Lett Settlement Families
By Robert Lett and Terri Burke
On the weekend of July 18, 19 & 20,
2008 a "Underground Railroad & Civil War" roundtable presentation was held
in conjunction with the annual Lett Settlement Families Reunion in
Marietta and Belpre, Ohio.
On Friday evening nearly 100 family members attended this gathering of the
descendants of the Lett Settlement famlies (Brown, Caliman, Earley, Guy,
Green, Lett and Simpson families) who began making their homes in Meigs
Township Muskingum County Ohio as early as 1816.
During the traditional "Meet & Greet" session on Friday night family
members from California, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan,
North Carolina, and Ohio joined in prayer giving thanks for the
opportunity to be together in Marietta Ohio. A few of the families
present were attending the gathering for the first time, however a variety
of family historians and genealogists were on hand and with documentation
in hand were able to show first timers exactly "where they fit in".
On Saturday morning Southeastern Ohio historian and family member Henry R.
Burke of Marietta presented to the gathering of family and friends the
early history of the northwest and the establishment of the state of Ohio
as it contributed significantly to the formation of the Underground
In conjunction with this presentation Mr. Burke led a tour pointing out
such significant locations as the communities of Constitution and
Veto. It must be noted that within the content of Mr. Burkes presentation
was acknowledgement of Basil Norman a Revolutionary War veteran who's
descendants intermarried into the Lett Settlement families. (Basil Norman
and his wife Fortune Stevens Norman settled in Marietta circa 1800).
In cooperation with Mr. Burke's presentation Robert Lett highlighted the
families' connection to African Americans who were activist in the
anti-slavery movement and the names of many who participated as soldiers
in the Civil War. Among the early anti-slavery activist connected to the
Benjamin Banneker (correspondence to Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson
regarding slavery), Allan Guy (Agent for the Palladium of Liberty
Abolitionists newspaper), Louis Woodson (Agent for the Palladium of
Liberty Newspaper and Underground Railroad Activist), Thomas and Maria
Pointer (Conductors on the Underground Railroad Belmont County Ohio),
Frances Ellen Watkins Harper
(Anti Slavery activists, essayist, poet, author, speaker), J. R. Clifford
(Civil War Veteran, West Virginia Civil Rights Attorney).
Civil War historian Bennie McRae of Trotwood Ohio shared with the group a
summary of the role of Black soldiers in the Civil War. His
presentation encompassed the formation of the Louisiana Native Guards, its
early volunteers, the U.S.C.T., and the vital role played by contrabands
Mr. McRae emphasized the significance of ex-slaves who made up the largest
percentage of Black soldiers who participated in the Civil
War. "These men once freed from southern plantations laid down work
tools and picked up weapons after enlisting in the Union Army."
On Saturday evening a dinner was shared by all at the Levee House,
immediately followed by a gathering at the Eli Chapman Education
Foundation where family members discussed connections, shared research,
viewed photos from past reunions, and engaged in "first person" discussions with the Spirit of Frederick
Special recognition extended to Dr. Anne Butler of Kentucky State
University who was present and able to link several families with their