The Kidnapping of Anthony Hollingsworth

The Indiana House, Sheriff Raston, Proprietor

The Indiana House, Sheriff Raston, Proprietor

 

In 1845, three young men, Charles Brown, Jarad Harris, and Anthony Hollingsworth traveled north through Indiana County along the UGRR. After arriving in Indiana, they sought James Moorehead, editor of a local Abolitionist newspaper.

The arrival of the three men from Hardy County, Virginia prompted a meeting of Underground Railroad officials. It was suggested by John Graff of Blairsville that the three men be separated. He believed the presence of three new “dark faces” would arouse suspicion. Charles Brown and Jarad Harris were sent to stay at Dr. Robert Mitchell’s cabin near present-day Clymer. Anthony would take a job working on the farm of James Simpson who lived in a remote area of Center Twp, Indiana County.

A few months after his arrival, while working at the edge of Simpson’s field, Hollingsworth was captured by two men named Cunningham and Tilden. They were agents of his Virginian owner, Garret Van Meter.

Anthony Hollingsworth was tied onto the saddle of a horse and taken to Indiana. There, he was hidden inside the Indiana House, hotel of the pro-slavery sheriff, to await transport back to Van Meter.

When the people of Indiana learned that the captured man’s only crime was to have been born enslaved, they grew angry and demanded his release.

A mob was formed and the hotel was surrounded. Sheriff Ralston sent for the local abolitionists to quell the crowd. When Moorehead arrived, he assured the crowd that he would see that justice was done and urged for “cooler heads to prevail.”

The Indiana County Courthouse, circa 1856.

The Indiana County Courthouse, circa 1856.

The following day, Judge Thomas White was holding court. Attorney William Banks was secured to defend Anthony Hollingsworth . Judge White heard the case and, at the conclusion of testimony and statements from the defense and prosecution, White asked Cunningham and Tilden to produce a copy of the constitution of Virginia which showed the legality of slavery in that state. When they could not, Judge Thomas White ruled that Anthony Hollingworth should then be freed.

Unbeknownst to the men, Judge White was an abolitionist and Underground Railroad conductor.

Judge Thomas White

Judge Thomas White