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African descent." This residue, with accrued interest, now amounts to more than twenty thousand dollars, and the income therefrom is being devoted to assisting “colored persons, or Americans of African descent," to acquire a higher education. From four to six such persons have been so assisted in taking courses in colleges, continuously for many years past.
By an act of the Legislature in the sessions of 1865, to carry into effect the non-cupative will of “George Washington” colored, deceased, the state of Illinois relinquished all of its rights to the said estate, by way of escheat.
In 1880 the circuit court of Jersey county, Illinois, appointed a board of trustees to manage and administer said trust fund, under the direction of the court, to which a report is required to be made annually. In said decree this fund is designated as “The George Washington Educational Fund.” The county superintendent of schools and the principal of the Jerseyville high school are required to be members of this board of trustees. Besides those mentioned, the present trustees are Theo dore S. Chapman, Marcus E. Begley, Allen M. Slaten and Oscar B. Hamilton, T. S. Chapman is president and Charles S. White is secretary-treasurer. Either of the two last named can give any desired information with reference to said fund and the management thereof. Annual examinations are held for the selection of beneficiaries of the fund. In these examinations not only the educational, but also the moral standing and character of the applicant is taken into consideration.
The subject of this sketch, in the community where he resided, was always known as “George," but by persons outside, he was frequently called “Black George." In person he was of medium heighth, about five feet eight inches, weight about 160 pounds, color clear blue-black, with the flat nose, thick lips and kinky hair that are indicative of the pure African.
32 Private Laws 1865 (Feb. 16), page 251.
In early life he was converted and became a member of the Baptist church, of which he remained a true and consistent member until his death. He was always active in church work, as janitor of church and Sunday school, a great deal of the time furnishing the fuel, as well as making fires and sweeping. Being an excellent singer, he was always to be depended upon to lead the singing. He was assistant superintendent, and taught a class in Sunday school. The writer was for a considerable time a pupil in his Sunday school class, and can say that he never sat under a teacher better versed in the Bible, more conscientious in teaching, or who possessed more implicitly, the confidence and respect of his pupils.
“George" was unobtrusively cordial and companionable with his friends, but was quite diffident and retiring among strangers or those with whom he was not well acquainted. He was never obtrusive or forward, either in publio or in his home. On the contrary, if strangers were present at mealtime, “George” was always occupied with his chores about the barn until the family and guests had finished, and then he came in quietly and took his meal alone. At other times he ate with the family. On one occasion, at threshing time, the men all came in to dinner, “George with the rest, when one of the men, who had formerly lived in the south, stepped back and said to the host, “he would not eat with a d--d nigger." The host replied, “all right, you can wait.” The company then all sat down with “George” and ate their dinners, without further question or quibble.
If there was sickness in a poor family in the community, “George” seemed to learn of it intuitively, and but a short time would elapse until his team was on the way to the woods for fuel, which was delivered ready prepared for the fire, and if there was need of food, that was also supplied by him. This was all done by him, in a quiet, kindly, christian spirit, and no person ever heard him mention or allude to his connection therewith. He was the "grave digger" for the community. When
there was a death in the neighborhood, no matter what the weather might be, “George” took his spade and dug the grave, for which he never made any charge, and had no expectation of fee or reward.
An incident occurred in the early 50's which demonstrates the esteem in which “George” was held in his own community, and also, the difference of the sentiment there, from what it was in other parts of the county. For many years a debating society was carried on at the “Old Stone School House,” in which many of the leading citizens participated. On one of these occasions several prominent speakers from Jerseyville, the county seat of the county, were present by invitation to take part in the contest. The president of the society being absent, and “George," being vice president, was called upon to preside, which he did, with credit to himself and to the society. The visitors were very much shocked at the idea of being required to address and be presided over by a “nigger" as chairman. As a result, the next week's issue of the Jerseyville organ of these politicians had a column article therein, ridiculing the meeting, and especially the “Black Cloud” that hovered over it, which created a great deal of feeling and excitement throughout the county at the time. Of course, in this controversy “George's” neighbors stood by him, as it was their duty to do, inasmuch as it was their fault, and not his, that he was vice president of the society. In the presidential campaign of 1860, the question of the extension of slavery into the territories was the main issue, and upon this question the voters of the country were divided. The Democrats favoring, and the Republicans opposing such extension. There was a great Democratic meeting and barbecue at Grafton, and many thousand people were there. It so happened that “George” on that day took a load of wheat there to market, and as he entered the town, a half drunken rabble assaulted him with stones and gravel. They seemed to think that it was all right,