Letter: Kitty Payne’s site, and her ‘legacy of strength’

Teresa Boardwine of Green Comfort School of Herbal Medicine discusses the properties of a favorite medicinal plant growing near her yurt during the herb walk on Saturday during last weekend's Rappahannock County Farm Tour & Festival.Jeremy Tole
Teresa Boardwine of Green Comfort School of Herbal Medicine discusses the properties of a favorite medicinal plant growing near her yurt during the herb walk on Saturday during last weekend’s Rappahannock County Farm Tour & Festival.

“A legacy of strength, determination, hard-headedness and love” was what Kitty Payne passed on to her descendants. So said Sandy Kasabuske, her great-great-granddaughter, at the dedication of the old Rappahannock County Jail as a site of the National Park Service’s National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, last Saturday (Sept. 26) in Washington.

For those unfamiliar with the story of Kitty Payne as it is told on the plaque on the fence in front of the county courthouse and jail, it is as follows: Kitty Payne, was a slave born in the Huntly area of the county in 1816 who was owned by Samuel Maddox, who had also fathered her. When he died, he left all his property to his wife, Mary, including the slaves. In 1843, Mary freed Kitty and her two children and moved with them to Pennsylvania. However, Samuel Maddox’s nephew, also Samuel, challenged Mary’s right to emancipate them, and had them kidnapped and brought back to Rappahannock, where she and her family spent a year in the jail during the lengthy court proceeding that followed.

Patrick Alther
Sperryville

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