Henry Hill was born in 1753, a few years before William Lee, born abt 1756 and like Lee and James Armistead Lafayette he was a patriot in the Continental Army commanded by George Washington. Our speculation is that Henry Hill who was discharged in January of 1782 and likely used his military warrant to buy his wife or future wife's freedom from her owners, ... otherwise his children, beginning with the first born in 1786, would have been born slaves and the property of the mother's owner.
Even then and therein Virginia after the revolutionary war the reality of slavery clashed with talk and views of liberty touted by former colonists and generated a cultural dynamic that freedom was not free for people of African heritage and somehow had to be paid for by bondage and money.
The fact that five offspring were able to migrate with him from Virginia to Ohio proves they were legally free to do so but possibility exists that some offspring from his first wife may have remained in slavery. And, like Armistead and approximately 5,000 other soldier patriots of African heritage, he was not a citizen of the new nation and to stay free in the place of his birth required him to annually seek and obtain special permission by the State Legislature.
And both men would generate, ... grandsons (third generation) that volunteered in the Union Forces to end ante-bellum Virginia as they knew it from their fathers and fathers' fathers and mothers by the grace of God Almighty. Indeed, preachers inoculated with old testament literature love to cite passages about sin unto the third generation but would be more helpful if they explained to youth the realties of third generations in pursuit of liberties manifested by the Civil War.
Over half the 200,000 young African-American men who joined in the great struggle against evil were born free but the sons of fathers and grandfathers born into slavery. Black and White writers generally miss this point in writing about slavery in the United States and generations, ... possibly by divine grace that eradicated it. Who is to say otherwise that young men such as the son of Frederick Douglass (rank of Captain) who was killed in the fighting was not a sacrifice of his only son. Beneficiaries of such sacrifices generally do not know how to teach or preach about such realities and their so-called blessings.
We are very appreciative for the research provided by Beverly Gray of Chillicothe Ohio whose years of Christian caring have allowed African-Americans to gain insight into the lives of ancestors in Ohio, Virginia and beyond. Her work has helped many seekers confirm that we are in fact, ... brothers and sisters in Christ if we seek to find HIM in the lives of souls that lived before us. We learned about Henry Hill because of her documentation, and a better understanding via the PBS link below:
The above details by Beverly Gray is loaded with demographic, geographic and craft data of interest to further spark our curiosity. Number one is that Henry Hill enlisted in Orange County Virginia indicating his possible place of birth in 1753, ... and source of parents and siblings in Virginia on eve of the great westward movements by Virginians following French and Indian War that opened new lands for settlement.
Slavery and ancestors within it cannot be comprehended without understanding geographic timelines in which it came into existence. Looking in one place or single source of information is usually futile. Henry Hill of Orange County was born human, not just a slave, and likely had siblings if not mother and father's generation known to and about him. And, as a believer would he not have cared to visit and care about the welfare of kinfolks regardless of their legal status. Indeed, men with liberty did travel.
So, we do care to know more about those 14 free colored families using the surname of Hill in Virginia that he may have left behind. In fact, a review of reported characteristics of men using the surname Hill during the 19th-20th century, one finds a surprising commonality in both Virginia, West Virginia and Ohio work skills in the tannery industry.
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