From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

The Kidnapping of Daniel Prue and John Hite

(start date: 1858) 

Daniel Prue, 18, and John Hite, 19, were tricked into following Napoleon B. Van Tuyl from Geneva, NY, to Columbus, OH, where they were to be employed at a hotel. Van Tuyl, about 21-years old, had been a clerk in a dry good store in Geneva. The three were traveling by train, and along the way, Van Tuyl met up with Barton W. Jenkins from Port Royal, KY, and Henry Giltner and George W. Metcalf from Carrollton, KY.

Daniel Prue overheard Van Tuyl use an alias while discussing the sale of his two slaves, Prue and Hite. Prue also realized that the train had passed Columbus, and when he tried to get off at the next stop, he got into a scuffle with Jenkins. Prue escaped, and Jenkins and Van Tuyl went searching for him. Hite, unaware of what had taken place, remained on the train with Giltner and Metcalf and was eventually taken to Carrollton and put in jail for safe keeping. Van Tuyl arrived two days later, and Hite was sold for $750 to Jenkins; $200 was deducted for the Kentucky men's services in attempting to get Prue and Hite to Kentucky.

A few days later, Jenkins sold Hite to Lorenzo Graves of Warsaw, KY, and Hite was locked away in Louisville, KY. When all parties involved realized that Van Tuyl had conned them, Hite was returned to New York. His release had come about thanks to the Geneva citizens who had persuaded New York Governor John A. King to send an agent to Kentucky to retrieve Hite.

Van Tuyl fled to New Orleans, LA, where he was arrested and brought to Frankfort, KY to stand trial for obtaining money by false pretenses. Van Tuyl was acquitted, but Kentucky authorities turned him over to the authorities in Geneva, NY to stand trial for kidnapping.

For more see M. C. Sernett, "On freedom's threshold: the African American presence in Central New York, 1760-1940," Afro-Americans in New York Life and History, vol. 19, no. 1 (Jan. 31, 1995), pp. 43ff.; and Geneva (N.Y.) Kidnapping Case in The Fugitive Slave Law and Its Victims, by S. May [available full-text at Google Books].

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Henry County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
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Read about Gallatin County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
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Read about Franklin County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Port Royal, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Carrollton, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Warsaw, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Louisville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Frankfort, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: Afro-Americans in New York life and history (periodical)
NKAA Source: The Fugitive slave law and its victims

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Cite This NKAA Entry:

“The Kidnapping of Daniel Prue and John Hite,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed May 18, 2024,

Last modified: 2021-01-07 17:36:48