G. (Jay) Ruoff
P.O. Box 148
Avon, Ohio 44011

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