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24 Abbott's Monthly in 1873, to make space for a more modern structure. George, as he was commonly called by his friends, went to live with Gilbert Douglas, a brother-in-law of Dr. Silas Hamilton, after the death of his benefactor. Gilbert Douglas and George were warm friends, and he lived here on the same terms that he lived with the doctor. He attended school at the Stone School house until his twenty-third year. When he came to manhood, Gilbert Douglas gave him a hundred dollars, a gray horse and a new suit of clothes. Skeptics and secessionists, of which there was a liberal sprinkling in the county, called him "Black George". He was a good student, learned readily, and worked hard. The school advanced and soon took front rank as one of the most efficient and successful institutions of learning in the State. Some of his schoolmates made names for themselves in the business and professional world. There was S.V. White, who made and lost fortunes on the New York Stock Exchange, was a warm personal friend of Henry Ward Beecher, and a trustee of Plymouth Church, Brooklyn; L. B. Sidway, who became president of the Illinois Trust and Savings Bank and the Hide and Leather Bank of Chicago; Dr. John B. Hamilton, Surgeon General of the United States; these and many other men of less renown, but who made their lives thoroughly worth living, were all his schoolmates at the "Stone School House." THE PRICE By Cynthia Marks There is no price a bit too high For the things you use before you die. (If you think too long on the price you paid You blast your soul from the sweets you made.) There is no charge to my account I failed to pay, or grudged amount. For the things one uses before one dies, Are paid for in suffering, moans and sighs. He was baptized in Otter Creek, about a mile and a half north of Otterville, in the fall of 1844, and became a member of the Baptist Church. He was sincere and devout, and was later made a deacon in the church. He was assistant superintendent of the Sunday School, an excellent Bible student and taught the Bible Class. He had an unusual voice, and frequently led in the singing and the prayer services. He worked as a farm hand until his accumulations enabled him to buy an eighty-acre tract. Thereafter until his death he farmed for himself. He was one of the liberal contributors to the support of the Baptist Church. Many stories are told of "Black George" which throw some light on his character. Those who knew him said he was refined in his manners and conversation. That he never used profane language or slang. Miner S. Gowin, who rented a farm of him at one time, said he heard white men curse him, and call him a "nigger" and that instead of resenting it, George simply turned away and said, "You are not worth listening to." If there was sickness in a poor family in the community he seemed to know of it intuitively. He would be there first, probably with wood prepared for fuel, and if food was needed he would supply it. This was all done in a quiet, kindly, Christian spirit. He never mentioned or alluded to such acts. Moreover, he was the "grave digger" of the community, no matter what the weather. He made no charge and expected no compensation for such services. He was Vice-President of a debating society that held its meeting in the Stone School House, and thereby hangs a tale that gives some light as to his ability and tact. Many prominent men from Jerseyville, the county seat, were present by special invitation, to take part. The president was absent, and George was called on to preside, which he did with credit to himself and the society. At first the visitors were shocked at being presided over by a "nigger," and having to address him as Chairman. But before the meeting was over they recognized his ability and fairness, and when it adjourned were warm in their praises and congratulations. While George was living with Gilbert Douglas one of the horses was stolen. A posse was formed and sent in different directions. George was sent across the Illinois River to Calhoun County. It is a peninsular-like county, extending down between the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers. A black man has never lived in the county, and it boasted that one never stayed there over night, except in the county jail. Many a black man had preferred to swim the Illinois River rather than remain there after the irate citizens have sensed his presence. West of the county and across the Mississippi River is the State of Missouri. Many in ante-Bellum days were smuggled across the river and started on their way to the cotton fields of the South. "Black George" would easily have brought $2,000. THEY arrested him as a runaway slave, and put him in the jail at Gilead, then the county seat. It was a well built loft jail, dowelled together with wooden pins. They only entrance was through a hole in the top, which required a ladder. George had been in jail a couple of days when a merchant of Gilead who knew "Black George" went up to the jail out of idle curiosity, to see the "runaway nigger." He recognized "Black George," and at once secured his release. It was a close call, and George never went into the county again. It is disconcerting to think what might have been. A large part of Dr. Silas Hamilton's life would have been in vain, all of George's, and many ambitious and deserving black men who have been helped to a college education by the fund he left, would be occupying less important positions today. But it had been written since the beginning of time that these men should live and accomplish, and though at times their lives would be very onerous, yet, in the end, they should triumph. What Providence has written, no man shall erase. Miner S. Gowin, above mentioned, a warm personal for May, 1931 23 [[image]] [[caption]] Crypt at Otterville containing the bodies of Dr. Silas Hamilton, George Washington, and Gilbert Douglas. Here is buried George between his two best friends, behind the church to which they all belonged. This crypt was erected by the George Washington Educational Fund which today has in its treasury over $26,000. [/caption]] friend of George, is authority for the following conversation, which took place the last day that George worked. His fatal sickness was on him then, and he died a few days later. "George, why did you never marry?" Miner Gowen asked. He replied, giving his reasons, "It has been said that I would not marry a woman of my own people, because I wanted a white woman, but I would not have a white woman. One that would marry me would not be one that would make happy. I was never well enough acquainted with my own race to form a love for anyone." His judgment in business matters was considered good, and he was the counsellor and advisor of many of the less educated immigrants 'round about Otterville. He was always ready to extend a helping hand and expected no reward. He died April 18th, 1864, surrounded by friends whose love and respect he had won by the courageous, courteous, four-square life he had lived. He was buried beside his liberator, Dr. Silas Hamilton. Miner S. Gowin, in his remarks at the grave, said, "This is what the South never knew. Here lies master and slave side by side." When Gilbert Douglas died, he was placed on the other side of Dr. Hamilton. The George Washington Educational Fund later built a crypt for these bodies, and they rest there today, behind the church across the street from the Hamilton Primary School and the movement to Dr. Silas Hamilton. George Washington left a nuncupative will that contained the following provisions: "Second: That after the payment of such personal expenses and debts, it was his will that all his goods and chattels, both personal and real estate, be sold and converted into money to be disposed as follows: First. That $1,500 be appropriated to the construction of a suitable monument for the tomb of Doctor Silas Hamilton, his former master, to be erected near the Stone School House. And that the residue, or whatever may be left of said estate, not otherwise appropriated, shall be appropriated to the education of colored persons, or Americans of African descent." This little nuncupative will is unique. It is epoch making. It was made by a black man, an ex-slave, before the close of the Civil War, before his people generally had had an opportunity to get an education, or accumulate property, much less afford the ethics of appreciation and benevolent charity. The monument erected to the memory of Dr. Silas Hamilton is the only monument ever erected by an ex-slave in honor of his dead master. The great love and admiration that this man had for his master is the evolution of a strong moral fiber. The George Washington Educational Fund is the first fund ever left by an ex-slave to assist in the education of members of his own race. Dr. Silas Hamilton and George Washington were pioneers in helping to provide a way to help every man help himself. It is the best philanthropy. They deserve a place among the thoughtful and sincere philanthropists of the ages. Dr. Joseph O. Hamilton (a collateral descendant of Dr. Silas Hamilton), who attended George Washington in his last sickness, and who, with John A. Campbell, drew and signed the nuncupative will, was made administrator, will annexed. He took no steps, however, to carry out its provisions, except that in February, 1865, he and some friends of George Washington succeeded in having an act passed by the General Assembly of Illinois to prevent the escheat of the land to the State, as provided by common (Continued on page 73) NUDITY By Robert Turner Ford To me some naked things Are filled with greater splendor Them all the pomp of kingly robes can render- The beauty of brown bodies gleaming bright Fresh from the surf's kiss on a moonlit night; Truth stript of tawdry trimmings; and the free Upon a winter's evening, flinging high Her bare brown limbs against the sunset sky.
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