Brown, Hallie Q.
|DINAH COX -- 1804--1909|
Dinah Cox was born in Roanoke, Virginia. She was the slave of John Randolph, and was freed by the terms of his will when he died in 1833. The first item of that famous document reads as follows:
"I give and bequeath to all my slaves their freedom, heartily regretting that I have ever been the owner of one."
He also provided that a portion of his wealth be given to them namely:
"Forty acres of land and to each slave a portion of the sum of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars."
After fourteen years of litigation caused by relatives who sought to break the will, the Executors purchased a tract of land in Mercer County, Ohio, and the slaves prepared to start for their future home.
Aunt Dinah, as she was called by every one, was a fearless leader among the people. She was also famous for her knitting and quilting. An incident occurred which showed her spirit. She was told that she would have to go out to work to help herself and family get ready to move. She said, "Oh, no, John Randolph left enough for me, and besides, I must get my children's clothes ready. I won't have time to work." There were more than three hundred in the party, men, women and children.
As they started from the old plantation, sorrowful at leaving the only home they knew, they sang:
"Don't weep, don't cry,
I shall never turn back any more."
The poor whites who came to jeer and ridicule broke into tears so great was the effect of that song.
They traveled on foot and by wagons, the latter being for the old people and children. They went by river to Cincinnati and from there by canal boats to New Mremen. Here they met great hostility. The old Dutch settlers of Mercer County came out in force, with their muskets patroled the banks of the canal and refused to let them settle on their own purchased land. The weary travelers' dismay and disappointment can never be told.
They finally settled in Miami County near Piqua, Ohio. The Mercer County land was sold and resold and is now said to be the finest farm land in that county and all that the slaves, now free-men, received was their fare from Roanoke, Virginia, to Piqua, Ohio.
In 1917 an effort was made by the descendants to recover their possessions. It was carried to the Supreme Court and decided in favor of the present owners, the verdict being that the time was so long that it was outlawed . Dinah Cox had carefully preserved her "Free Papers" which played an interesting and important part in the "Famous Randolph Will Case." This document is in the possession of her great grand-daughter, Mrs. Amy Logan, in Springfield, Ohio.
Aunt Dinah was the mother of fourteen children. Only three, however, lived to come to Ohio with her. She had an interesting personality, ready in conversation and possessed a remarkable memory. She distinctly remembered when the soldiers of the War of 1812 halted at the Randolph plantation. She was a devout Christian and a member of the Park Baptist Church. She lived to see her fifth generation, passing away at the great age of 105 years.