Henrietta Wood


In April, 1853, while the work of capturing fugitive slaves was busiest, Henrietta Wood, a free-born mulatto woman, living in Cincinnati, Ohio, was enticed across the river into Kentucky.  There she was seized under the infamous provisions of the Fugitive Slave law and was put into the custody of one “Zeb” Ward, Sheriff of Campbell County, Kentucky.  He kept her in duress seven months, and finally sold her to a slave-trader from Frankfort; for this was during the good old times when black men and women were bought and sold like sheep and other chattels.  In those days it was not safe for any man to murmur against the operation of a slave law.  The woman, though black, was born free, and he who had ventured to remonstrate against her being sold into slavery would have been reckoned a disturber of the public peace, a sower of sedition, and a destroyer of the safeguards of society.    So Henrietta Wood went down into Egypt, otherwise Mississippi, the property of one Brandon, a cotton planter.  In this servitude she remained for fifteen years. When Abraham Lincoln, of blessed memory, issued his famous Emancipation, Henrietta Wood was living in Texas, in bonds.  She remembered the frightful crime which had been committed against her, and she made her way to Cincinnati, where she brought suit against Zebulon Ward, whilom Sheriff of Campbell County, for duress and abduction. The case was brought in the United States District Court of Southern Ohio.  Zebulon Ward, now a prosperous citizen of Little Rock, Ark., put in a defense, alleging that he had bought Henrietta Ward from one Robert White and others, who claimed to be her owners.  This plea was ineffectual, and the court held that Ward should pay $2,500 and costs.  This is not a large sum by way of indemnity for kidnapping and for fifteen years of slavery, but from it there is no appeal, and Zebulon must needs pay the forfeit of his villainy.  He cannot escape the law, which will follow him and his property into the remotest nook of the Republic


Excerpted from an article in the New York Times of April 21, 1878.  The rest of the article was about slavery, but not Northern Kentucky.