His long ministy was characterized by deep earnestness, steadfastness of purpose, fidelity to the cause of Christianity, an umcompromising attitude towards wrong, and a breadth of vision that extended beyond denomiminational lines. He insisted that the preacer must be a thouroughtly upright man. In eulogizing him, Bishop B. F. Lee of the Africa Methodist Episcopal Church said, "The deceased refused to allow anyone to preach from his pulpit who had any stain on his character."
During his pastorate the church moved from its location at the southwest cormer of Gay and Lazelle streets to large quarters at the northwest corner of Rich and Third streets, the former location of the First Baptist Church. This was in the year 1896.
POINDEXTER AND THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD
The Anti-Slavery Baptist Association was founded in 1841 and was instrumental in promoting antagonism to slavery among Baptist congegations in Ohio communties. Such antagonism had existed, however, in the Second Baptist Church of Columbus since the time when Poindexter became attached toit. He readily recalled inhis old age certain of it men who were evidently the most daring and energetic in local underground railroad opeations. There members of the flocke were John Booker, N. B. Ferguson, David Jenkins, and John Ward. It may be that Lousi Washington, his son Robert, and James Hawkins also belonged to the congregation. At any rate, they could be counted on for midnight labors on the Underground Railroad. Louis Washington was described by Poindexter as a man possessdof great physicl strength and able "to get away half a dozen ordinary men."
"Washington came to Columbus from Richmond, Virginia,and seems to have been a teamster. He owned teams and wagons with which he or his drivers often conveyed fugitive slaves from their hiding places in Columbus to the Methodist Chapel in Clintonville, a settlement five or six miles from the State Capitol. The chapel was on the west side of the Worthington Plank Road (now High Street) near the house of the local Methodist preacher, Jason Bull. The rear basement of the chapel was piled high with hickory wood for the winter's use. That wood was so arranged that it walled in a number of small rooms for concealing the fugitives. Food and water were carried to the hiding slaves in the night by Bull's family. Poindexter spoke of Bull as the supervisor of Underground Railroad operations northward out of Columbus. He seems to have had the native force and judgment of a capable manager. In Columbus there were several white men of high standing in business and professional circles who provided hiding places and whatever other aid was needed to carry on the secret work. Fugitive slaves were often hidden in the attic of the house of Dr. James H. Coulter on Third Street between Gay and Long streets and in the barn at the rear. Another place of concealment was the attic of L. G. Van Slyke's home, 188 East Town Street.8 The location of these homes was in what is now the downtown section of Columbus. Dr. Samuel M.Smith and James M. Westwater, both prominent citizens of Columbus, were active in the Underground. All were warm friends of Poindexter.
Apparently some friend presented Poindexter with a copy of the book entitled Reminiscences of Levi Coffin. Coffin, a Quaker who had worked in the Underground from the age of fifteen through a long life, aided about 3,000 fugitive slaves to escape. He did much to help spread the antislavery movement. In his humanitarian work he was associated with a great number of Quakers, some of whom lived in Columbus. Poindexter said, in expressing great admiration for them, "Truly the Quaker Friend is a noble specimen of humanity; equally true it is, thank God, as impartial history avoucheth, that the Negro, after two hundred and fifty years of the cruelest bondage, stood well in comparison with the best type of his white brethren."9
8 Siebert, letter to the author, July 30, 1943
Return To The Homepage