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BEN

BEN was a fugitive slave who spent several months in Cleveland in 1806. In the spring of 1806, a small boat transporting a man named Hunter, his family, and Ben, was upset and driven ashore just east of ROCKY RIVER. Hunter, from Michigan, hoped to resettle in the WESTERN RESERVE. Ben was the only survivor; the others drowned or died of exposure. After 3 or 4 days, French trappers enroute to Detroit rescued Ben, returning to Cleveland and leaving him in the care of Lorenzo Carter.

That October 2 men from Kentucky, one claiming to be Ben's owner, demanded to see Ben. Carter purportedly stipulated that Ben must consent to the meeting, which he did. As a precaution, Carter had Ben on one side of the CUYAHOGA RIVER and the 2 men on the other. The owner reportedly reminded Ben of his former good treatment and Ben consented to return to him. After the men, with Ben, left, they were confronted in INDEPENDENCE by 2 men carrying rifles who ordered Ben to flee into the woods, which he apparently did. These men, John Thompson and Jas. Geer, were considered employees of Carter's, or at least frequenters of his tavern, so Carter was credited with arranging the affair. Unable to find Ben, the slave owners returned to Kentucky. For a while it was believed that Ben lived in a hut, in either Independence or BRECKSVILLE. He eventually made his way to Canada, and nothing more is known of him thereafter.