The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Currents

September 18, 2011

Garlick flourished in county

Fugitive slave found refuge, an education, employment and home in Ashtabula County

 

Of all the footprints left by the men and women who passed through Ashtabula County on the Underground Railroad, the impressions made by Abel Bogguess, better known as Charley Garlick, have been the longest lasting.
Indeed, Charley found Ashtabula County so hospitable and accommodating, he made it his home and is buried in Jefferson. 
Garlick, who died May 2, 1912, gained the friendship of Joshua Giddings, Jefferson’s famous abolitionist U.S. rrepresentative, and eventually took up residence with the Giddings family. A photograph of Garlick, taken shortly before his death, shows him sitting in front of the Giddings law office, which still stands in Jefferson.
Having received but just a few hours of education prior to coming to Ohio, Garlick nevertheless proved himself a scholar and, after quickly advancing through the public education options in Ashtabula County, attended Oberlin College. In 1902, he published his autobiography, “Life, Including His Escape and Struggle for Liberty, of Charles A. Garlick, Born a Slave in Old Virginia, Who Secured His Freedom by Running Away from his Master’s Farm in 1843.”
Despite the lengthy title, Garlick’s book is quite short and can be found in its entirety at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill website docsouth. unc.edu/neh/garlick/garlick.html.
Unlike many of the slaves escaping from the Deep South and traveling the Underground Railroad through Ashtabula County, Garlick had a relatively short trip. He was born near Shinnston, Va., in a section of the state that became West Virginia in 1863. 
The plantation on which Charley was born in February 1827 was owned by Richard Bogguess. Charley’s parents were slave laborers on the farm, and his mother had charge of the household. Charley had 11 brothers and sisters.
Bogguess was a bachelor and owned about 300 acres of land in Harrison County; his brother owned another 500 adjoining acres. Richard Bogguess, while holding Garlick’s family in the bonds of slavery, provided for their freedom in his will. And so it was that when Bogguess died in 1843, Charley and his family began to make plans to toss off the chains of slavery — until the will was contested.

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