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Wednesday
Jan212009

Honored Slave Visited Owen Sound

The Sun Times, Owen Sound, Wed. Jan. 18, 1984

by Ann Kelly

A stamp has been issued commemorating Josiah Henson, a slave born near Port Tobacco, Maryland, in 1789. Some of his roots were planted in Owen Sound.
Josiah barely knew his father who was taken from the family and sold. As a child, he was taken from his mother and also sold, but the two were subsequently reunited.
In his youth, Josiah became a fervent Christian. The Methodist Episcopal Church ordained him in 1828. By this time he was supervising operations on his master's plantation.
When it became evident that Josiah was going to be separated from his wife and children, and sold, he decided to escape.
With his two youngest children on his back, Josiah followed the North Star and arrived in Canada Oct. 28, 1830.
He resumed his preaching and acted as a leader of other escaped slaves. He co-founded a school for blacks near what is now Dresden. Josiah was later identified as the hero of the book Uncle Tom's Cabin.
Traveling via Windsor, Josiah reputedly came to Owen Sound and a Northcliffe settlement. He worked with Rev. Robert Robinson, a Congregationalist minister, at his homestead at 222 2nd Avenue East. According to Robinson descendants, Uncle Tom, as he was affectionately known, would attend Mr. Robinson's church Sunday mornings. It was located at Ninth Street and First Avenue West, now the Christian Science building. Not only did Mr. Robinson preach there but he also physically helped built the church.
The late Mr. Robinson's great-grandson is Campbell Palmer of Owen Sound who lived on the family homestead until last summer when it was sold.