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Drawing by Michael Cohill, from composite historic photographs.
 
                                                 Fifty Years and Over
                                        Of Akron and Summit County,
                  Samuel A. Lane, Akron, Ohio, Beacon Job Department, 1892

Judge Leicester King.  - born in Suffield, Conn. May 1, 1789; married to Julia Ann Huntington, October 12, 1814; after a short residence as a merchant in Westfield Mass., went to Natchez, Miss., but declining bright prospects of business there, because of abhorrent impression in regard to human slavery, in 1817 settled, as a merchant, in Warren, Ohio; in 1831, with Gen.  Simon Perkins and Dr. Eliakim Crosby, laid out North Akron, and constructed the Cascade Mill race, giving to Akron  its start as a manufacturing center; Associate Judge of Trumbull County one term of seven years; State Senator, two terms, 1835-1839; large promoter of Pennsylvania and Ohio Canal; in 1842 Liberty candidate for Governor and renominated [sic.] in 1844; Liberty nominee for Vice President in 1848 but resigned in favor of Charles Francis Adams, Free-Soil candidate; ever promotive of Akron’s growth and prosperity, in 1836 erected a barn with the intention of establishing his home on the grounds now occupied by Hon. Lewis Miller. Mrs.   King dying in 1849, June 10, 1852 Judge King married, to Mrs. Calista M. Howard, eldest daughter of Dr. Crosby, who survives; the Judge himself dying at Bloomfield, Trumbull County, September 19, 1856, aged 67 years, 4 months, 18 days; five of his seven children surviving him.

 

 
    From History of Trumbull and Mahoning Counties,
      Vol. 1, Cleveland, H.Z. Williams & Bros., 1882 

  LEICESTER KING was born May 1, 1789, at Suffield, Connecticut.  He married, October 12, I814, Julia Ann Huntington, daughter of Hon.  Hezekiah Huntington, of Hartford, Connecticut, and died at North Bloomfield, Trumbull county, Ohio, September 19, 1856, at the residence of his son-in-law, Charles Brown.

  Mr. King removed from Westfield, Massachu­setts, where he was engaged in the mercantile business for a few years, to Warren, Ohio, in 1817, where he continued the same business until 1833.  At that time, becoming interested in the project of building the Pennsylvania and Ohio canal, he abandoned mercantile life, and devoted the most of his time to forwarding that enterprise; and it was mainly through his energy and labor that it was finally constructed-he being for a long time the president of the com­pany.  He filled the position of associate judge of the court of common pleas, and represented the Trumbull district for two successive sessions (1835-39) in the State Senate.  He was a de­cided Abolitionist, although elected as a Whig, and at each session introduced and advocated a bill to repeal the infamous " Black laws," which then disgraced our statute books.  After the spirited Presidential contest of 1840 he identi­fied himself with the few who organized the Liberty party, and was the first candidate for Governor nominated by that party in 1842; and he was renominated [sic.] in 1844.  As the champion of that forlorn hope he thoroughly canvassed the State, discussing its platform of principles in every county and in almost every school district.  He was president of the first United States Liberty party convention, held in Buffalo in 1844, which put in nomination James G. Birney as candidate for President, and Thomas Morris for Vice President of the United States.  In 1847 Mr. King was the nominee for Vice President, with John P. Hale for President; both, however, declined the nomination in favor of Martin Van Buren and Charles Francis Adams, as candidates for the Free soil party-the Liberty party there­after being merged into this new party of anti­-slavery principles. After the death of Mrs. King, January 24. 1849, Mr. King withdrew from politics, although he continued, until the day of his death, a warm advocate of the principles for which he had declined all political preferment and personal position from the old Whig party.

  The earnest zeal with which be sowed the seed through the State of Ohio required but a few years to bring forth an abundant harvest of right sentiments, and had its due share in the successful contest for human rights, which resulted in placing Abraham Lincoln in the executive chair in 1861.

 

 
THE MAGAZINE OF WESTER HISTORY
                         The Underground Railroad with Biography of Leicester King
                                                 [1886, pages 680-682]
                                            HON.  LEICESTER KING.

      The early prominence of Mr. King in the anti-slavery cause will justify a brief notice of his life and character, more extended than was proper in the underground railroad address.  Leicest­er King was a descendant of the Puri­tans who fled from England as early as 1640, to exercise in America that lib­erty of conscience in matters of relig­ion not then enjoyed in England with­out the fear of fire and fagot.  His father, David King, the son of Eben­ezer King, jr., and fifth in descent from James King (who settled in Suffield, Connecticut, in 1678, emigrating from Devonshire, England), was born in Suffield, April 16, 1758.  His mother was the daughter of Israel Holly, a de­scendant of John Holly, among the  first setters in Stamford, Connecticut. Leicester King was born in Suffield, Connecticut, May I, 1799, and married October 12, 1814, Julia Ann Hunting­ton, a daughter of Hon.  Hezekiah Huntington, who for many years was United States attorney for the district of Connecticut, and the sixth in de­scent from Simon Huntington, who sailed in 1633 from Norwich, England, but died on the passage from the latter Place to this country.

      Judge King received his education in the schools of Suffield, Connecticut, always noted for their excellence, and which school Judge Calvin Pease and Judge George Tod, two distingu­ished pioneers of Trumbull county, whose judicial records constitute the brightest pages of Ohio's judicial his­tory, the Hon. Gideon Granger and others received the elements of their education.  Judge King's education did not stop with his school life, for he was in the leisure hours of his busy life a constant and intelligent reader of history and literature, and on all sub­jects he was a remarkably well in­formed man.

    His wife, an educated and cultured lady, was a helpmeet for him in the exercise of his large beneficence, in the education of their children, and in the discharge of his many public duties and trusts.  He commenced mercantile busi­ness life in Westfield, Massachusetts; but in 1817 he came to Warren, Trumbull county, and there successfully car­ried on the same business till he removed to Akron in 1854.  As a mer­chant he was eminently successful in a place like Warren, a thriving village in pioneer times and the county-seat of Trumbull county. He left an estate valued at his death from $250,000 to $300,000 no doubt largely enhanced by the purchase of real estate in Akron about the time of the location and con­struction of the Pennsylvania and Ohio canal.  In truth he may be regarded as the father of that improvement, which at the time of its construction, before the introduction of railroads, was regarded as of first importance to the natural interests of the western reserve.  His energy and influence in the legisla­ture and out of it secured its comple­tion, which was celebrated with great éclat at Akron, as many of its older citizens will remember.  I notice a cir­cumstance connected with that corpo­ration which illustrates the character of judge King.  That company had im­portant legislation in Mercer county, Pennsylvania, which was submitted to the arbitrament of three distinguished men of Pennsylvania. The trial was at New Castle, Pennsylvania. I was associated in the trial of the case for the company with Judge R.P. Ranney, and it was decided in favor of the company, a result mainly attributable to the thorough and judicious preparation of the case by Judge King, then president of the company.  Mr. King's political life may be said to have com­menced with his appointment by the legislature under the old constitution as an associate judge of the court of common pleas of Trumbull county, a position he occupied with credit one term.

   He was twice elected to the state senate, in 1833 and 1835, by the elect­ors of Trumbull county as a Whig, and he was a leading and influential mem­ber of that body.  The Whig party, was then strong in the state, and if he had remained a member of it he might have secured  any position within its gift. From early life he followed his convictions of political duty, although they might prejudice - his political or business success.  When he had been in Warren in business about two' years he was persuaded by his brother-in-law to visit Natchez, Mississippi, with a view of going into business there.  At that early day he saw the injustice of slavery, and was unwilling to subject himself and family to its baneful influ­ences, and at the sacrifice of what he then regarded important interests which promised large success, he returned to Warren, where he remained till his re­moval to Akron.

   In 1842 he was the Liberty party candidate for governor, was re-nominated in 1844 and secured both years the full vote of that party in the state.  I remember well the peculiar prayer of old Father Keep, an anti-slavery minister of Oberlin, when he was running for governor: " Grant, oh Lord, that we have a king for governor, whose name shall be Leicester." The Prayer was not answered, but the spirit of anti-­slavery was then marching on to final and complete victory.

   Judge King made a thorough canvass of the state, traveling in his own carriage at his, own expense making speeches in every county and in many of the town­ships.  He was very effective as a public speaker, presenting his facts and argu­ments in earnest, terse, plain language, and with the comprehension of the peo­ple. The Liberty party was then unpopular­, and was regarded by the Whig party as a sort of tender to the Democratic party, then claimed to be more pro-slav­ery than the Whig party. Judge King had a two days’ public debate with Joshua R. Giddings at Bloomfield, Trumbull county, in which the duty of anti-slavery men to vote the Liberty party ticket was affirmed by Judge King and denied by Mr. Giddings. The latter was an able lawyer, trained in debate, at the bar and in congress, and thoroughly understood the subject of slavery and its moral turpitude and political aspect, and as able a man as was Judge Milton Sutliff, who listen to the debate, pronounced Judge King the peer of Mr. Giddings in argument. Perhaps some allowance should be made, from the fact that Judge Sutliff agreed with Judge King in his views of political duty. Judge King’s house in Warren was the general station for the passengers of the underground railroad. There they received shelter, food and clothing. Judge King being better off in worldly goods than a majority of anti-slavery men in Warren, especially the younger men, was relied upon for a larger share of the expense, to furnish rolling stock and equipment of that institution.

     Judge King, G. Bailey, Salmon P. Chase and the Rev. Samuel Lewis, were among the most influential men in the Liberty party organization in Ohio, up to 1844.  John P. Hale was a candidate for President and Judge King vice-president on the Liberty ticket, nominated in 1847, but they declined in 1848, when Martin Van Buren and Charles Francis Adams were nominated at Buffalo, and thereafter they acted with the Free Soil party, as did most the old Liberty party men. After the death of his wife at Warren, on January, 1848, Judge King withdrew from active political life. He married, June 10, 1852, his second wife, Calista M., daughter of Dr. Eliakim Crosby, by whom he had no children.

      The children of his first marriage were eight, four sons and four daughters, all of whom - except Susan H., who died at Warren in 1839 - survived him. Henry W., his oldest son, then a resident of Akron, was elected secretary of state by the legislature in 1850, and died in Akron in 1857. Julia A., his oldest daughter, married Charles Brown, son of Ephraim Brown of Bloomfield, at whose house Judge King died September 19, 1856, and up to the time of his dead, he took great interest in public affairs and looked forward with hope to the time when every man in this broad republic should enjoy that “inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” which was his birthright. Leicester, his second son, volunteered his service in the War of the Rebellion, and was an efficient officer in the army; now resides in Washington, District of Columbia. His daughter, Mrs. Brown, died in Cleveland, January 1885. His daughter, Helen D.  married James Atkins, a citizen of Savannah, Georgia, and died in Brooklyn, New York, where she had gone for medical treatment, November 2, 1886. His son, Hezekiah, now resides in Savannah. His daughter, Catherine H. married President W.K.  Pendleton of Bethany college, West Virginia, and now resides there. His son, David L., a prominent citizen and businessman, and who resembles his father in appearance more than wither of his other sons, now resides in Akron.

John Hutchins

 

 

                                      Western Reserve Democrat, June 23, 1938
                          MAHONING AVE. HOME CENTER OF SOCIAL AFFAIRS
                         First Owner Would Not Permit Cards; Nor Wine Served in House

       The Lovely Colonial home at 241 Mahoning ave., which adjoins Monumental Park on the one side, and the Warren-Hiram campus on the other, deserves special mention in a record of the early homes of Warren and the Reserve.

       It was built by Mr. and Mrs. Leicester King, who came to Warren in 1817. Mrs. King, who could boast the proud blood of England within her veins, was born in Suffield, Conn., in 1790. She was the seventh in descent from Simon Huntington and Margaret Barte, who emigrated from Norwich, Eng., in 1630; from John Kent, who arrived from Great Britian in 1870; from Richard Lyman, who came over in 1631, and from John Dwight, who reached the American shores in 1635.

      From this lineage Mrs. King inherited great personal beauty and great mental vigor. She was the first to openly protest against the use of wine at social gatherings in Warren, and against card-playing for money, both of which were common occurrence in those early days.

      The Mahoning Avenue house was the scene of great social activities. It lent itself admirably to entertaining, even when considered by the standard of large homes of today.

      The house is a pure style of Colonial architecture, and occupies a commanding location. The wide hall, with its arched ceiling, extended through the house. This hall, in the early days, was papered in large panels, each panel representing some scene from :Lahla Rookh,” the Indian princess, whom Thomas Moore immortalized.

      When the house was built, the parlor carpet was imported from England, and was an exact copy of a carpet made for George the Fourth. In this home Mrs. King entertained the best and most celebrated of the land. The frontier custom of having an extra plate on the table for the passing guest  was always observed.

     Mrs. King was a strong anti-slavery woman, a Presbyterian in church belief, until the presentation of the Campbellite doctrine when she became an influential member of that congregation.

        The house has been occupied by only three families in all these years; those of Mr. King, whose occupancy dates back to the early 1800's; Mr. H.C. Belden and Mr. Henry Smith, whose daughter, Miss Helen R. Smith, is the present owner and occupant.

 

 

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