Monthly Archives: April 2017

Early Black Toledo Families – WASHINGTON

One of the most interesting things that I have discovered in researching the black/colored historical families in Toledo is the fact that many of them are unknown and unacknowledged participants in the Underground Railroad of NW Ohio.

A review of material from the digitized Wilbur H. Siebert collection regarding the history of the Underground Railroad (UGRR) about the City of Toledo, I discovered that Henry/Hank WASHINGTON was mentioned as having devised a plan to free an escaped slave from Kentucky that was in the process of being taken back into slavery.

This information was contained within notes that Dr. Siebert had compiled about one of Toledo’s former mayors – Mavor BRIGHAM.  BRIGHAM gave an interview about his life and a few of the activities that he had been involved with regarding the anti-slavery movement and assisting runaway slaves.  A part of BRIGHAM’s  interview about a runaway he had assisted in Toledo in 1847 was as follows:

“I was told by a man I knew on Sunday morning in 1847 I think that there was a man at the hotel up-town who had his slaves with him all shackled and tied up.  I told my informant not to talk about it and I would go up and find out what I could.  I asked the hotel-keeper if I might see the parties.  I went upstairs, introduced myself and said to the slave owner that I had called to see if he had a colored man tied up.  The negro was standing in the corner.  I asked what was the matter.  The master said the nigger was a runaway and he was taking him back to Kentucky, and that the fellow was as anxious to go as he was to have him.  The darky shook his head at me.  I asked the man if he had gone before any judicial authority.  He replied no, that he had the power of attorney from his uncle the owner of the fugitive.  But I found he had done nothing in a legal way to secure the authority to hold this man in bonds.  He said I might investigate it and he’d stay if I paid his expenses….

While the matter was being discussed a young colored fellow Hank Washington came running into the office.  He with two other men had been left to guard the darky.  He came to tell that the darky had escaped by a back stairs (through WASHINGTON’s own plan). James Conlisk carried him into Michigan…”

I found a more recent article written about Mavor BRIGHAM and also of other white UGGR administrators such as James ASHLEY and Richard MOTT in the Toledo Blade.  This article posted below spoke of the dangers faced by the white men and didn’t mention any of the activities of the black/colored community in Toledo at this time.  I honestly have never heard that any black people in Toledo were involved in the UGGR and only the names above and other wealthier white families are mentioned as having been UGGR administrators.

Black/colored men that I have discovered who assisted runaways in Toledo or were named as attending UGGR conventions such as William MERRIT, Benjamin TALBOT/TABOT, George W. TUCKER, William HAWKINS and Henry WASHINGTON faced much more danger being that they were black and some,  were more than likely runaway slaves, which would place them in greater danger if discovered or captured themselves.  Historians now acknowledge that the free black/colored communities in northern and border states were much more actively involved in assisting runaway slaves than  previous histories written on the subject have indicated.  They were also more daring in regards to assisting the fleeing slaves, such as was described about Hank WASHINGTON in BRIGHAM’s interview.  The  UGGR was usually not tunnels under buildings or secret rooms in a white person’s home.  More often than not, it was free black people seeing a fugitive and helping him/her to not be discovered or assisting them to safety.  There were also some violent accounts of blacks and whites against southerners who sought to re-enslave a black person who had been living as free in their community.  The UGGR stands as one of the most intricate and interesting networks of inter-racial cooperation in American history.  Unfortunately, Siebert made little mention of black Toledoans in his section about NW Ohio and who were involved in anti-slavery activities or who assisted runaways and even omitted the names of black Toledoans from his book – like Henry WASHINGTON and even William MERRITT who was mentioned by multiple white UGGR administrators as being involved in UGGR activities in Toledo and a leader of the colored community.  The interview of Mavor BRIGHAM and his recount of WASHINGTON’s deeds did not make it into Seibert’s text.  Luckily the interview survives and brings to life one of the names of a member of one the earliest black families to have resided in the Toledo area.

Unfortunately, in looking through Siebert’s papers that were digitized online, I did not see any reference to him contacting the black churches in Toledo as in the 1890s when this account was provided to him by Mavor BRIGHAM, research that I have conducted on Henry WASHINGTON shows that he may still have been alive.  The name of “Henry” or “Hank” WASHINGTON was only shown within research documents that I discovered twice; however, there was a George H. WASHINGTON who was approximately the same age as Henry and who was also a Barber and Laborer in the City of Toledo through the 1890s.  This George H. WASHINGTON, due to the black population of Toledo being so small, may very well have been Henry WASHINGTON.  George H. WASHINGTON passed away in 1897, two years after Mavor BRIGHAM provided this account to Siebert.   Other known black anti-slavery activist such as the poet James Madison BELL was also still alive in 1895.  The son of physician James A. FIELDS, a black abolitionist was also alive and living in Adrian, Lenawee County not too far from Toledo and he was also not contacted.  It is unfortunate that Siebert and his team did not follow up on the black/colored individuals who were involved in anti-slavery societies or the UGGR while conducting their research for NW Ohio.  The only name that has been mentioned in the various texts I’ve read about Toledo’s UGGR network who was black/colored is William H. MERRITT who was mentioned as being a participant by a few people that Siebert contacted, but even he was not mentioned in the published text regarding the NW Ohio routes of the UGGR.  According to information shown within the post regarding MERRIT’s life on this blog, he was a relatively wealthy individual, the most wealthy black man in Toledo in the 19th century and it makes sense that he, as a prominent black/colored citizen would get more attention than the other free blacks in Toledo who were poor to working class individuals even, though quite a few of individuals other than MERRITT, I have discovered were mentioned in newspaper accounts of UGGR activity and in interviews such as the one provided to Siebert by Mavor BRIGHAM in 1895.

Genealogical information I’ve discovered about Henry WASHINGTON includes the fact that there was also a George WASHINGTON listed on the 1840 census.  Interestingly enough, there was also a colored George WASHINGTON listed on the 1830 census for the Michigan Territory of which Toledo was a part of at that time.  In  both 1830 and 1840 all household members were not named so only George WASHINGTON is listed.  In 1830 there were only two members of his household, a male aged 24-35, presumably George himself and a female aged 24-35 presumably his wife.  In 1840 George WASHINGTON had four individuals in his household – a black/colored male under age 10, a black/colored male aged 36-55, and two black/colored females – one between 24 and 36  years old and the other between 36 and 55 years of age.   It can be assumed that George WASHINGTON in 1840 may the father of Henry WASHINGTON

Henry WASHINGTON married Josephine PERRY in Toledo on June 12, 1845.  This is the earliest marriage I have found thus far between a black man and woman in online county records for Lucas County.

On the 1850 census, Henry and Josephine were living in Ward 1 of the city in the “Port Lawrence” district near downtown Toledo.  The 1850 Census provides more details about all household members versus 1840.   Henry was labeled as a “Barber” in 1850.   Henry and his wife Josephine were both approximately 21 years old.  I believe, due to the year of their marriage, that they were probably a bit older than that.  At the time of the 1850 census there were two children within their household – an  8 month old  infant named Eli and a 3 year old male that I couldn’t quite make out the name.  It looked like “Estera” or more than likely “Edward” from the original script writing.

In 1860 Josephine was listed in the household of Charles and Cinderilla WALKER.  I am not certain if they were related to her in some way.  The WALKER family lived in Sylvania at the time and were labeled as “Black.”

The next record where Henry was located in the Toledo area was in the city directory in 1870.  He was labeled as “col’d” and  his residence was stated at being on “Hartford blk. 3d floor.”

After 1870 I did not find any records of Henry WASHINGTON via  I did find records of another George WASHINGTON though that was close in age to Henry WASHINGTON.  Due to believing that Henry may have been the son of George WASHINGTON from the 1840 census whose year of birth was between 1785 and 1804, I am of the belief that George H.WASHINGTON who began to show up as “col’d” in the directory instead of Henry WASHINGTON may have been Henry.  I have quite a few relatives in my own genealogical tree who went by both first and middle names at one point in time so Henry may have been George Henry WASHINGTON and perhaps after his father passed away he went by George instead of Henry.

His wife Josephine also disappeared from records starting in 1860.  I could not find a record of her death so both Henry and Josephine may also have left the area after 1870 or her death may not have been recorded.

However, there were three other individuals who were black/colored and named George WASHINGTON in Toledo through the turn of the 20th century.  The oldest George WASHINGTON called George H WASHINGTON, as stated above died in 1897.  He was born in the approximate year of Henry WASHINGTON – 1820 so may have been the “young colored fellow” that Mavor BRIGHAM referred to in his interview shown above who freed the slave in 1847.

It is unknown whether or not there are any descendants of Henry and Josephine WASHINGTON.  As stated there were other black/colored persons in Toledo after 1860 who had the surname WASHINGTON.  It is possible that they were all related but that cannot be known for certain.  Individuals listed in records that I’ve discovered who had the surname WASHINGTON through 1900 are listed below primarily because, as noted, this family has been in the Toledo area the longest of any others that I have researched.  Please note that any bulletted persons underneath the head of household are in the same household.  Each lone  name was enumerated separately or with a different surname versus WASHINGTON:


George WASHINGTON – 1840 Census household included male (probably himself) aged 36-55 years of age.  This would make George WASHINGTON’s year of birth between 1785-1805

  • Un-named male in household aged 10 and below
  • Un-named female in household aged 24-36 (possibly daughter)
  • Un-named female in household aged 36-55 (possibly wife)


Marriage record of Henry WASHINGTON and Josephine PERRY, June 12, 1845


Henry WASHINGTON – 1850 Census aged 21, black, barber, birthplace “unknown”

  • Josephine WASHINGTON aged 21, black, birthplace Michigan
  • Edward WASHINGTON aged 3, black birthplace Ohio
  • Eli WASHINGTON aged 8 months, black, birthplace Ohio


Josephine WASHINGTON aged 30, mullatto, birthplace Michigan (NOTE:  enumerated in household of Charles WALKER in Sylvania may be related to Charles WALKER.  They have the same birthplace)

Louisa WASHINGTON aged 25, mullatto, servant, birthplace Washington, DC (NOTE:  enumerated in household of white family headed by Carline FIELD)

James/George WASHINGTON aged 64, black, laborer, birthplace Virginia (NOTE:  may be George WASHINGTON from 1840 census, potential father of Henry WASHINGTON)

  • William WASHINGTON, aged 20, black, laborer, birthplace New York (NOTE:  may have been boy in household of George WASHINGTON in 1840)


George WASHINGTON married Sophia LEE in Lucas County, February 18, 1866

John A WASHINGTON married Sarah R WILLIAMS in Lucas County, July 23, 1868 (NOTE:  Sarah WASHINGTON was listed as deceased August 18, 1869 along with infant Charles WASHINGTON on August 31, 1869)

Edward WASHINGTON married Mary ARMSTRONG in Lucas County, March, 19, 1870 (NOTE:  may be son of Henry WASHINGTON based on 1850 census household)

1870 CENSUS (these entries are taken from previous blog post)

Edward WASHINGTON – 1870 Census aged 20, black, laborer, birthplace Ohio (NOTE:  may be son of Henry WASHINGTON based on 1850 census household)

  • Mary E WASHINGTON aged 22, black, keeping house, birthplace Ohio

John WASHINGTON – 1870 Census aged 28, black, cook, birthplace Ohio

George H. WASHINGTON – 1870 Census aged 40, black, laborer, birthplace Ohio

  • Mary WASHINGTON aged 30, black, keeping house, birthplace Ohio

Ed WASHINGTON – 1870 Census aged 22, black, barber, birthplace Ohio

George WASHINGTON aged 18, black, cook, birthplace Ohio



Hamon WASHINGTON married Martha JACKSON in Lucas County, March 3, 1873

William WASHINGTON married Jennie HILL in Lucas County, June 12, 1883

There were other entries of the WASHINGTON family whereas they were labeled as children of William or George WASHINGTON in Toledo after 1900.  So it can be assumed that there are still descendants of this family in Toledo but their identities are unknown.



Ohio Historical Society – Mavor Brigham interview, Aug 4, 1895, Wilbur H. Siebert Collection, pages 3-4.

The Toledo Blade – “Local Abolitionist Risked All to Help Free Escaped Slaves.


Early Black/Colored Toledo Families – (Harvey) FIELDS

Between 1850 and 1900 there were three black and mullatto families in the Toledo area with the surname FIELDS.  I am now certain that two of them are related based on some additional research.  The other FIELDS family – headed by physician James FIELDS, per the entry regarding him being Toledo’s first black doctor and there being an obituary about him with a pretty detailed biography of his life, I do not at the moment believe he was related to the other two black/colored FIELDS families in Toledo.  The various black/colored families with the surname FIELDS were as follows:

  • 1850 Census family headed by Harvey FIELDS Barber/Laborer
  • 1860 Census family headed by James A FIELDS  physician
  • 1870 Census family headed by George FIELDS  photographer

This post will focus on the family of Harvey FIELDS since his was the first branch shown in records as living in Toledo.  Harvey was listed as a Barber in 1850 and lived in Ward 1 of the city with his wife Jane and children:  Robert, Julius, William, Anna,  and John.  In the racial category, the entire family were labeled as “mullatto.”  Their older children were some of the few black/colored children who had attended school in 1850. On the 1860 Census Harvey was listed as a “laborer.”  The City of Toledo Directory began to be published in 1864 and unfortunately Harvey was never listed in the directory.

Harvey’s sons – Robert, Julius, and William FIELDS were listed as having been born in Canada in 1850.   Harvey stated his place of birth was Massachusetts, his wife Jane stated she had been born in Georgia.   However, on the 1860 Census Harvey was listed as also having been born in Canada along with his wife Jane and all of the older children in the family.  An additional child not listed in 1850 was Mary who was listed as 4 years old in 1860.  Due to the change in birth area, it is unknown whether Harvey was a free person of color prior to moving to Toledo or if he was an escaped slave.

Some searching into this family’s background showed that son William FIELDS was listed on the Ohio Civil War Roster as having served in the US Colored Troops in the 27th Regiment, Ohio Infantry, Company I.  Research into Ohio US Colored Troops (USCT)  enlistments showed that over 80% of black/colored service eligible men (by age), volunteered for the war effort.   I have been surprised in my on family’s history to discover that a large amount of my male ancestors, no matter their state of residence, served in the USCT.  Local history research into the the black/colored population of Toledo thus far shows a similar trend in that nearly every family I have researched had at least 1-2 volunteer soldiers for the war effort.

At the time of his enlistment, William FIELDS would have been  approximately 16-18 years old.  Older son, Robert FIELDS volunteered later in the war for the 189th Regiment, Ohio Infantry, Company A.  He would have been approximately 26 years old at the time of his enlistment in 1865.

The 189th Ohio that Robert joined was organized in Toledo and Camp Chase in Columbus in January of 1865 and was only to serve for a year of the war.  This was not a regiment of the USCT.   Though black and mullatto soldiers usually served in segregated commands, there were instances where they did not.

The 27th Ohio that William joined was organized in Delaware County in January of 1864.  It was the second regiment created of US Colored Troops organized in the state of Ohio.  This regiment stayed in service until the end of the war in 1865.  Below is a picture of their camp during service in Petersburg, Virginia.

Some interesting information discovered about the 27th Ohio was that they saw some active fighting. One of the more well known battles that they participated in was called the “Battle of the Crater” in Petersburg, VA shown in the picture above.  There were some members of the regiment who kept journals and records of their service.  One was an AME minister named James Payne who was stated by the Ohio Historical Society website as having originally hailed from Kentucky and who went to Lima to enlist.  A portion of Reverend Payne’s journal provided a harrowing and humbling account of the black soldier’s experiences during the war:

(T)wo regiments [the 43rd USCI and 27th USCI] drove the enemy from their breastworks, and took possession of the blown up fort; but while they did, all the white soldiers lay in their pits and did nothing to support our men in the struggle; they lay as if there was nothing for them to do for one hour after the explosion took place…How easily Petersburg could have been taken on the 30th of July, had the white soldiers and their commanders done their duty! But prejudiced against colored troops prevented them…I can only conclude that our men fell unnecessarily in the battle on the 30th. In their retreat, they received the cross-fire of the enemy, and no small number were killed by our own artillery.

Such was the terrible fate of the day. Time will tell who was in the fault, and who made the great blunder in the battle of the 30th of July.

Among the captured was my brother-in-law, William Johnson of Upper Sandusky, Ohio…but, I can only give him up into the hand of God, who knows just how to deal with his case. If he is murdered by the rebels all is right, his blood will speak for the cause in which he fell.


In 1870, Robert FIELDS, the oldest son of Harvey and Jane was shown living by himself in Toledo on the Census.  He was labeled as a Painter just as he had been in 1860 when he lived with his parents and siblings.  Neither Harvey nor Jane showed up in the City of Toledo on any census data that I have come across after 1860 nor in any death registers.  I also have never found mention of them in the city directory or with a query into newspapers thus far.  If ever anything is located this post will be updated.  However, I do believe that Harvey FIELDS and his family were related to the family of George FIELDS, Toledo’s first black professional photographer.  George FIELDS was mentioned in this blog in the post about one of the known UGGR administrators in the city of Toledo – William H. MERRIT.  George was Toledo’s first black professional photographer and moved to Toledo after 1860 and his professional address was located in the same building with William H. MERRITT.  Throughout the various census documents George was listed on, he stated he was either born in Georgia or Alabama, which leads me to conclude that both and and Harvey were either the children of escaped slaves or people who had been free people of color who lived in the southeastern region of the US and who subsequently, moved away from their home states.  George, unlike Harvey was listed in the City of Toledo directory starting in 1867.  A clue to there being a familial relation between Harvey, and photographer George FIELDS was the fact that per the 1868 Toledo directory, Robert – Harvey’s son,  and George FIELDS lived at the same address of  743 Erie Street.

Another clue was that in 1880, Robert FIELDS was counted in the household of Joseph and Lucy GARRETT.  He was labeled as their “grandson” along with his younger sister Mary FIELDS who was listed on the 1860 Census with him and their parents.  Within the GARRETT household was also 18 year old Olivia FIELDS and 17 year old Otis FIELDS.  These were the children of George FIELDS, Toledo’s first black photographer mentioned above.  Due to both sets of FIELD’s children being labeled as the GARRETT’s grandchildren, it was assumed that Robert and Mary were cousins to Otis and Olivia.  George FIELD’s first wife’s maiden name was Mary GARRETT (George married Mary GARRET on January 13, 1861 in Greene, Ohio) and these were her parents – the grandparents of Otis and Olivia.  It is uncertain if Robert and Mary’s mother Jane was the sister of George’s wife  Mary,  or if George FIELDS and Harvey FIELDS were brothers and the GARRETTs,  called Robert and his sister Mary their grandchildren due to them being cousins of their biological grandchildren.  Another relationship between these two families is that Harvey and Jane could very well have been the parents of George FIELDS.  They were old enough to be his parents and I’ve yet to find documentation of who George’s parents were.  Robert may have lived with George per the directory in 1868 due to them being brothers.  Due to that his children in the GARRETT household in 1880 may have been the nephew and niece of Robert and Mary FIELDS.

Robert FIELDS was also listed on the 1890 US Veterans Census where he stated he served with the regiment and company listed above.  Initially I was unsure if the Robert FIELDS listed on the veterans census was the same as the one I was researching, but a review of the city directory from 1888 to 1905 showed that Robert FIELDS was a Painter who lived at 524 Cherry Street in Toledo, which is at the corner of Summit and Cherry in downtown Toledo.  He lived with Mary and Otis FIELDS,  who were also listed on the 1880 census with the GARRETs as “mullatto.” This confirmed that Robert FIELDS was the veteran also listed on the 1890 Veterans Census.

In 1910 he was still listed as a Painter and was living with his sister Mary FIELDS at 645 State Street in the Canton Avenue district of Toledo.  This was one of the neighborhoods where a substantial amount of the black population resided until the 1930s until more began moving into the Pinewood District, currently called “Central City.”  Robert FIELDS was listed as 69 years old in 1910.

In 1920 Robert was shown residing in the Montgomery County, Jefferson Township National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soliders.  He was listed at being 80 years old at the time.  The last pension record I have on file for him below showed that he died on December 31, 1923 at the National Soldiers Home in Virginia.

He was buried at the Hampton National Cemetery.  Below is a picture of his grave

I could not find much info at all in regards to younger brother William FIELDS.  However, there was records of another, younger “colored,” Robert FIELDS who was born in approximately 1865-1866 and who died in Toledo in 1906.  On his death record, his father was listed as William FIELDS and the document said that this younger Robert was born in Petersburg, VA where William FIELDS’ regiment fought in the Battle of the Crater.

Harvey and Jane’s youngest child Mary FIELDS died at the age of 75 in Toledo in 1933.  She had been a resident of Toledo her entire life.  Towards the end of her life she was a patient at the Toledo State Hospital.  Upon her death, she was buried at the Historic Woodlawn Cemetery in Toledo, where it was noted that she was the sister of Robert E. FIELDS.

The other children of Harvey and Jane FIELDS listed on the 1850 Census, I could not find much information about.  In 1860 they had a son named John who was 11 years old that year.  Some queries on John FIELDS showed that someone with that same name died in the City of Toledo on December 30, 1883 of bronchitis.  However, some further digging showed that this was John Brewster FIELDS the youngest son of George FIELDS, the suspected brother or son of Harvey FIELDS.  However, there was also a record of a John H FIELDS in the Toledo directory during the 1900s.  In the directory John H. FIELDS was labeled with an occupation of Porter and he lived in various locations including Missouri Street (now Pinewood Street) and Wisconsin streets through the 1890s.  This John FIELDS lived with George in 1899, a year before George’s death, so this may have been the same John FIELDS who was enumerated with Harvey’s family in 1850.

Another son of the couple – Julius/Junius (or Lucious) I could not locate any additional information.    On the 1860 Census, he was listed as a “Sailor.”  His name never showed up again in the City of Toledo.  I also could not find any information about daughter Anna FIELDS.

It is currently unknown if there are any descendants of this FIELDS family still in the Toledo area.




1850 US Census, via; accessed 3/31/2017

Ohio Civil War Roster, Ohio Genealogical Society search engine, accessed 3/31/2017

Fighting for Freedom:  African Americans in the Civil War.  The Ohio Historical Society, accessed 3/31/2017

189th Regiment Ohio Infantry roster; accessed 3/31/2017

1910 US Census, via; accessed 3/31/2017

1920 US Census, via; accessed 3/31/2017

Ohio Deaths 1908-1953, via; accessed 3/31/2017 (Death Certificate of Mary FIELDS)