Germantown in Bracken County, Kentucky — The American South (East South Central)
John Gregg Fee / Arnold Gragston
John Gregg Fee. Fee received degree from Augusta College; went to Lane Theological Seminary. Had spiritual experience which began career as nationally known and determined abolitionist. A founder of Berea College who wanted low-cost education for “all persons of good moral character,” regardless of race. Wrote several pamphlets advocating racial reform.
Arnold Gragston. While living on the Jack Tabb farm, Gragston, born circa 1840, helped many slaves escape to freedom. This African American rowed slaves from Dover (Mason County) across Ohio River under cover of dark nights. Almost caught returning from one crossing, he escaped to woods. After more than four years of helping others, he crossed river and became a free man. Died, 1938.
Erected 2002 by Kentucky Historical Society and Kentucky Department of Highways. Presented by Bracken County Historical Society and the Kentucky African American Heritage Commission. (Marker Number 2076.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Kentucky Historical Society marker series.
Location. 38° 39.227′ N, 83° 57.906′ W. Marker is in Germantown, Kentucky, in Bracken County. Marker is on Bridgeville Road (Kentucky Route 875) south of Brooksville-Germantown Road (Kentucky Route 10), on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 70 Bridgeville Rd, Germantown KY 41044, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 9 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Bracken Baptist Church (approx. 4.4 miles away); Castro-Metcalfe Duel (approx. 8 miles away); Bracken County Wine (approx. 8.1 miles away); Dover Covered Bridge (approx. 8.3 miles away); Bracken County, 1796 (approx. 8.3 miles away); A Foster Inspiration (approx. 8.3 miles away); Augusta Confederate Monument (approx. 8.4 miles away); Augusta In Civil War (approx. 8.4 miles away).
Also see . . .
1. Encyclopedia.com entry for John Gregg Free. “John Gregg Fee was an unusual American abolitionist, for he carried out his agitation in a border state, where slavery was legal and anti-abolitionist feelings ran strong. ... Even Northern abolitionists were abused by rowdy crowds during the 1840s, but Fee found himself ‘shot at, clubbed, stoned.’” (Submitted on July 8, 2019.)
2. Narrative of Arnold Gragston. 4-page PDF document with photographs. Excerpt:
I didn’t have no idea of ever gettin’ mixed up in any sort of business like that until one special night. I hadn’t even thought of rowing across the river(Submitted on July 8, 2019, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio.)
But one night I had gone on another plantation ’courtin’, and the old woman whose house I went to told me she had a real pretty girl there who wanted to go across the river and would I take her? I was scared and backed out in a hurry. But then I saw the girl, and she was such a pretty little thing, brown-skinned and kinda rosy, and looking as scared as I was feelin’, so it wasn’t long before I was listenin’ to the old woman tell me when to take her and where to leave her on the other side.
I didn’t have nerve enough to do it that night, though, and I told them to wait for me until tomorrow night. All the next day I kept seeing Mister Tabb laying a rawhide across my back, or shootin’ me, and kept seeing that scared little brown girl back at the house, looking at me with her big eyes and asking me if I wouldn’t just row her across to Ripley. Me and Mr. Tabb lost, and soon as dust settled that night, I was at the old lady’s house.
I don’t know how I ever rowed the boat across the river the current was strong and I was trembling. I couldn’t see a thing there in the dark, but I felt that girl’s eyes. We didn’t dare to whisper, so I couldn’t tell her how sure I was that Mr. Tabb or some of the others owners would “tear me up” when they found out what I had done. I just knew they would find out.
I was worried, too, about
I don’t know whether it seemed like a long time or a short time, now – it’s so long ago; I know it was a long time rowing there in the cold and worryin’. But it was short, too, ’cause as soon as I did get on the other side the big-eyed, brown-skin girl would be gone. Well, pretty soon I saw a tall light and I remembered what the old lady had told me about looking for that light and rowing to it. I did; and when I got up to it, two men reached down and grabbed her; I started tremblin’ all over again, and prayin’. Then, one of the men took my arm and I just felt down inside of me that the Lord had got ready for me. “You hungry, Boy?” is what he asked me, and if he hadn’t been holdin’ me I think I would have fell backward into the river.
That was my first trip; it took me along time to get over my scared feelin’, but I finally did, and I soon found myself goin’ back across the river, with two and three people, and sometimes a whole boatload. I got so I used to make three and four trips a month.
Categories. • Abolition & Underground RR • African Americans • Education •
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Credits. This page was last revised on July 8, 2019. This page originally submitted on July 8, 2019, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio. This page has been viewed 36 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on July 8, 2019, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio.