Beneath Gracious Home
Relic of Slavery
Newspaper Clipping, No
Date, By Sy Ramsey
Submitted by Kellie
Paris, Ky. - Beneath
the old gracious home owned by Ben Harberson is an empty
room with grim past.
It is a former slave
dungeon which might have rivaled the Black Hole of
Calcutta in sheer misery to the occupants.
room, about 24 by 12 feet, remains in absolute
darkness-as it did when unruly Negroes were chained
inside to await transportation to lucrative deep South
The only ventilation
comes from an iron barred window in a two foot thick
wall facing the rear yard.
The dungeon is
directly underneath the entrance hall of the 15-room
Harberson, a bachelor,
who recently retired from the tobacco business in
Charleston, W Va., bought the home 31 years ago. He
The Grange, as it's
called, is not as large, perhaps not as beautiful as
other Kentucky antebellum homes. But few, if any,
contain such a grisly relic in the basement.
Kinsea Stone Sr.
started building the house in 1800 and finished it 18
His sons, Edward and
Howard, used the dungeon while operating a slave-trading
business for 10 years.
They rounded up
troublesome slaves at bargain prices, chained them to
rings in the dungeon walls and fed them bread and water.
When the dungeon got
crowded the brother shipped the Negroes by barge to
Natchez or New Orleans.
Violence ended the
prosperous business in 1826.
The Stone's had
chained together 77 slaves, marched them 50 miles over
land and loaded them on flat-bottom boat in the Ohio
A few days later the
slaves mutinied and killed the brothers. Five were
tried in a Kentucky court for murder and hanged. The
others were sold to plantations further south.
The elder Stone died
of natural causes in 1846, and the house since has had
two owners besides Harberson. One donated the chains
and irons to a museum, leaving the room empty.
Harberson, an obliging
host even to strangers, lets curious visitors take a
flashlight downstairs and see the dungeon.
"They don't have much
to say when they come up." He said.