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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Zanesville in Muskingum County, Ohio — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
 

Nelson T. Gant House

The Historic National Road in Ohio

 
 
Nelson T. Gant House Marker image. Click for full size.
By Charles T. Harrell, June 23, 2011
1. Nelson T. Gant House Marker
Inscription. Nelson Talbot Gant was freed from slavery by the last will and testament of his owner, John Nixon, September of 1845 in Loudoun County, Virginia. However, Gant’s wife, Maria, was a slave to Jane Russell of Leesburg, Virginia. According to Virginia law at the time, he was required to leave the state no more than a year after being freed. Reluctantly, he left in October of 1846 promising to return for her. Gant traveled to Zanesville, where many of the former Nixon slaves had taken residence. He became acquainted with and enlisted the help of abolitionists and agents of the Underground Railroad in Zanesville and Putam, a decidedly anti-slavery community across the Muskingum River from Zanesville.

In November, Gant returned to Virginia and made another attempt to buy his wife. His offer was refused. With no alternatives, he and Maria simply left. Gant and his wife were caught in Washington, D.C. and put in jail. A month later they were taken to Virginia where Maria was returned to her owner and Nelson remained in jail.

On December 12, 1846, Gant was put on trial for stealing his wife. He was acquitted of the charges since a wife could not be compelled to testify against her husband. Two months later, enough money had been collected from friends in Ohio and Virginia to buy Maria’s freedom.

In June 1850, Nelson, Maria, and

Nelson T. Gant House image. Click for full size.
By Charles T. Harrell, June 23, 2011
2. Nelson T. Gant House
Above is a view of the Gant homestead as it probably appeared in the late 19th century.
their one-year old daughter returned to Zanesville. Nelson purchased land for a home and farm along the National Road and made a very successful living growing and selling specialty vegetables.

The Road That Helped Build The Nation. An All American Road—National Scenic Byway
 
Erected by Presented by the Ohio National Road Association, Inc.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the The Historic National Road marker series.
 
Location. 39° 56.722′ N, 82° 1.858′ W. Marker is in Zanesville, Ohio, in Muskingum County. Marker is on West Pike (U.S. 40), on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1845 West Pike, Zanesville OH 43701, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within one mile of this marker, measured as the crow flies. A different marker also named Nelson T. Gant House (here, next to this marker); Y-Bridge (approx. 0.9 miles away); a different marker also named Y-Bridge (approx. 0.9 miles away but has been reported missing); a different marker also named Y-Bridge (approx. one mile away); a different marker also named Y-Bridge (approx. one mile

Nelson T. Gant House House in 2011 image. Click for full size.
By Charles T. Harrell, June 23, 2011
3. Nelson T. Gant House House in 2011
away); Muskingum County Medal of Honor Memorial (approx. 1.1 miles away); Muskingum County Vietnam War Memorial (approx. 1.1 miles away); The Bicentennial Legacy Monument (approx. 1.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Zanesville.
 
Also see . . .  Nelson T. Gant - Ohio History Central. (Submitted on July 4, 2011, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland.)
 
Categories. Abolition & Underground RRAfrican AmericansRoads & Vehicles
 
Nelson Gant image. Click for full size.
By Charles T. Harrell, June 23, 2011
4. Nelson Gant
Nelson T. Gant died in 1905 at age 84. The Zanesville Daily News reported his remarkable life story and concluded that he was “probably the wealthiest colored citizen in Ohio…possessing a fortune estimated a several hundred thousand dollars.”
Contraband image. Click for full size.
By Charles T. Harrell, June 230/2011
5. Contraband
Pictured above is a group of “contraband” along the National Road taken during the Civil War. The term was used to describe slaves held by Union forces. While not full freedom, it was often considered a step in that direction.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on June 30, 2011, by Charles T. Harrell of Woodford, Virginia. This page has been viewed 832 times since then and 61 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on June 30, 2011, by Charles T. Harrell of Woodford, Virginia.   4, 5. submitted on July 1, 2011, by Charles T. Harrell of Woodford, Virginia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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