Obituaries of former slaves:

Obituary of Albert Holt, Benjamin Reynolds, Uncle Mose and Mrs. Matilda Johnson, “Uncle” Tom McCaffney

Submitted by: Sharon M. Kouns

Ironton Register, October 11, 1888
Last Sunday afternoon, Albert Holt, a well known colored man, was found dead in his bed, at his home, on Washington street. He was up and about on Sunday morning, and was last seen about 11 o’clock, and at about 2 o’clock, a member of the family with whom he boarded, went to his room to call him and found him dead. From all indications his death was without a struggle. The immediate cause was heart trouble. He had several times come near suffocation with this malady. A few months ago, Dr. Henry, the Coroner, was called in when Albert was in one of those distempers, and then told him he would “die of one of these attacks if he didn’t take care.” Albert had been drinking a good deal lately and that may have helped on the trouble. No colored man was as widely known as he, and many were the kind words spoken to him and of him, except when his own greatest enemy got control of him.
His age was 42. He arrived in Ironton in 1856. He came from Kentucky with quite a company of slaves that had been liberated by their owner, Judge Holt. Judge Holt came to Ironton with his old slaves, and while living, exercised toward them a most fatherly care. He bought a little farm above Ice Creek for one of them. He, also, purchased the cottage where Mrs. Moreland lives for another, and it has remained in the family of the owner ever since. Judge Holt died in this town a few years after his arrival, mourned by his former slaves and the entire community.
The way he happened to come to Ironton was, Rev. J. F. Givens, a nephew of his, preached at Spencer Chapel. Mr. Given was probably the finest scholar Spencer ever had. He was a man of wonderfully fine social and scholarly instincts; and he won Judge Holt to him and his liberal ideas. Thus Judge Holt came here and gathered his old slaves about him, and helped them to enjoy their freedom. Mr. Given afterward changed his ideas somewhat, and became an apologist for secession, and thus lost caste in the Methodist church. He died many years ago, but his wife still lives at Columbus, and his son, who is a commercial traveler for some wholesale house was in Ironton, last week, and shook hands with Albert Holt, his granduncle’s former slave. What singular things old Time gathers in his swathes as he goes sweeping about the world!
Albert Holt was ten years old when the little colony of freedmen came to town in 1856. He soon got to be popular with the boys, and at once joined in their plays. He went hunting and swimming with them, and did his best to make them happy. The recollections of those days inspire the writer to drop a kindly word that will brighten the memory of the impulsive, erring, warm-hearted, good-natured, noisy, Albert Holt. May the Good Father, who behold the longest lives of men as but moments, see wherein his virtues out-balance his faults, and may he rest in peace.



Benjamin Reynolds, a well known colored resident of this city, died at his home at Eighth and Adams street an early hour Sunday morning of pneumonia, from which he had been sick but a brief period.
At the time of his death, Mr. Reynolds was 75 years old. He was born in Greenbriar county, W. Va. May 22, 1833 and his parents were slaves in the family of Dr. Livesay of this city. During the Civil war, he was the attendant of the elder Livesay, who was an officer in the Union Army. At other times he was in full charge of their farm, and was always a trustworthy slave and employee. He came to Ironton in 1864, and was employed by John Peters, Sr. in whose employ he remained until the death of Mr. Peters.
In 1867, he married Miss Anna Garrison, and she with four children survive him. The children are Charles of Ironton, Morris of Chicago, Mrs. Elva Murphy of Ironton and Miss Andris Reynolds of Washington, D. C. Morris and Andris were not at home when Mr. Reynolds died, but both arrived here today to attend the funeral.
The deceased was a member of the A. M. E. Church of this city and had been on its official board for many years. He was very highly respected by all who knew him. For several years…(need copy of ending)


Ironton Register, December 6, 1888

Charleston, W. Va., Dec. 3.
Correspondence of the Register.
Yesterday was Sunday. The bell in the steeple of the Colored Baptist Church, with slow and measured time struck four score and ten, for these were the number of “Uncle Mose’s” years. Uncle Mose was black. He had been a slave in the Eastwood family for more than half a century, and for a quarter of a century since “Old Marse Abe” sat him free, he has steadfastly refused to be separated from them, for the Eastwoods were kind to Mose and he loved them.
Saturday last he died. There was no “dark river” for Uncle Mose to cross. He had kept “In de middle of de road” all his life. Neither looking “to de right nor to de left,” but straight on until his feet got tired, and he laid down to rest.
The steady stroke of the bell had more than usual solemnity in its tones to the hundreds that new Uncle Mose. They told of infancy, of childhood, then of young manhood, of middle age, then of old age, then of more old age. For years he had lived in a comfortable little house provided for him by the writer’s brother-in-law, Mr. Henry Eastwood.
During the war I knew him – then an old man. He drove the Quartermaster’s post team – four slick, fat mules, and nearly every old soldier who was camped at Charleston during the war will remember “Uncle Mose,” and drop a tear to his memory.     HOLLIDAY


Death of Mrs. Matilda Johnson
Ironton Journal, July 19, 1871
Died at Portsmouth, Ohio, June 26th, Mrs. Matilda Johnson, mother of Gabriel of this city, age 85 years. She was born a slave in Virginia and was manumitted by the administrator of the estate of John Ward, in 1825. She has been a resident of Lawrence County, Ohio for 46 years. (abstracted).



“Uncle” Tom McCaffney, a former slave, died Tuesday at 5 o’clock at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Jennie Proxler of Greenup, on his ninetieth birthday. Funeral arrangements have not been completed but the services will be held at the Stapf funeral home at Greenup with burial in the Riverview cemetery there.