Posts Tagged West Virginia

Presentation: “The Lost History of Frederick Douglass in the Mountain State” (December 1, 2021 @ WVU Potomac State College, 5:00 – 7:00 pm)


		The Lost History of Frederick Douglass in the Mountain State image

Internationally known, in life and afterlife, on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean as an author, orator, abolitionist, suffragist and American reformist, the history and placement of Frederick Douglass in the growing academic field of Appalachian Studies has not been considered and recognized until now.

Following the Civil War, Frederick Douglass made more than a half-dozen visits across West Virginia from the Eastern Panhandle to the Northern Panhandle to the Kanawha River Valley, including speaking in the communities of Harpers Ferry in Jefferson County; Martinsburg in Berkeley County; Wheeling in Ohio County; and Parkersburg in Wood County. During these travels throughout the Mountain State, Douglass was hosted by and spoke alongside newspaper publishers and editors, politicians who led the way to legislatively creating West Virginia and leaders within local Black communities from journalists to college faculty to clergy.

Learn about the lost history of Frederick Douglass as a trustee of Storer College, West Virginia’s first Historically Black College & University, traveler on local railroads, keynote speaker at emancipation celebrations and as an associate of notable West Virginians Governor Arthur Boreman, J. R. Clifford (West Virginia’s first Black attorney), Archibald W. Campbell (a leader in West Virginia’s statehood) and others at this groundbreaking presentation by Douglassonian scholars John Muller and Justin McNeil of Lost History Associates from Washington, D.C., just down the Potomac River.

“The Lost History of Frederick Douglass in the Mountain State” will be publicly presented for the first time at WVU Potomac State College. The evening’s talk, followed by a Q&A, will include maps, prints, letters, newspapers, photographs and more to provide a visual telling of the expansive history of Frederick Douglass in West Virginia and his connections to the mountain state.

*Featured Presenters*

John Muller, author of Frederick Douglass in Washington, D.C.: The Lion of Anacostia (2012) and Mark Twain in Washington, D.C.: The Adventures of a Capital Correspondent (2013), has presented widely throughout the DC-Baltimore metropolitan area at venues including the Library of Congress, Politics and Prose Bookstore, Newseum, American Library in Paris, Enoch Pratt Library, DC Public Library, Frederick Douglass National Historic Site and local universities. Muller is a frequent guest on Washington, D.C. radio stations and has been cited by the Washington Post, Washington City Paper, Cumberland Times-News and other publications for his local history research and subject matter expertise. He has been featured on C-SPAN’s BookTV and C-SPAN’s American History TV, broadcast airwaves of NBC4 (Washington), WDVM (Hagerstown) and radio stations WPFW (DC), WAMU (DC), WYPR (Baltimore), WEAA (Baltimore) and Delmarva Public Radio (Eastern Shore). For the past decade Muller has contributed hundreds of articles to local and national print and online news sources, including the Washington Informer. In 2019 Muller presented on the history of Frederick Douglass throughout Western Maryland, including the Washington County Free Library and Frostburg State University.

Justin McNeil, an IT professional who has serviced government agencies, nonprofits, corporations, financial and banking institutions and small-businesses within the DC-Baltimore metropolitan area, Western Maryland and Potomac Highlands for the last decade, is a doting husband and father of 3, ADOS historian, essayist and playwright. McNeil has been featured in the pages of the Washington Post, contributed columns to the Washington Informer and been interviewed on News Channel 8 (Washington, D.C.), WBAL (Baltimore) and WPFW (Washington), WEAA (Baltimore) and ABC 47 (Maryland’s Eastern Shore). McNeil attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia.

Muller and McNeil are co-founders of Lost History Associates and are at work on forthcoming publications on Frederick Douglass in several specific regions in the Mid-Atlantic area.

For more information on Lost History Associates, visit: www.losthistoryusa.com

Potomac State College is a public college in Keyser, W.Va. and is part of the West Virginia University system, offering associate and bachelor’s degrees. It is located approximately 90 miles east of the University’s main campus in Morgantown, W.Va.

Professor Caitlin Hudgins, Ph.D. is an English instructor and serves as director of the Writing Center at Potomac State. Her American Literature class is currently reading the autobiographical writings of Frederick Douglass.

For more information about WVU Potomac State College, visit https://www.potomacstatecollege.edu/.

Directions to Potomac State College can be found at the following link: https://www.potomacstatecollege.edu/about/directions-to-wvu-potomac-state-college.

Once on campus, there will be a parking lot immediately to the left. The Davis Conference Center is the first building on the right. There is also parking along campus drive on the right.


RSVP -> https://tinyurl.com/FDinWestVA

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upcoming presentation “The Lost History of Frederick Douglass in the Mountain State”

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VIDEO: J. R. Clifford and the Carrie Williams Case by Tom Rodd


Link to Mr. Rodd’s book on the Carrie Williams case -> HERE

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Did Frederick (Bailey) Douglass know Henry Van Meter, who saw Washington and served in the War of 1812?

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New National Era. (Washington City): Feb 23, 1871. (3). editor: FREDERICK (Bailey) DOUGLASS

As an intellectually curious child in tow with his grandmother travelling colonial dirt roads of the Tuckahoe the attention of Frederick Bailey was attuned to the history, customs and culture of his community.

Raised in his grandparents cabin, Isaac Bailey served as the first male father figure for a young Frederick. Throughout his life and across his public career, Douglass acknowledged and recognized the contributions of his elder forefathers.

Accustomed and acclimated to the company of Black American Patriots of the Revolutionary War and the Black Defenders of Baltimore, Frederick (Bailey) Douglass stepped forged and formed onto the national and international stage precipitously and deliberately influenced by men whose stories of sacrifices and contributions to the founding of this country history have mostly been forgotten today.

Frederick (Bailey) Douglass made sure America never forgot the contributions of these Black American Patriots while he had a say about it.

In February 1871, under the editorial guidance of Douglass, the New National Era ran an obituary for Henry Van Meter, “a Black Hero of the Revolution.”

A minor celebrity in his own time, due features in Harper’s Weekly and Benson J. Lossing’s Pictorial Field Book of the War of 1812, Henry Van Meter was reportedly 110 years old or thereabouts when he passed in Bangor, Maine following the Civil War. 

In a footnote to Lossing’s brief feature on Van Meter, there is this interesting note:

Henry remembered seeing Washington many times.

When Governor Nelson’s estate was sold after the war to pay his debts, Henry became the property of a planter beyond the Blue Ridge, on the extreme frontier.

He was discontented, and wished to leave, notwithstanding his master was kind. He wished Henry to marry one of his slave girls, and raise children for him, offering, if he would do so, to order in his will that he should be made a free man at his death. “I didn’t like the gals,” said Henry, “and didn’t want to ‘wait for dead men’s shoes.’

So master sold me to a man near Lexington, in Kentucky, and there was only one log house in that town when I went there.” He was soon sold to one of those vile men engaged in the slave-trading business, who treated him shamefully. Henry mounted one of his master’s horses one night, and fled to the Kentucky River, where he turned him loose, and told him to go home if he had a mind to, as he didn’t wish to steal him. Some benevolent white people helped him on to the Ohio, and at Cincinnati, then a collection of houses around Fort Washington, he took the name of Van Meter, borne by some of the family of his kind master of the Shenandoah Valley.

Henry became a servant of an officer in St. Clair’s army, and served in the company, in the Northwest, with that commander and General Wayne. After the peace in 1795, he was living in Chillicothe, and came East with some Englishmen with horses, by way of Wheeling, to Philadelphia.

In the latter city some Quakers sent him to school, and he learned to read and write. When the war broke out he shipped as a common sailor in the privateer Lawrence, having previously been to Europe several times in the same capacity, and when cast into Dartmoor he held a prize ticket which was worth, when he got home, one thousand dollars. He let a captain have it as security for sixteen dollars. The man died of yellow fever in the South, and Henry never recovered his ticket.

Is it possible Henry Van Meter took his name from the Henry Van Meter (and the Van Meter family) that housed and corresponded with George Washington? We think so. 


Prior to the Civil War, Maine was an active state for the anti-slavery movement, as well as other reform efforts. Some notable citizens of Maine whom Douglass knew and/or worked closely with include, but not limited to, General Oliver Otis Howard, Secretary of State James G. Blaine and the politically influential Fessenden family.

While in bereavement over the death of Anna Murray Douglass, Frederick spent time in the summer of 1883 in the resort community of Poland Spring, Maine. (You’ve likely had a bottle of water bearing its namesake.)

Douglass was a frequent presence in the state of Maine before and after the Civil War. According to the public record, Bangor was a city he visited and formally addressed before and after the war. 

The decision of Douglass to run an obituary for Henry Van Meter is a deliberate recognition of the tradition and history of Black American Patriots who served and saved this country throughout its founding decades. 

Henry Van Meter "

Henry Van Meter, with signature. This image was reproduced in Harper’s Magazine while Van Meter was living. Douglass was frequently featured in Harper’s and in 1883 was placed on the popular magazine’s cover.

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