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History & Genealogy


(Previously Published in 1879 with title: The Underground Railroad)
For many years connected with the Anti-Slavery Office in Philadelphia, and Chairman of the Acting
Vigilant 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 shalt not deliver unto his master the servant that has escaped from his master unto thee. - Deut. xxiii 16.



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     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, THOS. GARRETT.


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 leasing 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.

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     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, G. A. LEWIS.

     2d day morning, 29th. - The person who took the husband and wife and three lads to E. F. Pennypacker, 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 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 then 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 were 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, G. A. LEWIS

(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, E. L. STEVENS.


     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.

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     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 Phihla. by the 6 o'clock train - one or more, also, as the case may be.
                             April 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,                                        JOHN H. HILL.


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

     MR. WILLIAM STILL: - Sir - I have just received a letter from my friend, Wm. Wright, of Your 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 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.

Yours truly,                                           J. BIGELOW.


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

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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 noe-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 to be a wide-a-wake.

Yours in haste,                                   HAM & EGGS



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

     MY DEAR FRIEND, MR. 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 known 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,                                HIRAM WILSON.


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 bones 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 Save & 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.                                             SHERIDAN W. FORD

     Yesterday is the first 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 it is in my eyes now for God knows it

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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.,                          E. F. PENNYPACKER.

     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 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,        JOS. C. BUSTILL.


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 to 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

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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.

Yours,                                                    G. S. N.


     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.

JOHN THOMPSON,          
Syracuse, Jeny 6th.


     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 and 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 suppose 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 & youre 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 Virginia.  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.   this 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.

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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.

Yours,                                                     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!
     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 son!!  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 bumble 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 and 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,              THEODOCIA GILBERT.

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Came boxed up via Erricson line of Steamers

     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 those 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 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,

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and said, "I think that it is 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 fell very much oblige to you and your family for your kindes 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 more Jones tell him i should like to here from him very much and he must write.  tel him to give my love to all of my perticular 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 writing sooner as i dont write myself.  no more at teh present.                      WILLIAM JONES,

     derect to one hundred 125 lydus, stt

[pg. 48]
     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.                                                           N. L. J.  


     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

[Pg. 49]
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 she 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.

[Pg. 50]
     "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 net 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 was able 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.  From 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


Pg. 51
permitted. Afterwards I began to get better, and was then kept very 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 Marc, 1857, Abram Harris fled from John Henry Suthern, who lived near Benedict, Charles county, Md., where he was engaged i 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

[Pg. 52]
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, 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




[Pg 53]
was brought by a pitying stranger to teh 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 thsi 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 hsi 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 fo 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 teh 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 re-

[Pg. 54]
ceived 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 hi 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,                   L. D. MANSFIELD.


     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 teh 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.

[Pg. 55]
     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 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 Feb. 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. William 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.

[Pg. 56]
     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 been reconciled to our 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.

Yours, L. E. White

     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

[Pg. 57]
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 probably 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 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 to 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

[Pg. 58]
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 for 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.


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 Bretheran 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 are 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, JOHN H. HILL.

     Instead of weeping over the sad situation of his "penniless" mistress and showing any signs of contrition for having wronged the man who had 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

[Pg. 59]
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 (Henery 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 least, 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, W. H. GILLIAM

     John Clayton, the companion is 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,     JOHN CLAYTON.
     You will please to direct the to Petersburg Luenena Johns or Clayton John is best.

[pg. 60]

Arrived in Male Attire

     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 there (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,

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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 a 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 y father he seams to be improving 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 brig 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 emergent 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,    MARY D. ARMSTEAD.

Secreted Ten Months - Eight days on the Steamship City of Richmond bound for Philadelphia

     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 daugh-

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ter 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 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

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he suffered almost death, 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 would 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 so 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 Pear, 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.

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