HISTORY COMES ALIVE: Ray Livers, above, portrays Moses Broyles during a night of black history re-enactments at Historic Madison Inc.’s A.M.E. Church building Tuesday. Bill Walls, below right, portrays York. Sue Livers, below left, portrays Patsy Ann Harris. (Staff photos by Ken Ritchie)
HISTORY COMES ALIVE: Ray Livers, above, portrays Moses Broyles during a night of black history re-enactments at Historic Madison Inc.’s A.M.E. Church building Tuesday. Bill Walls, below right, portrays York. Sue Livers, below left, portrays Patsy Ann Harris. (Staff photos by Ken Ritchie)
Around 30 people filled the African Methodist Episcopal Church building on East Fifth Street on Tuesday evening for a visit from Patsy Ann Harris, Rev. Moses Broyles and Mr. York in the continuing celebration of Black History Month in Jefferson County.

Rev. Moses Broyles, portrayed by Ray Livers, took the stage to tell the people his story, but not before Patsy Ann Harris, portrayed by Sue Livers, reminded the audience of a long-lost custom.

"When a gentleman takes the stage, ladies and gentlemen, we stand," Harris said, to laughs and light applause.

Broyles said he did not know where he was born, but did know that his family was raised on a plantation in Maryland. When his first master died, he was taken away by a man named John Broyles when he was around 3 or 4 years old.

"I can remember that day so vividly," Moses Broyles said. "I can remember seeing my mother down on her knees, just yelling and screaming..."

He was taken to Franklin County, Ky., which is near Paducah, where he discovered his gift for reciting speeches and singing the gospel. John Broyles' son and his playmates would gather around Moses Broyles to listen to him speak or sing.

"By having that gift, they all taught me how to read and write," Moses Broyles said.

He was a slave for John Broyles for 24 years. He requested his freedom in 1851 and spent three years raising the additional $260 needed to purchase his freedom certificate after his initial down payment of $40. He served as a slave during the day and worked around Paducah at night to raise the money.

He moved to Lancaster, northwest of Madison, where he attended Eleutherian College for three years until he ran out of money.

He then moved to Indianapolis, where he attended the Second Baptist Church of Indianapolis.

"There, I was able to teach and preach," Moses Broyles said. "I spent about five to 10 years there, and then I went to New Albany."

Unlike Moses Broyles, Mr. York, who accompanied Lewis and Clark on their famous expedition, never earned his freedom and died a slave.

York, who was portrayed by Bill Walls, was born sometime during the 1770s.

"Records weren't kept real good, so my first name is a mystery to everybody," York said.

York was owned by the Clark family and was about the same age as William.

While living in Jeffersonville, York honed his hunting, fishing and trapping skills while maintaining his duties as a slave.

"They decided . . . to make an expedition - go west," York said. "They said, 'York, c'mon, you're going with us.' So I did."

His wilderness skills proved to be valuable and he was very strong and muscular.

"I hunted, fished, fed the biggest part of the party," York said. "(I) chopped wood, even took care of the duties as a slave to my master."

The expedition lasted from 1804 to 1806.

"We had endured a lot of hardships," York said. "Cold winters, hot summers, little food to eat, poor living conditions - anything you can imagine. But, we made it."

After returning from the expedition, Clark denied York's request for freedom and did not compensate him at all for his role in the expedition.

When York met a woman in Louisville, Ky., another request for freedom was denied by Clark.

"I tried and tried," York said. "He kept me as a slave for the rest of my life."

Patsy Ann Harris, portrayed by Sue Livers, was a slave whose freedom was purchased by her future husband, Rev. Chapman Harris.

Chapman Harris was free and was a blacksmith, pastor and a conductor on the Underground Railroad in the Madison area.

Raised in West Virginia, Chapman Harris moved to Indiana to see what he could do to help runaway slaves.

Patsy Harris lived in Kentucky and would see Chapman Harris when he visited her owner for business purposes.

"I was educated and lived over on the Shelby and Spencer county line over in Kentucky, see? A slave state," Patsy Harris said. "He asked my master if it would be OK if we take up company."

Chapman Harris paid a year's blacksmith salary and $100 to buy her freedom. The were married in 1841 when she was 20 years old. They purchased some land in Eagle Hollow.

"I brought George Henry (her son) with me because Chapman and I had taken up company," Patsy Harris said. "And George Henry was part of the company."

Chapman Harris continued his duties as a conductor on the Underground Railroad. He purchased a horse and wagon with a false bottom for $75 to help him transport runaway slaves.

"He worked hard day and night, and then he'd preach on Sundays down here on Fifth Street at the St. Paul's church," Patsy Harris said.

Chapman Harris and two of his sons helped runaway slaves from Ghent, Ky., hide and escape from their masters, who were hunting them.

There is a Harris family plot on the north side of Springdale Cemetery.

The celebration of Black History Month continues at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Ohio Theater when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech and the movie "In the Heat of the Night" will be shown.