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

Lewis, Jane Serena, and William Isaac Rhue

Jane Serena Lewis from Kentucky and William Isaac Rhue had been enslaved. When they met, they were among a group of enslaved people escaping to the north. The couple took refuge in the African American community in Marshall, MI that was the home of others who had escaped from enslavement in Kentucky.

One of the more noted families there was Adam and Sarah Crosswhite, who escaped enslavement from Carroll County; they had run away with their four children in 1844 and were assisted through the Underground Railroad to Marshall, MI.

Jane S. Lewis and William I. Rhue had also arrived in the 1840s. The couple’s daughter Susan Angeline Rhue was born in Marshall February 15, 1848. Their son Hezekiah Rhue was born in Marshall June 22, 1851 [source: Susan Rhue and Hezekiah Rhue are indexed in “Ontario Deaths” in FamilySearch].

Marshall would not continue as a safe haven for escaped enslaved people; the Crosswhite family moved on to Canada in 1847 after enslaved catchers attempted to take them back to Kentucky.

Freedom became even more perilous with the passing of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which required the return of runaway enslaved. The Rhue family also migrated to Canada and settled in North Buxton, Ontario. William I. Rue [Rhue] is listed in the Ontario Census of 1861 with a birth year of 1806. The couple would continue to build their family and had at least ten children (some sources say 16 children), one of whom was Hattie, born in December 1863 [source: Canada Census, 1911]. Hattie Rhue Hatchett (1863-1958) composed the song "That Sacred Spot" in 1915; it was the official marching song of Canadian soldiers during World War I [source: 100 More Canadian Heroines: famous and forgotten faces, by Merna Forster, pp. 164-166]. Hattie and her siblings had attended a one-room school near the farm owned by their parents, according to Forster.

After completing her schooling, Hattie Rhue came to Kentucky to teach in the colored schools [probably in Henderson]. While there, she met and would later marry Millard Phillmore Hatchett on September 7, 1892 [source: Ontario Marriages in FamilySearch]. Millard (born about 1870) was the son of Miland and Mary Hatchett [sources: Canada Census, 1911; and Ontario Marriages in FamilySearch]. Hattie Rhue had been Millard’s school teacher. The couple and their four children, who were all born in Kent, continued living in Ontario.

Hattie Rhue Hatchett was a talented musician, composer, music teacher, and poet. Her and her siblings' mother, Jane Serena Lewis, was born in Kentucky in 1827 and died in Raleigh, Kent, Ontario June 10, 1903; their father William Isaac Rhue died 16 years earlier on May 21, 1887 in Raleigh, Kent, Ontario [sources: Canada Census, 1901; and Ontario Deaths and Overseas Deaths, both available in FamilySearch].

For more see Hattie Rhue Hatchett, 1863-1958: an interdisciplinary study of her life and music in North Buxton, Ontario (thesis), by R. G. Stewardson.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Henderson County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Henderson, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Lewis, Jane Serena, and William Isaac Rhue,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed June 16, 2024, https://nkaa.uky.edu/nkaa/index.php/items/show/3171.

Last modified: 2023-07-31 16:18:25