Nelson T. Gant House, Zanesville, Ohio
Posted by: FamilyTrees
N 39° 56.705 W 082° 01.803
17S E 412004 N 4422169
Quick Description: Owned by Nelson Gant, former slave and conductor on the Underground Railroad
Location: Ohio, United States
Date Posted: 7/12/2008 12:47:40 PM
Waymark Code: WM45YC
From the historic marker in front, placed by the Ohio Department of Transportation:
Historic Underground Railroad Site: Nelson T. Gant House
Nelson T. Gant was one of Zanesville's most prominent African American citizens. Born into slavery on the Woodburn Estate of John Nixon of Loudoun County, Virginia on May 10, 1821, Nelson was given his freedom by provisions of his master's will in September 1845. However Gant's wife, Anna Maria Hughes, remained the property of Miss CAE Jane Russell of Leesburg who refused to release her from bondage.
Twelve months after receiving his freedom, Nelson crossed the Ohio River and eventually arrived in Zanesville. Abolitionists in Putnam and friends in Virginia collected enough money to help Gant buy his wife's freedom in February 1847.
The Gants made Zanesville their permanent home in 1850. Gant worked for Theodore Convers, during which time he bought this land for his home and farm. After Convers died, Gant made his living as a farmer and gardender of specialty vegetables. Although Nelson was a quiet man, oral tradition claims that he often hid slaves in his vegetable wagon to assist them from one safe house to another.
Nelso was quite industrious -- he even sold "fine strawberries and cream" from the front porch of this homestead. Perhaps as homage to the brick buildings of his old home in Loudoun, Nelson built this house of brick, including the interior walls. Gant also owned a salt lick and a coal mine that produced the largest amount of coal purchased in Muskingum County at the time. A true entrepreneur, the would often dam the river and make ice blocks that he would sell. By hard work and thrift, he saved money and invested it in land. Ultimately, he became the owner of more than 300 acres and was a self-made millionaire.
In the old slave tradition, Nelson would host community picnics on July 5th in "Gant's Grove," which he later sold to Townsend Brick to make into a public park -- one of the first integrated parks in the state. The Municipal Stadium now stands on the grounds that used to be Gant Park.
Nelson T. Gant died July 14, 1905 a well-respected citizen and a millionaire.
Site Details: Not open to the public
Open to the public?: Private
Name of organization who placed the marker: Ohio Dept. of Transportation
Address: Not listed
Web site: Not listed
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