Levi Pownall (1783 - 1863)

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Birthplace: Sadsbury, Lancaster, PA, USA
Death: Died in Sadsbury, Lancaster, PA, USA
Managed by: Edward King
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Levi Pownall

From Friends' Intelligencer and Journal, Volume 45 "P. E. Gibbons. Lancaster Co., Pa., Seventh month 14." page 490-491

NOTES BY THE WAY: THE CHRISTIANA RIOT OF 1851.

A Few days ago I was visiting Levi Scarlett, of Christiana, brother of Joseph P. Scarlett, a member of the Society of Friends; who in the year 1851 lay several months in the Moyamensing jail in Philadelphia, waiting a trial for high treason. Levi Scarlett now owns the farm on which the celebrated Christiana riot occurred, and he was so kind as to take me to the place.

In 1851 the farming people in that neighborhood were in a considerable degree members among Friends, and some of them strongly anti-slavery. Tiiey belonged to Cain Quarterly meeting, not a large and wealthy one, but regarded as the strongest anti-slavery quarter of the Yearly Meeting. A considerable number of colored people lived here also, of whom some at least were fugitives from slavery, the Maryland line being only about thirty-five miles distant. The Pennsylvania Railroad cuts near here through a range of hills at a place called the Gap, and the neighborhood was then infested by a band of desperate characters, called "the Gap gang," including thieves and "kidnappers," as the colored people called those who seized them to take them South. Thus, at evening, in a farm-house about two miles from Christiana, the family saw their hired man seized; he was knocked down, gagged and bound, put into a two-horse wagon, and carried off without any form of law. By such things the colored people were put into great fear, (for free people might be carried off as well as runaways). They became greatly excited; provided themselves to some extent with arms, and on one occasion were seen "training" on a public road,by James Jackson, a minister of our Society. James asked them to go to their work and invited them to come at a future time to his house where he endeavored to persuade those who came that peaceable measures were for their interest.

Levi Pownall, a Friend, and not a member of an anti-slavery society, owned two farms in the neighborhood, one of which was that which I visited, now belonging to Levi Scarlett. On tha farm stands a strong, two-story stone tenant house, then occupied by two colored families, the heads of which were probably all from Virginia. One of these was William Parker, who was employed by Levi Pownall's nephew, Joseph P. Scarlett, to go 'round with his threshing machine. (This is the Joseph, Scarlett who lay three months in Moyamensing prison.) It was the fall of the year, in corn-cutting time, and there had been at night an apple-butter boiling in the stone tenant house ; two or three men of the party had remained over night. About daybreak, as they were leaving, they came running back, crying " kidnappers!"

The presence of a deputy marshal of the United States upon the scene is one of the striking incidents in the affair. There was, it appears, an unusual amount of preparation upon both sides, and the skirmish was the outcome of deliberate plans. The presence of the marshal was in accordance with the newly enacted Fugitive Slave Law, so odious in many of its features. The party from Maryland did not make an immediate attack upon the stone house (it was stronger than most southern cabins, I fancy.) The two apple-butter boilers ran back to the house, and up stairs, crying "kidnappers!" The women went above and blew the horn from a garret window. Parker tried to defend the staircase with a fish-gig, a corn cutter, and a gun that would not go off. ....

Sources

  1. Elizabeth Pownall letter to her aunt (1851) Moores Memorial Library, Christiana, Pa.
  2. Friends' Intelligencer and Journal, Volume 45 (Google eBook) Friends' Intelligencer Association, 1888 - Society of Friends. Page 490. "Notes by the Way: The Christiana Riot of 1851"
  3. Riot House with Pownall farm in background (1896) Moores Memorial Library, Christiana, Pa. (photographs)
  4. Death Recalls stories of the famous Christiana Riots Reading Eagle, Dec 23, 1907
  5. The Christiana Riot Historical Marker
  6. FREEDOM BEGAN HERE!
  7. Christiana Resistance Finding Aid
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Levi Pownall's Timeline

1783
June 23, 1783
Sadsbury, Lancaster, PA, USA
1819
March 17, 1819
Age 35
1820
February 18, 1820
Age 36
Sadsbury Township, Lancaster , Pennsylvania, United States
1822
September 24, 1822
Age 39
Sadsbury Township, Lancaster , Pennsylvania, United States
1825
May 16, 1825
Age 41
Sadsbury Township, Lancaster , Pennsylvania, United States
1827
October 16, 1827
Age 44
Sadsbury Township, Lancaster , Pennsylvania, United States
1830
May 8, 1830
Age 46
Sadsbury Township, Lancaster , Pennsylvania, United States
1833
July 3, 1833
Age 50
Christiana, Lancaster, PA, USA
1850
1850
Age 66
Sadsbury, Lancaster , Pennsylvania, United States

1850 United States Federal Census
Name: Levi Pownall
Age: 67
Birth Year: abt 1783
Birthplace: Pennsylvania
Home in 1850: Sadsbury, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Gender: Male
Family Number: 31
Household Members:
Name Age
Levi Pownall
67
Sarah Pownall
54
Martha Pownall
30
Eleanor Pownall
28
Elizabeth Pownall
25
Levi Pownall
22
Thomas H Pownall
20
George Pownall
17
Barnard Barton
25
Mary Barton
24
Source Citation: Year: 1850; Census Place: Sadsbury, Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Roll: M432_789; Page: 3A; Image: 12.
Source Information:
Ancestry.com. 1850 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.
Original data: Seventh Census of the United States, 1850; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M432, 1009 rolls); Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29; National Archives, Washington, D.C.

1860
1860
Age 76
Sadsbury Township, Lancaster , Pennsylvania, United States

1860 United States Federal Census
Name: Levi Pownall
Age in 1860: 76
Birth Year: abt 1784
Birthplace: Pennsylvania
Home in 1860: Sadsbury, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Gender: Male
Post Office: Smyrna
Value of real estate:
Household Members:
Name Age
Levi Pownall
76
Levi Pownall
31
Deborah Pownall
32
Martha Pownall
39
Ellen Pownall
36
John Pownall
4
Sarah Pownall
2
Eliza Pownall
6/12
John Simmons
16
Nancy Suter
27
Source Citation: Year: 1860; Census Place: Sadsbury, Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1125; Page: 650; Image: 169; Family History Library Film: 805125.
Source Information:
Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.
Original data: 1860 U.S. census, population schedule. NARA microfilm publication M653, 1,438 rolls. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.