Man Freed from Slavery, 162 Years Later, in Wayne County

By: Steve Eschleman Email
By: Steve Eschleman Email

WAYNE, W.Va. (WSAZ) – While slavery is a distant memory for most in America, there remains some unfinished business for some descendents.

Although their freedom had been purchased, in 1850 four adolescent slaves in Ohio were kidnapped to Wayne County, Va., even though their freedom had been purchased.

Finally, 162 years later a judgment was made whether those slaves were indeed free.

Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Darrell Pratt finished the trial which was never completed. Depositions from the actual witnesses were read into evidence, then Pratt revealed his decision.

James Hale heard what he’s been waiting to hear for years -- his great-great grandfather Harrison Polly finally has his freedom.

"I'm just so happy I was able to see them freed and the whole process of the trial," Hale said.

Harrison Polly was one of the children kidnapped from Ohio -- a free state. He and three other siblings were illegally sold, which led to this trial. Pratt concluded Harrison and his family were freed upon the death of the last owners' will in Pike County, Ky.

So, after years of research and much help, the last four Polly children join their parents and siblings, as well as their descendents, as free people.

“We did it,” Hale said. “He’s free."

Recently, singer John Legend traced his family tree back to the Polly children, as well.


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