Filed Under Abolitionism

Ross-Gowdy House

House with Connection to Ohio Supreme Court Case of Anderson v. Poindexter

The Ross-Gowdy House is located at 125 George St. in the Susanna Historic District of New Richmond.

Overlooking the Ohio River and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this house was built during New Richmond’s most prosperous era of steamboat manufacturing. It is now a small museum showcasing a collection of river memorabilia, artifacts, antiques, and a craft shop.

David Ross built the Greek Revival style house in 1853. Believed to have been the nephew of Betsy Ross, he was a baker by trade and served as mayor of New Richmond during the Civil War. Two other mayors lived in the house as well.

The merchant Thomas Gowdy was another prominent resident. In 1856, Gowdy was a defendant in the famous Ohio Supreme Court Case of Anderson v. Poindexter.

Henry Poindexter had been the slave of John Anderson of Carthage, KY, just across the river. Anderson allowed Poindexter to earn money by working odd jobs in New Richmond. Poindexter entered into a contract with his owner to purchase his freedom, and Anderson accepted a promissory note signed by Poindexter and co-signed by Gowdy and two other white businessmen.

Poindexter defaulted on the purchase contract and moved to Fairfield. Anderson then sued him and his co-signatories in Clermont County Common Pleas Court, which found for the defendants.

The Ohio Supreme Court unanimously upheld the lower court’s ruling that, once Anderson allowed Poindexter to step foot in the free state of Ohio, he became a free man and their contract was void.

Just weeks later, the US Supreme Court overturned the decision when it issued its infamous Dred Scott case, ruling that Blacks were not US citizens.

Henry Poindexter and his wife Harriet moved to Hamilton, OH, where he worked as a laborer to support the family. In 1865, Poindexter enlisted as a private in Company B, 16th US Colored Infantry to fight for his freedom during the Civil War. He passed away in 1889.

Images

Ross-Gowdy House Creator: Ross-Gowdy House

Location

125 George St. | museum hours: Sat/Sun 11am-5pm

Metadata

Maya Drozdz, “Ross-Gowdy House,” Cincinnati Sites and Stories, accessed October 5, 2022, http://stories.cincinnatipreservation.org/items/show/76.