Story of Peter Bruner, a former slave:
Peter Bruner, was born in Winchester, Kentucky, Clark Co., in 1845. His
master was John Bell Bruner, who at that time treated him fairly well.
When Peter was 10 years of age his master brought him and his sister to
Irvine. After arriving in Irvine, Peter's master was very cruel to him.
They got only cornbread, fat meat and water to eat. If his master's
hunger was not satisfied, he would even take this little from them.
The[TR:?] were tables to eat from.
Once Peter, was taken into his master's house to nurse the children and
was made to sleep on the floor with only a ragged quilt to lie on and
one thin one over him.
Often he was whipped because his mistress said the washing was not
clean, when it was. On one occasion when he was beaten his master took a
piece of sole leather about 1 foot long and 2 inches wide, cut it full
of holes and dipped it in water that was brined. He then took the
leather and lashed the poor slave's back.
Joe Bruner, was a better master to his slaves than John. Once when Peter
stole some sugar and flour, that he and his sister might have a pound
cake, Joe caught him. He did not whip him however, because he knew that
Peter did not often have enough to eat.
Peter, endured torture as long as he could and finally decided to
escape. He went to Richmond, Kentucky on to Lexington. On his way he
made a contract with a man to drive his horses to Orleans, but was
caught while in Lexington. On his way they caught him and took him to
jail and he remained until his master came for him. This did not down
him, for just as soon as he could he escaped again, and this time got as
far as Xenia, Ohio, but was again caught and brought back. This time he
was severely beaten for three hours.
When 17 years old, Peter was hired out to Jimmy Benton, who was more
cruel than John Bruner, but was again brought back. It was then that he
tried again to escape. This time he went through Madison Co. near Sugar
Creek. This was about the year 1861, when the war had begun. Again he
was caught and taken back, but this time by Joe Bruner. He escaped
several times, but never could seem to get anywhere. Once when he and
another slave, Phil, escaped they were caught and made to walk the
entire distance barefoot. After this Peter, was chained each night to a
chair. One morning while eating his breakfast he heard a knock at the
door and on opening it he found a troop of Union Home Guards. Jim Benton
and John Bruner were taken to prison. After this Peter went to Miller's
Creek and worked at odd jobs for awhile.
When John Bruner was taken from Prison, he was much better to Peter.
Soon after John was released from Prison, Peter escaped again. This time
he had joined a regiment in the war. He went through hardships, cold,
hunger and illness.
Often when they were awaken in the morning they would find their
blankets frozen to the ground. He was sick several times. His feet
frozen and other things would go wrong such as having fever and once he
had Variloid. After serving for awhile he was mustered out and returned
to Winchester, where his mother lived. He stayed a short time and then
went to Oxford, Ohio. Here he went to school, but soon decided he was
not learning anything so decided to get married. In the spring he was
married to Nannie Proctor. Again he made a mistake and during this time
suffered hardships trying to keep a roof over their heads and food
enough to eat. He worked at odd jobs, but could not find much to do and
got very much in debt. He then went to Hamilton, Ohio and asked Mr. John
Frye to loan him some money. He had asked Mr. Roberts for some and he
would not loan it. However, John Frye did loan him the money and Peter
paid himself out of debt and bought a stone quarry from his
mother-in-law. He sold a lot of stone from it, but finally sold this and
took a job as engineer at Oxford, College. Dr. Walker was president at
that time. It was here that Peter celebrated his 25th wedding
anniversary. The teacher, faculty and seniors made this a happy day for
him. He got a job as janitor under Dr. Thompson at Miami University. He
worked here for 13 years under President Taft. He is a member of Bethel
A.M.E. Church and has been for over 50 years. In 1918 he and his wife
celebrated his golden anniversary.
Peter Bruner is still living (1936) but his eyesight is impaired. He is
91 years of age.
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