Memoirs of Samuel Spottford Clement
I, Samuel Spottford Clement was born in Pittsylvania county, Virginia, November 13th, 1861, on a farm owned by James Adams, who married my mother’s young mistress. My father was born within the borders of the same county, on a farm owned by James Clement, who owned five hundred negro slaves. My mother was born on a farm owned by Edward Franklin six miles from the Court House, now called Chatten. Virginia.
When Mr. Franklin died his estate was considerably indebted and of course his negro slavesto satisfy his creditors. Mr. Franklin only having twenty-five slaves, and the old home being broken up, the slaves were scattered among his sons and daughters until the day of sale. My mother then went to Mrs. Sallie Adams, where I was born. The day was fixed and time was set for the sale. My mother then having three children, Thomas, John and Samuel Clement; Thomas. seven years of age; John. four years of age; and Samuel, eighteen months. Negro sales were advertised those days broadcast throughout the country and those who dealt in human flesh would come from far and near to take advantage of the sale. Sometimes the children were sold to the cotton fields of the South, while their mothers and fathers were bought cheap for service in Virginia.
My mother was a strong constituted woman and believed greatly in the power of prayer. She Prayed to God with an earnest heart as the sale day drew near that one man might buy us all; and when the day came, all the negroes were there cleaned up and in their best clothes to receive their new masters. My mother’s young mistress was destitute of money and could not buy my mother and three children, but she said to my mother that she knew a man that lived in Cambelle county on the Stanton river, whose name was Ward and that she (Mrs. Adams) would ask the Wards to buy her and her three boys. My mother said to her, “Miss Sallie, how will I know this man Ward?” “I will point him out to you on that day.” When the day arrived Ward sat under a walnut tree near the auction block. Mrs. Adams said to my mother, “There is your man under the tree.” My mother immediately went to him with her three boys and sat upon the grass by his side, she earnestly prevailed upon him to buy her and her three children. He said to my mother, “Ann, I will do my best but there are so many negro traders here with more money than I have, I am afraid they will outbid me.” The auctioneer was named John Motley. He knew my mother well and knew what she desired. The first that went on the block was my brother Thomas, then seven years of age, and had just got over the scarlet fever which left a raw scar on his breast. As my brother’s foot touched the top of the block the auctioneer said, “How much am I bid for this boy?” A negro trader from Georgia cried out. “Four hundred dollars.” Ward at once said “Four hundred and twenty-five dollars,” the trader said, “Four hundred and fifty dollars.”
Ward said four hundred and seventy-five.” The Georgia trader at once ran to my brother and jerked his shirt open and revealed the scar, turned to the auctioneer and said, “I am done bidding for that boy.” The auctioneer then said “Once, twice, three times and sold to Dr. D. Ward for four hundred and seventy-five dollars.” Next called upon the block was my brother John, a bright little boy of four years. The auctioneer cried out, “How much am I bid on this boy?” He being too young to be of service in the cotton fields, none of the regular negro traders would bid on him, but there was a young Virginia planter who had just married, desired to have the little boy as a pet for his wife, he bid three hundred and fifty dollars. Another planter (I do not know his name) bid four hundred dollars, the young planter bid four hundred and twenty-five dollars, Dr. Davie Ward bid four hundred and fifty. The auctioneer then said, “Once, twice, three times and sold to Dr. Ward.” Next to come upon the block was my mother and I (a baby of eighteen months). The auctioneer said, “How much am I bid on this woman and child?” A man by the name of Washington Hall bid seventeen hundred dollars, another man (I do not know his name) bid eighteen hundred dollars. Dr. Ward bid eighteen hundred and fifty dollars. Then Motley, the auctioneer, said, “Once, twice, three times and sold to Dr. Ward.” And as my mother turned to leave the block Mr. Motley said to her “Ann, you ought to feel proud, one man has bought you and your three boys.” My mother jumped and shouted with joy and said, “There is great power in prayer.” Before the sale was over, we all started with Dr. Ward to our new home in Campbell county. Dr. Ward was a bachelor and he lived with his brother Tasswood, and while we belonged to the doctor, we worked for his brother and wife. We lived there from July 18, 1863, till December 25, 1865. During that time the Civil War was going on between the North and the South. Our new owners proved to be hard taskmasters. My mother did the cooking for the house, my brother Thomas waited table and washed dishes, my brother John nursed the baby and small children, while I stayed in the cabin alone. Sometimes through accident my brother Thomas would break a dish, Mrs. Ward would whip him five minutes at a time on his naked legs. If by chance the baby would get a little hurt my brother John would get his ears pulled and sometimes whipped till the blood would run. One day something happened to the meals and Mrs. Ward had some fine company. After the company was gone Mr. Ward called my mother into the sitting room and said to her “Take off your clothes until I may see your bare back.” He whipped her with the hickory stick until he raised welts as large as your finger, and he said to her when he was done. “If you burn another piece of meat G— D— you, I’ll kill you.”
Ourwas about a hundred yards from the big house where my mother worked. I was not allowed out of the cabin and the only time I would see my mother would be in the morning when she would leave and about ten minutes at noon and at night after nine o’clock. The only time my mother would have to wash her own and her children’s clothes would be after eight o’clock at night, as they would let her off one hour earlier that evening and call it wash evening.
The other slaves who worked on the farm were Old Uncle Booker, Uncle Fendall, Uncle Author, Aunt Sara, Aunt Susan and Aunt Mary. They were strong Christian people; they earnestly prayed each day that the dark clouds of slavery would pass away and they would be as free as their mistresses and masters, and finally in God’s own season the time came.surrendered to and the Southern Confederacy was at an end. This occurred on the 9th day of April, 1865. On the 8th day of April late in the evening the field hands could hear the boom of cannon and the crack of musketry from the . The old field hands prayed in concert that the Yankees might win the fight. God heard their prayers that they had prayed, not only then but the prayers that had been sent up three hundred years by the negro suffering slaves.
On the 12th day of April, 1865, just before the slaves started to the fields at five o’clock in the morning, Mr. Ward blew the corn horn that was a signal for the overseer to come to the house, as he approached the house to learn the signal, Ward said, “Tell all the darkies not to work this morning but all appear here at nine o’clock.” The slaves all knew what was wrong as they had seen the soldiers coming past. That morning at nine o’clock every negro owned by Ward was at the steps. Mr. and Mrs. Ward came out, she crying, and Mr. Ward holding a newspaper, walked to the front of the steps and said, (instead of saying as of years gone by “negroes”) he said “Men and women you are as free as the birds that fly in the air.” He raised the paper to his face and read in substance as follows: “General Lee to-day has surrendered to General Grant. General Grant had six months rations while General Lee had only three day’s rations for his starving troops. So the Southern Confederacy is now at an end and all negroes are free.” He then dropped his paper and hand by his side and said to the negroes, “Men the spring crops are all in; those who desire to stay and help me to reap will please do so, and I will pay you or give you part of the crop.” All consented to stay until Christmas except Uncle Fendall, who said “Massie Tass dis yere thing might be a mistake and den dar rebs might go back fighting again and we might not hab but four or five days freedom and Ise going to take de first day kase I done prayed all my life for it, so goodbye Mr. Tasswood Ward.”
A month before my father heard of a man who wanted a tenant on his farm, we lived thirty miles from Lynchburg, Va. My father went over to see him, he lived fifteen miles from Ward’s. Mr. Martin said to him, “If you clear off the land, build your own cabin, I will furnish horse power and give you half you make.” My father thought that a very good inducement, so he went back and told my mother the bargain he had made. So Christmas morning we bid farewell to the old slave home and crossed the Stanton river on the ice in a four ox team and proceeded to our little cabin that my father had built. We cooked and ate in the same room on a dirt floor. There my father worked the poor land, my mother worked out by the day, my brother Thomas hired out to work on the farm for four dollars per month, my brother John worked for another family for a dollar per month, while I played with the little pickininnies that lived close by, being then six years old. We had it very hard the first year we were at Martin’s. We lived on black eyed peas and beat up corn for hominy, but the second year the kinks commenced to come out, we then owned three hogs and a calf and cow. After living at Martin’s two years my father thought that he ought to get near the market so he made a bargain with two old bachelors by the name of John and Samuel Cox, who were very rich and who had a large, rich and spacious farm, so we thought it best to exchange farms. We at once proceeded to move in the early spring of 1869. I was then eight years old. Our quarters and condition was much better at Cox’s than at Martin’s. My father worked the land for half he made and hired help, so he got half of the wheat crop, corn, oats, hay and peanuts at reaping time. My father would preserve a portion of what he had made to keep his family and the other portion he sold in Lynchburg for cash. As the money commenced to swell his pockets, the kinks of slavery, ignorance and superstition commenced to blow away and our eyes could see freedom as never before.
My brother commenced to work on a farm owned by Scotts at $10.00 per month. My brother John worked around for a farmer by the name of Austin at $6.00 per month. I played on the green grassy yard of Cox’s with no thought of work as they thought a great deal of me and kept me around them for their own delight until I was fourteen years old. It looked very disgraceful to see a boy of fourteen playing around with smaller children, also being abused by my brothers and being called lazy. I became dissatisfied and thought I would go to work. The first work I ever did was on a farm owned by Neely Hawkins at $5.00 per month. The first work I did for him was to take a grubbing hoe and dig up weeds in the far end of the farm. I would sooner have been a prisoner than to have been there, but as time rolled on I became more familiar with the work and stayed with him one year. I was then in love with a girl and I heard of a farmer who wanted a boy, who lived close to this girl’s home, so I lost no time in going from Hawkins’ to Captain Beggs’, a distance of sixteen miles. I worked there one year and taught school at night. Mr. Beggs had an out house at the end of the house that no one lived in and he let me have it for school purposes. I had from twenty-five to twenty-six scholars every evening, their parents paid me twenty-five cents per month.
After winding up my years at Beggs’ I left and hired to John L. Maben, superintendent of the Bedford Alum and Iron Springs. My business was to carry the mail between Lynchburg and the Springs, a distance of eleven miles. I would take the mail away in the morning at seven o’clock and return again at seven in the evening, on horseback. I was there for three years at $10.00 per month. I was then nineteen years old. My old schoolmates would go away and work at different places up North and return on Christmas with pockets full of money, fine clothes and telling of wonders they saw while away. This enraged my mind and I determined to leave that poor section of the country as I called it and go North to get rich.
In the mean time my brother Thomas had worked hard and steady at Scott’s and also had saved and banked his money. He became connected with theand had become very pious in the faith. He claimed that by a trance or a vision he had heard the voice of God calling him to go and preach his word. He immediately drew his money from the bank and took a five year course in the Wayland Seminary, of Washington, D. C. After finishing his course, he went to Christianburg, Va., and married Miss Laura J. Clarkson. They both went to Clarksburg, Texas, where he had been sent to preach; before he could become acclimated to the country he took the fever and died. His wife gave birth to a baby boy a few days after his death; she nained him Thomas J. Clement after his father, and at this writing he makes his home in Duluth, Minnesota, and Cleveland, Ohio.
My brother John still worked at Austin’s and banked his money. One day when washing the dishes, he ran away, having the idea he ought to be a school teacher. Nothing would satisfy his mind but to go to the Wayland at Washington, D. C. He took his five year course and came back to Virginia and taught school for many years afterwards.
I here pause for a few moments to speak of my school days. When I was quite a small boy my mother sent me to a; the schoolmaster’s name was Pervis. The school was five miles from my home, this was long before the , and by going to this school would make me walk ten miles per day. On the route to school I would have to pass several white schools, and it was almost like passing a lot of lions as the boys would beat and thump me and throw rocks as long as they could see me, so my mother thought best to take me away, and I left with just two month’s schooling and had not learned my letters good. Some time afterwards there came a white man from the North by the name of John McGoyett, who opened a summer pay school in Crocket’s blacksmith shop and that was two miles from home. I went to school there all the summer and fall and also the following summer and fall. He was giving the colored people too much education for those old Virginia slave holders, and they concluded to make him skip and he did so. The community was left without a school, but as time moved on the State of Virginia established the free school system and schools opened up all over the State. The first one being at New London, and the schoolmaster’s name was Edward Echols. I went to school to him nine winters. I became infatuated with one of my class girls, her name was Emma Shaffers. Every morning she would bring me something nice from home, such as candy, dried apples, cherries and dried huckleberries. There was left very little more for me to learn in school and all I cared was to look at her. Mr. Echols lost his school for the tenth winter and his brother-in-law, Mr. Joseph Rudd, was established as schoolmaster. I went to him three winters but did not learn very much as Emma was a large girl of fourteen and I a boy of fifteen. I then quit school and went to work for Nelly Hawkins, whose name I have mentioned on preceding pages. This finished my school days and brings me back to the period when I was about to leave home to come North. I was then a young man of about nineteen; from fifteen until I was nineteen I kept a steady eye on my dear Emma and she the same on me, and when I went away I flooded the mail carriers with love letters to my dear Emma and she to me. In order to leave home I would have to get a partner; I knew a young man by the name of Horace Thomas who was anxious to get a partner to go railroading. They were then building a railroad from Richmond to Clifton Ford, Va., and the nearest point to my home was at a place called Bald Eagle Dam, as this new railroad was to be built on the banks of the James river. So myself and friend Thomas applied to the boss for a job; he put me to sledging stone and friend Thomas to help load the cars. He, Thomas, balked one day and went home. I worked one month and was transferred with some good men to near Lynchburg. They were paying at that time on the road $1.50 per day. While working there I heard of a new railroad called the Shenandoah Valley, where they were paying $1.75 per day. I at once drew my money and took the train from Buchanan, Va., near the source of the beautiful James river, and also near where I went to work. I worked there from the spring of 1881 until the fall of the same year. My boss, by the name of Leftwich, finished up that part of the railroad and taking horses and carts to the amount of fifty and men to the amount of thirty-five, we all emigrated across the country about one hundred and fifty miles to work on a spur railroad that would connect Pocahontas coal mines to the N. & W. R. R. Just before you get to the coal mines on that new road two small tunnels had to be cut: I went to work on one of these tunnels at $2.00 per day. On pay days I would spend my money freely. I worked there from the fall of 1881 to the next August and then I went home, walking fifty miles across the country through woods and over mountains without even seeing a cabin on the route. I came out at a little town called Dublin on the N. & W. R. R. and at the foot of the Peaks of Otter, the highest point in the State of Virginia, five miles from its base to the summit.
I had been gone from home then one year and eight months, getting good wages nearly all the time and I went home with $11.00 in my pocket, to see my mother and father and my dear Emma. My mother gave me a lecture and said that I did not do as other boys had done that came home with fine clothes and hundreds of dollars in their pockets. I had a nice suit that I put on when I went to see Emma, but no money to give my mother and father. I concluded to stay at home until the following spring of 1883, during which I made myself good with my good Emma and got the promise of her hand, the sweetest story ever told, we were to be married Christmas day of 1883. A friend of mine by the name of Sidney Hunter went to Lynchburg and there met a man who was getting up coal diggers to go to a place on the B. & O. R. R. called Hawk’s Nest,Sidney at once came back after me as he and I had been schoolmates. I at once went over and bid my dear Emma goodbye and also told my mother and father that I would do better the next time I came, financially. I bid them a long farewell for it was a little over ten years until I saw the magain. Hunter and myself then went to Lynchburg on February 22nd, 1883, we got with the man who was paying transportation to the coal mine and we arrived theer after traveling all night and half of the day on the train. If ever there was a God forsaken place, this was one. Nothing but the Blue Ridge mountains towering almost to the skies on one side and the Allegheny on the other. The sun never shining there until twelve and went out of sight at two o’clock. I never saw a coal mine before and yet I had shipped as a digger. The coal vein was about three foot thick. The man took us up to the mouth of the pit and said, “Boys, this is where you’ve got to work.” I looked at Hunter and Hunter looked at me; we both thought our time had come. We were three hundred and fifty miles from home, no money in our pockets and the winter was extremely cold. It was there when I thought of mother and father and my dear Emma, that if I could only get home again I never would leave the farm; but it was work or starve and the next morning we went into the coal mines and as we got in where it was real dark Hunter turned to me and said, “Sam, we are in Hell at last.” The pit boss showed me my room in which I had to work, and showed me how to dig and left me to paddle my own canoe. The cost of my transportation and toll was $25.00. I did the best I could, learning each day more and more, and becoming familiar with the bank, I began to like the work as it was warm and pleasant inside and the snow was banked almost ten feet high on the outside all along Kanawa Valley. If ever I worked in my life, it was there, as I intended the first money I got my hands on I would certainly leave that place. The first money I got after paying my debts was $11.00; that was not quite enough so I made up my mind to stay until the next pay, which was All Fools day, and when the superintendent waked up on the 2nd day of April Sam Clements and Sidney Hunter were gone for good with tools on our back. We took the train for Capelton, W. Va. There was a strike on there at that time but we did not know it, our train got there just as the sun was going down. The baggage master threw our tools on the platform and we stepped off the train. Just as I hit the bottom step a big tall coal miner tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Partner what are you going to do here?” I said “Dig coal.” “Sir,” he said to me “don’t let this train leave you here for if you do you will be hung to one of these trees before twelve o’clock.” I called Sidney who was a few feet away and had this man to tell him the same thing. Hunter rushed, after the man had finished speaking, and put his tools on the cars again. I started to throw my tools on but the train was running too fast, so I let the tools go and got on the train. I went on to Charleston, W. Va., and never heard of the tools again. Hunter sold his tools while in Charleston.
There for the first time I saw a steamboat, the name of which was the W. M. Chancellor; she was then bound for Pittsburg and as we could find no work in Charleston we took our first passage on this large steamer to Moundsville, W. Va. The Ohio River Road was then in construction but it was all lifting earth and did not suit us as we were men who worked in tunnels. We at once took the train for Wheeling, W. Va. The first voice we heard after getting off the train at the depot was a boy crying “Peanuts for sale here, three quarts for a dime.” I stepped up and said “I will take a dimes worth.” We filled all our pockets and proceeded to hunt work. We walked around Wheeling until late in the afternoon and we spent our money freely but no work. After while I saw the bridge that connects Wheeling and Bridgeport, I said to Sidney “Come and let us go over, we might find work over there.” As we approached the end of the bridge we found things looked brighter for work than the other end. While standing there I observed an old man sitting on some ties, he was a splendid looking old man and seemed to be master of many thousand dollars. I stepped up to him with hat in hand and said, “Mister, could you tell me where I could get a job of work?” He said, “Yes, they are building a tunnel two miles west of Mingo Junction, called Gould’s.” This old man proved to be A. C. and P. P. Lewis’s father, attorneys at law of this city. We at once bought tickets to Mingo Junction and then to Gould’s tunnel. The contractors were glad to receive us as they were short of men. They showed us our sleeping quarters and gave us a nice supper, we went to bed for the evening. Next morning we arose early and found we had a little money left and a good job at two dollars per day, so in order to spend this money we would have to come to Steubenville. We arrived in the city on the morning of April 18th, 1883. The first colored man I met was James Harris. Hunter asked him to take him to a restaurant down Market street we went to the old McConville Hotel to a restaurant kept in the alley by Thos, Robinson and Alex. Farris. From there we went to William Walker’s place of business, then called the “Eagle Hall.” The place suited Hunter very much but did not suit me. I commenced to inquire for a better place, so James took me to Mrs. Henrietta Snowden’s on North Third street. I afterwards made her house my stopping place when I came to the city. Hunter and myself succeeded in spending all the money we had; we then at once returned to our new jobs at Gould’s tunnel.
All this time I did not forget my dear Emma, as I had promised to marry her on the 25th of December of that year. We went to work and worked steady for two pays, we then came back to Steubenville to have some fun. We did not leave ’till nearly all our money was gone; and during this time I did not fail to keep my dear Emma posted and also encouraged that she would be my bride. Christmas morning we went to work for two more pays, then came to Steubenville and had our fun. I thought I would give myself time to clear about two hundred dollars before Christmas, that I might go home and marry my dear Emma. After spending all our money this time for fun in the city, I bid Steubenville farewell so far as pleasure was concerned, to save my money that I might take the hand of my dear Emma on the 25th of December. We came back and went to work and a few weeks later I was taken down with typhoid-pneumonia and Sidney Hunter had me brought to Mrs. Snowden in this city under the care of Dr. Mulhian Hain; that was in July and I was not able to go to work until the first of September, so I found it impossible to take the hand of my dear Emma on the appointed day. I at once wrote her concerning the same. She wrote me back begging me to come if I only had one dollar after I got home. That did not suit this great blood of mine for when I went home for that occasion, I wanted to go right. I tried to persuade her to wait until the following spring, but I noticed in her next answer she said but little. I became somewhat uneasy but thinking it would be all right I went to work until Christmas. Being weak from sickness I could not hold the same job as I had at first, I had to work for $1.25 per day, and when Christmas came I only had twenty-five or thirty dollars. I came to Steubenville and spent all that in buying presents and giving to church festivals; and this was my record all the time I was at Gould’s, made large money and threw it to the winds. Sometime in February of 1884 my mother wrote me and told me Emma had married Mr. Johnson and she, mother, was indeed glad, as she never favored the match. For the first day or so I tried to die, I also tried to get drunk but all in vain, I still lived and kept sober; and soon forgot that I ever loved Emma, who now resides in Pittsburg.
I worked on at Gould’s until we finished and was there the morning that the first person went through, which was the contractor’s little daughter, Miss Ella.
All the best miners left for new places in the East, I left for Laurel Hill, Westmoreland Co., Pennsylvania, to work in a tunnel there which had just started, but the smoke and sulphur was so bad I could not work, so I went to selling whiskey on the sly. I would go for miles over the country with two jugs in a bag and came back to the shanty at night and made the whiskey half water, and sold it for $1.00 per half pint to the Irish and negroes that worked there. I had and made more money than I ever did in my life for so short a time. One day the Sheriff of that county came to the shanty just above mine and I heard him ask, “Is this where Sam Clement lives?” I at once left whiskey and clothes and skipped across the mountain to the nearest station and caught the train to Pittsburg. I came from Pittsburg to Dinsmore tunnel, Washington county, Pa., where my friend Sidney Hunter was working. They were repairing the brick work in the old tunnel. The job was very tedious as we could not work when the trains were running through and it would take fully eighteen months to finish the work. That was the best job I ever struck in my life as we got $1.75 per day for almost doing nothing. Quite a number of Irish and negroes worke around there at that time. I soon saw it was a nice opening to sell moonshine whiskey. I at once made arrangements with my friend, Bill Walker, in Steubenville, to send me a boxed jug of whiskey as I would need it. I watered and sold whiskey for almost a year and made plenty of money. One day the Sheriff of Washington county stepped off the train at Dinsmore depot. I knew him well and thought he was after me; this proved not to be true, as he was on other official duties, but I took no chances and caught the first freight coming to Steubenville. I boarded at Joseph Togen’s until my money was almost gone. It was here I became acquainted with a girl by the name of Hattie Paine, a girl that I had some little respect for. I then got a job here in Steubenville on the old basin and worked all the winter of 1885. The contractor’s name was Edman M. Callagan. This was during the panic and we only got $1.30 per day. My friend Hunter was still at Dinsmore. After finishing the basin Callagan said he had some bridges to build for the county but could not commence until the weather broke. The first day of April, 1886, we went to Fernwood and built a bridge. We finished that bridge and went to build another at Skelly’s. I did not stay until this bridge was finished as I had a bealed jaw. I came to Steubenville to see the doctor, and as son as I got well I went to work at Mingo Junction. I boarded at Winfield Scott’s for one month, I did not like his wife very well, and I came to Steubenville and boarded at Mr. Thomas’ at South Fifth street, and walked to Mingo every morning to work. I was there for one month. I then went to Mrs. McDaniel’s on South Sixth street. It was here I became acquainted with Mrs. Saphorna Braxton, whose husband had left her the year before. Her style and manner just suited me. She was the youngest daughter of Joseph Guyder and had been married for six years. She having considerable trouble in her young married life, caused her to come to the conclusion to obtain a divorce, if possible. This was no business of mine but I kept a vigilant eye on her from that time on.
I worked at Mingo for two years and then came a strike. I then went back to Dinsmore where my friend Hunter was still working. We finished that tunnel in July, 1887. Hunter went to New York and I came back to Steubenville. It seemed as if the grass widow had a string on me and I could not get loose. I loafed around Steubenville all the summer of 1887 waiting for the mill to resume work. It was here I became acquainted with my friends, A. J. Guy, William Fletcher and Levi Jackson. We called ourselves four dandy darkies and we would meet every evening on the Court House square and line out our route for the night. We took the girls by storm from every quarter of the city. The fall of that year the mill commenced work in Mingo. I went back to my old job at $2.50 per day. I then boarded at Mrs. Henrietta Snowden’s. During the year of 1888. Mrs. Braxton obtained her divorce. I still held my job in Mingo for nine years afterwards. Mrs. Braxton and myself were married on Nov. 18th, 1890. I continued to work at Mingo until the strike and then went to the Imperial Hotel as night porter. I worked there for three months, then the strike at Mingo ended and I went back to work. My wife and I lived at 316 Slack street. I found my job in Mingo after the strike much different from what it had been in years gone by. Things had changed, wages were less and the men seemed to work different. I found that I would soon have to leave there and find other quarters.
During the fall of 1891 I conceived the idea I ought to go to see my mother, whom I had not seen for ten years. Some time during the spring of 1891 my brother John, who had taught school for many years in Virginia, married Miss Martha Bigger. He at once came to Ohio to see me, leaving his wife at home. I was indeed glad to see him though I was sick, as ten years had elapsed since we parted. My brother took a liking to this city and he went to work at Mingo Junction, where I was then working. He at once sent for his wife and became located here. I proceeded to make arrangements to see my mother and left on December 23rd. My wife prepared me a dozen biscuit and some cold spare ribs and packed them in my satchel to eat on the way. I went from here to Wheeling, from Wheeling to Grafton, from Grafton to Harper’s Ferry, that historical spot where John Brown started the great wheel a-rolling that ultimately freed 4,500,000 of human slaves. We were to arrive at Harper’s Ferry at two a. m., but eight miles this side of Martinsburg, W. Va., my train was wrecked. Just before this wreck occurred I was sitting in the corner near the door and the force of the quick stop lifted me out of my seat and put my forehead against the door knob with great force. It raised a knot on my forehead as big as a baseball. The engineer and fireman of my train were both killed. The wreck proved to be a sideswipe of a freight train as the engine of my train lay on its side in an old cornfield. We were there from twelve o’clock until eight o’clock the next morning and if three ever was a time in my life that I thought I would starve to death, it was at this place, as I had eaten all the grub that my wife had prepared for me before I got to Grafton, and where our train stood there was nothing to be seen but the beautiful Potomac river that divides the shore of Maryland from that of West Virginia, and the Blue Ridge Mountains on the other. I would have given a dollar for a lunch but my money would not spend. At 8 o’clock the next morning we transferred on another train and in a few minutes we were in Martinsburg, W. Va. To my delight I saw an old colored lady with two dozen half moon apple pies. I at once purchased a half dozen and also a half dozen more to take with me, but I ate them before the train got out of the burg. Our train ran into Harper’s Ferry at ten o’clock a. m. and the next train to take me away was at two p. m., that gave me ample time to walk over this sacred spot. I made a visit to the Colored College on the hill; also to the little brick structure wherestood and defied the powers of this country for a cause that proved to be right. I also viewed the Maryland Heights, the Virginia Heights, and the West Virginia Heights, three States within a stone’s throw of each other. From Harper’s Ferry I went to Charleston, where the martyred John Brown gave up his life that the American Negro might be free; from Charleston to Winchester and viewed the ground where Gen. Sheridan made his famous ride from Winchester to Lexington, Va., the of one of Virginia’s , General Lee; from Lexington to Lynchburg and from Lynchburg to Forest Station, the haunts of my childhood; there I met my dear old father, waiting my arrival.
We at once went our home and just as we got in sight of the house, I shall never forget the occasion, I saw my mother standing in the door encircled in a white apron. She came down to the gate to meet me and grasped the hand of her prodigal son. She had somewhat changed in appearance as her hair was whiter and wrinkles more numerous, but in those dear old wrinkles as she would smile something told me that she loved me still. I went down to stay two weeks. I enjoyed my mother’s company until New Year’s Day, and on that morning my mother got up out of bed sick, and from that she grew worse and worse and worse, so I sent for Dr. Cable, a boy that I had played ball and marbles with. I asked him what he thought of my mother standing in the door encircled in a white apron. send at once, as my mother was old and had the pneumonia and would not last long. I at once telegraphed my brother John in this city to come at once. He arrived on Thursday morning and mother died on Friday at 11 a. m. We buried her at a spot that she had selected for herself in the south corner of the garden. Our work and wives were in Steubenville and of course my brother and I hurried to get back. We fixed things the best we could, left our father there and we left Monday morning the 17th of January, 1893. We came by the way of Washington to Pittsburg on the Pennsylvania lines. We arrived home on the 18th and found our families extremely well, but the weather very cold.
We both went back to our work at Mingo; on one occasion while working at Mingo I worked on a peculiar job that caused me to start to work at half past two in the morning. This morning that I now speak of, I got up at three o’clock, I heard some freight coming over the bridge. I ran to the depot in time to catch one, thinking it would run slow at Mingo and I could get off. Just as I hit the platform here in Steubenville a freight came up slowly, the engine seemed to say “Catch a nigger” slowly but when she got to Mingo it looked as if she would catch five hundred niggers at once and I was determined she was not going to catch this nigger, so I stayed on, it was very cold for my coffee froze to a cake of ice in the bucket. You can judge from this how cold I was. That train did not stop until it ran smack into Dennison, and just as I stepped off in the yards of that place the first section of Number 20, the morning fast train was just pulling out. I got the blind baggage and came back to Steubenville. I at once went to my boarding house and thawed out. I had been one hundred miles and back to breakfast. I did not work that day and sent word to the boss that I was sick.
Mingo had changed so I sought to get another job. There was an opening at John Orr’s Sons wholesale grocery, as he desired a heavy man on the big wagon. I went to work for him in the spring of 1893 and worked until. January 22nd, 1905. Business became so slack with the Orr Brothers and I being the last man they had hired, of course, I was the first man laid off. I was without a job for a day or two. We then lived in the old A. M. E. parsonage on the corner of Washington and Fifth. Different ministers that would come to this charge refused to live in this house, the cause was dampness. My wife and I gave it a three year whirl and janitored the church for the rent. I got the janitorship of the Hamline Church at $15.00 per month; also I was the janitor at Business College at $5.00 per week, so my wife and I got along nicely. In February, 1895, there were a number of men seeking office for the nomination in March. The office of Constable was open for any person who desired to run. I stepped out in the field against five white men and against my wife’s wishes. The first white man I met after I had made my announcement for Contsablewas Cyrus Ault. He said, “Sam, I see you have announced your name for Constable, I am going to vote for you and you are going to be elected.”
Election day came on the 7th of March. McCann beat me just 33 votes in the city; he was up making a speech to the people for what they had done for him when Mr. C. C. White received the news from Mingo Junction, stating that Clement had carried Mingo by 124. That made me 77 ahead of everything in Steubenville and I was declared the nominee.
Next came the election in April. My opponent was Arthur Branagan, I beat him 524 votes. I was declared the first negro elected in the county by the popular vote of the people. Mr. John McClave, attorney at law, loaned me a book called the “Constable’s Manual.” I at once familiarized myself with it and “Swan’s Treatise” and I soon became ready for all legal battles. The first arrest I made was for the Humane Society, a woman who had mistreated her children and who lived on a boat. I went down and got her up near the jail, when she got in sight of the iron bars she laid down in the street. I coaxed her to get up and told her if she still laid there I would go and get an officer and have her arrested.
The next arrest I was called on to make was the arrest of a man and a woman who were living together at the Old Atlantic Beer Garden out the Run. I had a warrant for the man and woman but when I got out to the house I could only find the woman. I brought her in and committed her to jail. Next morning word came that the man was still in the house and defied arrest. I was sent for to come and get him as he had been seen peeping through a little hole in the garret. I went out and tried all the doors and they were locked so I kicked open the front door and went in with gun in hand and one leg trembling. I looked in all the rooms and also the garret but could not see my man. I was just turning to come out when I saw some soot come down from the unscaled roof. I at once looked up and to my surprise there lay a large man, six feet long, stretched out on a board just above my head. I commanded him at once to come down. He said in a gruff voice “Don’t be in a hurry; you are not the first officer I ever saw.” At that moment both legs and the gun began to tremble. He still hung to the rafters and swung down, just before he let loose he looked to me as long as a telegraph pole. He let loose and dropped down at my side and said “I am here.” I asked him how he wanted to go to Steubenville, like a ma nor like a hog. He said, “By G—, I want to go like a hog.” I at once slipped the nippers on his left hand and when I brought him out all the Run people had assembled to see the fun. Just as I got to the door coming out the little boys cried out “Clement has got him.” I was the hero of the occasion.
We at once went to Squire Zimmerman’s office. Zimmerman said to him “You are hereby charged with unlawfully living and cohabiting with a woman that is not your wife, what have you to say, guilty or not?” The prisoner’s name was Jacob Hennis; he answered the court and said. “I am guilty, by G—.” The fire flew into Zimmerman at once and he said, “The sentence of the court is that you pay to the State of Ohio $150.00 and be confined in the Canton workhouse for six months and stand committed until fine and costs are paid.”
The next morning I started to the workhouse with him. He was born at Rayland this county. They all knew that I would have to go that way and we would wait an hour for our train to Canton. While waiting at the depot in came his father and mother, sisters and brothers, uncles and aunts, cousins and nephews. There was a bright pair of steel handcuffs that encircled his wrists. At one time I could not see my prisoner. I put on my Wild Bill grin and my Buffalo Bill stride and stepped up and said “Disperse, this is my prisoner.” They at once fell back and I delivered my man to the Canton workhouse. He stayed almost three years.
Mr. J. T. Bigger obtained a judgment against Patrick Flynn for one hundred and ninety dollars. I was sent by the Squire to collect the same. The only way it could be done was through attachment and advertising the sale day. Flynn had nine horses in pasture in the country. Edward Norris and myself went out and got them and brought them to Morgan Sharp’s stable, we then went down to Flynn’s stable and got all his dirt carts and pack saddles and took them to where the horses were. I advertised the day of the sale and employed Bart Guyder as clerk, a man who was so crooked that he could not lay in bed straight. I also employed Norris to take the horses out on that day for inspection. When the hour arrived I mounted one of the carts and stated to the crowd the nature of the sale by saying “Everything sold here today is for absolutely spot cash.” The first plug sold for $35.00. I thought that was a good starter; the next horse was a much better looking one than the first. I got much interested with my talk and commenced to walk up and down the cart, the cart body not being fastened in front and I walking too near the rear end caused a combustification and the auctioneer was dumped on the ground. The sale stopped a little while until Sharp brought me a coffee box. I succeeded in selling everything I had for sale. When everything was over, I returned to get the money from the clerk but Guyder and Norris were gone and could not be found. I at once went to Squire Zimmerman’s office and inquired if Guyder had been there. He said “No, Bart Guyder never comes here.” I at once went to Guyder’s shop and asked Dan Wells if Guyder had been there; he said in a glum voice “They are up in the bath room, I guess.” I went up and found Norris and Guyder counting the money. Guyder looked up to me and said. “How much is the principal claim that you have to pay to Bigger?” I said one hundred and ninety dollars; and he at once gave me the money. I said “Gentlemen, give me all that money as I have to make a return to the Squire.” Guyder said “To H— with the Squire.” Norris said “We will make the return as soon as we get ours.” I thought it was the best thing to keep quiet as I found I was held up. Guyder said “What is your cost in this case.” I said “About twenty-five dollars;” he at once gave me the money; then he also asked me what was the Squire’s costs, he gave me that money. I said “Gentlemen, are you paid for your services?” Guyder said “Oh, yes, partially.” He at once gave me the tally sheet which they had doped to suit the occasion. On the way to the Squire’s office I observed that there were only eight horses marked on the sheet, but I had sold nine. I went back to Guyder and said “You have got this thing wrong; I sold nine horses and you got the money for the same.” Norris said “It is a d— lie, I brought them horses in and I know how many there was; you must have left one in the field.” They both got so angry that I thought it would be a treat to get away with my life.
What the amount of money was that was taken in at that sale and what Guyder and Norris received for their services will forever remain an unknown fact.
I will now here speak of my defeat for my second term as constable. It was caused by two men who afterwards proved to be my best friends. One was P. P. Lewis, th other William Freudenberger. In order to relate the cause of the same, I shall have to take them one by one, starting with Mr. Lewis.
Mr. Lewis had obtained a judgment against one, Sam Boley, a saloon keeper. I was sent to close the saloon; I put the key in my pocket and if I sampled the whiskey in the saloon, it was nobody’s business, though Bart Guyder wanted me to take him in the saloon as he desired to inspect it. I said to him in the dignity of my office “Mr. Guyder come in the day of the sale,” as I remembered the Patty Flynn horse sale. Before I had time to sell contents of the Boley Saloon, Mr. Lewis obtained the judgment by default against the Trustees of the Sixth street M. E. Colored Church for fifteen dollars. I was ordered to make the collection. I asked the Squire how I could proceed: he said “Go down and see Lewis, he will give you all instructions.” I went down to see Mr. Lewis and asked him how I would proceed to sell the personal property of a church; his answer was “Go, down and tear out the alter, take chairs and organ, load in a wagon and take them to the Boley Saloon and store them there for ten days. Advertise and sell them and bring me my money.” I at once went down to see the minister, the Rev. Mr. Dickerson and told him that I had come to make an attachment on the altar, chairs and organ of his church to satisfy a debt that the trustees owed Mr. P. P. Lewis. The Reverend said “Mr. Clement you are not going to humiliate my people by doing a thing like that.” I said “Sir, I am under legal orders and must obey them.” The Reverend said to me “My trustees are all at work and I cannot see them now but will have them come and settle with Mr. Lewis at nine o’clock tomorrow morning.” I said “Very good Reverend, I shall take no further action.” I at once went to see Mr. Lewis and told him the claim would be settled at nine in the morning. He then asked me if I had the G— D— alter and other stuff in the Boley Saloon. I said “No, I don’t think it necessary as they are going to pay.” His face turned red, his voice loud and vicious, he said “Are you running the laws of this state?” I said no. “Why don’t you do what you are told to do then; your bondsmen will pay that claim if the great Virginia Constable has too much christian grace to perform his duty.” That was too much of a roast for me and I at once started for the Sixth Street Church with the intention of knocking out bricks, breaking locks and bursting in doors. I went by to see the Reverend Mr. Dickerson; I said to him “Come on I am going to make this attachment.” I went on ahead The Reverend came running in the rear; every now and then he would say “O, Clement,” I failed to hear him until I got to the door. He said “Now, look here, Clement.” I said “No time for talk, unlock the door.” He unlocked it and I went in, and I said “By the power that is vested in me as Constable of Steubenville Township, I hereby attach this altar, chairs and organ.” I then came out and I was very careful when coming down the street that I did not meet Mr. Lewis again that day.
The next morning, bright and early the trustees were down and settled the claim and cost. Rev. Mr. Dickerson said to Mr. Lewis, “I am sorry you sent the constable down to humiliate our people.” Mr. Lewis was at at that time writing a receipt for his money; he at once looked up in amazement at the minister and said “Did that constable come down there and try to sell your church property?” The Rev. Dickerson said, “Yes, he was going to break our church open.” Mr. Lewis said “What do you think of that. He must have brought that up here from Virginia; who ever heard of a man selling the sacred church property. That constable ought to be stopped in his wild career, he is liable to sell the earth.” And the trustees and minister went back and told the news that I had tried hard to break up that church. The next morning I met Preston Moore who said that I had the bid head and was trying to run the country and he further said that he would see that every man in the county would vote against me in my second term. I protested my innocence, but he said, “Man. Mr. Lewis says you are the cause of it all, the white man doesn’t lie, but you are made of lies.” I said “Goodby, Mr. Moore.” He said “Go to H—.” I at once put it down as having lost fifty votes by that deal and Mr. Lewis laughed in his sleeve.
I now come back to tell you how I lost my other fifty votes. During the administration of Thomas Sharp as county commissioner, he thought it was his duty to protect the pikes from being cut up by narrow wagon tires. He looked in the statute books and found the dimensions of certain width tires and certain roads required for them. He caused the same to be printed on about five hundred post cards and started me out through the country to tack them up. I tacked up a few at the city scales, then caught the street cars and came back to town, thinking to make arrangements to go out towards Richmond, but being so late, I gave up the idea for the day. While standing at the corner of Fourth and Market Streets I observed a new road wagon standing at John Orr’s Sons, loaded with what I thought to be lime. I at once went up to see; it was a wagon with a two inch tire, and with twelve barrels of lime on, weighing twenty-four hundred pounds, four hundred pounds more than the law allowed for a two inch tire. I went over to the Tilney Block and stood in the door until the driver came out; it proved to be the son of Senator Welday, the man who got up the pike law. Young Welday started up the plank road; now in order to prosecute him for driving on the pike I would certainly have to have some evidence, so I gave the case up as I did not intend to follow him out, and I went back to the office. An hour later I started up to the depot to meet the accommodation train that came in at 5:30, thinking I would catch some bunco marriages. As I stood at the end of the platform at Market street I noticed my friend Mr. Freudenberger and Mr. Goldsberg, in a two horse rig coming down Market street. They had been out in the country selling cheap clothes to the farmers. I said to myself “Now there is a good witness as I know he met young Welday somewhere on the pike.” I said nothing but went home to supper as I had not got a bunco. Then I went up street again to the office; passed Mr. Freudenberger sitting on a box enjoying a good cigar, he sat right under our office window, the Squire had both windows hoisted high as it was very warm. I went up in the office and said to the Squire that I wanted to file an affidavit against young Welday for violating the pike law. The Squire said “Go out to the scales and arrest those coal haulers as Mr. Welday made this law.” I said “Mr. Welday must suffer for this as I saw him today with twenty-four hundred pounds on a two-inch tire.” The Squire said “Sammy, did you see him driving on the pikes?” I said “No, but I have a witness that did see him.” “You will have to bring that witness before me before I will prepare this affidavit.” I stepped to the window and said “Mr. Freudenberger.” He looked up and said “Vell?” I said “Come up here I want to see you.” He at once came into the office and stood with a dignified air as if he had just received word of a hundred barrel gushing oil well. I said to him “Did you meet young Welday to-day when coming into the city?” he said “Yes;” “Where did you meet him at?” “Near Vintersville on the pike and he was driving a vagon.” “What was his wagon loaded with?” I said. “Twelve or fifteen barrel of lime.” I turned to the Squire and said “Upon the evidence I ask this affidavit.” Mr. Freudenberger said “Now here, you make no G— D— vitness of me, young Velday is a particular friend of mine.” I said “I am satisfied I have got you where the chicken got the ax.” He said “Yes, ve vill have you between the hawk and the buzzard ven you come to your second term next spring.” The Squire said “Mr. Freudenberger, I told Mr. Clement not to do this, as he ought to catch the coal haulers first.” Mr. Freudenberger said “Let him alone, Squire, I vill give him H— next spring.”
After I got the warrant in my possession I telephoned to young Welday and told him I had this warrent for him and did not want to pile up any expense by coming out, but desired him to come in some time the next day before Squire Henry Zimmerman. Next morning at nine o’clock young Welday was before the court; the Squire read the charge, looked over the top of his glasses and said “Are you guilty or not?” Young Welday said “I am guilty, sir, as I certainly did haul twelve barrels of lime over the pike home yesterday.” The Squire said “I am sorry that you are the first one to be caught in the Thomas Sharp snap; the sentence of the court is that you pay to the State of Ohio the sum of ten dollars and the costs.” Young Welday at once pulled the money from his pocket and paid the same and went out on the street. He met Mr. Freudenberger who said “Vell vat did they do widt you?” Welday said “Oh, they held me up for fourteen dollars and forty cents.” Freudenberger said “Vell, vell, vell vat do you tink of dat; dat coon caused the whole trouble. He’s got the big head and if you let him go, he vill rest the whole city and county throwed in. I always heard it said “Give a nigah an inch, he take a mile.’ “
I did not think the Jew had any strength in the city politically, but I put him down as having taken away from me about fifty votes. The fifty I had lost from P. P. Lewis and the fifty from Freudenberger would be easy to overcome at the election.
One day soon after that, while walking up the street, a young fellow handed me a ticket on which was John Cunningham for Constable. I thought at once it was Freudenberger’s candidate. I said nothing but saw my finish on the wall. Nomination day came, and when the count was made I was found to be even one hundred behind. This ends the story of P. P. Lewis and Freudenberger.
I will now speak of the history of my father in Steubenville. As he had lived from 1893 to 1896 at his old home in Virginia, he then being seventy-six years of age, I thought I would persuade him to come to Ohio and end his days in what he called the old free state. He had worked hard all his life and had never been over twenty-five miles from home. To come seven hundred miles to Ohio was to him like one taking passage to Egypt. He finally consented to come and I at once made the necessary arrangements for transportation and the old man was in the land that he had for many years longed to see. My wife and myself did everything we could to make it pleasant for him, and we believe that the closing years of his life were full of happy sheaves. I was then constable and whenever I had to go to the country in a buggy, I would always take him along and point out the places of interest that he might be glad to see.
It was during the campaign of William McKinley for President of the United States that John Doggett and myself organized a marching club of a hundred and twenty men. Doggett was captain and I was first lieutenant. We took our company to all near towns in the valley. My father would always go along and keep close to the first lieutenant as he enjoyed hearing him give the different commands. Our company was called on to take part in the parade in Steubenville one evening and Captain Doggett happened to be sick. That threw me first in command to my delight. Just before calling my company out I stepped into a gents’ furnishing store and bought myself a brown corker hat for which I paid three dollars. The clerk put the hat in a paper sack, just as I turned to go to the door I met my father and I said to him “You take this hat and keep it until the parade is over.” We marched over all the principal streets of the city and every street was crowded to its utmost capacity. My father had some considerable difficulty in squeezing through the crowd as he was anxious to hear what the commanding officer would have to say, so he quit the pavement and took the street where I was and he kept close to my side. As I would give those West Point commands my father would say, “Good gracious, listen to my son.” I would always dismiss the men in front of the court house square. We came down Market street eight abreast, just as we got near Maxwell & Henry’s old stand I gave the command “Single file, and left oblique.” That threw my men in the gutter in front of the court house, so when they came to a halt their faces were looking toward the river. There were about eight hundred people on the other side of the street waiting to hear the different commands, the orders to be given and to witness the dismissal of the company. In order to have my company to face me I gave the command “Right face.” Some turned right and some turned left, which left them simply in a reverse position, and not a man had faced me yet. I gave the same command over again, thinking that every man knew his right from his left and would put himself in the correct position and get me out of my great embarrassment as the spectators behind me had begun to laugh. So I said “Right about face”; those that turned right the first time turned left, and those that turned left turned right. I became indignant and with a voice almost like a thunderbolt said “Gentlemen, turn your backs to the Court House and your faces toward me.” At once eight hundred cheers of laughter went up from the other side crying: “Hurrah for the commanding officer,” and for years afterward I could hear men on the street saying, “Your backs to the Court House.” It became the watchword of the farmer who heard it: “If you want to keep the lawyers from robbing you, just do what Sam Clement says: “Turn your back to the Court House.”
After I had dismissed my company that evening I turned to my dear old father to get my hat. He handed me a flat paper sack. I said, “Father, you have lost the hat.” He said, “Oh, my son, I was very careful to keep it in the bag.” I opened it and looked in and my hat was as flat as a pastry pie pan. Bart Guyder and Bill Warfield stood near by, and asked to see the hat. Warfield got so weak from laughing he had to take a seat on the curbstone, Guyder laughed until he cried and went to a nearby saloon and filled up for the evening. I threw the bag and hat out in the street and said “Father, let’s go home.”
I was called on to close up a store on lower Market street to satisfy a claim that was due McGowan Brothers. On the day of sale I employed my father to reach me things from the shelves while I stood upon the counter and did the auctioneering. At dinner time we closed up to resume again at half past one, but during the morning sale I observed a skeleton wood saw and made up my mind I wanted the article, but it was against the law for a constable to make a purchase at his own sale, so I said to my father at the dinner table, “As soon as the sale opens, father, this afternoon you reach me the saw as there will not be much of a crowd in and it can be bought cheap. You wait until the first man bids on the saw and whatever he bids you bid ten cents higher and I will try to knock it down to you.” The first thing my father handed me in the afternoon was the skeleton wood saw. I said, “Ladies and gentlemen, how much am I bid on this saw?” Some man said “twenty-five cents.” I said, “Twenty-five, twenty-five, she’s going at twenty-five, can I hear thirty-five?” My father at once said “Thirty-five.” I said “Thirty-five, thirty-five, she’s going at thirty-five, can I hear forty-five?” My father at once said “Forty-five.” I said “Once, twice, three times and sold to Robert Clement for forty-five cents.” Mr. McGowan had his clerk there taking down the amount of cash of the articles being sold, as everything was sold for cash. No one had said anything as to who would pay for the saw. The clerk stepped up to my father and said, “You owe us forty-five cents for the saw.” My father said, “O, that saw belongs to my son.” I had told him to make the bid but had forgotten to give him the money which I should have done at the dinner table. The clerk tapped me on the foot with his pencil and said, “Mr. Auctioneer, you owe us forty-five cents.” I turned to my father and said “Have you no money to pay for this saw?” He said, “No, you knew that I had no money when you told me to bid the saw in at the dinner table.” I at once pulled a half doller from my pocket and said, “I will lend you a half dollar” and paid for the saw and gave me back five cents. In order to make my side as good as possible, I said to the clerk, “My father has bought the saw to saw up wood at the house.” My father answered and said, “My son, you need no saw for wood, you use coal.” I said to myself “Stung again,” and said no more. The old gentleman was born in an honest country and had lived seventy-six years of an honest life, now when his sun was fairly spent in the Western horizon he could not afford to spot that life by shielding his son to obtain an old wood saw contrary to law.
In February, 1895, my brother John who was then working at S. C. Gill’s of this city, conceived the idea that a fortune awaited him in the City of Chicago and all that was needed for him to do was to move there and get it. I earnestly prevailed on him that a smaller town was better to live in and he had lived here for three years and had and would accumulate friends that he would not in Chicago. I told him he was a modest Christian gentleman and that kind of a character in a community like this would soon lift him into the hearts of the best people and he would soon become satisfied, but his being two years my senior, my persuasions were to no avail; he was determined to go to Chicago and to Chicago he went on February 15, 1895. He secured a position on the Pullman Palace cars that run out of Chicago to Galveston, Texas. The snow would be six inches deep when leaving Chicago and in twelve hours he would be where the cattle were grazing on green grass. He contracted a cold in his head and caused congestion of the brain, he was sick one year and died on April 31st, 1898, and I was left alone to hold up the original Clement blood. Sometime before his death there was born to him a little baby girl whose name is Arrellia Virtir Clement, the only living niece I have on earth; and I trust her path of life may be strewed with flowers and peace be to her father’s ashes. She still lives with her mother in Chicago.
My father lived with me from 1895 until the 25th day of December, 1896, and on that day I found that he was fast failing and he grew from worse to worse and died on the 7th day of March, 1897. He laid upon his bed for almost four months, he tried the best he could to withstand his pains but he like all that now is, all that was and the unborn millions to come, he trod the wine press alone, he heard the voice of God calling him from earth and he sweetly bowed with a divine registration. He sleeps in the Union cemetery; peace be to his ashes.
One evening I came home from work very tired thinking I would eat my supper and then I would take a rest, but there was no rest for me. Just as I had dropped down on a chair my wife handed me a long letter. It was addressed to Col. S. S. Clement, No. 222 Washington St. On the upper corner of the letter was a picture of the American flag and just below it read, “If not delivered in ten days return to United States War Department.” I said to my wife, “Who in the name of the fourteen fathers is writing to me from Washington City?” She said that I was a large man, a politician and a gentleman and a scholar and such men were widely known. I at once broke the letter open and it read as follows:
“Col. Samuel S. Clement, 222 Washington St.
Sir:—Some years ago you made an application for special service in the army, your name was put on the register and now comes next for appointment. Your appointment is that of scout in the Philippine Islands and your pay will be double that of all other American scouts by reason of your position being so dangerous. You will make preparation to commence your journey and get your business rightly arranged and report at this office within thirty days for service. Failure to comply with this order under penalty of the law provided in such cases.”
I read the letter to my wife and asked her opinion. She said “You have sung war songs and commanded men around the streets and also the boy cadets and also you have been Constable and now you have got your foot in it.” I knew of no other man that could give me any light on the letter but Mr. H. G. Dohrman. The next morning I fired into the bank and said, “Mr. Dohrman, I have a letter I want you to read and explain to me.” He took the letter and read down a short distance, his face lit up with sympathy for me getting the position. He said, “Old Sam, you have got a good job.” I said, “I want no job like that. In the first place my health is not good and all that I possess in this world is here in Steubenville and also my family is here, and furthermore, I do not care for any service this late in life.” Mr. Dohrman said, “Well, Mr. Clement, three or four years ago you made application through me for special service in the army. I placed your anme on the register to come in your turn. You have got me in a deal of a fix,” and turned away with his face red as if he was mad. I turned around and walked out and as I went I said to myself, “I don’t care what kind of fix you are in as you are too plagued fresh anyway asking married men to the army. I hope the penalty of the law will be on you and not on me.” In the afternoon I went back and asked him if he could not telephone or telegraph my condition. He said yes, but before he did so I would have to make an affidavit to my disqualification. We at once proceeded over to Nelson Miller’s office and I made a sworn statement that my health was bad and that I was a married man. Just as I turned to come out of the office I noticed Mr. Dohrman’s face beaming with what I took to be laughter, but was not certain as to the madness. I went out on the street and it came to me that the whole thing was a joke. I met Mr. Dohrman the next day on the street; he tried hard to keep the joke a going. I threw up my hand and said, “The stuff is off, you have lost out.” I at once put it down in my vocabulary as one the finest jokes.
During the time I was working at Mingo I went to the Pan Handle depot to get a train, it was on the 17th of March, St. Patrick’s day. On my way from home to the depot some one gave me a beautiful shamrock, not thinking I pinned the same to the lapel of my coat. It was some time before the train arrived and I was strolling down the platform conversing with my friend, Mr. Chalmers White, who was reporter for the Steubenville Gazette. David Hanley, Steubenville’s poet, had just finished tapping his car wheels, he looked up and observed the shamrock on my coat. He also had one on his, but immediately tore it off and said, “If things like that are going to make sport of dear St. Patrick, I shall feel a disgrace to continue mine through the day.” Mr. White said to him, “Mr. Hanley it is far from Mr. Clement that he should make sport of anything that is immortal, as I know him to be one of the most pious Negroes of the city.” Mr. Hanly said, “I don’t care, he is the wrong color to wear a shamrock, though I might be wrong, he may be an Irishman turned inside out.” Just then my train ran in and I was off to my work. The evening papers came out with the large headlines: “David Hanly, the poet, and the big steel worker had considerable words this morning over the wearing of the shamrock. Hanly said St. Patrick had banished the snakes and frogs from Ireland and Lincoln ought to have done the same in American.
Right here I must divert from the history of my life to tell the great oratorical powers of my friend John H. McKee. Some years ago Mr. McKee made a visit to his old home in Ireland and when he came back he was invited to make a speech on an occasion of a celebration of that sainted day by the people of St. Peter’s Catholic Church at Garrett’s Hall, this city. The Dean was there that night and introduced the different young men that were booked to speak, also I was there and stood near the stage. The first gentleman that was introduced was Harry Thompson, with his usual smiles, his subject was “The Irishman in America.” Next appeared my friend McKee, his subject was “As I found them at home.” He walked out to the front of the stage and stood motionless for about two seconds, he drew a large white silk handkerchief from his pocket and wiped the sweat from his brow and said in thunder tones, “I am proud I am a son of an Irishman.” At once the cheers went up from eight hundred Irish mugs “Good boy, god boy, good boy.” I was there until he finished his speech. He labored hard but no cheers came until he closed. He said the time was not far hence and we would live to see the day when old Ireland would be free. This caused another grand cheer, making two in all during his speech. From that night he got a reputation as a public speaker. On July 4th the same year, the Hungarians of Dillonvale invited him to deliver an oration at their celebration. My friend McKee stepped on the stage looking like an Italian Priest and said, “My friends, I am glad to be with you to-day and look into your honest faces. I know your worth to America as you have made it what it is to-day.”
At once one thousand Hungarian voices rang out “Nicey man, nicey man, nicey man.” He labored hard in that speech with little impression. The colored people of Steubenville talked of celebrating Emancipation Day, the question came up who we would have to make the principal speech. Someone offered the name of John H. McKee. I arose and objected; I wanted no white man claiming relations with the colored race, and that would be what McKee would do, simply to get a cheer, and in order to save effusion of blood I thought to cut it out at once for I knew very well if he came out to make a speech like that he would have been separated with a razor.
Those who read these pages will forever remember the hot old days of the Cook, Henry and Company, when fire flew and hair was almost torn from heads. I shall never forget the convention that was held in the Court House, when Bart Guyder was going around the streets inviting everybody to attend the convention. He also said to me to get my father and be there early. I was ignorant of the contending forces and went up as blind as a bat, without any instructions as to what I would do. After I was there awhile I found the struggle was as to who would be the chairman of the convention. My friend Ross McCleary presided and he said in that old fashioned way “Now, boys, who will you have for your chairman?” In a second Henry Gregg was on his feet, followed in quick succession by Judge Miller rising to his feet. The question then arose, who would we recognize. McCleary said in his old-fashioned way “I accept Mr. Miller.” Mr. George Henry arose with fire flashing from both eyes and said in thunder tones “Gregg has the right to the floor as he was up before Miller”; but it seemed as if the chairman was with Miller as he said. “Boys, let us dwell together in harmony.”
To show where my embarrassment came in, Miller nominated J. J. Gill; Henry Gregg nominated Doctor Laughlin. I had some warm friends on both sides, also my father and I had the front seats where every man could see how we voted. The Chair said “All those in favor of Gill rise to your feet.” I raised up and looked ignorant as if I did not understand the occasion. “All those in favor of Dr. Laughlin rise to your feet.” I said to my father “Get up,” which would make him vote twice. I got up and stood in a stooped position and looked back as if I wanted to see how many were voting. George Henry pointed his finger at me in a vicious way and said “Get up,” and my legs at once straightened so I found I voted as many times as my father did. Gill won by a small majority. For years afterwards the political fight was bitter with Cook, Henry, Gregg and Dr. Laughlin on one side; Gill, Miller and McCleary on the opposite side, and not until a few years ago did the bitterness die out. When that eventful convention broke up and during the whole time of its session there was a terrible electric storm passing over the city. As I came out of the Court House who should be standing in Maxwell & Henry’s side door but B. J. Guyder, laughing to beat the band. I went over to him and said, “Say, fellow, what did you get me into that trouble for?” He patted me on the shoulder and said, “You are not in any trouble as you have both sides with you by voting twice.” I said, “Why did you not come over?” He said, “Man, don’t you see how it is raining?” I said, “You make me sick.”
A few days after that convention I was standing by my wagon in front of Mr. W. Frendenberger’s junk office.
Mr. McCleary came up and went up the steps and sat by the window as he had some business, I suppose, with Mr. Freudenberger. Just then Mr. Henry came out of the Commercial Bank on his way to his place of business, he stopped at the wagon and said, “Sam, what did you think of that convention.” I said I thought it unfair as Gregg had the floor first and Mr. Henry at once said “That chairman hadn’t sense enough to carry guts to a bear.” I said “Look out, there he sits by the window.” He said, “I don’t care I have told the truth,” and he went on. Mr. McCleary evidently heard every word that was said between me and Mr. Henry for as he came down the steps my yellow dog lay on the bricks by the door, he patted him on the head and said, “Hello, doggie,” and simply passed me up. After he had gone five foot past me I said “Hello, Mr. McCleary, don’t you speak to your friends, no more?” Before I could get the words out of my mouth clear, he whirled around and pointed his finger at my dog and said “I spoke to the yellow dog.” I said to myself if ever a man got a solid shot I certainly did get one then and the wound I received from that shot has never cured up.
The readers of these papers will readily remember the life, death and funeral of the Hon. J. F. Dayton, who died at his sister’s, Mrs. Gallagher’s. Just before the time for the funeral to move some one said to me and John R. Jackson who was standing close by, if I make no mistake I think it was Judge Miller, who said to us “You men stand in the hall as I think we will need you when we start with the casket down stairs.” I do not remember but two of the pallbearers; one was D. J. Sinclair and the other was Henry Gregg. The casket weighed about four hundred pounds and Daton was a large man, making the whole weigh over six hundred pounds. It was very handy to carry through the house but at the top of the steps was where the rub came in. Sinclair and his partner was in front, Gregg and his partner behind, I cannot recall the two in the middle. Gregg gave out before he had stepped three steps from the top, just then some one called for Jackson and Clement. We rushed up the steps and took hold of the rear end of the casket, at that moment Sinclair’s partner gave out as he was crushed between the wall and casket, Sinclair called out and said “Rest the whole thing on my back,” he bent his head over and the front end of the casket was set on his neck and shoulders and he gently walked down to the bottom of the steps. We looked every minute for him to drop but his legs seemed as if they were iron bolts and they never quivered from the left to the right but walked down on the level floor and stood ready to be relieved. I had heard much talk of Dohrman Sinclair and I said to Jackson, “He is small but mighty.” He took his place beside the casket and helped to bear it to the hearse as much unfatigued as he could be as coming from his usual meal. I have always looked upon him since that day as an ideal man. Many know and see him but few know his vitality and strength, as he is a busy man and lives in a busy town with a busy life, gives him but little opportunity to study or to speak much of his great manhood.
I pause here for a moment to tell you how high, I was lifted above the heads of my fellow men, both white and colored, as I thought, and also how low I fell beneath them all in the space of ten minutes. It was during the time that J. A. Mansfield occupied the Common Pleas bench. He gave some ironclad rules that he was very mindful of to have obeyed, the rules were as follows: “No person or persons shall hereafter be permitted to leave the court room while a charge is being delivered or a witness being interrogated.” It was about ten minutes to twelve when the Judge said to the Sheriff “Appoint some one to attend that door.” The Sheriff turned to me and said, “You will take charge of the door during the trial of this case.” It was a murder case and I knew it would be long and tedious; the Judge was very careful in cases like this to hear every word the witness would have to say. He desired the same for the jury as he seemed to think that when life and death of a human being hung in the balance it was a solemn thought for all. Soon after my appointment I at once felt like I was worth ten thousand dollars, also thought I was monarch of the Court House and county, as I was to get two dollars per day and I needed the money. At twelve o’clock the Judge started to deliver his usual dinner charge to the jury, some one made an awful noise in getting up to start out. The Judge spoke in loud tones to the Sheriff, “I thought I told you to appoint some one to attend that door” and the Sheriff answered back and said, “I appointed Mr. Clement ten minutes ago, and no one has gone in or gone out since he has been there.” The Judge’s voice rang out loud and clear, “I don’t care who you have there, I want Mr. George Moore there this afternoon.” In ten minutes I had risen to fame and dropped to degradation. I tell you boys, I felt like a five cent piece; and for many years afterwards I would look at the Judge when passing out of the corner of my eye I had some considerable trouble with the sore he had made on me, but not like the yellow dog sore, it soon healed up and I now say, all honor to the Judge.
I will here tell how I became acquainted with my friend Keagler. It was during the time I worked with John Orr’s Sons I saw him with a gang from the Fifth ward coming out of Skinny Mike’s back gate, when he kept saloon on Market street. As soon as the gang passed me, one of the boys stopped to talk to me and said, “That big fellow going along there is Andrew Keagler, he is a nice fellow and is going to run for Councilman from the Third ward; speak to your colored friends that are living up there in his behalf.” I said, “No, I will not vote for that big loafer as he is drunk now.” At that time I was greatly opposed to liquor and I am still but not so strict as then. I did not know that Andrew Keagler was then the political king of the Fifth ward. Some years afterwards when I ran for Constable, I went to him and asked him to assist me in my canvass. He said, “All right, Sammy, the big loafer will do his best.” I then remembered the Skinny Mike back gate. He did what he could for me, I met him several times during the campaign and he would say “Everything is lovely Sammy, the big loafer is doing his best.’ His great heart would not allow him to stop at small things. He has been my friend in years past and I hope for years to come.
The Hon. James McConville used to make me welcome in his office and would tell me funny stories, but there is one story he told me that I shall never forget. In that story he took me through my boyhood days, he showed me the dogwood blossoms of the merry month of May, he showed me the snowball bushes and the lilacs that were in bloom. I could see the young lambs at play on the green. I could see my mother standing in the door and many other delightful things that came to my view and in that story he took me down Lover’s Lane and showed me all the beauties and dreams that comes to one who is in love with a fair maiden. O, I was so delighted to hear that story until my heart leaped with joy, and all at once in the windup of the story he shoved me off the top of the new bank building, and I was busted to pieces. It was the most contemptible, vicious and degrading windup of a story that I ever heard in all my life. The girl in the story was named Rose. If you ever get him to tell you the story, you will not speak to him for six months afterwards.
Could I have used the diplomacy as my friend John H. McKee in politics, I would have been more successful. It was at one of Alex. Coleman’s famous conventions at Turner Hall, John McKee was nominated for City Solicitor. Mr. D. J. Sinclair on his way up to Guyder’s barber shop heard of the nomination. Guyder’s shop was then across the street from McKee’s office, his office was brilliantly lit up, Sinclair walked into the shop and at once went to the telephone and spoke in the Irish dialect, “Is this Mr. McKee?” He answered “Yes.” This is Michael Kilarney of the Fifth Ward, you have just been nominated to the office of City Solicitor, several of us boys are coming to get a keg of beer from you.” McKee said “All right, come ahead,” and when Sinclair turned from the telephone to his surprise every light in McKee’s office was out and he was just gone.
Thomas McConville and William Freudenberger kept a little junk shop over Guyder’s shop. I was walking past one day when McConville looked out and said “Mr. Clement come up.” He had Henry Baker, better known as “Look up” Baker, hid behind the curtain. I had no dream that Baker was behind the place. As I walked in McConville said to me “Mr. Clement, do you know this man Baker?”
I said “Yes.” “Is he any good?” I said “Not a bit.” “Will he work?” I said “No, he is too lazy to stick at any one thing.” “Will he drink beer?” “I said “Yes, he has not had a drop of water since the Johnstown flood.” I further said he would empty kegs of the stale beer on the street just to get a drink. “Where does he sleep?” I answered “Anywhere he drops down.” I noticed all the time that McConville was smiling from some cause I did not know. McConville further said “Will this man drink lamp oil?” I said “I believe he would drink that if he could not find beer.” He said “Will he steal?” Before I could answer McConville jumped up and ran down the steps, just then Baker came from behind the curtain after having heard the whole conversation. He said to me “I have never given you any cause to talk about me this why, why do you do it?” I felt all over in spots and did not know what to say, I knew very well he could not lick me. Mr. Freudenberger jumped up and said “Gentlemen, you can’t fight in this office.” We went out and had a few sharp words and it was all over. McConville and Freudenberger had worked the joke well.
During the time I was Constable an agent came around selling Nuxphosphate, a pleasant drink for men only; as it was against the law to sell that kind of drug Squire Trainer sent Bill Cunningham to gather up the drug and bring it to his office. As true as I write this story I never saw a bottle of it during the whole time it staid in the back office but Trainer said when the time came to remove the drug every bottle was empty and he accuses me to this day of using the phosphate, even though I protest my innocence.
The first man I took to the work house I had no money to pay the fare. I went to Squire Zimmerman and said “Squire, I have no money to take that man to the work house in the morning, what will I do?” He said “That’s none of my business, that is your business. It is only seventy-seven mile and you and him could walk over in a day and night.” I came out of his office and met George Moore, I said to him “I have got to take a man to the work house in the morning and I haven’t a cent to go on.” He ran his hand in his pocket and gave me a ten dollar bill and said “Take your man away in the morning, I will lend you a pair of handcuffs.” He and I have forever been friends afterwards, and among my many white friends that call at my sick bed, there are none as regular as George Moore.
My old friend, Joseph Drury, the familiar cashier at the Pan Handle freight station for many years, instead of calling me by my right name would call me Whiskers, by saying, “Good morning, Whiskers, what will you have Whiskers?” One day I was standing in the office to get some bill. I had stood quite a while when in walked a man from the country, he had a long red beard which grew all overh is face. After Mr. Drury had finished his writing he turned to me and said “What will you have, Whiskers?” The man with the whiskers said “I come to get a box.” Mr. Drury said “Excuse me, sir, I was talking to this big loafer here.” I went outside the office and I thought for a few moments I would die with laughing. For ever after that Mr. Drury would say “Good morning, Sam,” and “What will you have, Sam.” Drury’s face turned almost as red with embarrassment as the man’s whiskers, and when I went back in I said “You will say Whiskers, will you?”
During the time that I was Constable I had visited almost all the towns to a considerable distance out in the state, but I had never been to Columbus. The Circuit Court of Ohio decided to give John Rose a new trial and I very well knew that would be a chance for me to get to Columbus provided I would ask the right man, so I at once entertained a thought to ask E. E. Erskine as he was then prosecutor. So I at once went into his office and said “Mr. Erskine, I never was in Columbus in my life, I would like to go out and bring back those prisoners.” He looked at me for a minute and said “Sam, that looks a little shakey to send a colored man after two colored men, one charged with the highest crime known to the law and the other charged with shooting with intent to kill.” I said I would use extreme precaution and the strictest care in bringing them back to this county. He said “I know you will, and I would trust you far beyond the average of your race. Prepare yourself to go out and get yourself some good artillery in case of emergency.” I went out on the first day of June, presented my papers, went down to the Annex, walked inside with the Warden and handcuffed my man, the Warden tapped me on the shoulder and said “You are the first black man that ever handcuffed a man inside of this Annex and took him out five days prior to his execution in the history of this state.” When we got to the office Jordan was there. I unloosed one handcuff from John Rose and placed it around Jordan’s wrist. It will be remembered that John Jordan was the bad darkey who shot Tom Farris of this city two times but failed to kill him. The news spread around Steubenville that the two bad men would come in on No. 6. Of course that would cause a number of spectators. The Sheriff, fearing trouble might start, ordered the train to stop at Adams Street where Harvey Brownlee’s cab was in waiting. We jumped in the cab and he drove as fast as he could to the jail but before we could get our prisoners unloaded it seemed as if there was a thousand people there to see them alight from the cab. I listened every minute to hear a gun crack or hear the words “Lynch him.” Say, boys, I felt all over in spots and instead of going into the jail I went straight home. So I contribute the distinction that the Warden gave me as coming through E. E. Erskine and as the political bees shall buzz around his head I will do all in my power to keep them alive and when Hollingsworth shall be removed by reason of expiration of his term or death, those bees that hum around his head now will hum no more by reason of the years service and that E. E. Erskine may walk in the House of Representatives of his country like a plumed knight.
I would do myself an injustice as well as to these pages if I would close without throwing a bouquet at my friend, John O. Bates, the big city boss. Say, boys, John O. Bates stands for a whole lot. He knows how to pull the political strings when he desires to get some of his friends in office and in that way he has always been successful in every campaign but when he tries to pull the strings for himself he has always been a failure. Some years ago he ran for the office of Street Commissioner and never in all my life did I see a man fall so hard as did John O. Bates when he fell out of the street commissioner’s window. He has never got over that fall yet. Some years later he fooled the people and slipped in on the school board but when he came for the second term Robert McGowan knocked him as high as a kite, but after all there is great executive ability about him and when he speaks the administration of Steubenville will stop to listen. The great Creator never made a man with a better eye to judging horses than John O. Bates; any horse that has lived five years within ten miles of Steubenville Bates can tell his pedigree. He is a great big hearted common every day fellow and can be approached at any time or place by any person, white or black. There is many a black man who owes him a debt of gratitude when in 1893 he placed bread in their mouths like a robin feeding its young. On all his contracts he has hired colored men against the protest of some of his best friends. He has always been a man that knew how to run his own business and that he did. In speech he is very abrupt but smooth at heart, he has a vicious look but it is as harmless as a dove. One that did not know him would take him for a prize fighter but when a fight starts Bates starts. Long may he live to do good to assist my race as he has done in the past. Among my white friends none are more careful to think of me and to send me things that I need on a sick bed than my friend John O. Bates.
Nomination day came on the 5th day of March, 1897, while my father yet lay sick. Of course I was defeated by the famous one hundred that was caused by my friends P. P. Lewis and William Freudenberger; so you will see my troubles all came at once, being defeated for my second term on Saturday and father dying on Monday.
On Tuesday morning I stood on the corner of Fourth and Market with my under jaw towards the ground, wondering what course I would take, when up stepped my friend De Witt Erskine and said “Sam, I am sorry to hear of your bereavement. It seems as if your troubles all come at once.” He ran his hand in his pocket and pulled out two five dollar notes and said “This is all I have, I will give you half.” Of course my under jaw came up as this was the first five dollar note that I had received as a present in all my life.
I laid my father peacefully away wondering all the time where I would get work as the Mingo Mills were closed and the mills here were running bad. One day during that same week as I stood near the corner of Maxwell & Henry’s old stand, up stepped my same old friend, De Witt Erskine and said “Sam, what are you going to do now, as you are constable no more?” I said “I don’t know, I feel like a fish out of water.” He at once stretched his eyes and drew himself to his full length and said “Keep your head up, where there’s a will there is a way. Anthony Little has made a fortune with one horse by hauling on these streets and why can’t you? You are young and strong and will suit the work and the work will suit you.” Just then Jerry Carter came along and said, “I have an idle wagon and two horses, you may drive them on the streets for half you make.” I said I would take the job at once, and bid my friend Erskine goodbye. The next morning I took the wagon out and drove it for one month. I found it proved to be a good livelihood for me, as I paid to Carter for his share from fifteen to nineteen dollars per week. After the month was up I was anxious to go into business for myself. Between John McKee and John O. Bates, I got a hundred and fifty dollar horse for seventy-five dollars. Between W. M. Trainer and J. T. Ward, I got a set of new harness. Now all I lacked was the wagon. My friend Mr. Erskine had told me when I got ready to go in business to come and see him, I had found a wagon in Mingo that just suited me so I came back and told him that the price of the wagon was sixty-five dollars. He at once wrote me a check for that amount. I got my horse and went to Mingo and brought my wagon up.
For ten years I followed the express business and while I did not make a glowing success at the business, yet I made a good living. The first two years the business was slack, but just before the death of Anthony Little I bought him out and also his trade. That gave me a number of customers and I did well clear up until my health failed me in 1906.
Long before and several years after I got married, I used to loaf in Jake Wannemacher’s shoe shop. This was many years before he was married, his hair was then black as coal which made him a handsome young man. He was very popular in getting up dances, boat excursions and hay parties and there were about twenty-five of the prettiest German girls that Steubenville could afford that would all come to Jake’s shop to find out when the next outing would be. I only speak of this to show the difference between a young Negro and a young German. I observed one day as I sat in his shop that eight young ladies came in and all came by themselves. The first one that came in, Jake was pegging a shoe; she wanted to know when the next dance would be. He very politely told her but never raised his head and kept pegging. The next one that came in wanted to know when the next masquerade would be. He politely told her and kept tearing the old sole off a shoe. The next one wanted to know what the prices would be at the dance; Jake was sewing a sole on the shoe, he never raised his head but kept sewing that shoe. Jake had the power of answering all questions but kept making the money. That was not the way with Mr. Clement, when a young lady wanted to talk to me, I would back my wagon up to the curbstone and sit on the tailgate of the wagon and talk to her for an hour while customers down street would be waiting on the goods. To-day Jake Wannemacher owns many walls in this city, while I own none. This is the difference between a young Negro and the young German in after years.
During the early part of my constableship I became somewhat involved in local politics under the leadership of my old friend Barky Scott. I sailed under his successful colors until his death; then I was left without a leader.
I looked at Andrew Keagler thinking he might lead, but no one could ever tell where he was at. I then looked at Larry Lamb but he looked too wise. Bart Guyder was too crooked and Chalmers White was an anarchist. Judge Miller always looked over his glasses at me as a big joke, and the Cook-Henry Co. was too hot for me, so I had nowhere to rest my head. But one day I looked far out at sea and I saw a ship coming in and the name of that ship was Richard Gilson. I at once stepped aboard and I was received with great welcome. Since that time our ship has been blown by the fierce winds far out of sight of land but through every storm we have landed safe in port and today we fly a flag that has yet to know defeat.
I will now speak of a little trouble that Mr. W. R. Alban and myself had. I received several warrants to arrest several men in Alikanna for the heinous crime of rape. On bringing the prisoners to jail one admitted of having done the crime in words that I will not here write. Mr. Alban was employed to defend the prisoners, Mr. A. C. Lewis was then Prosecutor and Judge Mansfield was on the bench. Sometime before the day of the trial Mr. Alban asked me on the street, “Did those prisoners make any admissions to you when you made the arrest?” I looked wise and said “O, not much of anything” and I left him. I did not intend to give him grape and canister to shoot back at the State which Mr. Lewis and myself represented, but went over and told the prosecutor word for word what the prisoners said to me. On the day of trial I was the first witness called for the State. Mr. Lewis commenced by saying, “What is your name?” I said “Samuel S. Clement.” “What position do you hold in this county?” I said “Constable.” “Were you appointed or elected by the people.” I said, “I was elected by the people:” “Did you arrest the accused?” I said, “I did.” “Did he make any admissions to you as to this crime?” I said, “He did.” “Go on and state in your own way to that jury as to what he said.” I told the jury what he had said but will not state it here. The evidence was so strong and stinging that Alban could not sit still. Mr. Lewis said, “Take the witness.” Mr. Alban at once arose from his seat, fire seemed to flash from his eyes, his shoulders humped like a turtle dove and with a voice like a thunderbolt said, “Did you not tell me that this man had said nothing to you?” I said, “No, I did not tell you that, but said not much of anything.” Those are the last words I remember saying on the stand. He had me in the hot box and was throwing showers of words at me on both sides until I had said yes, no and finally said I did not know much about it as I got mad at Lewis because he would not object and seemed to enjoy the occasion. After the evidence was over and each side had rested, then came the argument. Mr. Lewis vigorously held my side up, next came Alban, who said, “Gentlemen of the jury, Samuel Clement, the Constable, is a man who has always stood high in my estimation and for truth and veracity in the community in which he lives is unquestioned, but he has lowered himself to-day with me and in the minds of you jurymen. I would not say that he would perjure his soul for the sake of a dollar but, gentlemen, he lied just the same.” I made up my mind to tell the little sparrow lawyer just what I thought of him. Just as court broke up for dinner Judge Mansfield said to me “When he comes out the door, pick him up and give him a good smacking.” I was mad enough to do it, but I thought I had better not. I went down in the court yard and stood by a tree, thinking I would tackle him there, but gave up the idea when I saw him. These are the names I called him in my own mind, “Highland Creek Hayseed,” “Alikanna Muskrat,” “A flopped Democrat,” and many others I cannot think of now. I waited until he got in his office, I walked in and stepped close to his desk and said, “Alban, I want you to apologize to me for what you said to that jury.” I had my bluff in I thought, as he looked up I could see his face was read and appeared to be a little nervous, but he looked me straight in the eyes and he observed their was no fight in me, he at once said, “If you will apologize to me for lying to that jury, I will then apologize to you.” I turned and then went out as he was game to the core. I did not have a chance to say anything to him for three or four weeks, during that time I heard he was to run for Prosecutor of Jefferson county. One day I stepped up to him and said, “Alban, I understand you are a candidate for Prosecutor.” He said, “I think I will run when the time comes.” I said “Understand me, my vote and influence will certainly be against you for what you said to that jury.” He said, “Mr. Clement, when the time comes you come around and see me and I will give you fifteen dollars to work against me, as I think you will do me more good in that way.” He was still game to the core. He had no opposition and the little sparrow lawyer slipped into office against my protest. We are friendly now.
Now, dear friends. I have come to the names of Henry Dobbins and Joseph Carnahan, but my vocabulary is empty, all I can say are words of the highest commendation as they fought, bled and suffered throughout the Civil War and were mustered out at Fort Delaware. Carnahan was very careful as to where he stood during an engagement (though I heard he never saw one) so consequently he came home all wrapped up in glory and no wounds. Not so with my friend Dobbins, he was brave and ambitious and rushed upon the walls of the Fort and cried out, “No quarter for you Rebel scoundrels,” (though Bart Guyder says he would bet a hundred dollars he never saw but one Fort and that was Fort Delaware.) He claims to have received seven wounds from which no scars ever appeared on his body, though it is said that he had been prohibited by the Grand Army Post from ever crossing the river in a skiff by reason of the enormous amount of lead in his body would cause the skiff to sink. These two gentlemen have been my warmest friends in early years and they remain the same in late.
The readers of these pages are very well acquainted with my friend, Patrick Moran. When Patrick first came to this country he came from Killdeer, Kalairey, Ireland; his name then was Patrick Mor-ran. After he had been in America for a number of years and accumulated wealth and property, he thought he would change from the Irish name to a more stylish American dialect, so he called his name Patrick Mone. But thoes who know him are therefore familiar with his mug lose sight of the name of Patrick Mone and call him Patrick Moran. I care not what his name has been nor what it is to-day he has been my friend in years gone by. During the panic of 1893 I lived in one of his houses, he treated me fair and upright and when I moved from his property because he had sold it, he went to Wannemacher and secured the one where I now live, and I shall ever remember him for his kindness.
In speaking of my colored friends, there is none so faithful to me as my friend Deacon Brown. I became acquainted with him probably twenty-five years ago, I found him then a friend to the suffering and from that time until this he has remained the same. When I was strong in manhood and vigorous in health he then proved my friend, and during all these many months of sickness I could depend upon Deacon Brown. It seems as if God had given him a peculiar instinct to watch the sick, and he has called to my bedside morning, night and noon, and at midnight and each time inquired what he could do. He is as constant in his visits as the sun is in its course across the heavens. He not only thinks it courtesy but a duty to assist in lifting up humanity. Long may he live to do good for his race. Many see him on his little wagon but few know his great and good heart.
In now speak of my friend, L. Sutton Murray. During the journey of my life I have met many whom I knew and loved and many that I thought were my friends, but never did I grasp the hand of more true, gentle and manly a man than that of L. Sutton Murray. I like him for his strong qualities, I like him because he will not bow or bend when he knows he is right, what his heart conceives his lips express. He would never leave a friend until the last enemy had fled from the field. He administers to my wants each week by sending me a barber to do my work at his own expense. Long may he live in the business that he now is in and may his prosperity be boundless.
Of all my colored friends that know me there is none that know of my habits, ways, disposition and character as Andrew J. Guy. He and I for years before we were married were chums and were always together. We enjoyed the pleasures of this life together and thought very little of the future. Our hearts were light and full of glee and ready to laugh at the embarrassment of others, but by and by his hair got thin and so did mine; we soon found ourselves on the other side of life. Andy conceived the idea he must get in the church so he did and left me behind. He earnestly afterwards prevailed upon me to come into the church of God and said that Christianity was not designed to make my pleasure less. So after some years I came to God and I have never regretted one moment of being in His service.
In order that I may get a good friend all I have to do is to say to Jessie or Delia, “Call up Fred Thompson’s place of business,” and they will say, “Is this Mr. Thompson?” The word comes back, “Yes.” “Father wants to know your bill of fare to-day.” He at once reads the bill to them and they repeat the same to me and that portion that suits my taste I ask to be sent over and in less than ten minutes the grub is here and ready to tickle my palate, without one cent charges. This is an indication of his deep friendship. No man is more light-hearted and jovial than my friend, Fred Thompson.
Now, last but by no means the least, I here speak of my wife with whom I have lived for nineteen years. During all those years she and I have braved the stormy blast of winter together. We have also enjoyed the springtime as well as the summer. We have also witnessed the sad falling of the autumn leaves. We have had our ups and downs, our pleasures and displeasures, but after all we have stuck together. There seems to be a cemented fondness between us that will last forever. She has always cared for me in every time of need during all my sickness in other years, she has been faithful in them all. There has been many times I have come home perplexed with the problems of life and the short comings of the day, she would say, “Hold up your head and don’t give up and the battle is won.” Oft times she has vexed me to my very soul, until I felt like eating my own flesh and when I would turn to study the matter over, I found myself most every time in fault. During this sickness she still remains faithful and when I am racked with pain and fevers, she is by my side with her gentle hand doing what she can to soothe me in spirit as well as health. She is by my bedside morning, night and noon, and at midnight when all nature is at rest, she is watchful over me. She not only thinks it a duty but a pleasure to rise at any hour in the night that I may call her. I trust that she will for many years live to be called blessed by her children, for she has certainly been and is a blessing to me. There are a great many women that know more than she and are better versed with the ways, follies and history of this world than she is, but I must say that God in his wise providence never made a more pious, gentle, noble, woman than my wife Sophronia Clement.
It was late in the fall of 1905 that Mr. G. W. Viney and myself went into co-partnership in running a dray, transfer, etc. For the first few months we did excellent but my health failed me so fast that I was compelled to hire a boy to help me operate my part of the business. Early in the spring of 1907 Mr. Viney felt it best to dissolve partnership and we did so. This left me by myself and of course I had to hire assistance. I finally got so bad I could not ever follow the wagon, so having in my employ a man who knew not the laws of success in this business, it went down.
In June, 1907, I was taken with a bad hemorrhage followed by three small ones; it was then that I found that my health was gone. August 1st following I was compelled to quit work and later in the month sold everything I had. I was able to walk around the streets all of the fall and early winter but I soon found myself not able to even enjoy that.
On the 10th of January I became bedfast. At this date, February 25th, I am still confined to my bed with what the physicians claim to be consumption, as a matter of fact, I am not able to say myself. What the result of this sickness will be, remains for the future to develop.
It is appointed once for man to die, so I simply resign all my cares to His Divine Will, who is able to save to the uttermost that which is entrusted into His hands. I am sure that should more sombre clouds than those of the present manifest themselves as I near the border of human separation, His presence will dispel them until I shall fear no evil. Respectfully yours,
SAMUEL SPOTTFORD CLEMENT.
This autobiography was written by little Sara Ovington, she employing one hour per day after school.