The life and death of Mingo, a slave

From the Norfolk (Virginia) Herald, December 16.

On Friday last a detachment of the Princess Anne (county) militia, consisting of 140 infantry and cavalry, called out by virtue of a warrant from the civil authority, rendezvoused at Kempsville, and from thence set off, in squads, to scour the different swamps and forests between that place and the southern edge of the county, in search of the gang of desperadoes who have so long kept that part of the country in a state of alarm.

The murder of Taggert ... hastened this movement. ... The troops made a tiresome and difficult search, until a late hour of the night, when they assembled in the neighborhood of Pungo Chapel, without finding out any trace of the fugitives. The next morning they again dispersed in small parties, to renew the search.

A party of three were ... fallen in with by a white man by the name of Cox, who stated he was intimate with one of the runaways named Mingo and would engage to deliver him into their power. ... They agreed and were conducted by Cox to the upper apartment of his cabin when he went out and presently returned with Mingo ... and they drank together as old acquaintances. ...

The black in a very short time, (according to the Pungo phrase) “was warm in the collar.”. ... Cox then ... brought down the three militiamen from their concealment, but .. .the black ... drew a dirk and wounded one of them severely; and even after they had tied him, he made a violent effort and maimed his friend Cox with his teeth and nails.

Mingo formerly belonged to Mr. John James ... but was sold to a Georgia man, from whom he ran away, and had been lurking about the swamps of Princess Anne for many months. ... Finding himself ... without a possibility of escape, he begged that rather than he should be delivered to his master, he might be (shot by the soldiers).

He (denied) any hand in the murder of Taggert ... but stated that a companion of his, named Ned, was the murderer; that Harper Ackiss offered ... Ned $160 to do the deed ... and he saw Ned shoot Taggert while he was letting his horse drink at a run in the road. ...

(Mingo) confessed that he was the person who set fire to a Mr. Capp’s hay stacks ... and afterwards set the same Mr. Capp’s smoke house on fire. ... He also acknowledged that (he) fired a musket at Mr. William Land. ....

The fellow is now in Princess Anne Jail, a cloud of evidence ... is hovering over his devoted head, and the gallows will probably terminate his career; but that no disclosure that he can make (being a colored person and a slave) respecting the murder of Taggert will affect the trial of Ackiss ... and whether the legal evidence against him will amount to a capital conviction, time must determine. ...

COMMENT: This article was also printed, in full, in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Weekly Gazette of Jan. 5, 1819, and presumably in other papers as well. Virginia’s Princess Anne County was incorporated in 1691, but in 1963 was incorporated into the city of Virginia Beach.

Harper Ackiss (1796-1865) was obviously not convicted of murdering Taggert (whoever he was), probably because, as the article notes — “being a colored person and a slave” — Mingo could not give evidence against him. Harper had in 1815 married Elizabeth Boothe, had one daughter, and in 1840 owned 12 slaves. Though his year of death is known, his place of burial is not.

Mingo, described as “a felon taken from the county jail,” was “shot on the road by an unknown person as a group traveled from the Princess Anne County jail towards Richmond.” In his case, no trial was considered necessary.


Married — in Hartwick, on Thursday evening last, by Elder Bostwick, Mr. HIRAM BARTLETT, to Miss MARY ANN FISHER, all of the same place.

COMMENT: Hiram’s parents moved in 1781 from Redding, Connecticut, to Sharon, Connecticut, where Hiram (1790-1875) was born. The family moved to Cooperstown in 1792, and then to a farm in Hartwick in 1812. On Jan. 7, 1819, Hiram married Mary Ann Fisher (1798-1886), daughter of neighbors who lived less than a mile down the road (now County Road 45) from the Bartletts. They had four children. In 1825 they all moved to what is now Toledo, Ohio. In 1828 Hiram was head of one of few families in Toledo, and their daughter Hannah was the first female child born there. In 1835 they moved to what is now Amboy Township, Ohio (both were still in the Michigan Territory until 1837), where they all died on the Bartlett family farm.

It is said of Hiram that, when he turned 21 “thoroughly disgusted with the evils associated with excessive consumption of rum, which was a major vice in Cooperstown,” swore off drinking — sealing up a bottle of rum and stating that he would never touch alcohol unless five doctors insisted that drinking that rum was medically necessary. According to the story, it wasn’t, and the bottle was still sealed up when he died in 1875.

Back in business

R. Worthington has this day removed to his new building created on the same ground upon which his former stood where he has in hand a general assortment of:

HATS, such as Beaver, Castor, Rorum, Napt, Merino, Common, Wool.

Also Ladies’ and Children’s Fancy Hats.

All of which are warranted to hold the shape and colour and do good service and will be sold low for cash, barter, or approved credit.

The subscriber begs that his former customers will not neglect him on account of his late misfortunes (His old store had burned down).

Cooperstown, Dec. 14, 1818.

N.B. A small but good assortment of Hatter’s Trimmings, Carroted and Raw Russia and Coneys’ Fur, Camel’s Hair, &c. at the Albany prices for cash. R. W.

COMMENT: The home of Ralph Worthington (1778-1826), built 1802, enlarged 1845, still stands at 13 Main St.

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