FINDS LONG LOST SON
DOWEN YOUNG MEETS HIS MOTHER AFTER 36 YEARS
A Mother Sold and Separated From her Family in 1861, Found and Presented to her Son as a Christmas gift in 1897.
The happiest Christmas in all the great city of Chicago was, at the modest home of Dowen Young, No. 3142 Fifth avenue. It was a reunion of a mother and son torn apart by the cruel conditions of slavery laws thirty-three years ago. The soldier, who through the circumstances of war had carried the child on his saddle away from its birthplace and the chief factor in bringing the man and his mother together after a separation of a third of a century, stood by and wept in sympathy.
It was a surprise to the son, and the aged woman had traveled night and day to aid their benefactor in carrying out his plan of a "Christmas gift of a mother," long believed by him to be dead. She brought him a simple present, a few magnolias, symbolic of the South, where she had suffered so much, but which she still loved.
Young's Romantic Career
Dowen Young, the colored man who fondled the withered hand of his mother as she lay upon a sofa, too much exhausted to stand, and too happy to sleep, is a doorkeeper at the main entrance to the stock exchange, where he has been for four years. He is now about 48 years of age, and married, and he had not heard from any member of his family since he was eight years old, though for years he tried to get some trace of his mother; but, hearing she was dead some years ago, he gave up hope, and when his soldier friend, who had never lost track of him, told him he would some day help him find her, it was without hope that he listened and thanked him.
The incidents in the life of the three chief figures in this drama are a story breathing of the cruelties of slavery, the inhumanity of men, the circumstances of war, the abiding affection between a [indecipherable] mother and her son, and the stranger, but true friendship of a generous man for a little slave to whom he gave freedom.
When the civil war broke out Margaret Young, a negro woman, and her three children lived on the Arthur estate in Clay county, Missouri, near the town of Liberty. They were all slaves of John Arthur. Her husband, Jesse Young, had died a few years before. He belonged to Mrs. Arthur, whose maiden name was Young, and was one of the many human chattels that made up her dower. Margaret had been the slave of a neighboring planter, Adam Pence, and she was known as Margaret Pence. In 1854 John Arthur bought her from Pence, and she was married to Jesse Young. They had three children, Dowen, Walter, and Susie. In 1861 it became apparent to the slave owners of the Missouri counties bordering on the Kansas line that, in order to save the value of their slaves, they must sell them off to the traders who supplied the Southern markets. Many of the negroes had run away, being assisted in escaping by one Fred Fritzlein, a mulatto. His particular field of operations was the Arthur and adjoining plantations. John Arthur therefore sought for and found a purchaser for his able-bodied men and women slaves in one Jim Adams, a noted dealer in negroes. Margaret had longed and hoped for freedom. Many of her fellow servants had made their escape, but she could not desert her little ones, not realizing that she might at any time be forced to separate from them, and doomed to a life of toil in the Southern cotton fields.
Mother and Children Separated.
Margaret was sold to the slave trade, and separated from her children, the eldest 8 years, and the youngest a girl 3 years of age.
"And how we cried, mother," said the oldest son to her yesterday, "when they took you away."
She was joined to the slave gang, chained and guarded to prevent their escape, which started by a circuitous route to avoid Union soldiers to the South. After much roundabout traveling, Adams reached Arkansas, and was soon inside the Confederate lines, where he was perfectly safe. From there he hurried on by direct route to New Orleans, which was the best slave market. From the block in the slave pens of that city he sold his gang. Margaret was among them, and described in the catalogue as follows:
Margaret: prime: Christian: 26
She was sold to Dr. Walter Mathews for $1,800. It was the value slave dealers placed upon Christian slaves and so advertising them moved Whittier to say: A Christian! going: gone! Who bids for God's own image? for his grace Which that poor victim of the market-place
Hath in her suffering won?
Boys Join Northern Army.
After the sale of the mother the children were placed with an old auntie, and as soon as they were strong enough put to work in the hemp and corn fields. It was while the two boys were so employed that Colonel Jennison, the famous Kansas Jayhawker, rider and raider and a terror to all the border slave-owners, and a company of troopers made one of their periodical forays into Clay county and, reaching the Arthur plantation, gathered in a few thoroughbred horses and five boys, carrying them off to the steamboat landing near by. The women of the Arthur household followed, and at the landing pleaded with the boys to return, but freedom was now very plainly in sight for them, and they refused. The boat was steaming up stream and Dowen and Walter Young met his friend and benefactor, who was a sergeant major of the regiment to which the troopers belonged.
After they arrived at Fort Leavenworth the boys attached themselves to an Illinois regiment, and soon became very useful. In this same summer of '64 Price, the Confederate general, planned his last raid into Missouri, entering the state below Pilot-Knob, and menacing St. Louis. The Illinois regiment was ordered to that point, and later down the Iron Mountain road. The little negro boys made the campaign, and remained with the regiment until it was mustered out at Camp Butler, Springfield, Ill. One of the boys, Walter, went to Oquawka, Ill., with Captain John Wilson, but from there all trace of him has been lost.
Came to Chicago in '68
Dowen was taken from Springfield to Ottawa, Ill., where he was provided with a home in the family of the late John H. Manley. In 1868 he came to this city, and has lived here ever since. He has always had employment, being a quiet, sober, industrious man. Many years ago he identified himself with the Bethel African M. E. Church. He also belongs to the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows, Western Star lodge, No. 1,443. He was for three years janitor of the Jones school on Plymouth place, and twelve years behind the oyster bar in the restaurant of the old Burke's European hotel.
Susan, the sister, remained with the Arthur family for some time after they removed to Kansas City. She is now 41 years of age, and until this year has never heard from any member of her family, but through the same benefactor, she will soon see her now aged mother again.
After the mother had been sold, she remained in New Orleans about two years, when she was taken to Mobile, Ala. where she has lived ever since. For years she has longed for some word from home, from the old place, and the three little children that she had left there. She could not read nor write, for it had been a crime to teach a slave to read even the Bible.
She married again, and the new cares of a growing family helped the years to slip away. Many Christmas days have come and gone since she, then a young woman, commenced her new life in the South. Mature womanhood came, and then age, and the old, old times and her former home in Missouri seemed like a dream to her. A few weeks ago the family by whom she is occasionally employed read in their evening paper that information of a person answering her description was wanted. She had the inquiry answered, was sent for, and proved to be the long-lost Margaret Young, mother of Dowen, Walker, and Susie Young.
Mother and Son Meet.
Thursday last at midnight Mrs. Nelson, for that is now her name, was put aboard the north-bound train in Mobile, Ala. She was going to visit her son Dowen in Chicago, and then after a few weeks to journey on to Kansas City, to visit her daughter, Mrs. Susan Reeves, and her brothers, who were sold about the same time, but returned North at the close of the war. She had a letter from the general agent of the Mobile and Ohio railroad at Mobile, addressed to conductors and porters, which insured her every attention. She reached Chicago at noon and was met by her benefactor, who took her immediately to her son's home. Dowen Young had been apprised of his friend's intention to visit him Christmas day, and when he saw him from his window walking toward the house he did not take much notice of the tall colored woman behind him. She followed into the room.
"Dowen, do you know this woman?" asked his friend.
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