South Green | Joseph Keeler story​

South Green | Joseph Keeler story​


Near this spot (South of Hudson), on May 1820, Joseph Keeler (1787-1868) and Roldolfus Edwards were set upon by a mob while transporting two men, who they thought were freedom seekers. ​


Keeler was a slave catcher and, after seeing a newspaper article for a reward for $500.00, he made his way to Northeast Ohio. Near Independence Township, Keeler captured two African-American men, he believed were the ones mentioned in the article. While transporting these individuals towards Kentucky, Keeler was set upon by a group “when they had got a little beyond Hudson, they were overtaken by several persons who had gone in pursuit, who rescued [Sam and Martin] and sat them at liberty” (The Herald, Tuesday, November 14, 1820).​


​Both Keeler and Roldolfus were taken to Cleveland and faced a federal grand jury on charges for kidnapping. The two men Keeler kidnapped, Sam and Martin, gave testimony at his trial, which was very rare since people of color never gave sworn testimony in a court of law at that time period. The jury found Keeler guilty. Southern newspapers, such as the Wellsburgh Gazette in Virginia, were furious about the trial stating that, “The citizens of Virginia, Kentucky and other slave holding states will not suffer themselves to be duped out of their property, by such mock trials” (The Herald Tuesday, January 2, 1821).​


​Grounds for a retrial for Keeler were denied. Keeler was fined 300 dollars and Sam and Martin were freed.