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  --  April 15, 1819--April 16, 1914   Table of Contents     Slavery

Brown, Hallie Q.
Homespun heroines

- FRANCES JANE BROWN -- April 15, 1819--April 16, 1914
- Illustration

Mrs. Frances Jane Brown
At the Age of 70 Years At the Age of 94 Years
Homewood Cottage
Wilberforce, Ohio

Frances Jane Scroggins first saw the light of day in Winchester, Virginia. Her mother, Ellen Anne Scroggins, with three other small girls formed the household. Their names were Harriet, Eliza Anne and Martha Ellen. Their father died leaving them alone and unprotected.

The grandfather of these children was an officer in the Revolutionary War. He did the honorable thing by emancipating the mother and the four little girls. But they were left destitute and were bound out until a few years later when their mother married a free man, William Tocus, and the children were brought under the shelter of a home.

Frances Jane, the subject of this sketch, often related the cruel treatment at the hands of her "bound mistress," lack of food, clothes and sharp reproof; often stripes from leather tawse upon her bare shoulders. She was frequently mistaken for the daughter of her mistress which so enraged that lady that Frances' long, black hair was cut zigzag that it might grow curly, but it only grew out the straighter. She was made to stand in the sun to tan her, but her complexion was as soft and beautiful as a rose petal. The rigid laws of Virginia prohibited her from ever learning to read or write.

Other children came to the Tocus family increasing the number to seven. It was then that the father, with rare courage and faith determined to migrate to a free state. Frances relates the journey. "We were placed in a big old fashioned covered wagon drawn by four large, black horses which were Daddy's pride. There was plenty of room for us all with feather beds and patch work quilts. We were

often frightened going over the mountains and dangerous roads. As night came on we halted, built a fire and ate from the well filled hamper mammy prepared. Several times we were held for hours by the patrol to see if our free papers were correct or valid. Our joy knew no bounds when we sighted and finally crossed the Ohio river and reached free soil."
  --  April 15, 1819--April 16, 1914   Table of Contents     Slavery