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Title: The Underground Railroad

Author: William Still

Release date: March 5, 2005 [eBook #15263]
Most recently updated: December 14, 2020

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Amy Overmyer and the PG Online Distributed Proofreading Team.








Narrating the Hardships, Hair-breadth Escapes and Death Struggles


Slaves in their efforts of Freedom,









For many years connected with the Anti-Slavery Office in Philidelphia, and Chairman,
of the Acting Vigilent Committee of the Philadelphia Branch of
the Underground Rail Road.

Illustrated with 70 fine Engravings by Bensell, Schell and others, and
Portraits from Photographs from Life.

Thou shall not deliver unto his master the servant that has escaped from his master unto thee.—Deut. xxiii. 16.



Entered according to act of Congress, in the year 1871, by


In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.

W. Still

W. Still


       *       *       *       *       *

Like millions of my race, my mother and father were born slaves, but were not contented to live and die so. My father purchased himself in early manhood by hard toil. Mother saw no way for herself and children to escape the horrors of bondage but by flight. Bravely, with her four little ones, with firm faith in God and an ardent desire to be free, she forsook the prison-house, and succeeded, through the aid of my father, to reach a free State. Here life had to be begun anew. The old familiar slave names had to be changed, and others, for prudential reasons, had to be found. This was not hard work. However, hardly months had passed ere the keen scent of the slave-hunters had trailed them to where they had fancied themselves secure. In those days all power was in the hands of the oppressor, and the capture of a slave mother and her children was attended with no great difficulty other than the crushing of freedom in the breast of the victims. Without judge or jury, all were hurried back to wear the yoke again. But back this mother was resolved never to stay. She only wanted another opportunity to again strike for freedom. In a few months after being carried back, with only two of her little ones, she took her heart in her hand and her babes in her arms, and this trial was a success. Freedom was gained, although not without the sad loss of her two older children, whom she had to leave behind. Mother and father were again reunited in freedom, while two of their little boys were in slavery. What to do for them other than weep and pray, were questions unanswerable. For over forty years the mother's heart never knew what it was to be free from anxiety about her lost boys. But no tidings came in answer to her many prayers, until one of them, to the great astonishment of his relatives, turned up in Philadelphia, nearly fifty years of age, seeking his long-lost parents. Being directed to the Anti-Slavery Office for instructions as to the best plan to adopt to find out the whereabouts of his parents, fortunately he fell into the hands of his own brother, the writer, whom he had never heard of before, much less seen or known. And here began revelations connected with this marvellous coincidence, which influenced me, for years previous to Emancipation, to preserve the matter found in the pages of this humble volume.

And in looking back now over these strange and eventful Providences, in the light of the wonderful changes wrought by Emancipation, I am more and more constrained to believe that the reasons, which years ago led me to aid the bondman and preserve the records of his sufferings, are to-day quite as potent in convincing me that the necessity of the times requires this testimony.

And since the first advent of my book, wherever reviewed or read by leading friends of freedom, the press, or the race more deeply represented by it, the expressions of approval and encouragement have been hearty and unanimous, and the thousands of volumes which have been sold by me, on the subscription plan, with hardly any facilities for the work, makes it obvious that it would, in the hands of a competent publisher, have a wide circulation.

And here I may frankly state, that but for the hope I have always cherished that this work would encourage the race in efforts for self-elevation, its publication never would have been undertaken by me.

I believe no more strongly at this moment than I have believed ever since the Proclamation of Emancipation was made by Abraham Lincoln, that as a class, in this country, no small exertion will have to be put forth before the blessings of freedom and knowledge can be fairly enjoyed by this people; and until colored men manage by dint of hard acquisition to enter the ranks of skilled industry, very little substantial respect will be shown them, even with the ballot-box and musket in their hands.

Well-conducted shops and stores; lands acquired and good farms managed in a manner to compete with any other; valuable books produced and published on interesting and important subjects—these are some of the fruits which the race are expected to exhibit from their newly gained privileges.

If it is asked "how?" I answer, "through extraordinary determination and endeavor," such as are demonstrated in hundreds of cases in the pages of this book, in the struggles of men and women to obtain their freedom, education and property.

These facts must never be lost sight of.

The race must not forget the rock from whence they were hewn, nor the pit from whence, they were digged.

Like other races, this newly emancipated people will need all the knowledge of their past condition which they can get.

The bondage and deliverance of the children of Israel will never be allowed to sink into oblivion while the world stands.

Those scenes of suffering and martyrdom millions of Christians were called upon to pass through in the days of the Inquisition are still subjects of study, and have unabated interest for all enlightened minds.

The same is true of the history of this country. The struggles of the pioneer fathers are preserved, produced and re-produced, and cherished with undying interest by all Americans, and the day will not arrive while the Republic exists, when these histories will not be found in every library.

While the grand little army of abolitionists was waging its untiring warfare for freedom, prior to the rebellion, no agency encouraged them like the heroism of fugitives. The pulse of the four millions of slaves and their desire for freedom, were better felt through "The Underground Railroad," than through any other channel.

Frederick Douglass, Henry Bibb, Wm. Wells Brown, Rev. J.W. Logan, and others, gave unmistakable evidence that the race had no more eloquent advocates than its own self-emancipated champions.

Every step they took to rid themselves of their fetters, or to gain education, or in pleading the cause of their fellow-bondmen in the lecture-room, or with their pens, met with applause on every hand, and the very argument needed was thus furnished in large measure. In those dark days previous to emancipation, such testimony was indispensable.

The free colored men are as imperatively required now to furnish the same manly testimony in support of the ability of the race to surmount the remaining obstacles growing out of oppression, ignorance, and poverty.

In the political struggles, the hopes of the race have been sadly disappointed. From this direction no great advantage is likely to arise very soon.

Only as desert can be proved by the acquisition of knowledge and the exhibition of high moral character, in examples of economy and a disposition to encourage industrial enterprises, conducted by men of their own ranks, will it be possible to make political progress in the face of the present public sentiment.

Here, therefore, in my judgment is the best possible reason for vigorously pushing the circulation of this humble volume—that it may testify for thousands and tens of thousands, as no other work can do.


September, 1878. Philadelphia, Pa.





       *       *       *       *       *


In the long list of names who have suffered and died in the cause of freedom, not one, perhaps, could be found whose efforts to redeem a poor family of slaves were more Christlike than Seth Concklin's, whose noble and daring spirit has been so long completely shrouded in mystery. Except John Brown, it is a question, whether his rival could be found with respect to boldness, disinterestedness and willingness to be sacrificed for the deliverance of the oppressed.

By chance one day he came across a copy of the Pennsylvania Freeman, containing the story of Peter Still, "the Kidnapped and the Ransomed,"—how he had been torn away from his mother, when a little boy six years old; how, for forty years and more, he had been compelled to serve under the yoke, totally destitute as to any knowledge of his parents' whereabouts; how the intense love of liberty and desire to get back to his mother had unceasingly absorbed his mind through all these years of bondage; how, amid the most appalling discouragements, prompted alone by his undying determination to be free and be reunited with those from whom he had been sold away, he contrived to buy himself; how, by extreme economy, from doing over-work, he saved up five hundred dollars, the amount of money required for his ransom, which, with his freedom, he, from necessity, placed unreservedly in the confidential keeping of a Jew, named Joseph Friedman, whom he had known for a long time and could venture to trust,—how he had further toiled to save up money to defray his expenses on an expedition in search of his mother and kindred; how, when this end was accomplished, with an earnest purpose he took his carpet-bag in his hand, and his heart throbbing for his old home and people, he turned his mind very privately towards Philadelphia, where he hoped, by having notices read in the colored churches to the effect that "forty-one or forty-two years before two little boysA were kidnapped and carried South"—that the memory of some of the older members might recall the circumstances, and in this way he would be aided in his ardent efforts to become restored to them.

A: Sons of Levin and Sidney—the last names of his parents he was too young to remember.

And, furthermore, Seth Concklin had read how, on arriving in Philadelphia, after traveling sixteen hundred miles, that almost the first man whom Peter Still sought advice from was his own unknown brother (whom he had never seen or heard of), who made the discovery that he was the long-lost boy, whose history and fate had been enveloped in sadness so long, and for whom his mother had shed so many tears and offered so many prayers, during the long years of their separation; and, finally, how this self-ransomed and restored captive, notwithstanding his great success, was destined to suffer the keenest pangs of sorrow for his wife and children, whom he had left in Alabama bondage.

Seth Concklin was naturally too singularly sympathetic and humane not to feel now for Peter, and especially for his wife and children left in bonds as bound with them. Hence, as Seth was a man who seemed wholly insensible to fear, and to know no other law of humanity and right, than whenever the claims of the suffering and the wronged appealed to him, to respond unreservedly, whether those thus injured were amongst his nearest kin or the greatest strangers,—it mattered not to what race or clime they might belong,—he, in the spirit of the good Samaritan, owning all such as his neighbors, volunteered his services, without pay or reward, to go and rescue the wife and three children of Peter Still.

The magnitude of this offer can hardly be appreciated. It was literally laying his life on the altar of freedom for the despised and oppressed whom he had never seen, whose kins-folk even he was not acquainted with. At this juncture even Peter was not prepared to accept this proposal. He wanted to secure the freedom of his wife and children as earnestly as he had ever desired to see his mother, yet he could not, at first, hearken to the idea of having them rescued in the way suggested by Concklin, fearing a failure.

To J.M. McKim and the writer, the bold scheme for the deliverance of Peter's family was alone confided. It was never submitted to the Vigilance Committee, for the reason, that it was not considered a matter belonging thereto. On first reflection, the very idea of such an undertaking seemed perfectly appalling. Frankly was he told of the great dangers and difficulties to be encountered through hundreds of miles of slave territory. Seth was told of those who, in attempting to aid slaves to escape had fallen victims to the relentless Slave Power, and had either lost their lives, or been incarcerated for long years in penitentiaries, where no friendly aid could be afforded them; in short, he was plainly told, that without a very great chance, the undertaking would cost him his life. The occasion of this interview and conversation, the seriousness of Concklin and the utter failure in presenting the various obstacles to his plan, to create the slightest apparent misgiving in his mind, or to produce the slightest sense of fear or hesitancy, can never be effaced from the memory of the writer. The plan was, however, allowed to rest for a time.

In the meanwhile, Peter's mind was continually vacillating between Alabama, with his wife and children, and his new-found relatives in the North. Said a brother, "If you cannot get your family, what will you do? Will you come North and live with your relatives?" "I would as soon go out of the world, as not to go back and do all I can for them," was the prompt reply of Peter.

The problem of buying them was seriously considered, but here obstacles quite formidable lay in the way. Alabama laws utterly denied the right of a slave to buy himself, much less his wife and children. The right of slave masters to free their slaves, either by sale or emancipation, was positively prohibited by law. With these reflections weighing upon his mind, having stayed away from his wife as long as he could content himself to do, he took his carpet-bag in his hand, and turned his face toward Alabama, to embrace his family in the prison-house of bondage.

His approach home could only be made stealthily, not daring to breathe to a living soul, save his own family, his nominal Jew master, and one other friend—a slave—where he had been, the prize he had found, or anything in relation to his travels. To his wife and children his return was unspeakably joyous. The situation of his family concerned him with tenfold more weight than ever before,

As the time drew near to make the offer to his wife's master to purchase her with his children, his heart failed him through fear of awakening the ire of slaveholders against him, as he knew that the law and public sentiment were alike deadly opposed to the spirit of freedom in the slave. Indeed, as innocent as a step in this direction might appear, in those days a man would have stood about as good a chance for his life in entering a lair of hungry hyenas, as a slave or free colored man would, in talking about freedom.

He concluded, therefore, to say nothing about buying. The plan proposed by Seth Concklin was told to Vina, his wife; also what he had heard from his brother about the Underground Rail Road,—how, that many who could not get their freedom in any other way, by being aided a little, were daily escaping to Canada. Although the wife and children had never tasted the pleasures of freedom for a single hour in their lives, they hated slavery heartily, and being about to be far separated from husband and father, they were ready to assent to any proposition that looked like deliverance.

So Peter proposed to Vina, that she should give him certain small articles, consisting of a cape, etc., which he would carry with him as memorials, and, in case Concklin or any one else should ever come for her from him, as an unmistakable sign that all was right, he would send back, by whoever was to befriend them, the cape, so that she and the children might not doubt but have faith in the man, when he gave her the sign, (cape).

Again Peter returned to Philadelphia, and was now willing to accept the offer of Concklin. Ere long, the opportunity of an interview was had, and Peter gave Seth a very full description of the country and of his family, and made known to him, that he had very carefully gone over with his wife and children the matter of their freedom. This interview interested Concklin most deeply. If his own wife and children had been in bondage, scarcely could he have manifested greater sympathy for them.

For the hazardous work before him he was at once prepared to make a start. True he had two sisters in Philadelphia for whom he had always cherished the warmest affection, but he conferred not with them on this momentous mission. For full well did he know that it was not in human nature for them to acquiesce in this perilous undertaking, though one of these sisters, Mrs. Supplee, was a most faithful abolitionist.

Having once laid his hand to the plough he was not the man to look back,—not even to bid his sisters good-bye, but he actually left them as though he expected to be home to his dinner as usual. What had become of him during those many weeks of his perilous labors in Alabama to rescue this family was to none a greater mystery than to his sisters. On leaving home he simply took two or three small articles in the way of apparel with one hundred dollars to defray his expenses for a time; this sum he considered ample to start with. Of course he had very safely concealed about him Vina's cape and one or two other articles which he was to use for his identification in meeting her and the children on the plantation.

His first thought was, on reaching his destination, after becoming acquainted with the family, being familiar with Southern manners, to have them all prepared at a given hour for the starting of the steamboat for Cincinnati, and to join him at the wharf, when he would boldly assume the part of a slaveholder, and the family naturally that of slaves, and in this way he hoped to reach Cincinnati direct, before their owner had fairly discovered their escape.

But alas for Southern irregularity, two or three days' delay after being advertised to start, was no uncommon circumstance with steamers; hence this plan was abandoned. What this heroic man endured from severe struggles and unyielding exertions, in traveling thousands of miles on water and on foot, hungry and fatigued, rowing his living freight for seven days and seven nights in a skiff, is hardly to be paralleled in the annals of the Underground Rail Road.

The following interesting letters penned by the hand of Concklin convey minutely his last struggles and characteristically represent the singleness of heart which impelled him to sacrifice his life for the slave—

EASTPORT, MISS., FEB. 3, 1851.

To Wm. Still:—Our friends in Cincinnati have failed finding anybody to assist me on my return. Searching the country opposite Paducah, I find that the whole country fifty miles round is inhabited only by Christian wolves. It is customary, when a strange negro is seen, for any white man to seize the negro and convey such negro through and out of the State of Illinois to Paducah, Ky., and lodge such stranger in Paducah jail, and there claim such reward as may be offered by the master.

There is no regularity by the steamboats on the Tennessee River. I was four days getting to Florence from Paducah. Sometimes they are four days starting, from the time appointed, which alone puts to rest the plan for returning by steamboat. The distance from the mouth of the river to Florence, is from between three hundred and five to three hundred and forty-five miles by the river; by land, two hundred and fifty, or more.

I arrived at the shoe shop on the plantation, one o'clock, Tuesday, 28th. William and two boys were making shoes. I immediately gave the first signal, anxiously waiting thirty minutes for an opportunity to give the second and main signal, during which time I was very sociable. It was rainy and muddy—my pants were rolled up to the knees. I was in the character of a man seeking employment in this country. End of thirty minutes gave the second signal.

William appeared unmoved; soon sent out the boys; instantly sociable; Peter and Levin at the Island; one of the young masters with them; not safe to undertake to see them till Saturday night, when they would be at home; appointed a place to see Vina, in an open field, that night; they to bring me something to eat; our interview only four minutes; I left; appeared by night; dark and cloudy; at ten o'clock appeared William; exchanged signals; led me a few rods to where stood Vina; gave her the signal sent by Peter; our interview ten minutes; she did not call me "master," nor did she say "sir," by which I knew she had confidence in me.

Our situation being dangerous, we decided that I meet Peter and Levin on the bank of the river early dawn of day, Sunday, to establish the laws. During our interview, William prostrated on his knees, and face to the ground; arms sprawling; head cocked back, watching for wolves, by which position a man can see better in the dark. No house to go to safely, traveled round till morning, eating hoe cake which William had given me for supper; next day going around to get employment. I thought of William, who is a Christian preacher, and of the Christian preachers in Pennsylvania. One watching for wolves by night, to rescue Vina and her three children from Christian licentiousness; the other standing erect in open day, seeking the praise of men.

During the four days waiting for the important Sunday morning, I thoroughly surveyed the rocks and shoals of the river from Florence seven miles up, where will be my place of departure. General notice was taken of me as being a stranger, lurking around. Fortunately there are several small grist mills within ten miles around. No taverns here, as in the North; any planter's house entertains travelers occasionally.

One night I stayed at a medical gentleman's, who is not a large planter; another night at an ex-magistrate's house in South Florence—a Virginian by birth—one of the late census takers; told me that many more persons cannot read and write than is reported; one fact, amongst many others, that many persons who do not know the letters of the alphabet, have learned to write their own names; such are generally reported readers and writers.

It being customary for a stranger not to leave the house early in the morning where he has lodged, I was under the necessity of staying out all night Saturday, to be able to meet Peter and Levin, which was accomplished in due time. When we approached, I gave my signal first; immediately they gave theirs. I talked freely. Levin's voice, at first, evidently trembled. No wonder, for my presence universally attracted attention by the lords of the land. Our interview was less than one hour; the laws were written. I to go to Cincinnati to get a rowing boat and provisions; a first class clipper boat to go with speed. To depart from the place where the laws were written, on Saturday night of the first of March. I to meet one of them at the same place Thursday night, previous to the fourth Saturday from the night previous to the Sunday when the laws were written. We to go down the Tennessee river to some place up the Ohio, not yet decided on, in our row boat. Peter and Levin are good oarsmen. So am I. Telegraph station at Tuscumbia, twelve miles from the plantation, also at Paducah.

Came from Florence to here Sunday night by steamboat. Eastport is in Mississippi. Waiting here for a steamboat to go down; paying one dollar a day for board. Like other taverns here, the wretchedness is indescribable; no pen, ink, paper or newspaper to be had; only one room for everybody, except the gambling rooms. It is difficult for me to write. Vina intends to get a pass for Catharine and herself for the first Sunday in March.

The bank of the river where I met Peter and Levin is two miles from the plantation. I have avoided saying I am from Philadelphia. Also avoided talking about negroes. I never talked so much about milling before. I consider most of the trouble over, till I arrive in a free State with my crew, the first week in March; then will I have to be wiser than Christian serpents, and more cautious than doves. I do not consider it safe to keep this letter in my possession, yet I dare not put it in the post-office here; there is so little business in these post-offices that notice might be taken.

I am evidently watched; everybody knows me to be a miller. I may write again when I get to Cincinnati, if I should have time. The ex-magistrate, with whom I stayed in South Florence, held three hours' talk with me, exclusive of our morning talk. Is a man of good general information; he was exceedingly inquisitive. "I am from Cincinnati, formerly from the State of New York." I had no opportunity to get anything to eat from seven o'clock Tuesday morning till six o'clock Wednesday evening, except the hoe cake, and no sleep.

Florence is the head of navigation for small steamboats. Seven miles, all the way up to my place of departure, is swift water, and rocky. Eight hundred miles to Cincinnati. I found all things here as Peter told me, except the distance of the river. South Florence contains twenty white families, three warehouses of considerable business, a post-office, but no school. McKiernon is here waiting for a steamboat to go to New Orleans, so we are in company.


To Wm. Still:—The plan is to go to Canada, on the Wabash, opposite Detroit. There are four routes to Canada. One through Illinois, commencing above and below Alton; one through to North Indiana, and the Cincinnati route, being the largest route in the United States.

I intended to have gone through Pennsylvania, but the risk going up the Ohio river has caused me to go to Canada. Steamboat traveling is universally condemned, though many go in boats, consequently many get lost. Going in a skiff is new, and is approved of in my case. After I arrive at the mouth of the Tennessee river, I will go up the Ohio seventy-five miles, to the mouth of the Wabash, then up the Wabash, forty-four miles to New Harmony, where I shall go ashore by night, and go thirteen miles east, to Charles Grier, a farmer, (colored man), who will entertain us, and next night convey us sixteen miles to David Stormon, near Princeton, who will take the command, and I be released.

David Stormon estimates the expenses from his house to Canada, at forty dollars, without which, no sure protection will be given. They might be instructed concerning the course, and beg their way through without money. If you wish to do what should be done, you will send me fifty dollars, in a letter, to Princeton, Gibson county, Inda., so as to arrive there by the 8th of March. Eight days should be estimated for a letter to arrive from Philadelphia.

The money to be State Bank of Ohio, or State Bank, or Northern Bank of Kentucky, or any other Eastern bank. Send no notes larger than twenty dollars.

Levi Coffin had no money for me. I paid twenty dollars for the skiff. No money to get back to Philadelphia. It was not understood that I would have to be at any expense seeking aid.

One half of my time has been used in trying to find persons to assist, when I may arrive on the Ohio river, in which I have failed, except Stormon.

Having no letter of introduction to Stormon from any source, on which I could fully rely, I traveled two hundred miles around, to find out his stability. I have found many Abolitionists, nearly all who have made propositions, which themselves would not comply with, and nobody else would. Already I have traveled over three thousand miles. Two thousand and four hundred by steamboat, two hundred by railroad, one hundred by stage, four hundred on foot, forty-eight in a skiff.

I have yet five hundred miles to go to the plantation, to commence operations. I have been two weeks on the decks of steamboats, three nights out, two of which I got perfectly wet. If I had had paper money, as McKim desired, it would have been destroyed. I have not been entertained gratis at any place except Stormon's. I had one hundred and twenty-six dollars when I left Philadelphia, one hundred from you, twenty-six mine.

Telegraphed to station at Evansville, thirty-three miles from Stormon's, and at Vinclure's, twenty-five miles from Stormon's. The Wabash route is considered the safest route. No one has ever been lost from Stormon's to Canada. Some have been lost between Stormon's and the Ohio. The wolves have never suspected Stormon. Your asking aid in money for a case properly belonging east of Ohio, is detested. If you have sent money to Cincinnati, you should recall it. I will have no opportunity to use it.

Seth Concklin, Princeton, Gibson county, Ind.

P.S. First of April, will be about the time Peter's family will arrive opposite Detroit. You should inform yourself how to find them there. I may have no opportunity.

I will look promptly for your letter at Princeton, till the 10th of March, and longer if there should have been any delay by the mails.

In March, as contemplated, Concklin arrived in Indiana, at the place designated, with Peter's wife and three children, and sent a thrilling letter to the writer, portraying in the most vivid light his adventurous flight from the hour they left Alabama until their arrival in Indiana. In this report he stated, that instead of starting early in the morning, owing to some unforeseen delay on the part of the family, they did not reach the designated place till towards day, which greatly exposed them in passing a certain town which he had hoped to avoid.

But as his brave heart was bent on prosecuting his journey without further delay, he concluded to start at all hazards, notwithstanding the dangers he apprehended from passing said town by daylight. For safety he endeavored to hide his freight by having them all lie flat down on the bottom of the skiff; covered them with blankets, concealing them from the effulgent beams of the early morning sun, or rather from the "Christian Wolves" who might perchance espy him from the shore in passing the town.

The wind blew fearfully. Concklin was rowing heroically when loud voices from the shore hailed him, but he was utterly deaf to the sound. Immediately one or two guns were fired in the direction of the skiff, but he heeded not this significant call; consequently here ended this difficulty. He supposed, as the wind was blowing so hard, those on shore who hailed him must have concluded that he did not hear them and that he meant no disrespect in treating them with seeming indifference. Whilst many straits and great dangers had to be passed, this was the greatest before reaching their destination.

But suffice it to say that the glad tidings which this letter contained filled the breast of Peter with unutterable delight and his friends and relations with wonder beyond degree.A No fond wife had ever waited with more longing desire for the return of her husband than Peter had for this blessed news. All doubts had disappeared, and a well grounded hope was cherished that within a few short days Peter and his fond wife and children would be reunited in Freedom on the Canada side, and that Concklin and the friends would be rejoicing with joy unspeakable over this great triumph. But alas, before the few days had expired the subjoined brief paragraph of news was discovered in the morning Ledger.

A: In some unaccountable manner this the last letter Concklin ever penned, perhaps, has been unfortunately lost.

RUNAWAY NEGROES CAUGHT.—At Vincennes, Indiana, on Saturday last, a white man and four negroes were arrested. The negroes belong to B. McKiernon, of South Florence, Alabama, and the man who was running them off calls himself John H. Miller. The prisoners were taken charge of by the Marshall of Evansville.—April 9th.

How suddenly these sad tidings turned into mourning and gloom the hope and joy of Peter and his relatives no pen could possibly describe; at least the writer will not attempt it here, but will at once introduce a witness who met the noble Concklin and the panting fugitives in Indiana and proffered them sympathy and advice. And it may safely be said from a truer and more devoted friend of the slave they could not have received counsel.


WM. STILL: Dear Sir ,—On last Tuesday I mailed a letter to you, written by Seth Concklin. I presume you have received that letter. It gave an account of his rescue of the family of your brother. If that is the last news you have had from them, I have very painful intelligence for you. They passed on from near Princeton, where I saw them and had a lengthy interview with them, up north, I think twenty-three miles above Vincennes, Ind., where they were seized by a party of men, and lodged in jail. Telegraphic dispatches were sent all through the South. I have since learned that the Marshall of Evansville received a dispatch from Tuscumbia, to look out for them. By some means, he and the master, so says report, went to Vincennes and claimed the fugitives, chained Mr. Concklin and hurried all off. Mr. Concklin wrote to Mr. David Stormon, Princeton, as soon as he was cast into prison, to find bail. So soon as we got the letter and could get off, two of us were about setting off to render all possible aid, when we were told they all had passed, a few hours before, through Princeton, Mr. Concklin in chains. What kind of process was had, if any, I know not. I immediately came down to this place, and learned that they had been put on a boat at 3 P.M. I did not arrive until 6. Now all hopes of their recovery are gone. No case ever so enlisted my sympathies. I had seen Mr. Concklin in Cincinnati. I had given him aid and counsel. I happened to see them after they landed in Indiana. I heard Peter and Levin tell their tale of suffering, shed tears of sorrow for them all; but now, since they have fallen a prey to the unmerciful blood-hounds of this state, and have again been dragged back to unrelenting bondage, I am entirely unmanned. And poor Concklin! I fear for him. When he is dragged back to Alabama, I fear they will go far beyond the utmost rigor of the law, and vent their savage cruelty upon him. It is with pain I have to communicate these things. But you may not hear them from him. I could not get to see him or them, as Vincennes is about thirty miles from Princeton, where I was when I heard of the capture.

I take pleasure in stating that, according to the letter he (Concklin) wrote to Mr. D. Stewart, Mr. Concklin did not abandon them, but risked his own liberty to save them. He was not with them when they were taken; but went afterwards to take them out of jail upon a writ of Habeas Corpus, when they seized him too and lodged him in prison.

I write in much haste. If I can learn any more facts of importance, I may write you. If you desire to hear from me again, or if you should learn any thing specific from Mr. Concklin, be pleased to write me at Cincinnati, where I expect to be in a short time. If curious to know your correspondent, I may say I was formerly Editor of the "New Concord Free Press," Ohio. I only add that every case of this kind only tends to make me abhor my (no!) this country more and more. It is the Devil's Government, and God will destroy it.

Yours for the slave, N.R. JOHNSTON.

P.S. I broke open this letter to write you some more. The foregoing pages were written at night. I expected to mail it next morning before leaving Evansville; but the boat for which I was waiting came down about three in the morning; so I had to hurry on board, bringing the letter along. As it now is I am not sorry, for coming down, on my way to St. Louis, as far as Paducah, there I learned from a colored man at the wharf that, that same day, in the morning, the master and the family of fugitives arrived off the boat, and had then gone on their journey to Tuscumbia, but that the "white man" (Mr. Concklin) had "got away from them," about twelve miles up the river. It seems he got off the boat some way, near or at Smithland, Ky., a town at the mouth of the Cumberland River. I presume the report is true, and hope he will finally escape, though I was also told that they were in pursuit of him. Would that the others had also escaped. Peter and Levin could have done so, I think, if they had had resolution. One of them rode a horse, he not tied either, behind the coach in which the others were. He followed apparently "contented and happy." From report, they told their master, and even their pursuers, before the master came, that Concklin had decoyed them away, they coming unwillingly. I write on a very unsteady boat.


A report found its way into the papers to the effect that "Miller," the white man arrested in connection with the capture of the family, was found drowned, with his hands and feet in chains and his skull fractured. It proved, as his friends feared, to be Seth Concklin. And in irons, upon the river bank, there is no doubt he was buried.

In this dreadful hour one sad duty still remained to be performed. Up to this moment the two sisters were totally ignorant of their brother's whereabouts. Not the first whisper of his death had reached them. But they must now be made acquainted with all the facts in the case. Accordingly an interview was arranged for a meeting, and the duty of conveying this painful intelligence to one of the sisters, Mrs. Supplee, devolved upon Mr. McKim. And most tenderly and considerately did he perform his mournful task.

Although a woman of nerve, and a true friend to the slave, an earnest worker and a liberal giver in the Female Anti-Slavery Society, for a time she was overwhelmed by the intelligence of her brother's death. As soon as possible, however, through very great effort, she controlled her emotions, and calmly expressed herself as being fully resigned to the awful event. Not a word of complaint had she to make because she had not been apprised of his movements; but said repeatedly, that, had she known ever so much of his intentions, she would have been totally powerless in opposing him if she had felt so disposed, and as an illustration of the true character of the man, from his boyhood up to the day he died for his fellow-man, she related his eventful career, and recalled a number of instances of his heroic and daring deeds for others, sacrificing his time and often periling his life in the cause of those who he considered were suffering gross wrongs and oppression. Hence, she concluded, that it was only natural for him in this case to have taken the steps he did. Now and then overflowing tears would obstruct this deeply thrilling and most remarkable story she was telling of her brother, but her memory seemed quickened by the sadness of the occasion, and she was enabled to recall vividly the chief events connected with his past history. Thus his agency in this movement, which cost him his life, could readily enough be accounted for, and the individuals who listened attentively to the story were prepared to fully appreciate his character, for, prior to offering his services in this mission, he had been a stranger to them.

The following extract, taken from a letter of a subsequent date, in addition to the above letter, throws still further light upon the heart-rending affair, and shows Mr. Johnston's deep sympathy with the sufferers and the oppressed generally—


My heart bleeds when I think of those poor, hunted and heart-broken fugitives, though a most interesting family, taken back to bondage ten-fold worse than Egyptian. And then poor Concklin! How my heart expanded in love to him, as he told me his adventures, his trials, his toils, his fears and his hopes! After hearing all, and then seeing and communing with the family, now joyful in hopes of soon seeing their husband and father in the land of freedom; now in terror lest the human blood-hounds should be at their heels, I felt as though I could lay down my life in the cause of the oppressed. In that hour or two of intercourse with Peter's family, my heart warmed with love to them. I never saw more interesting young men. They would make Remonds or Douglasses, if they had the same opportunities.

While I was with them, I was elated with joy at their escape, and yet, when I heard their tale of woe, especially that of the mother, I could not suppress tears of deepest emotion.

My joy was short-lived. Soon I heard of their capture. The telegraph had been the means of their being claimed. I could have torn down all the telegraph wires in the land. It was a strange dispensation of Providence.

On Saturday the sad news of their capture came to my ears. We had resolved to go to their aid on Monday, as the trial was set for Thursday. On Sabbath, I spoke from Psalm xii. 5. "For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise," saith the Lord: "I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at (from them that would enslave) him." When on Monday morning I learned that the fugitives had passed through the place on Sabbath, and Concklin in chains, probably at the very time I was speaking on the subject referred to, my heart sank within me. And even yet, I cannot but exclaim, when I think of it—O, Father! how long ere Thou wilt arise to avenge the wrongs of the poor slave! Indeed, my dear brother, His ways are very mysterious. We have the consolation, however, to know that all is for the best. Our Redeemer does all things well. When He hung upon the cross, His poor broken hearted disciples could not understand the providence; it was a dark time to them; and yet that was an event that was fraught with more joy to the world than any that has occurred or could occur. Let us stand at our post and wait God's time. Let us have on the whole armor of God, and fight for the right, knowing, that though we may fall in battle, the victory will be ours, sooner or later.

       *       *       *       *       *

May God lead you into all truth, and sustain you in your labors, and fulfill your prayers and hopes. Adieu.



The following letters on the subject were received from the untiring and devoted friend of the slave, Levi Coffin, who for many years had occupied in Cincinnati a similar position to that of Thomas Garrett in Delaware, a sentinel and watchman commissioned of God to succor the fleeing bondman—

CINCINNATI, 4TH MO., 10TH, 1851.

FRIEND WM. STILL:—We have sorrowful news from our friend Concklin, through the papers and otherwise. I received a letter a few days ago from a friend near Princeton, Ind., stating that Concklin and the four slaves are in prison in Vincennes, and that their trial would come on in a few days. He states that they rowed seven days and nights in the skiff, and got safe to Harmony, Ind., on the Wabash river, thence to Princeton, and were conveyed to Vincennes by friends, where they were taken. The papers state, that they were all given up to the Marshal of Evansville, Indiana.

We have telegraphed to different points, to try to get some information concerning them, but failed. The last information is published in the Times of yesterday, though quite incorrect in the particulars of the case. Inclosed is the slip containing it. I fear all is over in regard to the freedom of the slaves. If the last account be true, we have some hope that Concklin will escape from those bloody tyrants. I cannot describe my feelings on hearing this sad intelligence. I feel ashamed to own my country. Oh! what shall I say. Surely a God of justice will avenge the wrongs of the oppressed.

Thine for the poor slave,


N.B.—If thou hast any information, please write me forthwith.

CINCINNATI, 5TH MO., 11TH, 1851.

WM. STILL:—Dear Friend—Thy letter of 1st inst., came duly to hand, but not being able to give any further information concerning our friend, Concklin, I thought best to wait a little before I wrote, still hoping to learn something more definite concerning him.

We that became acquainted with Seth Concklin and his hazardous enterprises (here at Cincinnati), who were very few, have felt intense and inexpressible anxiety about them. And particularly about poor Seth, since we heard of his falling into the hands of the tyrants. I fear that he has fallen a victim to their inhuman thirst for blood.

I seriously doubt the rumor, that he had made his escape. I fear that he was sacrificed.

Language would fail to express my feelings; the intense and deep anxiety I felt about them for weeks before I heard of their capture in Indiana, and then it seemed too much to bear. O! my heart almost bleeds when I think of it. The hopes of the dear family all blasted by the wretched blood-hounds in human shape. And poor Seth, after all his toil, and dangerous, shrewd and wise management, and almost unheard of adventures, the many narrow and almost miraculous escapes. Then to be given up to Indianians, to these fiendish tyrants, to be sacrificed. O! Shame, Shame!!

My heart aches, my eyes fill with tears, I cannot write more. I cannot dwell longer on this painful subject now. If you get any intelligence, please inform me. Friend N.R. Johnston, who took so much interest in them, and saw them just before they were taken, has just returned to the city. He is a minister of the Covenanter order. He is truly a lovely man, and his heart is full of the milk of humanity; one of our best Anti-Slavery spirits. I spent last evening with him. He related the whole story to me as he had it from friend Concklin and the mother and children, and then the story of their capture. We wept together. He found thy letter when he got here.

He said he would write the whole history to thee in a few days, as far as he could. He can tell it much better than I can.

Concklin left his carpet sack and clothes here with me, except a shirt or two he took with him. What shall I do with them? For if we do not hear from him soon, we must conclude that he is lost, and the report of his escape all a hoax.

Truly thy friend,


Stunning and discouraging as this horrible ending was to all concerned, and serious as the matter looked in the eyes of Peter's friends with regard to Peter's family, he could not for a moment abandon the idea of rescuing them from the jaws of the destroyer. But most formidable difficulties stood in the way of opening correspondence with reliable persons in Alabama. Indeed it seemed impossible to find a merchant, lawyer, doctor, planter or minister, who was not too completely interlinked with slavery to be relied upon to manage a negotiation of this nature. Whilst waiting and hoping for something favorable to turn up, the subjoined letter from the owner of Peter's family was received and is here inserted precisely as it was written, spelled and punctuated—



Mr WILLIAM STILL No 31 North Fifth street Philadelphia

Sir a few days sinc mr Lewis Tharenton of Tuscumbia Ala shewed me a letter dated 6 June 51 from Cincinnati signd samuel Lewis in behalf of a Negro man by the name of peter Gist who informed the writer of the Letter that you ware his brother and wished an answer to be directed to you as he peter would be in philadelphi. the object of the letter was to purchis from me 4 Negros that is peters wife & 3 children 2 sons & 1 Girl the Name of said Negres are the woman Viney the (mother) Eldest son peter 21 or 2 years old second son Leven 19 or 20 years 1 Girl about 13 or 14 years old. the Husband & Father of these people once Belonged to a relation of mine by the name of Gist now Decest & some few years since he peter was sold to a man by the Name of Freedman who removed to cincinnati ohio & Tuck peter with him of course peter became free by the volentary act of the master some time last march a white man by the name of Miller apperd in the nabourhood & abducted the bove negroes was caut at vincanes Indi with said negroes & was thare convicted of steling & remanded back to Ala to Abide the penalty of the law & on his return met his Just reward by Getting drownded at the mouth of cumberland River on the ohio in attempting to make his escape I recovered & Braught Back said 4 negroes or as You would say coulard people under the Belief that peter the Husband was accessory to the offence thareby putting me to much Expense & Truble to the amt $1000 which if he gets them he or his Friends must refund these 4 negroes are worth in the market about 4000 for thea are Extraordinary fine & likely & but for the fact of Elopement I would not take 8000 Dollars for them but as the thing now stands you can say to peter & his new discovered Relations in Philadelphia I will take 5000 for the 4 culerd people & if this will suite him & he can raise the money I will delever to him or his agent at paduca at mouth of Tennessee river said negroes but the money must be Deposeted in the Hands of some respectabl person at paduca before I remove the property it wold not be safe for peter to come to this countery write me a line on recpt of this & let me Know peters views on the above

I am Yours &c B. McKIERNON

N B say to peter to write & let me Know his viewes amediately as I am determined to act in a way if he don't take this offer he will never have an other oppertunity



PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 16th, 1851.

To B. McKIERNON, ESQ.: Sir—I have received your letter from South Florence, Ala., under date of the 6th inst. To say that it took me by surprise, as well as afforded me pleasure, for which I feel to be very much indebted to you, is no more than true. In regard to your informants of myself—Mr. Thornton, of Ala., and Mr. Samuel Lewis, of Cincinnati—to them both I am a stranger. However, I am the brother of Peter, referred to, and with the fact of his having a wife and three children in your service I am also familiar. This brother, Peter, I have only had the pleasure of knowing for the brief space of one year and thirteen days, although he is now past forty and I twenty-nine years of age. Time will not allow me at present, or I should give you a detailed account of how Peter became a slave, the forty long years which intervened between the time he was kidnapped, when a boy, being only six years of age, and his arrival in this city, from Alabama, one year and fourteen days ago, when he was re-united to his mother, five brothers and three sisters.

None but a father's heart can fathom the anguish and sorrows felt by Peter during the many vicissitudes through which he has passed. He looked back to his boyhood and saw himself snatched from the tender embraces of his parents and home to be made a slave for life.

During all his prime days he was in the faithful and constant service of those who had no just claim upon him. In the meanwhile he married a wife, who bore him eleven children, the greater part of whom were emancipated from the troubles of life by death, and three only survived. To them and his wife he was devoted. Indeed I have never seen attachment between parents and children, or husband and wife, more entire than was manifested in the case of Peter.

Through these many years of servitude, Peter was sold and resold, from one State to another, from one owner to another, till he reached the forty-ninth year of his age, when, in a good Providence, through the kindness of a friend and the sweat of his brow, he regained the God-given blessings of liberty. He eagerly sought his parents and home with all possible speed and pains, when, to his heart's joy, he found his relatives.

Your present humble correspondent is the youngest of Peter's brothers, and the first one of the family he saw after arriving in this part of the country. I think you could not fail to be interested in hearing how we became known to each other, and the proof of our being brothers, etc., all of which I should be most glad to relate, but time will not permit me to do so. The news of this wonderful occurrence, of Peter finding his kindred, was published quite extensively, shortly afterwards, in various newspapers, in this quarter, which may account for the fact of "Miller's" knowledge of the whereabouts of the "fugitives." Let me say, it is my firm conviction that no one had any hand in persuading "Miller" to go down from Cincinnati, or any other place, after the family. As glad as I should be, and as much as I would do for the liberation of Peter's family (now no longer young), and his three "likely" children, in whom he prides himself—how much, if you are a father, you can imagine; yet I would not, and could not, think of persuading any friend to peril his life, as would be the case, in an errand of that kind.

As regards the price fixed upon by you for the family, I must say I do not think it possible to raise half that amount, though Peter authorized me to say he would give you twenty-five hundred for them. Probably he is not as well aware as I am, how difficult it is to raise so large a sum of money from the public. The applications for such objects are so frequent among us in the North, and have always been so liberally met, that it is no wonder if many get tired of being called upon. To be sure some of us brothers own some property, but no great amount; certainly not enough to enable us to bear so great a burden. Mother owns a small farm in New Jersey, on which she has lived for nearly forty years, from which she derives her support in her old age. This small farm contains between forty and fifty acres, and is the fruit of my father's toil. Two of my brothers own small places also, but they have young families, and consequently consume nearly as much as they make, with the exception of adding some improvements to their places.

For my own part, I am employed as a clerk for a living, but my salary is quite too limited to enable me to contribute any great amount towards so large a sum as is demanded. Thus you see how we are situated financially. We have plenty of friends, but little money. Now, sir, allow me to make an appeal to your humanity, although we are aware of your power to hold as property those poor slaves, mother, daughter and two sons,—that in no part of the United States could they escape and be secure from your claim—nevertheless, would your understanding, your heart, or your conscience reprove you, should you restore to them, without price, that dear freedom, which is theirs by right of nature, or would you not feel a satisfaction in so doing which all the wealth of the world could not equal? At all events, could you not so reduce the price as to place it in the power of Peter's relatives and friends to raise the means for their purchase? At first, I doubt not, but that you will think my appeal very unreasonable; but, sir, serious reflection will decide, whether the money demanded by you, after all, will be of as great a benefit to you, as the satisfaction you would find in bestowing so great a favor upon those whose entire happiness in this life depends mainly upon your decision in the matter. If the entire family cannot be purchased or freed, what can Vina and her daughter be purchased for? Hoping, sir, to hear from you, at your earliest convenience, I subscribe myself,

Your obedient servant, WM. STILL.

To B. McKiernon, Esq.

No reply to this letter was ever received from McKiernon. The cause of his reticence can be as well conjectured by the reader as the writer.

Time will not admit of further details kindred to this narrative. The life, struggles, and success of Peter and his family were ably brought before the public in the "Kidnapped and the Ransomed," being the personal recollections of Peter Still and his wife "Vina," after forty years of slavery, by Mrs. Kate E.R. Pickard; with an introduction by Rev. Samuel J. May, and an appendix by William H. Furness, D.D., in 1856. But, of course it was not prudent or safe, in the days of Slavery, to publish such facts as are now brought to light; all such had to be kept concealed in the breasts of the fugitives and their friends.







The following brief sketch, touching the separation of Peter and his mother, will fitly illustrate this point, and at the same time explain certain mysteries which have been hitherto kept hidden—


With regard to Peter's separation from his mother, when a little boy, in few words, the facts were these: His parents, Levin and Sidney, were both slaves on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. "I will die before I submit to the yoke," was the declaration of his father to his young master before either was twenty-one years of age. Consequently he was allowed to buy himself at a very low figure, and he paid the required sum and obtained his "free papers" when quite a young man—the young wife and mother remaining in slavery under Saunders Griffin, as also her children, the latter having increased to the number of four, two little boys and two little girls. But to escape from chains, stripes, and bondage, she took her four little children and fled to a place near Greenwich, New Jersey. Not a great while, however, did she remain there in a state of freedom before the slave-hunters pursued her, and one night they pounced upon the whole family, and, without judge or jury, hurried them all back to slavery. Whether this was kidnapping or not is for the reader to decide for himself.

Safe back in the hands of her owner, to prevent her from escaping a second time, every night for about three months she was cautiously "kept locked up in the garret," until, as they supposed, she was fully "cured of the desire to do so again." But she was incurable. She had been a witness to the fact that her own father's brains had been blown out by the discharge of a heavily loaded gun, deliberately aimed at his head by his drunken master. She only needed half a chance to make still greater struggles than ever for freedom.

She had great faith in God, and found much solace in singing some of the good old Methodist tunes, by day and night. Her owner, observing this apparently tranquil state of mind, indicating that she "seemed better contented than ever," concluded that it was safe to let the garret door remain unlocked at night. Not many weeks were allowed to pass before she resolved to again make a bold strike for freedom. This time she had to leave the two little boys, Levin and Peter, behind.

On the night she started she went to the bed where they were sleeping, kissed them, and, consigning them into the hands of God, bade her mother good-bye, and with her two little girls wended her way again to Burlington County, New Jersey, but to a different neighborhood from that where she had been seized. She changed her name to Charity, and succeeded in again joining her husband, but, alas, with the heart-breaking thought that she had been compelled to leave her two little boys in slavery and one of the little girls on the road for the father to go back after. Thus she began life in freedom anew.

Levin and Peter, eight and six years of age respectively, were now left at the mercy of the enraged owner, and were soon hurried off to a Southern market and sold, while their mother, for whom they were daily weeping, was they knew not where. They were too young to know that they were slaves, or to understand the nature of the afflicting separation. Sixteen years before Peter's return, his older brother (Levin) died a slave in the State of Alabama, and was buried by his surviving brother, Peter.

No idea other than that they had been "kidnapped" from their mother ever entered their minds; nor had they any knowledge of the State from whence they supposed they had been taken, the last names of their mother and father, or where they were born. On the other hand, the mother was aware that the safety of herself and her rescued children depended on keeping the whole transaction a strict family secret. During the forty years of separation, except two or three Quaker friends, including the devoted friend of the slave, Benjamin Lundy, it is doubtful whether any other individuals were let into the secret of her slave life. And when the account given of Peter's return, etc., was published in 1850, it led some of the family to apprehend serious danger from the partial revelation of the early condition of the mother, especially as it was about the time that the Fugitive Slave law was passed.

Hence, the author of "The Kidnapped and the Ransomed" was compelled to omit these dangerous facts, and had to confine herself strictly to the "personal recollections of Peter Still" with regard to his being "kidnapped." Likewise, in the sketch of Seth Concklin's eventful life, written by Dr. W.H. Furness, for similar reasons he felt obliged to make but bare reference to his wonderful agency in relation to Peter's family, although he was fully aware of all the facts in the case.


Here are introduced a few out of a very large number of interesting letters, designed for other parts of the book as occasion may require. All letters will be given precisely as they were written by their respective authors, so that there may be no apparent room for charging the writer with partial colorings in any instance. Indeed, the originals, however ungrammatically written or erroneously spelt, in their native simplicity possess such beauty and force as corrections and additions could not possibly enhance—


WILMINGTON, 3mo. 23d, 1856.

DEAR FRIEND, WILLIAM STILL:—Since I wrote thee this morning informing thee of the safe arrival of the Eight from Norfolk, Harry Craige has informed me, that he has a man from Delaware that he proposes to take along, who arrived since noon. He will take the man, woman and two children from here with him, and the four men will get in at Marcus Hook. Thee may take Harry Craige by the hand as a brother, true to the cause; he is one of our most efficient aids on the Rail Road, and worthy of full confidence. May they all be favored to get on safe. The woman and three children are no common stock. I assure thee finer specimens of humanity are seldom met with. I hope herself and children may be enabled to find her husband, who has been absent some years, and the rest of their days be happy together.

I am, as ever, thy friend,



KIMBERTON, October 28th, 1855.

ESTEEMED FRIEND;—This evening a company of eleven friends reached here, having left their homes on the night of the 26th inst. They came into Wilmington, about ten o'clock on the morning of the 27th, and left there, in the town, their two carriages, drawn by two horses. They went to Thomas Garrett's by open day-light and from thence were sent hastily onward for fear of pursuit. They reached Longwood meeting-house in the evening, at which place a Fair Circle had convened, and stayed a while in the meeting, then, after remaining all night with one of the Kennet friends, they were brought to Downingtown early in the morning, and from thence, by daylight, to within a short distance of this place.

They come from New Chestertown, within five miles of the place from which the nine lately forwarded came, and left behind them a colored woman who knew of their intended flight and of their intention of passing through Wilmington and leaving their horses and carriages there.

I have been thus particular in my statement, because the case seems to us one of unusual danger. We have separated the company for the present, sending a mother and five children, two of them quite small, in one direction, and a husband and wife and three lads in another, until I could write to you and get advice if you have any to give, as to the best method of forwarding them, and assistance pecuniarily, in getting them to Canada. The mother and children we have sent off of the usual route, and to a place where I do not think they can remain many days.

We shall await hearing from you. H. Kimber will be in the city on third day, the 30th, and any thing left at 408 Green Street directed to his care, will meet with prompt attention.

Please give me again the direction of Hiram Wilson and the friend in Elmira, Mr. Jones, I think. If you have heard from any of the nine since their safe arrival, please let us know when you write.

Very Respectfully,


2d day morning, 29th.—The person who took the husband and wife and three lads to E.F. Pennypecker, and Peart, has returned and reports that L. Peart sent three on to Norristown. We fear that there they will fall into the hands of an ignorant colored man Daniel Ross, and that he may not understand the necessity of caution. Will you please write to some careful person there? The woman and children detained in this neighborhood are a very helpless set. Our plan was to assist them as much as possible, and when we get things into the proper train for sending them on, to get the assistance of the husband and wife, who have no children, but are uncle and aunt to the woman with five, in taking with them one of the younger children, leaving fewer for the mother. Of the lads, or young men, there is also one whom we thought capable of accompanying one of the older girls—one to whom he is paying attention, they told us. Would it not be the best way to get those in Norristown under your own care? It seems to me their being sent on could then be better arranged. This, however, is only a suggestion,

Hastily yours,



(The reader will interpret for himself.)

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 11th, 1858.

MY DEAR SIR:—Susan Bell left here yesterday with the child of her relative, and since leaving I have thought, perhaps, you had not the address of the gentleman in Syracuse where the child is to be taken for medical treatment, etc. His name is Dr. H.B. Wilbur. A woman living with him is a most excellent nurse and will take a deep interest in the child, which, no doubt, will under Providence be the means of its complete restoration to health. Be kind enough to inform me whether Susan is with you, and if she is give her the proper direction. Ten packages were sent to your address last evening, one of them belongs to Susan, and she had better remain with you till she gets it, as it may not have come to hand. Susan thought she would go to Harrisburg when she left here and stay over Sunday, if so, she would not get to Philadelphia till Monday or Tuesday. Please acknowledge the receipt of this, and inform me of her arrival, also when the packages came safe to hand, inform me especially if Susan's came safely.

Truly Yours,



FRIEND STILL:—The two women, Laura and Lizzy, arrived this morning. I shall forward them to Syracuse this afternoon.

The two men came safely yesterday, but went to Gibbs'. He has friends on board the boat who are on the lookout for fugitives, and send them, when found, to his house. Those whom you wish to be particularly under my charge, must have careful directions to this office.

There is now no other sure place, but the office, or Gibbs', that I could advise you to send such persons. Those to me, therefore, must come in office hours. In a few days, however, Napoleon will have a room down town, and at odd times they can be sent there. I am not willing to put any more with the family where I have hitherto sometimes sent them.

When it is possible I wish you would advise me two days before a shipment of your intention, as Napoleon is not always on hand to look out for them at short notice. In special cases you might advise me by Telegraph, thus: "One M. (or one F.) this morning. W.S." By which I shall understand that one Male, or one Female, as the case may be, has left Phila. by the 6 o'clock train—one or more, also, as the case may be.

Aug. 17th, 1855.

Truly Yours, S.H. GAY.


HAMILTON, Sept. 15th, 1856.

DEAR FRIEND STILL:—I write to inform you that Miss Mary Wever arrived safe in this city. You may imagine the happiness manifested on the part of the two lovers, Mr. H. and Miss W. I think they will be married as soon as they can get ready. I presume Mrs. Hill will commence to make up the articles to-morrow. Kind Sir, as all of us is concerned about the welfare of our enslaved brethren at the South, particularly our friends, we appeal to your sympathy to do whatever is in your power to save poor Willis Johnson from the hands of his cruel master. It is not for me to tell you of his case, because Miss Wever has related the matter fully to you. All I wish to say is this, I wish you to write to my uncle, at Petersburg, by our friend, the Capt. Tell my uncle to go to Richmond and ask my mother whereabouts this man is. The best for him is to make his way to Petersburg; that is, if you can get the Capt. to bring him. He have not much money. But I hope the friends of humanity will not withhold their aid on the account of money. However we will raise all the money that is wanting to pay for his safe delivery. You will please communicate this to the friends as soon as possible.

Yours truly,



WASHINGTON, D.C., June 22d, 1854.

MR. WILLIAM STILL:—Sir—I have just received a letter from my friend, Wm. Wright, of York Sulphur Springs, Pa., in which he says, that by writing to you, I may get some information about the transportation of some property from this neighborhood to your city or vicinity.

A person who signs himself Wm. Penn, lately wrote to Mr. Wright, saying he would pay $300 to have this service performed. It is for the conveyance of only one SMALL package; but it has been discovered since, that the removal cannot be so safely effected without taking two larger packages with it. I understand that the three are to be brought to this city and stored in safety, as soon as the forwarding merchant in Philadelphia shall say he is ready to send on. The storage, etc., here, will cost a trifle, but the $300 will be promptly paid for the whole service. I think Mr. Wright's daughter, Hannah, has also seen you. I am also known to Prof. C.D. Cleveland, of your city. If you answer this promptly, you will soon hear from Wm. Penn himself.

Very truly yours,



PETERSBURG, VA., Oct. 17th, 1860.

MR. W. STILL:—Dear Sir—I am happy to think, that the time has come when we no doubt can open our correspondence with one another again. Also I am in hopes, that these few lines may find you and family well and in the enjoyment of good health, as it leaves me and family the same. I want you to know, that I feel as much determined to work in this glorious cause, as ever I did in all of my life, and I have some very good hams on hand that I would like very much for you to have. I have nothing of interest to write about just now, only that the politics of the day is in a high rage, and I don't know of the result, therefore, I want you to be one of those wide-a-wakes as is mentioned from your section of country now-a-days, &c. Also, if you wish to write to me, Mr. J. Brown will inform you how to direct a letter to me.

No more at present, until I hear from you; but I want you to be a wide-a-wake.

Yours in haste,



ST. CATHARINE, C.W., July 2d, 1855.

MY DEAR FRIEND, WM. STILL:—Mr. Elias Jasper and Miss Lucy Bell having arrived here safely on Saturday last, and found their "companions in tribulation," who had arrived before them, I am induced to write and let you know the fact. They are a cheerful, happy company, and very grateful for their freedom. I have done the best I could for their comfort, but they are about to proceed across the lake to Toronto, thinking they can do better there than here, which is not unlikely. They all remember you as their friend and benefactor, and return to you their sincere thanks. My means of support are so scanty, that I am obliged to write without paying postage, or not write at all. I hope you are not moneyless, as I am. In attending to the wants of numerous strangers, I am much of the time perplexed from lack of means; but send on as many as you can and I will divide with them to the last crumb.

Yours truly,



BOSTON, MASS., Feb. 15th, 1855.

No. 2, Change Avenue.

MY DEAR FRIEND:—Allow me to take the liberty of addressing you and at the same time appearing troublesomes you all friend, but subject is so very important that i can not but ask not in my name but in the name of the Lord and humanity to do something for my Poor Wife and children who lays in Norfolk Jail and have Been there for three month i Would open myself in that frank and hones manner. Which should convince you of my cencerity of Purpoest don't shut your ears to the cry's of the Widow and the orphant & i can but ask in the name of humanity and God for he knows the heart of all men. Please ask the friends humanity to do something for her and her two lettle ones i cant do any thing Place as i am for i have to lay low Please lay this before the churches of Philadelphaise beg them in name of the Lord to do something for him i love my freedom and if it would do her and her two children any good i mean to change with her but cant be done for she is Jail and you most no she suffer for the jail in the South are not like yours for any thing is good enough for negros the Slave hunters Says & may God interpose in behalf of the demonstrative Race of Africa Whom i claim desendent i am sorry to say that friendship is only a name here but i truss it is not so in Philada i would not have taken this liberty had i not considered you a friend for you treaty as such Please do all you can and Please ask the Anti Slavery friends to do all they can and God will Reward them for it i am shure for the earth is the Lords and the fullness there of as this note leaves me not very well but hope when it comes to hand it may find you and family enjoying all the Pleasure life Please answer this and Pardon me if the necessary sum can be required i will find out from my brotherinlaw i am with respectful consideration.


Yesterday is the fust time i have heard from home Sence i left and i have not got any thing yet i have a tear yet for my fellow man and it is in my eyes now for God knows it is tha truth i sue for your Pity and all and may God open their hearts to Pity a poor Woman and two children. The Sum is i believe 14 hundred Dollars Please write to day for me and see if the cant do something for humanity.


SCHUYLKILL, 11th mo., 7th day, 1857.

WM. STILL:—Respected Friend—There are three colored friends at my house now, who will reach the city by the Phil. & Reading train this evening. Please meet them.

Thine, &c.,


We have within the past 2 mos. passed 43 through our hands, transported most of them to Norristown in our own conveyance. E.F.P.


HARRISBURG, March 24, '56.

FRIEND STILL:—I suppose ere this you have seen those five large and three small packages I sent by way of Reading, consisting of three men and women and children. They arrived here this morning at 8-1/2 o'clock and left twenty minutes past three. You will please send me any information likely to prove interesting in relation to them.

Lately we have formed a Society here, called the Fugitive Aid Society. This is our first case, and I hope it will prove entirely successful.

When you write, please inform me what signs or symbols you make use of in your despatches, and any other information in relation to operations of the Underground Rail Road.

Our reason for sending by the Reading Road, was to gain time; it is expected the owners will be in town this afternoon, and by this Road we gained five hours' time, which is a matter of much importance, and we may have occasion to use it sometimes in future. In great haste,

Yours with great respect,



RICHMOND, VA, Oct. 18th, 1860.

To MR. WILLIAM STILL:—Dear Sir—Please do me the favor as to write to my uncle a few lines in regard to the bundle that is for John H. Hill, who lives in Hamilton, C.W. Sir, if this should reach you, be assured that it comes from the same poor individual that you have heard of before; the person who was so unlucky, and deceived also. If you write, address your letter John M. Hill, care of Box No. 250. I am speaking of a person who lives in I hope, sir, you will understand this is from a poor individual.


MR. STILL:—My Dear Sir—I suppose you are somewhat uneasy because the goods did not come safe to hand on Monday evening, as you expected—consigned from Harrisburg to you. The train only was from Harrisburg to Reading, and as it happened, the goods had to stay all night with us, and as some excitement exists here about goods of the kind, we thought it expedient and wise to detain them until we could hear from you. There are two small boxes and two large ones; we have them all secure; what had better be done? Let us know. Also, as we can learn, there are three more boxes still in Harrisburg. Answer your communication at Harrisburg. Also, fail not to answer this by the return of mail, as things are rather critical, and you will oblige us.


Reading, May 27, '57.

We knew not that these goods were to come, consequently we were all taken by surprise. When you answer, use the word, goods. The reason of the excitement, is: some three weeks ago a big box was consigned to us by J. Bustill, of Harrisburg. We received it, and forwarded it on to J. Jones, Elmira, and the next day they were on the fresh hunt of said box; it got safe to Elmira, as I have had a letter from Jones, and all is safe.




MR. STILL:—You will oblige me much Iff you will Direct this Letter to Vergenia for me to my Mother & iff it well sute you Beg her in my Letter to Direct hers to you & you Can send it to me iff it sute your Convenience. I am one of your Chattle.


Syracuse, Jeny 6th.

Direction—Matilda Tate Care of Dudley M Pattee Worrenton Farkiear County Verginia.


MY DEAR MOTHER:—I have imbrace an opportunity of writing you these few lines (hoping) that they may fine you as they Leave me quite well I will now inform you how I am geting I am now a free man Living By the sweet of my own Brow not serving a nother man & giving him all I Earn But what I make is mine and iff one Plase do not sute me I am at Liberty to Leave and go some where elce & can ashore you I think highly of Freedom and would not exchange it for nothing that is offered me for it I am waiting in a Hotel I supose you Remember when I was in Jail I told you the time would Be Better and you see that the time has come when I Leave you my heart was so full & yours But I new their was a Better Day a head, & I have Live to see it. I hird when I was on the Underground R. Road that the Hounds was on my Track but it was no go I new I was too far out of their Reach where they would never smell my track when I Leave you I was carred to Richmond & sold & From their I was taken to North Carolina & sold & I Ran a way & went Back to Virginna Between Richmond & home & their I was caught & Put in Jail & their I Remain till the oner come for me then I was taken & carred Back to Richmond then I was sold to the man who I now Leave he is nothing But a But of a Feller Remember me to your Husband & all in quirin Friends & say to Miss Rosa that I am as Free as she is & more happier I no I am getting $12 per month for what Little work I am Doing I hope to here from you a gain I your Son & ever By



WASHINGTON, D.C., Dec. 9th, 1856.

DEAR SIR:—I was unavoidably prevented yesterday, from replying to yours of 6th instant, and although I have made inquiries, I am unable to-day, to answer your questions satisfactorily. Although I know some of the residents of Loudon county, and have often visited there, still I have not practiced much in the Courts of that county. There are several of my acquaintances here, who have lived in that county, and possibly, through my assistance, your commissions might be executed. If a better way shall not suggest itself to you, and you see fit to give me the facts in the case, I can better judge of my ability to help you; but I know not the man resident there, whom I would trust with an important suit. I think it is now some four or five weeks since, that some packages left this vicinity, said to be from fifteen to twenty in number, and as I suppose, went through your hands. It was at a time of uncommon vigilance here, and to me it was a matter of extreme wonder, how and through whom, such a work was accomplished. Can you tell me? It is needful that I should know! Not for curiosity merely, but for the good of others. An enclosed slip contains the marks of one of the packages, which you will read and then immediately burn.

If you can give me any light that will benefit others, I am sure you will do so.

A traveler here, very reliable, and who knows his business, has determined not to leave home again till spring, at least not without extraordinary temptations.

I think, however, he or others, might be tempted to travel in Virginia.


WM. P.



WILLIAM STILL:—Dear Friend and Brother—A thousand thanks for your good, generous letter!

It was so kind of you to have in mind my intense interest and anxiety in the success and fate of poor Concklin! That he desired and intended to hazard an attempt of the kind, I well understood; but what particular one, or that he had actually embarked in the enterprise, I had not been able to learn.

His memory will ever be among the sacredly cherished with me. He certainly displayed more real disinterestedness, more earnest, unassuming devotedness, than those who claim to be the sincerest friends of the slave can often boast. What more Saviour-like than the willing sacrifice he has rendered!

Never shall I forget that night of our extremest peril (as we supposed), when he came and so heartily proffered his services at the hazard of his liberty, of life even, in behalf of William L. Chaplin.

Such generosity! at such a moment! The emotions it awakened no words can bespeak! They are to be sought but in the inner chambers of one's own soul! He as earnestly devised the means, as calmly counted the cost, and as unshrinkingly turned him to the task, as if it were his own freedom he would have won.

Through his homely features, and humble garb, the intrepidity of soul came out in all its lustre! Heroism, in its native majesty, commanded one's admiration and love!

Most truly can I enter into your sorrows, and painfully appreciate the pang of disappointment which must have followed this sad intelligence. But so inadequate are words to the consoling of such griefs, it were almost cruel to attempt to syllable one's sympathies.

I cannot bear to believe, that Concklin has been actually murdered, and yet I hardly dare hope it is otherwise.

And the poor slaves, for whom he periled so much, into what depths of hopelessness and woe are they again plunged! But the deeper and blacker for the loss of their dearly sought and new-found freedom. How long must wrongs like these go unredressed? "How long, O God, how long?"

Very truly yours,




APRIL, 1859.

William is twenty-five years of age, unmistakably colored, good-looking, rather under the medium size, and of pleasing manners. William had himself boxed up by a near relative and forwarded by the Erricson line of steamers. He gave the slip to Robert H. Carr, his owner (a grocer and commission merchant), after this wise, and for the following reasons: For some time previous his master had been selling off his slaves every now and then, the same as other groceries, and this admonished William that he was liable to be in the market any day; consequently, he preferred the box to the auction-block.

He did not complain of having been treated very badly by Carr, but felt that no man was safe while owned by another. In fact, he "hated the very name of slaveholder." The limit of the box not admitting of straightening himself out he was taken with the cramp on the road, suffered indescribable misery, and had his faith taxed to the utmost,—indeed was brought to the very verge of "screaming aloud" ere relief came. However, he controlled himself, though only for a short season, for before a great while an excessive faintness came over him. Here nature became quite exhausted. He thought he must "die;" but his time had not yet come. After a severe struggle he revived, but only to encounter a third ordeal no less painful than the one through which he had just passed. Next a very "cold chill" came over him, which seemed almost to freeze the very blood in his veins and gave him intense agony, from which he only found relief on awaking, having actually fallen asleep in that condition. Finally, however, he arrived at Philadelphia, on a steamer, Sabbath morning. A devoted friend of his, expecting him, engaged a carriage and repaired to the wharf for the box. The bill of lading and the receipt he had with him, and likewise knew where the box was located on the boat. Although he well knew freight was not usually delivered on Sunday, yet his deep solicitude for the safety of his friend determined him to do all that lay in his power to rescue him from his perilous situation. Handing his bill of lading to the proper officer of the boat, he asked if he could get the freight that it called for. The officer looked at the bill and said, "No, we do not deliver freight on Sunday;" but, noticing the anxiety of the man, he asked him if he would know it if he were to see it. Slowly—fearing that too much interest manifested might excite suspicion—he replied: "I think I should." Deliberately looking around amongst all the "freight," he discovered the box, and said, "I think that is it there." Said officer stepped to it, looked at the directions on it, then at the bill of lading, and said, "That is right, take it along." Here the interest in these two bosoms was thrilling in the highest degree. But the size of the box was too large for the carriage, and the driver refused to take it. Nearly an hour and a half was spent in looking for a furniture car. Finally one was procured, and again the box was laid hold of by the occupant's particular friend, when, to his dread alarm, the poor fellow within gave a sudden cough. At this startling circumstance he dropped the box; equally as quick, although dreadfully frightened, and, as if helped by some invisible agency, he commenced singing, "Hush, my babe, lie still and slumber," with the most apparent indifference, at the same time slowly making his way from the box. Soon his fears subsided, and it was presumed that no one was any the wiser on account of the accident, or coughing. Thus, after summoning courage, he laid hold of the box a third time, and the Rubicon was passed. The car driver, totally ignorant of the contents of the box, drove to the number to which he was directed to take it—left it and went about his business. Now is a moment of intense interest—now of inexpressible delight. The box is opened, the straw removed, and the poor fellow is loosed; and is rejoicing, I will venture to say, as mortal never did rejoice, who had not been in similar peril. This particular friend was scarcely less overjoyed, however, and their joy did not abate for several hours; nor was it confined to themselves, for two invited members of the Vigilance Committee also partook of a full share. This box man was named Wm. Jones. He was boxed up in Baltimore by the friend who received him at the wharf, who did not come in the boat with him, but came in the cars and met him at the wharf.

The trial in the box lasted just seventeen hours before victory was achieved. Jones was well cared for by the Vigilance Committee and sent on his way rejoicing, feeling that Resolution, Underground Rail Road, and Liberty were invaluable.

On his way to Canada, he stopped at Albany, and the subjoined letter gives his view of things from that stand-point—

MR. STILL:—I take this opportunity of writing a few lines to you hoping that tha may find you in good health and femaly. i am well at present and doing well at present i am now in a store and getting sixteen dollars a month at the present. i feel very much o blige to you and your family for your kindnes to me while i was with you i have got a long without any trub le a tal. i am now in albany City. give my lov to mrs and mr miller and tel them i am very much a blige to them for there kind ns. give my lov to my Brother nore Jones tel him i should like to here from him very much and he must write. tel him to give my love to all of my perticnlar frends and tel them i should like to see them very much. tel him that he must come to see me for i want to see him for sum thing very perticler. please ansure this letter as soon as posabul and excuse me for not writting sooner as i don't write myself. no more at the present.


derect to one hundred 125 lydus. stt

His good friend returned to Baltimore the same day the box man started for the North, and immediately dispatched through the post the following brief letter, worded in Underground Rail Road parables:


W. STILL:—Dear brother i have taken the opportunity of writing you these few lines to inform you that i am well an hoping these few lines may find you enjoying the same good blessing please to write me word at what time was it when isreal went to Jerico i am very anxious to hear for thare is a mighty host will pass over and you and i my brother will sing hally luja i shall notify you when the great catastrophe shal take place No more at the present but remain your brother


       *       *       *       *       *


A: Shot by slave-hunters.

In setting out for freedom, Wesley was the leader of this party. After two nights of fatiguing travel at a distance of about sixty miles from home, the young aspirants for liberty were betrayed, and in an attempt made to capture them a most bloody conflict ensued. Both fugitives and pursuers were the recipients of severe wounds from gun shots, and other weapons used in the contest.

Wesley bravely used his fire arms until almost fatally wounded by one of the pursuers, who with a heavily loaded gun discharged the contents with deadly aim in his left arm, which raked the flesh from the bone for a space of about six inches in length. One of Wesley's companions also fought heroically and only yielded when badly wounded and quite overpowered. The two younger (brothers of C. Matterson) it seemed made no resistance.

In order to recall the adventures of this struggle, and the success of Wesley Harris, it is only necessary to copy the report as then penned from the lips of this young hero, while on the Underground Rail Road, even then in a very critical state. Most fearful indeed was his condition when he was brought to the Vigilance Committee in this City.


November 2d, 1853.—Arrived: Robert Jackson (shot man), alias Wesley Harris; age twenty-two years; dark color; medium height, and of slender stature.

Robert was born in Martinsburg, Va., and was owned by Philip Pendleton. From a boy he had always been hired out. At the first of this year he commenced services with Mrs. Carroll, proprietress of the United States Hotel at Harper's Ferry. Of Mrs. Carroll he speaks in very grateful terms, saying that she was kind to him and all the servants, and promised them their freedom at her death. She excused herself for not giving them their freedom on the ground that her husband died insolvent, leaving her the responsibility of settling his debts.

But while Mrs. Carroll was very kind to her servants, her manager was equally as cruel. About a month before Wesley left, the overseer, for some trifling cause, attempted to flog him, but was resisted, and himself flogged. This resistance of the slave was regarded by the overseer as an unpardonable offence; consequently he communicated the intelligence to his owner, which had the desired effect on his mind as appeared from his answer to the overseer, which was nothing less than instructions that if he should again attempt to correct Wesley and he should repel the wholesome treatment, the overseer was to put him in prison and sell him. Whether he offended again or not, the following Christmas he was to be sold without fail.

Wesley's mistress was kind enough to apprise him of the intention of his owner and the overseer, and told him that if he could help himself he had better do so. So from that time Wesley began to contemplate how he should escape the doom which had been planned for him.

"A friend," says he, "by the name of C. Matterson, told me that he was going off. Then I told him of my master's writing to Mrs. Carroll concerning selling, etc., and that I was going off too. We then concluded to go together. There were two others—brothers of Matterson—who were told of our plan to escape, and readily joined with us in the undertaking. So one Saturday night, at twelve o'clock, we set out for the North. After traveling upwards of two days and over sixty miles, we found ourselves unexpectedly in Terrytown, Md. There we were informed by a friendly colored man of the danger we were in and of the bad character of the place towards colored people, especially those who were escaping to freedom; and he advised us to hide as quickly as we could. We at once went to the woods and hid. Soon after we had secreted ourselves a man came near by and commenced splitting wood, or rails, which alarmed us. We then moved to another hiding-place in a thicket near a farmer's barn, where we were soon startled again by a dog approaching and barking at us. The attention of the owner of the dog was drawn to his barking and to where we were. The owner of the dog was a farmer. He asked us where we were going. We replied to Gettysburg—to visit some relatives, etc. He told us that we were running off. He then offered friendly advice, talked like a Quaker, and urged us to go with him to his barn for protection. After much persuasion, we consented to go with him.

"Soon after putting us in his barn, himself and daughter prepared us a nice breakfast, which cheered our spirits, as we were hungry. For this kindness we paid him one dollar. He next told us to hide on the mow till eve, when he would safely direct us on our road to Gettysburg. All, very much fatigued from traveling, fell asleep, excepting myself; I could not sleep; I felt as if all was not right.

"About noon men were heard talking around the barn. I woke my companions up and told them that that man had betrayed us. At first they did not believe me. In a moment afterwards the barn door was opened, and in came the men, eight in number. One of the men asked the owner of the barn if he had any long straw. 'Yes,' was the answer. So up on the mow came three of the men, when, to their great surprise, as they pretended, we were discovered. The question was then asked the owner of the barn by one of the men, if he harbored runaway negroes in his barn? He answered, 'No,' and pretended to be entirely ignorant of their being in his barn. One of the men replied that four negroes were on the mow, and he knew of it. The men then asked us where we were, going. We told them to Gettysburg, that we had aunts and a mother there. Also we spoke of a Mr. Houghman, a gentleman we happened to have some knowledge of, having seen him in Virginia. We were next asked for our passes. We told them that we hadn't any, that we had not been required to carry them where we came from. They then said that we would have to go before a magistrate, and if he allowed us to go on, well and good. The men all being armed and furnished with ropes, we were ordered to be tied. I told them if they took me they would have to take me dead or crippled. At that instant one of my friends cried out—'Where is the man that betrayed us?' Spying him at the same moment, he shot him (badly wounding him). Then the conflict fairly began. The constable seized me by the collar, or rather behind my shoulder. I at once shot him with my pistol, but in consequence of his throwing up his arm, which hit mine as I fired, the effect of the load of my pistol was much turned aside; his face, however, was badly burned, besides his shoulder being wounded. I again fired on the pursuers, but do not know whether I hit anybody or not. I then drew a sword, I had brought with me, and was about cutting my way to the door, when I was shot by one of the men, receiving the entire contents of one load of a double barreled gun in my left arm, that being the arm with which I was defending myself. The load brought me to the ground, and I was unable to make further struggle for myself. I was then badly beaten with guns, &c. In the meantime, my friend Craven, who was defending himself, was shot badly in the face, and most violently beaten until he was conquered and tied. The two young brothers of Craven stood still, without making the least resistance. After we were fairly captured, we were taken to Terrytown, which was in sight of where we were betrayed. By this time I had lost so much blood from my wounds, that they concluded my situation was too dangerous to admit of being taken further; so I was made a prisoner at a tavern, kept by a man named Fisher. There my wounds were dressed, and thirty-two shot were taken from my arm. For three days I was crazy, and they thought I would die. During the first two weeks, while I was a prisoner at the tavern, I raised a great deal of blood, and was considered in a very dangerous condition—so much so that persons desiring to see me were not permitted. Afterwards I began to get better, and was then kept privately—was strictly watched day and night. Occasionally, however, the cook, a colored woman (Mrs. Smith), would manage to get to see me. Also James Matthews succeeded in getting to see me; consequently, as my wounds healed, and my senses came to me, I began to plan how to make another effort to escape. I asked one of the friends, alluded to above, to get me a rope. He got it. I kept it about me four days in my pocket; in the meantime I procured three nails. On Friday night, October 14th, I fastened my nails in under the window sill; tied my rope to the nails, threw my shoes out of the window, put the rope in my mouth, then took hold of it with my well hand, clambered into the window, very weak, but I managed to let myself down to the ground. I was so weak, that I could scarcely walk, but I managed to hobble off to a place three quarters of a mile from the tavern, where a friend had fixed upon for me to go, if I succeeded in making my escape. There I was found by my friend, who kept me secure till Saturday eve, when a swift horse was furnished by James Rogers, and a colored man found to conduct me to Gettysburg. Instead of going direct to Gettysburg, we took a different road, in order to shun our pursuers, as the news of my escape had created general excitement. My three other companions, who were captured, were sent to Westminster jail, where they were kept three weeks, and afterwards sent to Baltimore and sold for twelve hundred dollars a piece, as I was informed while at the tavern in Terrytown."



The Vigilance Committee procured good medical attention and afforded the fugitive time for recuperation, furnished him with clothing and a free ticket, and sent him on his way greatly improved in health, and strong in the faith that, "He who would be free, himself must strike the blow." His safe arrival in Canada, with his thanks, were duly announced. And some time after becoming naturalized, in one of his letters, he wrote that he was a brakesman on the Great Western R.R., (in Canada—promoted from the U.G.R.R.,) the result of being under the protection of the British Lion.

       *       *       *       *       *


In March, 1857, Abram Harris fled from John Henry Suthern, who lived near Benedict, Charles county, Md., where he was engaged in the farming business, and was the owner of about seventy head of slaves. He kept an overseer, and usually had flogging administered daily, on males and females, old and young. Abram becoming very sick of this treatment, resolved, about the first of March, to seek out the Underground Rail Road. But for his strong attachment to his wife (who was owned by Samuel Adams, but was "pretty well treated"), he never would have consented to suffer as he did.

Here no hope of comfort for the future seemed to remain. So Abram consulted with a fellow-servant, by the name of Romulus Hall, alias George Weems, and being very warm friends, concluded to start together. Both had wives to "tear themselves from," and each was equally ignorant of the distance they had to travel, and the dangers and sufferings to be endured. But they "trusted in God" and kept the North Star in view. For nine days and nights, without a guide, they traveled at a very exhausting rate, especially as they had to go fasting for three days, and to endure very cold weather. Abram's companion, being about fifty years of age, felt obliged to succumb, both from hunger and cold, and had to be left on the way. Abram was a man of medium size, tall, dark chestnut color, and could read and write a little and was quite intelligent; "was a member of the Mount Zion Church," and occasionally officiated as an "exhorter," and really appeared to be a man of genuine faith in the Almighty, and equally as much in freedom.

In substance, Abram gave the following information concerning his knowledge of affairs on the farm under his master—

"Master and mistress very frequently visited the Protestant Church, but were not members. Mistress was very bad. About three weeks before I left, the overseer, in a violent fit of bad temper, shot and badly wounded a young slave man by the name of Henry Waters, but no sooner than he got well enough he escaped, and had not been heard of up to the time Abram left. About three years before this happened, an overseer of my master was found shot dead on the road. At once some of the slaves were suspected, and were all taken to the Court House, at Serentown, St. Mary's county; but all came off clear. After this occurrence a new overseer, by the name of John Decket, was employed. Although his predecessor had been dead three years, Decket, nevertheless, concluded that it was not 'too late' to flog the secret out of some of the slaves. Accordingly, he selected a young slave man for his victim, and flogged him so cruelly that he could scarcely walk or stand, and to keep from being actually killed, the boy told an untruth, and confessed that he and his Uncle Henry killed Webster, the overseer; whereupon the poor fellow was sent to jail to be tried for his life."

But Abram did not wait to hear the verdict. He reached the Committee safely in this city, in advance of his companion, and was furnished with a free ticket and other needed assistance, and was sent on his way rejoicing. After reaching his destination, he wrote back to know how his friend and companion (George) was getting along; but in less than three weeks after he had passed, the following brief story reveals the sad fate of poor Romulus Hall, who had journeyed with him till exhausted from hunger and badly frost-bitten.

A few days after his younger companion had passed on North, Romulus was brought by a pitying stranger to the Vigilance Committee, in a most shocking condition. The frost had made sad havoc with his feet and legs, so much so that all sense of feeling had departed therefrom.



How he ever reached this city is a marvel. On his arrival medical attention and other necessary comforts were provided by the Committee, who hoped with himself, that he would be restored with the loss of his toes alone. For one week he seemed to be improving; at the expiration of this time, however, his symptoms changed, indicating not only the end of slavery, but also the end of all his earthly troubles.

Lockjaw and mortification set in in the most malignant form, and for nearly thirty-six hours the unfortunate victim suffered in extreme agony, though not a murmur escaped him for having brought upon himself in seeking his liberty this painful infliction and death. It was wonderful to see how resignedly he endured his fate.

Being anxious to get his testimony relative to his escape, etc., the Chairman of the Committee took his pencil and expressed to him his wishes in the matter. Amongst other questions, he was asked: "Do you regret having attempted to escape from slavery?" After a severe spasm he said, as his friend was about to turn to leave the room, hopeless of being gratified in his purpose: "Don't go; I have not answered your question. I am glad I escaped from slavery!" He then gave his name, and tried to tell the name of his master, but was so weak he could not be understood.

At his bedside, day and night, Slavery looked more heinous than it had ever done before. Only think how this poor man, in an enlightened Christian land, for the bare hope of freedom, in a strange land amongst strangers, was obliged not only to bear the sacrifice of his wife and kindred, but also of his own life.

Nothing ever appeared more sad than seeing him in a dying posture, and instead of reaching his much coveted destination in Canada, going to that "bourne whence no traveler returns." Of course it was expedient, even after his death, that only a few friends should follow him to his grave. Nevertheless, he was decently buried in the beautiful Lebanon Cemetery.

In his purse was found one single five cent piece, his whole pecuniary dependence.

This was the first instance of death on the Underground Rail Road in this region.

The Committee were indebted to the medical services of the well-known friends of the fugitive, Drs. J.L. Griscom and H.T. Childs, whose faithful services were freely given; and likewise to Mrs. H.S. Duterte and Mrs. Williams, who generously performed the offices of charity and friendship at his burial.

From his companion, who passed on Canada-ward without delay, we received a letter, from which, as an item of interest, we make the following extract:

"I am enjoying good health, and hope when this reaches you, you may be enjoying the same blessing. Give my love to Mr. ——, and family, and tell them I am in a land of liberty! I am a man among men!" (The above was addressed to the deceased.)

The subjoined letter, from Rev. L.D. Mansfield, expressed on behalf of Romulus' companion, his sad feelings on hearing of his friend's death. And here it may not be inappropriate to add, that clearly enough is it to be seen, that Rev. Mansfield was one of the rare order of ministers, who believed it right "to do unto others as one would be done by" in practice, not in theory merely, and who felt that they could no more be excused for "falling down," in obedience to the Fugitive Slave Law under President Fillmore, than could Daniel for worshiping the "golden image" under Nebuchadnezzar.


DEAR BR. STILL:—Henry Lemmon wishes me to write to you in reply to your kind letter, conveying the intelligence of the death of your fugitive guest, Geo. Weems. He was deeply affected at the intelligence, for he was most devotedly attached to him and had been for many years. Mr. Lemmon now expects his sister to come on, and wishes you to aid her in any way in your power—as he knows you will.

He wishes you to send the coat and cap of Weems by his sister when she comes. And when you write out the history of Weems' escape, and it is published, that you would send him a copy of the papers. He has not been very successful in getting work yet.

Mr. and Mrs. Harris left for Canada last week. The friends made them a purse of $15 or $20, and we hope they will do well.

Mr. Lemmon sends his respects to you and Mrs. Still. Give my kind regards to her and accept also yourself,

Yours very truly,


       *       *       *       *       *



This arrival came by Steamer. But they neither came in State-room nor as Cabin, Steerage, or Deck passengers.

A certain space, not far from the boiler, where the heat and coal dust were almost intolerable,—the colored steward on the boat in answer to an appeal from these unhappy bondmen, could point to no other place for concealment but this. Nor was he at all certain that they could endure the intense heat of that place. It admitted of no other posture than lying flat down, wholly shut out from the light, and nearly in the same predicament in regard to the air. Here, however, was a chance of throwing off the yoke, even if it cost them their lives. They considered and resolved to try it at all hazards.

Henry Box Brown's sufferings were nothing, compared to what these men submitted to during the entire journey.

They reached the house of one of the Committee about three o'clock, A.M.

All the way from the wharf the cold rain poured down in torrents and they got completely drenched, but their hearts were swelling with joy and gladness unutterable. From the thick coating of coal dust, and the effect of the rain added thereto, all traces of natural appearance were entirely obliterated, and they looked frightful in the extreme. But they had placed their lives in mortal peril for freedom.

Every step of their critical journey was reviewed and commented on, with matchless natural eloquence,—how, when almost on the eve of suffocating in their warm berths, in order to catch a breath of air, they were compelled to crawl, one at a time, to a small aperture; but scarcely would one poor fellow pass three minutes being thus refreshed, ere the others would insist that he should "go back to his hole." Air was precious, but for the time being they valued their liberty at still greater price.

After they had talked to their hearts' content, and after they had been thoroughly cleansed and changed in apparel, their physical appearance could be easily discerned, which made it less a wonder whence such outbursts of eloquence had emanated. They bore every mark of determined manhood.

The date of this arrival was February 26, 1854, and the following description was then recorded—

Arrived, by Steamer Pennsylvania, James Mercer, William H. Gilliam and John Clayton, from Richmond.

James was owned by the widow, Mrs. T.E. White. He is thirty-two years of age, of dark complexion, well made, good-looking, reads and writes, is very fluent in speech, and remarkably intelligent. From a boy, he had been hired out. The last place he had the honor to fill before escaping, was with Messrs. Williams and Brother, wholesale commission merchants. For his services in this store the widow had been drawing one hundred and twenty-five dollars per annum, clear of all expenses.

He did not complain of bad treatment from his mistress, indeed, he spoke rather favorably of her. But he could not close his eyes to the fact, that at one time Mrs. White had been in possession of thirty head of slaves, although at the time he was counting the cost of escaping, two only remained—himself and William, (save a little boy) and on himself a mortgage for seven hundred and fifty dollars was then resting. He could, therefore, with his remarkably quick intellect, calculate about how long it would be before he reached the auction block.

He had a wife but no child. She was owned by Mr. Henry W. Quarles. So out of that Sodom he felt he would have to escape, even at the cost of leaving his wife behind. Of course he felt hopeful that the way would open by which she could escape at a future time, and so it did, as will appear by and by. His aged mother he had to leave also.

Wm. Henry Gilliam likewise belonged to the Widow White, and he had been hired to Messrs. White and Brother to drive their bread wagon. William was a baker by trade. For his services his mistress had received one hundred and thirty-five dollars per year. He thought his mistress quite as good, if not a little better than most slave-holders. But he had never felt persuaded to believe that she was good enough for him to remain a slave for her support.

Indeed, he had made several unsuccessful attempts before this time to escape from slavery and its horrors. He was fully posted from A to Z, but in his own person he had been smart enough to escape most of the more brutal outrages. He knew how to read and write, and in readiness of speech and general natural ability was far above the average of slaves.

He was twenty-five years of age, well made, of light complexion, and might be put down as a valuable piece of property.

This loss fell with crushing weight upon the kind-hearted mistress, as will be seen in a letter subjoined which she wrote to the unfaithful William, some time after he had fled.


RICHMOND, 16th, 1854.

DEAR HENRY:—Your mother and myself received your letter; she is much distressed at your conduct; she is remaining just as you left her, she says, and she will never be reconciled to your conduct.

I think Henry, you have acted most dishonorably; had you have made a confidant of me I would have been better off; and you as you are. I am badly situated, living with Mrs. Palmer, and having to put up with everything—your mother is also dissatisfied—I am miserably poor, do not get a cent of your hire or James', besides losing you both, but if you can reconcile so do. By renting a cheap house, I might have lived, now it seems starvation is before me. Martha and the Doctor are living in Portsmouth, it is not in her power to do much for me. I know you will repent it. I heard six weeks before you went, that you were trying to persuade him off—but we all liked you, and I was unwilling to believe it—however, I leave it in God's hands He will know what to do. Your mother says that I must tell you servant Jones is dead and old Mrs. Galt. Kit is well, but we are very uneasy, losing your and James' hire, I fear poor little fellow, that he will be obliged to go, as I am compelled to live, and it will be your fault. I am quite unwell, but of course, you don't care.



If you choose to come back you could. I would do a very good part by you, Toler and Cooke has none.

This touching epistle was given by the disobedient William to a member of the Vigilant Committee, when on a visit to Canada, in 1855, and it was thought to be of too much value to be lost. It was put away with other valuable U.G.R.R. documents for future reference. Touching the "rascality" of William and James and the unfortunate predicament in which it placed the kind-hearted widow, Mrs. Louisa White, the following editorial clipped from the wide-awake Richmond Despatch, was also highly appreciated, and preserved as conclusive testimony to the successful working of the U.G.R.R. in the Old Dominion. It reads thus—

"RASCALITY SOMEWHERE.—We called attention yesterday to the advertisement of two negroes belonging to Mrs. Louisa White, by Toler & Cook, and in the call we expressed the opinion that they were still lurking about the city, preparatory to going off. Mr. Toler, we find, is of a different opinion. He believes that they have already cleared themselves—have escaped to a Free State, and we think it extremely probable that he is in the right. They were both of them uncommonly intelligent negroes. One of them, the one hired to Mr. White, was a tip-top baker. He had been all about the country, and had been in the habit of supplying the U.S. Pennsylvania with bread; Mr. W. having the contract. In his visits for this purpose, of course, he formed acquaintances with all sorts of sea-faring characters; and there is every reason to believe that he has been assisted to get off in that way, along with the other boy, hired to the Messrs. Williams. That the two acted in concert, can admit of no doubt. The question is now to find out how they got off. They must undoubtedly have had white men in the secret. Have we then a nest of Abolition scoundrels among us? There ought to be a law to put a police officer on board every vessel as soon as she lands at the wharf. There is one, we believe for inspecting vessels before they leave. If there is not there ought to be one.

"These negroes belong to a widow lady and constitute all the property she has on earth. They have both been raised with the greatest indulgence. Had it been otherwise, they would never have had an opportunity to escape, as they have done. Their flight has left her penniless. Either of them would readily have sold for $1200; and Mr. Toler advised their owner to sell them at the commencement of the year, probably anticipating the very thing that has happened. She refused to do so, because she felt too much attachment to them. They have made a fine return, truly."

No comment is necessary on the above editorial except simply to express the hope that the editor and his friends who seemed to be utterly befogged as to how these "uncommonly intelligent negroes" made their escape, will find the problem satisfactorily solved in this book.

However, in order to do even-handed justice to all concerned, it seems but proper that William and James should be heard from, and hence a letter from each is here appended for what they are worth. True they were intended only for private use, but since the "True light" (Freedom) has come, all things may be made manifest.


ST. CATHARINES, C.W., MAY 15th, 1854.

My Dear Friend:—I receaved yours, Dated the 10th and the papers on the 13th, I also saw the pice that was in Miss Shadd's paper About me. I think Tolar is right About my being in A free State, I am and think A great del of it. Also I have no compassion on the penniless widow lady, I have Served her 25 yers 2 months, I think that is long Enough for me to live A Slave. Dear Sir, I am very sorry to hear of the Accadent that happened to our Friend Mr. Meakins, I have read the letter to all that lives in St. Catharines, that came from old Virginia, and then I Sented to Toronto to Mercer & Clayton to see, and to Farman to read fur themselves. Sir, you must write to me soon and let me know how Meakins gets on with his tryal, and you must pray for him, I have told all here to do the same for him. May God bless and protect him from prison, I have heard A great del of old Richmond and Norfolk. Dear Sir, if you see Mr. or Mrs. Gilbert Give my love to them and tell them to write to me, also give my respect to your Family and A part for yourself, love from the friends to you Soloman Brown, H. Atkins, Was. Johnson, Mrs. Brooks, Mr. Dykes. Mr. Smith is better at presant. And do not forget to write the News of Meakin's tryal. I cannot say any more at this time; but remain yours and A true Friend ontell Death.

W.H. GILLIAM, the widow's Mite.

"Our friend Minkins," in whose behalf William asks the united prayers of his friends, was one of the "scoundrels" who assisted him and his two companions to escape on the steamer. Being suspected of "rascality" in this direction, he was arrested and put in jail, but as no evidence could be found against him he was soon released.


TORONTO, MARCH 17th, 1854.

My dear friend Still:—I take this method of informing you that I am well, and when this comes to hand it may find you and your family enjoying good health. Sir, my particular for writing is that I wish to hear from you, and to hear all the news from down South. I wish to know if all things are working Right for the Rest of my Brotheran whom in bondage. I will also Say that I am very much please with Toronto, So also the friends that came over with. It is true that we have not been Employed as yet; but we are in hopes of be'en so in a few days. We happen here in good time jest about time the people in this country are going work. I am in good health and good Spirits, and feeles Rejoiced in the Lord for my liberty. I Received cople of paper from you to-day. I wish you see James Morris whom or Abram George the first and second on the Ship Penn., give my respects to them, and ask James if he will call at Henry W. Quarles on May street oppisit the Jews synagogue and call for Marena Mercer, give my love to her ask her of all the times about Richmond, tell her to Send me all the news. Tell Mr. Morris that there will be no danger in going to that place. You will also tell M. to make himself known to her as she may know who sent him. And I wish to get a letter from you.



My friend, I would like to hear from you, I have been looking for a letter from you for Several days as the last was very interesting to me, please to write Right away.

Yours most Respectfully,


Instead of weeping over the sad situation of his "penniless" mistress and showing any signs of contrition for having wronged the man who held the mortgage of seven hundred and fifty dollars on him, James actually "feels rejoiced in the Lord for his liberty," and is "very much pleased with Toronto;" but is not satisfied yet, he is even concocting a plan by which his wife might be run off from Richmond, which would be the cause of her owner (Henry W. Quarles, Esq.) losing at least one thousand dollars,


MR. STILL, DEAR FRIEND:—I received a letter from the poor old widow, Mrs. L.E. White, and she says I may come back if I choose and she will do a good part by me. Yes, yes I am choosing the western side of the South for my home. She is smart, but cannot bung my eye, so she shall have to die in the poor house at last, so she says, and Mercer and myself will be the cause of it. That is all right. I am getting even with her now for I was in the poor house for twenty-five years and have just got out. And she said she knew I was coming away six weeks before I started, so you may know my chance was slim. But Mr. John Wright said I came off like a gentleman and he did not blame me for coming for I was a great boy. Yes I here him enough he is all gas. I am in Canada, and they cannot help themselves.

About that subject I will not say anything more. You must write to me as soon as you can and let me here the news and how the Family is and yourself. Let me know how the times is with the U.G.R.R. Co. Is it doing good business? Mr. Dykes sends his respects to you. Give mine to your family.

Your true friend,


John Clayton, the companion in tribulation of William and James, must not be lost sight of any longer. He was owned by the Widow Clayton, and was white enough to have been nearly related to her, being a mulatto. He was about thirty-five years of age, a man of fine appearance, and quite intelligent. Several years previous he had made an attempt to escape, but failed. Prior to escaping in this instance, he had been laboring in a tobacco factory at $150 a year. It is needless to say that he did not approve of the "peculiar institution." He left a wife and one child behind to mourn after him. Of his views of Canada and Freedom, the following frank and sensible letter, penned shortly after his arrival, speaks for itself—

TORONTO, March 6th, 1854.

DEAR MR. STILL:—I take this method of informing you that I am well both in health and mind. You may rest assured that I fells myself a free man and do not fell as I did when I was in Virginia thanks be to God I have no master into Canada but I am my own man. I arrived safe into Canada on friday last. I must request of you to write a few lines to my wife and jest state to her that her friend arrived safe into this glorious land of liberty and I am well and she will make very short her time in Virginia. tell her that I likes here very well and hopes to like it better when I gets to work I don't meane for you to write the same words that are written above but I wish you give her a clear understanding where I am and Shall Remain here untel She comes or I hears from her.

Nothing more at present but remain yours most respectfully,


You will please to direct the to Petersburg Luenena Johns or Clayton John is best.



Clarissa fled from Portsmouth, Va., in May, 1854, with two of her brothers. Two months and a half before she succeeded in getting off, Clarissa had made a desperate effort, but failed. The brothers succeeded, but she was left. She had not given up all hope of escape, however, and therefore sought "a safe hiding-place until an opportunity might offer," by which she could follow her brothers on the U.G.R.R. Clarissa was owned by Mrs. Brown and Mrs. Burkley, of Portsmouth, under whom she had always served.

Of them she spoke favorably, saying that she "had not been used as hard as many others were." At this period, Clarissa was about twenty-two years of age, of a bright brown complexion, with handsome features, exceedingly respectful and modest, and possessed all the characteristics of a well-bred young lady. For one so little acquainted with books as she was, the correctness of her speech was perfectly astonishing.

For Clarissa and her two brothers a "reward of one thousand dollars" was kept standing in the papers for a length of time, as these (articles) were considered very rare and valuable; the best that could be produced in Virginia.

In the meanwhile the brothers had passed safely on to New Bedford, but Clarissa remained secluded, "waiting for the storm to subside." Keeping up courage day by day, for seventy-five days, with the fear of being detected and severely punished, and then sold, after all her hopes and struggles, required the faith of a martyr. Time after time, when she hoped to succeed in making her escape, ill luck seemed to disappoint her, and nothing but intense suffering appeared to be in store. Like many others, under the crushing weight of oppression, she thought she "should have to die" ere she tasted liberty. In this state of mind, one day, word was conveyed to her that the steamship, City of Richmond, had arrived from Philadelphia, and that the steward on board (with whom she was acquainted), had consented to secrete her this trip, if she could manage to reach the ship safely, which was to start the next day. This news to Clarissa was both cheering and painful. She had been "praying all the time while waiting," but now she felt "that if it would only rain right hard the next morning about three o'clock, to drive the police officers off the street, then she could safely make her way to the boat." Therefore she prayed anxiously all that day that it would rain, "but no sign of rain appeared till towards midnight." The prospect looked horribly discouraging; but she prayed on, and at the appointed hour (three o'clock—before day), the rain descended in torrents. Dressed in male attire, Clarissa left the miserable coop where she had been almost without light or air for two and a half months, and unmolested, reached the boat safely, and was secreted in a box by Wm. Bagnal, a clever young man who sincerely sympathized with the slave, having a wife in slavery himself; and by him she was safely delivered into the hands of the Vigilance Committee.

Clarissa Davis here, by advice of the Committee, dropped her old name, and was straightway christened "Mary D. Armstead." Desiring to join her brothers and sister in New Bedford, she was duly furnished with her U.G.R.R. passport and directed thitherward. Her father, who was left behind when she got off, soon after made his way on North, and joined his children. He was too old and infirm probably to be worth anything, and had been allowed to go free, or to purchase himself for a mere nominal sum. Slaveholders would, on some such occasions, show wonderful liberality in letting their old slaves go free, when they could work no more. After reaching New Bedford, Clarissa manifested her gratitude in writing to her friends in Philadelphia repeatedly, and evinced a very lively interest in the U.G.R.R. The appended letter indicates her sincere feelings of gratitude and deep interest in the cause—

NEW BEDFORD, August 26, 1855.

MR. STILL:—I avail my self to write you thes few lines hopeing they may find you and your family well as they leaves me very well and all the family well except my father he seams to be improveing with his shoulder he has been able to work a little I received the papers I was highly delighted to receive them I was very glad to hear from you in the wheler case I was very glad to hear that the persons ware safe I was very sory to hear that mr Williamson was put in prison but I know if the praying part of the people will pray for him and if he will put his trust in the lord he will bring him out more than conquer please remember my Dear old farther and sisters and brothers to your family kiss the children for me I hear that the yellow fever is very bad down south now if the underground railroad could have free course the emergrant would cross the river of gordan rapidly I hope it may continue to run and I hope the wheels of the car may be greesed with more substantial greese so they may run over swiftly I would have wrote before but circumstances would not permit me Miss Sanders and all the friends desired to be remembered to you and your family I shall be pleased to hear from the underground rail road often.

Yours respectfully,


       *       *       *       *       *



Arrived from Norfolk, about the 1st of November, 1854. Ten months before starting, Anthony had been closely concealed. He belonged to the estate of Mrs. Peters, a widow, who had been dead about one year before his concealment.

On the settlement of his old mistress' estate, which was to take place one year after her death, Anthony was to be transferred to Mrs. Lewis, a daughter of Mrs. Peters (the wife of James Lewis, Esq.). Anthony felt well satisfied that he was not the slave to please the "tyrannical whims" of his anticipated master, young Lewis, and of course he hated the idea of having to come under his yoke. And what made it still more unpleasant for Anthony was that Mr. Lewis would frequently remind him that it was his intention to "sell him as soon as he got possession—the first day of January." "I can get fifteen hundred dollars for you easily, and I will do it." This contemptuous threat had caused Anthony's blood to boil time and again. But Anthony had to take the matter as calmly as possible, which, however, he was not always able to do.

At any rate, Anthony concluded that his "young master had counted the chickens before they were hatched." Indeed here Anthony began to be a deep thinker. He thought, for instance, that he had already been shot three times, at the instance of slave-holders. The first time he was shot was for refusing a flogging when only eighteen years of age. The second time, he was shot in the head with squirrel shot by the sheriff, who was attempting to arrest him for having resisted three "young white ruffians," who wished to have the pleasure of beating him, but got beaten themselves. And in addition to being shot this time, Anthony was still further "broke in" by a terrible flogging from the Sheriff. The third time Anthony was shot he was about twenty-one years of age. In this instance he was punished for his old offence—he "would not be whipped."

This time his injury from being shot was light, compared with the two preceding attacks. Also in connection with these murderous conflicts, he could not forget that he had been sold on the auction block. But he had still deeper thinking to do yet. He determined that his young master should never get "fifteen hundred dollars for him on the 1st of January," unless he got them while he (Anthony) was running. For Anthony had fully made up his mind that when the last day of December ended, his bondage should end also, even if he should have to accept death as a substitute. He then began to think of the Underground Rail Road and of Canada; but who the agents were, or how to find the depot, was a serious puzzle to him. But his time was getting so short he was convinced that whatever he did would have to be done quickly. In this frame of mind he found a man who professed to know something about the Underground Rail Road, and for "thirty dollars" promised to aid him in the matter.

The thirty dollars were raised by the hardest effort and passed over to the pretended friend, with the expectation that it would avail greatly in the emergency. But Anthony found himself sold for thirty dollars, as nothing was done for him. However, the 1st day of January arrived, but Anthony was not to be found to answer to his name at roll call. He had "took out" very early in the morning. Daily he prayed in his place of concealment how to find the U.G.R.R. Ten months passed away, during which time he suffered almost death, but persuaded himself to believe that even that was better than slavery. With Anthony, as it has been with thousands of others similarly situated, just as everything was looking the most hopeless, word came to him in his place of concealment that a friend named Minkins, employed on the steamship City of Richmond, would undertake to conceal him on the boat, if he could be crowded in a certain place, which was about the only spot that would be perfectly safe. This was glorious news to Anthony; but it was well for him that he was ignorant of the situation that awaited him on the boat, or his heart might have failed him. He was willing, however, to risk his life for freedom, and, therefore, went joyfully.

The hiding-place was small and he was large. A sitting attitude was the only way he could possibly occupy it. He was contented. This place was "near the range, directly over the boiler," and of course, was very warm. Nevertheless, Anthony felt that he would not murmur, as he knew what suffering was pretty well, and especially as he took it for granted that he would be free in about a day and a half—the usual time it took the steamer to make her trip. At the appointed hour the steamer left Norfolk for Philadelphia, with Anthony sitting flat down in his U.G.R.R. berth, thoughtful and hopeful. But before the steamer had made half her distance the storm was tossing the ship hither and thither fearfully. Head winds blew terribly, and for a number of days the elements seemed perfectly mad. In addition to the extraordinary state of the weather, when the storm subsided the fog took its place and held the mastery of the ship with equal despotism until the end of over seven days, when finally the storm, wind, and fog all disappeared, and on the eighth day of her boisterous passage the steamship City of Richmond landed at the wharf of Philadelphia, with this giant and hero on board who had suffered for ten months in his concealment on land and for eight days on the ship.

Anthony was of very powerful physical proportions, being six feet three inches in height, quite black, very intelligent, and of a temperament that would not submit to slavery. For some years his master, Col. Cunnagan, had hired him out in Washington, where he was accused of being in the schooner Pearl, with Capt. Drayton's memorable "seventy fugitives on board, bound for Canada." At this time he was stoker in a machine shop, and was at work on an anchor weighing "ten thousand pounds." In the excitement over the attempt to escape in the Pearl, many were arrested, and the officers with irons visited Anthony at the machine shop to arrest him, but he declined to let them put the hand-cuffs on him, but consented to go with them, if permitted to do so without being ironed. The officers yielded, and Anthony went willingly to the jail. Passing unnoticed other interesting conflicts in his hard life, suffice it to say, he left his wife, Ann, and three children, Benjamin, John and Alfred, all owned by Col. Cunnagan. In this brave-hearted man, the Committee felt a deep interest, and accorded him their usual hospitalities.



Perry's exit was in November, 1853. He was owned by Charles Johnson, who lived at Elkton. The infliction of a severe "flogging" from the hand of his master awakened Perry to consider the importance of the U.G.R.R. Perry had the misfortune to let a "load of fodder upset," about which his master became exasperated, and in his agitated state of mind he succeeded in affixing a number of very ugly stationary marks on Perry's back. However, this was no new thing. Indeed he had suffered at the hands of his mistress even far more keenly than from these "ugly marks." He had but one eye; the other he had been deprived of by a terrible stroke with a cowhide in the "hand of his mistress." This lady he pronounced to be a "perfect savage," and added that "she was in the habit of cowhiding any of her slaves whenever she felt like it, which was quite often." Perry was about twenty-eight years of age and a man of promise. The Committee attended to his wants and forwarded him on North.

       *       *       *       *       *



These passengers all arrived together, concealed, per steamship City of Richmond, December, 1853. Isaac Forman, the youngest of the party—twenty-three years of age and a dark mulatto—would be considered by a Southerner capable of judging as "very likely." He fled from a widow by the name of Mrs. Sanders, who had been in the habit of hiring him out for "one hundred and twenty dollars a year." She belonged in Norfolk, Va.; so did Isaac. For four years Isaac had served in the capacity of steward on the steamship Augusta. He stated that he had a wife living in Richmond, and that she was confined the morning he took the U.G.R.R. Of course he could not see her. The privilege of living in Richmond with his wife "had been denied him." Thus, fearing to render her unhappy, he was obliged to conceal from her his intention to escape. "Once or twice in the year was all the privilege allowed" him to visit her. This only added "insult to injury," in Isaac's opinion; wherefore he concluded that he would make one less to have to suffer thus, and common sense said he was wise in the matter. No particular charges are found recorded on the U.G.R.R. books against the mistress. He went to Canada.

In the subjoined letters (about his wife) is clearly revealed the sincere gratitude he felt towards those who aided him: at the same time it may be seen how the thought of his wife being in bondage grieved his heart. It would have required men with stone hearts to have turned deaf ears to such appeals. Extract from letter soon after reaching Canada—hopeful and happy—


TORONTO, Feb. 20th, 1854.

MR. WILLIAM STILL:—Sir—Your kind letter arrived safe at hand on the 18th, and I was very happy to receive it. I now feel that I should return you some thanks for your kindness. Dear sir I do pray from the bottom of my heart, that the high heavens may bless you for your kindness; give my love to Mr. Bagnel and Mr. Minkins, ask them if they have heard anything from my brother, tell Mr. Bagnel to give my love to my sister-in-law and mother and all the family. I am now living at Russell's Hotel; it is the first situation I have had since I have been here and I like it very well. Sir you would oblige me by letting me know if Mr. Minkins has seen my wife; you will please let me know as soon as possible. I wonder if Mr. Minkins has thought of any way that he can get my wife away. I should like to know in a few days.

Your well wisher,


Another letter from Isaac. He is very gloomy and his heart is almost breaking about his wife.


TORONTO, May 7,1854.

MR. W. STILL:—Dear Sir—I take this opportunity of writing you these few lines and hope when they reach you they will find you well. I would have written you before, but I was waiting to hear from my friend, Mr. Brown. I judge his business has been of importance as the occasion why he has not written before. Dear sir, nothing would have prevented me from writing, in a case of this kind, except death.

My soul is vexed, my troubles are inexpressible. I often feel as if I were willing to die. I must see my wife in short, if not, I will die. What would I not give no tongue can utter. Just to gaze on her sweet lips one moment I would be willing to die the next. I am determined to see her some time or other. The thought of being a slave again is miserable. I hope heaven will smile upon me again, before I am one again. I will leave Canada again shortly, but I don't name the place that I go, it may be in the bottom of the ocean. If I had known as much before I left, as I do now, I would never have left until I could have found means to have brought her with me. You have never suffered from being absent from a wife, as I have. I consider that to be nearly superior to death, and hope you will do all you can for me, and inquire from your friends if nothing can be done for me. Please write to me immediately on receipt of this, and say something that will cheer up my drooping spirits. You will oblige me by seeing Mr. Brown and ask him if he would oblige me by going to Richmond and see my wife, and see what arrangements he could make with her, and I would be willing to pay all his expenses there and back. Please to see both Mr. Bagnel and Mr. Minkins, and ask them if they have seen my wife. I am determined to see her, if I die the next moment. I can say I was once happy, but never will be again, until I see her; because what is freedom to me, when I know that my wife is in slavery? Those persons that you shipped a few weeks ago, remained at St. Catherine, instead of coming over to Toronto. I sent you two letters last week and I hope you will please attend to them. The post-office is shut, so I enclose the money to pay the post, and please write me in haste.

I remain evermore your obedient servant,



He was owned by S.J. Wilson, a merchant, living in Portsmouth, Va. Willis was of a very dark hue, thick set, thirty-two years of age, and possessed of a fair share of mind. The owner had been accustomed to hire Willis out for "one hundred dollars a year." Willis thought his lot "pretty hard," and his master rather increased this notion by his severity, and especially by "threatening" to sell him. He had enjoyed, as far as it was expected for a slave to do, "five months of married life," but he loved slavery no less on this account. In fact he had just begun to consider what it was to have a wife and children that he "could not own or protect," and who were claimed as another's property. Consequently he became quite restive under these reflections and his master's ill-usage, and concluded to "look out," without consulting either the master or the young wife.

This step looked exceedingly hard, but what else could the poor fellow do? Slavery existed expressly for the purpose of crushing souls and breaking tender hearts.

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William might be described as a good-looking mulatto, thirty-one years of age, and capable of thinking for himself. He made no grave complaints of ill-usage under his master, "Joseph Reynolds," who lived at Newton, Portsmouth, Va. However, his owner had occasionally "threatened to sell him." As this was too much for William's sensitive feelings, he took umbrage at it and made a hasty and hazardous move, which resulted in finding himself on the U.G.R.R. The most serious regret William had to report to the Committee was, that he was compelled to "leave" his "wife," Catharine, and his little daughter, Louisa, two years and one month, and an infant son seven months old. He evidently loved them very tenderly, but saw no way by which he could aid them, as long as he was daily liable to be put on the auction block and sold far South. This argument was regarded by the Committee as logical and unanswerable; consequently they readily endorsed his course, while they deeply sympathized with his poor wife and little ones. "Before escaping," he "dared not" even apprise his wife and child, whom he had to leave behind in the prison house.

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In November, 1853, in the twentieth year of his age, Camp was held to "service or labor" in the City of Richmond, Va., by Dr. K. Clark. Being uncommonly smart and quite good-looking at the same time, he was a saleable piece of merchandise. Without consulting his view of the matter or making the least intimation of any change, the master one day struck up a bargain with a trader for Joseph, and received Fourteen Hundred Dollars cash in consideration thereof. Mr. Robert Parrett, of Parson & King's Express office, happened to have a knowledge of what had transpired, and thinking pretty well of Joseph, confidentially put him in full possession of all the facts in the case. For reflection he hardly had five minutes. But he at once resolved to strike that day for freedom—not to go home that evening to be delivered into the hands of his new master. In putting into execution his bold resolve, he secreted himself, and so remained for three weeks. In the meantime his mother, who was a slave, resolved to escape also, but after one week's gloomy foreboding, she became "faint-hearted and gave the struggle over." But Joseph did not know what surrender meant. His sole thought was to procure a ticket on the U.G.R.R. for Canada, which by persistent effort he succeeded in doing. He hid himself in a steamer, and by this way reached Philadelphia, where he received every accommodation at the usual depot, was provided with a free ticket, and sent off rejoicing for Canada. The unfortunate mother was "detected and sold South."

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About the twenty-ninth of January, 1855, Sheridan arrived from the Old Dominion and a life of bondage, and was welcomed cordially by the Vigilance Committee. Miss Elizabeth Brown of Portsmouth, Va. claimed Sheridan as her property. He spoke rather kindly of her, and felt that he "had not been used very hard" as a general thing, although, he wisely added, "the best usage was bad enough." Sheridan had nearly reached his twenty-eighth year, was tall and well made, and possessed of a considerable share of intelligence.

Not a great while before making up his mind to escape, for some trifling offence he had been "stretched up with a rope by his hands," and "whipped unmercifully." In addition to this he had "got wind of the fact," that he was to be auctioneered off; soon these things brought serious reflections to Sheridan's mind, and among other questions, he began to ponder how he could get a ticket on the U.G.R.R., and get out of this "place of torment," to where he might have the benefit of his own labor. In this state of mind, about the fourteenth day of November, he took his first and daring step. He went not, however, to learned lawyers or able ministers of the Gospel in his distress and trouble, but wended his way "directly to the woods," where he felt that he would be safer with the wild animals and reptiles, in solitude, than with the barbarous civilization that existed in Portsmouth.

The first day in the woods he passed in prayer incessantly, all alone. In this particular place of seclusion he remained "four days and nights," "two days suffered severely from hunger, cold and thirst." However, one who was a "friend" to him, and knew of his whereabouts, managed to get some food to him and consoling words; but at the end of the four days this friend got into some difficulty and thus Sheridan was left to "wade through deep waters and head winds" in an almost hopeless state. There he could not consent to stay and starve to death. Accordingly he left and found another place of seclusion—with a friend in the town—for a pecuniary consideration. A secret passage was procured for him on one of the steamers running between Philadelphia and Richmond, Va. When he left his poor wife, Julia, she was then "lying in prison to be sold," on the simple charge of having been suspected of conniving at her husband's escape. As a woman she had known something of the "barbarism of slavery", from every-day experience, which the large scars about her head indicated—according to Sheridan's testimony. She was the mother of two children, but had never been allowed to have the care of either of them. The husband, utterly powerless to offer her the least sympathy in word or deed, left this dark habitation of cruelty, as above referred to, with no hope of ever seeing wife or child again in this world.

The Committee afforded him the usual aid and comfort, and passed him on to the next station, with his face set towards Boston. He had heard the slaveholders "curse" Boston so much, that he concluded it must be a pretty safe place for the fugitive.

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Joseph Kneeland arrived November 25, 1853. He was a prepossessing man of twenty-six, dark complexion, and intelligent. At the time of Joseph's escape, he was owned by Jacob Kneeland, who had fallen heir to him as a part of his father's estate. Joseph spoke of his old master as having treated him "pretty well," but he had an idea that his young master had a very "malignant spirit;" for even before the death of his old master, the heir wanted him, "Joe," sold, and after the old man died, matters appeared to be coming to a crisis very fast. Even as early as November, the young despot had distinctly given "Joe" to understand, that he was not to be hired out another year, intimating that he was to "go somewhere," but as to particulars, it was time enough for Joe to know them.

Of course "Joe" looked at his master "right good" and saw right through him, and at the same time, saw the U.G.R.R., "darkly." Daily slavery grew awfully mean, but on the other hand, Canada was looked upon as a very desirable country to emigrate to, and he concluded to make his way there, as speedily as the U.G.R.R. could safely convey him. Accordingly he soon carried his design into practice, and on his arrival, the Committee regarded him as a very good subject for her British Majesty's possessions in Canada.

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James Hambleton Christian is a remarkable specimen of the "well fed, &c." In talking with him relative to his life as a slave, he said very promptly, "I have always been treated well; if I only have half as good times in the North as I have had in the South, I shall be perfectly satisfied. Any time I desired spending money, five or ten dollars were no object." At times, James had borrowed of his master, one, two, and three hundred dollars, to loan out to some of his friends. With regard to apparel and jewelry, he had worn the best, as an every-day adornment. With regard to food also, he had fared as well as heart could wish, with abundance of leisure time at his command. His deportment was certainly very refined and gentlemanly. About fifty per cent. of Anglo-Saxon blood was visible in his features and his hair, which gave him no inconsiderable claim to sympathy and care. He had been to William and Mary's College in his younger days, to wait on young master James B.C., where, through the kindness of some of the students he had picked up a trifling amount of book learning. To be brief, this man was born the slave of old Major Christian, on the Glen Plantation, Charles City county, Va. The Christians were wealthy and owned many slaves, and belonged in reality to the F.F.V's. On the death of the old Major, James fell into the hands of his son, Judge Christian, who was executor to his father's estate. Subsequently he fell into the hands of one of the Judge's sisters, Mrs. John Tyler (wife of Ex-President Tyler), and then he became a member of the President's domestic household, was at the White House, under the President, from 1841 to 1845. Though but very young at that time, James was only fit for training in the arts, science, and mystery of waiting, in which profession, much pains were taken to qualify him completely for his calling.

After a lapse of time; his mistress died. According to her request, after this event, James and his old mother were handed over to her nephew, William H. Christian, Esq., a merchant of Richmond. From this gentleman, James had the folly to flee.

Passing hurriedly over interesting details, received from him respecting his remarkable history, two or three more incidents too good to omit must suffice.

"How did you like Mr. Tyler?" said an inquisitive member of the Vigilance Committee. "I didn't like Mr. Tyler much," was the reply. "Why?" again inquired the member of the Committee. "Because Mr. Tyler was a poor man. I never did like poor people. I didn't like his marrying into our family, who were considered very far Tyler's superiors." "On the plantation," he said, "Tyler was a very cross man, and treated the servants very cruelly; but the house servants were treated much better, owing to their having belonged to his wife, who protected them from persecution, as they had been favorite servants in her father's family." James estimated that "Tyler got about thirty-five thousand dollars and twenty-nine slaves, young and old, by his wife."

What prompted James to leave such pleasant quarters? It was this: He had become enamored of a young and respectable free girl in Richmond, with whom he could not be united in marriage solely because he was a slave, and did not own himself. The frequent sad separations of such married couples (where one or the other was a slave) could not be overlooked; consequently, the poor fellow concluded that he would stand a better chance of gaining his object in Canada than by remaining in Virginia. So he began to feel that he might himself be sold some day, and thus the resolution came home to him very forcibly to make tracks for Canada.

In speaking of the good treatment he had always met with, a member of the Committee remarked, "You must be akin to some one of your master's family?" To which he replied, "I am Christian's son." Unquestionably this passenger was one of that happy class so commonly referred to by apologists for the "Patriarchal Institution." The Committee, feeling a deep interest in his story, and desiring great success to him in his Underground efforts to get rid of slavery, and at the same time possess himself of his affianced, made him heartily welcome, feeling assured that the struggles and hardships he had submitted to in escaping, as well as the luxuries he was leaving behind, were nothing to be compared with the blessings of liberty and a free wife in Canada.

       *       *       *       *       *


"TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS REWARD.—The above Reward will be paid for the apprehension of two blacks, who escaped on Sunday last. It is supposed they have made their way to Pennsylvania. $500 will be paid for the apprehension of either, so that we can get them again. The oldest is named Edward Morgan, about five feet six or seven inches, heavily made—is a dark black, has rather a down look when spoken to, and is about 21 years of age.

"Henry Johnson is a colored negro, about five feet seven or eight inches, heavily made, aged nineteen years, has a pleasant countenance, and has a mark on his neck below the ear.

"Stephen Butler is a dark-complexioned negro, about five feet seven inches; has a pleasant countenance, with a scar above his eye; plays on the violin; about twenty-two years old.

"Jim Butler is a dark-complexioned negro, five feet eight or nine inches; is rather sullen when spoken to; face rough; aged about twenty-one years. The clothing not recollected. They had black frock coats and slouch hats with them. Any information of them address Elizabeth Brown, Sandy Hook P.O., or of Thomas Johnson, Abingdon P.O., Harford county, Md.




The following memorandum is made, which, if not too late, may afford some light to "Elizabeth Brown and Thomas Johnson," if they have not already gone the way of the "lost cause"—

June 4, 1857.—Edward is a hardy and firm-looking young man of twenty-four years of age, chestnut color, medium size, and "likely,"—would doubtless bring $1,400 in the market. He had been held as the property of the widow, "Betsy Brown," who resided near Mill Green P.O., in Harford county, Md. "She was a very bad woman; would go to church every Sunday, come home and go to fighting amongst the colored people; was never satisfied; she treated my mother very hard, (said Ed.); would beat her with a walking-stick, &c. She was an old woman and belonged to the Catholic Church. Over her slaves she kept an overseer, who was a very wicked man; very bad on colored people; his name was 'Bill Eddy;' Elizabeth Brown owned twelve head."

Henry is of a brown skin, a good-looking young man, only nineteen years of age, whose prepossessing appearance would insure a high price for him in the market—perhaps $1,700. With Edward, he testifies to the meanness of Mrs. Betsy Brown, as well as to his own longing desire for freedom. Being a fellow-servant with Edward, Henry was a party to the plan of escape. In slavery he left his mother and three sisters, owned by the "old woman" from whom he escaped.

James is about twenty-one years of age, full black, and medium size. As he had been worked hard on poor fare, he concluded to leave, in company with his brother and two cousins, leaving his parents in slavery, owned by the "Widow Pyle," who was also the owner of himself. "She was upwards of eighty, very passionate and ill-natured, although a member of the Presbyterian Church." James may be worth $1,400.

Stephen is a brother of James', and is about the same size, though a year older. His experience differed in no material respect from his brother's; was owned by the same woman, whom he "hated for her bad treatment" of him. Would bring $1,400, perhaps.

In substance, and to a considerable extent in the exact words, these facts are given as they came from the lips of the passengers, who, though having been kept in ignorance and bondage, seemed to have their eyes fully open to the wrongs that had been heaped upon them, and were singularly determined to reach free soil at all hazards. The Committee willingly attended to their financial and other wants, and cheered them on with encouraging advice.

They were indebted to "The Baltimore Sun" for the advertisement information. And here it may be further added, that the "Sun" was quite famous for this kind of U.G.R.R. literature, and on that account alone the Committee subscribed for it daily, and never failed to scan closely certain columns, illustrated with a black man running away with a bundle on his back. Many of these popular illustrations and advertisements were preserved, many others were sent away to friends at a distance, who took a special interest in the U.G.R.R. matters. Friends and stockholders in England used to take a great interest in seeing how the fine arts, in these particulars, were encouraged in the South ("the land of chivalry").

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Henry fled from Buckstown, Dorchester Co., Md., March, 1857. Physically he is a giant. About 27 years of age, stout and well-made, quite black, and no fool, as will appear presently. Only a short time before he escaped, his master threatened to sell him south. To avoid that fate, therefore, he concluded to try his luck on the Underground Rail Road, and, in company with seven others—two of them females—he started for Canada. For two or three days and nights they managed to outgeneral all their adversaries, and succeeded bravely in making the best of their way to a Free State.

In the meantime, however, a reward of $3,000 was offered for their arrest. This temptation was too great to be resisted, even by the man who had been intrusted with the care of them, and who had faithfully promised to pilot them to a safe place. One night, through the treachery of their pretended conductor, they were all taken into Dover Jail, where the Sheriff and several others, who had been notified beforehand by the betrayer, were in readiness to receive them. Up stairs they were taken, the betrayer remarking as they were going up, that they were "cold, but would soon have a good warming." On a light being lit they discovered the iron bars and the fact that they had been betrayed. Their liberty-loving spirits and purposes, however, did not quail. Though resisted brutally by the sheriff with revolver in hand, they made their way down one flight of stairs, and in the moment of excitement, as good luck would have it, plunged into the sheriff's private apartment, where his wife and children were sleeping. The wife cried murder lustily. A shovel full of fire, to the great danger of burning the premises, was scattered over the room; out of the window jumped two of the female fugitives. Our hero Henry, seizing a heavy andiron, smashed out the window entire, through which the others leaped a distance of twelve feet. The railing or wall around the jail, though at first it looked forbidding, was soon surmounted by a desperate effort.

At this stage of the proceedings, Henry found himself without the walls, and also lost sight of his comrades at the same time. The last enemy he spied was the sheriff in his stockings without his shoes. He snapped his pistol at him, but it did not go off. Six of the others, however, marvellously got off safely together; where the eighth went, or how he got off, was not known.

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Daniel fled from Buckstown, Dorchester Co., also. His owner's name was Richard Meredith, a farmer. Daniel is one of the eight alluded to above. In features he is well made, dark chestnut color, and intelligent, possessing an ardent thirst for liberty. The cause of his escape was: "Worked hard in all sorts of weather—in rain and snow," so he thought he would "go where colored men are free." His master was considered the hardest man around. His mistress was "eighty-three years of age," "drank hard," was "very stormy," and a "member of the Methodist Church" (Airy's meeting-house). He left brothers and sisters, and uncles and aunts behind. In the combat at the prison he played his part manfully.

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Thomas is also one of the brave eight who broke out of Dover Jail. He was about twenty-three years of age, well made, wide awake, and of a superb black complexion. He too had been owned by Richard Meredith. Against the betrayer, who was a black man, he had vengeance in store if the opportunity should ever offer. Thomas left only one brother living; his "father and mother were dead."

The excitement over the escape spread very rapidly next morning, and desperate efforts were made to recapture the fugitives, but a few friends there were who had sympathy and immediately rendered them the needed assistance.

The appended note from the faithful Garrett to Samuel Rhoads, may throw light upon the occurrence to some extent.

WILMINGTON, 3d mo. 13th, 1857.

DEAR COUSIN, SAMUEL RHOADS:—I have a letter this day from an agent of the Underground Rail Road, near Dover, in this state, saying I must be on the look out for six brothers and two sisters, they were decoyed and betrayed, he says by a colored man named Thomas Otwell, who pretended to be their friend, and sent a white scamp ahead to wait for them at Dover till they arrived; they were arrested and put in Jail there, with Tom's assistance, and some officers. On third day morning about four o'clock, they broke jail; six of them are secreted in the neighborhood, and the writer has not known what became of the other two. The six were to start last night for this place. I hear that their owners have persons stationed at several places on the road watching. I fear they will be taken. If they could lay quiet for ten days or two weeks, they might then get up safe. I shall have two men sent this evening some four or five miles below to keep them away from this town, and send them (if found to Chester County). Thee may show this to Still and McKim, and oblige thy cousin,


Further light about this exciting contest, may be gathered from a colored conductor on the Road, in Delaware, who wrote as follows to a member of the Vigilance Committee at Philadelphia.

CAMDEN, DEL., March 23d, 1857.

DEAR SIR;—I tak my pen in hand to write to you, to inform you what we have had to go throw for the last two weaks. Thir wir six men and two woman was betraid on the tenth of this month, thea had them in prison but thea got out was conveyed by a black man, he told them he wood bring them to my hows, as he wos told, he had ben ther Befor, he has com with Harrett, a woman that stops at my hous when she pases tow and throw yau. You don't no me I supos, the Rev. Thomas H. Kennard dos, or Peter Lowis. He Road Camden Circuit, this man led them in dover prisin and left them with a whit man; but tha tour out the winders and jump out, so cum back to camden. We put them throug, we hav to carry them 19 mils and cum back the sam night wich maks 38 mils. It is tou much for our littel horses. We must do the bes we can, ther is much Bisness dun on this Road. We hay to go throw dover and smerny, the two wors places this sid of mary land lin. If you have herd or sean them ples let me no. I will Com to Phila be for long and then I will call and se you. There is much to do her. Ples to wright, I Remain your frend,


Remember me to Thom. Kennard.

The balance of these brave fugitives, although not named in this connection, succeeded in getting off safely. But how the betrayer, sheriff and hunters got out of their dilemma, the Committee was never fully posted.

The Committee found great pleasure in assisting these passengers, for they had the true grit. Such were always doubly welcome.

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Mary fled from Petersburg and the Robinsons from Richmond. A fugitive slave law-breaking captain by the name of B., who owned a schooner, and would bring any kind of freight that would pay the most, was the conductor in this instance. Quite a number of passengers at different times availed themselves of his accommodations and thus succeeded in reaching Canada.

His risk was very great. On this account he claimed, as did certain others, that it was no more than fair to charge for his services—indeed he did not profess to bring persons for nothing, except in rare instances. In this matter the Committee did not feel disposed to interfere directly in any way, further than to suggest that whatever understanding was agreed upon by the parties themselves should be faithfully adhered to.

Many slaves in cities could raise, "by hook or by crook," fifty or one hundred dollars to pay for a passage, providing they could find one who was willing to risk aiding them. Thus, while the Vigilance Committee of Philadelphia especially neither charged nor accepted anything for their services, it was not to be expected that any of the Southern agents could afford to do likewise.

The husband of Mary had for a long time wanted his own freedom, but did not feel that he could go without his wife; in fact, he resolved to get her off first, then to try and escape himself, if possible. The first essential step towards success, he considered, was to save his money and make it an object to the captain to help him. So when he had managed to lay by one hundred dollars, he willingly offered this sum to Captain B., if he would engage to deliver his wife into the hands of the Vigilance Committee of Philadelphia. The captain agreed to the terms and fulfilled his engagement to the letter. About the 1st of March, 1855, Mary was presented to the Vigilance Committee. She was of agreeable manners, about forty-five years of age, dark complexion, round built, and intelligent. She had been the mother of fifteen children, four of whom had been sold away from her; one was still held in slavery in Petersburg; the others were all dead.

At the sale of one of her children she was so affected with grief that she was thrown into violent convulsions, which caused the loss of her speech for one entire month. But this little episode was not a matter to excite sympathy in the breasts of the highly refined and tender-hearted Christian mothers of Petersburg. In the mercy of Providence, however, her reason and strength returned.

She had formerly belonged to the late Littleton Reeves, whom she represented as having been "kind" to her, much more so than her mistress (Mrs. Reeves). Said Mary, "She being of a jealous disposition, caused me to be hired out with a hard family, where I was much abused, frequently flogged, and stinted for food," etc.

But the sweets of freedom in the care of the Vigilance Committee now delighted her mind, and the hope that her husband would soon follow her to Canada, inspired her with expectations that she would one day "sit under her own vine and fig tree where none dared to molest or make her afraid."

The Committee rendered her the usual assistance, and in due time, forwarded her on to Queen Victoria's free land in Canada. On her arrival she wrote back as follows—

TORONTO, March 14th, 1855.

DEAR MR. STILL:—I take this opportunity of addressing you with these few lines to inform you that I arrived here to-day, and hope that this may find yourself and Mrs. Still well, as this leaves me at the present. I will also say to you, that I had no difficulty in getting along. the two young men that was with me left me at Suspension Bridge. they went another way.

I cannot say much about the place as I have ben here but a short time but so far as I have seen I like very well. you will give my Respect to your lady, & Mr & Mrs Brown. If you have not written to Petersburg you will please to write as soon as can I have nothing More to Write at present but yours Respectfully


Now, Joseph and Robert (Mary's associate passengers from Richmond) must here be noticed. Joseph was of a dark orange color, medium size, very active and intelligent, and doubtless, well understood the art of behaving himself. He was well acquainted with the auction block—having been sold three times, and had had the misfortune to fall into the hands of a cruel master each time. Under these circumstances he had had but few privileges. Sundays and week days alike he was kept pretty severely bent down to duty. He had been beaten and knocked around shamefully. He had a wife, and spoke of her in most endearing language, although, on leaving, he did not feel at liberty to apprise her of his movements, "fearing that it would not be safe so to do." His four little children, to whom he appeared warmly attached, he left as he did his wife—in Slavery. He declared that he "stuck to them as long as he could." George E. Sadler, the keeper of an oyster house, held the deed for "Joe," and a most heartless wretch he was in Joe's estimation. The truth was, Joe could not stand the burdens and abuses which Sadler was inclined to heap upon him. So he concluded to join his brother and go off on the U.G.R.R.

Robert, his younger brother, was owned by Robert Slater, Esq., a regular negro trader. Eight years this slave's duties had been at the slave prison, and among other daily offices he had to attend to, was to lock up the prison, prepare the slaves for sale, etc. Robert was a very intelligent young man, and from long and daily experience with the customs and usages of the slave prison, he was as familiar with the business as a Pennsylvania farmer with his barn-yard stock. His account of things was too harrowing for detail here, except in the briefest manner, and that only with reference to a few particulars. In order to prepare slaves for the market, it was usual to have them greased and rubbed to make them look bright and shining. And he went on further to state, that "females as well as males were not uncommonly stripped naked, lashed flat to a bench, and then held by two men, sometimes four, while the brutal trader would strap them with a broad leather strap." The strap being preferred to the cow-hide, as it would not break the skin, and damage the sale. "One hundred lashes would only be a common flogging." The separation of families was thought nothing of. "Often I have been flogged for refusing to flog others." While not yet twenty-three years of age, Robert expressed himself as having become so daily sick of the brutality and suffering he could not help witnessing, that he felt he could not possibly stand it any longer, let the cost be what it might. In this state of mind he met with Captain B. Only one obstacle stood in his way—material aid. It occurred to Robert that he had frequent access to the money drawer, and often it contained the proceeds of fresh sales of flesh and blood; and he reasoned that if some of that would help him and his brother to freedom, there could be no harm in helping himself the first opportunity.

The captain was all ready, and provided he could get three passengers at $100 each he would set sail without much other freight. Of course he was too shrewd to get out papers for Philadelphia. That would betray him at once. Washington or Baltimore, or even Wilmington, Del., were names which stood fair in the eyes of Virginia. Consequently, being able to pack the fugitives away in a very private hole of his boat, and being only bound for a Southern port, the captain was willing to risk his share of the danger. "Very well," said Robert, "to-day I will please my master so well, that I will catch him at an unguarded moment, and will ask him for a pass to go to a ball to-night (slave-holders love to see their slaves fiddling and dancing of nights), and as I shall be leaving in a hurry, I will take a grab from the day's sale, and when Slater hears of me again, I will be in Canada." So after having attended to all his disagreeable duties, he made his "grab," and got a hand full. He did not know, however, how it would hold out. That evening, instead of participating with the gay dancers, he was just one degree lower down than the regular bottom of Captain B's. deck, with several hundred dollars in his pocket, after paying the worthy captain one hundred each for himself and his brother, besides making the captain an additional present of nearly one hundred. Wind and tide were now what they prayed for to speed on the U.G.R.R. schooner, until they might reach the depot at Philadelphia.

The Richmond Dispatch, an enterprising paper in the interest of slaveholders, which came daily to the Committee, was received in advance of the passengers, when lo! and behold, in turning to the interesting column containing the elegant illustrations of "runaway negroes," it was seen that the unfortunate Slater had "lost $1500 in North Carolina money, and also his dark orange-colored, intelligent, and good-looking turnkey, Bob." "Served him right, it is no stealing for one piece of property to go off with another piece," reasoned a member of the Committee.

In a couple of days after the Dispatch brought the news, the three U.G.R.R. passengers were safely landed at the usual place, and so accurate were the descriptions in the paper, that, on first seeing them, the Committee recognized them instantly, and, without any previous ceremonies, read to them the advertisement relative to the "$1500 in N.C. money, &c.," and put the question to them direct: "Are you the ones?" "We are," they owned up without hesitation. The Committee did not see a dollar of their money, but understood they had about $900, after paying the captain; while Bob considered he made a "very good grab," he did not admit that the amount advertised was correct. After a reasonable time for recruiting, having been so long in the hole of the vessel, they took their departure for Canada.

From Joseph, the elder brother, is appended a short letter, announcing their arrival and condition under the British Lion—

SAINT CATHARINE, April 16, 1855.

MR. WILLIAM STILL, DEAR SIR:—Your letter of date April 7th I have just got, it had been opened before it came to me. I have not received any other letter from you and can get no account of them in the Post Office in this place, I am well and have got a good situation in this city and intend staying here. I should be very glad to hear from you as soon as convenient and also from all of my friends near you. My Brother is also at work with me and doing well.

There is nothing here that would interest you in the way of news. There is a Masonic Lodge of our people and two churches and societys here and some other institutions for our benefit. Be kind enough to send a few lines to the Lady spoken of for that mocking bird and much oblige me. Write me soon and believe me your obedient Serv't

Love & respects to Lady and daughter


As well as writing to a member of the Committee, Joe and Bob had the assurance to write back to the trader and oyster-house keeper. In their letter they stated that they had arrived safely in Canada, and were having good times,—in the eating line had an abundance of the best,—also had very choice wines and brandies, which they supposed that they (trader and oyster-house keeper) would give a great deal to have a "smack at." And then they gave them a very cordial invitation to make them a visit, and suggested that the quickest way they could come, would be by telegraph, which they admitted was slightly dangerous, and without first greasing themselves, and then hanging on very fast, the journey might not prove altogether advantageous to them. This was wormwood and gall to the trader and oyster-house man. A most remarkable coincidence was that, about the time this letter was received in Richmond, the captain who brought away the three passengers, made it his business for some reason or other, to call at the oyster-house kept by the owner of Joe, and while there, this letter was read and commented on in torrents of Billingsgate phrases; and the trader told the captain that he would give him "two thousand dollars if he would get them;" finally he told him he would "give every cent they would bring, which would be much over $2000," as they were "so very likely." How far the captain talked approvingly, he did not exactly tell the Committee, but they guessed he talked strong Democratic doctrine to them under the frightful circumstances. But he was good at concealing his feelings, and obviously managed to avoid suspicion.

       *       *       *       *       *


The above representatives of the unrequited laborers of the South fled directly from Washington, D.C. Nothing remarkable was discovered in their stories of slave life; their narratives will therefore be brief.

George Solomon was owned by Daniel Minor, of Moss Grove, Va. George was about thirty-three years of age; mulatto, intelligent, and of prepossessing appearance. His old master valued George's services very highly, and had often declared to others, as well as to George himself, that without him he should hardly know how to manage. And frequently George was told by the old master that at his "death he was not to be a slave any longer, as he would have provision made in his will for his freedom." For a long time this old story was clung to pretty faithfully by George, but his "old master hung on too long," consequently George's patience became exhausted. And as he had heard a good deal about Canada, U.G.R.R., and the Abolitionists, he concluded that it would do no harm to hint to a reliable friend or two the names of these hard places and bad people, to see what impression would be made on their minds; in short, to see if they were ready to second a motion to get rid of bondage. In thus opening his mind to his friends, he soon found a willing accord in each of their hearts, and they put their heads together to count up the cost and to fix a time for leaving Egypt and the host of Pharaoh to do their own "hewing of wood and drawing of water." Accordingly George, Daniel, Benjamin and Maria, all of one heart and mind, one "Saturday night" resolved that the next Sunday should find them on the U.G.R.R., with their faces towards Canada.

Daniel was young, only twenty-three, good looking, and half white, with a fair share of intelligence. As regards his slave life, he acknowledged that he had not had it very rough as a general thing; nevertheless, he was fully persuaded that he had "as good a right to his freedom" as his "master had to his," and that it was his duty to contend for it.

Benjamin was twenty-seven years of age, small of stature, dark complexion, of a pleasant countenance, and quite smart. He testified, that "ill-treatment from his master," Henry Martin, who would give him "no chance at all," was the cause of his leaving. He left a brother and sister, belonging to Martin, besides he left two other sisters in bondage, Louisa and Letty, but his father and mother were both dead. Therefore, the land of slave-whips and auction-blocks had no charms for him. He loved his sisters, but he knew if he could not protect himself, much less could he protect them. So he concluded to bid them adieu forever in this world.

Turning from the three male companions for the purpose of finding a brief space for Maria, it will be well to state here that females in attempting to escape from a life of bondage undertook three times the risk of failure that males were liable to, not to mention the additional trials and struggles they had to contend with. In justice, therefore, to the heroic female who was willing to endure the most extreme suffering and hardship for freedom, double honors were due.

Maria, the heroine of the party, was about forty years of age, chestnut color, medium size, and possessed of a good share of common sense. She was owned by George Parker. As was a common thing with slave-holders, Maria had found her owners hard to please, and quite often, without the slightest reason, they would threaten to "sell or make a change." These threats only made matters worse, or rather it only served to nerve Maria for the conflict. The party walked almost the entire distance from Washington to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

In the meantime George Parker, the so-called owner of Daniel and Maria, hurriedly rushed their good names into the "Baltimore Sun," after the following manner—

"FOUR HUNDRED DOLLARS REWARD.—Ranaway from my house on Saturday night, August 30, my negro man 'Daniel,' twenty-five years of age, bright yellow mulatto, thick set and stout made.

Also, my negro woman, 'Maria,' forty years of age, bright mulatto. The above reward will be paid if delivered in Washington city. GEORGE PARKER."

While this advertisement was in the Baltimore papers, doubtless these noble passengers were enjoying the hospitalities of the Vigilance Committee, and finally a warm reception in Canada, by which they were greatly pleased. Of Benjamin and Daniel, the subjoined letter from Rev. H. Wilson is of importance in the way of throwing light upon their whereabouts in Canada:

ST. CATHARINE, C.W., Sept. 15th, 1856.

MR. WILLIAM STILL:—Dear Sir—Two young men arrived here on Friday evening last from Washington, viz: Benjamin R. Fletcher and Daniel Neall. Mr. Neall (or Neale) desires to have his box of clothing forwarded on to him. It is at Washington in the care of John Dade, a colored man, who lives at Doct. W.H. Gilman's, who keeps an Apothecary store on the corner of 4-1/2 and Pennsylvania Avenue. Mr. Dade is a slave, but a free dealer. You will please write to John Dade, in the care of Doct. W.H. Gilman, on behalf of Daniel Neale, but make use of the name of George Harrison, instead of Neale, and Dade will understand it. Please have John Dade direct the box by express to you in Philadelphia; he has the means of paying the charges on it in advance, as far as Philadelphia; and as soon as it comes, you will please forward it on to my care at St. Catherine. Say to John Dade, that George Harrison sends his love to his sister and Uncle Allen Sims, and all inquiring friends. Mr. Fletcher and Mr. Neale both send their respects to you, and I may add mine.

Yours truly,


P.S.—Mr. Benjamin R. Fletcher wishes to have Mr. Dade call on his brother James, and communicate to him his affectionate regards, and make known to him that he is safe, and cheerful and happy. He desires his friends to know, through Dade, that he found Mrs. Starke here, his brother Alfred's wife's sister; that she is well, and living in St. Catharine, C.W., near Niagara Palls. H.W.

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Although the name of Henry Box Brown has been echoed over the land for a number of years, and the simple facts connected with his marvelous escape from slavery in a box published widely through the medium of anti-slavery papers, nevertheless it is not unreasonable to suppose that very little is generally known in relation to this case.

Briefly, the facts are these, which doubtless have never before been fully published—

Brown was a man of invention as well as a hero. In point of interest, however, his case is no more remarkable than many others. Indeed, neither before nor after escaping did he suffer one-half what many others have experienced.

He was decidedly an unhappy piece of property in the city of Richmond, Va. In the condition of a slave he felt that it would be impossible for him to remain. Full well did he know, however, that it was no holiday task to escape the vigilance of Virginia slave-hunters, or the wrath of an enraged master for committing the unpardonable sin of attempting to escape to a land of liberty. So Brown counted well the cost before venturing upon this hazardous undertaking. Ordinary modes of travel he concluded might prove disastrous to his hopes; he, therefore, hit upon a new invention altogether, which was to have himself boxed up and forwarded to Philadelphia direct by express. The size of the box and how it was to be made to fit him most comfortably, was of his own ordering. Two feet eight inches deep, two feet wide, and three feet long were the exact dimensions of the box, lined with baize. His resources with regard to food and water consisted of the following: One bladder of water and a few small biscuits. His mechanical implement to meet the death-struggle for fresh air, all told, was one large gimlet. Satisfied that it would be far better to peril his life for freedom in this way than to remain under the galling yoke of Slavery, he entered his box, which was safely nailed up and hooped with five hickory hoops, and was then addressed by his next friend, James A. Smith, a shoe dealer, to Wm. H. Johnson, Arch street, Philadelphia, marked, "This side up with care." In this condition he was sent to Adams' Express office in a dray, and thence by overland express to Philadelphia. It was twenty-six hours from the time he left Richmond until his arrival in the City of Brotherly Love. The notice, "This side up, &c.," did not avail with the different expressmen, who hesitated not to handle the box in the usual rough manner common to this class of men. For a while they actually had the box upside down, and had him on his head for miles. A few days before he was expected, certain intimation was conveyed to a member of the Vigilance Committee that a box might be expected by the three o'clock morning train from the South, which might contain a man. One of the most serious walks he ever took—and they had not been a few—to meet and accompany passengers, he took at half past two o'clock that morning to the depot. Not once, but for more than a score of times, he fancied the slave would be dead. He anxiously looked while the freight was being unloaded from the cars, to see if he could recognize a box that might contain a man; one alone had that appearance, and he confessed it really seemed as if there was the scent of death about it. But on inquiry, he soon learned that it was not the one he was looking after, and he was free to say he experienced a marked sense of relief. That same afternoon, however, he received from Richmond a telegram, which read thus, "Your case of goods is shipped and will arrive to-morrow morning."

At this exciting juncture of affairs, Mr. McKim, who had been engineering this important undertaking, deemed it expedient to change the programme slightly in one particular at least to insure greater safety. Instead of having a member of the Committee go again to the depot for the box, which might excite suspicion, it was decided that it would be safest to have the express bring it direct to the Anti-Slavery Office.

But all apprehension of danger did not now disappear, for there was no room to suppose that Adams' Express office had any sympathy with the Abolitionist or the fugitive, consequently for Mr. McKim to appear personally at the express office to give directions with reference to the coming of a box from Richmond which would be directed to Arch street, and yet not intended for that street, but for the Anti-Slavery office at 107 North Fifth street, it needed of course no great discernment to foresee that a step of this kind was wholly impracticable and that a more indirect and covert method would have to be adopted. In this dreadful crisis Mr. McKim, with his usual good judgment and remarkably quick, strategical mind, especially in matters pertaining to the U.G.R.R., hit upon the following plan, namely, to go to his friend, E.M. Davis,A who was then extensively engaged in mercantile business, and relate the circumstances. Having daily intercourse with said Adams' Express office, and being well acquainted with the firm and some of the drivers, Mr. Davis could, as Mr. McKim thought, talk about "boxes, freight, etc.," from any part of the country without risk. Mr. Davis heard Mr. McKim's plan and instantly approved of it, and was heartily at his service.

A: E.M. Davis was a member of the Executive Committee of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society and a long-tried Abolitionist, son-in-law of James and Lucretia Mott.



"Dan, an Irishman, one of Adams' Express drivers, is just the fellow to go to the depot after the box," said Davis. "He drinks a little too much whiskey sometimes, but he will do anything I ask him to do, promptly and obligingly. I'll trust Dan, for I believe he is the very man." The difficulty which Mr. McKim had been so anxious to overcome was thus pretty well settled. It was agreed that Dan should go after the box next morning before daylight and bring it to the Anti-Slavery office direct, and to make it all the more agreeable for Dan to get up out of his warm bed and go on this errand before day, it was decided that he should have a five dollar gold piece for himself. Thus these preliminaries having been satisfactorily arranged, it only remained for Mr. Davis to see Dan and give him instructions accordingly, etc.

Next morning, according to arrangement, the box was at the Anti-Slavery office in due time. The witnesses present to behold the resurrection were J.M. McKim, Professor C.D. Cleveland, Lewis Thompson, and the writer.

Mr. McKim was deeply interested; but having been long identified with the Anti-Slavery cause as one of its oldest and ablest advocates in the darkest days of slavery and mobs, and always found by the side of the fugitive to counsel and succor, he was on this occasion perfectly composed.

Professor Cleveland, however, was greatly moved. His zeal and earnestness in the cause of freedom, especially in rendering aid to passengers, knew no limit. Ordinarily he could not too often visit these travelers, shake them too warmly by the hand, or impart to them too freely of his substance to aid them on their journey. But now his emotion was overpowering.

Mr. Thompson, of the firm of Merrihew & Thompson—about the only printers in the city who for many years dared to print such incendiary documents as anti-slavery papers and pamphlets—one of the truest friends of the slave, was composed and prepared to witness the scene.

All was quiet. The door had been safely locked. The proceedings commenced. Mr. McKim rapped quietly on the lid of the box and called out, "All right!" Instantly came the answer from within, "All right, sir!"

The witnesses will never forget that moment. Saw and hatchet quickly had the five hickory hoops cut and the lid off, and the marvellous resurrection of Brown ensued. Rising up in his box, he reached out his hand, saying, "How do you do, gentlemen?" The little assemblage hardly knew what to think or do at the moment. He was about as wet as if he had come up out of the Delaware. Very soon he remarked that, before leaving Richmond he had selected for his arrival-hymn (if he lived) the Psalm beginning with these words: "I waited patiently for the Lord, and He heard my prayer." And most touchingly did he sing the psalm, much to his own relief, as well as to the delight of his small audience.

He was then christened Henry Box Brown, and soon afterwards was sent to the hospitable residence of James Mott and E.M. Davis, on Ninth street, where, it is needless to say, he met a most cordial reception from Mrs. Lucretia Mott and her household. Clothing and creature comforts were furnished in abundance, and delight and joy filled all hearts in that stronghold of philanthropy.

As he had been so long doubled up in the box he needed to promenade considerably in the fresh air, so James Mott put one of his broad-brim hats on his head and tendered him the hospitalities of his yard as well as his house, and while Brown promenaded the yard flushed with victory, great was the joy of his friends.

After his visit at Mr. Mott's, he spent two days with the writer, and then took his departure for Boston, evidently feeling quite conscious of the wonderful feat he had performed, and at the same time it may be safely said that those who witnessed this strange resurrection were not only elated at his success, but were made to sympathize more deeply than ever before with the slave. Also the noble-hearted Smith who boxed him up was made to rejoice over Brown's victory, and was thereby encouraged to render similar service to two other young bondmen, who appealed to him for deliverance. But, unfortunately, in this attempt the undertaking proved a failure. Two boxes containing the young men alluded to above, after having been duly expressed and some distance on the road, were, through the agency of the telegraph, betrayed, and the heroic young fugitives were captured in their boxes and dragged back to hopeless bondage. Consequently, through this deplorable failure, Samuel A. Smith was arrested, imprisoned, and was called upon to suffer severely, as may be seen from the subjoined correspondence, taken from the New York Tribune soon after his release from the penitentiary.


[Correspondence of the N.Y. Tribune.]

PHILADELPHIA, Saturday, July 5, 1856.

Samuel A. Smith, who boxed up Henry Box Brown in Richmond, Va., and forwarded him by overland express to Philadelphia, and who was arrested and convicted, eight years ago, for boxing up two other slaves, also directed to Philadelphia, having served out his imprisonment in the Penitentiary, was released on the 18th ultimo, and arrived in this city on the 21st.

Though he lost all his property; though he was refused witnesses on his trial (no officer could be found, who would serve a summons on a witness); though for five long months, in hot weather, he was kept heavily chained in a cell four by eight feet in dimensions; though he received five dreadful stabs, aimed at his heart, by a bribed assassin, nevertheless he still rejoices in the motives which prompted him to "undo the heavy burdens, and let the oppressed go free." Having resided nearly all his life in the South, where he had traveled and seen much of the "peculiar institution," and had witnessed the most horrid enormities inflicted upon the slave, whose cries were ever ringing in his ears, and for whom he had the warmest sympathy, Mr. Smith could not refrain from believing that the black man, as well as the white, had God-given rights. Consequently, he was not accustomed to shed tears when a poor creature escaped ftom his "kind master;" nor was he willing to turn a deaf ear to his appeals and groans, when he knew he was thirsting for freedom. From 1828 up to the day he was incarcerated, many had sought his aid and counsel, nor had they sought in vain. In various places he operated with success. In Richmond, however, it seemed expedient to invent a new plan for certain emergencies, hence the Box and Express plan was devised, at the instance of a few heroic slaves, who had manifested their willingness to die in a box, on the road to liberty, rather than continue longer under the yoke. But these heroes fell into the power of their enemies. Mr. Smith had not been long in the Penitentiary before he had fully gained the esteem and confidence of the Superintendent and other officers. Finding him to be humane and generous-hearted—showing kindness toward all, especially in buying bread, &c., for the starving prisoners, and by a timely note of warning, which had saved the life of one of the keepers, for whose destruction a bold plot had been arranged—the officers felt disposed to show him such favors as the law would allow. But their good intentions were soon frustrated. The Inquisition (commonly called the Legislature), being in session in Richmond, hearing that the Superintendent had been speaking well of Smith, and circulating a petition for his pardon, indignantly demanded to know if the rumor was well founded. Two weeks were spent by the Inquisition, and many witnesses were placed upon oath, to solemnly testify in the matter. One of the keepers swore that his life had been saved by Smith. Col. Morgan, the Superintendent, frequently testified in writing and verbally to Smith's good deportment; acknowledging that he had circulated petitions, &c.; and took the position, that he sincerely believed, that it would be to the interest of the institution to pardon him; calling the attention of the Inquisition, at the same time, to the fact, that not unfrequently pardons had been granted to criminals, under sentence of death, for the most cold-blooded murder, to say nothing of other gross crimes. The effort for pardon was soon abandoned, for the following reason given by the Governor: "I can't, and I won't pardon him!"

In view of the unparalleled injustice which Mr. S. had suffered, as well as on account of the aid he had rendered to the slaves, on his arrival in this city the colored citizens of Philadelphia felt that he was entitled to sympathy and aid, and straightway invited him to remain a few days, until arrangements could be made for a mass meeting to receive him. Accordingly, on last Monday evening, a mass meeting convened in the Israel church, and the Rev. Wm. T. Catto was called to the chair, and Wm. Still was appointed secretary. The chairman briefly stated the object of the meeting. Having lived in the South, he claimed to know something of the workings of the oppressive system of slavery generally, and declared that, notwithstanding the many exposures of the evil which came under his own observation, the most vivid descriptions fell far short of the realities his own eyes had witnessed. He then introduced Mr. Smith, who arose and in a plain manner briefly told his story, assuring the audience that he had always hated slavery, and had taken great pleasure in helping many out of it, and though he had suffered much physically and pecuniarily for the cause' sake, yet he murmured not, but rejoiced in what he had done. After taking his seat, addresses were made by the Rev. S. Smith, Messrs. Kinnard, Brunner, Bradway, and others. The following preamble and resolutions were adopted—

WHEREAS, We, the colored citizens of Philadelphia, have among us Samuel A. Smith, who was incarcerated over seven years in the Richmond Penitentiary, for doing an act that was honorable to his feelings and his sense of justice and humanity, therefore,

Resolved, That we welcome him to this city as a martyr to the cause of Freedom.

Resolved, That we heartily tender him our gratitude for the good he has done to our suffering race.

Resolved, That we sympathize with him in his losses and sufferings in the cause of the poor, down-trodden slave.


During his stay in Philadelphia, on this occasion, he stopped for about a fortnight with the writer, and it was most gratifying to learn from him that he was no new worker on the U.G.R.R. But that he had long hated slavery thoroughly, and although surrounded with perils on every side, he had not failed to help a poor slave whenever the opportunity was presented.

Pecuniary aid, to some extent, was rendered him in this city, for which he was grateful, and after being united in marriage, by Wm. H. Furness, D.D., to a lady who had remained faithful to him through all his sore trials and sufferings, he took his departure for Western New York, with a good conscience and an unshaken faith in the belief that in aiding his fellow-man to freedom he had but simply obeyed the word of Him who taught man to do unto others as he would be done by.

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Among other duties devolving on the Vigilance Committee when hearing of slaves brought into the State by their owners, was immediately to inform such persons that as they were not fugitives, but were brought into the State by their masters, they were entitled to their freedom without another moment's service, and that they could have the assistance of the Committee and the advice of counsel without charge, by simply availing themselves of these proffered favors.

Many slave-holders fully understood the law in this particular, and were also equally posted with regard to the vigilance of abolitionists. Consequently they avoided bringing slaves beyond Mason and Dixon's Line in traveling North. But some slave-holders were not thus mindful of the laws, or were too arrogant to take heed, as may be seen in the case of Colonel John H. Wheeler, of North Carolina, the United States Minister to Nicaragua. In passing through Philadelphia from Washington, one very warm July day in 1855, accompanied by three of his slaves, his high official equilibrium, as well as his assumed rights under the Constitution, received a terrible shock at the hands of the Committee. Therefore, for the readers of these pages, and in order to completely illustrate the various phases of the work of the Committee in the days of Slavery, this case, selected from many others, is a fitting one. However, for more than a brief recital of some of the more prominent incidents, it will not be possible to find room in this volume. And, indeed, the necessity of so doing is precluded by the fact that Mr. Williamson in justice to himself and the cause of freedom, with great pains and singular ability, gathered the most important facts bearing on his memorable trial and imprisonment, and published them in a neat volume for historical reference.

In order to bring fully before the reader the beginning of this interesting and exciting case, it seems only necessary to publish the subjoined letter, written by one of the actors in the drama, and addressed to the New York Tribune, and an additional paragraph which may be requisite to throw light on a special point, which Judge Kane decided was concealed in the "obstinate" breast of Passmore Williamson, as said Williamson persistently refused before the said Judge's court, to own that he had a knowledge of the mystery in question. After which, a brief glance at some of the more important points of the case must suffice.


[Correspondence of The N.Y. Tribune.]

PHILADELPHIA, Monday, July 30, 1855.

As the public have not been made acquainted with the facts and particulars respecting the agency of Mr. Passmore Williamson and others, in relation to the slave case now agitating this city, and especially as the poor slave mother and her two sons have been so grossly misrepresented, I deem it my duty to lay the facts before you, for publication or otherwise, as you may think proper.

On Wednesday afternoon, week, at 4-1/2 o'clock, the following note was placed in my hands by a colored boy whom I had never before seen, to my recollection:

"MR. STILL—Sir: Will you come down to Bloodgood's Hotel as soon as possible—as there are three fugitive slaves here and they want liberty. Their master is here with them, on his way to New York."

The note was without date, and the signature so indistinctly written as not to be understood by me, having evidently been penned in a moment of haste.

Without delay I ran with the note to Mr. P. Williamson's office, Seventh and Arch, found him at his desk, and gave it to him, and after reading it, he remarked that he could not go down, as he had to go to Harrisburg that night on business—but he advised me to go, and to get the names of the slave-holder and the slaves, in order to telegraph to New York to have them arrested there, as no time remained to procure a writ of habeas corpus here.

I could not have been two minutes in Mr. W.'s office before starting in haste for the wharf. To my surprise, however, when I reached the wharf, there I found Mr. W., his mind having undergone a sudden change; he was soon on the spot.

I saw three or four colored persons in the hall at Bloodgood's, none of whom I recognized except the boy who brought me the note. Before having time for making inquiry some one said they had gone on board the boat. "Get their description," said Mr. W. I instantly inquired of one of the colored persons for the desired description, and was told that she was "a tall, dark woman, with two little boys."

Mr. W. and myself ran on board of the boat, looked among the passengers on the first deck, but saw them not. "They are up on the second deck," an unknown voice uttered. In a second we were in their presence. We approached the anxious-looking slave-mother with her two boys on her left-hand; close on her right sat an ill-favored white man having a cane in his hand which I took to be a sword-cane. (As to its being a sword-cane, however, I might have been mistaken.)

The first words to the mother were: "Are you traveling?" "Yes," was the prompt answer. "With whom?" She nodded her head toward the ill-favored man, signifying with him. Fidgeting on his seat, he said something, exactly what I do not now recollect. In reply I remarked: "Do they belong to you, Sir?" "Yes, they are in my charge," was his answer. Turning from him to the mother and her sons, in substance, and word for word, as near as I can remember, the following remarks were earnestly though calmly addressed by the individuals who rejoiced to meet them on free soil, and who felt unmistakably assured that they were justified by the laws of Pennsylvania as well as the Law of God, in informing them of their rights:

"You are entitled to your freedom according to the laws of Pennsylvania, having been brought into the State by your owner. If you prefer freedom to slavery, as we suppose everybody does, you have the chance to accept it now. Act calmly—don't be frightened by your master—you are as much entitled to your freedom as we are, or as he is—be determined and you need have no fears but that you will be protected by the law. Judges have time and again decided cases in this city and State similar to yours in favor of freedom! Of course, if you want to remain a slave with your master, we cannot force you to leave; we only want to make you sensible of your rights. Remember, if you lose this chance you may never get such another," etc.



This advice to the woman was made in the hearing of a number of persons present, white and colored; and one elderly white gentleman of genteel address, who seemed to take much interest in what was going on, remarked that they would have the same chance for their freedom in New Jersey and New York as they then had—seeming to sympathize with the woman, etc.

During the few moments in which the above remarks were made, the slaveholder frequently interrupted—said she understood all about the laws making her free, and her right to leave if she wanted to; but contended that she did not want to leave—that she was on a visit to New York to see her friends—afterward wished to return to her three children whom she left in Virginia, from whom it would be HARD to separate her. Furthermore, he diligently tried to constrain her to say that she did not want to be interfered with—that she wanted to go with him—that she was on a visit to New York—had children in the South, etc.; but the woman's desire to be free was altogether too strong to allow her to make a single acknowledgment favorable to his wishes in the matter. On the contrary, she repeatedly said, distinctly and firmly, "I am not free, but I want my freedom—ALWAYS wanted to be free!! but he holds me."

While the slaveholder claimed that she belonged to him, he said that she was free! Again he said that he was going to give her her freedom, etc. When his eyes would be off of hers, such eagerness as her looks expressed, indicative of her entreaty that we would not forsake her and her little ones in their weakness, it had never been my lot to witness before, under any circumstances.

The last bell tolled! The last moment for further delay passed! The arm of the woman being slightly touched, accompanied with the word, "Come!" she instantly arose. "Go along—go along!" said some, who sympathized, to the boys, at the same time taking hold of their arms. By this time the parties were fairly moving toward the stairway leading to the deck below. Instantly on their starting, the slave-holder rushed at the woman and her children, to prevent their leaving; and, if I am not mistaken, he simultaneously took hold of the woman and Mr. Williamson, which resistance on his part caused Mr. W. to take hold of him and set him aside quickly.

The passengers were looking on all around, but none interfered in behalf of the slaveholder except one man, whom I took to be another slaveholder. He said harshly, "Let them alone; they are his property!'" The youngest boy, about 7 years of age—too young to know what these things meant—cried "Massa John! Massa John!" The elder boy, 11 years of age, took the matter more dispassionately, and the mother quite calmly. The mother and her sympathizers all moved down the stairs together in the presence of quite a number of spectators on the first deck and on the wharf, all of whom, as far as I was able to discern, seemed to look upon the whole affair with the greatest indifference. The woman and children were assisted, but not forced to leave. Nor were there any violence or threatenings as I saw or heard. The only words that I heard from any one of an objectionable character, were: "Knock him down; knock him down!" but who uttered it or who was meant I knew not, nor have I since been informed. However, if it was uttered by a colored man, I regret it, as there was not the slightest cause for such language, especially as the sympathies of the spectators and citizens seemed to justify the course pursued.

While passing off of the wharf and down Delaware-avenue to Dock st., and up Dock to Front, where a carriage was procured, the slaveholder and one police officer were of the party, if no more.

The youngest boy on being put in the carriage was told that he was "a fool for crying so after 'Massa John,' who would sell him if he ever caught him." Not another whine was heard on the subject.

The carriage drove down town slowly, the horses being fatigued and the weather intensely hot; the inmates were put out on Tenth street—not at any house—after which they soon found hospitable friends and quietude. The excitement of the moment having passed by, the mother seemed very cheerful, and rejoiced greatly that herself and boys had been, as she thought, so "providentially delivered from the house of bondage!" For the first time in her life she could look upon herself and children and feel free!

Having felt the iron in her heart for the best half of her days—having been sold with her children on the auction block—having had one of her children sold far away from her without hope of her seeing him again—she very naturally and wisely concluded to go to Canada, fearing if she remained in this city—as some assured her she could do with entire safety—that she might again find herself in the clutches of the tyrant from whom she had fled.

A few items of what she related concerning the character of her master may be interesting to the reader—

Within the last two years he had sold all his slaves—between thirty and forty in number—having purchased the present ones in that space of time. She said that before leaving Washington, coming on the cars, and at his father-in-law's in this city, a number of persons had told him that in bringing his slaves into Pennsylvania they would be free. When told at his father-in-law's, as she overheard it, that he "could not have done a worse thing," &c., he replied that "Jane would not leave him."

As much, however, as he affected to have such implicit confidence in Jane, he scarcely allowed her to be out of his presence a moment while in this city. To use Jane's own language, he was "on her heels every minute," fearing that some one might get to her ears the sweet music of freedom. By the way, Jane had it deep in her heart before leaving the South, and was bent on succeeding in New York, if disappointed in Philadelphia.

At Bloodgood's, after having been belated and left by the 2 o'clock train, while waiting for the 5 o'clock line, his appetite tempted her "master" to take a hasty dinner. So after placing Jane where he thought she would be pretty secure from "evil communications" from the colored waiters, and after giving her a double counselling, he made his way to the table; remained but a little while, however, before leaving to look after Jane; finding her composed, looking over a bannister near where he left her, he returned to the table again and finished his meal.

But, alas, for the slave-holder! Jane had her "top eye open," and in that brief space had appealed to the sympathies of a person whom she ventured to trust, saying, "I and my children are slaves, and we want liberty!" I am not certain, but suppose that person, in the goodness of his heart, was the cause of the note being sent to the Anti-Slavery office, and hence the result.

As to her going on to New York to see her friends, and wishing to return to her three children in the South, and his going to free her, &c., Jane declared repeatedly and very positively, that there was not a particle of truth in what her master said on these points. The truth is she had not the slightest hope of freedom through any act of his. She had only left one boy in the South, who had been sold far away, where she scarcely ever heard from him, indeed never expected to see him any more.

In appearance Jane is tall and well formed, high and large forehead, of genteel manners, chestnut color, and seems to possess, naturally, uncommon good sense, though of course she has never been allowed to read.

Thus I have given as truthful a report as I am capable of doing, of Jane and the circumstances connected with her deliverance.


P.S.—Of the five colored porters who promptly appeared, with warm hearts throbbing in sympathy with the mother and her children, too much cannot be said in commendation. In the present case they acted nobly, whatever may be said of their general character, of which I know nothing. How human beings, who have ever tasted oppression, could have acted differently under the circumstances I cannot conceive.

The mystery alluded to, which the above letter did not contain, and which the court failed to make Mr. Williamson reveal, might have been truthfully explained in these words. The carriage was procured at the wharf, while Col. Wheeler and Mr. Williamson were debating the question relative to the action of the Committee, and at that instant, Jane and her two boys were invited into it and accompanied by the writer, who procured it, were driven down town, and on Tenth Street, below Lombard, the inmates were invited out of it, and the said conductor paid the driver and discharged him. For prudential reasons he took them to a temporary resting-place, where they could tarry until after dark; then they were invited to his own residence, where they were made welcome, and in due time forwarded East. Now, what disposition was made of them after they had left the wharf, while Williamson and Wheeler were discussing matters—(as was clearly sworn to by Passmore, in his answer to the writ of Habeas Corpus)—he Williamson did not know. That evening, before seeing the member of the Committee, with whom he acted in concert on the boat, and who had entire charge of Jane and her boys, he left for Harrisburg, to fulfill business engagements. The next morning his father (Thomas Williamson) brought the writ of Habeas Corpus (which had been served at Passmore's office after he left) to the Anti-Slavery Office. In his calm manner he handed it to the writer, at the same time remarking that "Passmore had gone to Harrisburg," and added, "thee had better attend to it" (the writ). Edward Hopper, Esq., was applied to with the writ, and in the absence of Mr. Williamson, appeared before the court, and stated "that the writ had not been served, as Mr. W. was out of town," etc.

After this statement, the Judge postponed further action until the next day. In the meanwhile, Mr. Williamson returned and found the writ awaiting him, and an agitated state of feeling throughout the city besides. Now it is very certain, that he did not seek to know from those in the secret, where Jane Johnson and her boys were taken after they left the wharf, or as to what disposition had been made of them, in any way; except to ask simply, "are they safe?" (and when told "yes," he smiled) consequently, he might have been examined for a week, by the most skillful lawyer, at the Philadelphia bar, but he could not have answered other than he did in making his return to the writ, before Judge Kane, namely: "That the persons named in the writ, nor either of them, are now nor was at the time of issuing of the writ, or the original writ, or at any other time in the custody, power, or possession of the respondent, nor by him confined or restrained; wherefore he cannot have the bodies," etc..

Thus, while Mr. W. was subjected to the severest trial of his devotion to Freedom, his noble bearing throughout, won for him the admiration and sympathy of the friends of humanity and liberty throughout the entire land, and in proof of his fidelity, he most cheerfully submitted to imprisonment rather than desert his principles. But the truth was not wanted in this instance by the enemies of Freedom; obedience to Slavery was demanded to satisfy the South. The opportunity seemed favorable for teaching abolitionists and negroes, that they had no right to interfere with a "chivalrous southern gentleman," while passing through Philadelphia with his slaves. Thus, to make an effective blow, all the pro-slavery elements of Philadelphia were brought into action, and matters looked for a time as though Slavery in this instance would have everything its own way. Passmore was locked up in prison on the flimsy pretext of contempt of court, and true bills were found against him and half a dozen colored men, charging them with "riot," "forcible abduction," and "assault and battery," and there was no lack of hard swearing on the part of Col. Wheeler and his pro-slavery sympathizers in substantiation of these grave charges. But the pro-slaveryites had counted without their host—Passmore would not yield an inch, but stood as firmly by his principles in prison, as he did on the boat. Indeed, it was soon evident, that his resolute course was bringing floods of sympathy from the ablest and best minds throughout the North. On the other hand, the occasion was rapidly awakening thousands daily, who had hitherto manifested little or no interest at all on the subject, to the wrongs of the slave.

It was soon discovered by the "chivalry" that keeping Mr. Williamson in prison would indirectly greatly aid the cause of Freedom—that every day he remained would make numerous converts to the cause of liberty; that Mr. Williamson was doing ten-fold more in prison for the cause of universal liberty than he could possibly do while pursuing his ordinary vocation.

With regard to the colored men under bonds, Col. Wheeler and his satellites felt very confident that there was no room for them to escape. They must have had reason so to think, judging from the hard swearing they did, before the committing magistrate. Consequently, in the order of events, while Passmore was still in prison, receiving visits from hosts of friends, and letters of sympathy from all parts of the North, William Still, William Curtis, James P. Braddock, John Ballard, James Martin and Isaiah Moore, were brought into court for trial. The first name on the list in the proceedings of the court was called up first.

Against this individual, it was pretty well understood by the friends of the slave, that no lack of pains and false swearing would be resorted to on the part of Wheeler and his witnesses, to gain a verdict.

Mr. McKim and other noted abolitionists managing the defense, were equally alive to the importance of overwhelming the enemy in this particular issue. The Hon. Charles Gibbons, was engaged to defend William Still, and William S. Pierce, Esq., and William B. Birney, Esq., the other five colored defendants.

In order to make the victory complete, the anti-slavery friends deemed it of the highest importance to have Jane Johnson in court, to face her master, and under oath to sweep away his "refuge of lies," with regard to her being "abducted," and her unwillingness to "leave her master," etc. So Mr. McKim and the friends very privately arranged to have Jane Johnson on hand at the opening of the defense.

Mrs. Lucretia Mott, Mrs. McKim, Miss Sarah Pugh and Mrs. Plumly, volunteered to accompany this poor slave mother to the court-house and to occupy seats by her side, while she should face her master, and boldly, on oath, contradict all his hard swearing. A better subject for the occasion than Jane, could not have been desired. She entered the court room veiled, and of course was not known by the crowd, as pains had been taken to keep the public in ignorance of the fact, that she was to be brought on to bear witness. So that, at the conclusion of the second witness on the part of the defense, "Jane Johnson" was called for, in a shrill voice. Deliberately, Jane arose and answered, in a lady-like manner to her name, and was then the observed of all observers. Never before had such a scene been witnessed in Philadelphia. It was indescribable. Substantially, her testimony on this occasion, was in keeping with the subjoined affidavit, which was as follows—

"State of New York, City and County of New York.

"Jane Johnson being sworn, makes oath and says—

"My name is Jane—Jane Johnson; I was the slave of Mr. Wheeler of Washington; he bought me and my two children, about two years ago, of Mr. Cornelius Crew, of Richmond, Va.; my youngest child is between six and seven years old, the other between ten and eleven; I have one other child only, and he is in Richmond; I have not seen him for about two years; never expect to see him again; Mr. Wheeler brought me and my two children to Philadelphia, on the way to Nicaragua, to wait on his wife; I didn't want to go without my two children, and he consented to take them; we came to Philadelphia by the cars; stopped at Mr. Sully's, Mr. Wheeler's father-in-law, a few moments; then went to the steamboat for New York at 2 o'clock, but were too late; we went into Bloodgood's Hotel; Mr. Wheeler went to dinner; Mr. Wheeler had told me in Washington to have nothing to say to colored persons, and if any of them spoke to me, to say I was a free woman traveling with a minister; we staid at Bloodgood's till 5 o'clock; Mr. Wheeler kept his eye on me all the time except when he was at dinner; he left his dinner to come and see if I was safe, and then went back again; while he was at dinner, I saw a colored woman and told her I was a slave woman, that my master had told me not to speak to colored people, and that if any of them spoke to me to say that I was free; but I am not free; but I want to be free; she said: 'poor thing, I pity you;' after that I saw a colored man and said the same thing to him, he said he would telegraph to New York, and two men would meet me at 9 o'clock and take me with them; after that we went on board the boat, Mr. Wheeler sat beside me on the deck; I saw a colored gentleman come on board, he beckoned to me; I nodded my head, and could not go; Mr. Wheeler was beside me and I was afraid; a white gentleman then came and said to Mr. Wheeler, 'I want to speak to your servant, and tell her of her rights;' Mr. Wheeler rose and said, 'If you have anything to say, say it to me—she knows her rights;' the white gentleman asked me if I wanted to be free; I said 'I do, but I belong to this gentleman and I can't have it;' he replied, 'Yes, you can, come with us, you are as free as your master, if you want your freedom come now; if you go back to Washington you may never get it;' I rose to go, Mr. Wheeler spoke, and said, 'I will give you your freedom,' but he had never promised it before, and I knew he would never give it to me; the white gentleman held out his hand and I went toward him; I was ready for the word before it was given me; I took the children by the hands, who both cried, for they were frightened, but both stopped when they got on shore; a colored man carried the little one, I led the other by the hand. We walked down the street till we got to a hack; nobody forced me away; nobody pulled me, and nobody led me; I went away of my own free will; I always wished to be free and meant to be free when I came North; I hardly expected it in Philadelphia, but I thought I should get free in New York; I have been comfortable and happy since I left Mr. Wheeler, and so are the children; I don't want to go back; I could have gone in Philadelphia if I had wanted to; I could go now; but I had rather die than go back. I wish to make this statement before a magistrate, because I understand that Mr. Williamson is in prison on my account, and I hope the truth may be of benefit to him."

JANE [her X mark.] JOHNSON.





It might have been supposed that her honest and straightforward testimony would have been sufficient to cause even the most relentless slaveholder to abandon at once a pursuit so monstrous and utterly hopeless as Wheeler's was. But although he was sadly confused and put to shame, he hung on to the "lost cause" tenaciously. And his counsel, David Webster, Esq., and the United States District Attorney, Vandyke, completely imbued with the pro-slavery spirit, were equally as unyielding. And thus, with a zeal befitting the most worthy object imaginable, they labored with untiring effort to convict the colored men.

By this policy, however, the counsel for the defense was doubly aroused. Mr. Gibbons, in the most eloquent and indignant strains, perfectly annihilated the "distinguished Colonel John H. Wheeler, United States Minister Plenipotentiary near the Island of Nicaragua," taking special pains to ring the changes repeatedly on his long appellations. Mr. Gibbons appeared to be precisely in the right mood to make himself surpassingly forcible and eloquent, on whatever point of law he chose to touch bearing on the case; or in whatever direction he chose to glance at the injustice and cruelty of the South. Most vividly did he draw the contrast between the States of "Georgia" and "Pennsylvania," with regard to the atrocious laws of Georgia. Scarcely less vivid is the impression after a lapse of sixteen years, than when this eloquent speech was made. With the District Attorney, Wm. B. Mann, Esq., and his Honor, Judge Kelley, the defendants had no cause to complain. Throughout the entire proceedings, they had reason to feel, that neither of these officials sympathized in the least with Wheeler or Slavery. Indeed in the Judge's charge and also in the District Attorney's closing speech the ring of freedom could be distinctly heard—much more so than was agreeable to Wheeler and his Pro-Slavery sympathizers. The case of Wm. Still ended in his acquittal; the other five colored men were taken up in order. And it is scarcely necessary to say that Messrs. Peirce and Birney did full justice to all concerned. Mr. Peirce, especially, was one of the oldest, ablest and most faithful lawyers to the slave of the Philadelphia Bar. He never was known, it may safely be said, to hesitate in the darkest days of Slavery to give his time and talents to the fugitive, even in the most hopeless cases, and when, from the unpopularity of such a course, serious sacrifices would be likely to result. Consequently he was but at home in this case, and most nobly did he defend his clients, with the same earnestness that a man would defend his fireside against the approach of burglars. At the conclusion of the trial, the jury returned a verdict of "not guilty," as to all the persons in the first count, charging them with riot. In the second count, charging them with "Assault and Battery" (on Col. Wheeler) Ballard and Curtis were found "guilty," the rest "not guilty." The guilty were given about a week in jail. Thus ended this act in the Wheeler drama.

The following extract is taken from the correspondence of the New York Tribune touching Jane Johnson's presence in the court, and will be interesting on that account:

"But it was a bold and perilous move on the part of her friends, and the deepest apprehensions were felt for a while, for the result. The United States Marshal was there with his warrant and an extra force to execute it. The officers of the court and other State officers were there to protect the witness and vindicate the laws of the State. Vandyke, the United States District Attorney, swore he would take her. The State officers swore he should not, and for a while it seemed that nothing could avert a bloody scene. It was expected that the conflict would take place at the door, when she should leave the room, so that when she and her friends went out, and for some time after, the most intense suspense pervaded the court-room. She was, however, allowed to enter the carriage that awaited her without disturbance. She was accompanied by Mr. McKim, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society, Lucretia Mott and George Corson, one of our most manly and intrepid police officers. The carriage was followed by another filled with officers as a guard; and thus escorted she was taken back in safety to the house from which she had been brought. Her title to Freedom under the laws of the State will hardly again be brought into question."

Mr. Williamson was committed to prison by Judge Kane for contempt of Court, on the 27th day of July, 1855, and was released on the 3d day of November the same year, having gained, in the estimation of the friends of Freedom every where, a triumph and a fame which but few men in the great moral battle for Freedom could claim.

       *       *       *       *       *



The great number of cases to be here noticed forbids more than a brief reference to each passenger. As they arrived in parties, their narratives will be given in due order as found on the book of records:

William Griffen, Henry Moor, James Camper, Noah Ennells and Levin Parker. This party came from Cambridge, Md.

William is thirty-four years of age, of medium size and substantial appearance. He fled from James Waters, Esq., a lawyer, living in Cambridge. He was "wealthy, close, and stingy," and owned nine head of slaves and a farm, on which William served. He was used very hard, which was the cause of his escape, though the idea that he was entitled to his freedom had been entertained for the previous twelve years. On preparing to take the Underground, he armed himself with a big butcher-knife, and resolved, if attacked, to make his enemies stand back. His master was a member of the Methodist Church.

Henry is tall, copper-colored, and about thirty years of age. He complained not so much of bad usage as of the utter distaste he had to working all the time for the "white people for nothing." He was also decidedly of the opinion that every man should have his liberty. Four years ago his wife was "sold away to Georgia" by her young master; since which time not a word had he heard of her. She left three children, and he, in escaping, also had to leave them in the same hands that sold their mother. He was owned by Levin Dale, a farmer near Cambridge. Henry was armed with a six-barreled revolver, a large knife, and a determined mind.

James is twenty-four years of age, quite black, small size, keen look, and full of hope for the "best part of Canada." He fled from Henry Hooper, "a dashing young man and a member of the Episcopal Church." Left because he "did not enjoy privileges" as he wished to do. He was armed with two pistols and a dirk to defend himself.

Noah is only nineteen, quite dark, well-proportioned, and possessed of a fair average of common sense. He was owned by "Black-head Bill LeCount," who "followed drinking, chewing tobacco, catching 'runaways,' and hanging around the court-house." However, he owned six head of slaves, and had a "rough wife," who belonged to the Methodist Church. Left because he "expected every day to be sold"—his master being largely in "debt." Brought with him a butcher-knife.

Levin is twenty-two, rather short built, medium size and well colored. He fled from Lawrence G. Colson, "a very bad man, fond of drinking, great to fight and swear, and hard to please." His mistress was "real rough; very bad, worse than he was as 'fur' as she could be." Having been stinted with food and clothing and worked hard, was the apology offered by Levin for running off.

Stebney Swan, John Stinger, Robert Emerson, Anthony Pugh and Isabella ——. This company came from Portsmouth, Va. Stebney is thirty-four years of age, medium size, mulatto, and quite wide awake. He was owned by an oysterman by the name of Jos. Carter, who lived near Portsmouth. Naturally enough his master "drank hard, gambled" extensively, and in every other respect was a very ordinary man. Nevertheless, he "owned twenty-five head," and had a wife and six children. Stebney testified that he had not been used hard, though he had been on the "auction-block three times." Left because he was "tired of being a servant." Armed with a broad-axe and hatchet, he started, joined by the above-named companions, and came in a skiff, by sea. Robert Lee was the brave Captain engaged to pilot this Slavery-sick party from the prison-house of bondage. And although every rod of rowing was attended with inconceivable peril, the desired haven was safely reached, and the overjoyed voyagers conducted to the Vigilance Committee.

John is about forty years of age, and so near white that a microscope would be required to discern his colored origin. His father was white, and his mother nearly so. He also had been owned by the oysterman alluded to above; had been captain of one of his oyster-boats, until recently. And but for his attempt some months back to make his escape, he might have been this day in the care of his kind-hearted master. But, because of this wayward step on the part of John, his master felt called upon to humble him. Accordingly, the captaincy was taken from him, and he was compelled to struggle on in a less honorable position. Occasionally John's mind would be refreshed by his master relating the hard times in the North, the great starvation among the blacks, etc. He would also tell John how much better off he was as a "slave with a kind master to provide for all his wants," etc. Notwithstanding all this counsel, John did not rest contented until he was on the Underground Rail Road.

Robert was only nineteen, with an intelligent face and prepossessing manners; reads, writes and ciphers; and is about half Anglo-Saxon. He fled from Wm. H. Wilson, Esq., Cashier of the Virginia Bank. Until within the four years previous to Robert's escape, the cashier was spoken of as a "very good man;" but in consequence of speculations in a large Hotel in Portsmouth, and the then financial embarrassments, "he had become seriously involved," and decidedly changed in his manners. Robert noticed this, and concluded he had "better get out of danger as soon as possible."

Anthony and Isabella were an engaged couple, and desired to cast their lot where husband and wife could not be separated on the auction-block.

The following are of the Cambridge party, above alluded to. All left together, but for prudential reasons separated before reaching Philadelphia. The company that left Cambridge on the 24th of October may be thus recognized: Aaron Cornish and wife, with their six children; Solomon, George Anthony, Joseph, Edward James, Perry Lake, and a nameless babe, all very likely; Kit Anthony and wife Leah, and three children, Adam, Mary, and Murray; Joseph Hill and wife Alice, and their son Henry; also Joseph's sister. Add to the above, Marshall Button and George Light, both single young men, and we have twenty-eight in one arrival, as hearty-looking, brave and interesting specimens of Slavery as could well be produced from Maryland. Before setting out they counted well the cost. Being aware that fifteen had left their neighborhood only a few days ahead of them, and that every slave-holder and slave-catcher throughout the community, were on the alert, and raging furiously against the inroads of the Underground Rail Road, they provided themselves with the following weapons of defense: three revolvers, three double-barreled pistols, three single-barreled pistols, three sword-canes, four butcher knives, one bowie-knife, and one paw.A Thus, fully resolved upon freedom or death, with scarcely provisions enough for a single day, while the rain and storm was piteously descending, fathers and mothers with children in their arms (Aaron Cornish had two)—the entire party started. Of course, their provisions gave out before they were fairly on the way, but not so with the storm. It continued to pour upon them for nearly three days. With nothing to appease the gnawings of hunger but parched corn and a few dry crackers, wet and cold, with several of the children sick, some of their feet bare and worn, and one of the mothers with an infant in her arms, incapable of partaking of the diet,—it is impossible to imagine the ordeal they were passing. It was enough to cause the bravest hearts to falter. But not for a moment did they allow themselves to look back. It was exceedingly agreeable to hear even the little children testify that in the most trying hour on the road, not for a moment did they want to go back. The following advertisement, taken from The Cambridge Democrat of November 4, shows how the Rev. Levi Traverse felt about Aaron—

A: A paw is a weapon with iron prongs, four inches long, to be grasped with the hand and used in close encounter.

Runaway glyph $300 Reward.—Ran away from the subscriber, from the neighborhood of Town Point, on Saturday night, the 24th inst., my negro man, AARON CORNISH, about 35 years old. He is about five feet ten inches high, black, good-looking, rather pleasant countenance, and carries himself with a confident manner. He went off with his wife, DAFFNEY, a negro woman belonging to Reuben E. Phillips. I will give the above reward if taken out of the county, and $200 if taken in the county; in either case to be lodged in Cambridge Jail.

October 25, 1857.

Levi D. Traverse.

To fully understand the Rev. Mr. Traverse's authority for taking the liberty he did with Aaron's good name, it may not be amiss to give briefly a paragraph of private information from Aaron, relative to his master. The Rev. Mr. Traverse belonged to the Methodist Church, and was described by Aaron as a "bad young man; rattle-brained; with the appearance of not having good sense,—not enough to manage the great amount of property (he had been left wealthy) in his possession." Aaron's servitude commenced under this spiritual protector in May prior to the escape, immediately after the death of his old master. His deceased master, William D. Traverse, by the way, was the father-in-law, and at the same time own uncle of Aaron's reverend owner. Though the young master, for marrying his own cousin and uncle's daughter, had been for years the subject of the old gentleman's wrath, and was not allowed to come near his house, or to entertain any reasonable hope of getting any of his father-in-law's estate, nevertheless, scarcely had the old man breathed his last, ere the young preacher seized upon the inheritance, slaves and all; at least he claimed two-thirds, allowing for the widow one-third. Unhesitatingly he had taken possession of all the slaves (some thirty head), and was making them feel his power to the fullest extent. To Aaron this increased oppression was exceedingly crushing, as he had been hoping at the death of his old master to be free. Indeed, it was understood that the old man had his will made, and freedom provided for the slaves. But, strangely enough, at his death no will could be found. Aaron was firmly of the conviction that the Rev. Mr. Traverse knew what became of it. Between the widow and the son-in-law, in consequence of his aggressive steps, existed much hostility, which strongly indicated the approach of a law-suit; therefore, except by escaping, Aaron could not see the faintest hope of freedom. Under his old master, the favor of hiring his time had been granted him. He had also been allowed by his wife's mistress (Miss Jane Carter, of Baltimore), to have his wife and children home with him—that is, until his children would grow to the age of eight and ten years, then they would be taken away and hired out at twelve or fifteen dollars a year at first. Her oldest boy, sixteen, hired the year he left for forty dollars. They had had ten children; two had died, two they were compelled to leave in chains; the rest they brought away. Not one dollar's expense had they been to their mistress. The industrious Aaron not only had to pay his own hire, but was obliged to do enough over-work to support his large family.

Though he said he had no special complaint to make against his old master, through whom he, with the rest of the slaves, hoped to obtain freedom, Aaron, nevertheless, spoke of him as a man of violent temper, severe on his slaves, drinking hard, etc., though he was a man of wealth and stood high in the community. One of Aaron's brothers, and others, had been sold South by him. It was on account of his inveterate hatred of his son-in-law, who, he declared, should never have his property (having no other heir but his niece, except his widow), that the slaves relied on his promise to free them. Thus, in view of the facts referred to, Aaron was led to commit the unpardonable sin of running away with his wife Daffney, who, by the way, looked like a woman fully capable of taking care of herself and children, instead of having them stolen away from her, as though they were pigs.

Joseph Viney and family—Joseph was "held to service or labor," by Charles Bryant, of Alexandria, Va. Joseph had very nearly finished paying for himself. His wife and children were held by Samuel Pattison, Esq., a member of the Methodist Church, "a great big man," "with red eyes, bald head, drank pretty freely," and in the language of Joseph, "wouldn't bear nothing." Two of Joseph's brothers-in-law had been sold by his master. Against Mrs. Pattison his complaint was, that "she was mean, sneaking, and did not want to give half enough to eat."

For the enlightenment of all Christendom, and coming posterity especially, the following advertisement and letter are recorded, with the hope that they will have an important historical value. The writer was at great pains to obtain these interesting documents, directly after the arrival of the memorable Twenty-Eight; and shortly afterwards furnished to the New York Tribune, in a prudential manner, a brief sketch of these very passengers, including the advertisements, but not the letter. It was safely laid away for history—

Runaway glyph $2,000 REWARD.—Ran away from the subscriber on Saturday night, the 24th inst, FOURTEEN HEAD OF NEGROES, viz: Four men, two women, one boy and seven children. KIT is about 35 years of age, five feet six or seven inches high, dark chestnut color, and has a scar on one of his thumbs. JOE is about 30 years old, very black, his teeth are very white, and is about five feet eight inches high. HENRY is about 22 years old, five feet ten inches high, of dark chestnut color and large front teeth. JOE is about 20 years old, about five feet six inches high, heavy built and black. TOM is about 16 years old, about five feet high, light chestnut color. SUSAN is about 35 years old, dark chestnut color, and rather stout built; speaks rather slow, and has with her FOUR CHILDREN, varying from one to seven years of age. LEAH is about 28 years old, about five feet high, dark chestnut color, with THREE CHILDREN, two boys and one girl, from one to eight years old.

I will give $1,000 if taken in the county, $1,500 if taken out of the county and in the State, and $2,000 if taken out of the State; in either case to be lodged in Cambridge (Md.) Jail, so that I can get them again; or I will give a fair proportion of the above reward if any part be secured.


October 26, 1857.

Near Cambridge, Md.

Runaway woman glyph P.S.—Since writing the above, I have discovered that my negro woman, SARAH JANE, 25 years old, stout built and chestnut color, has also run off.



CAMBRIDGE, Nov. 16th, 1857.

L.W. THOMPSON:—SIR, this morning I received your letter wishing an accurate description of my Negroes which ran away on the 24th of last month and the amt of reward offered &c &c. The description is as follows. Kit is about 35 years old, five feet, six or seven inches high, dark chestnut color and has a scar on one of his thumbs, he has a very quick step and walks very straight, and can read and write. Joe, is about 30 years old, very black and about five feet eight inches high, has a very pleasing appearance, he has a free wife who left with him she is a light molatoo, she has a child not over one year old. Henry is about 22 years old, five feet, ten inches high, of dark chestnut coller and large front teeth, he stoops a little in his walk and has a downward look. Joe is about 20 years old, about five feet six inches high, heavy built, and has a grum look and voice dull, and black. Tom is about 16 years old about five feet high light chestnut coller, smart active boy, and swagers in his walk. Susan is about 35 years old, dark chesnut coller and stout built, speaks rather slow and has with her four children, three boys and one girl—the girl has a thumb or finger on her left hand (part of it) cut off, the children are from 9 months to 8 years old. (the youngest a boy 9 months and the oldest whose name is Lloyd is about 8 years old) The husband of Susan (Joe Viney) started off with her, he is a slave, belonging to a gentleman in Alexandria D.C. he is about 40 years old and dark chesnut coller rather slender built and about five feet seven or eight inches high, he is also the Father of Henry, Joe and Tom. A reward of $400. will be given for his apprehension. Leah is about 28 years old about five feet high dark chesnut coller, with three children. 2 Boys and 1 girl, they are from one to eight years old, the oldest boy is called Adam, Leah is the wife of Kit, the first named man in the list. Sarah Jane is about 25 years old, stout built and chesnut coller, quick and active in her walk. Making in all 15 head, men, women and children belonging to me, or 16 head including Joe Viney, the husband of my woman Susan.

A Reward of $2250. will be given for my negroes if taken out of the State of Maryland and lodged in Cambridge or Baltimore Jail, so that I can get them or a fair proportion for any part of them. And including Joe Viney's reward $2650.00.

At the same time eight other negroes belonging to a neighbor of mine ran off, for which a reward of $1400.00 has been offered for them.

If you should want any information, witnesses to prove or indentify the negroes, write immediately on to me. Or if you should need any information with regard to proving the negroes, before I could reach Philadelphia, you can call on Mr. Burroughs at Martin & Smith's store, Market Street, No 308. Phila and he can refer you to a gentleman who knows the negroes.


This letter was in answer to one written in Philadelphia and signed, "L.W. Thompson." It is not improbable that Mr. Pattison's loss had produced such a high state of mental excitement that he was hardly in a condition for cool reflection, or he would have weighed the matter a little more carefully before exposing himself to the U.G.R.R. agents. But the letter possesses two commendable features, nevertheless. It was tolerably well written and prompt.

Here is a wonderful exhibition of affection for his contented and happy negroes. Whether Mr. Pattison suspended on suddenly learning that he was minus fifteen head, the writer cannot say. But that there was a great slave hunt in every direction there is no room to doubt. Though much more might be said about the parties concerned, it must suffice to add that they came to the Vigilance Committee in a very sad plight—in tattered garments, hungry, sick, and penniless; but they were kindly clothed, fed, doctored, and sent on their way rejoicing.

Daniel Stanly, Nat Amby, John Scott, Hannah Peters, Henrietta Dobson, Elizabeth Amby, Josiah Stanly, Caroline Stanly, Daniel Stanly, jr., John Stanly and Miller Stanly (arrival from Cambridge.) Daniel is about 35, well-made and wide-awake. Fortunately, in emancipating himself, he also, through great perseverance, secured the freedom of his wife and six children; one child he was compelled to leave behind. Daniel belonged to Robert Calender, a farmer, and, "except when in a passion," said to be "pretty clever." However, considering as a father, that it was his "duty to do all he could" for his children, and that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, Daniel felt bound to seek refuge in Canada. His wife and children were owned by "Samuel Count, an old, bald-headed, bad man," who "had of late years been selling and buying slaves as a business," though he stood high and was a "big bug in Cambridge." The children were truly likely-looking.

Nat is no ordinary man. Like a certain other Nat known to history, his honest and independent bearing in every respect was that of a natural hero. He was full black, and about six feet high; of powerful physical proportions, and of more than ordinary intellectual capacities. With the strongest desire to make the Port of Canada safely, he had resolved to be "carried back," if attacked by the slave hunters, "only as a dead man." He was held to service by John Muir, a wealthy farmer, and the owner of 40 or 50 slaves. "Muir would drink and was generally devilish." Two of Nat's sisters and one of his brothers had been "sold away to Georgia by him." Therefore, admonished by threats and fears of having to pass through the same fiery furnace, Nat was led to consider the U.G.R.R. scheme. It was through the marriage of Nat's mistress to his present owner that he came into Muir's hands. "Up to the time of her death," he had been encouraged to "hope" that he would be "free;" indeed, he was assured by her "dying testimony that the slaves were not to be sold." But regardless of the promises and will of his departed wife, Muir soon extinguished all hopes of freedom from that quarter. But not believing that God had put one man here to "be the servant of another—to work," and get none of the benefit of his labor, Nat armed himself with a good pistol and a big knife, and taking his wife with him, bade adieu forever to bondage. Observing that Lizzie (Nat's wife) looked pretty decided and resolute, a member of the committee remarked, "Would your wife fight for freedom?" "I have heard her say she would wade through blood and tears for her freedom," said Nat, in the most serious mood.

The following advertisement from The Cambridge Democrat of Nov. 4, speaks for itself—

Runaway glyph $300 REWARD.—Ran away from the subscriber, on Saturday night last, 17th inst., my negro woman Lizzie, about 28 years old. She is medium sized, dark complexion, good-looking, with rather a down look. When spoken to, replies quickly. She was well dressed, wearing a red and green blanket shawl, and carried with her a variety of clothing. She ran off in company with her husband, Nat Amby (belonging to John Muir, Esq.), who is about 6 feet in height, with slight impediment in his speech, dark chestnut color, and a large scar on the side of his neck.

I will give the above reward if taken in this County, or one-half of what she sells for if taken out of the County or State. In either ease to be lodged in Cambridge Jail.

Cambridge, Oct. 21, 1857.


P.S.—For the apprehension of the above-named negro man Nat, and delivery in Cambridge Jail, I will give $500 reward.


Now since Nat's master has been introduced in the above order, it seems but appropriate that Nat should be heard too; consequently the following letter is inserted for what it is worth:

Auburn, June 10th, 1858.

Mr. William Still:—Sir, will you be so Kind as to write a letter to affey White in straw berry alley in Baltimore city on the point. Say to her at nat Ambey that I wish to Know from her the Last Letar that Joseph Ambie and Henry Ambie two Brothers and Ann Warfield a couisin of them two boys I state above. I would like to hear from my mother sichy Ambie you will Please write to my mother and tell her that I am well and doing well and state to her that I perform my Relissius dutys and I would like to hear from her and want to know if she is performing her Relissius dutys yet and send me word from all her children I left behind say to affey White that I wish her to write me a Letter in Hast my wife is well and doing well and my nephew is doing well. Please tell affey White when she writes to me to Let me know where Joseph and Henry Ambie is.

Mr. Still Please Look on your Book and you will find my name on your Book. They was eleven of us children and all when we came through and I feal interrested about my Brothers. I have never heard from them since I Left home you will Please Be Kind annough to attend to this Letter. When you send the answer to this Letter you will Please send it to P.R. Freeman Auburn City Cayuga County New York.

Yours Truly


William is 25, complexion brown, intellect naturally good, with no favorable notions of the peculiar institution. He was armed with a formidable dirk-knife, and declared he would use it if attacked, rather than be dragged back to bondage.

Hannah is a hearty-looking young woman of 23 or 24, with a countenance that indicated that liberty was what she wanted and was contending for, and that she could not willingly submit to the yoke. Though she came with the Cambridge party, she did not come from Cambridge, but from Marshall Hope, Caroline County, where she had been owned by Charles Peters, a man who had distinguished himself by getting "drunk, scratching and fighting, etc.," not unfrequently in his own family even. She had no parents that she knew of. Left because they used her "so bad, beat and knocked" her about.

"Jack Scott." Jack is about thirty-six years of age, substantially built, dark color, and of quiet and prepossessing manners. He was owned by David B. Turner, Esq., a dry goods merchant of New York. By birth, Turner was a Virginian, and a regular slave-holder. His slaves were kept hired out by the year. As Jack had had but slight acquaintance with his New York owner, he says but very little about him. He was moved to leave simply because he had got tired of working for the "white people for nothing." Fled from Richmond, Va. Jack went to Canada direct. The following letter furnishes a clew to his whereabouts, plans, etc.

MONTREAL, September 1st 1859.

DEAR SIR:—It is with extreme pleasure that I set down to inclose you a few lines to let you know that I am well & I hope when these few lines come to hand they may find you & your family in good health and prosperity I left your house Nov. 3d, 1857, for Canada I Received a letter here from James Carter in Peters burg, saying that my wife would leave there about the 28th or the first September and that he would send her on by way of Philadelphia to you to send on to Montreal if she come on you be please to send her on and as there is so many boats coming here all times a day I may not know what time she will. So you be please to give her this direction, she can get a cab and go to the Donegana Hotel and Edmund Turner is there he will take you where I lives and if he is not there cabman take you to Mr Taylors on Durham St. nearly opposite to the Methodist Church. Nothing more at present but Remain your well wisher


C. Hitchens.—This individual took his departure from Milford, Del., where he was owned by Wm. Hill, a farmer, who took special delight in having "fighting done on the place." This passenger was one of our least intelligent travelers. He was about 22.

Major Ross.—Major fled from John Jay, a farmer residing in the neighborhood of Havre de Grace, Md. But for the mean treatment received from Mr. Jay, Major might have been foolish enough to have remained all his days in chains. "It's an ill wind that blows nobody any good."

Henry Oberne.—Henry was to be free at 28, but preferred having it at 21, especially as he was not certain that 28 would ever come. He is of chestnut color, well made, &c., and came from Seaford, Md.

Perry Burton.—Perry is about twenty-seven years of age, decidedly colored, medium size, and only of ordinary intellect. He acknowledged John R. Burton, a farmer on Indian River, as his master, and escaped because he wanted "some day for himself."

Alfred Hubert, Israel Whitney and John Thompson. Alfred is of powerful muscular appearance and naturally of a good intellect. He is full dark chestnut color, and would doubtless fetch a high price. He was owned by Mrs. Matilda Niles, from whom he had hired his time, paying $110 yearly. He had no fault to find with his mistress, except he observed she had a young family growing up, into whose hands he feared he might unluckily fall some day, and saw no way of avoiding it but by flight. Being only twenty-eight, he may yet make his mark.

Israel was owned by Elijah Money. All that he could say in favor of his master was, that he treated him "respectfully," though he "drank hard." Israel was about thirty-six, and another excellent specimen of an able-bodied and wide-awake man. He hired his time at the rate of $120 a year, and had to find his wife and child in the bargain. He came from Alexandria, Va.


HAMILTON, Oct. 16, 1858.

WILLIAM STILL—My Dear Friend:—I saw Carter and his friend a few days ago, and they told me, that you was well. On the seventh of October my wife came to Hamilton. Mr. A. Hurberd, who came from Virginia with me, is going to get married the 20th of November, next. I wish you would write to me how many of my friends you have seen since October, 1857. Montgomery Green keeps a barber shop in Cayuga, in the State of New York. I have not heard of Oscar Ball but once since I came here, and then he was well and doing well. George Carroll is in Hamilton. The times are very dull at present, and have been ever since I came here. Please write soon. Nothing more at present, only I still remain in Hamilton, C.W.


John is nineteen years of age, mulatto, spare made, but not lacking in courage, mother wit or perseverance. He was born in Fauquier county, Va., and, after experiencing Slavery for a number of years there—being sold two or three times to the "highest bidder"—he was finally purchased by a cotton planter named Hezekiah Thompson, residing at Huntsville, Alabama. Immediately after the sale Hezekiah bundled his new "purchase" off to Alabama, where he succeeded in keeping him only about two years, for at the end of that time John determined to strike a blow for liberty. The incentive to this step was the inhuman treatment he was subjected to. Cruel indeed did he find it there. His master was a young man, "fond of drinking and carousing, and always ready for a fight or a knock-down." A short time before John left his master whipped him so severely with the "bull whip" that he could not use his arm for three or four days. Seeing but one way of escape (and that more perilous than the way William and Ellen Craft, or Henry Box Brown traveled), he resolved to try it. It was to get on the top of the car, instead of inside of it, and thus ride of nights, till nearly daylight, when, at a stopping-place on the road, he would slip off the car, and conceal himself in the woods until under cover of the next night he could manage to get on the top of another car. By this most hazardous mode of travel he reached Virginia.

It may be best not to attempt to describe how he suffered at the hands of his owners in Alabama; or how severely he was pinched with hunger in traveling; or how, when he reached his old neighborhood in Virginia, he could not venture to inquire for his mother, brothers or sisters, to receive from them an affectionate word, an encouraging smile, a crust of bread, or a drink of water.

Success attended his efforts for more than two weeks; but alas, after having got back north of Richmond, on his way home to Alexandria, he was captured and put in prison; his master being informed of the fact, came on and took possession of him again. At first he refused to sell him; said he "had money enough and owned about thirty slaves;" therefore wished to "take him back to make an example of him." However, through the persuasion of an uncle of his, he consented to sell. Accordingly, John was put on the auction-block and bought for $1,300 by Green McMurray, a regular trader in Richmond. McMurray again offered him for sale, but in consequence of hard times and the high price demanded, John did not go off, at least not in the way the trader desired to dispose of him, but did, nevertheless, succeed in going off on the Underground Rail Road. Thus once more he reached his old home, Alexandria. His mother was in one place, and his six brothers and sisters evidently scattered, where he knew not. Since he was five years of age, not one of them had he seen.

If such sufferings and trials were not entitled to claim for the sufferer the honor of a hero, where in all Christendom could one be found who could prove a better title to that appellation?

It is needless to say that the Committee extended to him brotherly kindness, sympathized with him deeply, and sent him on his way rejoicing.

Of his subsequent career the following extract from a letter written at London shows that he found no rest for the soles of his feet under the Stars and Stripes in New York:

I hope that you will remember John Thompson, who passed through your hands, I think, in October, 1857, at the same time that Mr. Cooper, from Charleston, South Carolina, came on. I was engaged at New York, in the barber business, with a friend, and was doing very well, when I was betrayed and obliged to sail for England very suddenly, my master being in the city to arrest me.

(LONDON, December 21st, 1860.)

Escaping from Alabama on top of a car. JEREMIAH COLBURN.—Jeremiah is a bright mulatto, of prepossessing appearance, reads and writes, and is quite intelligent. He fled from Charleston, where he had been owned by Mrs. E. Williamson, an old lady about seventy-five, a member of the Episcopal Church, and opposed to Freedom. As far as he was concerned, however, he said, she had treated him well; but, knowing that the old lady would not be long here, he judged it was best to look out in time. Consequently, he availed himself of an Underground Rail Road ticket, and bade adieu to that hot-bed of secession, South Carolina. Indeed, he was fair enough to pass for white, and actually came the entire journey from Charleston to this city under the garb of a white gentleman. With regard to gentlemanly bearing, however, he was all right in this particular. Nevertheless, as he had been a slave all his days, he found that it required no small amount of nerve to succeed in running the gauntlet with slave-holders and slave-catchers for so long a journey.

The following pointed epistle, from Jeremiah Colburn alias William Cooper, beautifully illustrates the effects of Freedom on many a passenger who received hospitalities at the Philadelphia depot—

SYRACUSE, June 9th, 1858.

MR. STILL:—Dear Sir:—One of your Underground R.R. Passenger Drop you these few Lines to let you see that he have not forgoten you one who have Done so much for him well sir I am still in Syracuse, well in regard to what I am Doing for a Living I no you would like to hear, I am in the Painting Business, and have as much at that as I can do, and enough to Last me all the Summer, I had a knolledge of Painting Before I Left the South, the Hotell where I was working Last winter the Proprietor fail & shot up in the Spring and I Loose evry thing that I was working for all Last winter. I have Ritten a Letter to my Friend P. Christianson some time a goo & have never Received an Answer, I hope this wont Be the case with this one, I have an idea sir, next winter iff I can this summer make Enough to Pay Expenses, to goo to that school at McGrowville & spend my winter their. I am going sir to try to Prepair myself for a Lectuer, I am going sir By the Help of god to try and Do something for the Caus to help my Poor Breathern that are suffering under the yoke. Do give my Respect to Mrs Stills & Perticular to Miss Julia Kelly, I supose she is still with you yet, I am in great hast you must excuse my short letter. I hope these few Lines may fine you as they Leave me quite well. It will afford me much Pleasure to hear from you.

yours Truly,


John Thompson is still here and Doing well.

It will be seen that this young Charlestonian had rather exalted notions in his head. He was contemplating going to McGrawville College, for the purpose of preparing himself for the lecturing field. Was it not rather strange that he did not want to return to his "kind-hearted old mistress?"

THOMAS HENRY, NATHAN COLLINS AND HIS WIFE MARY ELLEN.—Thomas is about twenty-six, quite dark, rather of a raw-boned make, indicating that times with him had been other than smooth. A certain Josiah Wilson owned Thomas. He was a cross, rugged man, allowing not half enough to eat, and worked his slaves late and early. Especially within the last two or three months previous to the escape, he had been intensely savage, in consequence of having lost, not long before, two of his servants. Ever since that misfortune, he had frequently talked of "putting the rest in his pocket." This distressing threat made the rest love him none the more; but, to make assurances doubly sure, after giving them their supper every evening, which consisted of delicious "skimmed milk, corn cake and a herring each," he would very carefully send them up in the loft over the kitchen, and there "lock them up," to remain until called the next morning at three or four o'clock to go to work again. Destitute of money, clothing, and a knowledge of the way, situated as they were they concluded to make an effort for Canada.

NATHAN was also a fellow-servant with Thomas, and of course owned by Wilson. Nathan's wife, however, was owned by Wilson's son, Abram. Nathan was about twenty-five years of age, not very dark. He had a remarkably large head on his shoulders and was the picture of determination, and apparently was exactly the kind of a subject that might be desirable in the British possessions, in the forest or on the farm.

His wife, Mary Ellen, is a brown-skinned, country-looking young woman, about twenty years of age. In escaping, they had to break jail, in the dead of night, while all were asleep in the big house; and thus they succeeded. What Mr. Wilson did, said or thought about these "shiftless" creatures we are not prepared to say; we may, notwithstanding, reasonably infer that the Underground has come in for a liberal share of his indignation and wrath. The above travelers came from near New Market, Md. The few rags they were clad in were not really worth the price that a woman would ask for washing them, yet they brought with them about all they had. Thus they had to be newly rigged at the expense of the Vigilance Committee.

The Cambridge Democrat, of Nov. 4, 1857, from which the advertisements were cut, said—

"At a meeting of the people of this county, held in Cambridge, on the 2d of November, to take into consideration the better protection of the interests of the slave-owners; among other things that were done, it was resolved to enforce the various acts of Assembly  *  *  *  *  relating to servants and slaves.

"The act of 1715, chap. 44, sec. 2, provides 'that from and after the publication thereof no servant or servants whatsoever, within this province, whether by indenture or by the custom of the counties, or hired for wages shall travel by land or water ten miles from the house of his, her or their master, mistress or dame, without a note under their hands, or under the hands of his, her or their overseer, if any be, under the penalty of being taken for a runaway, and to suffer such penalties as hereafter provided against runaways.' The Act of 1806, chap. 81, sec. 5, provides, 'That any person taking up such runaway, shall have and receive $6,' to be paid by the master or owner. It was also determined to have put in force the act of 1825, chap. 161, and the act of 1839, chap. 320, relative to idle, vagabond, free negroes, providing for their sale or banishment from the State. All persons interested, are hereby notified that the aforesaid laws, in particular, will be enforced, and all officers failing to enforce them will be presented to the Grand Jury, and those who desire to avoid the penalties of the aforesaid statutes are requested to conform to these provisions."

As to the modus operandi by which so many men, women and children were delivered and safely forwarded to Canada, despite slave-hunters and the fugitive slave law, the subjoined letters, from different agents and depots, will throw important light on the question.

Men and women aided in this cause who were influenced by no oath of secresy, who received not a farthing for their labors, who believed that God had put it into the hearts of all mankind to love liberty, and had commanded men to "feel for those in bonds as bound with them," "to break every yoke and let the oppressed go free." But here are the letters, bearing at least on some of the travelers:

WILMINGTON, 10th Mo. 31st, 1857.

ESTEEMED FRIEND WILLIAM STILL:—I write to inform thee that we have either 17 or 27, I am not certain which, of that large Gang of God's poor, and I hope they are safe. The man who has them in charge informed me there were 27 safe and one boy lost during last night, about 14 years of age, without shoes; we have felt some anxiety about him, for fear he may be taken up and betray the rest. I have since been informed there are but 17 so that I cannot at present tell which is correct. I have several looking out for the lad; they will be kept from Phila. for the present. My principal object in writing thee at this time is to inform thee of what one of our constables told me this morning; he told me that a colored man in Phila. who professed to be a great friend of the colored people was a traitor; that he had been written to by an Abolitionist in Baltimore, to keep a look out for those slaves that left Cambridge this night week, told him they would be likely to pass through Wilmington on 6th day or 7th day night, and the colored man in Phila. had written to the master of part of them telling him the above, and the master arrived here yesterday in consequence of the information, and told one of our constables the above; the man told the name of the Baltimore writer, which he had forgotten, but declined telling the name of the colored man in Phila. I hope you will be able to find out who he is, and should I be able to learn the name of the Baltimore friend, I will put him on his Guard, respecting his Phila. correspondents. As ever thy friend, and the friend of Humanity, without regard to color or clime.


How much truth there was in the "constable's" story to the effect, "that a colored man in Philadelphia, who professed to be a great friend of the colored people, was a traitor, etc.," the Committee never learned. As a general thing, colored people were true to the fugitive slave; but now and then some unprincipled individuals, under various pretenses, would cause us great anxiety.


NORRISTOWN Oct 18th 1857 2 o'clock PM

DEAR SIR:—There is Six men and women and Five children making Eleven Persons. If you are willing to Receve them write to me imediately and I will bring them to your To morrow Evening I would not Have wrote this But the Times are so much worse Financialy that I thought It best to hear From you Before I Brought such a Crowd Down Pleas Answer this and



This document has somewhat of a military appearance about it. It is short and to the point. Friend Augusta was well known in Norristown as a first-rate hair-dresser and a prompt and trustworthy Underground Rail Road agent. Of course a speedy answer was returned to his note, and he was instructed to bring the eleven passengers on to the Committee in Brotherly Love.


SUNNYSIDE, Nov. 6th, 1857.

DEAR FRIEND:—Eight more of the large company reached our place last night, direct from Ercildown. The eight constitute one family of them, the husband and wife with four children under eight years of age, wish tickets for Elmira. Three sons, nearly grown, will be forwarded to Phila., probably by the train which passes Phoenixville at seven o'clock of to-morrow evening the seventh. It would be safest to meet them there. We shall send them to Elijah with the request for them to be sent there. And I presume they will be. If they should not arrive you may suppose it did not suit Elijah to send them.

We will send the money for the tickets by C.C. Burleigh, who will be in Phila. on second day morning. If you please, you will forward the tickets by to-morrow's mail as we do not have a mail again till third day.

Yours hastily,


Please give directions for forwarding to Elmira and name the price of tickets.

At first Miss Lewis thought of forwarding only a part of her fugitive guests to the Committee in Philadelphia, but on further consideration, all were safely sent along in due time, and the Committee took great pains to have them made as comfortable as possible, as the cases of these mothers and children especially called forth the deepest sympathy.

In this connection it seems but fitting to allude to Captain Lee's sufferings on account of his having brought away in a skiff, by sea, a party of four, alluded to in the beginning of this single month's report.

Unfortunately he was suspected, arrested, tried, convicted, and torn from his wife and two little children, and sent to the Richmond Penitentiary for twenty-five years. Before being sent away from Portsmouth, Va., where he was tried, for ten days in succession in the prison five lashes a day were laid heavily on his bare back. The further sufferings of poor Lee and his heart-broken wife, and his little daughter and son, are too painful for minute recital. In this city the friends of Freedom did all in their power to comfort Mrs. Lee, and administered aid to her and her children; but she broke down under her mournful fate, and went to that bourne from whence no traveler ever returns.

Captain Lee suffered untold misery in prison, until he, also, not a great while before the Union forces took possession of Richmond, sank beneath the severity of his treatment, and went likewise to the grave. The two children for a long time were under the care of Mr. Wm. Ingram of Philadelphia, who voluntarily, from pure benevolence, proved himself to be a father and a friend to them. To their poor mother also he had been a true friend.

The way in which Captain Lee came to be convicted, if the Committee were correctly informed and they think they were, was substantially in this wise: In the darkness of the night, four men, two of them constables, one of the other two, the owner of one of the slaves who had been aided away by Lee, seized the wife of one of the fugitives and took her to the woods, where the fiends stripped every particle of clothing from her person, tied her to a tree, and armed with knives, cowhides and a shovel, swore vengeance against her, declaring they would kill her if she did not testify against Lee. At first she refused to reveal the secret; indeed she knew but little to reveal; but her savage tormentors beat her almost to death. Under this barbarous infliction she was constrained to implicate Captain Lee, which was about all the evidence the prosecution had against him. And in reality her evidence, for two reasons, should not have weighed a straw, as it was contrary to the laws of the State of Virginia, to admit the testimony of colored persons against white; then again for the reason that this testimony was obtained wholly by brute force.

But in this instance, this woman on whom the murderous attack had been made, was brought into court on Lee's trial and was bid to simply make her statement with regard to Lee's connection with the escape of her husband. This she did of course. And in the eyes of this chivalric court, this procedure "was all right." But thank God the events since those dark and dreadful days, afford abundant proof that the All-seeing Eye was not asleep to the daily sufferings of the poor bondman.

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Rarely did the peculiar institution present the relations of mistress and maid-servant in a light so apparently favorable as in the case of Mrs. Joseph Cahell (widow of the late Hon. Jos Cahell, of Va.), and her slave, Cordelia. The Vigilance Committee's first knowledge of either of these memorable personages was brought about in the following manner.

About the 30th of March, in the year 1859, a member of the Vigilance Committee was notified by a colored servant, living at a fashionable boarding-house on Chestnut street that a lady with a slave woman from Fredericksburg, Va., was boarding at said house, and, that said slave woman desired to receive counsel and aid from the Committee, as she was anxious to secure her freedom, before her mistress returned to the South. On further consultation about the matter, a suitable hour was named for the meeting of the Committee and the Slave at the above named boarding-house. Finding that the woman was thoroughly reliable, the Committee told her "that two modes of deliverance were open before her. One was to take her trunk and all her clothing and quietly retire." The other was to "sue out a writ of habeas corpus; and bring the mistress before the Court, where she would be required, under the laws of Pennsylvania, to show cause why she restrained this woman of her freedom." Cordelia concluded to adopt the former expedient, provided the Committee would protect her. Without hesitation the Committee answered her, that to the extent of their ability, she should have their aid with pleasure, without delay. Consequently a member of the Committee was directed to be on hand at a given hour that evening, as Cordelia would certainly be ready to leave her mistress to take care of herself. Thus, at the appointed hour, Cordelia, very deliberately, accompanied the Committee away from her "kind hearted old mistress."

In the quiet and security of the Vigilance Committee Room, Cordelia related substantially the following brief story touching her relationship as a slave to Mrs. Joseph Cahell. In this case, as with thousands and tens of thousands of others, as the old adage fitly expresses it, "All is not gold that glitters." Under this apparently pious and noble-minded lady, it will be seen, that Cordelia had known naught but misery and sorrow.

Mrs. Cahell, having engaged board for a month at a fashionable private boarding-house on Chestnut street, took an early opportunity to caution Cordelia against going into the streets, and against having anything to say or do with "free niggers in particular"; withal, she appeared unusually kind, so much so, that before retiring to bed in the evening, she would call Cordelia to her chamber, and by her side would take her Prayer-book and Bible, and go through the forms of devotional service. She stood very high both as a church communicant and a lady in society.

For a fortnight it seemed as though her prayers were to be answered, for Cordelia apparently bore herself as submissively as ever, and Madame received calls and accepted invitations from some of the elite of the city, without suspecting any intention on the part of Cordelia to escape. But Cordelia could not forget how her children had all been sold by her mistress!

Cordelia was about fifty-seven years of age, with about an equal proportion of colored and white blood in her veins; very neat, respectful and prepossessing in manner.

From her birth to the hour of her escape she had worn the yoke under Mrs. C., as her most efficient and reliable maid-servant. She had been at her mistress' beck and call as seamstress, dressing-maid, nurse in the sickroom, etc., etc., under circumstances that might appear to the casual observer uncommonly favorable for a slave. Indeed, on his first interview with her, the Committee man was so forcibly impressed with the belief, that her condition in Virginia had been favorable, that he hesitated to ask her if she did not desire her liberty. A few moments' conversation with her, however, convinced him of her good sense and decision of purpose with regard to this matter. For, in answer to the first question he put to her, she answered, that, "As many creature comforts and religious privileges as she had been the recipient of under her 'kind mistress,' still she 'wanted to be free,' and 'was bound to leave,' that she had been 'treated very cruelly,' that her children had 'all been sold away' from her; that she had been threatened with sale herself 'on the first insult,'" etc.

She was willing to take the entire responsibility of taking care of herself. On the suggestion of a friend, before leaving her mistress, she was disposed to sue for her freedom, but, upon a reconsideration of the matter, she chose rather to accept the hospitality of the Underground Rail Road, and leave in a quiet way and go to Canada, where she would be free indeed. Accordingly she left her mistress and was soon a free woman.

The following sad experience she related calmly, in the presence of several friends, an evening or two after she left her mistress:

Two sons and two daughters had been sold from her by her mistress, within the last three years, since the death of her master. Three of her children had been sold to the Richmond market and the other in Nelson county.

Paulina was the first sold, two years ago last May. Nat was the next; he was sold to Abram Warrick, of Richmond. Paulina was sold before it was named to her mother that it had entered her mistress's mind to dispose of her. Nancy, from infancy, had been in poor health. Nevertheless, she had been obliged to take her place in the field with the rest of the slaves, of more rugged constitution, until she had passed her twentieth year, and had become a mother. Under these circumstances, the overseer and his wife complained to the mistress that her health was really too bad for a field hand and begged that she might be taken where her duties would be less oppressive. Accordingly, she was withdrawn from the field, and was set to spinning and weaving. When too sick to work her mistress invariably took the ground, that "nothing was the matter," notwithstanding the fact, that her family physician, Dr. Ellsom, had pronounced her "quite weakly and sick."

In an angry mood one day, Mrs. Cahell declared she would cure her; and again sent her to the field, "with orders to the overseer, to whip her every day, and make her work or kill her." Again the overseer said it was "no use to try, for her health would not stand it," and she was forthwith returned. The mistress then concluded to sell her.

One Sabbath evening a nephew of hers, who resided in New Orleans, happened to be on a visit to his aunt, when it occurred to her, that she had "better get Nancy off if possible." Accordingly, Nancy was called in for examination. Being dressed in her "Sunday best" and "before a poor candle-light," she appeared to good advantage; and the nephew concluded to start with her on the following Tuesday morning. However, the next morning, he happened to see her by the light of the sun, and in her working garments, which satisfied him that he had been grossly deceived; that she would barely live to reach New Orleans; he positively refused to carry out the previous evening's contract, thus leaving her in the hands of her mistress, with the advice, that she should "doctor her up."

The mistress, not disposed to be defeated, obviated the difficulty by selecting a little boy, made a lot of the two, and thus made it an inducement to a purchaser to buy the sick woman; the boy and the woman brought $700.

In the sale of her children, Cordelia was as little regarded as if she had been a cow.

"I felt wretched," she said, with emphasis, "when I heard that Nancy had been sold," which was not until after she had been removed. "But," she continued, "I was not at liberty to make my grief known to a single white soul. I wept and couldn't help it." But remembering that she was liable, "on the first insult," to be sold herself, she sought no sympathy from her mistress, whom she describes as "a woman who shows as little kindness towards her servants as any woman in the States of America. She neither likes to feed nor clothe well."

With regard to flogging, however, in days past, she had been up to the mark. "A many a slap and blow" had Cordelia received since she arrived at womanhood, directly from the madam's own hand.

One day smarting under cruel treatment, she appealed to her mistress in the following strain: "I stood by your mother in all her sickness and nursed her till she died!" "I waited on your niece, night and day for months, till she died." "I waited upon your husband all my life—in his sickness especially, and shrouded him in death, etc., yet I am treated cruelly." It was of no avail.

Her mistress, at one time, was the owner of about five hundred slaves, but within the last few years she had greatly lessened the number by sales.

She stood very high as a lady, and was a member of the Episcopal Church.

To punish Cordelia, on several occasions, she had been sent to one of the plantations to work as a field hand. Fortunately, however, she found the overseers more compassionate than her mistress, though she received no particular favors from any of them.

Asking her to name the overseers, etc., she did so. The first was "Marks, a thin-visaged, poor-looking man, great for swearing." The second was "Gilbert Brower, a very rash, portly man." The third was "Buck Young, a stout man, and very sharp." The fourth was "Lynn Powell, a tall man with red whiskers, very contrary and spiteful." There was also a fifth one, but his name was lost.

Thus Cordelia's experience, though chiefly confined to the "great house," extended occasionally over the corn and tobacco fields, among the overseers and field hands generally. But under no circumstances could she find it in her heart to be thankful for the privileges of Slavery.

After leaving her mistress she learned, with no little degree of pleasure, that a perplexed state of things existed at the boarding-house; that her mistress was seriously puzzled to imagine how she would get her shoes and stockings on and off; how she would get her head combed, get dressed, be attended to in sickness, etc., as she (Cordelia), had been compelled to discharge these offices all her life.

Most of the boarders, being slave-holders, naturally sympathized in her affliction; and some of them went so far as to offer a reward to some of the colored servants to gain a knowledge of her whereabouts. Some charged the servants with having a hand in her leaving, but all agreed that "she had left a very kind and indulgent mistress," and had acted very foolishly in running out of Slavery into Freedom.

A certain Doctor of Divinity, the pastor of an Episcopal church in this city and a friend of the mistress, hearing of her distress, by request or voluntarily, undertook to find out Cordelia's place of seclusion. Hailing on the street a certain colored man with a familiar face, who he thought knew nearly all the colored people about town, he related to him the predicament of his lady friend from the South, remarked how kindly she had always treated her servants, signified that Cordelia would rue the change, and be left to suffer among the "miserable blacks down town," that she would not be able to take care of herself; quoted Scripture justifying Slavery, and finally suggested that he (the colored man) would be doing a duty and a kindness to the fugitive by using his influence to "find her and prevail upon her to return."

It so happened that the colored man thus addressed, was Thomas Dorsey, the well-known fashionable caterer of Philadelphia, who had had the experience of quite a number of years as a slave at the South,—had himself once been pursued as a fugitive, and having, by his industry in the condition of Freedom, acquired a handsome estate, he felt entirely qualified to reply to the reverend gentleman, which he did, though in not very respectful phrases, telling him that Cordelia had as good a right to her liberty as he had, or her mistress either; that God had never intended one man to be the slave of another; that it was all false about the slaves being better off than the free colored people; that he would find as many "poor, miserably degraded," of his own color "down-town," as among the "degraded blacks"; and concluded by telling him that he would "rather give her a hundred dollars to help her off, than to do aught to make known her whereabouts, if he knew ever so much about her."

What further steps were taken by the discomfited divine, the mistress, or her boarding-house sympathizers, the Committee was not informed.

But with regard to Cordelia: she took her departure for Canada, in the midst of the Daniel Webster (fugitive) trial, with the hope of being permitted to enjoy the remainder of her life in Freedom and peace. Being a member of the Baptist Church, and professing to be a Christian, she was persuaded that, by industry and assistance of the Lord, a way would be opened to the seeker of Freedom even in a strange land and among strangers.

This story appeared in part in the N.Y. Evening Post, having been furnished by the writer, without his name to it. It is certainly none the less interesting now, as it may be read in the light of Universal Emancipation.

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About the latter part of December, 1857, Isaac and Edmondson, brothers, succeeded in making their escape together from Petersburg, Va. They barely escaped the auction block, as their mistress, Mrs. Ann Colley, a widow, had just completed arrangements for their sale on the coming first day of January. In this kind of property, however, Mrs. Colley had not largely invested. In the days of her prosperity, while all was happy and contented, she could only boast of "four head:" these brothers, Jackson, Isaac and Edmondson and one other. In May, 1857, Jackson had fled and was received by the Vigilance Committee, who placed him upon their books briefly in the following light:

"RUNAWAY—Fifty Dollars Reward,—Ran away some time in May last, my Servant-man, who calls himself Jackson Turner. He is about 27 years of age, and has one of his front teeth out. He is quite black, with thick lips, a little bow-legged, and looks down when spoken to. I will give a reward of Fifty dollars if taken out of the city, and twenty five Dollars if taken within the city. I forewarn all masters of vessels from harboring or employing the said slave; all persons who disregard this Notice will be punished as the law directs.


Petersburg, June 8th, 1857."

JACKSON is quite dark, medium size, and well informed for one in his condition. In Slavery, he had been "pressed hard." His hire, "ten dollars per month" he was obliged to produce at the end of each month, no matter how much he had been called upon to expend for "doctor bills, &c." The woman he called mistress went by the name of Ann Colley, a widow, living near Petersburg. "She was very quarrelsome," although a "member of the Methodist Church." Jackson seeing that his mistress was yearly growing "harder and harder," concluded to try and better his condition "if possible." Having a free wife in the North, who was in the habit of communicating with him, he was kept fully awake to the love of Freedom. The Underground Rail Road expense the Committee gladly bore. No further record of Jackson was made. Jackson found his poor old father here, where he had resided for a number of years in a state of almost total blindness, and of course in much parental anxiety about his boys in chains. On the arrival of Jackson, his heart overflowed with joy and gratitude not easily described, as the old man had hardly been able to muster faith enough to believe that he should ever look with his dim eyes upon one of his sons in Freedom. After a day or two's tarrying, Jackson took his departure for safer and more healthful localities,—her "British Majesty's possessions." The old man remained only to feel more keenly than ever, the pang of having sons still toiling in hopeless servitude.

In less than seven months after Jackson had shaken off the yoke, to the unspeakable joy of the father, Isaac and Edmondson succeeded in following their brother's example, and were made happy partakers of the benefits and blessings of the Vigilance Committee of Philadelphia. On first meeting his two boys, at the Underground Rail Road Depot, the old man took each one in his arms, and as looking through a glass darkly, straining every nerve of his almost lost sight, exclaiming, whilst hugging them closer and closer to his bosom for some minutes, in tears of joy and wonder, "My son Isaac, is this you? my son Isaac, is this you, &c.?" The scene was calculated to awaken the deepest emotion and to bring tears to eyes not accustomed to weep. Little had the old man dreamed in his days of sadness, that he should share such a feast of joy over the deliverance of his sons. But it is in vain to attempt to picture the affecting scene at this reunion, for that would be impossible. Of their slave life, the records contain but a short notice, simply as follows:

"Isaac is twenty-eight years of age, hearty-looking, well made, dark color and intelligent. He was owned by Mrs. Ann Colley, a widow, residing near Petersburg, Va. Isaac and Edmondson were to have been sold, on New Year's day; a few days hence. How sad her disappointment must have been on finding them gone, may be more easily imagined than described."

Edmondson is about twenty-five, a brother of Isaac, and a smart, good-looking young man, was owned by Mrs. Colley also. "This is just the class of fugitives to make good subjects for John Bull," thought the Committee, feeling pretty well assured that they would make good reports after having enjoyed free air in Canada for a short time. Of course, the Committee enjoined upon them very earnestly "not to forget their brethren left behind groaning in fetters; but to prove by their industry, uprightness, economy, sobriety and thrift, by the remembrance of their former days of oppression and their obligations to their God, that they were worthy of the country to which they were going, and so to help break the bands of the oppressors, and undo the heavy burdens of the oppressed." Similar advice was impressed upon the minds of all travelers passing over this branch of the Underground Rail Road. From hundreds thus admonished, letters came affording the most gratifying evidence that the counsel of the Committee was not in vain. The appended letter from the youngest brother, written with his own hand, will indicate his feelings and views in Canada:


MR. STILL, DEAR SIR:—I have taken the oppertunity to enform you yur letter came to hand 27th I ware glad to hear from you and yer famly i hope this letter May fine you and the famly Well i am Well my self My Brother join me in Love to you and all the frend. I ware sorry to hear of the death of Mrs freaman. We all must die sune or Late this a date we all must pay we must Perpar for the time she ware a nise lady dear sir the all is well and san thar love to you Emerline have Ben sick But is better at this time. I saw the hills the war well and san thar Love to you. I war sory to hear that My brother war sol i am glad that i did come away when i did god works all the things for the Best he is young he may get a long in the wole May god Bless hem ef you have any News from Petersburg Va Plas Rite me a word when you anser this Letter and ef any person came form home Letter Me know. Please sen me one of your Paper that had the under grands R wrod give My Love to Mr Careter and his family I am Seving with a barber at this time he have promust to give me the trad ef i can lane it he is much of a gentman. Mr Still sir i have writing a letter to Mr Brown of Petersburg Va Pleas reed it and ef you think it right Plas sen it by the Mail or by hand you wall see how i have writen it the will know how sent it by the way this writing ef the ancer it you can sen it to Me i have tol them direc to yor care for Ed. t. Smith Philadelphia i hope it may be right i promorst to rite to hear Please rite to me sune and let me know ef you do sen it on write wit you did with that ma a bught the cappet Bage do not fergit to rite tal John he mite rite to Me. I am doing as well is i can at this time but i get no wagges But my Bord but is satfid at that thes hard time and glad that i am Hear and in good helth. Northing More at this time

yor truly


The same writer sent to the Corresponding Secretary the following "Warning to Slave-holders." At the time these documents were received, Slaveholders were never more defiant. The right to trample on the weak in oppression was indisputable. "Cinnamon and odors, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men," slave-holders believed doubtless were theirs by Divine Right. Little dreaming that in less than three short years—"Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine." In view of the marvelous changes which have been wrought by the hand of the Almighty, this warning to slave-holders from one who felt the sting of Slavery, as evincing a particular phase of simple faith and Christian charity is entitled to a place in these records.


Well may the Southern slaveholder say, that holding their Fellow men in Bondage is no sin, because it is their delight as the Egyptians, so do they; but nevertheless God in his own good time will bring them out by a mighty hand, as it is recorded in the sacred oracles of truth, that Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands to God, speaking in the positive (shall). And my prayer is to you, oh, slaveholder, in the name of that God who in the beginning said, Let there be light, and there was light. Let my People go that they may serve me; thereby good may come unto thee and to thy children's children. Slave-holder have you seriously thought upon the condition yourselves, family and slaves; have you read where Christ has enjoined upon all his creatures to read his word, thereby that they may have no excuse when coming before his judgment seat? But you say he shall not read his word, consequently his sin will be upon your head. I think every man has as much as he can do to answer for his own sins. And now my dear-slave-holder, who with you are bound and fast hastening to judgment? As one that loves your soul repent ye, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out when the time of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.

In the language of the poet:

Stop, poor sinner, stop and think,
  Before you further go;
Think upon the brink of death
  Of everlasting woe.
Say, have you an arm like God,
  That you his will oppose?
Fear you not that iron rod
  With which he breaks his foes?

Is the prayer of one that loves your souls.


N.B. The signature bears the name of one who knows and felt the sting of Slavery; but now, thanks be to God, I am now where the poisonous breath taints not our air, but every one is sitting under his own vine and fig tree, where none dare to make him ashamed or afraid.

EDMUND TURNER, formerly of Petersburg, Va.

HAMILTON, June 22d, 1858, C.W.

To MR. WM. STILL, DEAR SIR:—A favorable opportunity affords the pleasure of acknowledging the receipt of letters and papers; certainly in this region they were highly appreciated, and I hope the time may come that your kindness will be reciprocated we are al well at present, but times continue dull. I also deeply regret the excitement recently on the account of those slaves, you will favor me by keeping me posted upon the subject. Those words written to slaveholder is the thought of one who had sufferd, and now I thought it a duty incumbent upon me to cry aloud and spare not, &c., by sending these few lines where the slaveholder may hear. You will still further oblige your humble servant also, to correct any inaccuracy. My respects to you and your family and all inquiring friends.

Your friend and well wisher,


The then impending judgments seen by an eye of faith as set forth in this "Warning," soon fell with crushing weight upon the oppressor, and Slavery died. But the old blind father of Jackson, Isaac and Edmondson, still lives and may be seen daily on the streets of Philadelphia; and though "halt, and lame, and blind, and poor," doubtless resulting from his early oppression, he can thank God and rejoice that he has lived to see Slavery abolished.



In very desperate straits many new inventions were sought after by deep-thinking and resolute slaves, determined to be free at any cost. But it must here be admitted, that, in looking carefully over the more perilous methods resorted to, Robert Brown, alias Thomas Jones, stands second to none, with regard to deeds of bold daring. This hero escaped from Martinsburg, Va., in 1856. He was a man of medium size, mulatto, about thirty-eight years of age, could read and write, and was naturally sharp-witted. He had formerly been owned by Col. John F. Franie, whom Robert charged with various offences of a serious domestic character.

Furthermore, he also alleged, that his "mistress was cruel to all the slaves," declaring that "they (the slaves), could not live with her," that "she had to hire servants," etc.

In order to effect his escape, Robert was obliged to swim the Potomac river on horseback, on Christmas night, while the cold, wind, storm, and darkness were indescribably dismal. This daring bondman, rather than submit to his oppressor any longer, perilled his life as above stated. Where he crossed the river was about a half a mile wide. Where could be found in history a more noble and daring struggle for Freedom?

The wife of his bosom and his four children, only five days before he fled, were sold to a trader in Richmond, Va., for no other offence than simply "because she had resisted" the lustful designs of her master, being "true to her own companion." After this poor slave mother and her children were cast into prison for sale, the husband and some of his friends tried hard to find a purchaser in the neighborhood; but the malicious and brutal master refused to sell her—wishing to gratify his malice to the utmost, and to punish his victims all that lay in his power, he sent them to the place above named.

In this trying hour, the severed and bleeding heart of the husband resolved to escape at all hazards, taking with him a daguerreotype likeness of his wife which he happened to have on hand, and a lock of hair from her head, and from each of the children, as mementoes of his unbounded (though sundered) affection for them.

After crossing the river, his wet clothing freezing to him, he rode all night, a distance of about forty miles. In the morning he left his faithful horse tied to a fence, quite broken down. He then commenced his dreary journey on foot—cold and hungry—in a strange place, where it was quite unsafe to make known his condition and wants. Thus for a day or two, without food or shelter, he traveled until his feet were literally worn out, and in this condition he arrived at Harrisburg, where he found friends. Passing over many of the interesting incidents on the road, suffice it to say, he arrived safely in this city, on New Year's night, 1857, about two hours before day break (the telegraph having announced his coming from Harrisburg), having been a week on the way. The night he arrived was very cold; besides, the Underground train, that morning, was about three hours behind time; in waiting for it, entirely out in the cold, a member of the Vigilance Committee thought he was frosted. But when he came to listen to the story of the Fugitive's sufferings, his mind changed.

Scarcely had Robert entered the house of one of the Committee, where he was kindly received, when he took from his pocket his wife's likeness, speaking very touchingly while gazing upon it and showing it. Subsequently, in speaking of his family, he showed the locks of hair referred to, which he had carefully rolled up in paper separately. Unrolling them, he said, "this is my wife's;" "this is from my oldest daughter, eleven years old;" "and this is from my next oldest;" "and this from the next," "and this from my infant, only eight weeks old." These mementoes he cherished with the utmost care as the last remains of his affectionate family. At the sight of these locks of hair so tenderly preserved, the member of the Committee could fully appreciate the resolution of the fugitive in plunging into the Potomac, on the back of a dumb beast, in order to flee from a place and people who had made such barbarous havoc in his household.

His wife, as represented by the likeness, was of fair complexion, prepossessing, and good looking—perhaps not over thirty-three years of age.

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Anthony had been serving under the yoke of Warring Talvert, of Richmond, Va. Anthony was of a rich black complexion, medium size, about twenty-five years of age. He was intelligent, and a member of the Baptist Church. His master was a member of the Presbyterian Church and held family prayers with the servants. But Anthony believed seriously, that his master was no more than a "whitened sepulchre," one who was fond of saying, "Lord, Lord," but did not do what the Lord bade him, consequently Anthony felt, that before the Great Judge his "master's many prayers" would not benefit him, as long as he continued to hold his fellow-men in bondage. He left a father, Samuel Loney, and mother, Rebecca also, one sister and four brothers. His old father had bought himself and was free; likewise his mother, being very old, had been allowed to go free. Anthony escaped in May, 1857.

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Cornelius took passage per the Underground Rail Road, in March, 1857, from the neighborhood of Salvington, Stafford county, Va. He stated that he had been claimed by Henry L. Brooke, whom he declared to be a "hard drinker and a hard swearer." Cornelius had been very much bleached by the Patriarchal Institution, and he was shrewd enough to take advantage of this circumstance. In regions of country where men were less critical and less experienced than Southerners, as to how the bleaching process was brought about, Cornelius Scott would have had no difficulty whatever in passing for a white man of the most improved Anglo-Saxon type. Although a young man only twenty-three years of age, and quite stout, his fair complexion was decidedly against him. He concluded, that for this very reason, he would not have been valued at more than five hundred dollars in the market. He left his mother (Ann Stubbs, and half brother, Isaiah), and traveled as a white man.

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This candidate for Canada had the good fortune to escape the clutches of his mistress, Mrs. Elvina Duncans, widow of the late Rev. James Duncans, who lived near Cumberland, Md. He had very serious complaints to allege against his mistress, "who was a member of the Presbyterian Church." To use his own language, "the servants in the house were treated worse than dogs." John was thirty-two years of age, dark chestnut color, well made, prepossessing in appearance, and he "fled to keep from being sold." With the Underground Rail Road he was "highly delighted." Nor was he less pleased with the thought, that he had caused his mistress, who was "one of the worst women who ever lived," to lose twelve hundred dollars by him. He escaped in March, 1857. He did not admit that he loved slavery any the better for the reason that his master was a preacher, or that his mistress was the wife of a preacher. Although a common farm hand, Samuel had common sense, and for a long time previous had been watching closely the conduct of his mistress, and at the same time had been laying his plans for escaping on the Underground Rail Road the first chance.

Runaway glyph $100 REWARD!—My negro man Richard has been missing since Sunday night, March 22d. I will give $100 to any one who will secure him or deliver him to me. Richard is thirty years old, but looks older; very short legs, dark, but rather bright color, broad cheek bones, a respectful and serious manner, generally looks away when spoken to, small moustache and beard (but he may have them off). He is a remarkably intelligent man, and can turn his hand to anything. He took with him a bag made of Brussels carpet, with my name written in large, rough letters on the bottom, and a good stock of coarse and fine clothes, among them a navy cap and a low-crowned hat. He has been seen about New Kent C.H., and on the Pamunky river, and is no doubt trying to get off in some vessel bound North.

April 18th, 1857.

J.W. RANDOLPH, Richmond, Va.

Even at this late date, it may perhaps afford Mr. R. a degree of satisfaction to know what became of Richard; but if this should not be the case, Richard's children, or mother, or father, if they are living, may possibly see these pages, and thereby be made glad by learning of Richard's wisdom as a traveler, in the terrible days of slave-hunting. Consequently here is what was recorded of him, April 3d, 1857, at the Underground Rail Road Station, just before a free ticket was tendered him for Canada. "Richard is thirty-three years of age, small of stature, dark color, smart and resolute. He was owned by Captain Tucker, of the United States Navy, from whom he fled." He was "tired of serving, and wanted to marry," was the cause of his escape. He had no complaint of bad treatment to make against his owner; indeed he said, that he had been "used well all his life." Nevertheless, Richard felt that this Underground Rail Road was the "greatest road he ever saw."

When the war broke out, Richard girded on his knapsack and went to help Uncle Sam humble Richmond and break the yoke.

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All these persons journeyed together from Loudon Co., Va. on horseback and in a carriage for more than one hundred miles. Availing themselves of a holiday and their master's horses and carriage, they as deliberately started for Canada, as though they had never been taught that it was their duty, as servants, to "obey their masters." In this particular showing a most utter disregard of the interest of their "kind-hearted and indulgent owners." They left home on Monday, Christmas Eve, 1855, under the leadership of Frank Wanzer, and arrived in Columbia the following Wednesday at one o'clock. As willfully as they had thus made their way along, they had not found it smooth sailing by any means. The biting frost and snow rendered their travel anything but agreeable. Nor did they escape the gnawings of hunger, traveling day and night. And whilst these "articles" were in the very act of running away with themselves and their kind master's best horses and carriage—when about one hundred miles from home, in the neighborhood of Cheat river, Maryland, they were attacked by "six white men, and a boy," who, doubtless, supposing that their intentions were of a "wicked and unlawful character" felt it to be their duty in kindness to their masters, if not to the travelers to demand of them an account of themselves. In other words, the assailants positively commanded the fugitives to "show what right" they possessed, to be found in a condition apparently so unwarranted.

The spokesman amongst the fugitives, affecting no ordinary amount of dignity, told their assailants plainly, that "no gentleman would interfere with persons riding along civilly"—not allowing it to be supposed that they were slaves, of course. These "gentlemen," however, were not willing to accept this account of the travelers, as their very decided steps indicated. Having the law on their side, they were for compelling the fugitives to surrender without further parley.

At this juncture, the fugitives verily believing that the time had arrived for the practical use of their pistols and dirks, pulled them out of their concealment—the young women as well as the young men—and declared they would not be "taken!" One of the white men raised his gun, pointing the muzzle directly towards one of the young women, with the threat that he would "shoot," etc. "Shoot! shoot!! shoot!!!" she exclaimed, with a double barrelled pistol in one hand and a long dirk knife in the other, utterly unterrified and fully ready for a death struggle. The male leader of the fugitives by this time had "pulled back the hammers" of his "pistols," and was about to fire! Their adversaries seeing the weapons, and the unflinching determination on the part of the runaways to stand their ground, "spill blood, kill, or die," rather than be "taken," very prudently "sidled over to the other side of the road," leaving at least four of the victors to travel on their way.

At this moment the four in the carriage lost sight of the two on horseback. Soon after the separation they heard firing, but what the result was, they knew not. They were fearful, however, that their companions had been captured.

The following paragraph, which was shortly afterwards taken from a Southern paper, leaves no room to doubt, as to the fate of the two.

Runaway glyph Six fugitive slaves from Virginia were arrested at the Maryland line, near Hood's Mill, on Christmas day, but, after a severe fight, four of them escaped and have not since been heard of. They came from Loudoun and Fauquier counties.

Though the four who were successful, saw no "severe fight," it is not unreasonable to suppose, that there was a fight, nevertheless; but not till after the number of the fugitives had been reduced to two, instead of six. As chivalrous as slave-holders and slave-catchers were, they knew the value of their precious lives and the fearful risk of attempting a capture, when the numbers were equal.

The party in the carriage, after the conflict, went on their way rejoicing.

The young men, one cold night, when they were compelled to take rest in the woods and snow, in vain strove to keep the feet of their female companions from freezing by lying on them; but the frost was merciless and bit them severely, as their feet very plainly showed. The following disjointed report was cut from the Frederick (Md.) Examiner, soon after the occurrence took place:

"Six slaves, four men and two women, fugitives from Virginia, having with them two spring wagons and four horses, came to Hood's Mill, on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, near the dividing line between Frederick and Carroll counties, on Christmas day. After feeding their animals, one of them told a Mr. Dixon whence they came; believing them to be fugitives, he spread the alarm, and some eight or ten persons gathered round to arrest them; but the negroes drawing revolvers and bowie-knives, kept their assailants at bay, until five of the party succeeded in escaping in one of the wagons, and as the last one jumped on a horse to flee, he was fired at, the load taking effect in the small of the back. The prisoner says he belongs to Charles W. Simpson, Esq., of Fauquier county, Va., and ran away with the others on the preceding evening."

This report from the Examiner, while it is not wholly correct, evidently relates to the fugitives above described. Why the reporter made such glaring mistakes, may be accounted for on the ground that the bold stand made by the fugitives was so bewildering and alarming, that the "assailants" were not in a proper condition to make correct statements. Nevertheless the Examiner's report was preserved with other records, and is here given for what it is worth.

These victors were individually noted on the Record thus: Barnaby was owned by William Rogers, a farmer, who was considered a "moderate slaveholder," although of late "addicted to intemperance." He was the owner of about one "dozen head of slaves," and had besides a wife and two children.

Barnaby's chances for making extra "change" for himself were never favorable; sometimes of "nights" he would manage to earn a "trifle." He was prompted to escape because he "wanted to live by the sweat of his own brow," believing that all men ought so to live. This was the only reason he gave for fleeing.

Mary Elizabeth had been owned by Townsend McVee (likewise a farmer), and in Mary's judgment, he was "severe," but she added, "his wife made him so." McVee owned about twenty-five slaves; "he hardly allowed them to talk—would not allow them to raise chickens," and "only allowed Mary three dresses a year;" the rest she had to get as she could. Sometimes McVee would sell slaves—last year he sold two. Mary said that she could not say anything good of her mistress. On the contrary, she declared that her mistress "knew no mercy nor showed any favor."

It was on account of this "domineering spirit," that Mary was induced to escape.

Frank was owned by Luther Sullivan, "the meanest man in Virginia," he said; he treated his people just as bad as he could in every respect. "Sullivan," added Frank, "would 'lowance the slaves and stint them to save food and get rich," and "would sell and whip," etc. To Frank's knowledge, he had sold some twenty-five head. "He sold my mother and her two children to Georgia some four years previous." But the motive which hurried Frank to make his flight was his laboring under the apprehension that his master had some "pretty heavy creditors who might come on him at any time." Frank, therefore, wanted to be from home in Canada when these gentry should make their visit. My poor mother has been often flogged by master, said Frank. As to his mistress, he said she was "tolerably good."

Ann Wood was owned by McVee also, and was own sister to Elizabeth. Ann very fully sustained her sister Elizabeth's statement respecting the character of her master.

The above-mentioned four, were all young and likely. Barnaby was twenty-six years of age, mulatto, medium size, and intelligent—his wife was about twenty-four years of age, quite dark, good-looking, and of pleasant appearance. Frank was twenty-five years of age, mulatto, and very smart; Ann was twenty-two, good-looking, and smart. After their pressing wants had been met by the Vigilance Committee, and after partial recuperation from their hard travel, etc., they were forwarded on to the Vigilance Committee in New York. In Syracuse, Frank (the leader), who was engaged to Emily, concluded that the knot might as well be tied on the U.G.R.R., although penniless, as to delay the matter a single day longer. Doubtless, the bravery, struggles, and trials of Emily throughout the journey, had, in his estimation, added not a little to her charms. Thus after consulting with her on the matter, her approval was soon obtained, she being too prudent and wise to refuse the hand of one who had proved himself so true a friend to Freedom, as well as so devoted to her. The twain were accordingly made one at the U.G.R.R. Station, in Syracuse, by Superintendent—Rev. J.W. Loguen. After this joyful event, they proceeded to Toronto, and were there gladly received by the Ladies' Society for aiding colored refugees.

The following letter from Mrs. Agnes Willis, wife of the distinguished Rev. Dr. Willis, brought the gratifying intelligence that these brave young adventurers, fell into the hands of distinguished characters and warm friends of Freedom:

TORONTO, 28th January, Monday evening, 1856.

MR. STILL, DEAR SIR:—I have very great pleasure in making you aware that the following respectable persons have arrived here in safety without being annoyed in any way after you saw them. The women, two of them, viz: Mrs. Greegsby and Mrs. Graham, have been rather ailing, but we hope they will very soon be well. They have been attended to by the Ladies' Society, and are most grateful for any attention they have received. The solitary person, Mrs. Graves, has also been attended to; also her box will be looked after. She is pretty well, but rather dull; however, she will get friends and feel more at home by and bye. Mrs. Wanzer is quite well; and also young William Henry Sanderson. They are all of them in pretty good spirits, and I have no doubt they will succeed in whatever business they take up. In the mean time the men are chopping wood, and the ladies are getting plenty sewing. We are always glad to see our colored refugees safe here. I remain, dear sir,

yours respectfully,


Treasurer to the Ladies' Society to aid colored refugees.

For a time Frank enjoyed his newly won freedom and happy bride with bright prospects all around; but the thought of having left sisters and other relatives in bondage was a source of sadness in the midst of his joy. He was not long, however, in making up his mind that he would deliver them or "die in the attempt." Deliberately forming his plans to go South, he resolved to take upon himself the entire responsibility of all the risks to be encountered. Not a word did he reveal to a living soul of what he was about to undertake. With "twenty-two dollars" in cash and "three pistols" in his pockets, he started in the lightning train from Toronto for Virginia. On reaching Columbia in this State, he deemed it not safe to go any further by public conveyance, consequently he commenced his long journey on foot, and as he neared the slave territory he traveled by night altogether. For two weeks, night and day, he avoided trusting himself in any house, consequently was compelled to lodge in the woods. Nevertheless, during that space of time he succeeded in delivering one of his sisters and her husband, and another friend in the bargain. You can scarcely imagine the Committee's amazement on his return, as they looked upon him and listened to his "noble deeds of daring" and his triumph. A more brave and self-possessed man they had never seen.

He knew what Slavery was and the dangers surrounding him on his mission, but possessing true courage unlike most men, he pictured no alarming difficulties in a distance of nearly one thousand miles by the mail route, through the enemy's country, where he might have in truth said, "I could not pass without running the gauntlet of mobs and assassins, prisons and penitentiaries, bailiffs and constables, &c." If this hero had dwelt upon and magnified the obstacles in his way he would most assuredly have kept off the enemy's country, and his sister and friends would have remained in chains.

The following were the persons delivered by Frank Wanzer. They were his trophies, and this noble act of Frank's should ever be held as a memorial and honor. The Committee's brief record made on their arrival runs thus:

"August 18, 1856. Frank Wanzer, Robert Stewart, alias Gasberry Robison, Vincent Smith, alias John Jackson, Betsey Smith, wife of Vincent Smith, alias Fanny Jackson. They all came from Alder, Loudon county, Virginia."

Robert is about thirty years of age, medium size, dark chestnut color, intelligent and resolute. He was held by the widow Hutchinson, who was also the owner of about one hundred others. Robert regarded her as a "very hard mistress" until the death of her husband, which took place the Fall previous to his escape. That sad affliction, he thought, was the cause of a considerable change in her treatment of her slaves. But yet "nothing was said about freedom," on her part. This reticence Robert understood to mean, that she was still unconverted on this great cardinal principle at least. As he could see no prospect of freedom through her agency, when Frank approached him with a good report from Canada and his friends there, he could scarcely wait to listen to the glorious news; he was so willing and anxious to get out of slavery. His dear old mother, Sarah Davis, and four brothers and two sisters, William, Thomas, Frederick and Samuel, Violet and Ellen, were all owned by Mrs. Hutchinson. Dear as they were to him, he saw no way to take them with him, nor was he prepared to remain a day longer under the yoke; so he decided to accompany Frank, let the cost be what it might.

Vincent is about twenty-three years of age, very "likely-looking," dark color, and more than ordinarily intelligent for one having only the common chances of slaves.

He was owned by the estate of Nathan Skinner, who was "looked upon," by those who knew him, "as a good slave-holder." In slave property, however, he was only interested to the number of twelve head. Skinner "neither sold nor emancipated." A year and a half before Vincent escaped, his master was called to give an account of his stewardship, and there in the spirit land Vincent was willing to let him remain, without much more to add about him.

Vincent left his mother, Judah Smith, and brothers and sisters, Edwin, Angeline, Sina Ann, Adaline Susan, George, John and Lewis, all belonging to the estate of Skinner.

Vincent was fortunate enough to bring his wife along with him. She was about twenty-seven years of age, of a brown color, and smart, and was owned by the daughter of the widow Hutchinson. This mistress was said to be a "clever woman."

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Under Governor Badger, of North Carolina, William had experienced Slavery in its most hateful form. True, he had only been twelve months under the yoke of this high functionary. But William's experience in this short space of time, was of a nature very painful.

Previous to coming into the governor's hands, William was held as the property of Mrs. Mary Jordon, who owned large numbers of slaves. Whether the governor was moved by this consideration, or by the fascinating charms of Mrs. Jordon, or both, William was not able to decide. But the governor offered her his hand, and they became united in wedlock. By this circumstance, William was brought into his unhappy relations with the Chief Magistrate of the State of North Carolina. This was the third time the governor had been married. Thus it may be seen, that the governor was a firm believer in wives as well as slaves. Commonly he was regarded as a man of wealth. William being an intelligent piece of property, his knowledge of the governor's rules and customs was quite complete, as he readily answered such questions as were propounded to him. In this way a great amount of interesting information was learned from William respecting the governor, slaves, on the plantation, in the swamps, etc. The governor owned large plantations, and was interested in raising cotton, corn, and peas, and was also a practical planter. He was willing to trust neither overseers nor slaves any further than he could help.

The governor and his wife were both equally severe towards them; would stint them shamefully in clothing and food, though they did not get flogged quite as often as some others on neighboring plantations. Frequently, the governor would be out on the plantation from early in the morning till noon, inspecting the operations of the overseers and slaves.

In order to serve the governor, William had been separated from his wife by sale, which was the cause of his escape. He parted not with his companion willingly. At the time, however, he was promised that he should have some favors shown him;—could make over-work, and earn a little money, and once or twice in the year, have the opportunity of making visits to her. Two hundred miles was the distance between them.

He had not been long on the governor's plantation before his honor gave him distinctly to understand that the idea of his going two hundred miles to see his wife was all nonsense, and entirely out of the question. "If I said so, I did not mean it," said his honor, when the slave, on a certain occasion, alluded to the conditions on which he consented to leave home, etc.

Against this cruel decision of the governor, William's heart revolted, for he was warmly attached to his wife, and so he made up his mind, if he could not see her "once or twice a year even," as he had been promised, he had rather "die," or live in a "cave in the wood," than to remain all his life under the governor's yoke. Obeying the dictates of his feelings, he went to the woods. For ten months before he was successful in finding the Underground Road, this brave-hearted young fugitive abode in the swamps—three months in a cave—surrounded with bears, wild cats, rattle-snakes and the like.

While in the swamps and cave, he was not troubled, however, about ferocious animals and venomous reptiles. He feared only man!

From his own story there was no escaping the conclusion, that if the choice had been left to him, he would have preferred at any time to have encountered at the mouth of his cave a ferocious bear than his master, the governor of North Carolina. How he managed to subsist, and ultimately effected his escape, was listened to with the deepest interest, though the recital of these incidents must here be very brief.

After night he would come out of his cave, and, in some instances, would succeed in making his way to a plantation, and if he could get nothing else, he would help himself to a "pig," or anything else he could conveniently convert into food. Also, as opportunity would offer, a friend of his would favor him with some meal, etc. With this mode of living he labored to content himself until he could do better. During these ten months he suffered indescribable hardships, but he felt that his condition in the cave was far preferable to that on the plantation, under the control of his Excellency, the Governor. All this time, however, William had a true friend, with whom he could communicate; one who was wide awake, and was on the alert to find a reliable captain from the North, who would consent to take this "property," or "freight," for a consideration. He heard at last of a certain Captain, who was then doing quite a successful business in an Underground way. This good news was conveyed to William, and afforded him a ray of hope in the wilderness. As Providence would have it, his hope did not meet with disappointment; nor did his ten months' trial, warring against the barbarism of Slavery, seem too great to endure for Freedom. He was about to leave his cave and his animal and reptile neighbors,—his heart swelling with gladness,—but the thought of soon being beyond the reach of his mistress and master thrilled him with inexpressible delight. He was brought away by Captain F., and turned over to the Committee, who were made to rejoice with him over the signal victory he had gained in his martyr-like endeavors to throw off the yoke, and of course they took much pleasure in aiding him. William was of a dark color, stout made physically, and well knew the value of Freedom, and how to hate and combat Slavery. It will be seen by the appended letter of Thomas Garrett, that William had the good luck to fall into the hands of this tried friend, by whom he was aided to Philadelphia:

WILMINGTON, 12th mo., 19th, 1855.

DEAR FRIEND, WILLIAM STILL:—The bearer of this is one of the twenty-one that I thought had all gone North; he left home on Christmas day, one year since, wandered about the forests of North Carolina for about ten months, and then came here with those forwarded to New Bedford, where he is anxious to go. I have furnished him with a pretty good pair of boots, and gave him money to pay his passage to Philadelphia. He has been at work in the country near here for some three weeks, till taken sick; he is, by no means, well, but thinks he had better try to get farther North, which I hope his friends in Philadelphia will aid him to do. I handed this morning Captain Lambson'sA wife twenty dollars to help fee a lawyer to defend him. She leaves this morning, with her child, for Norfolk, to be at the trial before the Commissioner on the 24th instant. Passmore Williamson agreed to raise fifty dollars for him. As none came to hand, and a good chance to send it by his wife, I thought best to advance that much.

A: Captain Lambson had been suspected of having aided in the escape of slaves from the neighborhood of Norfolk, and was in prison awaiting his trial.

Thy friend,




It is to be regretted that, owing to circumstances, the account of these persons has not been fully preserved. Could justice be done them, probably their narratives would not be surpassed in interest by any other in the history of fugitives. In 1857, when these remarkable travelers came under the notice of the Vigilance Committee, as Slavery seemed likely to last for generations, and there was but little expectation that these records would ever have the historical value which they now possess, care was not always taken to prepare and preserve them. Besides, the cases coming under the notice of the Committee, were so numerous and so interesting, that it seemed almost impossible to do them anything like justice. In many instances the rapt attention paid by friends, when listening to the sad recitals of such passengers, would unavoidably consume so much time that but little opportunity was afforded to make any record of them. Particularly was this the case with regard to the above-mentioned individuals. The story of each was so long and sad, that a member of the Committee in attempting to write it out, found that the two narratives would take volumes. That all traces, of these heroes might not be lost, a mere fragment is all that was preserved.

The original names of these adventurers, were Joseph Grant and John Speaks. Between two and three years before escaping, they were sold from Maryland to John B. Campbell a negro trader, living in Baltimore, and thence to Campbell's brother, another trader in New Orleans, and subsequently to Daniel McBeans and Mr. Henry, of Harrison county, Mississippi.

Though both had to pass through nearly the same trial, and belonged to the same masters, this recital must be confined chiefly to the incidents in the career of Joseph. He was about twenty-seven years of age, well made, quite black, intelligent and self-possessed in his manner.

He was owned in Maryland by Mrs. Mary Gibson, who resided at St. Michael's on the Eastern Shore. She was a nice woman he said, but her property was under mortgage and had to be sold, and he was in danger of sharing the same fate.

Joseph was a married man, and spoke tenderly of his wife. She "promised" him when he was sold that she would "never marry," and earnestly entreated him, if he "ever met with the luck, to come and see her." She was unaware perhaps at that time of the great distance that was to divide them; his feelings on being thus sundered need not be stated. However, he had scarcely been in Mississippi three weeks, ere his desire to return to his wife, and the place of his nativity constrained him to attempt to return; accordingly he set off, crossing a lake eighty miles wide in a small boat, he reached Kent Island. There he was captured by the watchman on the Island, who with pistols, dirk and cutlass in hand, threatened if he resisted that death would be his instant doom. Of course he was returned to his master.

He remained there a few months, but could content himself no longer to endure the ills of his condition. So he again started for home, walked to Mobile, and thence he succeeded in stowing himself away in a steamboat and was thus conveyed to Montgomery, a distance of five hundred and fifty miles through solid slave territory. Again he was captured and returned to his owners; one of whom always went for immediate punishment, the other being mild thought persuasion the better plan in such cases. On the whole, Joseph thus far had been pretty fortunate, considering the magnitude of his offence.

A third time he summoned courage and steered his course homewards towards Maryland, but as in the preceding attempts, he was again unsuccessful.

In this instance Mr. Henry, the harsh owner, was exasperated, and the mild one's patience so exhausted that they concluded that nothing short of stern measures would cause Joe to reform. Said Mr. Henry; "I had rather lose my right arm than for him to get off without being punished, after having put us to so much trouble."

Joseph will now speak for himself.

"He (master) sent the overseer to tie me. I told him I would not be tied. I ran and stayed away four days, which made Mr. Henry very anxious. Mr. Beans told the servants if they saw me, to tell me to come back and I should not be hurt. Thinking that Mr. Beans had always stood to his word, I was over persuaded and came back. He sent for me in his parlor, talked the matter over, sent me to the steamboat (perhaps the one he tried to escape on.) After getting cleverly on board the captain told me, I am sorry to tell you, you have to be tied. I was tied and Mr. Henry was sent for. He came; 'Well, I have got you at last, beg my pardon and promise you will never run away again and I will not be so hard on you.' I could not do it. He then gave me three hundred lashes well laid on. I was stripped entirely naked, and my flesh was as raw as a piece of beef. He made John (the companion who escaped with him) hold one of my feet which I broke loose while being whipped, and when done made him bathe me in salt and water.

"Then I resolved to 'go or die' in the attempt. Before starting, one week, I could not work. On getting better we went to Ship Island; the sailors, who were Englishmen, were very sorry to hear of the treatment we had received, and counselled us how we might get free."

The counsel was heeded, and in due time they found themselves in Liverpool. There their stay was brief. Utterly destitute of money, education, and in a strange land, they very naturally turned their eyes again in the direction of their native land. Accordingly their host, the keeper of a sailor's boarding-house, shipped them to Philadelphia.

But to go back, Joseph saw many things in New Orleans and Mississippi of a nature too horrible to relate, among which were the following:

I have seen Mr. Beans whip one of his slaves to death, at the tree to which he was tied.

Mr. Henry would make them lie down across a log, stripped naked, and with every stroke would lay the flesh open. Being used to it, some would lie on the log without being tied.

In New Orleans, I have seen women stretched out just as naked as my hand, on boxes, and given one hundred and fifty lashes, four men holding them. I have helped hold them myself: when released they could hardly sit or walk. This whipping was at the "Fancy House."

The "chain-gangs" he also saw in constant operation. Four and five slaves chained together and at work on the streets, cleaning, &c., was a common sight. He could hardly tell Sunday from Monday in New Orleans, the slaves were kept so constantly going.

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Runaway glyph ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS REWARD.—Ran away from Richmond City on Tuesday, the 2d of June, a negro man named WM. N. TAYLOR, belonging to Mrs. Margaret Tyler of Hanover county.

Said negro was hired to Fitzhugh Mayo, Tobacconist; is quite black, of genteel and easy manners, about five feet ten or eleven inches high, has one front tooth broken, and is about 35 years old.

He is supposed either to have made his escape North, or attempted to do so. The above reward will be paid for his delivery to Messrs. Hill and Rawlings, in Richmond, or secured in jail, so that I get him again.

JAS. G. TYLER, Trustee for Margaret Tyler.

June 8th &c2t—

Richmond Enquirer, June 9, 57.

William unquestionably possessed a fair share of common sense, and just enough distaste to Slavery to arouse him most resolutely to seek his freedom.

The advertisement of James G. Tyler was not altogether accurate with regard to his description of William; but notwithstanding, in handing William down to posterity, the description of Tyler has been adopted instead of the one engrossed in the records by the Committee. But as a simple matter of fair play, it seems fitting, that the description given by William, while on the Underground Rail Road, of his master, &c., should come in just here.

William acknowledged that he was the property of Walter H. Tyler, brother of EX-PRESIDENT TYLER, who was described as follows: "He (master) was about sixty-five years of age; was a barbarous man, very intemperate, horse racer, chicken-cock fighter and gambler. He had owned as high as forty head of slaves, but he had gambled them all away. He was a doctor, circulated high amongst southerners, though he never lived agreeably with his wife, would curse her and call her all kinds of names that he should not call a lady. From a boy of nine up to the time I was fifteen or sixteen, I don't reckon he whipped me less than a hundred times. He shot at me once with a double-barrelled gun.

"What made me leave was because I worked for him all my life-time and he never gave me but two dollars and fifteen cents in all his life. I was hired out this year for two hundred dollars, but when I would go to him to make complaints of hard treatment from the man I was hired to, he would say: "G——d d——n it, don't come to me, all I want is my money."

"Mr. Tyler was a thin raw-boned man, with a long nose, the picture of the president. His wife was a tolerably well-disposed woman in some instances—she was a tall, thin-visaged woman, and stood high in the community. Through her I fell into the hands of Tyler. At present she owns about fifty slaves. His own slaves, spoken of as having been gambled away, came by his father—he has been married the second time."

Twice William had been sold and bought in, on account of his master's creditors, and for many months had been expecting to be sold again, to meet pressing claims in the hands of the sheriff against Tyler. He, by the way, "now lives in Hanover county, about eighteen miles from Richmond, and for fear of the sheriff, makes himself very scarce in that city."

At fourteen years of age, William was sold for eight hundred dollars; he would have brought in 1857, probably twelve hundred and fifty dollars; he was a member of the Baptist Church in good and regular standing.

       *       *       *       *       *


Louisa is a good-looking, well-grown, intelligent mulatto girl of sixteen years of age, and was owned by a widow woman of Baltimore, Md. To keep from being sold, she was prompted to try her fortune on the U.G.R.R., for Freedom in Canada, under the protection of the British Lion.

       *       *       *       *       *


Jacob is twenty-one years of age, dark chestnut color, medium size, and of prepossessing manners. Fled from near Frederick, Md., from the clutches of a farmer by the name of William Dorsey, who was described as a severe master, and had sold two of Jacob's sisters, South, only three years prior to his escape. Jacob left three brothers in chains.

Alfred is twenty-three years of age, in stature quite small, full black, and bears the marks of ill usage. Though a member of the Methodist Church, his master, Fletcher Jackson, "thought nothing of taking the shovel to Alfred's head; or of knocking him, and stamping his head with the heels of his boots." Repeatedly, of late, he had been shockingly beaten. To escape those terrible visitations, therefore, he made up his mind to seek a refuge in Canada.

       *       *       *       *       *



Six very clever-looking passengers, all in one party from Baltimore, Md., the first Sunday in April, 1853. Baltimore used to be in the days of Slavery one of the most difficult places in the South for even free colored people to get away from, much more for slaves. The rule forbade any colored person leaving there by rail road or steamboat, without such applicant had been weighed, measured, and then given a bond signed by unquestionable signatures, well known. Baltimore was rigid in the extreme, and was a never-failing source of annoyance, trouble and expense to colored people generally, and not unfrequently to slave-holders too, when they were traveling North with "colored servants." Just as they were ready to start, the "Rules" would forbid colored servants until the law was complied with. Parties hurrying on would on account of this obstruction "have to wait until their hurry was over." As this was all done in the interest of Slavery, the matter was not very loudly condemned. But, notwithstanding all this weighing, measuring and requiring of bonds, many travelers by the Underground Rail Road took passage from Baltimore.

The enterprising individual, whose name stands at the head of this narrative, came directly from this stronghold of Slavery. The widow Pipkins held the title deed for Jefferson. She was unfortunate in losing him, as she was living in ease and luxury off of Jefferson's sweat and labor. Louisa, Harriet and Grace owed service to Geo. Stewart of Baltimore; Edward was owned by Chas. Moondo, and Chas. Lee by the above Stewart.

Those who would have taken this party for stupid, or for know-nothings, would have found themselves very much mistaken. Indeed they were far from being dull or sleepy on the subject of Slavery at any rate. They had considered pretty thoroughly how wrongfully they, with all others in similar circumstances, had been year in and year out subjected to unrequited toil so resolved to leave masters and mistresses to shift for themselves, while they would try their fortunes in Canada.

Four of the party ranged in age from twenty to twenty-eight years of age, and the other two from thirty-seven to forty. The Committee on whom they called, rendered them due aid and advice, and forwarded them to the Committee in New York.

The following letter from Jefferson, appealing for assistance on behalf of his children in Slavery, was peculiarly touching, as were all similar letters. But the mournful thought that these appeals, sighs, tears and prayers would continue in most cases to be made till death, that nothing could be done directly for the deliverance of such sufferers was often as painful as the escape from the auction block was gratifying.


Sept. 28, 1856.

To WM. STILL. SIR:—I take the liberty of writing to you a few lines concerning my children, for I am very anxious to get them and I wish you to please try what you can do for me. Their names are Charles and Patrick and are living with Mrs. Joseph G. Wray Murphysborough Hartford county, North Carolina; Emma lives with a Lawyer Baker in Gatesville North Carolina and Susan lives in Portsmouth Virginia and is stopping with Dr. Collins sister a Mrs. Nash you can find her out by enquiring for Dr. Collins at the ferry boat at Portsmouth, and Rose a coloured woman at the Crawford House can tell where she is. And I trust you will try what you think will be the best way. And you will do me a great favour.

Yours Respectfully,


P.S. I am living at Yorkville near Toronto Canada West. My wife sends her best respects to Mrs. Still.

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In order to economize time and space, with a view to giving an account of as many of the travelers as possible, it seems expedient, where a number of arrivals come in close proximity to each other, to report them briefly, under one head.

Henry Anderson, alias WILLIAM ANDERSON. In outward appearance Henry was uninteresting. As he asserted, and as his appearance indicated, he had experienced a large share of "rugged" usage. Being far in the South, and in the hands of a brutal "Captain of a small boat," chances of freedom or of moderate treatment, had rarely ever presented themselves in any aspect. On the 3d of the preceding March he was sold to a negro trader—the thought of having to live under a trader was so terrible, he was moved to escape, leaving his wife, to whom he had only been married three months. Henry was twenty-five years of age, quite black and a little below the medium size.

He fled from Beaufort, North Carolina. The system of slavery in all the region of country whence Henry came, exhibited generally great brutality and cruelty.

CHARLES CONGO AND WIFE, MARGARET. Charles and his wife were fortunate in managing to flee together. Their attachment to each other was evidently true. They were both owned by a farmer, who went by the name of David Stewart, and resided in Maryland. As Charles' owner did not require their services at home, as he had more of that kind of stock than he had use for—he hired them out to another farmer—Charles for $105 per annum; how much for the wife they could not tell. She, however, was not blessed with good health, though she was not favored any more on that account. Charles' affection for his wife, on seeing how hard she had to labor when not well, aroused him to seek their freedom by flight. He resolved to spare no pains, to give himself no rest until they were both free. Accordingly the Underground Rail Road was sought and found. Charles was twenty-eight, with a good head and striking face, as well as otherwise well made; chestnut color and intelligent, though unable to read. Left two sisters in bondage. Margaret was about the same age as her husband, a nice-looking brown-skinned woman; worth $500. Charles was valued at $1200.

The atmosphere throughout the neighborhood where Charles and Margaret had lived and breathed, and had their existence, was heavily oppressed with slavery. No education for the freeman of color, much less for the slave. The order of the day was literally, as far as colored men were concerned: "No rights which white men were bound to respect."

Chaskey Brown, Wm. Henry Washington, James Alfred Frisley, and Charles Henry Salter. Chaskey is about twenty-four years of age, quite black, medium size, sound body and intelligent appearance, nevertheless he resembled a "farm hand" in every particular. His master was known by the name of Major James H. Gales, and he was the owner of a farm with eighteen men, women and children, slaves to toil for him. The Major in disposition was very abusive and profane, though old and grey-headed. His wife was pretty much the same kind of a woman as he was a man; one who delighted in making the slaves tremble at her bidding. Chaskey was a member of the "Still Pond church," of Kent county, Md. Often Chaskey was made to feel the lash on his back, notwithstanding his good standing in the church. He had a wife and one child. In escaping, he was obliged to leave them both. Chaskey was valued at $1200.

William Henry was about 20 years of age, and belonged to Doctor B. Grain, of Baltimore, who hired him out to a farmer. Not relishing the idea of having to work all his life in bondage, destitute of all privileges, he resolved to seek a refuge in Canada. He left his mother, four sisters and two brothers.

James is twenty-four years of age, well made, quite black and pretty shrewd. He too was unable to see how it was that he should be worked, and flogged, and sold, at the pleasure of his master and "getting nothing;" he "had rather work for himself." His master was a "speckled-faced—pretty large stomach man, but was not very abuseful." He only owned one other.

Charles Henry is about thirty years of age, of good proportion, nice-looking and intelligent; but to rough usage he was no stranger. To select his own master was a privilege not allowed; privileges of all kinds were rare with him. So he resolved to flee. Left his mother, three sisters and five brothers in slavery. He was a member of "Albany Chapel," at Massey's Cross Roads, and a slave of Dr. B. Crain. Charles left his wife Anna, living near the head of Sassafras, Md. The separation was painful, as was everything belonging to the system of Slavery.

These were all gladly received by the Vigilance Committee, and the hand of friendship warmly extended to them; and the best of counsel and encouragement was offered; material aid, food and clothing were also furnished as they had need, and they were sent on their way rejoicing to Canada.

Stephen Taylor, Charles Brown, Charles Henry Hollis, and Luther Dorsey. Stephen was a fine young man, of twenty years of age; he fled to keep from being sold. He "supposed his master wanted money." His master was a "tall, spare-faced man, with long whiskers, very wicked and very quick-tempered," and was known by the name of James Smithen, of Sandy Hook, Harford county, Md. His wife was also a very "close woman." They had four children growing up to occupy their places as oppressors. Stephen was not satisfied to serve either old or young masters any longer, and made up his mind to leave the first opportunity. Before this watchful and resolute purpose the way opened, and he soon found it comparatively easy to find his way from Maryland to Pennsylvania, and likewise into the hands of the Vigilance Committee, to whom he made known fully the character of the place and people whence he had fled, the dangers he was exposed to from slave-hunters, and the strong hope he cherished of reaching free land soon. Being a young man of promise, Stephen was advised earnestly to apply his mind to seek an education, and to use every possible endeavor to raise himself in the scale of manhood, morally, religiously and intellectually; and he seemed to drink in the admonitions thus given with a relish. After recruiting, and all necessary arrangements had been made for his comfort and passage to Canada, he was duly forwarded. "One more slave-holder is minus another slave worth at least $1200, which is something to rejoice over," said Committee. Stephen's parents were dead; one brother was the only near relative he left in chains.

Charles Brown was about twenty-five years of age, quite black, and bore the marks of having been used hard, though his stout and hearty appearance would have rendered him very desirable to a trader. He fled from William Wheeling, of Sandy Hook, Md. He spoke of his master as a "pretty bad man," who was "always quarreling," and "would drink, swear and lie." Left simply because he "never got anything for his labor." On taking his departure for Canada, he was called upon to bid adieu to his mother and three brothers, all under the yoke. His master he describes thus—

"His face was long, cheek-bones high, middling tall, and about twenty-six years of age." With this specimen of humanity, Charles was very much dissatisfied, and he made up his mind not to stand the burdens of Slavery a day longer than he could safely make his way to the North. And in making an effort to reach Canada, he was quite willing to suffer many things. So the first chance Charles got, he started, and Providence smiled upon his resolution; he found himself a joyful passenger on the Underground Rail Road, being entertained free, and receiving attentions from the Company all along the line through to her British Majesty's boundlessly free territory in the Canadas.

True, the thought of his mother and brothers, left in the prison house, largely marred his joy, as it did also the Committee's, still the Committee felt that Charles had gained his Freedom honorably, and at the same time, had left his master a poorer, if not a wiser man, by at least $1200.

Charles Henry was a good-looking young man, only twenty years of age, and appeared to possess double as much natural sense as he would require to take care of himself. John Webster of Sandy Hook, claimed Charles' time, body and mind, and this was what made Charles unhappy. Uneducated as he was, he was too sensible to believe that Webster had any God-given right to his manhood. Consequently, he left because his master "did not treat him right." Webster was a tall man, with large black whiskers, about forty years of age, and owned Charles' two sisters. Charles was sorry for the fate of his sisters, but he could not help them if he remained. Staying to wear the yoke, he felt would rather make it worse instead of better for all concerned.

Luther Dorsey is about nineteen years of age, rather smart, black, well made and well calculated for a Canadian. He was prompted to escape purely from the desire to be "free." He fled from a "very insulting man," by the name of Edward Schriner, from the neighborhood of Sairsville Mills, Frederick Co., Md. This Schriner was described as a "low chunky man, with grum look, big mouth, etc.," and was a member of the German Reformed Church. "Don't swear, though might as well; he was so bad other ways."

Luther was a member of the Methodist church at Jones Hill. Left his father in chains; his mother had wisely escaped to Canada years back, when he was but a boy. Where she was then, he could not tell, but hoped to meet her in Canada.

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Richmond was a city noted for its activity and enterprise in slave trade. Several slave pens and prisons were constantly kept up to accommodate the trade. And slave auctions were as common in Richmond as dress goods auctions in Philadelphia; notwithstanding this fact, strange as it may seem, the Underground Rail Road brought away large numbers of passengers from Richmond, Petersburg and Norfolk, and not a few of them lived comparatively within a hair's breadth of the auction block. Many of those from these localities were amongst the most intelligent and respectable slaves in the South, and except at times when disheartened by some grave disaster which had befallen the road, as, for instance, when some friendly captain or conductor was discovered in aiding fugitives, many of the thinking bondmen were daily manoeuvering and watching for opportunities to escape or aid their friends so to do. This state of things of course made the naturally hot blood of Virginians fairly boil. They had preached long and loudly about the contented and happy condition of the slaves,—that the chief end of the black man was to worship and serve the white man, with joy and delight, with more willingness and obedience indeed than he would be expected to serve his Maker. So the slave-holders were utterly at a loss to account for the unnatural desire on the part of the slaves to escape to the North where they affirmed they would be far less happy in freedom than in the hands of those so "kind and indulgent towards them." Despite all this, daily the disposition increased, with the more intelligent slaves, to distrust the statements of their masters especially when they spoke against the North. For instance if the master was heard to curse Boston the slave was then satisfied that Boston was just the place he would like to go to; or if the master told the slave that the blacks in Canada were freezing and starving to death by hundreds, his hope of trying to reach Canada was made tenfold stronger; he was willing to risk all the starving and freezing that the country could afford; his eagerness to find a conductor then would become almost painful.

The situations of Jeremiah and Julia Smith, however, were not considered very hard, indeed they had fared rather better than most slaves in Virginia, nevertheless it will be seen that they desired to better their condition, to keep off of the auction-block at least. Jeremiah could claim to have no mixture in his blood, as his color was of such a pure black; but with the way of the world, in respect to shrewdness and intelligence, he had evidently been actively conversant. He was about twenty-six years of age, and in stature only medium, with poor health.

The name of James Kinnard, whom he was obliged to call master and serve, was disgusting to him. Kinnard, he said, was a "close and severe man." At the same time he was not considered by the community "a hard man." From the age of fifteen years Jeremiah had been hired out, for which his owner had received from $50 to $130 per annum. In consequence of his master's custom of thus letting out Jeremiah, the master had avoided doctors' bills, &c. For the last two years prior to his escape, however, Jeremiah's health had been very treacherous, in consequence of which the master had been compelled to receive only $50 a year, sick or well. About one month before Jeremiah left, he was to have been taken on his master's farm, with the hope that he could be made more profitable there than he was in being hired out.

His owner had thought once of selling him, perhaps fearing that Jeremiah might unluckily die on his hands. So he put him in prison and advertised; but as he had the asthma pretty badly at that time, he was not saleable, the traders even declined to buy him.

While these troubles were presenting themselves to Jeremiah, Julia, his wife, was still more seriously involved, which added to Jeremiah's perplexities, of course.

Julia was of a dark brown color, of medium size, and thirty years of age. Fourteen years she had been the slave of A. Judson Crane, and under him she had performed the duties of nurse, chamber-maid, etc., "faithfully and satisfactorily," as the certificate furnished her by this owner witnessed. She actually possessing a certificate, which he, Crane, gave her to enable her to find a new master, as she was then about to be sold. Her master had experienced a failure in business. This was the reason why she was to be sold.

Mrs. Crane, her mistress, had always promised Julia that she should be free at her death. But, unexpectedly, as Mrs. Crane was on her journey home from Cape May, where she had been for her health the summer before Julia escaped, she died suddenly in Philadelphia. Julia, however, had been sold twice before her mistress' death; once to the trader, Reed, and afterwards to John Freeland, and again was on the eve of being sold. Freeland, her last owner, thought she was unhappy because she was denied the privilege of going home of nights to her husband, instead of being on hand at the beck and call of her master and mistress day and night. So the very day Julia and her husband escaped, arrangements had been made to put her up at auction a third time. But both Julia and her husband had seen enough of Slavery to leave no room to hope that they could ever find peace or rest so long as they remained. So there and then, they resolved to strike for Canada, via the Underground Rail Road. By a little good management, berths were procured for them on one of the Richmond steamers (berths not known to the officers of the boat), and they were safely landed in the hands of the Vigilance Committee, and a most agreeable interview was had.

The Committee extended to them the usual hospitalities, in the way of board, accommodations, and free tickets Canadaward, and wished them a safe and speedy passage. The passengers departed, exceedingly light-hearted, Feb. 1, 1854.

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Doubtless there was a sensation in "the camp," when this gang was found missing.

James was a likely-looking young man of twenty years of age, dark, tall, and sensible; and worth, if we may judge, about $1,600. He was owned by a farmer named James Pittman, a "crabid kind of a man," grey-headed, with a broken leg; drank very hard, at which times he would swear that he would "sell them all to Georgia;" this threat was always unpleasant to the ears of James, but it seemed to be a satisfaction to the master. Fearing that it would be put into execution, James thought he had better let no time be lost in getting on towards Canada, though he was entitled to his Freedom at the age of twenty-five. Left his father, four brothers and two sisters. Also left his wife, to whom he had been married the previous Christmas.

His master's further stock of slaves consisted of two women, a young man and a child. The name of his old mistress was Amelia. She was "right nice," James admitted. One of James' brothers had been sold to Georgia by Pittman, although he was also entitled to his Freedom at the age of twenty-five.

His near relatives left in bondage lived near Level Square, Queen Ann's county, Maryland. His wife's name was Henrietta. "She was free."

Interesting letter from James Massey to his wife. It was forwarded to the corresponding secretary, to be sent to her, but no opportunity was afforded so to do, safely.

ST. CATHARINES, C.W., April 24, 1857.

Dear Wife—I take this opertunity to inform you that I have Arive in St Catharines this Eving. After Jorney of too weeks, and now find mysilf on free ground and wish that you was here with me But you are not here, when we parted I did not know that I should come away so soon as I did. But for that of causin you pain I left as I did, I hope that you will try to come. But if you cannot, write to me as soon as you can and tell me all that you can But don't be Desscuredged I was sory to leave you, and I could not help it for you know that I promest see you to sister, But I was persuaded By Another man go part with it grived mutch, you must not think that I did not care for you. I cannot tell how I come, for I was some times on the earth and some times under the earth Do not Bee afraid to come But start and keep trying, if you are afrid fitch your tow sister with you for compeny and I will take care of you and treat you like a lady so long as you live. The talk of cold in this place is all a humbug, it is wormer here than it was there when I left, your father and mother has allways treated me like their own child I have no fault to find in them. I send my Respects to them Both and I hope that they will remember me in Prayer, if you make a start come to Philidelpa tell father and mother that I am safe and hope that they will not morn after me I shall ever Remember them. No more at present But yours in Body and mind, and if we no meet on Earth I hope that we shall meet in heven.

Your husbern.

Good night.


Perry was about thirty-one years of age, round-made, of dark complexion, and looked quite gratified with his expedition, and the prospect of becoming a British subject instead of a Maryland slave. He was not free, however, from the sad thought of having left his wife and three children in the "prison house," nor of the fact that his own dear mother was brutally stabbed to the heart with a butcher knife by her young master, while he (Perry) was a babe; nor of a more recent tragedy by which a fellow-servant, only a short while before he fled, was also murdered by a stab in the groin from another young master. "Powerful bad" treatment, and "no pay," was the only reward poor Perry had ever received for his life services. Perry could only remember his having received from his master, in all, eleven cents. Left a brother and sister in Slavery. Perry was worth $1200 perhaps.

Perry was compelled to leave his wife and three children—namely, Hannah (wife), Perry Henry, William Thomas and Alexander, who were owned by John McGuire, of Caroline county, Maryland. Perry was a fellow-servant of James Massey, and was held by the same owner who held James. It is but just, to say, that it was not in the Pittman family that his mother and his fellow-servant had been so barbarously murdered. These occurrences took place before they came into the hands of Pittman.

The provocation for which his fellow-servant was killed, was said to be very trifling. In a moment of rage, his young master, John Piper, plunged the blade of a small knife into Perry's groin, which resulted in his death twenty-six hours afterwards. For one day only the young master kept himself concealed, then he came forward and said he "did it in self-defense," and there the matter ended. The half will never be told of the barbarism of Slavery.

Perry's letter subjoined, explains where he went, and how his mind was occupied with thoughts of his wife, children and friends.

ST. CATHARINES, C.W. June 21, 1857.

DEAR SIR.—I take this opportunity to inform you that I am well at present, and hope that these few lines may find you injoying the same Blessing, I have Been for some time now, But have not written to you Before, But you must Excuse me. I want you to give my Respects to all my inquiring friends and to my wife, I should have let you know But I was afraid and all three of my little children too, P.H. Trusty if he was mine Wm. T. Trusty and to Alexander I have been A man agge But was assurd nuthin, H. Trusty, a hard grand citt. I should lie know how times is, Henry Turner if you get this keep it and read it to yourself and not let any one else But yourself, tell ann Henry, Samuel Henry, Jacob Bryant, Wm Claton, Mr James at Almira Receved at Mr Jones house the Best I could I have Been healthy since I arrived here. My Best Respect to all and my thanks for past favours. No more at present But Remain youre obedented Servent &c.


Please send me an answer as son as you get this, and, oblige yours,


George Rhoads is a young man of twenty-five years of age, chestnut color, face round, and hating Slavery heartily. He had come from under the control of John P. Dellum a farmer, and a crabbed master, who "would swear very much when crossed, and would drink moderately every day," except sometimes he would "take a spree," and would then get pretty high. Withal he was a member of the Presbyterian church at Perryville, Maryland; he was a single man and followed farming. Within the last two or three years, he had sold a man and woman; hence, George thought it was time to take warning. Accordingly he felt it to be his duty to try for Canada, via Underground Rail Road. As his master had always declared that if one run off, he would sell the rest to Georgia, George very wisely concluded that as an effort would have to be made, they had better leave their master with as "few as possible to be troubled with selling." Consequently, a consultation was had between the brothers, which resulted in the exit of a party of eight. The market price for George would be about $1400. A horrid example professed Christians set before the world, while holding slaves and upholding Slavery.

James Rhoads, brother of George, was twenty-three years of age, medium size, dark color, intelligent and manly, and would doubtless have brought, in the Richmond market, $1700. Fortunately he brought his wife and child with him. James was also held by the same task-master who held George. Often had he been visited with severe stripes, and had borne his full share of suffering from his master.

George Washington, one of the same party, was only about fifteen years of age; he was tall enough, however, to pass for a young man of twenty. George was of an excellent, fast, dark color. Of course, mentally he was undeveloped, nevertheless, possessed of enough mother-wit to make good his escape. In the slave market he might have been valued at $800. George was claimed as the lawful property of Benjamin Sylves—a Presbyterian, who owned besides, two men, three girls, and a boy. He was "tolerable good" sometimes, and sometimes "bad." Some of the slaves supposed themselves to be on the eve of being emancipated about the time George left; but of this there was no certainty. George, however, was not among this hopeful number, consequently, he thought that he would start in time, and would be ready to shout for Freedom quite as soon as any other of his fellow-bondmen. George left a father and three sisters. Sarah Elizabeth Rhoads, wife of James Rhoads, was seventeen years of age, a tall, dark, young woman, who had had no chances for mental improvement, except such as were usual on a farm, stocked with slaves, where learning to read the Bible was against the "rules." Sarah was a young slave mother with a babe (of course a slave) only eight months old. She was regarded as having been exceedingly fortunate in having rescued herself and child from the horrid fate of slaves.

MARY ELIZABETH STEPHENSON is a promising-looking young woman, of twenty years of age, chestnut color, and well made. Hard treatment had been her lot. Left her mother, two sisters and four brothers in bondage. Worth $1100.

Although these travelers were of the "field hand" class, who had never been permitted to see much off of the farm, and had been deprived of hearing intelligent people talk, yet the spirit of Freedom, so natural to man, was quite uppermost with all of them. The members of the Committee who saw them, were abundantly satisfied that these candidates for Canada would prove that they were able to "take care of themselves."

Their wants were attended to in the usual manner, and they were sent on their way rejoicing, the Committee feeling quite a deep interest in them. It looked like business to see so many passing over the Road.

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The subjoined "pass" was brought to the Underground Rail Road station in Philadelphia by Charles, and while it was interesting as throwing light upon his escape, it is important also as a specimen of the way the "pass" system was carried on in the dark days of Slavery in Virginia:


Richmond, July 20th, 1857.

Permit Charles to pass and repass from this office to the residence of Rev B. Manly's on Clay St., near 11th, at any hour of the night for one month.


It is a very short document, but it used to be very unsafe for a slave in Richmond, or any other Southern city, to be found out in the evening without a legal paper of this description. The penalties for being found unprepared to face the police were fines, imprisonment and floggings. The satisfaction it seemed always to afford these guardians of the city to find either males or females trespassing in this particular, was unmistakable. It gave them (the police) the opportunity to prove to those they served (slaveholders), that they were the right men in the right place, guarding their interests. Then again they got the fine for pocket money, and likewise the still greater pleasure of administering the flogging. Who would want an office, if no opportunity should turn up whereby proof could be adduced of adequate qualifications to meet emergencies? But Charles was too wide awake to be caught without his pass day or night. Consequently he hung on to it, even after starting on his voyage to Canada. He, however, willingly surrendered it to a member of the Committee at his special request.

But in every way Charles was quite a remarkable man. It afforded the Committee great pleasure to make his acquaintance, and much practical and useful information was gathered from his story, which was felt to be truthful.

The Committee feeling assured that this "chattel" must have been the subject of much inquiry and anxiety from the nature of his former position, as a prominent piece of property, as a member of the Baptist church, as taking "first premiums" in making tobacco, and as a paper carrier in the National American office, felt called upon to note fully his movements before and after leaving Richmond.

In stature he was medium size, color quite dark, hair long and bushy—rather of a raw-boned and rugged appearance, modest and self-possessed; with much more intelligence than would be supposed from first observation. On his arrival, ere he had "shaken hands with the (British) Lion's paw," (which he was desirous of doing), or changed the habiliments in which he escaped, having listened to the recital of his thrilling tale, and wishing to get it word for word as it flowed naturally from his brave lips, at a late hour of the night a member of the Committee remarked to him, with pencil in hand, that he wanted to take down some account of his life. "Now," said he, "we shall have to be brief. Please answer as correctly as you can the following questions:" "How old are you?" "Thirty-two years old the 1st day of last June." "Were you born a slave?" "Yes." "How have you been treated?" "Badly all the time for the last twelve years." "What do you mean by being treated badly?" "Have been whipped, and they never give me anything; some people give their servants at Christmas a dollar and a half and two dollars, and some five, but my master would never give me anything." "What was the name of your master?" "Fleming Bibbs." "Where did he live?" "In Caroline county, fifty miles above Richmond." "What did he do?" "He was a farmer." "Did you ever live with him?" "Never did; always hired me out, and then I couldn't please him." "What kind of a man was he?" "A man with a very severe temper; would drink at all times, though would do it slyly." "Was he a member of any church?" "Baptist church—would curse at his servants as if he wern't in any church." "Were his family members of church, too?" "Yes." "What kind of family had he?" "His wife was a tolerable fair woman, but his sons were dissipated, all of them rowdies and gamblers. His sons has had children by the servants. One of his daughters had a child by his grandson last April. They are traders, buy and sell."

"How many slaves did he own?" "Sam, Richmond, Henry, Dennis, Jesse, Addison, Hilliard, Jenny, Lucius, Julia, Charlotte, Easte, Joe, Taylor, Louisa, two more small children and Jim." Did any of them know that you were going to leave? "No, I saw my brother Tuesday, but never told him a word about it." "What put it into your head to leave?" "It was bad treatment; for being put in jail for sale the 7th of last January; was whipped in jail and after I came out the only thing they told me was that I had been selling newspapers about the streets, and was half free."

"Where did you live then?" "In Richmond, Va.; for twenty-two years I have been living out." "How much did your master receive a year for your hire?" "From sixty-five to one hundred and fifty dollars." "Did you have to find yourself?" "The people who hired me found me. The general rule is in Richmond, for a week's board, seventy-five cents is allowed; if he gets any more than that he has got to find it himself." "How about Sunday clothing?" "Find them yourself?" "How about a house to live in?" "Have that to find yourself." "Suppose you have a wife and family." "It makes no difference, they don't allow you anything for that at all." "Suppose you are sick who pays your doctor's bill?" "He (master) pays that." "How do you manage to make a little extra money?" "By getting up before day and carrying out papers and doing other jobs, cleaning up single men's rooms and the like of that." "What have you been employed at in Richmond?" "Been working in tobacco factory in general; this year I was hired at a printing-office. The National American. I carried papers." "Had you a wife?" "I did, but her master was a very bad man and was opposed to me, and was against my coming to his place to see my wife, and he persuaded her to take another husband in preference to me; being in his hands she took his advice." "How long ago was that?" "Very near twelve months; she got married last fall." "Had you any children?" "Yes." "How many?" "Five." "Where are they?" "Three are with Joel Luck, her master, one with his sister Eliza, and the other belongs to Judge Hudgins, of Bowling Green Court House." "Do you ever expect to see them again?" "No, not till the day of the Great I am!" "Did you ever have any chance of schooling?" "Not a day in my life." "Can you read?" "No, sir, nor write my own name." "What do you think of Slavery any how?" "I think it's a great curse, and I think the Baptists in Richmond will go to the deepest hell, if there is any, for they are so wicked they will work you all day and part of the night, and wear cloaks and long faces, and try to get all the work out of you they can by telling you about Jesus Christ. All the extra money you make they think you will give to hear talk about Jesus Christ. Out of their extra money they have to pay a white man Five hundred dollars a year for preaching." "What kind of preaching does he give them?" "He tells them if they die in their sins they will go to hell; don't tell them any thing about their elevation; he would tell them obey their masters and mistresses, for good servants make good masters." "Did you belong to the Baptist Church?" "Yes, Second Baptist Church." "Did you feel that the preaching you heard was the true Gospel?" "One part of it, and one part burnt me as bad as ever insult did. They would tell us that we must take money out of our pockets to send it to Africa, to enlighten the African race. I think that we were about as blind in Richmond as the African race is in Africa. All they want you to know, is to have sense enough to say master and mistress, and run like lightning, when they speak to you, to do exactly what they want you to do," "When you made up your mind to escape, where did you think you would go to?" "I made up my mind not to stop short of the British protection; to shake hands with the Lion's paw." "Were you not afraid of being captured on the way, of being devoured by the abolitionists, or of freezing and starving in Canada?" "Well, I had often thought that I would be in a bad condition to come here, without money and clothes, but I made up my mind to come, live or die." "What are your impressions from what little you have seen of Freedom?" "I think it is intended for all men, and all men ought to have it." "Suppose your master was to appear before you, and offer you the privilege of returning to Slavery or death on the spot, which would be your choice?" "Die right there. I made up my mind before I started." "Do you think that many of the slaves are anxious about their Freedom?" "The third part of them ain't anxious about it, because the white people have blinded them, telling about the North,—they can't live here; telling them that the people are worse off than they are there; they say that the 'niggers' in the North have no houses to live in, stand about freezing, dirty, no clothes to wear. They all would be very glad to get their time, but want to stay where they are." Just at this point of the interview, the hour of midnight admonished us that it was time to retire. Accordingly, said Mr. Thompson, "I guess we had better close," adding, if he "could only write, he could give seven volumes!" Also, said he, "give my best respects to Mr. W.W. Hardwicke, and Mr. Perry in the National American office, and tell them I wish they will pay the two boys who carry the papers for me, for they are as ignorant of this matter as you are."

Charles was duly forwarded to Canada to shake hands with the Lion's paw, and from the accounts which came from him to the Committee, he was highly delighted. The following letter from him afforded gratifying evidence, that he neither forgot his God nor his friends in freedom:

DETROIT, Sept. 17, 1862.

DEAR BROTHER IN CHRIST—It affords me the greatest pleasure imaginable in the time I shall occupy in penning these few lines to you and your dear loving wife, not because I can write them to you myself, but for the love and regard I have for you, for I never can forget a man who will show kindness to his neighbor when in distress. I remember when I was in distress and out of doors, you took me in; I was hungry, and you fed me; for these things God will reward you, dear brother. I am getting along as well as I can expect. Since I have been out here, I have endeavored to make every day tell for itself, and I can say, no doubt, what a great many men cannot say, that I have made good use of all the time that God has given me, and not one week has been spent in idleness. Brother William, I expect to visit you some time next summer to sit and have a talk with you and Mrs. Still. I hope to see that time, if it is God's will. You will remember me, with my wife, to Mrs. Still. Give my best respects to all inquiring friends, and believe me to be yours forever. Well wishes both soul and body. Please write to me sometimes.


       *       *       *       *       *



The Philadelphia branch of the Underground Rail Road was not fortunate in having very frequent arrivals from North Carolina. Of course such of her slave population as managed to become initiated in the mysteries of traveling North by the Underground Rail Road were sensible enough to find out nearer and safer routes than through Pennsylvania. Nevertheless the Vigilance Committee of Philadelphia occasionally had the pleasure of receiving some heroes who were worthy to be classed among the bravest of the brave, no matter who they may be who have claims to this distinction.

In proof of this bold assertion the two individuals whose names stand at the beginning of this chapter are presented. Abram was only twenty-one years of age, mulatto, five feet six inches high, intelligent and the picture of good health. "What was your master's name?" inquired a member of the Committee. "Milton Hawkins," answered Abram. "What business did Milton Hawkins follow?" again queried said member. "He was chief engineer on the Wilmington and Manchester Rail Road" (not a branch of the Underground Rail Road), responded Richard. "Describe him," said the member. "He was a slim built, tall man with whiskers. He was a man of very good disposition. I always belonged to him; he owned three. He always said he would sell before he would use a whip. His wife was a very mean woman; she would whip contrary to his orders." "Who was your father?" was further inquired. "John Wesley Galloway," was the prompt response. "Describe your father?" "He was captain of a government vessel; he recognized me as his son, and protected me as far as he was allowed so to do; he lived at Smithfield, North Carolina. Abram's master, Milton Hawkins, lived at Wilmington, N.C." "What prompted you to escape?" was next asked. "Because times were hard and I could not come up with my wages as I was required to do, so I thought I would try and do better." At this juncture Abram explained substantially in what sense times were hard, &c. In the first place he was not allowed to own himself; he, however, preferred hiring his time to serving in the usual way. This favor was granted Abram; but he was compelled to pay $15 per month for his time, besides finding himself in clothing, food, paying doctor bills, and a head tax of $15 a year.



(Secreted in a vessel loaded with turpentine)

Even under this master, who was a man of very good disposition, Abram was not contented. In the second place, he "always thought Slavery was wrong," although he had "never suffered any personal abuse." Toiling month after month the year round to support his master and not himself, was the one intolerable thought. Abram and Richard were intimate friends, and lived near each other. Being similarly situated, they could venture to communicate the secret feelings of their hearts to each other. Richard was four years older than Abram, with not quite so much Anglo-Saxon blood in his veins, but was equally as intelligent, and was by trade, a "fashionable barber," well-known to the ladies and gentlemen of Wilmington. Richard owed service to Mrs. Mary Loren, a widow. "She was very kind and tender to all her slaves." "If I was sick," said Richard, "she would treat me the same as a mother would." She was the owner of twenty, men, women and children, who were all hired out, except the children too young for hire. Besides having his food, clothing and doctor's expenses to meet, he had to pay the "very kind and tender-hearted widow" $12.50 per month, and head tax to the State, amounting to twenty-five cents per month. It so happened, that Richard at this time, was involved in a matrimonial difficulty. Contrary to the laws of North Carolina, he had lately married a free girl, which was an indictable offence, and for which the penalty was then in soak for him—said penalty to consist of thirty-nine lashes, and imprisonment at the discretion of the judge.

So Abram and Richard put their heads together, and resolved to try the Underground Rail Road. They concluded that liberty was worth dying for, and that it was their duty to strike for Freedom even if it should cost them their lives. The next thing needed, was information about the Underground Rail Road. Before a great while the captain of a schooner turned up, from Wilmington, Delaware. Learning that his voyage extended to Philadelphia, they sought to find out whether this captain was true to Freedom. To ascertain this fact required no little address. It had to be done in such a way, that even the captain would not really understand what they were up to, should he be found untrue. In this instance, however, he was the right man in the right place, and very well understood his business.

Abram and Richard made arrangements with him to bring them away; they learned when the vessel would start, and that she was loaded with tar, rosin, and spirits of turpentine, amongst which the captain was to secrete them. But here came the difficulty. In order that slaves might not be secreted in vessels, the slave-holders of North Carolina had procured the enactment of a law requiring all vessels coming North to be smoked.

To escape this dilemma, the inventive genius of Abram and Richard soon devised a safe-guard against the smoke. This safe-guard consisted in silk oil cloth shrouds, made large, with drawing strings, which, when pulled over their heads, might be drawn very tightly around their waists, whilst the process of smoking might be in operation. A bladder of water and towels were provided, the latter to be wet and held to their nostrils, should there be need. In this manner they had determined to struggle against death for liberty. The hour approached for being at the wharf. At the appointed time they were on hand ready to go on the boat; the captain secreted them, according to agreement. They were ready to run the risk of being smoked to death; but as good luck would have it, the law was not carried into effect in this instance, so that the "smell of smoke was not upon them." The effect of the turpentine, however, of the nature of which they were totally ignorant, was worse, if possible, than the smoke would have been. The blood was literally drawn from them at every pore in frightful quantities. But as heroes of the bravest type they resolved to continue steadfast as long as a pulse continued to beat, and thus they finally conquered.

The invigorating northern air and the kind treatment of the Vigilance Committee acted like a charm upon them, and they improved very rapidly from their exhaustive and heavy loss of blood. Desiring to retain some memorial of them, a member of the Committee begged one of their silk shrouds, and likewise procured an artist to take the photograph of one of them; which keepsakes have been valued very highly. In the regular order of arrangements the wants of Abram and Richard were duly met by the Committee, financially and otherwise, and they were forwarded to Canada. After their safe arrival in Canada, Richard addressed a member of the Committee thus:

KINGSTON, July 20, 1857.

MR. WILLIAM STILL—Dear Friend:—I take the opertunity of wrighting a few lines to let you no that we air all in good health hoping thos few lines may find you and your family engoying the same blessing. We arived in King all saft Canada West Abram Galway gos to work this morning at $1.75 per day and John pediford is at work for mr george mink and i will opne a shop for my self in a few days My wif will send a daugretipe to your cair whitch you will pleas to send on to me Richard Edons to the cair of George Mink Kingston C W

Yours with Respect,


Abram, his comrade, allied himself faithfully to John Bull until Uncle Sam became involved in the contest with the rebels. In this hour of need Abram hastened back to North Carolina to help fight the battles of Freedom. How well he acted his part, we are not informed. We only know that, after the war was over, in the reconstruction of North Carolina, Abram was promoted to a seat in its Senate. He died in office only a few months since. The portrait is almost a "fac-simile."

       *       *       *       *       *


Anglo-African and Anglo-Saxon were about equally mixed in the organization of Mr. Pettifoot. His education, with regard to books, was quite limited. He had, however, managed to steal the art of reading and writing, to a certain extent. Notwithstanding the Patriarchal Institution of the South, he was to all intents and purposes a rebel at heart, consequently he resolved to take a trip on the Underground Rail Road to Canada. So, greatly to the surprise of those whom he was serving, he was one morning inquired for in vain. No one could tell what had become of Jack no more than if he had vanished like a ghost. Doubtless Messrs. McHenry and McCulloch were under the impression that newspapers and money possessed great power and could, under the circumstances, be used with entire effect. The following advertisement is evidence, that Jack was much needed at the tobacco factory.

Runaway glyph $100 REWARD—For the apprehension and delivery to us of a MULATTO MAN, named John Massenberg, or John Henry Pettifoot, who has been passing as free, under the name of Sydney. He is about 5 feet 6 or 8 inches high, spare made, bright, with a bushy head of hair, curled under and a small moustache. Absconded a few days ago from our Tobacco Factory.


ju 16 3t.

Jack was aware that a trap of this kind would most likely be set for him, and that the large quantity of Anglo-Saxon blood in his veins would not save him. He was aware, too, that he was the reputed son of a white gentleman, who was a professional dentist, by the name of Dr. Peter Cards. The Doctor, however, had been called away by death, so Jack could see no hope or virtue in having a white father, although a "chivalric gentleman," while living, and a man of high standing amongst slave-holders. Jack was a member of the Baptist church, too, and hoped he was a good Christian; but he could look for no favors from the Church, or sympathy on the score of his being a Christian. He knew very well were it known, that he had the love of freedom in his heart, or the idea of the Underground Rail Road in his head, he would be regarded as having committed the "unpardonable sin." So Jack looked to none of these "broken reeds" in Richmond in the hour of his trial, but to Him above, whom he had not seen, and to the Underground Rail Road. He felt pretty well satisfied, that if Providence would aid him, and he could get a conductor to put him on the right road to Canada, he would be all right. Accordingly, he acted up to his best light, and thus he succeeded admirably, as the sequel shows.

JOHN HENRY PETTIFOOT. John is a likely young man, quite bright in color and in intellect also. He was the son of Peter Cards, a dentist by profession, and a white man by complexion. As a general thing, he had been used 'very well;' had no fault to find, except this year, being hired to McHenry & McCulloch, tobacconists, of Petersburg, Va., whom he found rather more oppressive than he agreed for, and supposing that he had 'no right' to work for any body for nothing, he 'picked up his bed and walked.' His mistress had told him that he was 'willed free,' at her death, but John was not willing to wait her "motions to die."

He had a wife in Richmond, but was not allowed to visit her. He left one sister and a step-father in bondage. Mr. Pettifoot reached Philadelphia by the Richmond line of steamers, stowed away among the pots and cooking utensils. On reaching the city, he at once surrendered himself into the hands of the Committee, and was duly looked after by the regular acting members.

       *       *       *       *       *


EMANUEL was about twenty-five years of age, with seven-eighths of white blood in his veins, medium size, and a very smart and likely-looking piece of property generally. He had the good fortune to escape from Edward H. Hubbert, a ship timber merchant of Norfolk, Va. Under Hubbert's yoke he had served only five years, having been bought by him from a certain Aldridge Mandrey, who was described as a "very cruel man," and would "rather fight than eat." "I have licks that will carry me to my grave, and will be there till the flesh rots off my bones," said Emanuel, adding that his master was a "devil," though a member of the Reformed Methodist Church. But his mistress, he said, was a "right nice little woman, and kept many licks off me." "If you said you were sick, he would whip it out of you." From Mandrey he once fled, and was gone two months, but was captured at Williamsburg, Va., and received a severe flogging, and carried home. Hubbert finally sold Emanuel to a Mr. Grigway of Norfolk; with Emanuel Mr. G. was pretty well suited, but his wife was not—he had "too much white blood in him" for her. Grigway and his wife were members of the Episcopal Church.

In this unhappy condition Emanuel found a conductor of the Underground Rail Road. A secret passage was secured for him on one of the Richmond steamers, and thus he escaped from his servitude. The Committee attended to his wants, and forwarded him on as usual. From Syracuse, where he was breathing quite freely under the protection of the Rev. J.W. Loguen, he wrote the following letter:

SYRACUSE, July 29, 1857.

MY DEAR FRIEND, MR. STILL:—I got safe through to Syracuse, and found the house of our friend, Mr. J.W. Loguen. Many thanks to you for your kindness to me. I wish to say to you, dear sir, that I expect my clothes will be sent to Dr. Landa, and I wish, if you please, get them and send them to the care of Mr. Loguen, at Syracuse, for me He will be in possession of my whereabouts and will send them to me. Remember me to Mr. Landa and Miss Millen Jespan, and much to you and your family.

Truly Yours,



There is found the following brief memorandum on the Records of the Underground Rail Road Book, dated July, 1857:

"A little child of fourteen months old was conveyed to its mother, who had been compelled to flee without it nearly nine months ago."

While the circumstances connected with the coming of this slave child were deeply interesting, no further particulars than the simple notice above were at that time recorded. Fortunately, however, letters from the good friends, who plucked this infant from the jaws of Slavery, have been preserved to throw light on this little one, and to show how true-hearted sympathizers with the Slave labored amid dangers and difficulties to save the helpless bondman from oppression. It will be observed, that both these friends wrote from Washington, D.C., the seat of Government, where, if Slavery was not seen in its worst aspects, the Government in its support of Slavery appeared in a most revolting light.


WASHINGTON, D.C., July 12, 1857.

DEAR SIR:—Some of our citizens, I am told, lately left here for Philadelphia, three of whom were arrested and brought back.

I beg you will inform me whether two others—(I., whose wife is in Philadelphia, was one of them), ever reached your city.

To-morrow morning Mrs. Weems, with her baby, will start for Philadelphia and see you probably over night.

Yours Truly,


"J.B." was not only a trusty and capable conductor of the Underground Rail Road in Washington, but was also a practical lawyer, at the same time. His lawyer-like letter, in view of the critical nature of the case, contained but few words, and those few naturally enough were susceptible of more than one construction.

Doubtless those styled "our citizens,"—"three of whom were arrested and brought back,"—were causing great anxiety to this correspondent, not knowing how soon he might find himself implicated in the "running off," etc. So, while he felt it to be his duty, to still aid the child, he was determined, if the enemy intercepted his letter, he should not find much comfort or information. The cause was safe in such careful hands. The following letters, bearing on the same case, are also from another good conductor, who was then living in Washington.


WASHINGTON, D.C., July 8,1857.

MY DEAR SIR:—I write you now to let you know that the children of E. are yet well, and that Mrs. Arrah Weems will start with one of them for Philadelphia to-morrow or next day. She will be with you probably in the day train. She goes for the purpose of making an effort to redeem her last child, now in Slavery. The whole amount necessary is raised, except about $300. She will take her credentials with her, and you can place the most implicit reliance on her statements. The story in regard to the Weems' family was published in Frederick Douglass' paper two years ago. Since then the two middle boys have been redeemed and there is only one left in Slavery, and he is in Alabama. The master has agreed to take for him just what he gave, $1100. Mr. Lewis Tappan has his letter and the money, except the amount specified. There were about $5000 raised in England to redeem this family, and they are now all free except this one. And there never was a more excellent and worthy family than the Weems' family. I do hope, that Mrs. W. will find friends who can advance the amount required.

Truly Yours,


WASHINGTON, D.C., July 13th, 1857.

MY FRIEND:—Your kind letter in reply to mine about Arrah was duly received. As she is doubtless with you before this, she will explain all. I propose that a second journey be made by her or some one else, in order to take the other. They have been a great burden to the good folks here and should have been at home long ere this. Arrah will explain everything. I want, however, to say a word in her behalf. If there is a person in the world, that deserves the hearty co-operation of every friend of humanity, that person is Arrah Weems, who now, after a long series of self-sacrificing labor to aid others in their struggle for their God-given rights, solicits a small amount to redeem the last one of her own children in Slavery. Never have I had my sympathies so aroused in behalf of any object as in behalf of this most worthy family. She can tell you what I have done. And I do hope, that our friends in Philadelphia and New York will assist her to make up the full amount required for the purchase of the boy.

After she does what she can in P., will you give her the proper direction about getting to New York and to Mr. Tappan's? Inform him of what she has done, &c.

Please write me as soon as you can as to whether she arrived safely, &c. Give me your opinion, also, as to the proposal about the other. Had you not better keep the little one in P. till the other is taken there? Inform me also where E. is, how she is getting along, &c., who living with, &c.

Yours Truly,


In this instance, also, as in the case of "J.B.," the care and anxiety of other souls, besides this child, crying for deliverance, weighed heavily on the mind of Mr. Stevens, as may be inferred from certain references in his letters. Mr. Stevens' love of humanity, and impartial freedom, even in those dark days of Slavery, when it was both unpopular and unsafe to allow the cries of the bondman to awaken the feeling of humanity to assist the suffering, was constantly leading him to take sides with the oppressed, and as he appears in this correspondence, so it was his wont daily to aid the helpless, who were all around him. Arrah Weems, who had the care of the child, alluded to so touchingly by Mr. Stevens, had known, to her heart's sorrow, how intensely painful it was to a mother's feelings to have her children torn from her by a cruel master and sold. For Arrah had had a number of children sold, and was at that very time striving diligently to raise money to redeem the last one of them. And through such kind-hearted friends as Mr. Stevens, the peculiar hardships of this interesting family of Weems' were brought to the knowledge of thousands of philanthropists in this country and England, and liberal contributions had already been made by friends of the Slave on both sides of the ocean. It may now be seen, that while this child had not been a conscious sufferer from the wicked system of Slavery, it had been the object of very great anxiety and suffering to several persons, who had individually perilled their own freedom for its redemption. This child, however, was safely brought to the Vigilance Committee, in Philadelphia, and was duly forwarded, viâ friends in New York, to its mother, in Syracuse, where she had stopped to work and wait for her little one, left behind at the time she escaped.

       *       *       *       *       *



She anxiously waits their coming in Syracuse, N.Y. Not until after the foregoing story headed, the "Escape of a Child," etc., had been put into the hands of the printer and was in type, was the story of the mother discovered, although it was among the records preserved. Under changed names, in many instances, it has been found to be no easy matter to cull from a great variety of letters, records and advertisements, just when wanted, all the particulars essential to complete many of these narratives. The case of the child, alluded to above, is a case in point. Thus, however, while it is impossible to introduce the mother's story in its proper place, yet, since it has been found, it is too important and interesting to be left out. It is here given as follows:

Runaway glyph $300 REWARD.—RAN AWAY from the subscriber on Saturday, the 30th of August, 1856, my SERVANT WOMAN, named EMELINE CHAPMAN, about 25 years of age; quite dark, slender built, speaks short, and stammers some; with two children, one a female about two and a half years old; the other a male, seven or eight months old, bright color. I will give the above reward if they are delivered to me in Washington.


s23-TU, Th&st&

Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.

Emeline Chapman, so particularly described in the "Baltimore Sun" of the 23d of September, 1856, arrived by the regular Underground Rail Road train from Washington. In order to escape the responsibility attached to her original name, she adopted the name of Susan Bell. Thus for freedom she was willing to forego her name, her husband, and even her little children. It was a serious sacrifice; but she had been threatened with the auction block, and she well understood what that meant. With regard to usage, having lived away from her owner, Emeline did not complain of any very hard times. True, she had been kept at work very constantly, and her owner had very faithfully received all her hire. Emeline had not even been allowed enough of her hire to find herself in clothing, or anything for the support of her two children—for these non-essentials, her kind mistress allowed her to seek elsewhere, as best she could. Emeline's husband was named John Henry; her little girl she called Margaret Ann, and her babe she had named after its father, all with the brand of Slavery upon them. The love of freedom, in the breast of this spirited young Slave-wife and mother, did not extinguish the love she bore to her husband and children, however otherwise her course, in leaving them, as she did, might appear. For it was just this kind of heroic and self-sacrificing struggle, that appealed to the hearts of men and compelled attention. The letters of Biglow and Stevens, relative to the little child, prove this fact, and additional testimony found in the appended letter from Rev. J.W. Loguen conclusively confirms the same. Indeed, who could close his eyes and ears to the plaintive cries of such a mother? Who could refrain from aiding on to freedom children honored in such a heroic parent?

SYRACUSE, Oct. 5, 1856.

DEAR FRIEND STILL:—I write to you for Mrs. Susan Bell, who was at your city some time in September last. She is from Washington city. She left her dear little children behind (two children). She is stopping in our city, and wants to hear from her children very much indeed. She wishes to know if you have heard from Mr. Biglow, of Washington city. She will remain here until she can hear from you. She feels very anxious about her children, I will assure you. I should have written before this, but I have been from home much of the time since she came to our city. She wants to know if Mr. Biglow has heard anything about her husband. If you have not written to Mr. Biglow, she wishes you would. She sends her love to you and your dear family. She says that you were all kind to her, and she does not forget it. You will direct your letter to me, dear brother, and I will see that she gets it.

Miss F.E. Watkins left our house yesterday for Ithaca, and other places in that part of the State. Frederick Douglass, Wm. J. Watkins and others were with us last week; Gerritt Smith with others. Miss Watkins is doing great good in our part of the State. We think much indeed of her. She is such a good and glorious speaker, that we are all charmed with her. We have had thirty-one fugitives in the last twenty-seven days; but you, no doubt, have had many more than that. I hope the good Lord may bless you and spare you long to do good to the hunted and outraged among our brethren.

Yours truly,


Agent of the Underground Rail Road.

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"Sam" was doing Slave labor at the office of the Richmond "Daily Dispatch," as a carrier of that thoroughly pro-slavery sheet. "Sam" had possessed himself somehow of a knowledge of reading and writing a little, and for the news of the day he had quite an itching ear. Also with regard to his freedom he was quite solicitous. Being of an ambitious turn of mind, he hired his time, for which he paid his master $175 per annum in regular quarterly payments. Besides paying this amount, he had to find himself in board, clothing, and pay doctor's expenses. He had had more than one owner in his life. The last one, however, he spoke of thus: "His name is James B. Foster, of Richmond, a very hard man. He owns three more Slaves besides myself." In escaping, "Sam" was obliged to leave his wife, who was owned by Christian Bourdon. His attachment to her, judging from his frequent warm expressions of affection, was very strong. But, as strong as it was, he felt that he could not consent to remain in slavery any longer. "Sam" had luckily come across a copy of Uncle Tom's Cabin, and in perusing it, all his notions with regard to "Masters and Servants," soon underwent an entire change, and he began to cast his eyes around him to see how he might get his freedom. One who was thoroughly awake as he was to the idea of being free, with a fair share of courage, could now and then meet with the opportunity to escape by the steamers or schooners coming North. Thus Samuel found the way open and on one of the steamers came to Philadelphia. On arriving, he was put at once in the charge of the Committee. While in their hands he seemed filled with astonishment at his own achievements, and such spontaneous expressions as naturally flowed from his heart thrilled and amazed his new found friends, and abundant satisfaction was afforded, that Samuel Washington Johnson would do no discredit to his fugitive comrades in Canada. So the Committee gladly aided him on his journey.

After arriving in Canada, Samuel wrote frequently and intelligently. The subjoined letter to his wife shows how deeply he was attached to her, and, at the same time, what his views were of Slavery. The member of the Committee to whom it was sent with the request, that it should be forwarded to her, did not meet with the opportunity of doing so. A copy of it was preserved with other Underground Rail Road documents.


My Dear Wife I now embrace this golden opportunity of writing a few Lines to inform you that I am well at present engoying good health and hope that these few lines may find you well also. My dearest wife I have Left you and now I am in a foreign land about fourteen hundred miles from you but though my wife my thoughts are upon you all the time. My dearest Frances I hope you will remember me now gust as same as you did when I were there with you because my mind are with you night and day the Love that I bear for you in my breast is greater than I thought it was if I had thought I had so much Love for you I dont think I ever could Left being I have escape I and has fled into a land of freedom. I can but stop and look over my past Life and say what a fool I was for staying in bondage as Long. My dear wife I dont want you to get married before you send me some letters because I never shall get married until I see you again. My mind dont deceive and it appears to me as if I shall see you again at my time of writing this letter I am desitute of money I have not got in no business yet but when I do get into business I shall write you and also remember you. Tell my Mother and Brother and all enquiring friends that I am now safe in free state. I cant tell where I am at present but Direct your Letters to Mr. William Still in Philadelphia and I will get them. Answer this as soon as you can if you please for if you write the same day you receive it it will take a fortnight to reach me. No more to relate at present but still remain your affectionate husband. Mr. Still please defore this piece out if you please


Whether Samuel ever met with the opportunity of communicating with his wife, the writer cannot say. But of all the trials which Slaves had to endure, the separations of husbands and wives were the most difficult to bear up under. Although feeling keenly the loss of his wife, Samuel's breast swelled with the thought of freedom, as will be seen from the letter which he wrote immediately after landing in Canada:


MR. WILLIAM STILL:—I am now in safety. I arrived at home safe on the 11th inst at 12 o'clock M. So I hope that you will now take it upon yourself to inform me something of that letter I left at your house that night when I left there and write me word how you are and how is your wife. I wish you may excuse this letter for I am so full that I cannot express my mind at all. I am only got $1.50 and I feel as if I had an independent fortune but I don't want you to think that I am going to be idle because I am on free ground and I shall always work though I am not got nothing to do at present. Direct your letter to the post office as soon as possible.


       *       *       *       *       *


STEPHEN AMOS, alias HENRY JOHNSON, HARRIET, alias MARY JANE JOHNSON (man and wife), and their four children, ANN REBECCA, WM. H., ELIZABETH and MARY ELLEN. Doubtless, in the eyes of a Slaveholder, a more "likely-looking" family could not readily be found in Baltimore, than the one to be now briefly noticed. The mother and her children were owned by a young slave-holder, who went by the name of William Giddings, and resided in Prince George's county, Md. Harriet acknowledged, that she had been treated "tolerably well in earlier days" for one in her condition; but, as in so many instances in the experience of Slaves, latterly, times had changed with her and she was compelled to serve under a new master who oft-times treated her "very severely." On one occasion, seven years previously, a brother of her owner for a trifling offence struck and kicked her so brutally, that she was immediately thrown into a fit of sickness, which lasted "all one summer"—from this she finally recovered.

On another occasion, about one year previous to her escape, she was seized by her owner and thrust into prison to be sold. In this instance the interference of the Uncle of Harriet's master saved her from the auction block. The young master, was under age, and at the same time under the guardianship of his Uncle. The young master had early acquired an ardent taste for fast horses, gambling, etc. Harriet felt, that her chances for the future in the hands of such a brutal master could not be other than miserable. Her husband had formerly been owned by John S. Giddings, who was said to have been a "mild man." He had allowed Stephen (her husband) to buy himself, and for eighteen months prior to the flight, he had been what was called a free man. It should also be further stated in justice to Stephen's master, that he was so disgusted with the manner in which Stephen's wife was treated, that he went so far as to counsel Stephen to escape with his wife and children. Here at least is one instance where a Maryland slave-holder lends his influence to the Underground Rail Road cause. The counsel was accepted, and the family started on their perilous flight. And although they necessarily had manifest trials and difficulties to discourage and beset them, they battled bravely with all these odds and reached the Vigilance Committee safely. Harriet was a bright mulatto, with marked features of character, and well made, with good address and quite intelligent. She was about twenty-six years of age. The children also were remarkably fine-looking little creatures, but too young to know the horrors of Slavery. The Committee at once relieved them of their heavy load of anxiety by cheering words and administering to their necessities with regard to food, money, etc. After the family had somewhat recovered from the fatigue and travel-worn condition in which they arrived, and were prepared to resume their journey, the Committee gave them the strictest caution with regard to avoiding slave-hunters, and also in reference to such points on the road where they would be most in danger of going astray from a lack of knowledge of the way. Then, with indescribable feelings of sympathy, free tickets were tendered them, and they having been conducted to the depot, were sent on their way rejoicing.

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After many years of hard toiling for the support of others, the yoke pressed so heavily upon Elijah's shoulders, that he could not endure Slave life any longer. In the hope of getting rid of his bondage, by dexterous management and a resolute mind, which most determined and thoughtful men exercise when undertaking to accomplish great objects, he set about contriving to gain his freedom. In proof of Elijah's truthfulness, the advertisement of Mr. R.J. Christians is here offered, as taken from a Richmond paper, about the time that Elijah passed through Philadelphia on the Underground Rail Road, in 1857.

Runaway glyph RAN AWAY—$500 REWARD.—Left the Tobacco Factory of the subscriber on the 14th inst., on the pretence of being sick, a mulatto man, named ELIJAH, the property of Maj. Edward Johnson, of Chesterfield county. He is about 5 feet 8 or 10 inches high, spare made, bushy hair, and very genteel appearance; he is supposed to be making his way North. The above reward will be paid if delivered at my factory.


jy 21—ts.

From his infancy up to the hour of his escape, not a breath of free air had he ever been permitted to breathe. He was first owned by Mrs. Caroline Johnson, "a stingy widow, the owner of about fifty slaves, and a member of Dr. Plummer's church." Elijah, at her death, was willed to her son, Major Johnson, who was in the United States service. Elijah spoke of him as a "favorable man," but added, "I'd rather be free. I believe I can treat myself better than he can or anybody else." For the last nineteen years he had been hired out, sometimes as waiter, sometimes in a tobacco factory, and for five years in the Coal Mines.

At the mines he was treated very brutally, but at Cornelius Hall's Tobacco factory, the suffering he had to endure seems almost incredible. The poor fellow, with the scars upon his person and the unmistakable earnestness of his manner, only needed to be seen and heard to satisfy the most incredulous of the truth of his story. For refusing to be flogged, one time at Hall's Factory, the overseer, in a rage, "took up a hickory club" and laid his head "open on each side." Overpowered and wounded, he was stripped naked and compelled to receive THREE HUNDRED LASHES, by which he was literally excoriated from head to foot. For six months afterwards he was "laid up." Last year he was hired out for "one hundred and eighty dollars," out of which he "received but five dollars." This year he brought "one hundred and ninety dollars." Up to the time he escaped, he had received "two dollars," and the promise of "more at Christmas." Left brothers and sisters, all ignorant of his way of escape. The following pass brought away by Elijah speaks for itself, and will doubtless be interesting to some of our readers who are ignorant of what used to be Republican usages in the "land of the Free."

RICHMOND, July 3d, 1857.

Permit the Bearer Elijah to pass to and from my FACTORY, to Frederick Williams, In the Vallie, for one month, untill 11 o'clock at night.

By A.B. Wells,



As usual, the Vigilance Committee tendered aid to Elijah, and forwarded him on to Canada, whence he wrote back as follows:

TORONTO, Canada West, July 28. Dear friend in due respect to your humanity and nobility I now take my pen in hand to inform you of my health. I am enjoying a reasonable proportion of health at this time and hope when these few lines come to hand they may find you and family the same dear Sir I am in Toronto and are working at my ole branch of business with meny of my friends. I want you to send those to toronto to Mr Tueharts on Edward St what I have been talking about is my Clothes I came from Richmond Va and expect my things to come to you. So when they come to you then you will send them to Jesse Tuehart Edward St no 43.

I must close by saying I have no more at present. I still remain your brother,


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This candidate for Canada managed to secure a private berth on the steamship City of Richmond. He was thus enabled to leave his old mistress, Mary A. Ely, in Norfolk, the place of her abode, and the field of his servitude. Solomon was only twenty-two years of age, rather under the medium size, dark color, and of much natural ability. He viewed Slavery as a great hardship, and for a length of time had been watching for an opportunity to free himself. He had been in the habit of hiring his time of his mistress, for which he paid ten dollars per month. This amount failed to satisfy the mistress, as she was inclined to sell him to North Carolina, where Slave stock, at that time, was commanding high prices. The idea of North Carolina and a new master made Solomon rather nervous, and he was thereby prompted to escape. On reaching the Committee he manifested very high appreciation of the attention paid him, and after duly resting for a day, he was sent on his way rejoicing. Seven days after leaving Philadelphia, he wrote back from Canada as follows:

ST. CATHARINES, Feb. 20th, 1854.

MR. STILL—DEAR SIR:—It is with great pleasure that I have to inform you, that I have arrived safe in a land of freedom. Thanks to kind friends that helped me here. Thank God that I am treading on free soil. I expect to go to work to-morrow in a steam factory.

I would like to have you, if it is not too much trouble, see Mr. Minhett, the steward on the boat that I came out on, when he gets to Norfolk, to go to the place where my clothes are, and bring them to you, and you direct them to the care of Rev. Hiram Wilson, St. Catharines, Niagara District, Canada West, by rail-road via Suspension Bridge. You mentioned if I saw Mr. Foreman. I was to deliver a message—he is not here. I saw two yesterday in church, from Norfolk, that I had known there. You will send my name, James Henry, as you knew me by that name; direct my things to James Henry. My love to your wife and children.

Yours Respectfully,


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William fled from Lewis Roberts, who followed farming in Baltimore county, Md. In speaking of him, William gave him the character of being a "fierce and rough man," who owned nine head of slaves. Two of William's sisters were held by Roberts, when he left. His excuse for running away was, "ill-treatment." In traveling North, he walked to Columbia (in Pennsylvania), and there took the cars for Philadelphia. The Committee took charge of him, and having given him the usual aid, sent him hopefully on his way. After safely reaching Canada, the thought of his wife in a land of bondage, pressed so deeply upon his mind, that he was prompted to make an effort to rescue her. The following letter, written on his behalf by the Rev. H. Wilson, indicates his feelings and wishes with regard to her:

ST. CATHARINES, Canada West, 24th July, 1854.

DEAR FRIEND, WILLIAM STILL:—Your encouraging letter, to John Smith, was duly received by him, and I am requested to write again on his behalf. His colored friend in Baltimore county, who would favor his designs, is Thomas Cook, whom he wishes you to address, Baltimore post-office, care of Mr. Thomas Spicer.

He has received a letter from Thomas Cook, dated the 6th of June, but it was a long time reaching him. He wishes you to say to Cook, that he got his letter, and that he would like to have him call on his wife and make known to her, that he is in good health, doing well here, and would like to have her come on as soon as she can.

As she is a free woman, there will, doubtless, be no difficulty in her coming right through. He is working in the neighborhood of St. Catharines, but twelve miles from Niagara Falls. You will please recollect to address Thomas Cook, in the care of Thomas Spicer, Baltimore Post-office. Smith's wife is at, or near the place he came from, and, doubtless, Thomas Cook knows all about her condition and circumstances. Please write again to John Smith, in my care, if you please, and request Thomas Cook to do the same.

Very respectfully yours in the cause of philanthropy.


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As the way of travel, viâ the Underground Rail Road, under the most favorable circumstances, even for the sterner sex, was hard enough to test the strongest nerves, and to try the faith of the bravest of the brave, every woman, who won her freedom, by this perilous undertaking, deserves commemoration. It is, therefore, a pleasure to thus transfer from the old Record book the names of Ann Johnson and Lavina Woolfley, who fled from Maryland in 1857. Their lives, however, had not been in any way very remarkable. Ann was tall, and of a dark chestnut color, with an intelligent countenance, and about twenty-four years of age. She had filled various situations as a Slave. Sometimes she was required to serve in the kitchen, at other times she was required to toil in the field, with the plow, hoe, and the like. Samuel Harrington, of Cambridge District, Maryland, was the name of the man for whose benefit Ann labored during her younger days. She had no hesitation in saying, that he was a very "ill-natured man;" he however, was a member of the "old time Methodist Church." In Slave property he had invested only to the extent of some five or six head. About three years previous to Ann's escape, one of her brothers fled and went to Canada. This circumstance so enraged the owner, that he declared he would "sell all" he owned. Accordingly Ann was soon put on the auction block, and was bought by a man who went by the name of William Moore. Moore was a married man, who, with his wife, was addicted to intemperance and carousing. Ann found that she had simply got "out of the fire into the frying-pan." She was really at a loss to tell when her lot was the harder, whether under the "rum drinker," or the old time Methodist. In this state of mind she decided to leave all and go to Canada, the refuge for the fleeing bondman. Lavina, Ann's companion, was the wife of James Woolfley. She and her husband set out together, with six others, and were of the party of eight who were betrayed into Dover jail, as has already been described in these pages. After fighting their way out of the jail, they separated (for prudential reasons). The husband of Lavina, immediately after the conflict at the jail, passed on to Canada, leaving his wife under the protection of friends. Since that time several months had elapsed, but of each other nothing had been known, before she received information on her arrival at Philadelphia. The Committee was glad to inform her, that her husband had safely passed on to Canada, and that she would be aided on also, where they could enjoy freedom in a free country.

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CAPTAIN F. was certainly no ordinary man. Although he had been living a sea-faring life for many years, and the marks of this calling were plainly enough visible in his manners and speech, he was, nevertheless, unlike the great mass of this class of men, not addicted to intemperance and profanity. On the contrary, he was a man of thought, and possessed, in a large measure, those humane traits of character which lead men to sympathize with suffering humanity wherever met with.

It must be admitted, however, that the first impressions gathered from a hasty survey of his rough and rugged appearance, his large head, large mouth, large eyes, and heavy eye-brows, with a natural gift at keeping concealed the inner-workings of his mind and feelings, were not calculated to inspire the belief, that he was fitted to be entrusted with the lives of unprotected females, and helpless children; that he could take pleasure in risking his own life to rescue them from the hell of Slavery; that he could deliberately enter the enemy's domain, and with the faith of a martyr, face the dread slave-holder, with his Bowie-knives and revolvers—Slave-hunters, and blood-hounds, lynchings, and penitentiaries, for humanity's sake. But his deeds proved him to be a true friend of the Slave; whilst his skill, bravery, and success stamped him as one of the most daring and heroic Captains ever connected with the Underground Rail Road cause.

At the time he was doing most for humanity in rescuing bondsmen from Slavery, Slave-laws were actually being the most rigidly executed. To show mercy, in any sense, to man or woman, who might be caught assisting a poor Slave to flee from the prison-house, was a matter not to be thought of in Virginia. This was perfectly well understood by Captain F.; indeed he did not hesitate to say, that his hazardous operations might any day result in the "sacrifice" of his life. But on this point he seemed to give himself no more concern than he would have done to know which way the wind would blow the next day. He had his own convictions about dying and the future, and he declared, that he had "no fear of death," however it might come. Still, he was not disposed to be reckless or needlessly to imperil his life, or the lives of those he undertook to aid. Nor was he averse to receiving compensation for his services. In Richmond, Norfolk, Petersburg, and other places where he traded, many slaves were fully awake to their condition. The great slave sales were the agencies that served to awaken a large number. Then the various mechanical trades were necessarily given to the Slaves, for the master had no taste for "greasy, northern mechanics." Then, again, the stores had to be supplied with porters, draymen, etc., from the slave population. In the hearts of many of the more intelligent amongst the slaves, the men, as mechanics, etc., the women, as dress-makers, chamber-maids, etc., notwithstanding all the opposition and hard laws, the spirit of Freedom was steadily burning. Many of the slaves were half brothers, and sisters, cousins, nephews, and nieces to their owners, and of course "blood would tell."

It was only necessary for the fact to be made known to a single reliable and intelligent slave, that a man with a boat running North had the love of Freedom for all mankind in his bosom to make that man an object of the greatest interest. If an angel had appeared amongst them doubtless his presence would not have inspired greater anxiety and hope than did the presence of Captain F. The class most anxious to obtain freedom could generally manage to acquire some means which they would willingly offer to captains or conductors in the South for such assistance as was indispensable to their escape. Many of the slaves learned if they could manage to cross Mason and Dixon's line, even though they might be utterly destitute and penniless, that they would then receive aid and protection from the Vigilance Committee. Here it may be well to state that, whilst the Committee gladly received and aided all who might come or be brought to them, they never employed agents or captains to go into the South with a view of enticing or running off slaves. So when captains operated, they did so with the full understanding that they alone were responsible for any failures attending their movements.

Mayor and Police of Norfolk on Capt. Fountain's schooner.


(Twenty-eight fugitives were concealed in this vessel.)

The way is now clear to present Captain F. with his schooner lying at the wharf in Norfolk, loading with wheat, and at the same time with twenty-one fugitives secreted therein. While the boat was thus lying at her mooring, the rumor was flying all over town that a number of slaves had escaped, which created a general excitement a degree less, perhaps, than if the citizens had been visited by an earthquake. The mayor of the city with a posse of officers with axes and long spears repaired to Captain F.'s boat. The fearless commander received his Honor very coolly, and as gracefully as the circumstances would admit. The mayor gave him to understand who he was, and by what authority he appeared on the boat, and what he meant to do. "Very well," replied Captain F., "here I am and this is my boat, go ahead and search." His Honor with his deputies looked quickly around, and then an order went forth from the mayor to "spear the wheat thoroughly." The deputies obeyed the command with alacrity. But the spears brought neither blood nor groans, and the sagacious mayor obviously concluded that he was "barking up the wrong tree." But the mayor was not there for nothing. "Take the axes and go to work," was the next order; and the axe was used with terrible effect by one of the deputies. The deck and other parts of the boat were chopped and split; no greater judgment being exercised when using the axe than when spearing the wheat; Captain F. all the while wearing an air of utter indifference or rather of entire composure. Indeed every step they took proved conclusively that they were wholly ignorant with regard to boat searching. At this point, with remarkable shrewdness, Captain F. saw wherein he could still further confuse them by a bold strategical move. As though about out of patience with the mayor's blunders, the captain instantly reminded his Honor that he had "stood still long enough" while his boat was being "damaged, chopped up," &c. "Now if you want to search," continued he, "give me the axe, and then point out the spot you want opened and I will open it for you very quick." While uttering these words he presented, as he was capable of doing, an indignant and defiant countenance, and intimated that it mattered not where or when a man died provided he was in the right, and as though he wished to give particularly strong emphasis to what he was saying, he raised the axe, and brought it down edge foremost on the deck with startling effect, at the same time causing the splinters to fly from the boards. The mayor and his posse seemed, if not dreadfully frightened, completely confounded, and by the time Captain F. had again brought down his axe with increased power, demanding where they would have him open, they looked as though it was time for them to retire, and in a few minutes after they actually gave up the search and left the boat without finding a soul. Daniel in the lions' den was not safer than were the twenty-one passengers secreted on Captain F.'s boat. The law had been carried out with a vengeance, but did not avail with this skilled captain. The "five dollars" were paid for being searched, the amount which was lawfully required of every captain sailing from Virginia. And the captain steered direct for the City of Brotherly Love. The wind of heaven favoring the good cause, he arrived safely in due time, and delivered his precious freight in the vicinity of Philadelphia within the reach of the Vigilance Committee. The names of the passengers were as follows:

ALAN TATUM, DANIEL CARR, MICHAEL VAUGHN, THOMAS NIXON, FREDERICK NIXON, PETER PETTY, NATHANIEL GARDENER, JOHN BROWN, THOMAS FREEMAN, JAMES FOSTER, GODFREY SCOTT, WILLIS WILSON, NANCY LITTLE, JOHN SMITH, FRANCIS HAINES, DAVID JOHNSON, PHILLIS GAULT, ALICE JONES, NED WILSON, and SARAH C. WILSON, and one other, who subsequently passed on, having been detained on account of sickness. These passengers were most "likely-looking articles;" a number of them, doubtless, would have commanded the very highest prices in the Richmond market. Among them were some good mechanics—one excellent dress-maker, some "prime" waiters and chambermaids;—men and women with brains, some of them evincing remarkable intelligence and decided bravery, just the kind of passengers that gave the greatest satisfaction to the Vigilance Committee. The interview with these passengers was extremely interesting. Each one gave his or her experience of Slavery, the escape, etc., in his or her own way, deeply impressing those who had the privilege of seeing and hearing them, with the fact of the growing spirit of Liberty, and the wonderful perception and intelligence possessed by some of the sons of toil in the South. While all the names of these passengers were duly entered on the Underground Rail Road records, the number was too large, and the time they spent with the attempts to escape were made by Daniel, after being sold to North Carolina; for this offence, he was on one occasion stripped naked, and flogged severely. This did not cure him. Prior to his joining Captain F.'s party, he had fled to the swamps, and dwelt there for three months, surrounded with wild animals and reptiles, and it was this state of solitude that he left directly before finding Captain F. Daniel had a wife in Portsmouth, to whom he succeeded in paying a private visit, when, to his unspeakable joy, he made the acquaintance of the noble Captain F., whose big heart was delighted to give him a passage North. Daniel, after being sold, had been allowed, within the two years, only one opportunity of visiting his wife; being thus debarred he resolved to escape. His wife, whose name was Hannah, had three children—slaves—their names were Sam, Dan, and "baby." The name of the latter was unknown to him.

MICHAEL VAUGHN. Michael was about thirty-one years of age, with superior physical proportions, and no lack of common sense. His color was without paleness—dark and unfading, and his manly appearance was quite striking. Michael belonged to a lady, whom he described as a "very disagreeable woman." "For all my life I have belonged to her, but for the last eight years I have hired my time. I paid my mistress $120 a year; a part of the time I had to find my board and all my clothing." This was the direct, and unequivocal testimony that Michael gave of his slave life, which was the foundation for alleging that his mistress was a "very disagreeable woman."

Michael left a wife and one child in Slavery; but they were not owned by his mistress. Before escaping, he felt afraid to lead his companion into the secret of his contemplated movements, as he felt, that there was no possible way for him to do anything for her deliverance; on the other hand, any revelation of the matter might prove too exciting for the poor soul;—her name was Esther. That he did not lose his affection for her whom he was obliged to leave so unceremoniously, is shown by the appended letter:

NEW BEDFORD, August 22d, 1855.

DEAR SIR:—I send you this to inform you that I expect my wife to come that way. If she should, you will direct her to me. When I came through your city last Fall, you took my name in your office, which was then given you, Michael Vaughn; since then my name is William Brown, No. 130 Kempton street. Please give my wife and child's name to Dr. Lundy, and tell him to attend to it for me. Her name is Esther, and the child's name Louisa.

Truly yours,


Michael worked in a foundry. In church fellowship he was connected with the Methodists—his mistress with the Baptists.

THOMAS NIXON was about nineteen years of age, of a dark hue, and quite intelligent. He had not much excuse to make for leaving, except, that he was "tired of staying" with his "owner," as he "feared he might be sold some day," so he "thought" that he might as well save him the trouble. Thomas belonged to a Mr. Bockover, a wholesale grocer, No. 12 Brewer street. Thomas left behind him his mother and three brothers. His father was sold away when he was an infant, consequently he never saw him. Thomas was a member of the Methodist Church; his master was of the same persuasion.

FREDERICK NIXON was about thirty-three years of age, and belonged truly to the wide-awake class of slaves, as his marked physical and mental appearance indicated. He had a more urgent excuse for escaping than Thomas; he declared that he fled because, his owner wanted "to work him hard without allowing him any chance, and had treated him rough." Frederick was also one of Mr. Bockover's chattels; he left his wife, Elizabeth, with four children in bondage. They were living in Eatontown, North Carolina. It had been almost one year since he had seen them. Had he remained in Norfolk he had not the slightest prospect of being reunited to his wife and children, as he had been already separated from them for about three years. This painful state of affairs only increased his desire to leave those who were brutal enough to make such havoc in his domestic relations.

PETER PETTY was about twenty-four years of age, and wore a happy countenance; he was a person of agreeable manners, and withal pretty smart. He acknowledged, that he had been owned by Joseph Boukley, Hair Inspector. Peter did not give Mr. Boukley a very good character, however; he said, that Mr. B. was "rowdyish in his habits, was deceitful and sly, and would sell his slaves any time. Hard bondage—something like the children of Israel," was his simple excuse for fleeing. He hired his time of his master, for which he was compelled to pay $156 a year. When he lost time by sickness or rainy weather, he was required to make up the deficiency, also find his clothing. He left a wife—Lavinia—and one child, Eliza, both slaves. Peter communicated to his wife his secret intention to leave, and she acquiesced in his going. He left his parents also. All his sisters and brothers had been sold. Peter would have been sold too, but his owner was under the impression, that he was "too good a Christian" to violate the laws by running away. Peter's master was quite a devoted Methodist, and was attached to the same Church with Peter. While on the subject of religion, Peter was asked about the kind and character of preaching that he had been accustomed to hear; whereupon he gave the following graphic specimen: "Servants obey your masters; good servants make good masters; when your mistress speaks to you don't pout out your mouths; when you want to go to church ask your mistress and master," etc., etc. Peter declared, that he had never heard but one preacher speak against slavery, and that "one was obliged to leave suddenly for the North." He said, that a Quaker lady spoke in meeting against Slavery one day, which resulted in an outbreak, and final breaking up of the meeting.

PHILLIS GAULT. Phillis was a widow, about thirty years of age; the blood of two races flowed in about equal proportions through her veins. Such was her personal appearance, refinement, manners, and intelligence, that had the facts of her slave life been unknown, she would have readily passed for one who had possessed superior advantages. But the facts in her history proved, that she had been made to feel very keenly the horrifying effects of Slavery; not in the field, for she had never worked there; nor as a common drudge, for she had always been required to fill higher spheres; she was a dress-maker—but not without fear of the auction block. This dreaded destiny was the motive which constrained her to escape with the twenty others; secreted in the hold of a vessel expressly arranged for bringing away slaves. Death had robbed her of her husband at the time that the fever raged so fearfully in Norfolk. This sad event deprived her of the hope she had of being purchased by her husband, as he had intended. She was haunted by the constant thought of again being sold, as she had once been, and as she had witnessed the sale of her sister's four children after the death of their mother.

Phillis was, to use her own striking expression in a state of "great horror;" she felt, that nothing would relieve her but freedom. After having fully pondered the prospect of her freedom and the only mode offered by which she could escape, she consented to endure bravely whatever of suffering and trial might fall to her lot in the undertaking—and as was the case with thousands of others, she succeeded. She remained several days in the family of a member of the Committee in Philadelphia, favorably impressing all who saw her. As she had formed a very high opinion of Boston, from having heard it so thoroughly reviled in Norfolk, she desired to go there. The Committee made no objections, gave her a free ticket, etc. From that time to the present, she has ever sustained a good Christian character, and as an industrious, upright, and intelligent woman, she has been and is highly respected by all who know her. The following letter is characteristic of her:

BOSTON, March 22, 1858.

MY DEAR SIR—I received your photograph by Mr Cooper and it afforded me much pleasure to do so i hope that these few lines may find you and your family well as it leaves me and little Dicky at present i have no interesting news to tell you more than there is a great revival of religion through the land i all most forgoten to thank you for your kindness and our little Dick he is very wild and goes to school and it is my desire and prayer for him to grow up a useful man i wish you would try to gain some information from Norfolk and write me word how the times are there for i am afraid to write. i wish yoo would see the Doctor for me and ask him if he could carefully find out any way that we could steal little Johny for i think to raise nine or ten hundred dollars for such a child is outraigust. just at this time i feel as if i would rather steal him than to buy him. give my kinde regards to the Dr and his family tell Miss Margret and Mrs Landy that i would like to see them out here this summer again to have a nice time in Cambridge Miss Walker that spent the evening with me in Cambridge sens much love to yoo and Mrs. Landy give my kindes regards to Mrs Still and children and receive a portion for yoo self. i have no more to say at present but remain yoor respectfully.


When you write direct yoo letters Mrs. Flarece P. Gault, No 62 Pinkney St.

       *       *       *       *       *



While many sympathized with the slave in his chains, and freely wept over his destiny, or gave money to help buy his freedom, but few could be found who were willing to take the risk of going into the South, and standing face to face with Slavery, in order to conduct a panting slave to freedom. The undertaking was too fearful to think of in most cases. But there were instances when men and women too, moved by the love of freedom, would take their lives in their hands, beard the lion in his den, and nobly rescue the oppressed. Such an instance is found in the case of Matilda Mahoney, in Baltimore.

The story of Matilda must be very brief, although it is full of thrilling interest. She was twenty-one years of age in 1854, when she escaped and came to Philadelphia, a handsome young woman, of a light complexion, quite refined in her manners, and in short, possessing great personal attractions. But her situation as a slave was critical, as will be seen.

Her claimant was Wm. Rigard, of Frederick, Md., who hired her to a Mr. Reese, in Baltimore; in this situation her duties were general housework and nursing. With these labors, she was not, however, so much dissatisfied as she was with other circumstances of a more alarming nature: her old master was tottering on the verge of the grave, and his son, a trader in New Orleans. These facts kept Matilda in extreme anxiety. For two years prior to her escape, the young trader had been trying to influence his father to let him have her for the Southern market; but the old man had not consented. Of course the trader knew quite well, that an "article" of her appearance would command readily a very high price in the New Orleans market. But Matilda's attractions had won the heart of a young man in the North, one who had known her in Baltimore in earlier days, and this lover was willing to make desperate efforts to rescue her from her perilous situation. Whether or not he had nerve enough to venture down to Baltimore to accompany his intended away on the Underground Rail Road, his presence would not have aided in the case. He had, however, a friend who consented to go to Baltimore on this desperate mission. The friend was James Jefferson, of Providence, R.I. With the strategy of a skilled soldier, Mr. Jefferson hurried to the Monumental City, and almost under the eyes of the slave-holders, and slave-catchers, despite of pro slavery breastworks, seized his prize and speeded her away on the Underground Railway, before her owner was made acquainted with the fact of her intended escape. On Matilda's arrival at the station in Philadelphia, several other passengers from different points, happened to come to hand just at that time, and gave great solicitude and anxiety to the Committee. Among these were a man and his wife and their four children, (noticed elsewhere), from Maryland. Likewise an interesting and intelligent young girl who had been almost miraculously rescued from the prison-house at Norfolk, and in addition to these, the brother of J.W. Pennington, D.D., with his two sons.

While it was a great gratification to have travelers coming along so fast, and especially to observe in every countenance, determination, rare manly and womanly bearing, with remarkable intelligence, it must be admitted, that the acting committee felt at the same time, a very lively dread of the slave-hunters, and were on their guard. Arrangements were made to send the fugitives on by different trains, and in various directions. Matilda and all the others with the exception of the father and two sons (relatives of Dr. Pennington) successfully escaped and reached their longed-for haven in a free land. The Penningtons, however, although pains had been taken to apprize the Doctor of the good news of the coming of his kin, whom he had not seen for many, many years, were captured after being in New York some twenty-four hours. In answer to an advisory letter from the secretary of the Committee the following from the Doctor is explicit, relative to his wishes and feelings with regard to their being sent on to New York.

29 6th AVENUE, NEW YORK, May 24th, 1854.

MY DEAR MR. STILL:—Your kind letter of the 22d inst has come to hand and I have to thank you for your offices of benevolence to my bone and my flesh, I have had the pleasure of doing a little for your brother Peter, but I do not think it an offset. My burden has been great about these brethren. I hope they have started on to me. Many thanks, my good friend.

Yours Truly.


This letter only served to intensify the deep interest which had already been awakened for the safety of all concerned. At the same time also it made the duty of the Committee clear with regard to forwarding them to N.Y. Immediately, therefore, the Doctor's brother and sons were furnished with free tickets and were as carefully cautioned as possible with regard to slave-hunters, if encountered on the road. In company with several other Underground Rail Road passengers, under the care of an intelligent guide, all were sent off in due order, looking quite as well as the most respectable of their race from any part of the country. The Committee in New York, with the Doctor, were on the look out of course; thus without difficulty all arrived safely in the Empire City.

It would seem that the coming of his brother and sons so overpowered the Doctor that he forgot how imminent their danger was. The meeting and interview was doubtless very joyous. Few perhaps could realize, even in imagination, the feelings that filled their hearts, as the Doctor and his brother reverted to their boyhood, when they were both slaves together in Maryland; the separation—the escape of the former many years previous—the contrast, one elevated to the dignity of a Doctor of Divinity, a scholar and noted clergyman, and as such well known in the United States, and Great Britain, whilst, at the same time, his brother and kin were held in chains, compelled to do unrequited labor, to come and go at the bidding of another. Were not these reflections enough to incapacitate the Doctor for the time being, for cool thought as to how he should best guard against the enemy? Indeed, in view of Slavery and its horrid features, the wonder is, not that more was not done, but that any thing was done, that the victims were not driven almost out of their senses. But time rolled on until nearly twenty-four hours had passed, and while reposing their fatigued and weary limbs in bed, just before day-break, hyena-like the slave-hunters pounced upon all three of them, and soon had them hand-cuffed and hurried off to a United States' Commissioner's office. Armed with the Fugitive Law, and a strong guard of officers to carry it out, resistance would have been simply useless. Ere the morning sun arose the sad news was borne by the telegraph wires to all parts of the country of this awful calamity on the Underground Rail Road.

Scarcely less painful to the Committee was the news of this accident, than the news of a disaster, resulting in the loss of several lives, on the Camden and Amboy Road, would have been to its managers. This was the first accident that had ever taken place on the road after passengers had reached the Philadelphia Committee, although, in various instances, slave-hunters had been within a hair's breadth of their prey.

All that was reported respecting the arrest and return of the Doctor's kin, so disgraceful to Christianity and civilization, is taken from the Liberator, as follows:


NEW YORK, May 25th.

About three o'clock this morning, three colored men, father and two sons, known as Jake, Bob, and Stephen Pennington, were arrested at the instance of David Smith and Jacob Grove, of Washington Co., Md., who claimed them as their slaves. They were taken before Commissioner Morton, of the United States Court, and it was understood that they would be examined at 11 o'clock; instead of that, however, the case was heard at once, no persons being present, when the claimnants testified that they were the owners of said slaves and that they escaped from their service at Baltimore, on Sunday last.

From what we can gather of the proceedings, the fugitives acknowledged themselves to be slaves of Smith and Grove. The commissioner considering the testimony sufficient, ordered their surrender, and they were accordingly given up to their claimants, who hurried them off at once, and they are now on their way to Baltimore. A telegraph despatch has been sent to Philadelphia, as it is understood an attempt will be made to rescue the parties, when the cars arrive. There was no excitement around the commissioner's office, owing to a misunderstanding as to the time of examination. The men were traced to this city by the claimants, who made application to the United States Court, when officers Horton and De Angeles were deputied by the marshal to effect their arrest, and those officers, with deputy Marshal Thompson scoured the city, and finally found them secreted in a house in Broome St. They were brought before Commissioner Morton this morning. No counsel appeared for the fugitives. The case being made out, the usual affidavits of fear of rescue were made, and the warrants thereupon issued, and the three fugitives were delivered over to the U.S. Marshal, and hurried off to Maryland. They were a father and his two sons, father about forty-five and sons eighteen or nineteen. The evidence shows them to have recently escaped. The father is the brother of the Rev. Dr. Pennington, a highly respected colored preacher of this city.

NEW YORK, May 28.

Last evening the church at the corner of Prince and Marion streets was filled with an intelligent audience of white and colored people, to hear Dr. Pennington relate the circumstance connected with the arrest of his brother and nephews. He showed, that he attempted to afford his brother the assistance of counsel, but was unable to do so, the officers at the Marshal's office having deceived him in relation to the time the trial was to take place before the Commissioners. Hon. E.F. Culver next addressed the audience, showing, that a great injustice had been done to the brother of Dr. Pennington, and though he, up to that time, had advocated peace, he now had the spirit to tear down the building over the Marshal's head. Intense interest was manifested during the proceedings, and much sympathy in behalf of Dr. Pennington.


The U.S. Marshal, A.T. Hillyer, Esq., received a dispatch this morning from officers Horton and Dellugelis, at Baltimore, stating, that they had arrived there with the three slaves, arrested here yesterday (the Penningtons), the owners accompanying them. The officers will return to New York, this evening.—N.Y. Express, 27th.

NEW YORK, May 30.

The Rev. Dr. Pennington has received a letter from Mr. Grove, the claimant of his brother, who was recently taken back from this city, offering to sell him to Dr. Pennington, should he wish to buy him, and stating, that he would await a reply, before "selling him to the slave-drivers." Mr. Groce, who accompanied his "sweet heart," Matilda, in the same train which conveyed the Penningtons to New York, had reason to apprehend danger to all the Underground Rail Road passengers, as will appear from his subjoined letter:

ELMIRA, May 28th.

DEAR LUKE:—I arrived home safe with my precious charge, and found all well. I have just learned, that the Penningtons are taken. Had he done as I wished him he would never have been taken. Last night our tall friend from Baltimore came, and caused great excitement here by his information. The lady is perfectly safe now in Canada. I will write you and Mr. Still as soon as I get over the excitement. This letter was first intended for Mr. Gains, but I now send it to you. Please let me hear their movements.

Yours truly,


But sadly as this blow was felt by the Vigilance Committee, it did not cause them to relax their efforts in the least. Indeed it only served to stir them up to renewed diligence and watchfulness, although for a length of time afterwards the Committee felt disposed, when sending, to avoid New York as much as possible, and in lieu thereof, to send viâ Elmira, where there was a depot under the agency of John W. Jones. Mr. Jones was a true and prompt friend of the fugitive, and wide-awake with regard to Slavery and slave-holders, and slave hunters, for he had known from sad experience in Virginia every trait of character belonging to these classes.

In the midst of the Doctor's grief, friends of the slave soon raised money to purchase his brother, about $1,000; but the unfortunate sons were doomed to the auction block and the far South, where, the writer has never exactly learned.



It was the business of the Vigilance Committee, as it was clearly understood by the friends of the Slave, to assist all needy fugitives, who might in any way manage to reach Philadelphia, but, for various reasons, not to send agents South to incite slaves to run away, or to assist them in so doing. Sometimes, however, this rule could not altogether be conformed to. Cases, in some instances, would appeal so loudly and forcibly to humanity, civilization, and Christianity, that it would really seem as if the very stones would cry out, unless something was done. As an illustration of this point, the story of the young girl, which is now to be related, will afford the most striking proof. At the same time it may be seen how much anxiety, care, hazard, delay and material aid, were required in order to effect the deliverance of some who were in close places, and difficult of access. It will be necessary to present a considerable amount of correspondence in this case, to bring to light the hidden mysteries of this narrative. The first letter, in explanation, is the following:


WASHINGTON, D.C., June 27, 1854.

MR. WM. STILL—Dear Sir:—I have to thank you for the prompt answer you had the kindness to give to my note of 22d inst. Having found a correspondence so quick and easy, and withal so very flattering, I address you again more fully.

The liberal appropriation for transportation has been made chiefly on account of a female child of ten or eleven years old, for whose purchase I have been authorized to offer $700 (refused), and for whose sister I have paid $1,600, and some $1,000 for their mother, &c.

This child sleeps in the same apartment with its master and mistress, which adds to the difficulty of removal. She is some ten or twelve miles from the city, so that really the chief hazard will be in bringing her safely to town, and in secreting her until a few days of storm shall have abated. All this, I think, is now provided for with entire safety.

The child has two cousins in the immediate vicinity; a young man of some twenty-two years of age, and his sister, of perhaps seventeen—both Slaves, but bright and clear-headed as anybody. The young man I have seen often—the services of both seem indispensable to the main object suggested; but having once rendered the service, they cannot, and ought not return to Slavery. They look for freedom as the reward of what they shall now do.

Out of the $300, cheerfully offered for the whole enterprise, I must pay some reasonable sum for transportation to the city and sustenance while here. It cannot be much; for the balance, I shall give a draft, which will be promptly paid on their arrival in New York.

If I have been understood to offer the whole $300, it shall be paid, though I have meant as above stated. Among the various ways that have been suggested, has been that of taking all of them into the cars here; that, I think, will be found impracticable. I find so much vigilance at the depot, that I would not deem it safe, though, in any kind of carriage they might leave in safety at any time.

All the rest I leave to the experience and sagacity of the gentleman who maps out the enterprise.

Now I will thank you to reply to this and let me know that it reaches you in safety, and is not put in a careless place, whereby I may be endangered; and state also, whether all my propositions are understood and acceptable, and whether, (pretty quickly after I shall inform you that all things are ready), the gentleman will make his appearance?

I live alone. My office and bed-room, &c., are at the corner of E. and 7th streets, opposite the east end of the General Post Office, where any one may call upon me.

It would, of course, be imprudent, that this letter, or any other written particulars, be in his pockets for fear of accident.

Yours very respectfully,


While this letter clearly brought to light the situation of things, its author, however, had scarcely begun to conceive of the numberless difficulties which stood in the way of success before the work could be accomplished. The information which Mr. Bigelow's letter contained of the painful situation of this young girl was submitted to different parties who could be trusted, with a view of finding a person who might possess sufficient courage to undertake to bring her away. Amongst those consulted were two or three captains who had on former occasions done good service in the cause. One of these captains was known in Underground Rail-Road circles as the "powder boy."A He was willing to undertake the work, and immediately concluded to make a visit to Washington, to see how the "land lay." Accordingly in company with another Underground Rail Road captain, he reported himself one day to Mr. Bigelow with as much assurance as if he were on an errand for an office under the government. The impression made on Mr. Bigelow's mind may be seen from the following letter; it may also be seen that he was fully alive to the necessity of precautionary measures.

A: He had been engaged at different times in carrying powder in his boat from a powder magazine, and from this circumstance, was familiarly called the "Powder Boy."


WASHINGTON, D.C., September 9th, 1855.

MR. WM. STILL, DEAR SIR:—I strongly hope the little matter of business so long pending and about which I have written you so many times, will take a move now. I have the promise that the merchandize shall be delivered in this city to-night. Like so many other promises, this also may prove a failure, though I have reason to believe that it will not. I shall, however, know before I mail this note. In case the goods arrive here I shall hope to see your long-talked of "Professional gentleman" in Washington, as soon as possible. He will find me by the enclosed card, which shall be a satisfactory introduction for him. You have never given me his name, nor am I anxious to know it. But on a pleasant visit made last fall to friend Wm. Wright, in Adams Co., I suppose I accidentally learned it to be a certain Dr. H——. Well, let him come.

I had an interesting call a week ago from two gentlemen, masters of vessels, and brothers, one of whom, I understand, you know as the "powder boy." I had a little light freight for them; but not finding enough other freight to ballast their craft, they went down the river looking for wheat, and promising to return soon. I hope to see them often.

I hope this may find you returned from your northern trip,A as your time proposed was out two or three days ago.

A: Mr. Bigelow's correspondent had been on a visit to the fugitives to Canada.

I hope if the whole particulars of Jane Johnson's caseB are printed, you will send me the copy as proposed.

B: Jane Johnson of the Passmore Williamson Slave Case.

I forwarded some of her things to Boston a few days ago, and had I known its importance in court, I could have sent you one or two witnesses who would prove that her freedom was intended by her before she left Washington, and that a man was engaged here to go on to Philadelphia the same day with her to give notice there of her case, though I think he failed to do so. It was beyond all question her purpose, before leaving Washington and provable too, that if Wheeler should make her a free woman by taking her to a free state "to use it rather."

Tuesday, 11th September. The attempt was made on Sunday to forward the merchandize, but failed through no fault of any of the parties that I now know of. It will be repeated soon, and you shall know the result.

"Whorra for Judge Kane." I feel so indignant at the man, that it is not easy to write the foregoing sentence, and yet who is helping our cause like Kane and Douglas, not forgetting Stringfellow. I hope soon to know that this reaches you in safety.

It often happens that light freight would be offered to Captain B., but the owners cannot by possibility advance the amount of freight. I wish it were possible in some such extreme cases, that after advancing all they have, some public fund should be found to pay the balance or at least lend it.

[I wish here to caution you against the supposition that I would do any act, or say a word towards helping servants to escape. Although I hate slavery so much, I keep my hands clear of any such wicked or illegal act.]

Yours, very truly,


Will you recollect, hereafter, that in any of my future letters, in which I may use [] whatever words may be within the brackets are intended to have no signification whatever to you, only to blind the eyes of the uninitiated. You will find an example at the close of my letter.

Up to this time the chances seemed favorable of procuring the ready services of either of the above mentioned captains who visited Lawyer Bigelow for the removal of the merchandize to Philadelphia, providing the shipping master could have it in readiness to suit their convenience. But as these captains had a number of engagements at Richmond, Petersburg, &c., it was not deemed altogether safe to rely upon either of them, consequently in order to be prepared in case of an emergency, the matter was laid before two professional gentlemen who were each occupying chairs in one of the medical colleges of Philadelphia. They were known to be true friends of the slave, and had possessed withal some experience in Underground Rail Road matters. Either of these professors was willing to undertake the operation, provided arrangements could be completed in time to be carried out during the vacation. In this hopeful, although painfully indefinite position the matter remained for more than a year; but the correspondence and anxiety increased, and with them disappointments and difficulties multiplied. The hope of Freedom, however, buoyed up the heart of the young slave girl during the long months of anxious waiting and daily expectation for the hour of deliverance to come. Equally true and faithful also did Mr. Bigelow prove to the last; but at times he had some painfully dark seasons to encounter, as may be seen from the subjoined letter:

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 6th, 1855.

MR. STILL, DEAR SIR:—I regret exceedingly to learn by your favor of 4th instant, that all things are not ready. Although I cannot speak of any immediate and positive danger. [Yet it is well known that the city is full of incendiaries.]

Perhaps you are aware that any colored citizen is liable at any hour of day or night without any show of authority to have his house ransacked by constables, and if others do it and commit the most outrageous depredations none but white witnesses can convict them. Such outrages are always common here, and no kind of property exposed to colored protection only, can be considered safe. [I don't say that much liberty should not be given to constables on account of numerous runaways, but it don't always work for good.] Before advertising they go round and offer rewards to sharp colored men of perhaps one or two hundred dollars, to betray runaways, and having discovered their hiding-place, seize them and then cheat their informers out of the money.

[Although a law-abiding man,] I am anxious in this case of innocence to raise no conflict or suspicion. [Be sure that the manumission is full and legal.] And as I am powerless without your aid, I pray you don't lose a moment in giving me relief. The idea of waiting yet for weeks seems dreadful; do reduce it to days if possible, and give me notice of the earliest possible time.

The property is not yet advertised, but will be, [and if we delay too long, may be sold and lost.]

It was a great misunderstanding, though not your fault, that so much delay would be necessary. [I repeat again that I must have the thing done legally, therefore, please get a good lawyer to draw up the deed of manumission.]

Yours Truly,


Great was the anxiety felt in Washington. It is certainly not too much to say, that an equal amount of anxiety existed in Philadelphia respecting the safety of the merchandise. At this juncture Mr. Bigelow had come to the conclusion that it was no longer safe to write over his own name, but that he would do well to henceforth adopt the name of the renowned Quaker, Wm. Penn, (he was worthy of it) as in the case of the following letter.

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 10th, 1855.

DEAR SIR:—Doctor T. presented my card last night about half past eight which I instantly recognized. I, however, soon became suspicious, and afterwards confounded, to find the doctor using your name and the well known names of Mr. McK. and Mr. W. and yet, neither he nor I, could conjecture the object of his visit.

The doctor is agreeable and sensible, and doubtless a true-hearted man. He seemed to see the whole matter as I did, and was embarrassed. He had nothing to propose, no information to give of the "P. Boy," or of any substitute, and seemed to want no particular information from me concerning my anxieties and perils, though I stated them to him, but found him as powerless as myself to give me relief. I had an agreeable interview with the doctor till after ten, when he left, intending to take the cars at six, as I suppose he did do, this morning.

This morning after eight, I got your letter of the 9th, but it gives me but little enlightenment or satisfaction. You simply say that the doctor is a true man, which I cannot doubt, that you thought it best we should have an interview, and that you supposed I would meet the expenses. You informed me also that the "P. Boy" left for Richmond, on Friday, the 2d, to be gone the length of time named in your last, I must infer that to be ten days though in your last you assured me that the "P. Boy" would certainly start for this place (not Richmond) in two or three days, though the difficulty about freight might cause delay, and the whole enterprise might not be accomplished under ten days, &c., &c. That time having elapsed and I having agreed to an extra fifty dollars to ensure promptness. I have scarcely left my office since, except for my hasty meals, awaiting his arrival. You now inform me he has gone to Richmond, to be gone ten days, which will expire tomorrow, but you do not say he will return here or to Phila, or where, at the expiration of that time, and Dr. T. could tell me nothing whatever about him. Had he been able to tell me that this best plan, which I have so long rested upon, would fail, or was abandoned, I could then understand it, but he says no such thing, and you say, as you have twice before said, "ten days more."

Now, my dear sir, after this recapitulation, can you not see that I have reason for great embarrassment? I have given assurances, both here and in New York, founded on your assurances to me, and caused my friends in the latter place great anxiety, so much that I have had no way to explain my own letters but by sending your last two to Mr. Tappan.

I cannot doubt, I do not, but that you wish to help me, and the cause too, for which both of us have made many and large sacrifices with no hope of reward in this world. If in this case I have been very urgent since September Dr. T. can give you some of my reasons, they have not been selfish.

The whole matter is in a nutshell. Can I, in your opinion, depend on the "P. Boy," and when?

If he promises to come here next trip, will he come, or go to Richmond? This I think is the best way. Can I depend on it?

Dr. T. promised to write me some explanation and give some advice, and at first I thought to await his letter, but on second thought concluded to tell you how I feel, as I have done.

Will you answer my questions with some explicitness, and without delay?

I forgot to inquire of Dr. T. who is the head of your Vigilance Committee, whom I may address concerning other and further operations?

Yours very truly,


P.S. I ought to say, that I have no doubt but there were good reasons for the P. Boy's going to Richmond instead of W.; but what can they be?

Whilst there are a score of other interesting letters, bearing on this case, the above must suffice, to give at least, an idea of the perplexities and dangers attending its early history. Having accomplished this end, a more encouraging and pleasant phase of the transaction may now be introduced. Here the difficulties, at least very many of them, vanish, yet in one respect, the danger became most imminent. The following letter shows that the girl had been successfully rescued from her master, and that a reward of five hundred dollars had been offered for her.

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 12, 1855.




A: At the time this letter was written, she was then under Mr. B.'s protection in Washington, and had to be so kept for six weeks. His question, therefore, "is she still running with bleeding feet," etc., was simply a precautionary step to blind any who might perchance investigate the matter.


Having thus succeeded in getting possession of, and secreting this fleeing child of fifteen, as best they could, in Washington, all concerned were compelled to "possess their souls in patience," until the storm had passed. Meanwhile, the "child of fifteen" was christened "Joe Wright," and dressed in male attire to prepare for traveling as a lad. As no opportunity had hitherto presented itself, whereby to prepare the "package" for shipment, from Washington, neither the "powder boy" nor Dr. T.B was prepared to attend to the removal, at this critical moment. The emergency of the case, however, cried loudly for aid. The other professional gentleman (Dr. H.), was now appealed to, but his engagements in the college forbade his absence before about Thanksgiving day, which was then six weeks off. This fact was communicated to Washington, and it being the only resource left, the time named was necessarily acquiesced in. In the interim, "Joe" was to perfect herself in the art of wearing pantaloons, and all other male rig. Soon the days and weeks slid by, although at first the time for waiting seemed long, when, according to promise, Dr. H. was in Washington, with his horse and buggy prepared for duty. The impressions made by Dr. H., on William Penn's mind, at his first interview, will doubtless be interesting to all concerned, as may be seen in the following letter:

B: Dr. T. was one of the professional gentlemen alluded to above, who had expressed a willingness to act as an agent in the matter.

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 26, 1855.

MY DEAR SIR:—A recent letter from my friend, probably has led you to expect this from me. He was delighted to receive yours of the 23d, stating that the boy was all right. He found the "Prof. gentleman" a perfect gentleman; cool, quiet, thoughtful, and perfectly competent to execute his undertaking. At the first three minutes of their interview, he felt assured that all would be right. He, and all concerned, give you and that gentleman sincere thanks for what you have done. May the blessings of Him, who cares for the poor, be on your heads.

The especial object of this, is to inform you that there is a half dozen or so of packages here, pressing for transportation; twice or thrice that number are also pressing, but less so than the others. Their aggregate means will average, say, $10 each; besides these, we know of a few, say three or four, able and smart, but utterly destitute, and kept so purposely by their oppressors. For all these, we feel deeply interested; $10 each would not be enough for the "powder boy." Is there any fund from which a pittance could be spared to help these poor creatures? I don't doubt but that they would honestly repay a small loan as soon as they could earn it. I know full well, that if you begin with such cases, there is no boundary at which you can stop. For years, one half at least, of my friend's time here has been gratuitously given to cases of distress among this class. He never expects or desires to do less; he literally has the poor always with him. He knows that it is so with you also, therefore, he only states the case, being especially anxious for at least those to whom I have referred.



I think a small lot of hard coal might always be sold here from the vessel at a profit. Would not a like lot of Cumberland coal always sell in Philadelphia?

My friend would be very glad to see the powder boy here again, and if he brings coal, there are those here, who would try to help him sell.

Reply to your regular correspondent as usual.


By the presence of the Dr., confidence having been reassured that all would be right, as well as by the "inner light," William Penn experienced a great sense of relief. Everything having been duly arranged, the doctor's horse and carriage stood waiting before the White House (William Penn preferred this place as a starting point, rather than before his own office door). It being understood that "Joe" was to act as coachman in passing out of Washington, at this moment he was called for, and in the most polite and natural manner, with the fleetness of a young deer, he jumped into the carriage, took the reins and whip, whilst the doctor and William Penn were cordially shaking hands and bidding adieu. This done, the order was given to Joe, "drive on." Joe bravely obeyed. The faithful horse trotted off willingly, and the doctor sat in his carriage as composed as though he had succeeded in procuring an honorable and lucrative office from the White House, and was returning home to tell his wife the good news. The doctor had some knowledge of the roads, also some acquaintances in Maryland, through which State he had to travel; therefore, after leaving the suburbs of Washington, the doctor took the reins in his own hands, as he felt that he was more experienced as a driver than his young coachman. He was also mindful of the fact, that, before reaching Pennsylvania, his faithful beast would need feeding several times, and that they consequently would be obliged to pass one or two nights at least in Maryland, either at a tavern or farm-house.

In reflecting upon the matter, it occurred to the doctor, that in earlier days, he had been quite intimately acquainted with a farmer and his family (who were slave-holders), in Maryland, and that he would about reach their house at the end of the first day's journey. He concluded that he could do no better than to renew his acquaintance with his old friends on this occasion. After a very successful day's travel, night came on, and the doctor was safely at the farmer's door with his carriage and waiter boy; the doctor was readily recognized by the farmer and his family, who seemed glad to see him; indeed, they made quite a "fuss" over him. As a matter of strategy, the doctor made quite a "fuss" over them in return; nevertheless, he did not fail to assume airs of importance, which were calculated to lead them to think that he had grown older and wiser than when they knew him in his younger days. In casually referring to the manner of his traveling, he alluded to the fact, that he was not very well, and as it had been a considerable length of time since he had been through that part of the country, he thought that the drive would do him good, and especially the sight of old familiar places and people. The farmer and his family felt themselves exceedingly honored by the visit from the distinguished doctor, and manifested a marked willingness to spare no pains to render his night's lodging in every way comfortable.

The Dr. being an educated and intelligent gentleman, well posted on other questions besides medicine, could freely talk about farming in all its branches, and "niggers" too, in an emergency, so the evening passed off pleasantly with the Dr. in the parlor, and "Joe" in the kitchen. The Dr., however, had given "Joe" precept upon precept, "here a little, and there a little," as to how he should act in the presence of master white people, or slave colored people, and thus he was prepared to act his part with due exactness. Before the evening grew late, the Dr., fearing some accident, intimated, that he was feeling a "little languid," and therefore thought that he had better "retire." Furthermore he added, that he was "liable to vertigo," when not quite well, and for this reason he must have his boy "Joe" sleep in the room with him. "Simply give him a bed quilt and he will fare well enough in one corner of the room," said the Dr. The proposal was readily acceded to, and carried into effect by the accommodating host. The Dr. was soon in bed, sleeping soundly, and "Joe," in his new coat and pants, wrapped up in the bed quilt, in a corner of the room quite comfortably.

The next morning the Dr. arose at as early an hour as was prudent for a gentleman of his position, and feeling refreshed, partook of a good breakfast, and was ready, with his boy, "Joe," to prosecute their journey. Face, eyes, hope, and steps, were set as flint, Pennsylvania-ward. What time the following day or night they crossed Mason and Dixon's line is not recorded on the Underground Rail Road books, but at four o'clock on Thanksgiving Day, the Dr. safely landed the "fleeing girl of fifteen" at the residence of the writer in Philadelphia. On delivering up his charge, the Dr. simply remarked to the writer's wife, "I wish to leave this young lad with you a short while, and I will call and see further about him." Without further explanation, he stepped into his carriage and hurried away, evidently anxious to report himself to his wife, in order to relieve her mind of a great weight of anxiety on his account. The writer, who happened to be absent from home when the Dr. called, returned soon afterwards. "The Dr. has been here" (he was the family physician), "and left this 'young lad,' and said, that he would call again and see about him," said Mrs. S. The "young lad" was sitting quite composedly in the dining-room, with his cap on. The writer turned to him and inquired, "I suppose you are the person that the Dr. went to Washington after, are you not?" "No," said "Joe." "Where are you from then?" was the next question. "From York, sir." "From York? Why then did the Dr. bring you here?" was the next query, "the Dr. went expressly to Washington after a young girl, who was to be brought away dressed up as a boy, and I took you to be the person." Without replying "the lad" arose and walked out of the house. The querist, somewhat mystified, followed him, and then when the two were alone, "the lad" said, "I am the one the Dr. went after." After congratulating her, the writer asked why she had said, that she was not from Washington, but from York. She explained, that the Dr. had strictly charged her not to own to any person, except the writer, that she was from Washington, but from York. As there were persons present (wife, hired girl, and a fugitive woman), when the questions were put to her, she felt that it would be a violation of her pledge to answer in the affirmative. Before this examination, neither of the individuals present for a moment entertained the slightest doubt but that she was a "lad," so well had she acted her part in every particular. She was dressed in a new suit, which fitted her quite nicely, and with her unusual amount of common sense, she appeared to be in no respect lacking. To send off a prize so rare and remarkable, as she was, without affording some of the stockholders and managers of the Road the pleasure of seeing her, was not to be thought of. In addition to the Vigilance Committee, quite a number of persons were invited to see her, and were greatly astonished. Indeed it was difficult to realize, that she was not a boy, even after becoming acquainted with the facts in the case.

The following is an exact account of this case, as taken from the Underground Rail Road records:


Arrived, Ann Maria Weems, alias 'Joe Wright,' alias 'Ellen Capron,' from Washington, through the aid of Dr. H. She is about fifteen years of age, bright mulatto, well grown, smart and good-looking. For the last three years, or about that length of time, she has been owned by Charles M. Price, a negro trader, of Rockville, Maryland. Mr. P. was given to 'intemperance,' to a very great extent, and gross 'profanity.' He buys and sells many slaves in the course of the year. 'His wife is cross and peevish.' She used to take great pleasure in 'torturing' one 'little slave boy.' He was the son of his master (and was owned by him); this was the chief cause of the mistress' spite."

Ann Maria had always desired her freedom from childhood, and although not thirteen, when first advised to escape, she received the suggestion without hesitation, and ever after that time waited almost daily, for more than two years, the chance to flee. Her friends were, of course, to aid her, and make arrangements for her escape. Her owner, fearing that she might escape, for a long time compelled her to sleep in the chamber with "her master and mistress;" indeed she was so kept until about three weeks before she fled. She left her parents living in Washington. Three of her brothers had been sold South from their parents. Her mother had been purchased for $1,000, and one of her sisters for $1,600 for freedom. Before Ann Maria was thirteen years of age $700 was offered for her by a friend, who desired to procure her freedom, but the offer was promptly refused, as were succeeding ones repeatedly made. The only chance of procuring her freedom, depended upon getting her away on the Underground Rail Road. She was neatly attired in male habiliments, and in that manner came all the way from Washington. After passing two or three days with her new friends in Philadelphia, she was sent on (in male attire) to Lewis Tappan, of New York, who had likewise been deeply interested in her case from the beginning, and who held himself ready, as was understood, to cash a draft for three hundred dollars to compensate the man who might risk his own liberty in bringing her on from Washington. After having arrived safely in New York, she found a home and kind friends in the family of the Rev. A.N. Freeman, and received quite an ovation characteristic of an Underground Rail Road.

After having received many tokens of esteem and kindness from the friends of the slave in New York and Brooklyn, she was carefully forwarded on to Canada, to be educated at the "Buxton Settlement."

An interesting letter, however, from the mother of Ann Maria, conveying the intelligence of her late great struggle and anxiety in laboring to free her last child from Slavery is too important to be omitted, and hence is inserted in connection with this narrative.


WASHINGTON, D.C., September 19th, 1857.

WM. STILL, ESQ., Philadelphia, Pa. SIR:—I have just sent for my son Augustus, in Alabama. I have sent eleven hundred dollars which pays for his body and some thirty dollars to pay his fare to Washington. I borrowed one hundred and eighty dollars to make out the eleven hundred dollars. I was not very successful in Syracuse. I collected only twelve dollars, and in Rochester only two dollars. I did not know that the season was so unpropitious. The wealthy had all gone to the springs. They must have returned by this time. I hope you will exert yourself and help me get a part of the money I owe, at least. I am obliged to pay it by the 12th of next month. I was unwell when I returned through Philadelphia, or I should have called. I had been from home five weeks.

My son Augustus is the last of the family in Slavery. I feel rejoiced that he is soon to be free and with me, and of course feel the greatest solicitude about raising the one hundred and eighty dollars I have borrowed of a kind friend, or who has borrowed it for me at bank. I hope and pray you will help me as far as possible. Tell Mr. Douglass to remember me, and if he can, to interest his friends for me.

You will recollect that five hundred dollars of our money was taken to buy the sister of Henry H. Garnett's wife. Had I been able to command this I should not be necessitated to ask the favors and indulgences I do.

I am expecting daily the return of Augustus, and may Heaven grant him a safe deliverance and smile propitiously upon you and all kind friends who have aided in his return to me.

Be pleased to remember me to friends, and accept yourself the blessing and prayers of your dear friend,


P.S. Direct your letter to E.L. Stevens, in Duff Green's Row, Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.


That William Penn who worked so faithfully for two years for the deliverance of Ann Maria may not appear to have been devoting all his time and sympathy towards this single object it seems expedient that two or three additional letters, proposing certain grand Underground Rail Road plans, should have a place here. For this purpose, therefore, the following letters are subjoined.


WASHINGTON, D.C., Oct. 3, 1854

DEAR SIR:—I address you to-day chiefly at the suggestion of the Lady who will hand you my letter, and who is a resident of your city.

After stating to you, that the case about which I have previously written, remains just as it was when I wrote last—full of difficulty—I thought I would call your attention to another enterprise; it is this: to find a man with a large heart for doing good to the oppressed, who will come to Washington to live, and who will walk out to Penn'a., or a part of the way there, once or twice a week. He will find parties who will pay him for doing so. Parties of say, two, three, five or so, who will pay him at least $5 each, for the privilege of following him, but will never speak to him; but will keep just in sight of him and obey any sign he may give; say, he takes off his hat and scratches his head as a sign for them to go to some barn or wood to rest, &c. No living being shall be found to say he ever spoke to them. A white man would be best, and then even parties led out by him could not, if they would, testify to any understanding or anything else against a white man. I think he might make a good living at it. Can it not be done?

If one or two safe stopping-places could be found on the way—such as a barn or shed, they could walk quite safely all night and then sleep all day—about two, or easily three nights would convey them to a place of safety. The traveler might be a peddler or huckster, with an old horse and cart, and bring us in eggs and butter if he pleases.

Let him once plan out his route, and he might then take ten or a dozen at a time, and they are often able and willing to pay $10 a piece.

I have a hard case now on hand; a brother and sister 23 to 25 years old, whose mother lives in your city. They are cruelly treated; they want to go, they ought to go; but they are utterly destitute. Can nothing be done for such cases? If you can think of anything let me know it. I suppose you know me?

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 3, 1856.

DEAR SIR:—I sent you the recent law of Virginia, under which all vessels are to be searched for fugitives within the waters of that State.

It was long ago suggested by a sagacious friend, that the "powder boy" might find a better port in the Chesapeake bay, or in the Patuxent river to communicate with this vicinity, than by entering the Potomac river, even were there no such law.

Suppose he opens a trade with some place south-west of Annapolis, 25 or 30 miles from here, or less. He might carry wood, oysters, &c., and all his customers from this vicinity might travel in that direction without any of the suspicions that might attend their journeyings towards this city. In this way, doubtless, a good business might be carried on without interruption or competition, and provided the plan was conducted without affecting the inhabitants along that shore, no suspicion would arise as to the manner or magnitude of his business operations. How does this strike you? What does the "powder boy" think of it?

I heretofore intimated a pressing necessity on the part of several females—they are variously situated—two have children, say a couple each; some have none—of the latter, one can raise $50, another, say 30 or 40 dollars—another who was gazetted last August (a copy sent you), can raise, through her friends, 20 or 30 dollars, &c., &c. None of these can walk so far or so fast as scores of men that are constantly leaving. I cannot shake off my anxiety for these poor creatures. Can you think of anything for any of these? Address your other correspondent in answer to this at your leisure.



P.S.—April 3d. Since writing the above, I have received yours of 31st. I am rejoiced to hear that business is so successful and prosperous—may it continue till the article shall cease to be merchandize.

I spoke in my last letter of the departure of a "few friends." I have since heard of their good health in Penn'a. Probably you may have seen them.

In reference to the expedition of which you think you can "hold out some little encouragement," I will barely remark, that I shall be glad, if it is undertaken, to have all the notice of the time and manner that is possible, so as to make ready.

A friend of mine says, anthracite coal will always pay here from Philadelphia, and thinks a small vessel might run often—that she never would be searched in the Potomac, unless she went outside.

You advise caution towards Mr. P. I am precisely of your opinion about him, that he is a "queer stick," and while I advised him carefully in reference to his own undertakings, I took no counsel of him concerning mine.



WASHINGTON, D.C., April 23d, 1856.

DEAR SIR:—I have to thank you for your last two encouraging letters of 31st of March and 7th April. I have seen nothing in the papers to interest you, and having bad health and a press of other engagements, I have neglected to write you.

Enclosed is a list of persons referred to in my last letter, all most anxious to travel—all meritorious. In some of these I feel an especial interest for what they have done to help others in distress.

I suggest for yours and the "powder boy's" consideration the following plan: that he shall take in coal for Washington and come directly here—sell his coal and go to Georgetown for freight, and wait for it. If any fancy articles are sent on board, I understand he has a place to put them in, and if he has I suggest that he lies still, still waiting for freight till the first anxiety is over. Vessels that have just left are the ones that will be inquired after, and perhaps chased. If he lays still a day or two all suspicion will be prevented. If there shall be occasion to refer to any of them hereafter, it may be by their numbers in the list.

The family—5 to 11—will be missed and inquired after soon and urgently; 12 and 13 will also be soon missed, but none of the others.



If all this can be done, some little time or notice must be had to get them all ready. They tell me they can pay the sums marked to their names. The aggregate is small, but as I told you, they are poor. Let me hear from you when convenient.

Truly Yours,


1. A woman, may be 40 years old, $40.00
2. A woman, may be 40 years old, with 3 children, say 4, 6, and 8A 15.00
3. A sister of the above, younger 10.00
4. A very genteel mulatto girl about 22 25.00
5. A woman, say 45, These are all one
6. A daughter, 18, family, either of
7. A son, 16, them leaving
8. A son, 14, alone, they think, 50.00
9. A daughter, 12, would cause the
10. A son, say 22, balance to be sold.
11. A man, the Uncle, 40,
12. A very genteel mulatto girl, say 23 25.00
13. A very genteel mulatto girl, say 24 25.00

A: The children might be left behind"

       *       *       *       *       *



Many letters from JOHN HENRY show how incessantly his mind ran out towards the oppressed, and the remarkable intelligence and ability he displayed with the pen, considering that he had no chance to acquire book knowledge. After having fled for refuge to Canada and having become a partaker of impartial freedom under the government of Great Britain, to many it seemed that the fugitive should be perfectly satisfied. Many appeared to think that the fugitive, having secured freedom, had but little occasion for anxiety or care, even for his nearest kin. "Change your name." "Never tell any one how you escaped." "Never let any one know where you came from." "Never think of writing back, not even to your wife; you can do your kin no good, but may do them harm by writing." "Take care of yourself." "You are free, well, be satisfied then." "It will do you no good to fret about your wife and children; that will not get them out of Slavery." Such was the advice often given to the fugitive. Men who had been slaves themselves, and some who had aided in the escape of individuals, sometimes urged these sentiments on men and women whose hearts were almost breaking over the thought that their dearest and best friends were in chains in the prison-house. Perhaps it was thoughtlessness on the part of some, and a wish to inspire due cautiousness on the part of others, that prompted this advice. Doubtless some did soon forget their friends. They saw no way by which they could readily communicate with them. Perhaps Slavery had dealt with them so cruelly, that little hope or aspiration was left in them.

It was, however, one of the most gratifying facts connected with the fugitives, the strong love and attachment that they constantly expressed for their relatives left in the South; the undying faith they had in God as evinced by their touching appeals on behalf of their fellow-slaves. But few probably are aware how deeply these feelings were cherished in the breasts of this people. Forty, fifty, or sixty years, in some instances elapsed, but this ardent sympathy and love continued warm and unwavering as ever. Children left to the cruel mercy of slave-holders, could never be forgotten. Brothers and sisters could not refrain from weeping over the remembrance of their separation on the auction block: of having seen innocent children, feeble and defenceless women in the grasp of a merciless tyrant, pleading, groaning, and crying in vain for pity. Not to remember those thus bruised and mangled, it would seem alike unnatural, and impossible. Therefore it is a source of great satisfaction to be able, in relating these heroic escapes, to present the evidences of the strong affections of this greatly oppressed race.

JOHN HENRY never forgot those with whom he had been a fellow-sufferer in Slavery; he was always fully awake to their wrongs, and longed to be doing something to aid and encourage such as were striving to get their Freedom. He wrote many letters in behalf of others, as well as for himself, the tone of which, was always marked by the most zealous devotion to the slave, a high sense of the value of Freedom, and unshaken confidence that God was on the side of the oppressed, and a strong hope, that the day was not far distant, when the slave power would be "suddenly broken and that without remedy."

Notwithstanding the literary imperfections of these letters, they are deemed well suited to these pages. Of course, slaves were not allowed book learning. Virginia even imprisoned white women for teaching free colored children the alphabet. Who has forgotten the imprisonment of Mrs. Douglass for this offense? In view of these facts, no apology is needed on account of Hill's grammar and spelling.

In these letters, may be seen, how much liberty was valued, how the taste of Freedom moved the pen of the slave; how the thought of fellow-bondmen, under the heel of the slave-holder, aroused the spirit of indignation and wrath; how importunately appeals were made for help from man and from God; how much joy was felt at the arrival of a fugitive, and the intense sadness experienced over the news of a failure or capture of a slave. Not only are the feelings of John Henry Hill represented in these epistles, but the feelings of very many others amongst the intelligent fugitives all over the country are also represented to the letter. It is more with a view of doing justice to a brave, intelligent class, whom the public are ignorant of, than merely to give special prominence to John and his relatives as individuals, that these letters are given.


JOHN HENRY at that time, was a little turned of twenty-five years of age, full six feet high, and remarkably well proportioned in every respect. He was rather of a brown color, with marked intellectual features. John was by trade, a carpenter, and was considered a competent workman. The year previous to his escape, he hired his time, for which he paid his owner $150. This amount John had fully settled up the last day of the year. As he was a young man of steady habits, a husband and father, and withal an ardent lover of Liberty; his owner, John Mitchell, evidently observed these traits in his character, and concluded that he was a dangerous piece of property to keep; that his worth in money could be more easily managed than the man. Consequently, his master unceremoniously, without intimating in any way to John, that he was to be sold, took him to Richmond, on the first day of January (the great annual sale day), and directly to the slave-auction. Just as John was being taken into the building, he was invited to submit to hand-cuffs. As the thought flashed upon his mind that he was about to be sold on the auction-block, he grew terribly desperate. "Liberty or death" was the watchword of that awful moment. In the twinkling of an eye, he turned on his enemies, with his fist, knife, and feet, so tiger-like, that he actually put four or five men to flight, his master among the number. His enemies thus suddenly baffled, John wheeled, and, as if assisted by an angel, strange as it may appear, was soon out of sight of his pursuers, and securely hid away. This was the last hour of John Henry's slave life, but not, however, of his struggles and sufferings for freedom, for before a final chance to escape presented itself, nine months elapsed. The mystery as to where, and how he fared, the following account, in his own words, must explain—

Nine months I was trying to get away. I was secreted for a long time in a kitchen of a merchant near the corner of Franklyn and 7th streets, at Richmond, where I was well taken care of, by a lady friend of my mother. When I got Tired of staying in that place, I wrote myself a pass to pass myself to Petersburg, here I stopped with a very prominent Colored person, who was a friend to Freedom stayed here until two white friends told other friends if I was in the city to tell me to go at once, and stand not upon the order of going, because they had hard a plot. I wrot a pass, started for Richmond, Reached Manchester, got off the Cars walked into Richmond, once more got back into the same old Den, Stayed here from the 16th of Aug. to 12th Sept. On the 11th of Sept. 8 o'clock P.M. a message came to me that there had been a State Room taken on the steamer City of Richmond for my benefit, and I assured the party that it would be occupied if God be willing. Before 10 o'clock the next morning, on the 12th, a beautiful Sept. day, I arose early, wrote my pass for Norfolk left my old Den with a many a good bye, turned out the back way to 7th St., thence to Main, down Main behind 4 night waich to old Rockett's and after about 20 minutes of delay I succeed in Reaching the State Room. My Conductor was very much Excited, but I felt as Composed as I do at this moment, for I had started from my Den that morning for Liberty or for Death providing myself with a Brace of Pistels.

Yours truly


A private berth was procured for him on the steamship City of Richmond, for the amount of $125, and thus he was brought on safely to Philadelphia. While in the city, he enjoyed the hospitalities of the Vigilance Committee, and the greetings of a number of friends, during the several days of his sojourn. The thought of his wife, and two children, left in Petersburg, however, naturally caused him much anxiety. Fortunately, they were free, therefore, he was not without hope of getting them; moreover, his wife's father (Jack McCraey), was a free man, well known, and very well to do in the world, and would not be likely to see his daughter and grandchildren suffer. In this particular, Hill's lot was of a favorable character, compared with that of most slaves leaving their wives and children.



TORONTO, October 4th, 1853.

DEAR SIR:—I take this method of informing you that I am well, and that I got to this city all safe and sound, though I did not get here as soon as I expect. I left your city on Saterday and I was on the way untel the Friday following. I got to New York the same day that I left Philadelphia, but I had to stay there untel Monday evening. I left that place at six o'clock. I got to Albany next morning in time to take the half past six o'clock train for Rochester, here I stay untel Wensday night. The reason I stay there so long Mr. Gibbs given me a letter to Mr Morris at Rochester. I left that place Wensday, but I only got five miles from that city that night. I got to Lewiston on Thurday afternoon, but too late for the boat to this city. I left Lewiston on Friday at one o'clock, got to this city at five. Sir I found this to be a very handsome city. I like it better than any city I ever saw. It are not as large as the city that you live in, but it is very large place much more so than I expect to find it. I seen the gentleman that you given me letter to. I think him much of a gentleman. I got into work on Monday. The man whom I am working for is name Myers; but I expect to go to work for another man by name of Tinsly, who is a master workman in this city. He says that he will give me work next week and everybody advises me to work for Mr. Tinsly as there more surity in him.

Mr. Still, I have been looking and looking for my friends for several days, but have not seen nor heard of them. I hope and trust in the Lord Almighty that all things are well with them. My dear sir I could feel so much better sattisfied if I could hear from my wife. Since I reached this city I have talagraphed to friend Brown to send my thing to me, but I cannot hear a word from no one at all. I have written to Mr. Brown two or three times since I left the city. I trust that he has gotten my wife's letters, that is if she has written. Please direct your letters to me, near the corner Sarah and Edward street, until I give you further notice. You will tell friend B. how to direct his letters, as I forgotten it when I writt to him, and ask him if he has heard anything from Virginia. Please to let me hear from him without delay for my very soul is trubled about my friends whom I expected to of seen here before this hour. Whatever you do please to write. I shall look for you paper shortly.

Believe me sir to be your well wisher.



Expressions of gratitudeThe Custom House refuses to charge him dutyHe is greatly concerned for his wife

TORONTO, October 30th, 1853.

MY DEAR FRIEND:—I now write to inform you that I have received my things all safe and sound, and also have shuck hand with the friend that you send on to this place one of them is stopping with me. His name is Chas. Stuert, he seemes to be a tolerable smart fellow. I Rec'd my letters. I have taken this friend to see Mr. Smith. However will give him a place to board untell he can get to work. I shall do every thing I can for them all that I see the gentleman wish you to see his wife and let her know that he arrived safe, and present his love to her and to all the friend. Mr. Still, I am under ten thousand obligation to you for your kindness when shall I ever repay? S. speek very highly of you. I will state to you what Custom house master said to me. He ask me when he Presented my efects are these your efects. I answered yes. He then ask me was I going to settle in Canada. I told him I was. He then ask me of my case. I told all about it. He said I am happy to see you and all that will come. He ask me how much I had to pay for my Paper. I told him half dollar. He then told me that I should have my money again. He a Rose from his seat and got my money. So my friend you can see the people and tell them all this is a land of liberty and believe they will find friends here. My best love to all.

My friend I must call upon you once more to do more kindness for me that is to write to my wife as soon as you get this, and tell her when she gets ready to come she will pack and consign her things to you. You will give her some instruction, but not to your expenses but to her own.

When you write direct your letter to Phillip Ubank, Petersburg, Va. My Box arrived here the 27th.

My dear sir I am in a hurry to take this friend to church, so I must close by saying I am your humble servant in the cause of liberty and humanity.



Canada is highly praisedThe Vigilance Committee is implored to send all the Fugitives there—"Farmers and Mechanics wanted"—"No living in Canada for Negroes," as argued by "Masters," flatly denied, &c., &c., &c.

So I ask you to send the fugitives to Canada. I don't know much of this Province but I beleaves that there is Rome enough for the colored and whites of the United States. We wants farmers mechanic men of all qualification &c., if they are not made we will make them, if we cannot make the old, we will make our children.

Now concerning the city toronto this city is Beautiful and Prosperous Levele city. Great many wooden codages more than what should be but I am in hopes there will be more of the Brick and Stonn. But I am not done about your Republicanism. Our masters have told us that there was no living in Canada for a Negro but if it may Please your gentlemanship to publish these facts that we are here able to earn our bread and money enough to make us comftable. But I say give me freedom, and the United States may have all her money and her Luxtures, yeas give Liberty or Death. I'm in America, but not under Such a Government that I cannot express myself, speak, think or write So as I am able, and if my master had allowed me to have an education I would make them American Slave-holders feel me, Yeas I would make them tremble when I spoke, and when I take my Pen in hand their knees smote together. My Dear Sir suppose I was an educated man. I could write you something worth reading, but you know we poor fugitives whom has just come over from the South are not able to write much on no subject whatever, but I hope by the aid of my God I will try to use my midnight lamp, untel I can have some influence upon the American Slavery. If some one would say to me, that they would give my wife bread untel I could be Educated I would stoop my trade this day and take up my books.

But a crisis is approaching when assential requisite to the American Slaveholders when blood Death or Liberty will be required at their hands. I think our people have depened too long and too much on false legislator let us now look for ourselves. It is true that England however the Englishman is our best friend but we as men ought not to depened upon her Remonstrace with the Americans because she loves her commercial trade as any Nations do. But I must say, while we look up and acknowledge the Power greatness and honor of old England, and believe that while we sit beneath the Silken folds of her flag of Perfect Liberty, we are secure, beyond the reach of the aggressions of the Blood hounds and free from the despotism that would wrap around our limbs by the damable Slaveholder. Yet we would not like spoiled childeren depend upon her, but upon ourselves and as one means of strengthening ourselves, we should agitate the emigration to Canada. I here send you a paragraph which I clipted from the weekly Glob. I hope you will publish so that Mr. Williamson may know that men are not chattel here but reather they are men and if he wants his chattle let him come here after it or his thing. I wants you to let the whole United States know we are satisfied here because I have seen more Pleasure since I came here then I saw in the U.S. the 24 years that I served my master. Come Poor distress men women and come to Canada where colored men are free. Oh how sweet the word do sound to me yeas when I contemplate of these things, my very flesh creaps my heart thrub when I think of my beloved friends whom I left in that cursid hole. Oh my God what can I do for them or shall I do for them. Lord help them. Suffer them to be no longer depressed beneath the Bruat Creation but may they be looked upon as men made of the Bone and Blood as the Anglo-Americans. May God in his mercy Give Liberty to all this world. I must close as it am late hour at night. I Remain your friend in the cause of Liberty and humanity,

JOHN H. HILL, a fugitive.

If you know any one who would give me an education write and let me know for I am in want of it very much.

Your with Respect,


If the sentiments in the above letter do not indicate an uncommon degree of natural intelligence, a clear perception of the wrongs of Slavery, and a just appreciation of freedom, where shall we look for the signs of intellect and manhood?


Longs for his wife—In hearing of the return of a Fugitive from Philadelphia is made sorrowful—His love of Freedom increases, &c., &c.

TORONTO, November 12th, 1853.

MY DEAR STILL:—Your letter of the 3th came to hand thursday and also three copes all of which I was glad to Received they have taken my attention all together Every Time I got them. I also Rec'd. a letter from my friend Brown. Mr. Brown stated to me that he had heard from my wife but he did not say what way he heard. I am looking for my wife every day. Yes I want her to come then I will be better satisfied. My friend I am a free man and feeles alright about that matter. I am doing tolrable well in my line of business, and think I will do better after little. I hope you all will never stop any of our Brotheran that makes their Escep from the South but send them on to this Place where they can be free man and woman. We want them here and not in your State where they can be taken away at any hour. Nay but let him come here where he can Enjoy the Rights of a human being and not to be trodden under the feet of men like themselves. All the People that comes here does well. Thanks be to God that I came to this place. I would like very well to see you all but never do I expect to see you in the United States. I want you all to come to this land of Liberty where the bondman can be free. Come one come all come to this place, and I hope my dear friend you will send on here. I shall do for them as you all done for me when I came on here however I will do the best I can for them if they can they shall do if they will do, but some comes here that can't do well because they make no efford. I hope my friend you will teach them such lessons as Mrs. Moore Give me before I left your city. I hope she may live a hundred years longer and enjoy good health. May God bless her for the good cause which she are working in. Mr. Still you ask me to remember you to Nelson. I will do so when I see him, he are on the lake so is Stewart. I received a letter to-day for Stewart from your city which letter I will take to him when he comes to the city. He are not stoping with us at this time. I was very sorry a few days ago when I heard that a man was taken from your city.

Send them over here, then let him come here and take them away and I will try to have a finger in the Pie myself. You said that you had written to my wife ten thousand thanks for what you have done and what you are willing to do. My friend whenever you hear from my wife please write to me. Whenever she come to your city please give instruction how to travel. I wants her to come the faster way. I wish she was here now. I wish she could get a ticket through to this place. I have mail a paper for you to day.

We have had snow but not to last long. Let me hear from you. My Respect friend Brown. I will write more when I have the opportunity.

Yours with Respect,


P.S. My dear Sir. Last night after I had written the above, and had gone to bed, I heard a strange voice in the house, Saying to Mr. Myers to come quickly to one of our colod Brotheran out of the street. We went and found a man a Carpenter laying on the side walk woltun in his Blood. Done by some unknown Person as yet but if they stay on the earth the law will deteck them. It is said that party of colord people done it, which party was seen to come out an infame house.

Mr. Myers have been down to see him and Brought the Sad news that the Poor fellow was dead. Mr. Scott for Henry Scott was the name, he was a fugitive from Virginia he came here from Pittsburg Pa. Oh, when I went where he laid what a shock, it taken my Sleep altogether night. When I got to Sopt his Body was surrounded by the Policeman. The law has taken the woman in cusidy. I write and also send you a paper of the case when it comes out.



He rejoices over the arrival of his wifebut at the same time, his heart is bleeding over a dear friend whom he had promised to help before he left Slavery.

TORONTO, December 29th, 1853.

MY DEAR FRIEND:—It affords me a good deel of Pleasure to say that my wife and the Children have arrived safe in this City. But my wife had very bad luck. She lost her money and the money that was belonging to the children, the whole amount was 35 dollars. She had to go to the Niagara falls and Telegraph to me come after her. She got to the falls on Sat'dy and I went after her on Monday. We saw each other once again after so long an Abstance, you may know what sort of metting it was, joyful times of corst. My wife are well Satisfied here, and she was well Pleased during her stay in your city. My Trip to the falls cost Ten Eighty Seven and half. The things that friend Brown Shiped to me by the Express costed $24-1/4. So you can see fiting out a house Niagara falls and the cost for bringing my things to this place, have got me out of money, but for all I am a free man.

The weather are very cold at Present, the snow continue to fall though not as deep here as it is in Boston. The people haves their own Amousements, the weather as it is now, they don't care for the snow nor ice, but they are going from Ten A.M. until Twelve P.M., the hous that we have open don't take well because we don't Sell Spirits, which we are trying to avoid if we can.

Mr. Still, I hold in my hand A letter from a friend of South, who calls me to promise that I made to him before I left. My dear Sir, this letter have made my heart Bleed, since I Received it, he also desires of me to remember him to his beloved Brethren and then to Pray for him and his dear friends who are in Slavery. I shall Present his letter to the churches of this city. I forward to your care for Mrs. Moore, a few weeks ago. Mrs. Hill sends her love to your wife and yourself.

Please to write, I Sincerely hope that our friends from Petersburg have reached your city before this letter is dated. I must close by saying, that I Sir, remain humble and obedient Servant,



He is now earnestly appealing in behalf of a friend in Slavery, with a view to procuring aid and assistance from certain parties, by which this particular friend in bondage might be rescued.

Toranto, March 8th, 1854.

My Dear Friend Still:—We will once more truble you opon this great cause of freedom, as we know that you are a man, that are never fatuged in Such a glorious cause. Sir, what I wish to Say is this. Mr. Forman has Received a letter from his wife dated the 29th ult. She States to him that She was Ready at any time, and that Everything was Right with her, and she hoped that he would lose no time in sending for her for she was Ready and awaiting for him. Well friend Still, we learnt that Mr. Minkens could not bring her the account of her child. We are very sorry to hear Such News, however, you will please to read this letter with care, as we have learnt that Minkens Cannot do what we wishes to be done; we perpose another way. There is a white man that Sale from Richmond to Boston, that man are very Safe, he will bring F's wife with her child. So you will do us a favour will take it upon yourself to transcribe from this letter what we shall write. I.E. this there is a Colored gen. that workes on the basin in R—— this man's name is Esue Poster, he can tell Mrs. forman all about this Saleor. So you can place the letter in the hands of M. to take to forman's wife, She can read it for herself. She will find Foster at ladlum's warehouse on the Basin, and when you write call my name to him and he will trust it. this foster are a member of the old Baptist Church. When you have done all you can do let us know what you have done, if you hears anything of my uncle let me know.


He laments over his uncle's fate, who was suffering in a dungeon-like place of concealment daily waiting for the opportunity to escape.

Toronto, March 18th, 1864.

My Dear Still:—Yours of the 15th Reached on the 11th, found myself and family very well, and not to delay no time in replying to you, as there was an article in your letter which article Roused me very much when I read it; that was you praying to me to be cautious how I write down South. Be so kind as to tell me in your next letter whether you have at any time apprehended any danger in my letters however, in those bond southward; if there have been, allow me to beg ten thousand pardon before God and man, for I am not design to throw any obstacle in the way of those whom I left in South, but to aide them in every possible way. I have done as you Requested, that to warn the friends of the dager of writing South. I have told all you said in yours that Mr. Minkins would be in your city very soon, and you would see what you could do for me, do you mean or do speak in reference to my dear uncle. I am hopes that you will use every ifford to get him from the position in which he now stand. I know how he feels at this time, for I have felt the same when I was a runway. I was bereft of all participation with my family for nearly nine months, and now that poor fellow are place in same position. Oh God help I pray, what a pitty it is that I cannot do him no good, but I sincerely hope that you will not get fatigued at doing good in such cases, nay, I think other wises of you, however, I Say no more on this subject at present, but leave it for you to judge.

On the 13th inst. you made Some Remarks concerning friend Forman's wife, I am Satisfied that you will do all you can for her Release from Slavery, but as you said you feels for them, so do I, and Mr. Foreman comes to me very often to know if I have heard anything from you concerning his wife, they all comes to for the same.

God Save the Queen. All my letters Southward have passed through your hands with an exception of one.



Death has snatched away one of his children and he has cause to mourn. In his grief he recounts his struggles for freedom, and his having to leave his wife and children. He acknowledges that he had to "work very hard for comforts," but he declares that he would not "exchange with the comforts of ten thousand slaves."

TORONTO Sept 14th 1854

MY DEAR FRIEND STILL:—this are the first oppertunity that I have had to write you since I Reed your letter of the 20th July, there have been sickness and Death in my family since your letter was Reed, our dear little Child have been taken from us one whom we loved so very Dear, but the almighty God knows what are best for us all.

Louis Henry Hill, was born in Petersburg Va May 7th 1852. and Died Toronto August 19th 1854 at five o'clock P.M.

Dear Still I could say much about the times and insidince that have taken place since the coming of that dear little angle jest spoken of. it was 12 months and 3 days from the time that I took departure of my wife and child to proceed to Richmond to awaite a conveyance up to the day of his death.

it was thursday the 13th that I lift Richmond, it was Saturday the 15th that I land to my great joy in the city of Phila. then I put out for Canada. I arrived in this city on Friday the 30th and to my great satisfaction. I found myself upon Briton's free land, not only free for the white man bot for all.

this day 12 months I was not out of the reach the slaveholders, but this 14th day of Sept. I am as Free as your President Pearce. only I have not been free so long However the 30th of the month I will have been free only 12 months.

It is true that I have to work very hard for comfort but I would not exchange with ten thousand slave that are equel with their masters. I am Happy, Happy.

Give love to Mrs. Still. My wife laments her child's death too much, wil you be so kind as to see Mr. Brown and ask him to write to me, and if he have heard from Petersburg Va.

Yours truely



He is anxiously waiting for the arrival of friends from the South. Hints that slaveholders would be very unsafe in Canada, should they be foolish enough to visit that country for the purpose of enticing slaves back.

TORONTO, Jan. 19th 1854.

MY DEAR STILL:—Your letter of the 16th came to hand just in time for my perpose I perceivs by your statement that the money have not been to Petersburg at all done just what was right and I would of sent the money to you at first, but my dear friend I have called upon you for so many times that I have been ashamed of myself to call any more So you may perceive by the above written my obligations to you, you said that you had written on to Petersburg, you have done Right which I believes is your general way of doing your business, the money are all right I only had to pay a 6d on the Ten dollars. this money was given to by a friend in the city N. york, the friend was from Richmond Virginia (a white man) the amount was fifteen dollars, I forward a letter to you yesterday which letter I forgot to date. my friend I wants to hear from virginia the worst of all things. you know that we expect some freneds on and we cannot hear any thing from them which makes us uneasy for fear that they have attempt to come away and been detected. I have ears open at all times, listen at all hours expecting to hear from them Please to see friend Brown and know from him if he has heard anything from our friends, if he have not. tell him write and inquiare into the matter why it is that they have not come over, then let me hear from you all.

We are going to have a grand concert &c I mean the Abolisnous Socity. I will attend myself and also my wife if the Lord be willing you will perceive in previous letter that I mension something concerning Mr Forman's wife if there be any chance whatever please to proceed, Mr Foreman sends his love to you Requested you to do all you can to get his wife away from Slavery.

Our best respects to your wife. You promisted me that you would write somthing concerning our arrival in Canada but I suppose you have not had the time as yet, I would be very glad to read your opinion on that matter

I have notice several articles in the freeman one of the Canada weaklys concerning the Christiana prisoners respecting Castnor Hanway and also Mr. Rauffman. if I had one hundred dollars to day I would give them five each, however I hope that I may be able to subscribe something for their Relefe. in Regards to the letters have been written from Canada to the South the letters was not what they thought them to be and if the slave-holders know when they are doing well they had better keep their side for if they comes over this side of the lake I am under the impression they will not go back with somethin that their mother boned them with whether thiar slaves written for them or not. I know some one here that have written his master to come after him, but not because he expect to go with him home but because he wants to retaleate upon his persecutor, but I would be sorry for man that have written for his master expecting to return with him because the people here would kill them. Sir I cannot write enough to express myself so I must close by saying I Remain yours.



Great joy over an arrival—Twelve months praying for the deliverance of an Uncle groaning in a hiding-place, while the Slave-hunters are daily expected—Strong appeals for aid, &c., &c.

TORONTO, January 7th, 1855.

MY DEAR FRIEND:—It is with much pleasure that I take this opportunity of addressing you with these few lines hoping when they reeches you they may find yourself and family enjoying good health as they leaves us at present.

And it is with much happiness that I can say to you that Mrs. Mercer arrived in this city on yesterday. Mr. Mercer was at my house late in the evening, and I told him that when he went home if hear anything from Virginia, that he must let me know as soon as possible. He told me that if he went home and found any news there he would come right back and inform me thereof. But little did he expect to find his dearest there. You may judge what a meeting there was with them, and may God grant that there may be some more meetings with our wives and friends. I had been looking for some one from the old sod for several days, but I was in good hopes that it would be my poor Uncle. But poor fellow he are yet groaning under the sufferings of a horrid sytam, Expecting every day to Receive his Doom. Oh, God, what shall I do, or what can I do for him? I have prayed for him more than 12 months, yet he is in that horrid condition. I can never hear anything Directly from him or any of my people.

Once more I appeal to your Humanity. Will you act for him, as if you was in slavery yourself, and I sincerely believe that he will come out of that condition? Mrs. M. have told me that she given some directions how he could be goten at, but friend Still, if this conductor should not be successfull this time, will you mind him of the Poor Slave again. I hope you will as Mrs. Mercer have told the friend what to do I cannot do more, therefore I must leve it to the Mercy of God and your Exertion.

The weather have been very mile Ever since the 23rd of Dec. I have thought considerable about our condition in this country Seeing that the weather was so very faverable to us. I was thinking a few days ago, that nature had giving us A country & adopted all things Sutable.

You will do me the kindness of telling me in your next whether or not the ten slaves have been Brought out from N.C.

I have not hard from Brown for Nine month he have done some very Bad letting me alone, for what cause I cannot tell. Give my Best Respect to Mr. B. when you see him. I wish very much to hear from himself and family. You will please to let me hear from you. My wife Joines me in love to yourself and family.

Yours most Respectfully,


P.S. Every fugitive Regreated to hear of the Death of Mrs. Moore. I myself think that there are no other to take her Place.





Rejoices at hearing of the success of the Underground Rail Road—Inquires particularly after the "fellow" who "cut off the Patrol's head in Maryland."

HAMILTON, August 15th, 1856.

DEAR FRIEND:—I am very glad to hear that the Underground Rail Road is doing such good business, but tell me in your next letter if you have seen the heroic fellow that cut off the head of the Patrol in Maryland. We wants that fellow here, as John Bull has a great deal of fighting to do, and as there is a colored Captain in this city, I would seek to have that fellow Promoted, Provided he became a soldier.

Great respect,


P.S.—Please forward the enclosed to Mr. McCray.



Believes in praying for the Slave—but thinks "fire and sword" would be more effective with Slave-holders.

HAMILTON, Jan. 5th, 1857.

MR. STILL:—Our Pappers contains long details of insurrectionary movements among the slaves at the South and one paper adds that a great Nomber of Generals, Captains with other officers had being arrested. At this day four years ago I left Petersburg for Richmond to meet the man whom called himself my master, but he wanted money worser that day than I do this day, he took me to sell me, he could not have done a better thing for me for I intended to leave any how by the first convaiance. I hard some good Prayers put up for the suffers on last Sunday evening in the Baptist Church. Now friend still I beleve that Prayers affects great good, but I beleve that the fire and sword would affect more good in this case. Perhaps this is not your thoughts, but I must acknowledge this to be my Polacy. The world are being turned upside down, and I think we might as well take an active part in it as not. We must have something to do as other people, and I hope this moment among the Slaves are the beginning. I wants to see something go on while I live.

Yours truly,



Sad tidings from Richmond—Of the arrest of a Captain with Slaves on board as Underground Rail Road passengers.

HAMILTON, June 5th, 1858.

DEAR FRIEND STILL:—I have just heard that our friend Capt. B. have being taken Prisoner in Virginia with slaves on board of his vessel. I hard this about an hour ago. the Person told me of this said he read it in the newspaper, if this be so it is awfull. You will be so kind as to send me some information. Send me one of the Virginia Papers. Poor fellow if they have got him, I am sorry, sorry to my heart. I have not heard from my Uncle for a long time if have heard or do hear anything from him at any time you will oblige me by writing. I wish you to inquire of Mr. Anderson's friends (if you know any of them), if they have heard anything from him since he was in your city. I have written to him twice since he was here according to his own directions, but never received an answer. I wants to hear from my mother very much, but cannot hear one word. You will present my best regards to the friend. Mrs. Hill is quite sick.

Yours truly,


P.S.—I have not received the Anti-Slavery Standard for several weeks. Please forward any news relative to the Capt.


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Impelled by the love of freedom Hezekiah resolved that he would work no longer for nothing; that he would never be sold on the auction block: that he no longer would obey the bidding of a master, and that he would die rather than be a slave. This decision, however, had only been entertained by him a short time prior to his escape. For a number of years Hezekiah had been laboring under the pleasing thought that he should succeed in obtaining freedom through purchase, having had an understanding with his owner with this object in view. At different times he had paid on account for himself nineteen hundred dollars, six hundred dollars more than he was to have paid according to the first agreement. Although so shamefully defrauded in the first instance, he concluded to bear the disappointment as patiently as possible and get out of the lion's mouth as best he could.

He continued to work on and save his money until he had actually come within one hundred dollars of paying two thousand. At this point instead of getting his free papers, as he firmly believed that he should, to his surprise one day he saw a notorious trader approaching the shop where he was at work. The errand of the trader was soon made known. Hezekiah simply requested time to go back to the other end of the shop to get his coat, which he seized and ran. He was pursued but not captured. This occurrence took place in Petersburg, Va., about the first of December, 1854. On the night of the same day of his escape from the trader, Hezekiah walked to Richmond and was there secreted under a floor by a friend. He was a tall man, of powerful muscular strength, about thirty years of age just in the prime of his manhood with enough pluck for two men.

A heavy reward was offered for him, but the hunters failed to find him in this hiding-place under the floor. He strongly hoped to get away soon; on several occasions he made efforts, but only to be disappointed. At different times at least two captains had consented to afford him a private passage to Philadelphia, but like the impotent man at the pool, some one always got ahead of him. Two or three times he even managed to reach the boat upon the river, but had to return to his horrible place under the floor. Some were under the impression that he was an exceedingly unlucky man, and for a time captains feared to bring him. But his courage sustained him unwaveringly.

Finally at the expiration of thirteen months, a private passage was procured for him on the steamship Pennsylvania, and with a little slave boy, seven years of age, (the son of the man who had secreted him) though placed in a very hard berth, he came safely to Philadelphia, greatly to the astonishment of the Vigilance Committee, who had waited for him so long that they had despaired of his ever coming.

The joy that filled Hezekiah's bosom may be imagined but never described. None but one who had been in similar straits could enter into his feelings.

He had left his wife Louisa, and two little boys, Henry and Manuel. His passage cost one hundred dollars.

Hezekiah being a noted character, a number of the true friends were invited to take him by the hand and to rejoice with him over his noble struggles and his triumph; needing rest and recruiting, he was made welcome to stay, at the expense of the committee, as long as he might feel disposed so to do. He remained several days, and then went on to Canada rejoicing. After arriving there he returned his acknowledgment for favors received, &c., in the following letter:

TORONTO Jan 24th 1856.

MR. STILL:—this is to inform you that Myself and little boy, arrived safely in this city this day the 24th, at ten o'clock after a very long and pleasant trip. I had a great deal of attention paid to me while on the way.

I owes a great deel of thanks to yourself and friends. I will just say hare that when I arrived at New York, I found Mr. Gibbs sick and could not be attended to there. However, I have arrived alright.

You will please to give my respects to your friend that writes in the office with you, and to Mr Smith, also Mr Brown, and the friends, Mrs Still in particular.

Friend Still you will please to send the enclosed to John Hill Petersburg I want him to send some things to me you will be so kind as to send your direction to them, so that the things to your care. if you do not see a convenient way to send it by hands, you will please direct your letter to Phillip Ubank Petersburg.

Yours Respectfully


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For three years James suffered in a place of concealment, before he found the way opened to escape. When he resolved on having his freedom he was much under twenty-one years of age, a brave young man, for three years, with unfailing spirit, making resistance in the city of Richmond to the slave Power!

Such heroes in the days of Slavery, did much to make the infernal system insecure, and to keep alive the spirit of freedom in liberty-loving hearts the world over, wherever such deeds of noble daring were made known. But of his heroism, but little can be reported here, from the fact, that such accounts as were in the possession of the Committee, were never transferred from the loose slips of paper on which they were first written, to the regular record book. But an important letter from the friend with whom he was secreted, written a short while before he escaped (on a boat), gives some idea of his condition:

RICHMOND, VA., February 16th, 1861.

DEAR BROTHER STILL:—I received a message from brother Julius anderson, asking me to send the bundle on but I has no way to send it, I have been waiting and truly hopeing that you would make some arrangement with some person, and send for the parcel. I have no way to send it, and I cannot communicate the subject to a stranger there is a Way by the N.y. line, but they are all strangers to me, and of course I could not approach them With this subject for I would be indangered myself greatly. this business is left to you and to you alone to attend to in providing the way for me to send on the parcel, if you only make an arrangement with some person and let me know the said person and the article which they is to be sent on then I can send the parcel. unless you do make an arrangement with some person, and assure them that they will receive the funs for delivering the parcel this Business cannot be accomplished. it is in your power to try to make some provision for the article to be sent but it is not in my power to do so, the bundle has been on my hands now going on 3 years, and I have suffered a great deal of danger, and is still suffering the same. I have understood Sir that there were no difficul about the mone that you had it in your possession Ready for the bundle whenever it is delivered. But Sir as I have said I can do nothing now. Sir I ask you please through sympathy and feelings on my part & his try to provide a way for the bundle to be sent and relieve me of the danger in which I am in. you might succeed in making an arrangement with those on the New york Steamers for they dose such things but please let me know the man that the arrangement is made with—please give me an answer by the bearer.

yours truly friend


At last, the long, dark night passed away, and this young slave safely made his way to freedom, and proceeded to Boston, where he now resides. While the Committee was looked to for aid in the deliverance of this poor fellow, it was painful to feel that it was not in their power to answer his prayers—not until after his escape, was it possible so to do. But his escape to freedom gave them a satisfaction which no words can well express. At present, John Henry Hill is a justice of the peace in Petersburg. Hezekiah resides at West Point, and James in Boston, rejoicing that all men are free in the United States, at last.

       *       *       *       *       *



This passenger arrived from Norfolk, Va. in 1853. For the last four years previous to escaping, he had been under the yoke of Dr. George Wilson. Archer declared that he had been "very badly treated" by the Doctor, which he urged as his reason for leaving. True, the doctor had been good enough to allow him to hire his time, for which he required Archer to pay the moderate sum of $120 per annum. As Archer had been "sickly" most of the time, during the last year, he complained that there was "no reduction" in his hire on this account. Upon reflection, therefore, Archer thought, if he had justice done him, he would be in possession of this "one hundred and twenty" himself, and all his other rights, instead of having to toil for another without pay; so he looked seriously into the matter of master and slave, and pretty soon resolved, that if others chose to make no effort to get away, for himself he would never be contented, until he was free. When a slave reached this decision, he was in a very hopeful state. He was near the Underground Rail Road, and was sure to find it, sooner or later. At this thoughtful period, Archer was thirty-one years of age, a man of medium size, and belonged to the two leading branches of southern humanity, i.e., he was half white and half colored—a dark mulatto. His arrival in Philadelphia, per one of the Richmond steamers, was greeted with joy by the Vigilance Committee, who extended to him the usual aid and care, and forwarded him on to freedom. For a number of years, he has been a citizen of Boston.

       *       *       *       *       *


This "piece of property" fled in the fall of 1853. As a specimen of this article of commerce, he evinced considerable intelligence. He was a man of dark color, although not totally free from the admixture of the "superior" southern blood in his veins; in stature, he was only ordinary. For leaving, he gave the following reasons: "I found that I was working for my master, for his advantage, and when I was sick, I had to pay just as much as if I were well—$7 a month. But my master was cross, and said that he intended to sell me—to do better by me another year. Times grew worse and worse, constantly. I thought, as I had heard, that if I could raise thirty dollars I could come away." He at once saw the value of money. To his mind it meant liberty from that moment. Thenceforth he decided to treasure up every dollar he could get hold of until he could accumulate at least enough to get out of "Old Virginia." He was a married man, and thought he had a wife and one child, but on reflection, he found out that they did not actually belong to him, but to a carpenter, by the name of Bailey. The man whom Samuel was compelled to call master was named Hoyle.

The Committee's interview with Samuel was quite satisfactory, and they cheerfully accorded to him brotherly kindness and material aid at the same time.

       *       *       *       *       *


These individuals escaped from the eastern shore of Maryland, in the Spring of 1853, but were led to conclude that they could enjoy the freedom they had aimed to find, in New Jersey. They procured employment in the neighborhood of Haddonfield, some six or eight miles from Camden, New Jersey, and were succeeding, as they thought, very well.

Things went on favorably for about three months, when to their alarm "slave-hunters were discovered in the neighborhood," and sufficient evidence was obtained to make it quite plain that, John, William and James were the identical persons, for whom the hunters were in "hot pursuit." When brought to the Committee, they were pretty thoroughly alarmed and felt very anxious to be safely off to Canada. While the Committee always rendered in such cases immediate protection and aid, they nevertheless, felt, in view of the imminent dangers existing under the fugitive slave law, that persons disposed to thus stop by the way, should be very plainly given to understand, that if they were captured they would have themselves the most to blame. But the dread of Slavery was strong in the minds of these fugitives, and they very fully realized their folly in stopping in New Jersey. The Committee procured their tickets, helped them to disguise themselves as much as possible, and admonished them not to stop short of Canada.

       *       *       *       *       *


This mother and daughter had been the "chattels personal" of Daniel Coolby of Harvard, Md. Their lot had been that of ordinary slaves in the country, on farms, &c. The motive which prompted them to escape was the fact that their master had "threatened to sell" them. He had a right to do so; but Hetty was a little squeamish on this point and took great umbrage at her "kind master." In this "disobedient" state of mind, she determined, if hard struggling would enable her, to defeat the threats of Mr. Daniel Coolby, that he should not much longer have the satisfaction of enjoying the fruit of the toil of herself and offspring. She at once began to prepare for her journey.

She had three children of her own to bring, besides she was intimately acquainted with a young man and a young woman, both slaves, to whom she felt that it would be safe to confide her plans with a view of inviting them to accompany her. The young couple were ready converts to the eloquent speech delivered to them by Hetty on Freedom, and were quite willing to accept her as their leader in the emergency. Up to the hour of setting out on their lonely and fatiguing journey, arrangements were being carefully completed, so that there should be no delay of any kind. At the appointed hour they were all moving northward in good order.

Arriving at Quakertown, Pa., they found friends of the slave, who welcomed them to their homes and sympathy, gladdening the hearts of all concerned. For prudential reasons it was deemed desirable to separate the party, to send some one way and some another. Thus safely, through the kind offices and aid of the friends at Quakertown, they were duly forwarded on to the Committee in Philadelphia. Here similar acts of charity were extended to them, and they were directed on to Canada.

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Robert was about thirty years of age, dark color, quite tall, and in talking with him a little while, it was soon discovered that Slavery had not crushed all the brains out of his head by a good deal. Nor was he so much attached to his "kind-hearted master," John Edward Jackson, of Anne Arundel, Md., or his old fiddle, that he was contented and happy while in bondage. Far from it. The fact was, that he hated Slavery so decidedly and had such a clear common sense-like view of the evils and misery of the system, that he declared he had as a matter of principle refrained from marrying, in order that he might have no reason to grieve over having added to the woes of slaves. Nor did he wish to be encumbered, if the opportunity offered to escape. According to law he was entitled to his freedom at the age of twenty-five.

But what right had a negro, which white slave-holders were "bound to respect?" Many who had been willed free, were held just as firmly in Slavery, as if no will had ever been made. Robert had too much sense to suppose that he could gain anything by seeking legal redress. This method, therefore, was considered out of the question. But in the meantime he was growing very naturally in favor of the Underground Rail Road. From his experience Robert did not hesitate to say that his master was "mean," "a very hard man," who would work his servants early and late, without allowing them food and clothing sufficient to shield them from the cold and hunger. Robert certainly had unmistakable marks about him, of having been used roughly. He thought very well of Nathan Harris, a fellow-servant belonging to the same owner, and he made up his mind, if Nathan would join him, neither the length of the journey, the loneliness of night travel, the coldness of the weather, the fear of the slave-hunter, nor the scantiness of their means should deter him from making his way to freedom. Nathan listened to the proposal, and was suddenly converted to freedom, and the two united during Christmas week, 1854, and set out on the Underground Rail Road. It is needless to say that they had trying difficulties to encounter. These they expected, but all were overcome, and they reached the Vigilance Committee, in Philadelphia safely, and were cordially welcomed. During the interview, a full interchange of thought resulted, the fugitives were well cared for, and in due time both were forwarded on, free of cost.

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This traveler arrived from Millsboro, Indian River, Delaware, where he was owned by Wm. E. Burton. While Hansel did not really own himself, he had the reputation of having a wife and six children. In June, some six months prior to her husband's arrival, Hansel's wife had been allowed by her mistress to go out on a begging expedition, to raise money to buy herself; but contrary to the expectation of her mistress she never returned. Doubtless the mistress looked upon this course as a piece of the most highhanded stealing. Hansel did not speak of his owner as being a hard man, but on the contrary he thought that he was about as "good" as the best that he was acquainted with. While this was true, however, Hansel had quite good ground for believing that his master was about to sell him. Dreading this fate he made up his mind to go in pursuit of his wife to a Free state. Exactly where to look or how to find her he could not tell.

The Committee advised him to "search in Canada." And in order to enable him to get on quickly and safely, the Committee aided him with money, &c., in 1853.

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She fled from Isaac Tonnell of Georgetown, Delaware, in Christmas week, 1853. A young woman with a little boy of seven years of age accompanied Rose Anna. Further than the simple fact of their having thus safely arrived, except the expense incurred by the Committee, no other particulars appear on the records.

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Mary arrived with her two children in the early Spring of 1854.

The mother was a woman of about thirty-three years of age, quite tall, with a countenance and general appearance well fitted to awaken sympathy at first sight. Her oldest child was a little girl seven years of age, named Lydia; the other was named Louisa Caroline, three years of age, both promising in appearance. They were the so called property of John Ennis, of Georgetown, Delaware. For their flight they chose the dead of Winter. After leaving they made their way to West Chester, and there found friends and security for several weeks, up to the time they reached Philadelphia. Probably the friends with whom they stopped thought the weather too inclement for a woman with children dependent on her support to travel. Long before this mother escaped, thoughts of liberty filled her heart. She was ever watching for an opportunity, that would encourage her to hope for safety, when once the attempt should be made. Until, however, she was convinced that her two children were to be sold, she could not quite muster courage to set out on the journey. This threat to sell proved in multitudes of instances, "the last straw on the camel's back." When nothing else would start them this would. Mary and her children were the only slaves owned by this Ennis, consequently her duties were that of "Jack of all trades;" sometimes in the field and sometimes in the barn, as well as in the kitchen, by which, it is needless to say, that her life was rendered servile to the last degree.

To bind up the broken heart of such a poor slave mother, and to aid such tender plants as were these little girls, from such a wretched state of barbarism as existed in poor little Delaware, was doubly gratifying to the Committee.

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Runaway glyph ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS REWARD.—Ran away on Saturday night, the 20th September, 1856, from the subscriber, living in the ninth district of Carroll county, Maryland, two Negro Men, SAM and ISAAC. Sam calls himself Samuel Sims; he is very black; shows his teeth very much when he laughs; no perceptible marks; he is 5 feet 8 inches high, and about thirty years of age, but has the appearance of being much older.

Isaac calls himself Isaac Dotson he is about nineteen years of age, stout made, but rather chunky; broad across his shoulders, he is about five feet five or six inches high, always appears to be in a good humor; laughs a good deal, and runs on with a good deal of foolishness; he is of very light color, almost yellow, might be called a yellow boy; has no perceptible marks.

They have such a variety of clothing that it is almost useless to say anything about them. No doubt they will change their names.

I will give the above reward for them, of one thousand dollars, or five hundred dollars for either of them, if taken and lodged in any jail in Maryland, so that I get them again.

Also two of Mr. Dade's, living in the neighborhood, went the same time; no doubt they are all in company together. THOMAS B. OWINGS.


These passengers reached the Philadelphia station, about the 24th of September, 1856, five days after they escaped from Carroll county. They were in fine spirits, and had borne the fatigue and privation of travel bravely. A free and interesting interview took place, between these passengers and the Committee, eliciting much information, especially with regard to the workings of the system on the farms, from which they had the good luck to flee. Each of the party was thoroughly questioned, about how time had passed with them at home, or rather in the prison house, what kind of men their masters were, how they fed and clothed, if they whipped, bought or sold, whether they were members of church, or not, and many more questions needless to enumerate bearing on the domestic relation which had existed between themselves and their masters. These queries they answered in their own way, with intelligence. Upon the whole, their lot in Slavery had been rather more favorable than the average run of slaves.

No record was made of any very severe treatment. In fact, the notices made of them were very brief, and, but for the elaborate way in which they were described in the "Baltimore Sun," by their owners, their narratives would hardly be considered of sufficient interest to record. The heavy rewards, beautiful descriptions, and elegant illustrations in the "Sun," were very attractive reading. The Vigilance Committee took the "Sun," for nothing else under the sun but for this special literature, and for this purpose they always considered the "Sun" a cheap and reliable paper.

A slave man or woman, running for life, he with a bundle on his back or she with a babe in her arms, was always a very interesting sight, and should always be held in remembrance. Likewise the descriptions given by slave-holders, as a general rule, showed considerable artistic powers and a most thorough knowledge of the physical outlines of this peculiar property. Indeed, the art must have been studied attentively for practical purposes. When the advertisements were received in advance of arrivals, which was always the case, the descriptions generally were found so lifelike, that the Committee preferred to take them in preference to putting themselves to the labor of writing out new ones, for future reference. This we think, ought not to be complained of by any who were so unfortunate as to lose wayward servants, as it is but fair to give credit to all concerned. True, sometimes some of these beautiful advertisements were open to gentle criticism. The one at the head of this report, is clearly of this character. For instance, in describing Isaac, Mr. Thomas B. Owings, represents him as being of a "very light color," "almost yellow," "might be called a yellow boy." In the next breath he has no perceptible marks. Now, if he is "very light," that is a well-known southern mark, admitted everywhere. A hint to the wise is sufficient. However, judging from what was seen of Isaac in Philadelphia, there was more cunning than "foolishness" about him. Slaves sometimes, when wanting to get away, would make their owners believe that they were very happy and contented. And, in using this kind of foolishness, would keep up appearances until an opportunity offered for an escape. So Isaac might have possessed this sagacity, which appeared like nonsense to his master. That slave-holders, above all others, were in the habit of taking special pains to encourage foolishness, loud laughing, banjo playing, low dancing, etc., in the place of education, virtue, self-respect and manly carriage, slave-holders themselves are witnesses.

As Mr. Robert Dade was also a loser, equally with Mr. Thomas B. Owings, and as his advertisement was of the same liberality and high tone, it seems but fitting that it should come in just here, to give weight and completeness to the story. Both Owings and Dade showed a considerable degree of southern chivalry in the liberality of their rewards. Doubtless, the large sums thus offered awakened a lively feeling in the breasts of old slave-hunters. But it is to be supposed that the artful fugitives safely reached Philadelphia before the hunters got even the first scent on their track. Up to the present hour, with the owners all may be profound mystery; if so, it is to be hoped, that they may feel some interest in the solution of these wonders. The articles so accurately described must now be permitted to testify in their own words, as taken from the records.

Green Modock acknowledges that he was owned by William Dorsey, Perry by Robert Dade, Sam and Isaac by Thomas Owings, all farmers, and all "tough" and "pretty mean men." Sam and Isaac had other names with them, but not such a variety of clothing as their master might have supposed. Sam said he left because his master threatened to sell him to Georgia, and he believed that he meant so to do, as he had sold all his brothers and sisters to Georgia some time before he escaped.

But this was not all. Sam declared his master had threatened to shoot him a short while before he left. This was the last straw on the camel's back. Sam's heart was in Canada ever after that. In traveling he resolved that nothing should stop him. Charles offered the same excuse as did Sam. He had been threatened with the auction-block. He left his mother free, but four sisters he left in chains. As these men spoke of their tough owners and bad treatment in Slavery, they expressed their indignation at the idea that Owings, Dade and Dorsey had dared to rob them of their God-given rights. They were only ignorant farm hands. As they drank in the free air, the thought of their wrongs aroused all their manhood. They were all young men, hale and stout, with strong resolutions to make Canada their future home. The Committee encouraged them in this, and aided them for humanity's sake.—Mr. Robert Dade's advertisement speaks for itself as follows:

Runaway glyph RAN AWAY—On Saturday night, 20th inst., from the subscriber, living near Mount Airy P.O., Carroll county, two Negro men, PERRY and CHARLES. Perry is quite dark, full face; is about 5 feet 8 or 9 inches high; has a scar on one of his hands, and one on his legs, caused by a cut from a scythe; 25 years old. Charles is of a copper color, about 5 feet 9 or 10 inches high; round shouldered, with small whiskers; has one crooked finger that he cannot straighten, and a scar on his right leg, caused by the cut of a scythe; 22 years old. I will give two hundred and fifty dollars each, if taken in the State and returned to me, or secured in some jail so that I can get them again, or a $1,000 for the two, or $500 each, if taken out of the State, and secured in some jail in this State so that I can get them again. ROBERT DADE.




But for their hope of liberty, their uncomfortable position could hardly have been endured by these fugitives. William had been compelled to dig and delve, to earn bread and butter, clothing and luxuries, houses and land, education and ease for H.B. Dickinson, of Richmond. William smarted frequently; but what could he do? Complaint from a slave was a crime of the deepest dye. So William dug away mutely, but continued to think, nevertheless. He was a man of about thirty-six years of age, of dark chestnut color, medium size, and of pleasant manners to say the least. His owner was a tobacco manufacturer, who held some thirty slaves in his own right, besides hiring a great many others. William was regularly employed by day in his master's tobacco factory. He was likewise employed, as one of the carriers of the Richmond Dispatch; the time allotted to fill the duties of this office, was however, before sunrise in the morning. It is but just to state, in favor of his master, that William was himself the receiver of a part of the pay for this night work. It was by this means William procured clothing and certain other necessaries.

From William's report of his master, he was by no means among the worst of slave-holders in Richmond; he did not himself flog, but the overseer was allowed to conduct this business, when it was considered necessary. For a long time William had cherished a strong desire to be free, and had gone so far on several occasions as to make unsuccessful attempts to accomplish this end. At last he was only apprised of his opportunity to carry his wishes into practice a few moments before the hour for the starting of the Underground Rail Road train.

Being on the watch, he hailed the privilege, and left without looking back.

True he left his wife and two children, who were free, and a son also who was owned by Warner Toliver, of Gloucester county, Va. We leave the reader to decide for himself, whether William did right or wrong, and who was responsible for the sorrow of both husband and wife caused by the husband's course. The Committee received him as a true and honest friend of freedom, and as such aided him.

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Susan was also a passenger on the same ship that brought Wm. B. White. She was from Norfolk. Her toil, body and strength were claimed by Thomas Eckels, Esq., a man of wealth and likewise a man of intemperance. With those who regarded Slavery as a "divine institution," intemperance was scarcely a mote, in the eyes of such. For sixteen years, Susan had been in the habit of hiring her time, for which she was required to pay five dollars per month. As she had the reputation of being a good cook and chambermaid, she was employed steadily, sometimes on boats. This sum may therefore be considered reasonable.

Owing to the death of her husband, about a year previous to her escape, she had suffered greatly, so much so, that on two or three occasions, she had fallen into alarming fits,—a fact by no means agreeable to her owner, as he feared that the traders on learning her failing health would underrate her on this account. But Susan was rather thankful for these signs of weakness, as she was thereby enabled to mature her plans and thus to elude detection.

Her son having gone on ahead to Canada about six months in advance of her, she felt that she had strong ties in the goodly land. Every day she remained in bondage, the cords bound her more tightly, and "weeks seemed like months, and months like years," so abhorrent had the peculiar institution become to her in every particular. In this state of mind, she saw no other way, than by submitting to be secreted, until an opportunity should offer, via the Underground Rail Road.

So for four months, like a true and earnest woman, she endured a great "fight of affliction," in this horrible place. But the thought of freedom enabled her to keep her courage up, until the glad news was conveyed to her that all things were ready, providing that she could get safely to the boat, on which she was to be secreted. How she succeeded in so doing the record book fails to explain.

One of the methods, which used to succeed very well, in skillful and brave hands, was this: In order to avoid suspicion, the woman intending to be secreted, approached the boat with a clean ironed shirt on her arm, bare headed and in her usual working dress, looking good-natured of course, and as if she were simply conveying the shirt to one of the men on the boat. The attention of the officer on the watch would not for a moment be attracted by a custom so common as this. Thus safely on the boat, the man whose business it was to put this piece of property in the most safe Underground Rail Road place, if he saw that every thing looked favorable, would quickly arrange matters without being missed from his duties. In numerous instances, officers were outwitted in this way.

As to what Susan had seen in the way of hardships, whether in relation to herself or others, her story was most interesting; but it may here be passed in order to make room for others. She left one sister, named Mary Ann Tharagood, who was wanting to come away very much. Susan was a woman of dark color, round built, medium height, and about forty years of age when she escaped in 1854.

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William Henry was also a fellow-passenger on the same boat with William B. White and Susan Cooke. These might be set down, as first-class Underground Rail Road travelers.

Henry was a very likely-looking article. He was quite smart, about six feet high, a dark mulatto, and was owned by a Baptist minister.

For some cause not stated on the books, not long before leaving, Henry had received a notice from his owner, (the Baptist Minister) that he might hunt himself a new master as soon as possible. This was a business that Henry had no relish for. The owner he already had, he concluded bad enough in all conscience, and it did not occur to him that hunting another would mend the matter much. So in thinking over the situation, he was "taken sick." He felt the need of a little time to reflect upon matters of very weighty moment involving his freedom. So when he was called upon one day to go to his regular toil, the answer was, "I am sick, I am not able to budge hardly." The excuse took and Henry attended faithfully to his "sick business," for the time being, while on the other hand, the Baptist Minister waited patiently all the while for William to get well enough for hunting a new master. What had to be done, needed to be done quickly, before his master's patience was exhausted. William soon had matters arranged for traveling North. He had a wife, Eliza, for whom he felt the greatest affection; but as he viewed matters at that time, he concluded that he could really do more for her in Canada than he could in Norfolk. He saw no chance, either under the Baptist minister, or under a new master. His wife was owned by Susan Langely. When the hour arrived to start, as brave men usually do, Henry, having counted all the cost, was in his place on the boat with his face towards Canada.

How he looked at matters on John Bull's side of the house, letters from Henry will abundantly reveal as follows:

ST. CATHARINES, August 4, 1854.

MY DEAR SIR:—It is with plesure that I now take my pen to inform you that I am well at present and I hope that these few lines may find you injoying good health, and will you plese to be so kind as to send a leter down home for me if you plese to my wife, the reason that I beg the favor of you I have written to you several times and never recieve no answer, she don't no whar I am at I would like her to no, if it is posible elizeran Actkins, and when you write will you plese to send me all the news, give my respect to all the fambley and allso to Mr lundey and his fambley and tell him plese to send me those books if you plese the first chance you can git. Mrs. Wood sends her love to Mr. Still answer this as soon as on hand, the boys all send their love to all, the reason why i sends for a answer write away i expect to live this and go up west nex mounth not to stay to git some land, i have no more at present, i remain your friend.


ST. CATHARINES, C.W., October 5th, 1854.

MR. WILLIAM STILL:—Dear Friend:—I take the liberty to address to you a few lines in behalf of my wife, who is still at Norfolk, Va. I have heard by my friend Richmond Bohm, who arrived lately, that she was in the hands of my friend Henry Lovey (the same who had me in hand at the time I started). I understood that she was about to make her start this month, and that she was only waiting for me to send her some means. I would like for you to communicate the substance of this letter to my wife, through my friend Henry Lovey, and for her to come on as soon as she can. I would like to have my wife write to me a few lines by the first opportunity. She could write to you in Philadelphia, 31 North Fifth street. I wish to send my love to you & your family & would like for you to answer this letter with the least possible delay in the care of Hiram Wilson.

Very respectfully yours,


P.S. I would like for my friend Henry Lovey to send my wife right on to Philadelphia; not to stop for want of means, for I will forward means on to my friend Wm Still. My love to my father & mother, my friend Lovey & to all my inquiring friends. If you cannot find it convenient to write, please forward this by the Boat. H.W.A.

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About the 31st of May, 1856, an exceedingly anxious state of feeling existed with the active Committee in Philadelphia. In the course of twenty-four hours four arrivals had come to hand from different localities. The circumstances connected with the escape of each party, being so unusual, there was scarcely ground for any other conclusion than that disaster was imminent, if not impossible to be averted.

It was a day long to be remembered. Aside from the danger, however, a more encouraging hour had never presented itself in the history of the Road. The courage, which had so often been shown in the face of great danger, satisfied the Committee that there were heroes and heroines among these passengers, fully entitled to the applause of the liberty-loving citizens of Brotherly Love. The very idea of having to walk for days and nights in succession, over strange roads, through by-ways, and valleys, over mountains, and marshes, was fitted to appal the bravest hearts, especially where women and children were concerned.

Being familiar with such cases, the Committee was delighted beyond measure to observe how wisely and successfully each of these parties had managed to overcome these difficulties. Searching cars

Party No. 1 consisted of Charlotte Giles and Harriet Eglin, owned by Capt. Wm. Applegarth and John Delahay. Neither of these girls had any great complaint to make on the score of ill-treatment endured.

So they contrived each to get a suit of mourning, with heavy black veils, and thus dressed, apparently absorbed with grief, with a friend to pass them to the Baltimore depot (hard place to pass, except aided by an individual well known to the R.R. company), they took a direct course for Philadelphia.

While seated in the car, before leaving Baltimore (where slaves and masters both belonged), who should enter but the master of one of the girls! In a very excited manner, he hurriedly approached Charlotte and Harriet, who were apparently weeping. Peeping under their veils, "What is your name," exclaimed the excited gentleman. "Mary, sir," sobbed Charlotte. "What is your name?" (to the other mourner) "Lizzie, sir," was the faint reply. On rushed the excited gentleman as if moved by steam—through the cars, looking for his property; not finding it, he passed out of the cars, and to the delight of Charlotte and Harriet soon disappeared. Fair business men would be likely to look at this conduct on the part of the two girls in the light of a "sharp practice." In military parlance it might be regarded as excellent strategy. Be this as it may, the Underground Rail Road passengers arrived safely at the Philadelphia station and were gladly received.

A brief stay in the city was thought prudent lest the hunters might be on the pursuit. They were, therefore, retained in safe quarters.

In the meantime, Arrival No. 2 reached the Committee. It consisted of a colored man, a white woman and a child, ten years old. This case created no little surprise. Not that quite a number of passengers, fair enough to pass for white, with just a slight tinge of colored blood in their veins, even sons and daughters of some of the F.F.V., had not on various occasions come over the U.G.R.R. But this party was peculiar. An explanation was sought, which resulted in ascertaining that the party was from Leesburg, Virginia; that David, the colored man, was about twenty-seven years of age, intelligent, and was owned, or claimed by Joshua Pusey. David had no taste for Slavery, indeed, felt that it would be impossible for him to adapt himself to a life of servitude for the special benefit of others; he had, already, as he thought, been dealt with very wrongfully by Pusey, who had deprived him of many years of the best part of his life, and would continue thus to wrong him, if he did not make a resolute effort to get away. So after thinking of various plans, he determined not to run off as a slave with his "budget on his back," but to "travel as a coachman," under the "protection of a white lady." In planning this pleasant scheme, David was not blind to the fact that neither himself nor the "white lady," with whom he proposed to travel, possessed either horse or carriage.

Lady As Coachman But his master happened to have a vehicle that would answer for the occasion. David reasoned that as Joshua, his so called master, had deprived him of his just dues for so many years, he had a right to borrow, or take without borrowing, one of Joshua's horses for the expedition. The plan was submitted to the lady, and was approved, and a mutual understanding here entered into, that she should hire a carriage, and take also her little girl with them. The lady was to assume the proprietorship of the horse, carriage and coachman. In so doing all dangers would be, in their judgment, averted. The scheme being all ready for execution, the time for departure was fixed, the carriage hired, David having secured his master Joshua's horse, and off they started in the direction of Pennsylvania. White people being so accustomed to riding, and colored people to driving, the party looked all right. No one suspected them, that they were aware of, while passing through Virginia.

On reaching Chambersburg, Pa., in the evening, they drove to a hotel, the lady alighted, holding by the hand her well dressed and nice-looking little daughter, bearing herself with as independent an air as if she had owned twenty such boys as accompanied her as coachman. She did not hesitate to enter and request accommodations for the night, for herself, daughter, coachman, and horse. Being politely told that they could be accommodated, all that was necessary was, that the lady should show off to the best advantage possible. The same duty also rested with weight upon the mind of David.

The night passed safely and the morning was ushered in with bright hopes which were overcast but only for a moment, however. Breakfast having been ordered and partaken of, to the lady's surprise, just as she was in the act of paying the bill, the proprietor of the hotel intimated that he thought that matters "looked a little suspicious," in other words, he said plainly, that he "believed that it was an Underground Rail Road movement;" but being an obliging hotel-keeper, he assured her at the same time, that he "would not betray them." Just here it was with them as it would have been on any other rail road when things threaten to come to a stand; they could do nothing more than make their way out of the peril as best they could. One thing they decided to do immediately, namely, to "leave the horse and carriage," and try other modes of travel. They concluded to take the regular passenger cars. In this way they reached Philadelphia. In Harrisburg, they had sought and received instructions how to find the Committee in Philadelphia.

What relations had previously existed between David and this lady in Virginia, the Committee knew not. It looked more like the time spoken of in Isaiah, where it is said, "And a little child shall lead them," than any thing that had ever been previously witnessed on the Underground Rail Road. The Underground Rail Road never practised the proscription governing other roads, on account of race, color, or previous condition. All were welcome to its immunities, white or colored, when the object to be gained favored freedom, or weakened Slavery. As the sole aim apparent in this case was freedom for the slave the Committee received these travellers as Underground Rail Road passengers.

Arrival No. 3. Charles H. Ringold, Robert Smith, and John Henry Richards, all from Baltimore. Their ages ranged from twenty to twenty-four years. They were in appearance of the class most inviting to men who were in the business of buying and selling slaves. Charles and John were owned by James Hodges, and Robert by Wm. H. Normis, living in Baltimore. This is all that the records contain of them. The exciting and hurrying times when they were in charge of the Committee probably forbade the writing out of a more detailed account of them, as was often the case.

With the above three arrivals on hand, it may be seen how great was the danger to which all concerned were exposed on account of the bold and open manner in which these parties had escaped from the land of the peculiar institution. Notwithstanding, a feeling of very great gratification existed in view of the success attending the new and adventurous modes of traveling. Indulging in reflections of this sort, the writer on going from his dinner that day to the anti-slavery office, to his surprise found an officer awaiting his coming. Said officer was of the mayor's police force. Before many moments had been allowed to pass, in which to conjecture his errand, the officer, evidently burdened with the importance of his mission, began to state his business substantially as follows:

"I have just received a telegraphic despatch from a slave-holder living in Maryland, informing me that six slaves had escaped from him, and that he had reason to believe that they were on their way to Philadelphia, and would come in the regular train direct from Harrisburg; furthermore I am requested to be at the depot on the arrival of the train to arrest the whole party, for whom a reward of $1300 is offered. Now I am not the man for this business. I would have nothing to do with the contemptible work of arresting fugitives. I'd rather help them off. What I am telling you is confidential. My object in coming to the office is simply to notify the Vigilance Committee so that they may be on the look-out for them at the depot this evening and get them out of danger as soon as possible. This is the way I feel about them; but I shall telegraph back that I will be on the look-out."

While the officer was giving this information he was listened to most attentively, and every word he uttered was carefully weighed. An air of truthfulness, however, was apparent; nevertheless he was a stranger and there was cause for great cautiousness. During the interview an unopened telegraphic despatch which had come to hand during the writer's absence, lay on the desk. Impressed with the belief that it might shed light on the officer's story, the first opportunity that offered, it was seized, opened, and it read as follows: (Copied from the original.)

HARRISBURG, May 31st, 1856.

WM. STILL, N. 5th St.:—I have sent via at two o'clock four large and two small hams.


Here there was no room for further doubt, but much need for vigilance. Although the despatch was not read to the officer, not that his story was doubted, but purely for prudential reasons, he was nevertheless given to understand, that it was about the same party, and that they would be duly looked after. It would hardly have been understood by the officer, had he been permitted to read it so guardedly was it worded, it was indeed dead language to all save the initiated. In one particular especially, relative to the depot where they were expected to arrive, the officer was in the dark, as his despatch pointed to the regular train, and of course to the depot at Eleventh and Market streets. The Underground Rail Road despatch on the contrary pointed to Broad and Callowhill streets "Via," i.e. Reading.

As notified, that evening the "four large and two small hams" arrived, and turned out to be of the very finest quality, just such as any trader would have paid the highest market price for. Being mindful of the great danger of the hour, there was felt to be more occasion just then for anxiety and watchfulness, than for cheering and hurrahing over the brave passengers. To provide for them in the usual manner, in view of the threatening aspect of affairs, could not be thought of. In this critical hour it devolved upon a member of the Committee, for the safety of all parties, to find new and separate places of accommodation, especially for the six known to be pursued. To be stored in other than private families would not answer. Three or four such were visited at once; after learning of the danger much sympathy was expressed, but one after another made excuses and refused. This was painful, for the parties had plenty of house room, were identified with the oppressed race, and on public meeting occasions made loud professions of devotion to the cause of the fugitive, &c. The memory of the hour and circumstances is still fresh.

Accommodations were finally procured for a number of the fugitives with a widow woman, (Ann Laws) whose opportunities for succor were far less than at the places where refusals had been met with. But Mrs. L. was kind-hearted, and nobly manifested a willingness to do all that she could for their safety. Of course the Committee felt bound to bear whatever expense might necessarily be incurred. Here some of the passengers were kept for several days, strictly private, long enough to give the slave-hunters full opportunity to tire themselves, and give up the chase in despair. Some belonging to the former arrivals had also to be similarly kept for the same reasons. Through careful management all were succored and cared for. Whilst much interesting information was obtained from these several arrivals: the incidents connected with their lives in Slavery, and when escaping were but briefly written out. Of this fourth arrival, however, the following intelligence will doubtless be highly gratifying to the friends of freedom, wherever the labors of the Underground Rail Road may be appreciated. The people round about Hagerstown, Maryland, may like to know how these "articles" got off so successfully, the circumstances of their escape having doubtless created some excitement in that region of the country.

Arrival No. 4. Charles Bird, George Dorsey, Angeline Brown, Albert Brown, Charles Brown and Jane Scott.

Charles was twenty-four years of age, quite dark, of quick motion, and ready speech, and in every way appearing as though he could take care of himself. He had occupied the condition of a farm laborer. This calling he concluded to forsake, not because he disliked farming, but simply to get rid of David Clargart, who professed to own him, and compelled him to work without pay, "for nothing." While Charles spoke favorably of Clargart as a man, to the extent, at all events, of testifying that he was not what was called a hard man, nevertheless Charles was so decidedly opposed to Slavery that he felt compelled to look out for himself. Serving another man on the no pay principle, at the same time liable to be flogged, and sold at the pleasure of another, Charles felt was worse than heathenish viewed in any light whatsoever. He was prepared therefore, to leave without delay. He had four sisters in the hands of Clargart, but what could he do for them but leave them to Providence.

The next on the list was George Dorsey, a comrade of Charles. He was a young man, of medium size, mixed blood, intelligent, and a brave fellow as will appear presently.

Six people on 2 horses This party in order to get over the road as expeditiously as possible, availed themselves of their master's horses and wagon and moved off civilly and respectably. About nine miles from home on the road, a couple of white men, finding their carriage broken down approached them, unceremoniously seized the horses by the reins and were evidently about to assume authority, supposing that the boys would surrender at once. But instead of so doing, the boys struck away at them with all their might, with their large clubs, not even waiting to hear what these superior individuals wanted. The effect of the clubs brought them prostrate in the road, in an attitude resembling two men dreaming, (it was in the night.) The victorious passengers, seeing that the smashed up carriage could be of no further use to them, quickly conceived the idea of unhitching and attempting further pursuit on horseback. Each horse was required to carry three passengers. So up they mounted and off they galloped with the horses' heads turned directly towards Pennsylvania. No further difficulty presented itself until after they had traveled some forty miles. Here the poor horses broke down, and had to be abandoned. The fugitives were hopeful, but of the difficulties ahead they wot not; surely no flowery beds of ease awaited them. For one whole week they were obliged to fare as they could, out in the woods, over the mountains, &c. How they overcame the trials in this situation we cannot undertake to describe. Suffice it to say, at the end of the time above mentioned they managed to reach Harrisburg and found assistance as already intimated.

George and Angeline, (who was his sister) with her two boys had a considerable amount of white blood in their veins, and belonged to a wealthy man by the name of George Schaeffer, who was in the milling business. They were of one mind in representing him as a hard man. "He would often threaten to sell, and was very hard to please." George and Angeline left their mother and ten brothers and sisters.

Jane was a well-grown girl, smart, and not bad-looking, with a fine brown skin, and was also owned by Schaeffer.

Letters from the enterprising Charlotte and Harriet (arrival No. 1), brought the gratifying intelligence, that they had found good homes in Western New York, and valued their freedom highly. Three out of quite a number of letters received from them from time to time are subjoined.

SENNETT, June, 1856.

MR. WILLIAM STILL:—Dear Sir:—I am happy to tell you that Charlotte Gildes and myself have got along thus far safely. We have had no trouble and found friends all the way along, for which we feel very thankful to you and to all our friends on the road since we left. We reached Mr. Loguen's in Syracuse, on last Tuesday evening & on Wednesday two gentlemen from this community called and we went with them to work in their families. What I wish you would do is to be so kind as to send our clothes to this place if they should fall into your hands. We hope our uncle in Baltimore will get the letter Charlotte wrote to him last Sabbath, while we were at your house, concerning the clothes. Perhaps the best would be to send them to Syracuse to the care of Mr. Loguen and he will send them to us. This will more certainly ensure our getting them. If you hear anything that would be interesting to Charlotte or me from Baltimore, please direct a letter to us to this place, to the care of Revd. Chas. Anderson, Sennett, Cayuga Co., N.Y. Please give my love and Charlotte's to Mrs. Still and thank her for her kindness to us while at your house.

Your affectionate friend,



SENNETT, July 31st, 1856.

MR. WM. STILL:—My Dear Friend:—I have just received your note of 29th inst. and allow me dear sir, to assure you that the only letter I have written, is the one you received, an answer to which you sent me. I never wrote to Baltimore, nor did any person write for me there, and it is with indescribable grief, that I hear what your letter communicates to me, of those who you say have gotten into difficulty on my account. My Cousin Charlotte who came with me, got into a good place in this vicinity, but she could not content herself to stay here but just one week—she then went to Canada—and she is the one who by writing (if any one), has brought this trouble upon those to whom you refer in Baltimore.

She has written me two letters from Canada, and by neither of them can I ascertain where she lives—her letters are mailed at Suspension Bridge, but she does not live there as her letters show. In the first she does not even sign her name. She has evidently employed some person to write, who is nearly as ignorant as herself. If I knew where to find her I would find out what she has written.

I don't know but she has told where I live, and may yet get me and my friends here, in trouble too, as she has some in other places. I don't wish to have you trouble yourself about my clothes, I am in a place where I can get all the clothes I want or need. Will you please write me when convenient and tell me what you hear about those who I fear are suffering as the result of their kindness to me? May God, in some way, grant them deliverance. Oh the misery, the sorrow, which this cursed system of Slavery is constantly bringing upon millions in this land of boasted freedom!

Can you tell me where Sarah King is, who was at your house when I was there? She was going to Canada to meet her husband. Give my love to Mrs. Still & accept the same yourself. Your much indebted & obliged friend,


The "difficulty" about which Harriet expressed so much regret in the above letter, had reference to a letter supposed to have been written by her friend Charlotte to Baltimore, about her clothing. It had been intercepted, and in this way, a clue was obtained by one of the owners as to how they escaped, who aided them, etc. On the strength of the information thus obtained, a well-known colored man, named Adams, was straightway arrested and put in prison at the instance of one of the owners, and also a suit was at the same time instituted against the Rail Road Company for damages—by which steps quite a huge excitement was created in Baltimore. As to the colored man Adams, the prospect looked simply hopeless. Many hearts were sad in view of the doom which they feared would fall upon him for obeying a humane impulse (he had put the girls on the cars). But with the Rail Road Company it was a different matter; they had money, power, friends, etc., and could defy the courts. In the course of a few months, when the suit against Adams and the Rail Road Company came up, the Rail Road Company proved in court, in defense, that the prosecutor entered the cars in search of his runaway, and went and spoke to the two young women in "mourning" the day they escaped, looking expressly for the identical parties, for which he was seeking damages before the court, and that he declared to the conductor, on leaving the cars, that the said "two girls in mourning, were not the ones he was looking after," or in other words, that "neither" belonged to him. This positive testimony satisfied the jury, and the Rail Road Company and poor James Adams escaped by the verdict not guilty. The owner of the lost property had the costs to pay of course, but whether he was made a wiser or better man by the operation was never ascertained.


SENNETT, October 28th, 1856.

DEAR MR. STILL:—I am happy to tell you that I am well and happy. I still live with Rev. Mr. Anderson in this place, I am learning to read and write. I do not like to trouble you too much, but I would like to know if you have heard anything more about my friends in Baltimore who got into trouble on our account. Do be pleased to write me if you can give me any information about them. I feel bad that they should suffer for me. I wish all my brethren and sisters in bondage, were as well off as I am. The girl that came with me is in Canada, near the Suspension Bridge. I was glad to see Green Murdock, a colored young man, who stopped at your house about six weeks ago, he knew my folks at the South. He has got into a good place to work in this neighborhood. Give my love to Mrs Still, and believe me your obliged friend,


P.S. I would like to know what became of Johnson,A the man whose foot was smashed by jumping off the cars, he was at your house when I was there.

A: Johnson was an unfortunate young fugitive, who, while escaping, beheld his master or pursuer in the cars, and jumped therefrom, crushing his feet shockingly by the bold act.




In order to keep this volume within due limits, in the cases to be noticed in this chapter, it will be impossible to state more than a few of the interesting particulars that make up these narratives. While some of these passengers might not have been made in the prison house to drink of the bitter cup as often as others, and in their flight might not have been called upon to pass through as severe perils as fell to the lot of others, nevertheless justice seems to require, that, as far as possible, all the passengers passing over the Philadelphia Underground Rail Road shall be noticed.

James Burrell. James was certainly justifiable in making his escape, if for no other reason than on the score of being nearly related to the chivalry of the South. He was a mulatto (the son of a white man evidently), about thirty-two years of age, medium size, and of an agreeable appearance. He was owned by a maiden lady, who lived at Williamsburg, but not requiring his services in her own family, she hired him out by the year to a Mr. John Walker, a manufacturer of tobacco, for which she received $120 annually. This arrangement was not satisfactory to James. He could not see why he should be compelled to wear the yoke like an ox. The more he thought over his condition, the more unhappy was his lot, until at last he concluded, that he could not stand Slavery any longer. He had witnessed a great deal of the hardships of the system of Slavery, and he had quite enough intelligence to portray the horrors thereof in very vivid colors. It was the auction-block horror that first prompted him to seek freedom. While thinking how he would manage to get away safely, his wife and children were ever present in his mind. He felt as a husband should towards his "wife Betsy," and likewise loved his "children, Walter and Mary;" but these belonged to another man, who lived some distance in the country, where he had permission to see them only once a week. This had its pleasure, it also had its painful influence. The weekly partings were a never-failing source of unhappiness. So when James' mind was fully made up to escape from Slavery, he decided that it would not be best to break the secret to his poor wife and children, but to get off to Canada, and afterwards to try and see what he could do for their deliverance. The hour fixed to leave Virginia arrived, and he started and succeeded in reaching Philadelphia, and the Committee. On arriving he needed medicine, clothing, food, and a carriage for his accommodation, all which were furnished freely by the Committee, and he was duly forwarded to Canada. From Canada, with his name changed, he wrote as follows:

TORONTO, March 28th, 1854.

SIR, MR. STILL—It does me pleasure to forward you this letter hopeing when this comes to hand it may find your family well, as they leaves me at present. I will also say that the friends are well. Allow me to say to you that I arrived in this place on Friday last safe and sound, and feeles well under my safe arrival. Its true that I have not been employed as yet but I lives hopes to be at work very shortly. I likes this city very well, and I am in hopes that there a living here for me as much so as there for any one else. You will be please to write. I am bording at Mr. Phillip's Centre Street.

I have nothing more at present. Yours most respectfull.


DANIEL WIGGINS, alias DANIEL ROBINSON. Daniel fled from Norfolk, Va., where he had been owned by the late Richard Scott. Only a few days before Daniel escaped, his so-called owner was summoned to his last account. While ill, just before the close of his career, he often promised D. his freedom and also promised, if restored, that he would make amends for the past, by changing his ways of living. His son, who was very reckless, he would frequently allude to and declared, "that he," the son, "should not have his 'property.'" These dying sentiments filled Daniel with great hopes that the day of his enslavement was nearly at an end. Unfortunately, however, death visited the old master, ere he had made provision for his slaves. At all events, no will was found. That he might not fall a prey to the reckless son, he felt, that he must nerve himself for a desperate struggle to obtain his freedom in some other way, by traveling on the Underground Rail Road. While he had always been debarred from book learning, he was, nevertheless, a man of some intelligence, and by trade was a practical Corker.

He was called upon in this trying hour to leave his wife with three children, but they were, fortunately, free. Coming to the Committee in want, they cheerfully aided him, and forwarded him on to Canada. Thence, immediately on his arrival, he returned the following grateful letter:

NEW BEDFORD, Mass., March 22d, 1854.

DEAR SIR:—I am happy to inform you that I arrived in this place this morning well and cheerful. I am, sir, to you and others under more obligations for your kindly protection of me than I can in any way express at present. May the Lord preserve you unto eternal life. Remember my respects to Mr. Lundy and family. Should the boat lay up please let me know.

Yours respectfully,


Please forward to Dr. H. Lundy, after you have gotten through. With respects, &c.


WM. ROBINSON, alias THOS. HARRED. William gave satisfactory evidence, at first sight, that he was opposed to the unrequited labor system in toto, and even hated still more the flogging practices of the chivalry. Although he had reached his twenty-eighth year, and was a truly fair specimen of his race, considering his opportunities, a few days before William left, the overseer on the plantation attempted to flog him, but did not succeed. William's manhood was aroused, and he flogged the overseer soundly, if what he averred was true. The name of William's owner was John G. Beale, Esq., of Fauquier county, Va. Beale was considered to be a man of wealth, and had invested in Slave stock to the number of seventy head. According to William's account of Beale, he was a "hard man and thought no more of his black people than he did of dogs." When William entered upon the undertaking of freeing himself from Beale's barbarism, he had but one dollar and twenty-five cents in his possession; but he had physical strength and a determined mind, and being heartily sick of Slavery, he was willing to make the trial, even at the cost of life. Thus hopeful, he prosecuted his journey with success through strange regions of country, with but little aid or encouragement before reaching Philadelphia. This feat, however, was not performed without getting lost by the way. On arriving, his shoes were gone, and his feet were severely travel-worn. The Committee rendered needed aid, etc., and sent William on to Canada to work for himself, and to be recognized as a subject of Great Britain.

EDWARD PEADEN AND WIFE HARRIET, AND SISTER CELIA. This man and his wife and wife's sister were a nice-looking trio, but they brought quite a sad story with them: the sale of their children, six in number. The auction block had made such sad havoc among them, that no room was left to hope, that their situation would ever be improved by remaining. Indeed they had been under a very gloomy cloud for some time previous to leaving, fearing that the auction block was shortly to be their doom. To escape this fate, they were constrained to "secrete themselves for one month," until an opportunity offered them to secure a passage on a boat coming to Philadelphia. Edward (the husband), was about forty-four years of age, of a dark color, well made, full face, pleasant countenance, and talked fluently. Dr. Price claimed him as his personal property, and exacted all his hire and labor. For twelve years he had been hired out for $100 per annum. Harriet, the wife of Edward, belonged to David Baines, of Norfolk. Her general appearance indicated, that nature had favored her physically and mentally, although being subjected to the drudgery of Slave life, with no advantages for development, she was simply a living testimony to the crushing influence of Slavery—with a heart never free from the saddened recollection of the auction block, on which all of her children had been sacrificed, "one by one." Celia, the sister, also belonged to D. Baines, and was kept hired out—was last in the service of the Mayor of Norfolk. Of her story nothing of any moment was recorded. On their arrival in Philadelphia, as usual they were handed over to the Committee, and their wants were met.

WILLIAM DAVIS. All that the records contain of William is as follows: He left Emmitsburg, Md., the previous Friday night, where he had been held by Dr. James Shoul. William is thirty-two years of age, dark color, rather below medium stature. With regard to his slave life, he declared that he had been "roughly used." Besides, for some time before escaping, he felt that his owner was in the "notion of trading" him off. The fear that this apprehended notion would be carried into execution, was what prompted him to leave his master.

ALEXANDER BOGGS, alias JOHNSON HENSON. This subject was under the ownership of a certain John Ernie, who lived about three miles from Baltimore. Mr. Ernie had only been in possession of the wayward Alexander three weeks, having purchased him of a trader named Dennit, for $550. This was not the first time, however, that he had experienced the trouble of changing masters, in consequence of having been sold. Previously to his being disposed of by the trader Dennit, he had been owned by Senator Merrick, who had the misfortune to fail in business, in consequence whereof, his slaves had all to be sold and Alexander with the rest, away from his wife, Caroline, and two children, James and Eliezer.

This was a case that appealed for sympathy and aid, which were cheerfully rendered by the Committee. Alexander was about fifty years of age, of dark color. On the Records no account of cruel treatment is found, other than being sold, &c.

JOHN BROWN, alias JACOB WILLIAMS, arrived from Fredericktown, Md., where he had been working under the yoke of Joseph Postly. John was a young man of twenty-nine years of age. Up to the hour of his escape, his lot had been that of an ordinary slave. Indeed, he had much less to complain of with reference to usage than most slaves; the only thing in this respect the records contain, is simply a charge, that his master threatened to sell him. But this did not seem to have been the motive which prompted John to take leave of his master. Although untutored, he had mind enough to comprehend that Postly had no right to oppress him, and wrong him out of his hire. John concluded that he would not stand such treatment any longer, and made up his mind to leave for Canada. After due examination the Committee, finding his story reasonable, gave him the usual assistance, advice and instruction, and sent him on Canada-ward.

SAMUEL SLATER, alias PATTERSON SMITH, came from a place called Power Bridge, Md. He gave a satisfactory account of himself, and was commended for having wisely left his master, William Martin, to earn his bread by the sweat of his own brow. Martin had held up the vision of the auction-block before Sam; this was enough. Sam saw that it was time for him to be getting out of danger's way without delay, so he presumed, if others could manage to escape, he could too. And he succeeded. He was a stout man, about twenty-nine years of age, of dark complexion. No particular mention of ill treatment is found on the Records.

After arriving in Canada, his heart turned with deep interest and affection to those left in the prison-house, as the following letter indicates.


MY DEAR FRIEND:—yours of the 15th came to hand and I was glad to hea from you and your dear family were well and the reason that I did not write sooner I expected get a letter from my brother in pennsylvania but I have not received any as yet when I wrote last I directed my letter to philip scott minister of the asbury church baltimore and that was the reason that I thought it strange I did not get an answer but I did not put my brother name to it I made arrangements before I left home with a family of smiths that I was to write to and the letter that I enclose in this I want you to direct it to D Philip scott in his care for mrs cassey Jackson Duke Jacksons wife and she will give to Priana smith or Sarah Jane Smith those are the persons I wish to write to I wish you to write on as quick as you can and let them know that there is a lady coming on by the name of mrs Holonsworth and she will call and see you and you will find her a very interesting and inteligent person one worthy of respect and esteem and a high reputation I must now bring my letter to a close no more at present but remain your humble servant


In my letters I did not write to my friends how they shall write to me but in the letter that you write you will please to tell them how they shall write to me.

HARRISON BELL AND DAUGHTER HARRIET ANN. Father and daughter were fortunate enough to escape together from Norfolk, Va.

Harrison was just in the prime of life, forty years of age, stout made, good features, but in height was rather below medium, was a man of more than ordinary shrewdness, by trade he was a chandler. He alleged that he had been used hard.

Harriet Ann was a well-grown girl of pleasant appearance, fourteen years of age. Father and daughter had each different owners, one belonged to James Snyder, the other to John G. Hodgson.

Harrison had been informed that his children were to be sold; to prevent this shocking fate, he was prompted to escape. Several months previous to finding a chance to make a safe flight, he secreted himself with his children in Norfolk, and so remained up to the day he left, a passage having been secured for them on one of the boats coming to Philadelphia. While the records contain no definite account of other children, it is evident that there were others, but what became of them is not known.

If at the time of their arrival, it had been imagined that the glorious day of universal freedom was only about eight years off, doubtless much fuller records would have been made of these struggling Underground Rail Road passengers. If Harrison's relatives and friends, who suddenly missed him and his daughter Harriet Ann, in the Spring of 1854, are still ignorant of his whereabouts, this very brief account of their arrival in Philadelphia, may be of some satisfaction to all concerned, not excepting his old master, whom he had served so faithfully.

The Committee finding them in need, had the pleasure of furnishing them with food, material aid and a carriage, with cheering words and letters of introduction to friends on the road to Canada.


Daniel was only about twenty, just at a capital age to make a bold strike for freedom. The appearance and air of this young aspirant for liberty indicated that he was not of the material to be held in chains. He was a man of medium size, well-built, dark color, and intelligent. Hon. Charles J. Fortner, M.C. was the reputed owner of this young fugitive, but the honorable gentleman having no use for his services, or because he may have profited more by hiring him out, Daniel was placed in the employ of a farmer, by the name of Adam Quigley. It was at this time he resolved that he would not be a slave any longer. He declared that Quigley was a "very mean man," one for whom he had no respect whatever. Indeed he felt that the system of Slavery was an abomination in any form it might be viewed. While he was yet so young, he had pretty clear views with regard to Slavery, and remembered with feelings of deep indignation, how his father had been sold when he himself was a boy, just as a horse might have been sold; and how his mother was dragging her chains in Slavery, up to the hour he fled. Thus in company with his two companions he was prepared for any sacrifice.

Adam'S tale is soon told; all that is on the old record in addition to his full name, is in the following words: "Adam is dark, rugged and sensible, and was owned by Alexander Hill, a drunkard, gambler, &c."

Reuben had been hired out to John Sabbard near Hedgeville. Startled at hearing that he was to be sold, he was led to consider the propriety of seeking flight via the Underground Rail Road. These three young men were all fine specimens of farm hands, and possessed more than average common sense, considering the oppression they had to labor under. They walked the entire distance from Hedgeville, Va., to Greenville, Pa. There they took the cars and walked no more. They appeared travel-worn, garments dirty, and forlorn; but the Committee had them cleanly washed, hair cut and shaved, change of clothing furnished, &c., which at once made them look like very different men. Means were appropriated to send them on free of cost.

JAMES STEWART, alias WM. JACKSON. James had been made acquainted with the Peculiar Institution in Fauquier county, Va. Being of sound judgment and firm resolution, he became an enemy to Slavery at a very early age; so much so, that by the time he was twenty-one he was willing to put into practice his views of the system by leaving it and going where all men are free. Very different indeed were these notions, from those held by his owner, Wm. Rose, who believed in Slavery for the black man. So as James could neither enjoy his freedom nor express his opinion in Virginia, he determined, that he had better get a passage on the Underground Rail Road, and leave the land of Slavery and the obnoxious sentiments of his master. He, of course, saw formidable difficulties to be encountered all the way along in escaping, but these, he considered, would be more easy for him to overcome than it would be for him to learn the lesson—"Servants, obey your masters." The very idea made James sick. This, therefore, was the secret of his escape.

HARRIET HALEY, alias ANN RICHARDSON, AND ELIZABETH HALEY, alias SARAH RICHARDSON. These travelers succeeded in escaping from Geo. C. Davis, of Harford county, Md. In order to carry out their plans, they took advantage of Whitsuntide, a holiday, and with marked ingenuity and perseverance, they managed to escape and reach Quakertown Underground Rail Road Station without obstruction, where protection and assistance were rendered by the friends of the cause. After abiding there for a short time, they were forwarded to the Committee in Philadelphia. Their ages ranged from nineteen to twenty-one, and they were apparently "servants" of a very superior order. The pleasure it afforded to aid such young women in escaping from a condition so loathsome as that of Slavery in Maryland, was unalloyed.

BENJAMIN DUNCANS, alias GEORGE SCOTT. This individual was in bonds under Thomas Jeffries, who was a firm believer in the doctrine: "Servants, obey your masters," and, furthermore, while laboring "pretty hard" to make Benjamin a convert to this idea, he had made Benjamin's lot anything else than smooth. This treatment on the part of the master made a wise and resolute man of the Slave. For as he looked earnestly into the fact, that he was only regarded by his owner in the light of an ox, or an ass, his manhood rebelled straightway, and the true light of freedom told him, that he must be willing to labor, and endure suffering for the great prize, liberty. So, in company with five others, at an appointed time, he set out for freedom, and succeeded. The others, alluded to, passed on to Canada direct. Benjamin was induced to stop a few months in Pennsylvania, during which time he occupied himself in farming. He looked as if he was well able to do a full day's work at this occupation. He was about twenty-five years of age, of unmixed blood, and wore a pleasant countenance.

MOSES WINES. Portsmouth, Va., lost one of her most substantial laborers in the person of Moses, and Madam Abigail Wheeler, a very "likely article" of merchandise. "No complaint" as to "ill treatment" was made by Moses against "Miss Abigail." The truth was, he admitted, that he had been used in a "mild way." With some degree of pride, he stated that he "had never been flogged." But, for the "last fifteen years, he had been favored with the exalted privilege of 'hiring' his time at the 'reasonable' sum of $12 per month." As he stood pledged to have this amount always ready, "whether sick or well," at the end of the month, his mistress "never neglected to be in readiness to receive it" to the last cent. In this way Moses was taught to be exceedingly punctual. Who would not commend such a mistress for the punctuality, if nothing more? But as smoothly as matters seemed to be going along, the mischievous idea crept into Moses' head, that he ought to have some of the money claimed by his "kind" mistress, and at the same time, the thought would often forcibly press upon his mind that he might any day be sold. In addition to this unpleasant prospect, Virginia had just about that time passed a law "prohibiting Slaves from hiring their time"—also, a number of "new Police rules with reference to Slaves and free colored people," all of which, the "humane Slave-holders" of that "liberal State," regarded as highly essential both for the "protection and safety of Master and Slave." But the stupid-headed Moses was not pleased with these arrangements. In common with many of the Slaves, he smarted severely under his heavy oppression, and felt that it was similar to an old rule, which had been once tried under Pharaoh—namely, when the children of Israel were required to "make bricks without straw." But Moses was not a fit subject to submit to be ruled so inhumanly.

Despite the beautiful sermons he had often listened to in favor of Slavery, and the many wise laws, above alluded to, he could not reconcile himself to his condition. The laws and preaching were alike as "sounding brass, and tinkling cymbals" to him. He made up his mind, therefore, that he must try a free country; that his manhood required him to make the effort at once, even at the risk of life. Father and husband, as he was, and loving his wife, Grace, and son, Alphonso, tenderly as he did, he nevertheless felt himself to be in chains, and that he could do but little for them by remaining. He conceived that, if he could succeed in gaining his freedom, he might possibly aid them away also. With this hope in him, he contrived to secure a private passage on the steamship City of Richmond, and in this way reached Philadelphia, but not without suffering fearfully the entire journey through, owing to the narrowness of the space into which he was obliged to be stowed in order to get away.

Moses was a man of medium size, quite dark, and gave promise of being capable of taking care of himself in freedom. He had seen much of the cruelties of Slavery inflicted upon others in various forms, which he related in a way to make one shudder; but these incidents were not recorded in the book at the time.

SARAH SMITH, alias MILDRETH PAGE, and her daughter, nine years of age. Sarah and her child were held to service by the Rev. A.D. Pollock, a resident of Wilmington, Del. Until about nine months before she escaped from the Reverend gentleman, she was owned by Mrs. Elizabeth Lee of Fauquier Co., Va., who had moved with Sarah to Wilmington. How Mr. Pollock came by Sarah is not stated on the records; perhaps by marriage; be that as it may, it was owing to ill treatment from her mistress that Sarah "took out" with her child. Sarah was a woman of becoming manners, of a dark brown complexion, and looked as though she might do a fair share of housework, if treated well. As it required no great effort to escape from Wilmington, where the watchful Garrett lived, she reached the Committee in Philadelphia without much difficulty, received assistance and was sent on her way rejoicing.

LUCY GARRETT, alias JULIA WOOD. John Williams, who was said to be a "very cruel man," residing on the Western Shore of Va., claimed Lucy as his chattel personal. Julia, having a lively sense of his meanness stood much in fear of being sold; having seen her father, three sisters, and two brothers, disposed of at auction, she was daily on the look-out for her turn to come next. The good spirit of freedom made the way plain to her by which an escape could be effected. Being about nineteen years of age, she felt that she had served in Slavery long enough. She resolved to start immediately, and did so, and succeeded in reaching Pennsylvania. Her appearance recommended her so well, that she was prevailed upon to remain and accept a situation in the family of Joseph A. Dugdale, so well known in reformatory circles, as an ardent friend of humanity. While in his family she gave great satisfaction, and was much esteemed for uprightness and industry. But this place was not Canada, so, when it was deemed best, she was sent on.

ELLEN FORMAN, alias ELIZABETH YOUNG. Ellen had formerly been owned by Dr. Thomas, of the Eastern Shore of Maryland, but about one year before escaping, she was bought by a lady living in Baltimore known by the name of Mrs. Johnson. Ellen was about thirty years of age, of slender stature, and of a dark brown complexion. The record makes no mention of cruel treatment or very hard usage, as a slave. From traveling, probably, she had contracted a very heavy cold, which threatened her with consumption. The Committee cheerfully rendered her assistance.

WILLIAM WOODEN, alias WILLIAM NELSON. While Delaware was not far from freedom, and while Slavery was considered to exist there comparatively in a mild form, nevertheless, what with the impenetrable ignorance in which it was the wont of pro-slavery whites to keep the slaves, and the unwillingness on the part of slave-holders generally to conform to the spirit of progress going on in the adjacent State of Pennsylvania, it was wonderful how the slaves saw through the thick darkness thus prevailing, and how wide-awake they were to escape.

It was from this State, that William Wooden fled. True, William was said to belong to Judge Wooden, of Georgetown, Del., but, according to the story of his "chattel," the Judge was not of the class who judged righteously. He had not only treated William badly, but he had threatened to sell him. This was the bitter pill which constrained William to "take out." The threat seemed hard at first, but its effect was excellent for this young man; it was the cause of his obtaining his freedom at the age of twenty-three. William was a tall, well-built man, of dark complexion and promising. No further particulars concerning him are on the records.

JAMES EDWARD HANDY, alias DANIEL CANON. At Seaford, Delaware, James was held in bonds under a Slave-holder called Samuel Lewis, who followed farming. Lewis was not satisfied with working James hard and keeping all his earnings, but would insolently talk occasionally of handing him "over to the trader." This "stirred James' blood" and aroused his courage to the "sticking point." Nothing could induce him to remain. He had the name of having a wife and four children, but according to the Laws of Delaware, he only had a nominal right in them. They were "legally the property of Capt. Martin." Therefore they were all left in the hands of Capt. Martin. The wife's name was Harriet Delaney, alias Smart Stanley. James Henry Delaney came as a fellow-traveler with James Edward. He had experienced oppression under Capt. Martin, and as a witness, was prepared to testify, that Martin "ill-treated his Slaves, especially with regard to the diet, which was very poor." Nevertheless James was a stout, heavy-built young man of twenty-six years of age, and looked as if he might have a great deal of valuable work in him. He was a single man.

JAMES HENRY BLACKSON. James Henry had only reached twenty-five, when he came to the "conclusion, that he had served long enough under bondage for the benefit of Charles Wright." This was about all of the excuse he seemed to have for escaping. He was a fine specimen of a man, so far as physical strength and muscular power were concerned. Very little was recorded of him.

GEORGE FREELAND. It was only by the most indomitable resolution and perseverance, that Freeland threw off the yoke. Capt. John Pollard of Petersburg, Va., held George to service. As a Slave-holder, Pollard belonged to that class, who did not believe in granting favors to Slaves. On the contrary, he was practically in favor of wringing every drop of blood from their bodies.

George was a spare-built man, about twenty-five years of age, quite dark, but had considerable intelligence. He could read and write very well, but how he acquired these arts is not known. In testifying against his master, George used very strong language. He declared that Pollard "thought no more of his servants than if they had been dogs. He was very mean. He gave nothing to his servants. He has given me only one pair of shoes the last ten years." After careful inquiry, George learned that he could get a private passage on the City of Richmond, if he could raise the passage money. This he could do cheerfully. He raised "sixty dollars" for the individual who was to "secrete him on the boat." In leaving the land of Slave auctions, whips and chains, he was obliged to leave his mother and father and two brothers in Petersburg. Pollard had been offered $1,500 for George. Doubtless he found, when he discovered George had gone, that he had "overstood the market." This was what produced action prompt and decisive on the part of George. So the old adage, in this case, was verified—"It's an ill wind that blows nobody any good."

On arriving in Canada, George did not forget to express gratitude to those who aided him on his road there, as the following note will show:

SINCATHANS, canada west.

Brother Still:—I im brace this opportunity of pening you a few lines to in form you that I am well at present & in hopes to find you & family well also I hope that god Will Bless you & and your family & if I never should meet you in this world I hope to meet you in glory Remember my love to Brother Brown & tell him that I am well & hearty tell him to writ Thomas word that I am well at present you must excuse me I will Rite when I return from the west.


Send your Letters in the name of John Anderson.

MILES WHITE. This passenger owed service to Albert Kern, of Elizabeth City, N.C. At least Kern, through the oppressive laws of that State, claimed Miles as his personal property. Miles, however, thought differently, but he was not at liberty to argue the case with Kern; for on the "side of the oppressor there was strength." So he resolved, that he would adopt the Underground Rail Road plan. As he was only about twenty-one years of age, he found it much easier to close his affairs with North Carolina, than it would have been had he been encumbered with a family. In fact, the only serious difficulty he had to surmount was to find a captain with whom he could secure a safe passage North. To his gratification it was not long before his efforts in this direction were crowned with success. A vessel was being loaded with shingles, the captain of which was kind enough to allow Miles to occupy a very secure hiding-place thereon. In course of time, having suffered to the extent usual when so closely conveyed, he arrived in Philadelphia, and being aided, was duly forwarded by the Committee.

JOHN HALL, alias JOHN SIMPSON. John fled from South Carolina. In this hot-bed of Slavery he labored and suffered up to the age of thirty-two. For a length of time before he escaped, his burdens were intolerable; but he could see no way to rid himself of them, except by flight. Nor was he by any means certain that an effort in this direction would prove successful. In planning the route which he should take to travel North he decided, that if success was for him, his best chance would be to wend his way through North Carolina and Virginia. Not that he hoped to find friends or helpers in these States. He had heard enough of the cruelties of Slavery in these regions to convince him, that if he should be caught, there would be no sympathy or mercy shown. Nevertheless the irons were piercing him so severely, that he felt constrained to try his luck, let the consequences be what they might, and so he set out for freedom or death. Mountains of difficulties, and months of suffering and privations by land and water, in the woods, and swamps of North Carolina and Virginia, were before him, as his experience in traveling proved. But the hope of final victory and his daily sufferings before he started, kept him from faltering, even when starvation and death seemed to be staring him in the face. For several months he was living in dens and caves of the earth.

Ultimately, however, the morning of his ardent hopes dawned. How he succeeded in finding a captain who was kind enough to afford him a secret hiding-place on his boat, was not noted on the records. Indeed the incidents of his story were but briefly written out. Similar cases of thrilling interest seemed almost incredible, and the Committee were constrained to doubt the story altogether until other testimony could be obtained to verify the statement. In this instance, before the Committee were fully satisfied, they felt it necessary to make inquiry of trustworthy Charlestonians to ascertain if John were really from Charleston, and if he were actually owned by the man that he represented as having owned him, Dr. Philip Mazyck, by name; and furthermore, to learn if the master was really of the brutal character given him. The testimony of thoroughly reliable persons, who were acquainted with master and slave, so far as this man's bondage in Charleston was concerned, fully corroborated his statement, and the Committee could not but credit his story; indeed they were convinced, that he had been one of the greatest of sufferers and the chief of heroes. Nevertheless his story was not written out, and can only be hinted at. Perhaps more time was consumed in its investigation and in listening to a recital of his sufferings than could well be spared; perhaps it was thought, as was often the case, unless full justice could be given him, the story would be spoiled; or perhaps the appalling nature of his sufferings rendered the pen powerless, and made the heart too sick for the task. Whether it was so or not in this case, it was not unfrequently so in other instances, as is well remembered. It will be necessary, in the subsequent pages of this work, to omit the narratives of a great many who, unfortunately, were but briefly noted on the books at the time of their arrival. In the eyes of some, this may prove disappointing, especially in instances where these pages are turned to with the hope of gaining a clue to certain lost ones. As all, however, cannot be mentioned, and as the general reader will look for incidents and facts which will most fittingly bring out the chief characteristics in the career and escape of bondmen, the reasonableness of this course must be obvious to all.

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In 1854 Charles was owned in the city of Richmond by Benjamin Davis, a notorious negro trader. Charles was quite a "likely-looking article," not too black or too white, but rather of a nice "ginger-bread color." Davis was of opinion that this "article" must bring him a tip-top price. For two or three months the trader advertised Charles for sale in the papers, but for some reason or other Charles did not command the high price demanded.

While Davis was thus daily trying to sell Charles, Charles was contemplating how he might escape. Being uncommonly shrewd he learned something about a captain of a schooner from Boston, and determined to approach him with regard to securing a passage. The captain manifested a disposition to accommodate him for the sum of ten dollars, provided Charles could manage to get to Old Point Comfort, there to embark. The Point was about one hundred and sixty miles distant from Richmond.

A man of ordinary nerve would have declined this condition unhesitatingly. On the other hand it was not Charles' intention to let any offer slide; indeed he felt that he must make an effort, if he failed. He could not see how his lot could be made more miserable by attempting to flee. In full view of all the consequences he ventured to take the hazardous step, and to his great satisfaction he reached Old Point Comfort safely. In that locality he was well known, unfortunately too well known, for he had been raised partly there, and, at the same time, many of his relatives and acquaintances were still living there. These facts were evidently well known to the trader, who unquestionably had snares set in order to entrap Charles should he seek shelter among his relatives, a reasonable supposition. Charles had scarcely reached his old home before he was apprised of the fact that the hunters and watch dogs of Slavery were eagerly watching for him. Even his nearest relatives, through fear of consequences had to hide their faces as it were from him. None dare offer him a night's lodging, scarcely a cup of water, lest such an act might be discovered by the hunters, whose fiendish hearts would have found pleasure in meting out the most dire punishments to those guilty of thus violating the laws of Slavery. The prospect, if not utterly hopeless, was decidedly discouraging. The way to Boston was entirely closed. A "reward of $200" was advertised for his capture. For the first week after arriving at Old Point he entrusted himself to a young friend by the name of E.S. The fear of the pursuers drove him from his hiding-place at the expiration of the week. Thence he sought shelter neither with kinfolks, Christians, nor infidels, but in this hour of his calamity he made up his mind that he would try living under a large hotel for a while. Having watched his opportunity, he managed to reach Higee hotel, a very large house without a cellar, erected on pillars three or four feet above the ground. One place alone, near the cistern, presented some chance for a hiding-place, sufficient to satisfy him quite well under the circumstances. This dark and gloomy spot he at once willingly occupied rather than return to Slavery. In this refuge he remained four weeks. Of course he could not live without food; but to communicate with man or woman would inevitably subject him to danger. Charles' experience in the neighborhood of his old home left no ground for him to hope that he would be likely to find friendly aid anywhere under the shadow of Slavery. In consequence of these fears he received his food from the "slop tub," securing this diet in the darkness of night after all was still and quiet around the hotel. To use his own language, the meals thus obtained were often "sweet" to his taste.

Up A Tree One evening, however, he was not a little alarmed by the approach of an Irish boy who came under the hotel to hunt chickens. While prowling around in the darkness he appeared to be making his way unconsciously to the very spot where Charles was reposing. How to meet the danger was to Charles' mind at first very puzzling, there was no time now to plan. As quick as thought he feigned the bark of a savage dog accompanied with a furious growl and snarl which he was confident would frighten the boy half out of his senses, and cause him to depart quickly from his private apartment. The trick succeeded admirably, and the emergency was satisfactorily met, so far as the boy was concerned, but the boy's father hearing the attack of the dog, swore that he would kill him. Charles was a silent listener to the threat, and he saw that he could no longer remain in safety in his present quarter. So that night he took his departure for Bay Shore; here he decided to pass a day in the woods, but the privacy of this place was not altogether satisfactory to Charles' mind; but where to find a more secure retreat he could not,—dared not venture to ascertain that day. It occurred to him, however, that he would be much safer up a tree than hid in the bushes and undergrowth. He therefore climbed up a large acorn tree and there passed an entire day in deep meditation. No gleam of hope appeared, yet he would not suffer himself to think of returning to bondage. In this dilemma he remembered a poor washer-woman named Isabella, a slave who had charge of a wash-house. With her he resolved to seek succor. Leaving the woods he proceeded to the wash-house and was kindly received by Isabella, but what to do with him or how to afford him any protection she could see no way whatever. The schooling which Charles had been receiving a number of weeks in connection with the most fearful looking-for of the threatened wrath of the trader made it much easier for him than for her to see how he could be provided for. A room and comforts he was not accustomed to. Of course he could not expect such comforts now. Like many another escaping from the relentless tyrant, Charles could contrive methods which to his venturesome mind would afford hope, however desperate they might appear to others. He thought that he might be safe under the floor. To Isabella the idea was new, but her sympathies were strongly with Charles, and she readily consented to accommodate him under the floor of the wash-house. Isabella and a friend of Charles, by the name of John Thomas, were the only persons who were cognizant of this arrangement. The kindness of these friends, manifested by their willingness to do anything in their power to add to the comfort of Charles, was proof to him that his efforts and sufferings had not been altogether in vain. He remained under the floor two weeks, accessible to kind voices and friendly ministrations. At the end of this time his repose was again sorely disturbed by reports from without that suspicion had been awakened towards the wash-house. How this happened neither Charles nor his friends could conjecture. But the arrival of six officers whom he could hear talking very plainly in the house, whose errand was actually to search for him, convinced him that he had never for a single moment been in greater danger. The officers not only searched the house, but they offered his friend John Thomas $25 if he would only put them on Charles' track. John professed to know nothing; Isabella was equally ignorant. Discouraged with their efforts on this occasion, the officers gave up the hunt and left the house. Charles, however, had had enough of the floor accommodations. He left that night and returned to his old quarters under the hotel. Here he stayed one week, at the expiration of which time the need of fresh air was so imperative, that he resolved to go out at night to Allen's cottage and spend a day in the woods. He had knowledge of a place where the undergrowth and bushes were almost impenetrable. To rest and refresh himself in this thicket he felt would be a great comfort to him. Without serious difficulty he reached the thicket, and while pondering over the all-absorbing matter as to how he should ever manage to make his escape, an old man approached. Now while Charles had no reason to think that he was sought by the old intruder, his very near approach admonished him that it would neither be safe nor agreeable to allow him to come nearer. Charles remembering that his trick of playing the dog, when previously in danger under the hotel, had served a good end, thought that it would work well in the thicket. So he again tried his power at growling and barking hideously for a moment or two, which at once caused the man to turn his course. Charles could hear him distinctly retreating, and at the same time cursing the dog. The owner of the place had the reputation of keeping "bad dogs," so the old man poured out a dreadful threat against "Stephens' dogs," and was soon out of the reach of the one in the thicket.

Notwithstanding his success in frightening off the old man, CHARLES felt that the thicket was by no means a safe place for him. He concluded to make another change. This time he sought a marsh; two hours' stay there was sufficient to satisfy him, that that too was no place to tarry in, even for a single night. He, therefore, left immediately. A third time, he returned to the hotel, where he remained only two days. His appeals had at last reached the heart of his mother—she could no longer bear to see him struggling, and suffering, and not render him aid, whatever the consequences might be. If she at first feared to lend him a helping hand, she now resolutely worked with a view of saving money to succor him. Here the prospect began to brighten.

A passage was secured for him on a steamer bound for Philadelphia. One more day, and night must elapse, ere he could be received on board. The joyful anticipations which now filled his breast left no room for fear; indeed, he could scarcely contain himself; he was drunk with joy. In this state of mind he concluded that nothing would afford him more pleasure before leaving, than to spend his last hours at the wash house, "under the floor." To this place he went with no fear of hunters before his eyes. Charles had scarcely been three hours in this place, however, before three officers came in search of him. Two of them talked with Isabella, asked her about her "boarders," etc.; in the meanwhile, one of them uninvited, made his way up stairs. It so happened, that Charles was in this very portion of the house. His case now seemed more hopeless than ever. The officer up stairs was separated from him simply by a thin curtain. Women's garments hung all around. Instead of fainting or surrendering, in the twinkling of an eye, Charles' inventive intellect, led him to enrobe himself in female attire. Here, to use his own language, a "thousand thoughts" rushed into his mind in a minute. The next instant he was going down stairs in the presence of the officers, his old calico dress, bonnet and rig, attracting no further attention than simply to elicit the following simple questions: "Whose gal are you?" "Mr. Cockling's, sir." "What is your name?" "Delie, sir." "Go on then!" said one of the officers, and on Charles went to avail himself of the passage on the steamer which his mother had procured for him for the sum of thirty dollars.

In due time, he succeeded in getting on the steamer, but he soon learned, that her course was not direct to Philadelphia, but that some stay would be made in Norfolk, Va. Although disappointed, yet this being a step in the right direction, he made up his mind to be patient. He was delayed in Norfolk four weeks. From the time Charles first escaped, his owner (Davis the negro trader), had kept a standing reward of $550 advertised for his recovery. This showed that Davis was willing to risk heavy expenses for Charles as well as gave evidence that he believed him still secreted either about Richmond, Petersburg, or Old Point Comfort. In this belief he was not far from being correct, for Charles spent most of his time in either of these three places, from the day of his escape until the day that he finally embarked. At last, the long looked-for hour arrived to start for Philadelphia.

He was to leave his mother, with no hope of ever seeing her again, but she had purchased herself and was called free. Her name was Margaret Johnson. Three brothers likewise were ever in his thoughts, (in chains), "Henry," "Bill," and "Sam," (half brothers). But after all the hope of freedom outweighed every other consideration, and he was prepared to give up all for liberty. To die rather than remain a slave was his resolve.

Charles arrived per steamer, from Norfolk, on the 11th day of November, 1854. The Richmond papers bear witness to the fact, that Benjamin Davis advertised Charles Gilbert, for mouths prior to this date, as has been stated in this narrative. As to the correctness of the story, all that the writer has to say is, that he took it down from the lips of Charles, hurriedly, directly after his arrival, with no thought of magnifying a single incident. On the contrary, much that was of interest in the story had to be omitted. Instead of being overdrawn, not half of the particulars were recorded. Had the idea then been entertained, that the narrative of this young slave-warrior was to be brought to light in the manner and time that it now is, a far more thrilling account of his adventures might have been written. Other colored men who knew both Davis and Charles, as well as one man ordinarily knows another, rejoiced at seeing Charles in Philadelphia, and they listened with perfect faith to his story. So marvellous were the incidents of his escape, that his sufferings in Slavery, previous to his heroic struggles to throw off the yoke, were among the facts omitted from the records. While this may be regretted it is, nevertheless, gratifying on the whole to have so good an account of him as was preserved. It is needless to say, that the Committee took especial pleasure in aiding him, and listening to so remarkable a story narrated so intelligently by one who had been a slave.

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In 1855 a traveler arrived with the above name, who, on examination, was found to possess very extraordinary characteristics. As a hero and adventurer some passages of his history were most remarkable. His schooling had been such as could only be gathered on plantations under brutal overseers;—or while fleeing,—or in swamps,—in prisons,—or on the auction-block, etc.; in which condition he was often found. Nevertheless in these circumstances his mind got well stored with vigorous thoughts—neither books nor friendly advisers being at his command. Yet his native intelligence as it regarded human nature, was extraordinary. His resolution and perseverance never faltered. In all respects he was a remarkable man. He was a young man, weighing about one hundred and eighty pounds, of uncommon muscular strength. He was born in the State of Georgia, Oglethorpe county, and was owned by Dr. Thomas Stephens, of Lexington. On reaching the Vigilance Committee in Philadelphia, his story was told many times over to one and another. Hour after hour was occupied by friends in listening to the simple narrative of his struggles for freedom. A very full account of "Jim," was forwarded in a letter to M.A. Shadd, the then Editress of the "Provincial Freeman." Said account has been carefully preserved, and is here annexed as it appeared in the columns of the above named paper:

"I must now pass to a third adventurer. The one to whom I allude, is a young man of twenty-six years of age, by the name of 'Jim,' who fled from near Charleston, S.C. Taking all the facts and circumstances into consideration respecting the courageous career of this successful adventurer for freedom, his case is by far more interesting than any I have yet referred to. Indeed, for the good of the cause, and the honor of one who gained his liberty by periling his life so frequently:—shot several times,—making six unsuccessful attempts to escape from the far South,—numberless times chased by bloodhounds,—captured, imprisoned and sold repeatedly,—living for months in the woods, swamps and caves, subsisting mainly on parched corn and berries, &c., &c., his narrative ought, by all means, to be published, though I doubt very much whether many could be found who could persuade themselves to believe one-tenth part of this marvellous story.

Though this poor Fugitive was utterly ignorant of letters, his natural good sense and keen perception qualified him to arrest the attention and interest the heart in a most remarkable degree.

His master finding him not available, on account of his absconding propensities, would gladly have offered him for sale. He was once taken to Florida, for that purpose; but, generally, traders being wide awake, on inspecting him, would almost invariably pronounce him a 'd——n rascal,' because he would never fail to eye them sternly, as they inspected him. The obedient and submissive slave is always recognized by hanging his head and looking on the ground, when looked at by a slave-holder. This lesson Jim had never learned, hence he was not to be trusted.

His head and chest, and indeed his entire structure, as solid as a rock, indicated that he was physically no ordinary man; and not being under the influence of the spirit of "non-resistance," he had occasionally been found to be a rather formidable customer.

His father was a full-blooded Indian, brother to the noted Indian Chief, Billy Bowlegs; his mother was quite black and of unmixed blood.

For five or six years, the greater part of Jim's time was occupied in trying to escape, and in being in prison for sale, to punish him for running away.

His mechanical genius was excellent, so were his geographical abilities. He could make shoes or do carpenter's work very handily, though he had never had the chance to learn. As to traveling by night or day, he was always road-ready and having an uncommon memory, could give exceedingly good accounts of what he saw, etc.

When he entered a swamp, and had occasion to take a nap he took care first to decide upon the posture he must take, so that if come upon unexpectedly by the hounds and slave-hunters, he might know in an instant which way to steer to defeat them. He always carried a liquid, which he had prepared, to prevent hounds from scenting him, which he said had never failed. As soon as the hounds came to the place where he had rubbed his legs and feet with said liquid, they could follow him no further, but howled and turned immediately.

Quite a large number of the friends of the slave saw this noble-hearted fugitive, and would sit long and listen with the most undivided attention to his narrative—none doubting for a moment, I think, the entire truthfulness of his story. Strange as his story was, there was so much natural simplicity in his manner and countenance, one could not refrain from believing him."

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This was an exceptional case, as this passenger did not reach the Vigilance Committee of Philadelphia, yet to exclude him on this account, would be doing an injustice to history.

The facts in his case were incontestably established in the Philadelphia Register in April, 1854, from which the following thrilling account is taken:

The steamship, Keystone State, which arrived at this port on Saturday morning, had just entered Delaware Bay, when a man was discovered secreted outside of the vessel and under the guards. When brought from his hiding-place, he was found to be a Fugitive Slave, who had secreted himself there before the vessel left Savannah on Wednesday, and had remained in that place from the time of starting!

His position was such, that the water swept over and around him almost constantly. He had some bread in his pocket, which he had intended for subsistence until he could reach a land of liberty. It was saturated with sea-water and dissolved to a pulp.

When our readers remember the high winds of Friday, and the sudden change to cold during that night, and the fact that the fugitive had remained in that situation for three days and nights, we think it will be conceded that he fully earned his liberty, and that the "institution," which was so intolerable that he was willing to run the risk of almost certain death to escape from it had no very great attractions for him. But the poor man was doomed to disappointment. The captain ordered the vessel to put into Newcastle, where, the fugitive, hardly able to stand, was taken on shore and incarcerated, and where he now awaits the order of his owner in Savannah. The following additional particulars are from the same paper of the 21st.

The Keystone State case.—Our article yesterday morning brought us several letters of inquiry and offers of contributions to aid in the purchase from his master of the unfortunate inmate of Newcastle jail. In answer to the former, we would say, that the steamer Keystone State, left Savannah, at 9 A.M., last Wednesday. It was about the same hour next morning that the men engaged in heaving lead, heard a voice from under the guards imploring help. A rope was procured, and the man relieved from his dangerous and suffering situation. He was well cared for immediately; a suit of dry clothes was furnished him, and he was given his share of the contents of the boat pantry. On arriving at Newcastle, the captain had him placed in jail, for the purpose, as we are informed, of taking him back to Savannah.

To those who have offered contributions so liberally, we answer, that the prospect is, that only a small amount will be needed—enough to fee a lawyer to sue out a writ of habeas corpus. The salt water fugitive claims to be a free man, and a native of Philadelphia. He gives his name as Edward Davis, and says that he formerly lived at No. 5 Steel's court, that he was a pupil in Bird's school, on Sixth St. above Lombard, and that he has a sister living at Mr. Diamond's, a distiller, on South St. We are not informed why he was in Georgia, from which he took such an extraordinary means to effect his escape. If the above assertion be true, we apprehend little trouble in restoring the man to his former home. The claim of the captain to take him back to Savannah, will not be listened to for a moment by any court. The only claim the owners of the "Keystone State" or the captain can have on salt water Davis, is for half passenger fare; he came half the way as a fish. A gentleman who came from Wilmington yesterday, assures us that the case is in good hands at Newcastle.


The case of the colored man Davis, who made such a bold stroke to regain his liberty, by periling his life on board the steamer Keystone State, has excited very general attention. He has given a detailed account of his abduction and sale as a slave in the State of Maryland and Georgia, and some of his adventures up to the time of reaching Delaware. His own story is substantially as follows:

He left Philadelphia on the 15th of September, 1851, and went to Harrisburg, intending to go to Hollidaysburg; took a canal boat for Havre de Grace, where he arrived next day. There he hired on board the schooner Thomas and Edward (oyster boat), of Baltimore. Went from Havre de Grace to St. Michael's, for oysters, thence to Baltimore, and thence to Havre de Grace again.

He then hired to a Mr. Sullivan, who kept a grocery store, to do jobs. While there, a constable, named Smith, took him before a magistrate named Graham, who fined him fifteen or twenty dollars for violating the law in relation to free negroes coming into the State. This fine he was not able to pay, and Smith took him to Bell Air prison. Sheriff Gaw wrote to Mr. Maitland in Philadelphia, to whom he referred, and received an answer that Mr. Maitland was dead and none of the family knew him. He remained in that prison nearly two months. He then had a trial in court before a Judge Grier (most unfortunate name), who sentenced him to be sold to pay his fine and expenses, amounting to fifty dollars.

After a few days and without being offered at public sale, he was taken out of jail at two o'clock in the morning and carried to Campbell's slave pen, in Baltimore, where he remained several months. While there, he was employed to cook for some fifty or sixty slaves, being told that he was working out his fine and jail fees. After being there about six months, he was taken out of prison, handcuffed by one Winters, who took him and two or three others to Washington and thence to Charleston, S.C. Here Winters left them, and they were taken by steamboat to Savannah. While on board the boat, he learned that himself and the other two had been sold to Mr. William Dean, of Macon, where he stayed two days, and was taken from that place to the East Valley Railroad.

Subsequently he was sent to work on the Possum Tail Railroad. Here he was worked so hard, that in one month he lost his health. The other two men taken on with him, failed before he did. He was then sent to Macon, and thence to the cotton plantation again.

During the time he worked on the railroad he had allowed him for food, one peck of corn meal, four pounds of bacon, and one quart of molasses per week. He cooked it himself at night, for the next day's use. He worked at packing cotton for four or five months, and in the middle of November, 1852, was sent back to the railroad, where he was again set to wheeling.

He worked at "task work" two months, being obliged to wheel sixteen square yards per day. At the end of two months he broke down again, and was sick. They tried one month to cure him, but did not succeed. In July, 1853, he was taken to an infirmary in Macon. Dr. Nottinghan and Dr. Harris, of that institution, both stated that his was the worst case of the kind they ever had. He remained at the infirmary two months and partially recovered. He told the story of his wrongs to these physicians, who tried to buy him. One of his legs was drawn up so that he could not walk well, and they offered four hundred dollars for him, which his master refused. The doctors wanted him to attend their patients, (mostly slaves). While in Georgia he was frequently asked where he came from, being found more intelligent than the common run of slaves.

On the 12th of March he ran away from Macon and went to Savannah. There he hid in a stable until Tuesday afternoon at six o'clock, when he secreted himself on board the Keystone State. At 9 o'clock the next morning the Keystone State left with Davis secreted, as we have before stated. With his imprisonment in Newcastle, after being pronounced free, our readers are already familiar. We subjoin the documents on which he was discharged from his imprisonment in Newcastle, and his subsequent re-committal on the oath of Capt. Hardie.


New Castle county, ss., State of Delaware.—To Wm. R. Lynam, Sheriff of said county. —— Davis (Negro) is delivered to your custody for further examination and hearing for traveling without a pass, and supposed to be held a Slave to some person in the State of Georgia.

[Seal]. Witness the hand and seal of John Bradford, one of the Justices of the Peace for the county of Newcastle, the 17th day of March, 1854.



To Wm. R. Lynam, Sheriff of Newcastle county: You will discharge —— Davis from your custody, satisfactory proof having been made before me that he is a free man. JOHN BRADFORD, J.P.

Witnesses—Joanna Diamond, John H. Brady, Martha C. Maguire.


New Castle county, ss., the State of Delaware to Wm. R. Lynam, and to the Sheriff or keeper of the Common Jail of said county, Whereas —— Davis hath this day been brought before me, the subscriber, one of the Justices of the Peace, in and for the said county, charged upon the oath of Robert Hardie with being a runaway slave, and also as a suspicious person, traveling without a pass, these are therefore to command you, the said Wm. R. Lynam, forthwith to convey and deliver into the custody of the said Sheriff, or keeper of the said jail, the body of the said Davis, and you the said Sheriff or receiver of the body of the said Davis into your custody in the said jail, and him there safely keep until he be thence delivered by due course of the law.

Given under my hand and seal at New Castle this 21st day of March, A.D., 1854.


On the fourth of April, the Marshal of Macon called at the jail in Newcastle, and demanded him as a fugitive slave, but the Sheriff refused to give him up until a fair hearing could be had according to the laws of the State of Delaware. The Marshal has returned to Georgia, and will probably bring the claimant on the next trip of the Keystone State. The authorities of Delaware manifest no disposition to deliver up a man whose freedom has been so clearly proved; but every effort will be made to reduce him again to slavery by the man who claims him, in which, it seems, he has the hearty co-operation of Capt. Hardie. A trial will be had before U.S. Commissioner Guthrie, and we have every reason to suppose it will be a fair one. The friends of right and justice should remember that such a trial will be attended with considerable expense, and that the imprisoned man has been too long deprived of his liberty to have money to pay for his own defence.

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The passenger answering to the above name, left Indian Creek, Chester Co., Md., where he had been held to service or labor, by Dr. James Muse. One week had elapsed from the time he set out until his arrival in Philadelphia. Although he had never enjoyed school privileges of any kind, yet he was not devoid of intelligence. He had profited by his daily experience as a slave, and withal, had managed to learn to read and write a little, despite law and usage to the contrary. Sam was about twenty-five years of age and by trade, a blacksmith. Before running away, his general character for sobriety, industry, and religion, had evidently been considered good, but in coveting his freedom and running away to obtain it, he had sunk far below the utmost limit of forgiveness or mercy in the estimation of the slave-holders of Indian Creek.

During his intercourse with the Vigilance Committee, while rejoicing over his triumphant flight, he gave, with no appearance of excitement, but calmly, and in a common-sense like manner, a brief description of his master, which was entered on the record book substantially as follows: "Dr. James Muse is thought by the servants to be the worst man in Maryland, inflicting whipping and all manner of cruelties upon the servants."

While Sam gave reasons for this sweeping charge, which left no room for doubt, on the part of the Committee, of his sincerity and good judgment, it was not deemed necessary to make a note of more of the doctor's character than seemed actually needed, in order to show why "Sam" had taken passage on the Underground Rail Road. For several years, "Sam" was hired out by the doctor at blacksmithing; in this situation, daily wearing the yoke of unrequited labor, through the kindness of Harriet Tubman (sometimes called "Moses"), the light of the Underground Rail Road and Canada suddenly illuminated his mind. It was new to him, but he was quite too intelligent and liberty-loving, not to heed the valuable information which this sister of humanity imparted. Thenceforth he was in love with Canada, and likewise a decided admirer of the U.R. Road. Harriet was herself, a shrewd and fearless agent, and well understood the entire route from that part of the country to Canada. The spring previous, she had paid a visit to the very neighborhood in which "Sam" lived, expressly to lead her own brothers out of "Egypt." She succeeded. To "Sam" this was cheering and glorious news, and he made up his mind, that before a great while, Indian Creek should have one less slave and that Canada should have one more citizen. Faithfully did he watch an opportunity to carry out his resolution. In due time a good Providence opened the way, and to "Sam's" satisfaction he reached Philadelphia, having encountered no peculiar difficulties. The Committee, perceiving that he was smart, active, and promising, encouraged his undertaking, and having given him friendly advice, aided him in the usual manner. Letters of introduction were given him, and he was duly forwarded on his way. He had left his father, mother, and one sister behind. Samuel and Catharine were the names of his parents. Thus far, his escape would seem not to affect his parents, nor was it apparent that there was any other cause why the owner should revenge himself upon them.

The father was an old local preacher in the Methodist Church—much esteemed as an inoffensive, industrious man; earning his bread by the sweat of his brow, and contriving to move along in the narrow road allotted colored people bond or free, without exciting a spirit of ill will in the pro-slavery power of his community. But the rancor awakened in the breast of slave-holders in consequence of the high-handed step the son had taken, brought the father under suspicion and hate. Under the circumstances, the eye of Slavery could do nothing more than watch for an occasion to pounce upon him. It was not long before the desired opportunity presented itself. Moved by parental affection, the old man concluded to pay a visit to his boy, to see how he was faring in a distant land, and among strangers. This resolution he quietly carried into effect. He found his son in Canada, doing well; industrious; a man of sobriety, and following his father's footsteps religiously. That the old man's heart was delighted with what his eyes saw and his ears heard in Canada, none can doubt. But in the simplicity of his imagination, he never dreamed that this visit was to be made the means of his destruction. During the best portion of his days he had faithfully worn the badge of Slavery, had afterwards purchased his freedom, and thus become a free man. He innocently conceived the idea that he was doing no harm in availing himself not only of his God-given rights, but of the rights that he had also purchased by the hard toil of his own hands. But the enemy was lurking in ambush for him—thirsting for his blood. To his utter consternation, not long after his return from his visit to his son "a party of gentlemen from the New Market district, went at night to Green's house and made search, whereupon was found a copy of Uncle Tom's Cabin, etc." This was enough—the hour had come, wherein to wreak vengeance upon poor Green. The course pursued and the result, may be seen in the following statement taken from the Cambridge (Md.), "Democrat," of April 29th, 1857, and communicated by the writer to the "Provincial Freeman."


The case of the State against Sam Green (free negro) indicted for having in his possession, papers, pamphlets and pictorial representations, having a tendency to create discontent, etc., among the people of color in the State, was tried before the court on Friday last.

This case was of the utmost importance, and has created in the public mind a great deal of interest—it being the first case of the kind ever having occurred in our country.

It appeared, in evidence, that this Green has a son in Canada, to whom Green made a visit last summer. Since his return to this county, suspicion has fastened upon him, as giving aid and assisting slaves who have since absconded and reached Canada, and several weeks ago, a party of gentlemen from New Market district, went at night, to Green's house and made search, whereupon was found a volume of "Uncle Tom's Cabin," a map of Canada, several schedules of routes to the North, and a letter from his son in Canada, detailing the pleasant trip he had, the number of friends he met with on the way, with plenty to eat, drink, etc., and concludes with a request to his father, that he shall tell certain other slaves, naming them, to come on, which slaves, it is well known, did leave shortly afterwards, and have reached Canada. The case was argued with great ability, the counsel on both sides displaying a great deal of ingenuity, learning and eloquence. The first indictment was for the having in possession the letter, map and route schedules.

Notwithstanding the mass of evidence given, to show the prisoner's guilt, in unlawfully having in his possession these documents, and the nine-tenths of the community in which he lived, believed that he had a hand in the running away of slaves, it was the opinion of the court, that the law under which he was indicted, was not applicable to the case, and that he must, accordingly, render a verdict of not guilty.

He was immediately arraigned upon another indictment, for having in possession "Uncle Tom's Cabin," and tried; in this case the court has not yet rendered a verdict, but holds it under curia till after the Somerset county court. It is to be hoped, the court will find the evidence in this case sufficient to bring it within the scope of the law under which the prisoner is indicted (that of 1842, chap. 272), and that the prisoner may meet his due reward—be that what it may.

That there is something required to be done by our Legislators, for the protection of slave property, is evident from the variety of constructions put upon the statute in this case, and we trust, that at the next meeting of the Legislature there will be such amendments, as to make the law on this subject, perfectly clear and comprehensible to the understanding of every one.

In the language of the assistant counsel for the State, "Slavery must be protected or it must be abolished."

From the same sheet, of May 20th, the terrible doom of Samuel Green, is announced in the following words:

In the case of the State against Sam Green, (free negro) who was tried at the April term of the Circuit Court of this county, for having in his possession abolition pamphlets, among which was "Uncle Tom's Cabin," has been found guilty by the court, and sentenced to the penitentiary for the term of ten years—until the 14th of May, 1867.

The son, a refugee in Canada, hearing the distressing news of his father's sad fate in the hands of the relentless "gentlemen," often wrote to know if there was any prospect of his deliverance. The subjoined letter is a fair sample of his correspondence:

SALFORD, 22,1857.

Dear Sir I take my pen in hand to Request a faver of you if you can by any means without duin InJestus to your self or your Bisness to grant it as I Bleve you to be a man that would Sympathize in such a ones Condition as my self I Reseved a letter that Stats to me that my Fater has ben Betraed in the act of helping sum frend to Canada and the law has Convicted and Sentanced him to the Stats prison for 10 yeares his White Frands ofered 2 thousen Dollers to Redem him but they would not short three thousen. I am in Canada and it is a Dificult thing to get a letter to any of my Frands in Maryland so as to get prop per infermation abot it—if you can by any means get any in telligence from Baltimore City a bot this Event Plese do so and Rit word and all so all the inform mation that you think prop per as Regards the Evant and the best mathod to Redeme him and so Plese Rite soon as you can You will oblige your sir Frand and Drect your letter to Salford P. office C.W.


In this dark hour the friends of the Slave could do but little more than sympathize with this heart-stricken son and grey-headed father. The aged follower of the Rejected and Crucified had like Him to bear the "reproach of many," and make his bed with the wicked in the Penitentiary. Doubtless there were a few friends in his neighborhood who sympathized with him, but they were powerless to aid the old man. But thanks to a kind Providence, the great deliverance brought about during the Rebellion by which so many captives were freed, also unlocked Samuel Green's prison-doors and he was allowed to go free.

After his liberation from the Penitentiary, we had from his own lips narrations of his years of suffering—of the bitter cup, that he was compelled to drink, and of his being sustained by the Almighty Arm—but no notes were taken at the time, consequently we have nothing more to add concerning him, save quite a faithful likeness.

Samuel Green

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Having dwelt on the sad narratives of Samuel Green and his son in the preceding chapter, it is quite a relief to be able to introduce a traveler whose story contains incidents less painful to contemplate. From the record book the following brief account is taken:

"April 27, 1855. John Hall arrived safely from Richmond, Va., per schooner, (Captain B). One hundred dollars were paid for his passage." In Richmond he was owned by James Dunlap, a merchant. John had been sold several times, in consequence of which, he had possessed very good opportunities of experiencing the effect of change of owners. Then, too, the personal examination made before sale, and the gratification afforded his master when he (John), brought a good price—left no very pleasing impressions on his mind.

By one of his owners, named Burke, John alleged that he had been "cruelly used." When quite young, both he and his sister, together with their mother, were sold by Burke. From that time he had seen neither mother nor sister—they were sold separately. For three or four years the desire to seek liberty had been fondly cherished, and nothing but the want of a favorable opportunity had deterred him from carrying out his designs. He considered himself much "imposed upon" by his master, particularly as he was allowed "no choice about living" as he "desired." This was indeed ill-treatment as John viewed the matter. John may have wanted too much. He was about thirty-five years of age, light complexion—tall—rather handsome-looking, intelligent, and of good manners. But notwithstanding these prepossessing features, John's owner valued him at only $1,000. If he had been a few shades darker and only about half as intelligent as he was, he would have been worth at least $500 more. The idea of having had a white father, in many instances, depreciated the pecuniary value of male slaves, if not of the other sex. John emphatically was one of this injured class; he evidently had blood in his veins which decidedly warred against submitting to the yoke. In addition to the influence which such rebellious blood exerted over him, together with a considerable amount of intelligence, he was also under the influence and advice of a daughter of old Ireland. She was heart and soul with John in all his plans which looked Canada-ward. This it was that "sent him away."

It is very certain, that this Irish girl was not annoyed by the kinks in John's hair. Nor was she overly fastidious about the small percentage of colored blood visible in John's complexion. It was, however, a strange occurrence and very hard to understand. Not a stone was left unturned until John was safely on the Underground Rail Road. Doubtless she helped to earn the money which was paid for his passage. And when he was safe off, it is not too much to say, that John was not a whit more delighted than was his intended Irish lassie, Mary Weaver. John had no sooner reached Canada than Mary's heart was there too. Circumstances, however, required that she should remain in Richmond a number of months for the purpose of winding up some of her affairs. As soon as the way opened for her, she followed him. It was quite manifest, that she had not let a single opportunity slide, but seized the first chance and arrived partly by means of the Underground Rail Road and partly by the regular train. Many difficulties were surmounted before and after leaving Richmond, by which they earned their merited success. From Canada, where they anticipated entering upon the matrimonial career with mutual satisfaction, it seemed to afford them great pleasure to write back frequently, expressing their heartfelt gratitude for assistance, and their happiness in the prospect of being united under the favorable auspices of freedom! At least two or three of these letters, bearing on particular phases of their escape, etc., are too valuable not to be published in this connection:


HAMILTON, March 25th, 1856.

Mr. Still:—Sir and Friend—I take the liberty of addressing you with these few lines hoping that you will attend to what I shall request of you.

I have written to Virginia and have not received an answer yet. I want to know if you can get any one of your city to go to Richmond for me. If you can, I will pay the expense of the whole. The person that I want the messenger to see is a white girl. I expect you know who I allude to, it is the girl that sent me away. If you can get any one to go, you will please write right away and tell me the cost, &c. I will forward the money and a letter. Please use your endeavors.

Yours Respectfuliy,


Direct yours to Mr. Hill.


HAMILTON, Sept. 15th, 1856.

To Mr. Still, Dear Sir:—I take this opportunity of addressing these few lines to you hoping to find you in good health I am happy to inform you that Miss Weaver arrived here on Tuesday last, and I can assure you it was indeed a happy day. As for your part that you done I will not attempt to tell you how thankful I am, but I hope that you can imagine what my feelings are to you. I cannot find words sufficient to express my gratitude to you, I think the wedding will take place on Tuesday next, I have seen some of the bread from your house, and she says it is the best bread she has had since she has been in America. Sometimes she has impudence enough to tell me she would rather be where you are in Philadelphia than to be here with me. I hope this will be no admiration to you for no honest hearted person ever saw you that would not desire to be where you are, No flattery, but candidly speaking, you are worthy all the praise of any person who has ever been with you, I am now like a deserted Christian, but yet I have asked so much, and all has been done yet I must ask again, My love to Mrs. Still. Dear Mr. Still I now ask you please to exercise all your influence to get this young man Willis Johnson from Richmond for me It is the young man that Miss Weaver told you about, he is in Richmond I think he is at the corner of Fushien Street, & Grace in a house of one Mr. Rutherford, there is several Rutherford in the neighborhood, there is a church call'd the third Baptist Church, on the R.H. side going up Grace street, directly opposite the Baptist church at the corner, is Mrs. Meads Old School at one corner, and Mr. Rutherfords is at the other corner. He can be found out by seeing Fountain Tombs who belongs to Mr. Rutherford and if you should not see him, there is James Turner who lives at the Governors, Please to see Captain Bayliss and tell him to take these directions and go to John Hill, in Petersburgh, and he may find him. Tell Captain Bayliss that if he ever did me a friendly thing in his life which he did do one friendly act, if he will take this on himself, and if money should be lacking I will forward any money that he may require, I hope you will sympathize with the poor young fellow, and tell the captain to do all in his power to get him and the costs shall be paid. He lies now between death or victory, for I know the man he belongs to would just as soon kill him as not, if he catches him, I here enclose to you a letter for Mr. Wm. C. Mayo, and please to send it as directed. In this letter I have asked him to send a box to you for me, which you will please pay the fare of the express upon it, when you get it please to let me know, and I will send you the money to pay the expenses of the carriage clear through. Please to let Mr. Mayo know how to direct a box to you, and the best way to send it from Richmond to Philadelphia. You will greatly oblige me by so doing. In this letter I have enclosed a trifle for postage which you will please to keep on account of my letters I hope you wont think hard of me but I simply send it because I know you have done enough, and are now doing more, without imposing in the matter I have done it a great many more of our people who you have done so much fore. No more from your humble and oldest servant.

JOHN HALL, Norton's Hotel, Hamilton.


MONDAY, Sept. 29, 56.

Sir:—I take this opportunity of informing you that we are in excellent health, and hope you are the same, I wrote a letter to you about 2 weeks ago and have not yet had an answer to it I wish to inform you that the wedding took place on Tuesday last, and Mrs. Hall now sends her best love to you, I enclose a letter which I wish you to forward to Mr. Mayo, you will see in his letter what I have said to him and I wish you would furnish him with such directions as it requires for him to send them things to you. I have told him not to pay for them but to send them to you so when you get them write me word what the cost of them are, and I will send you the money for them. Mary desires you to give her love to Mrs. Still. If any letters come for me please to send to me at Nortons Hotel, Please to let me know if you had a letter from me about 12 days ago. You will please Direct the enclosed to Mr. W.C. Mayo, Richmond, Va. Let me know if you have heard anything of Willis Johnson Mr. & Mrs. Hill send their kind love to you, they are all well, no more at present from your affect.,


Nortons Hotel.


HAMILTON, December 23d, 1856.

DEAR SIR:—I am happy to inform you that we are both enjoying good health and hope you are the same. I have been expecting a letter from you for some time but I suppose your business has prevented you from writing. I suppose you have not heard from any of my friends at Richmond. I have been longing to hear some news from that part, you may think "Out of sight and out of mind," but I can assure you, no matter how far I may be, or in what distant land, I shall never forget you, if I can never reach you by letters you may be sure I shall always think of you. I have found a great many friends in my life, but I must say you are the best one I ever met with, except one, you must know who that is, 'tis one who if I did not consider a friend, I could not consider any other person a friend, and that is Mrs. Hall. Please to let me know if the navigation between New York & Richmond is closed. Please to let me know whether it would be convenient to you to go to New York if it is please let me know what is the expense. Tell Mrs Still that my wife would be very happy to receive a letter from her at some moment when she is at leisure, for I know from what little I have seen of domestic affairs it keeps her pretty well employed, And I know she has not much time to write but if it were but two lines, she would be happy to receive it from her, my reason for wanting you to go to New York, there is a young man named Richard Myers and I should like for you to see him. He goes on board the Orono to Richmond and is a particular friend of mine and by seeing him I could get my clothes from Richmond, I expect to be out of employ in a few days, as the hotel is about to close on the 1st January and I hope you will write to me soon I want you to send me word how you and all the family are and all the news you can, you must excuse my short letter, as it is now near one o'clock and I must attend to business, but I have not written half what I intended to, as time is short, hoping to hear from you soon I remain yours sincerely,


Mr. and Mrs. Hill desire their best respects to you and Mrs. Still.

It cannot be denied that this is a most extraordinary occurrence. In some respects it is without a parallel. It was, however, no uncommon thing for white men (slave-holders) in the South to have colored wives and children whom, they did not hesitate to live with and acknowledge by their actions, with their means, and in their wills as the rightful heirs of their substance. Probably there is not a state in the Union where such relations have not existed. Seeing such usages, Mary might have reasoned that she had as good a right to marry the one she loved most as anybody else, particularly as she was in a "free country."

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But few could be found among the Underground Rail Road passengers who had a stronger repugnance to the unrequited labor system, or the recognized terms of "master and slave," than Dr. Thomas Bayne. Nor were many to be found who were more fearless and independent in uttering their sentiments. His place of bondage was in the city of Norfolk, Va., where he was held to service by Dr. C.F. Martin, a dentist of some celebrity. While with Dr. Martin, "Sam" learned dentistry in all its branches, and was often required by his master, the doctor, to fulfil professional engagements, both at home and at a distance, when it did not suit his pleasure or convenience to appear in person. In the mechanical department, especially, "Sam" was called upon to execute the most difficult tasks. This was not the testimony of "Sam" alone; various individuals who were with him in Norfolk, but had moved to Philadelphia, and were living there at the time of his arrival, being invited to see this distinguished professional piece of property, gave evidence which fully corroborated his. The master's professional practice, according to "Sam's" calculation, was worth $3,000 per annum. Full $1,000 of this amount in the opinion of "Sam" was the result of his own fettered hands. Not only was "Sam" serviceable to the doctor in the mechanical and practical branches of his profession, but as a sort of ready reckoner and an apt penman, he was obviously considered by the doctor, a valuable "article." He would frequently have "Sam" at his books instead of a book-keeper. Of course, "Sam" had never received, from Dr. M., an hour's schooling in his life, but having perceptive faculties naturally very large, combined with much self-esteem, he could hardly help learning readily. Had his master's design to keep him in ignorance been ever so great, he would have found it a labor beyond his power. But there is no reason to suppose that Dr. Martin was opposed to Sam's learning to read and write. We are pleased to note that no charges of ill-treatment are found recorded against Dr. M. in the narrative of "Sam."

True, it appears that he had been sold several times in his younger days, and had consequently been made to feel keenly, the smarts of Slavery, but nothing of this kind was charged against Dr. M., so that he may be set down as a pretty fair man, for aught that is known to the contrary, with the exception of depriving "Sam" of the just reward of his labor, which, according to St. James, is pronounced a "fraud." The doctor did not keep "Sam" so closely confined to dentistry and book-keeping that he had no time to attend occasionally to outside duties. It appears that he was quite active and successful as an Underground Rail Road agent, and rendered important aid in various directions. Indeed, Sam had good reason to suspect that the slave-holders were watching him, and that if he remained, he would most likely find himself in "hot water up to his eyes." Wisdom dictated that he should "pull up stakes" and depart while the way was open. He knew the captains who were then in the habit of taking similar passengers, but he had some fears that they might not be able to pursue the business much longer. In contemplating the change which he was about to make, "Sam" felt it necessary to keep his movements strictly private. Not even was he at liberty to break his mind to his wife and child, fearing that it would do them no good, and might prove his utter failure. His wife's name was Edna and his daughter was called Elizabeth; both were slaves and owned by E.P. Tabb, Esq., a hardware merchant of Norfolk.

No mention is made on the books, of ill-treatment, in connection with his wife's servitude; it may therefore be inferred, that her situation was not remarkably hard. It must not be supposed that "Sam" was not truly attached to his wife. He gave abundant proof of true matrimonial devotion, notwithstanding the secrecy of his arrangements for flight. Being naturally hopeful, he concluded that he could better succeed in securing his wife after obtaining freedom himself, than in undertaking the task beforehand.

The captain had two or three other Underground Rail Road male passengers to bring with him, besides "Sam," for whom, arrangements had been previously made—no more could be brought that trip. At the appointed time, the passengers were at the disposal of the captain of the schooner which was to bring them out of Slavery into freedom. Fully aware of the dangerous consequences should he be detected, the captain, faithful to his promise, secreted them in the usual manner, and set sail northward. Instead of landing his passengers in Philadelphia, as was his intention, for some reason or other (the schooner may have been disabled), he landed them on the New Jersey coast, not a great distance from Cape Island. He directed them how to reach Philadelphia. Sam knew of friends in the city, and straightway used his ready pen to make known the distress of himself and partners in tribulation. In making their way in the direction of their destined haven, they reached Salem, New Jersey, where they were discovered to be strangers and fugitives, and were directed to Abigail Goodwin, a Quaker lady, an abolitionist, long noted for her devotion to the cause of freedom, and one of the most liberal and faithful friends of the Vigilance Committee of Philadelphia.

This friend's opportunities of witnessing fresh arrivals had been rare, and perhaps she had never before come in contact with a "chattel" so smart as "Sam." Consequently she was much embarrassed when she heard his story, especially when he talked of his experience as a "Dentist." She was inclined to suspect that he was a "shrewd impostor" that needed "watching" instead of aiding. But her humanity forbade a hasty decision on this point. She was soon persuaded to render him some assistance, notwithstanding her apprehensions. While tarrying a day or two in Salem, "Sam's" letter was received in Philadelphia. Friend Goodwin was written to in the meantime, by a member of the Committee, directly with a view of making inquires concerning the stray fugitives, and at the same time to inform her as to how they happened to be coming in the direction found by her. While the mind of the friend was much relieved by the letter she received, she was still in some doubt, as will be seen by the appended extract from a letter on the subject:


SALEM, 3 mo., 25, '55.

DEAR FRIEND:—Thine of the 22d came to hand yesterday noon.

I do not believe that any of them are the ones thee wrote about, who wanted Dr. Lundy to come for them, and promised they would pay his expenses. They had no money, the minister said, but were pretty well off for clothes. I gave him all I had and more, but it seemed very little for four travelers—only a dollar for each—but they will meet with friends and helpers on the way. He said they expected to go away to-morrow. I am afraid, it's so cold, and one of them had a sore foot, they will not get away—it's dangerous staying here. There has been a slave-hunter here lately, I was told yesterday, in search of a woman; he tracked her to our Alms-house—she had lately been confined and was not able to go—he will come back for her and his infant—and will not wait long I expect. I want much to get her away first—and if one had a C.C. Torney here no doubt it would be done; but she will be well guarded. How much I wish the poor thing could be secreted in some safe place till she is able to travel Northward; but where that could be it's not easy to see. I presume the Carolina freed people have arrived ere now. I hope they will meet many friends, and be well provided for. Mary Davis will be then paid—her cousins have sent her twenty-four dollars, as it was not wanted for the purchase money—it was to be kept for them when they arrive. I am glad thee did keep the ten for the fugitives.

Samuel Nixon is now here, just come—a smart young man—they will be after him soon. I advise him to hurry on to Canada; he will leave here to-morrow, but don't say that he will go straight to the city. I would send this by him if he did. I am afraid he will loiter about and be taken—do make them go on fast—he has left. I could not hear much he said—some who did don't like him at all—think him an impostor—a great brag—said he was a dentist ten years. He was asked