Belmont County, Ohio (WTRF)
Dangerfield Newby grew up as a slave, married an enslaved woman, and had seven children.
He moved to Bridgeport, Ohio. Because Ohio was a “free state.” He wanted to raise money to buy his wife and children and move them to Ohio as well.
Newby was desperate to raise nearly $1,500 to buy his wife and children and set them free.
“He was a blacksmith, so he worked locally and in northeastern Ohio as a blacksmith,” says John Eric Girot, a local historian. “But he was also begging for money.”
He was able to raise about half of the required funds.
Meanwhile, his wife Harriet wrote him increasingly urgent letters.
“His wife has been begging him for her increasingly dire situation,” Giraud said. “They are heartbreaking letters, and they are interesting because they show that both husbands and wives were literate at a time when the majority of slaves were not.”
Her last letter was the most hopeless.
“So she told Dangerfield that if he could not buy her freedom, the earth would be of no attraction to her.” I have no doubt that you will.”
There Newby joined John Brown, a vehement abolitionist who was planning a raid on Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.
“If Brown’s raid had been successful, Newby would have been only sixty miles (60 miles) from where his wife was at the time.”
However, Brown’s raid was devastating, with 10 of his 21 men killed.
Newby died first.
“Ear to ear by a shot described as a small iron spike that slits the Newbie’s throat,” Guillot said.
His body was targeted even after death.
“Some of the enraged citizens and militiamen grabbed Newby’s corpse and dragged him into a nearby alley where they began dismembering and desecrating his corpse,” Guillot said. “His ear was cut off as a keepsake.”
A few days later he was buried in the cemetery.
Back in Bridgeport, Ohio, three men take out their anger on Newby’s brother Gabriel when citizens hear that Newby participated in John Brown’s raid.
“Then they dragged him to the streets of Bridgeport and tried to beat him to death,” Gilot said.
Dangerfield had four brothers who continued to fight in the Civil War and continued their quest for freedom.
The money he collected to free his wife and children never went to them.
They were sold to other plantation owners.
His brother sued for money and won.
Forty years after his death, the bodies of Newby and his fellow raiders were dismembered, transported to New York, and buried alongside the body of John Brown.
164 years after his death, the Dangerfield Newby is still remembered.
“The main character in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained is loosely based on Dangerfield Newby.
He has been the subject of art, music, TV shows and books.
Some of his descendants reportedly still live in the Ohio Valley.
Although Newby lived in Bridgeport for only one year, his story is remembered as an important part of history.
https://www.wtrf.com/belmont-county/black-history-former-slave-and-ohioan-dangerfield-newbys-life-story-ranges-from-hopeful-to-horrific/ What role did Dangerfield Newby play in Harpers Ferry and Ohio’s black history?