History of Sandusky. Part 4: The Enslaved Families

It must not be forgotten that part of Sandusky’s history, until 1865, were the enslaved families that lived and worked there. Their history is often hidden and difficult to uncover. The enslaved were usually not literate so they did not leave any writings that might help us understand their lives. Their owners’ writings only mentioned them briefly usually.

The lives of the enslaved were spent toiling in the background and serving their masters by helping run the estates and farms they lived upon. Enslaved women typically did most of the cooking, sewing, cleaning, and supervising the children, both white and black. Enslaved men worked outdoors more often clearing land, planting and harvesting, and caring for animals.

Tax assessment records show that Charles Johnston, who built Sandusky in 1808, owned on average 12-14 African-Americans with that number fluctuating by one or two yearly. In 1817 the number rose to 22, all but one being over 16 years of age. Nothing is mentioned about genders or their roles on the Sandusky estate.