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Gaunt, Wheeling [or Whelan]
Birth Year : 1812
Death Year : 1894
Wheeling Gaunt was a slave born in Carrollton, KY, the son of a white merchant and a slave mother who was sold down South when Gaunt was a small child. Gaunt bought his freedom from lawyer John F. Gaunt in 1845 for $900, and he also bought his wife, Amanda Smith Knight (b.1821), and his brother, Nick. Wheeling Gaunt and his family moved to Yellow Springs, OH, where he became a wealthy man. Prior to his death, he donated nine acres of land to the city with the stipulation that the income from the land be used to distribute 25 pounds of flour to Yellow Springs' widows at Christmas. In the 1950s the amount of flour was decreased and the widows receive 10 pounds of flour and 10 pounds of sugar. The tradition has continued for more than a century. For more see S. Deal, "Wheeling Gaunt: our remarkable patron. What we know. What we think" [.pdf], 03/17/2005; "Widows the benefactors of century-old tradition," by CNN interactive, December 1996; and "Ex-slave honors widows from grave," The Cincinnati Post, 12/17/1996, News section, p. 45A.
See photo image of Wheeling Gaunt in the Ohio Memory Collection online.
Subjects: Civic Leaders, Freedom, Migration North
Geographic Region: Carrollton, Carroll County, Kentucky / Yellow Springs, Ohio