Thomas McIntire

Thomas McIntire’s father was “taken by slave traders from Africa,” brought to the United States, sold, and enslaved.  Jim Lane enslaved around 550 people, including Thomas McIntire.  In this excerpt, the interviewer recounts in the first person Thomas McIntire’s thoughts on topics connected to freedom.  Thomas McIntire describes how enslaved people sought a better life and discussed freedom in code.  Thomas McIntire also shares memories of learning about the Underground Railroad, the Civil War, emancipation and famous activists.  
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…The slave quarters were about 300 yards from the big house, and every family had their own cabin and eight acres of land for themselves, and all the vegetables and garden truck they needed.  They [enslaved people on Jim Lane’s plantation] raised their own chickens and turkeys.  But the hogs and cattle were butchered and shared with all the different families, and so was the milk.  But I remember hearing my folks talking and it wasn’t just eats they wanted.  They wanted to be free, and educate their children, like Master Jim’s children, so they could grow up and have something for themselves.  I’d often  hear them saying “Never mind, children, for your auntie is sure coming.”  That was just a blind for saying, “Freedom’s coming”.  We children soon learnt what it meant, but the white folks never did learn. 

… I remember all the slaves that could get out from the quarters coming to meetings in the woods to talk about getting away to freedom or going off to war.  Some from our place did go off.  We all knew the Underground Railroad through the whole country.  Because lots of Quakers had come and bought property on those parts and they were teaching the slaves to not be afraid of their rights. 

…When the war came on, lots of the Lane slaves went in.  My father and brother Wash went, and Wash was in the battle, between [Confederate] General Morgan and [Union] General Burden around Mt. Sterling [in Kentucky].  Lots of women and children went into Camp Nelson and lived at what they called the Woman’s Hall.  The men who cared to go there went to the barracks at Camp Nelson.         

When the war was over Father and Wash both came home.  Jim Lane freed us before the war was over and gave us all a little money or paid some if  they were staying on till the war was over.  Those that stayed after the war he gave ten acres of land and built them a little place to live in…. 

I knew Ben Arnett [a Black minister and civil rights advocate who was elected in 1885 to the Ohio state legislature]  personally and heard him speak lots of times; and too I heard Booker T. Washington, and Douglas, and almost all the big men among [Black people]…  I read a little, and I read lots about most of the ones I ain’t heard. 

Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Thomas McIntire1847 (90)UnknownJim Lane
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Clark County, OHOHKY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Emancipation, Education, Literacy, Resistance, Union Troops, Civil WarBath County, First Person, Dialect, Witnessed Extreme Cruelty, Sold, Slave Traders, Notable