Musician and Ohio native John Legend was featured in an episode of the 2012 season of Finding Your Roots. Legend can trace his family tree to free blacks who were living in Ohio before the Civil War. A portion of the John Legend segment was filmed in our Research Room at the Ohio History Center in Columbus.
Prior to the Civil War free blacks living in northern states were in danger of being kidnapped and sold into slavery. Peyton Polly, an ancestor of Legend, whose children were kidnapped and became embroiled in an extended legal battle to have them returned to Ohio. The Ohio Historical Society manuscript collections holds transcripts of the Peyton Polly case, call number VFM 3627. There is also information about the case in the papers of Ohio Governors William Medill, Reuben Wood and Salmon P. Chase. Papers related to the Polly case can be seen online in The African American Experience Ohio web resource.
Sunday, May 13 8 P.M.
Wednesday, May 16 4 A.M.