Grandma Rachel Reno’s (pronounced Reyno) mother, a slave girl named Candis, was captured in an Indian raid in Kentucky along with two daughters of the slavemaster and taken to Canada.
This piece of oral family legend had been passed through generations of Grandma Reno’s descendants throughout the central mid-western counties of Champaign, Clark. Logan, Miami and Clark in Ohio since the mid 1800’s.
The descendant surnames are many, as Grandma Reno had 16 children, 14 of whom made adulthood. One of the 16, a daughter named Susannah, born in Canada between 1795-1800, married Lewis Adams, a Free Person of Color, 1 Jan 1816 in Urbana, Champaign County, Ohio. Lewis and Susannah became my great-great-great grandparents, their son William F. Adams born 7 Jan 1818, in Urbana, Ohio and his wife Lydia Ann Edwards born 19 Sep 1817 in Harrisburg, Dauphin County, PA, became my great-great-grandparents.
When I became interested, or should I say addicted to genealogy research I started with my maternal line, the Adams’. Lewis, Susannah, their 12 children and related families left a wealth of documented family history from their religious, occupational, community and educational activities: Co-founders of St. Paul A.M.E. Church in Urbana, Ohio (1824), s select school for colored children (1842), also in Urbana, Ohio. Property owners in Champaign County (1829), Ohio Underground Railroad operators in Champaign, Logan, Hardin and Hancock Counties as written by Wilber H. Siebert in Mysteries of the Ohio Underground Railroad.
Now armed with a full, burgeoning and ever expanding history I struck out to search the Grandma Reno story.
A first major find was the Anniversary Booklet* for St. Paul A.M.E. Church, This booklet, produced by then Pastor Benjamin Arnett, later to become an A.M.E. Bishop and Ohio legislator. Arnett’s Centennial Sermon and Statistics of Urbana dated 3 Dec. 1876.
Included in the booklet is an account of Grandma Reno’s (Rachel) death and that of her husband Francis Frank Reno. It states Rachel Reno died at the residence of her son Joseph Reno, in Medina, Ohio, 22 May 1864. She was born in Canada, her mother had captured in Kentucky by Indians and sold to a family named Magee (McKee). Rachel Reno was the mother of 16 children, only three sons survive, two of which live in Saginaw, MI. Francis (Frank) Reno the husband of Rachel and one of the founders of St. Paul died.
30 July 1833. He was traveling back from Springfield, Ohio. He became ill an died before reaching home in Urbana. Because they thought he died of Cholera, Frank Reno was not brought into Urbana for burial.
Instead they buried him on a small hill (Donovan’s Hill ) on the Urbana-Springfield road. This lonely grave could be seen for may years, but now cannot be located. Frank Reno was a local Preacher and the father of Roseanna Reno Boyd.
*The AfriGeneas mail list for 18 Sep 1997 has an account of Rachel’s obituary taken from the church booklet.
After several posts to the AfriGeneas site about Rachel, The Reno’s and the Indian raid I was directed by Mr. Pen Bogert of the Filson Club located in Louisville, KY to an interview of Rachel Reno conducted by Lyman C. Draper of The Draper Manuscripts. This interview taken in August of 1863 is found in MSS S, Volume 17, pp 281-282.
INTERVIEW OF RACHEL RENO by LYMAN C. DRAPER
"And now RACHEL RENO-now over 80 years old - an African woman, born in BLUE JACKET'S TOWN near Bellefontaine, her mother having been captured in Kentucky by the Shawanoes, - having early went to live with the Col. Alex McKEE family a little below Sandwich, Canada : Col. McKEE often spent some of his winters on the river Thames, he had many pet animals including deer; a pet deer hooked and gored him in the leg and he died of Lockjaw. He left one or two sons and Mrs. McKEE, part Indian, Col. McKEE having a Shawanoe wife. SIMON GIRTY was good to prisoners - often saved them - having got cut and hacked over the head in forcibly rescuing them. BLUE JACKET lived and died near Brownstown - was a good Indian, had a son named GEORGE BLUE JACKET. RACHEL RENO said of her own accord that SIMON KENTON'S Indian name was Cut-Ta-Ho-Tha which meant to be "blackened" or "condemned man" prepared for burning at the stake."
The Church Anniversay booklet and the Draper Interview start connecting the dots, Indian raid and capture in Kentucky, Canada and the Magee’s (McKee’s), Rachel age and possible birth location, her daughter Susannah’s birth location of Canada.
The next MAJOR break came again from responses to AfriGeneas postings. I was directed to information on the raids of Ruddle’s Fort and Martin’s Station in KY during the summer of 1780. These were important battles on the western frontier of America during the Revolutionary War. The raids were directed by among others British Loyalist and Indian Agents (McKee & Girty) and the Shawnee Indians (Blue Jacket).
A listing of captives from the Martin’s Station. KY raid which took place on 24 June 1780 reflected The LaForce family.Mrs. Agnes Moseby LaForce, her children, including her daughters, Judith and Anna, along with their thirteen (13) slaves. The slaves, their names, relationships and disposition following the raid taken from Milo Quaiffe’s The Day Detroit Invaded Kentucky follows:
- SELAH Slave of James Trabue who accompanied him to Ruddell's Station the day before it was captured. Selah was recovered during Wayne's Treaty in 1795.
- DINAH Slave of Captain John Dunkin. She was returned from captivity during Wayne's Treaty of 1795.
- BETTY (BESS) Slave of Agnes Laforce. After capture she was taken into possession of the Indians.
- SCIPIO (SIPPIO) Slave of Agnes Laforce and son of Betty. After capture he was taken into possession of Simon Girty an Indian interpreter.
- JAMES (TIM) Slave of Agnes Laforce and son of Betty. After capture he was taken into possession of Philip Le Duc an Indian interpreter.
- ISHMAEL (ISHNER) Slave of Agnes Laforce and son of Betty. After capture he was taken into possession of Philip Le Duc.
- STEPHEN Slave of Agnes Laforce and son of Betty. After capture he was taken into possession of Captain Duncan Graham.
- JOSEPH (JOE) Slave of Agnes Laforce and son of Betty. After capture he was taken into possession of Captain Matthew Elliott.
- KIJAH (KEGGY) Slave of Agnes Laforce and daughter of Betty. After capture she was taken into possession of Captain Matthew Elliott.
- HANNAH Slave of Agnes Laforce and daughter of Betty. After capture she was taken into possession of Mr. Fisher.
- KANDIS (CANDIS) Slave of Agnes Laforce and daughter of Hannah. After capture she was taken into possession of Captain Alexander McKee.
- JOB Slave of Agnes Laforce and son of Hannah. After capture he was taken into possession of Jacques Duperon Baby an Indian interpreter.
- GRACE Slave of Agnes Laforce and daughter of Hannah. After capture she was taken into possession of the Indians.
- RACHEL Slave of Agnes Laforce and daughter of Hannah. After capture she was taken into possession of the Indians.
- PATRICK Slave of Agnes Laforce and son of Hannah. After capture he was taken into possession of the Indians.
- ESTHER Slave taken at Martin's Station and taken into possession of Captain Henry Bird. In 1791 she and her son were later given to William Lee for his services in clearing 16 acres of land for Captain Bird.
Betty (Bess), Betty’s daughter Hannah and Hannah’s daughter Kandis (Candis) now bring me full circle with all of the dots connected from: GRANDMA RENO’S (PRONOUNCED REYNO) MOTHER, A SLAVE GIRL NAMED CANDIS, WAS CAPTURED IN AN INDIAN RAID IN KENTUCKY ALONG WITH TWO DAUGHTERS OF THE SLAVEMASTER AND TAKEN TO CANADA?
Many new questions have been brought to the surface as a result of these discoveries.
Where did Betty come from? How did the LaForce family acquire their slaves? Who could be the father of Hannah, Hannah’s children? What happened to those of Betty’s family that I haven’t been able to account for? Why did Rachel migrate back into Ohio from Canada?
My quest continues as I delve into the Laforce family, slavery in Virginia and Kentucky from the early 1700’s, Free Person’s of Color in Ohio beginning with Statehood (1803), in addition to my regular genealogy. This is not a complete and total success story, but rather an example of patience and perserverance. So follow up your oral traditions with research and documentation, no telling where it might lead.
For a more detailed look into my genealogy visit:
The Families of Arthur Lee Thomas, Springfield, Ohio
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AfriGeneas ~ African American & African Ancestored Genealogy