Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Sandy Cornish and The Eye of God

Sandy Cornish was born a slave in Maryland.  His master hired him out around 1839 to work building a railroad in Florida's Panhandle.  After a while, with his wife's help, he was able to buy his freedom.  His 'free-papers" were lost in a fire, and he was seized by slave-catchers who planned to sell him in New Orleans.  Before they could transport him there, he broke free and plunged a knife in his hip, cut his ankle, and cut off the fingers of his left hand.  He threatened to do greater harm to himself if he was carried to New Orleans.
He was useless to the slave traders at that point, and they left him alone. Some friends carried him home in a wheelbarrow, and he recovered after six months.  He and his wife then moved to Key West, Florida. 

They bought a farm and supplied fruit and vegetables to Key West residents, becoming highly successful and very wealthy.  He was a community leader, and was one of the founders of the Cornish Chapel of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.  The church is still very active in Key West.

The front of the church building has some beautiful stained glass called the Eye of God.  You can see why.
Our tour guide told us that if you walked down the street at night, the eye would follow you as long as it could see you.  I don't know if that's true, because we were long gone before dark, but I don't suppose the tour guide would tell us anything that wasn't true. You will have to go see for yourself.