Appalachia, Barboursville, civil war, Frank Ball, Guyandotte Valley, Hiram Hill, history, Kitchen, Logan County, Lorenzo Dow Hill, Mary Hill, Scott Hill, slavery, slaves, Tazewell County, Union Army, Virginia, West Virginia
The following article, written by Frank Ball, is taken from a Huntington-area newspaper clipping, the first part of which is missing.
…Americans are those who remember servitude as slaves. Barboursville has one citizen, Scott Hill, who remembers rendering such service. And little work he did as a slave, for he was but six years of age when the Civil War ended.
“Uncle Scott,” as he is familiarly known, was born the property of Lorenzo Hill, prominent orchardist and farmer of the Guyandotte valley. Lorenzo Hill, owner of several slaves, lived on a large tract of land across the river from the little mining town of Kitchen in Logan county. Here Barboursville’s “Uncle Scott,” son of Hiram and Mary Hill, was born Feb. 5, 1859. (Slaves usually took the surname of their owners.)
Mr. Hill remembers well the excitement created by the Civil War, and the frantic movements attendant thereto. His owner was a blender of the best whiskies in the valley and his home was widely visited by soldiers and citizens alike who sipped the choice brandies and exchanged the news of the day.
Hysteria in border states ran high during the war, and it was thought best by some slaveholders to move their slaves farther south for safe keeping. It was rumored that Union soldiers were taking the slaves by force and freeing them. So Lorenzo Hill, whom Uncle Scott affectionately remembers as “Ole Boss,” started with his slaves on a long journey into Virginia.
Uncle Scott’s memory of this trip and stay in Virginia is rather painful. To begin with, it meant the sacrifice of “Old Baldy,” a steer of which the slave children were exceedingly fond, to furnish meat for the journey. En route, Uncle Scott’s uncle and three of his uncle’s children were sold. Tearfully, his mother parted from her brother and her nephews and niece as the trip to Virginia was resumed.
Ole Boss left his remaining slaves with a planter in Tazewell county, and returned to Logan. A year in Virginia found Scott’s father and mother greatly overworked, and they and their children greatly underfed.
This treatment was in direct contrast to that given to them by their owner, and the mother had the nerve to “strike.” She hired herself to a neighbor slaveholder that her children might be fed. And despite the frenzied objections of the planter with whom she was left, she won out in this extraordinary action.
In the fall of 1864, wartime hysteria had subsided somewhat and Lorenzo Hill returned to Virginia for his slaves. They were overjoyed at seeing him. They were sure they would be well fed and treated kindly. In return they would work hard for Ole Boss.
Note: Mr. Scott’s true name was William Henry “Scott” Hill. His mother Mary was the daughter of her master, Lorenzo Dow Hill, and a slave named Julia.