and communicate to him has 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 Falls.
HENRY BOX BROWN
ARRIVED BY ADAMS' EXPRESS
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 the relation to
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 hoped 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 expressman, 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, bur 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 a 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."
But all apprehension of danger did not now disappear,
for there was no room to suppose that Adams' Express
office had any sympathy with this 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
convert 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, 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. Daily
heard Mr. McKim's plan and instantly approved of
it, and was heartily at his service.
* 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.
RESURRECTION OF HENRY BOX BROWN.
"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
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
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 to freely of his substance to aid them on
their journey. But now is emotion was
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
husband. 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 years 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.
THE DELIVERER OF BOX
BROWN - MEETING OF THE COLORED CITIZENS OF PHILADELPHIA.
[Correspondence of the N. Y. Tribune.]
PHILADELPHIA, Saturday, July 5, 1856.
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
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 from 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, having 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 an 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 physicially 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 -
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
Resolved, That we sympathize with him in his
losses and sufferings in the cause of the poor,
During his stay
in Philadelphia, on this occasion, he stopped for about
a fortight 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.
TRIAL OF THE
EMANCIPATORS OF COL. J. H. WHEELER'S SLAVES, JANE
JOHNSON AND HER TWO LITTLE BOYS.
Among other duties devolving on the Vigilance
Committee when hearing of slaves brought into the State
by their owners, was immediately 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.
LETTER COPIED FROM
THE NEW YORK TRIBUNE.
(Correspondence of The N. Y. Tribune)
Monday, July 30, 1855.
As the public
have not been made acquainted with the facts and
particulars respecting the agency of Mr. Passmore
Williamsonb 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
On Wednesday afternoon, week, at 4½
o'clock, the following note was placed in my hands by a
colored boy whom I had never before seen, to my
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, 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-care, however, I might have been
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 forming 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
RESCUE OF JANE JOHNSON AND HER CHILDREN
through 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 a 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
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
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
"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 and 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
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
THE ARRIVALS OF A SINGLE MONTH
SIXTY PASSENGERS CAME IN ONE MONTH - TWENTY-EIGHT IN ONE
ARRIVAL - GREAT PANIC AND INDIGNATION MEETING -
INTERESTING CORRESPONDENCE FROM MASTERS AND FUGITIVES.
number of cases to be here notice 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 from 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-barrelled 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 be
cause he "expected every day to be sold" - his master
being largely in "debt." Brought with him a
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 board-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 god man;" but in consequence of
speculations in a large Hotel in Portsmouth, and the
then financial embarrassments, "he had become ser
ESCAPING FROM NORFOLK, IN CAPT. LEE'S SKIFF.
ously 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 Dutton 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.* Thus, fully
resolved from 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 -
||$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
* a paw is a weapon with iron prongs,
four inches long, to be grasped with the hand and used
in close encounter.
understand the Rev. Mr. Traverse's
authority for taking the liberty he did with Aaron's
good name, it may not by 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 hop 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
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,
to go to PAGE 101 >