The Salem Teach Truth Day of Action will be held Saturday, June 3, 2023, at 1:00 pm. This is one of dozens of events taking place around the United States for the Teach Truth Day of Action.
The program will begin at the Waterworth Memorial Park with speakers from Mahoning Valley’s Sojourn to the Past and the Salem Historical Society. The speakers include historian Vincent Ajamu Shivers (bio below) and education labor activist Michael Charney. Youth from Mahoning Valley Sojourn to the Past will honor the life and legacy of Medgar Evers.
After the speakers, participants will be invited to take a short walking tour past some historical sites in Salem, including Edwin Coppock’s memorial, Marius Robinson’s house, and the St. John AME Church.
Teacher organizer Heather Smith notes,
We will explore Salem’s history with the UGRR will discuss what needs done to resist destructive education bills such as SB 83, HB 322, and HB 327 that would prevent teachers from teaching an accurate account of our history.
Walking Tour Stops
By Heather Smith
Start Here — Waterworth Memorial Park, located by Hope Cemetery (formerly Jacob Heaton’s land). Resting place of Edwin Coppock, who was with John Brown for the raid at Harpers Ferry. Dan Hise of Salem, owner of Brickyard, had a memorial stone erected for Coppock, honoring him as a truth teller and martyr of freedom. In 1859, Brown and Coppock were captured and tried for treason for their actions at Harpers Ferry. Prior to this, John had been given a pocket watch from Frederick Douglass. The pocket watch in Brown’s family recently made its way back to Frederick Douglass’s descendants and is going into a museum.
Marius and Emily Rakestraw Robinson. Marius was the editor of the Anti-Slavery Bugle, publishing Sojourner Truth’s Akron Speech in 1851, and Emily was a girl from New Garden that moved to Cincinnati to teach free Black children, where she met Marius, before they moved to Salem. Marius and Dan Hise were good friends and Dan mentions him frequently in his diary, which is located at the Salem Historical Society and online, A Diary of the Life of Daniel Howell Hise From the Year 1846 to 1878.
St. John AME [African Methodist Episcopal] Church was built in the 1870’s by formerly enslaved people. AME churches played major roles on the Underground Railroad (UGRR), as many times their ministers were also conductors, helping people traveling towards freedom. Prince Hall Mason Halls were also major players of the UGRR, providing safe places to meet and organize. From 1862 to 1876, there was a Boyd Mason Lodge in Salem. Location is unknown. Currently, there is no historical marker to tell about this church.
Liebe Wine/Quaker Tavern. What is now a winery was once a place of hospitality for many abolitionists owned by Jacob Heaton. His scrapbook, containing names such as Salmon P. Chase and Susan B. Anthony is now located in NYC at the Morgan Library. Heaton was listed as one of the leaders of Salem’s Black community’s temperance society.
Mount Zion AME Church. Dan Hise wrote in his diary on August 4, 1869, that the colored population in Salem was going to begin to lay the cornerstone of the Mt. Zion AME church. The newspaper reports that it is the Boyd Lodge, #5, Colored Masons that will be laying the cornerstone while Frederick Douglass is the orator. In 1869, Douglass was traveling around doing his Composite Nation Speech, a speech that basically says that the U.S. could be the greatest nation on earth if it embraced the diversity that resides here.
Quaker Meeting House. Still in use. Quakers originally did not have a pastor. Instead, anyone could speak as they felt it’s God speaking.
George Lucas was an active member of the UGRR. He worked for Dan Hise at Brickyard in Salem and was a stonemason. He had also known John Brown as he traveled to Kansas with him from 1856-57, but did not go with him to Harpers Ferry in 1859, the year Brown and Edwin Coppock were tried for treason and hanged to their death for fighting against the system of slavery. Hise made sure a monument for Coppock was put up in Hope Cemetery. A decade later, during Reconstruction, on Aug 4, 1869, George Lucas was one of Boyd Lodge #5, Black Masons that began to lay the cornerstone of the Mount Zion AME church where Fredrick Douglass came to speak. Hise supplied the bricks. That year, Douglass was giving his Composite Nation Speech. Newspapers were calling him to be the next Vice President.
George Lucas had a diary. Within the past year, a woman took the diary to the Restore in Salem to see if George W. S. Lucas’s diary was worth anything. She kept the diary. It would be wonderful to be able to find this diary and read what George wrote.
Where was the Boyd Lodge located? This was my driving question that led me to Fredrick Douglass and his 1869 Composite Nation Speech, speaking in Salem the day the Boyd Lodge Masons began to build the cornerstone of the Mount Zion Church. Today, it is an empty lot. Might be a great spot for some statues! Some ideas could include George W. S. Lucas, Frederick Douglass, Dan Hise, Marius and Emily Robinson, Jacob Heaton, Edwin Coppock, and John Brown.
Vince Shivers has been a historian in the city of Youngstown and in the state of Ohio for more than 15 years. He is a graduate of Youngstown State University, with a Masters Degree in History. In 1990, Mr. Shivers began research on the first eminent African American historian, George Washington Williams, and African American contractor and architect, P. Ross Berry.
Shivers has lectured at major institutions and he has published on John Brown, George Washington Williams, the French and Haitian Revolutions, slavery, and the importance of preservation in the United States. Shivers teaches a research seminar on the Underground Railroad for Youngstown State University. In 2008, Shivers was recognized by the 127th General Assembly of Ohio by Senator John A. Boccieri for service as a historian.