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Feature Article on Buddie Shang. Topic: BLACK HISTORY & PEOPLE
Written by Rich Wallace in February, 1997


Sensational trials have been a part of the fabric of American life and history since the beginning of our country. Examples abound: The trial of Aaron Burr, the case against the kidnappers of the Charles Lindbergh baby, the famous Ohio case of Dr. Sam Shepherd, and recently, the People v. O.J.Simpson. Questions about trial by jury continue to both haunt and fascinate us. Will the defendant get a fair trial? Can the jurors avoid the swell of pre-trail publicity and objectively consider the facts? These very questions swirled in the mind of Buddie Shang, a 75 year old black man charged with the shotgun slaying of a white man, as he sat in front of an all white jury in Sidney of January 27, 1890. This is his story.

In one of the greatest events in black history, John Randolph, a Virginia plantation and slave owner, freed his slaves by the terms of his will, executed prior to the Civil War. After will contest lawsuits by his next of kin were resolved by the courts over a period of 13 years, a band of lonely and frightened former slaves found their way north to the Ohio River.

After crossing the Ohio, the freed men and women traveled by canal boat northward and eventually settled in west central Ohio. A number of them formed the settlement of Rumley. It was located off state route 29 near McCartyville. A few moved to Sidney. Among them: a young black man named Shadrack White.

For reasons history does not record, Shadrack obtained the nickname "Buddie Shang." Buddie quickly became a favorite among the residents of Sidney. He was well liked, and was often kidded about his two favorite things:buddieshangshadrackwhite.gif (96088 bytes) fishing and corn liquor.

Buddie's motto, when referring to his need for the latter, was always "I'm dry as a hoss." He lived in Lacyburg, a shanty town that was located along the canal feeder south of Water Street. The settlement was composed mostly of blacks, who were not especially welcome in Sidney in those days.

The late 1880's were not easy times for the black residents of Sidney, or any other community in the north. Buddie ran a shoe shine stand outside one of the local taverns in town. He was not permitted in the tavern because he was black, but the proprietor would compensate him by providing liquor to him in a bucket which Buddie would take home with him at night.

October 31, 1889 was a brilliant fall day. At 2 p.m. in the afternoon, a Buddie wandered down the towpath of the canal feeder, he became embroiled in an argument with a young resident by the name of James Edwards. During the dispute, Buddie fired a shotgun he was carrying in the general direction of Edwards, missing him, but striking the cottage of Lewis Nichols, a white man who resided in Lacyburg.  Nichols appeared at the door, furious. He grabbed a brick laying on the ground nearby, and flung it at Shang. Buddie, then 74 years of age, ducked and the brick missed his head by inches. "I was just foolin'" the old former slave shouted, but Nichols renewed his attack by throwing another brick at Buddie. The sound from a blast of his shotgun echoed through Lacyburg, and Nichols fell to the ground. He died several hours later after several futile attempts to summon a doctor to Lacyburg. Sheriff Joseph Raterman came to Lacyburg and arrested Buddie for the murder of "Soapstick", as Nichols was known in the community.

Following his indictment by the Grand Jury, Buddie Shang stood trial for the murder Lewis Nichols. Charged with the shooting death of a white man, not many people in town gave Buddie much chance of convincing an all white jury that he had done nothing wrong. However, Buddie believed he had acted in self defense.  It was therefore with much trepidation that Buddie Shang faced a jury in the new Shelby County Courthouse on January 27, 1890.  The Honorable John E. Ritchie presided at the trial. Earlier, Judge Ritchie had appointed 25-year old attorney A.J. Hess to represent Buddie. Members of the jury included several well-known Shelby County residents, such as Frank Dunnavant, Harvey Carmony, Hiram Birch and Robinson Haney.

After the evidence was presented, the jury deliberated a total of just three minutes - apparently just long enough for each juror to attach his name to a verdict of "not guilty." After the jury had rendered its verdict, Hess slapped the eccentric old slave on the shoulder and said, "You're free again, free for a second time, Buddie. How do you feel?" Buddie is reported to have replied: "Dry as a hoss!"

Buddie Shang lived out the remainder of his years in Lacyburg. He was known mostly for his exploits as a fisherman in the canal feeder and the Great Miami River. Harold Shue, the recently retired mayor of Anna (now deceased), remembers Shang from his youth. Buddie died at the age of 97 in 1912. It is important for all of us to appreciate and have confidence in our jury system. Buddie Shang certainly did. [Buddie’s acquittal form is shown below].

shadrackwhiteverdictcertificate.gif (38010 bytes)


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