A Mother Robbed


A Mother Robbed of Her Son - A Sad Story

Twenty years ago—says the Cincinnati Gazette —an old negress named Polly West, succeeded in paying her master, a Mr. Griffin, of Campbell Co, Ky., the last dollar required lo secure her right and title to her own body.— She was-then a free woman. For over sixty years she had toiled in slavery, ever sustained by the hope that she would, before her death, own herself. She then came to Cincinnati, where she was well received. But it was only to continue her toiling, for she had left behind her her son, her idol, in the chains of slavery.

Through the assistance of friends, she soon raised $400, with which she went to Alexandria, Ky., to purchase the freedom of her son, Charles West, who was then between forty and fifty years of age. He was then the property of Mr. Wm. Satchell of that place. Mr. S. agreed to sell the 'boy' to his mother for $600, of which $400 was to be paid down, and the balance in small payments extending over a number of years. Charles accompanied his mother to Cincinnati and secured employment. The first money they saved was paid over to the master, and so on till they had reduced the sum to a little over $100.

One day Charles went out to his work as usual, but never returned. He was seized and handcuffed by two deputy U.S. Marshals, taken before a Commissioner, and in less than an hour, remanded to slavery as the escaped property of Mr. Satchell. He was sold and sent South.
The mother was not told the truth for a day or two, and then what could she do for her kidnapped son? Broken hearted, she returned to her menial employment of picking and washing rags. This was about seven years ago.

On Saturday last she complained to some friends that she was no well, and calling on one of them at No. 92 West Front St., between Vine and Race, asked for some tea. She, old and decrepit, wanted nothing more. At a late hour she retired to her coach, where she was left by her friends. Next morning she was found dead.

There were rumors of poison—money being the object. Following the injunctions of the law, the Coroner and a jury came and made an investigation. The above facts came to light. It was also shown that the old woman—then between 80 and 90 years of age —had some $400 her due, which was to be paid over by an agent in a few days. Who this agent is no one can tell, and it remains with the Court to find out. The verdict of the jury was, 'Death from old age and exposure.' What has become of the son of whom she was most cruelly robbed, no one knows; but it is probable that if alive, he is on some cotton plantation in the far South.


[Frederick] Douglass' Monthly, May, 1861