Did You Know that John Legend was from Ohio?

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.

Finding Your Roots is produced and presented by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. This segment will air on WOSU at the following dates and times:

Sunday, May 13 8 P.M.

Wednesday, May 16 4 A.M.

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2 Responses to Did You Know that John Legend was from Ohio?

  1. Red Peg says:

    I watched a repeat Finding Your Roots tonight and wanted to find out more about Gov Wood since I am from Ohio – and from a town founded by Quakers who were against slavery. So I did some googling and landed here.
    Peyton Polly “had his children kidnapped” makes it sound as though he had something to do with the kidnapping of his children. You might want to edit – something like: “whose children were kidnapped” — ??

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