GENEALOGY EXPRESS

 

Welcome to
Black
History & Genealogy

STILL'S
UNDERGROUND RAIL ROAD RECORDS,

REVISED EDITION.
(Previously Published in 1879 with title: The Underground Railroad)
WITH A LIFE OF THE AUTHOR.
NARRATING
THE HARDSHIPS, HAIRBREADTH ESCAPES AND DEATH STRUGGLES
OF THE
SLAVES
IN THEIR EFFORTS FOR FREEDOM.
TOGETHER WITH
SKETCHES OF SOME OF THE EMINENT FRIENDS OF FREEDOM, AND
MOST LIBERAL AIDERS AND ADVISERS OF THE ROAD
BY
WILLIAM STILL,
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.

SOLD ONLY BY SUBSCRIPTION.

PHILADELPHIA:
WILLIAM STILL, PUBLISHER
244 SOUTH TWELFTH STREET.
1886

pp. 200 -

[Pg. 200]

THE ESCAPE of HEZEKIAH HILL

(UNCLE of JOHN HENRY HILL)

     Impelled by the love of freedom Hezekiah resolved that he would work no longer for nothing; that he would never be sold on the auction block; that he no longer would obey the bidding of a master, and that he would die rather than be a slave.  This decision, however, had only been entertained

Pg. 201]

by him a short time prior to his escape.  For a number of years Hezekiah had been laboring under the pleasing thought that he should succeed in obtaining freedom through purchase, having had an understanding with his owner with this object in view.  At different times he had paid on account for himself nineteen hundred dollars, six hundred dollars more than he was to have paid according to the first agreement.  Although so shamefully defrauded in the first instance, he concluded to bear the disappointment as patiently as possible and get out of the lion's mouth as best he could.
     He continued to work on and save his money until he ha actually come within one hundred dollars of paying two thousand.  At this point instead of getting his free papers, as he firmly believed that he should, to his surprise one day he saw a notorious trader approaching the shop where he was at work.  The errand of the trader was soon made known.  Hezekiah simply requested time to go back to the other end of the shop to get his coat, which he seized and ran.  He was pursued but not captured.  This occurrence took place in Petersburg, Va., about the first of December, 1854.  On the night of the same day of his escape from the trader, Hezekiah walked to Richmond and was there secreted under a floor by a friend.  He was a tall man, of powerful muscular strength, about thirty years of age just in the prime of his manhood with enough pluck for two men.
     A heavy reward was offered for him, but the hunters failed to find him in this hiding place under the floor.  He strongly hoped to get away soon; on several occasions he made efforts, but only to be disappointed.  At different times at least two captains had consented to afford him a private passage to Philadelphia, but like the impotent man at the pool, some one always got ahead of him.  Two or three times he even managed to reach the boat upon the river, but had to return to his horrible place under the floor.  Some were under the impression that he was an exceedingly unlucky man, and for a time captains feared to bring him.  But his courage sustained him unwaveringly.
     Finally at the expiration of thirteen months, a private passage was procured for him on the steamship Pennsylvania, and with a little slave boy, seven years of age, (the son of the man who had secreted him) though seven years of age, (the son of the man who had secreted him) though placed in a very hard berth, he came safely to Philadelphia, greatly to the astonishment of the Vigilance Committee, who had waited for him so long that they had despaired of his ever coming.
     The joy that filled Hezekiah's bosom may be imagined but never described.  None but one who had been in similar straits could enter into his feelings.
     He had left his wife Louisa, and two little boys, Henry and Manuel.  His passage cost one hundred dollars.
     Hezekiah being a noted character, a number of the true friends were invited to take him by the hand and to rejoice with him over his noble

Pg. 202]

struggles and his triumph; needing rest and recruiting, he was made welcome to stay, at the expense of the committee, as long as he might feel disposed so to do.  He remained several days, and then went on to Canada rejoicing.  After arriving there he returned his acknowledgement for favors received, &c., in the following letter:
    TORONTO, Jan. 24th 1856.
     MR. STILL: - this is to inform you that Myself and little boy, arried safely in this city this day the 24th, at ten o'clock after a very long and pleasant trip.  I had a great deal of attention paid to me while on the way.
     I owes a great deel of thanks to yourself and friends, I will just say hare that when I arrived at New York, I found Mr. Gibbs sick and could not be attended to there.  However, I have arrived alright.
     You will please to give my respects to your friend that writes in the office with you, and to Mr. Smith, also Mr. Brown, and the friends, Mr. Still in particular.
     Friend Still you will please to send the enclosed to John Hill Petersburg I want him to send some things to me you will be so kind as to send your direction to them, so that the things to your care. if you do not see a convenient way to send it by hands, you will please direct your letter to Phillip Ubank Petersburg
  Yours Respectfully H. HILL


JAMES - (BROTHER OF JOHN HENRY HILL).

     For three years James suffered in a place of concealment, before he found the way opened to escape.  When he resolved on having his freedom he was much under twenty-one years of age, a brave young man, for three years, with unfailing spirit, making resistance in the city of Richmond to the slave Power!
     Such heroes in the days of Slavery, did much to make the infernal system insecure, and to keep alive the spirit of freedom in liberty-loving hearts the world over, wherever such deeds of noble daring were made known.  But of his heroism, but little can be reported here, from the fact, that such accounts as were in the possession of the Committee, were never transferred from the loose slips of paper on which they were first written, to the regular record book.  But an important letter from the friend with whom he was secreted, written a short while before he escaped (on a boat), gives some idea of his condition:

 
    RICHMOND, VA., February 16th, 1861.
     DEAR BROTHER STILL: - I received a message from brother Julius anderson, asking me to send the bundle on but I has no way to send it, I have been waiting and truly hopeing that you would make some arrangement with some person, and send for the parcel.  I have no way to send it, and I cannot communicate the subject to a stranger there is a Way by the N. y. line, but they are all strangers to me, and of course I could not approach them With this subject for I would be indangered myself greatly.  this business is left to you and to you alone to attend to in providing the way for me to send on the parcel, if you only make an arrangement with some person and let me know the said

Pg. 203]

person and the article which they is to be sent on then I an send the parcel unless you do make an arrangement with some person, and assure them that they will receive the funds for delivering the parcel this Business cannot be accomplished.  it is in your power to try to make some provision for the article to be sent but it is not in my power to do so, the bundle has been on my hands now going on 3 years, and I have suffered a great deal of danger, and is still suffering the same.  I have understood Sir that there were no difficul about the mone that you had it in your possession Ready for the bundle whenever it is delivered.  But Sir as I have said I can do nothing now.  Sir I ask you please through sympathy and feelings on my part & his try to provide a way for the bundle to be sent and relieve me of the danger in which I am in.  you might succeed in making an arrangement with those on the New york Steamers for they does such things but please let me know the man that the arrangement is made with - please give me an answer by the bearer.
  yours truly friend C. A.

     At last, the long, dark night passed away, and this young slave safely made his way to freedom, and proceeded to Boston, where he now resides.  While the Committee was looked to for aid in the deliverance of this poor prayers - not until after his escape, was it possible so to do.  But his escape to freedom gave them a satisfaction which no words can well express.  At present, John Henry Hill is a justice of the peace in Petersburg.  Hezekiah resides at West Point, and James in Boston, rejoicing that all men are free in the United States, at last.


-------------------------

FROM VIRGINIA, MARYLAND AND DELAWARE

ARCHER BARLOW, alias EMIT ROBINS

     This passenger arrived from Norfolk, Va. in 1853.  For the last four years previous to escaping, he had been under the yoke of Dr. George WilsonArcher declared that he had been "very badly treated" by the Doctor, which he urged as his reason for leaving.  True, the doctor had been good enough to allow him to hire this time, for which he required Archer to pay the moderate sum of $120 per annum.  As Archer had been "sickly" most of the time, during the last year, he complained that there was "no reduction" in his hire on this account.  Upon reflection, therefore, Archer thought if he had justice done him, he would be in possession of this "one hundred and twenty" himself, and all his other rights, instead of having to toil for another without pay; so he looked seriously into the matter of master and slave, and pretty soon resolved, that if others chose to make no effort to get away, for himself he would never be contented, until he was free.  When a slave reached this decision, he was in a very hopeful state.  He was near the Underground Rail Road, and was sure to find it, sooner or later.  At this thoughtful period, Archer was thirty-one years of age, a man of medium size, and belonged to the two leading branches of southern

Pg. 204]

humanity, i. e., he was half white and half colored - a dark mulatto.  His arrival in Philadelphia, per one of the Richmond steamers, was greeted with joy by the Vigilance Committee, who extended to him the usual aid and care, and forwarded him on to freedom.  For a number of years, he has been a citizen of Boston.

-------------------------

SAMUEL BUSH, alias WILLIAM OBLEBEE

     This "piece of property" fled in the fall of 1853.  As a specimen of this article of commerce, he evinced considerable intelligence.  He was a man of dark color, although not totally free from the admixture of the "superior" southern blood in his veins; in stature, he was only ordinary.  For leaving, he gave the following reasons:  "I found that I was working for my master, for his advantage, and when I was sick, I had to pay just as much as if I were well - $7 a month.  But my master was cross, and said that he intended to sell me - to do better by me another year.  Times grew worse and worse, constantly.  I thought, as I had heard, that if I could raise thirty dollars I could come away."  He at once saw the value of money.  To his mind it meant liberty from that moment.  Theneforth he decided to treasure up every dollar he could get hold of until he could accumulate at least enough to get out of "Old Virginia."  He was a married man, and thought he had a wife and one child, but on reflection, he found out that they did not actually belong to him, but to a carpenter, by the name of Bailey.  The man whom Samuel was compelled to call master was named Hoyle.
     The Committee's interview with Samuel was quite satisfactory, and they cheerfully accorded to him brotherly kindness and material aid at the same time.

-------------------------

JOHN SPENCER AND HIS SON WILLIAM, AND JAMES ALBERT

     These individuals escaped from the eastern shore of Maryland, in the Spring of 1853, but were led to conclude that they could enjoy the freedom they had aimed to find, in New Jersey.  They procured employment in the neighborhood of Haddonfield, some six or eight miles from Camden, New Jersey, and were succeeding, as they thought, very well.
     Things went on faorably for about three months, when to their alarm "slave hunters were discovered in the neighborhood" and sufficient evidence was obtained to make it quite plain that, John, William and James were the identical persons, for whom the hunters were in "hot

Pg. 205]

pursuit."  When brought to the Committee, they were pretty thoroughly alarmed and felt very anxious to be safely off to Canada.  While the Committee always rendered in such cases immediate protection and aid, they nevertheless, felt ,in view of the imminent dangers existing under the fugitive slave law, that persons disposed to thus stop by the way, should be very plainly given to understand, that if they were captured they would have themselves the most to blame.  But the dread of Slavery was strong in the minds of these fugitives, and they very fully realized their folly in stopping in New Jersey.  The Committee procured their tickets, helped them to disguise themselves as much as possible, and admonished the not to stop short of Canada.

-------------------------

HETTY SCOTT alias MARGARET DUNCANS and DAUGHTER PRISCILLA

     This mother and daughter had been the "chattels personal" of Daniel Coolby of Harvard, Md.  Their lot had been prompted them to escape was the fact that their master had "threatened to sell" them.  He had a right to do so; but Hetty was a little squeamish on this point and took great umbrage at her "kind master."  In this "disobedient" state of mind, she determined, if hard struggling would enable her, to defeat the threats of Mr. Daniel Coolby, that he should not much longer have the satisfaction of enjoying the fruit of the toil of herself and offspring.  She at once began to prepare for her journey.
     She had three children of her own to bring, besides she was intimately acquainted with a young man and a young woman, both slaves, to whom she felt that it would be safe to confide her plans with a view of inviting them to accompany her.  The young couple were ready converts to the eloquent speech delivered to them by Hetty of Freedom, and were quite willing to accept her as their leader in the emergency.  Up to the hour of setting out on their lonely and fatiguing journey, arrangements were being carefully completed, so that there should be no delay of any kind.  At the appointed hour they were all moving northward in good order.
     Arriving at Quakertown, Pa., they found friends of the slave, who welcomed them to their homes and sympathy, gladdening the hearts of all concerned.  For prudential reasons it was deemed desirable to separate the party, to send some one way and some another.  Thus safely, through the kind offices and aid of the friends at Quakertown, they were duly forwarded on to the Committee in Philadelphia.  Here similar acts of charity were extended to them, and they were directed on to Canada.

Pg. 206]

ROBERT FISHER

THE PASSENGER AVAILS HIMSELF of HOLIDAY WEEK, BETWEEN CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR'S, TO MAKE  HIS NORTHERN TRIP.

     ROBERT was about thirty years of age, dark color, quite tall, and in talking with him a little while, it was soon discovered that Slavery had not crushed all the brains out of his head by a good deal.  Nor was he so much attached to his "kind-hearted master," John Edward Jackson, of Anne Arundel, Md., or his old fiddle, that he was contented and happy while in bondage.  Far from it.  The fact was, that he hated Slavery so decidedly and had such a clear common-sense-like view of the evils and misery of the system, that he declared he had as a matter of principle refrained from marrying, in order that he might have no reason to grieve over having added to the woes of slaves.  Nor did he wish to be encumbered, if the opportunity offered to escape.  According to law he was entitled to his freedom at the age of twenty-five.
     But what right had a negro, which white slave-holders were "bound to respect?"  Many who had been willed free, were held just as firmly in Slavery, as if no will had ever been made.  Robert had too much sense to suppose that he could gain anything by seeking legal redress.  This method, therefore, was considered out of the question.  But in the meantime he was growing very naturally in favor of the Underground Rail Road.  From his experience Robert did not hesitate to say that his master was "mean,"  "a very hard man,," who would work his servants early and late, without allowing them food and clothing sufficient to shield them from the cold and hunger.  Robert certainly had unmistakable marks about him, of having been used roughly.  He thought very well of Nathan Harris, a fellow-servant belonging to the same owner, and he made up his mind, if Nathan would join him, neither the length of the journey, the loneliness of night travel, the coldness of the weather, the fear of the slave-hunter, nor the scantiness of their means should deter him from making his way to freedom.  Nathan listened to the proposal, and was suddenly converted to freedom, and the two united during Christmas week, 1854, and set out on the Underground Rail Road.  It is needless to say that they had trying difficulties to encounter.  These they expected, but all were overcome, and they reached the Vigilance Committee, in Philadelphia safely, and were cordially welcomed.  During the interview, a full interchange of thought resulted, the fugitives were well cared for, and in due time both were forwarded on, free of cost.

Pg. 207]

HANSEL WAPLES,

     This traveler arrived from Millsboro, Indian River, Delaware, where he was owned by Wm. E. Burton.  While Hansel did not really own himself, he had the reputation of having a wife and six children.  In June, some six months prior to her husband's arrival, Hansel's wife had been allowed by her mistress to go out on a begging expedition, to raise money to buy herself; but contrary to the expectation of her mistress she never returned.  Doubtless the mistress looked upon this course as a piece of the most high-banded stealing.  Hansel did not speak of his owner as being a hard man, but on the contrary he thought that he was about as "good" as the best that he was acquainted with.  While this was true, however, Hansel had quite good ground for believing that his master was about to sell him.  Dreading his fate he made up his mind to go in pursuit of his wife to a Free state.  Exactly where to look or how to find her he could not tell.
     The Committee advised him to "search in Canada."  And in order to enable him to get on quickly and safely, the Committee aided him with money, &c., in 1853.

-------------------------

ROSE ANNA TONNELL alias MARIA HYDE

     She fled from Isaac Tonnell of Georgetown, Delaware, in Christmas week, 1853.  A young woman with a little boy of seven years of age accompanied Rose Anna.  Further than the simple fact of their having thus safely arrived, except the expense incurred by the Committee, no other particulars appear on the records.

-------------------------

MARY ENNIS alias LICIA HEMMIN.

     Mary arrived with her two children in the early Spring of 1854.
     The mother was a woman of about thirty-three years of age, quite tall, with a countenance and general appearance well fitted to awaken sympathy at first sight.  Her oldest child was a little girl seven years of age, named Lydia the other was named Louisa Caroline, three years of age, both promising in appearance.  They were the so called property of John Ennis, of Georgetown, Delaware.  For their flight they chose the dead of Winter.  After leaving they made their way to West Chester, and there found friends and security for several weeks, up to the time they reached Philadelphia.  Probably the friends with whom they stopped thought the weather too inclement for a woman with children dependent on her

Pg. 208]

support to travel.  Long before this mother escaped, thoughts of liberty filled her heart.  She was ever watching from an opportunity, that would encourage her to hope for safety, when once the attempt should be made.  Until, however, she was convinced that her two children were to be sold, she could not quite muster courage to set out on the journey.  This threat to sell proved in multitudes of instances, "the last straw on the camel's back."  When nothing else would start them this would.  Mary and her children were the only slaves owned by this Ennis, consequently her duties were that of "Jack of all trades;" sometimes in the field and sometimes in the barn, as well as in the kitchen, by which, it is needless to say, that her life was rendered servile to the last degree.
     To bind up the broken heart of such a poor slave mother, and to aid such tender plants as were these little girls, from such a wretched state of barbarism as existed in poor little Delaware, was doubly gratifying to the Committee.

-------------------------

"SAM," "ISAAC," "PERRY," "CHARLES," AND "GREEN,"

ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS REWARD - Ran away on Saturday night, the 20th  September, 1856, from the subscriber, living in the ninth district of Carroll county, Maryland, two Negro Men, SAM and ISAACSam calls himself Samuel Sims; he is very black; shows his teeth very much when he laughs; no perceptible marks; he is 5 feet 8 inches high, and about thirty years of age, but has the appearance of being much older.
Isaac calls himself Isaac Dotson he is about five feet five or six inches high, always appears to be in a good humor; laughs a good deal, and runs on with a good deal of foolishness; he is of very light color, almost yellow, might be called a yellow boy; has no perceptible marks.
     They have such a variety of clothing that it is almost useless to say anything about them.  No doubt they will change their names.
     I will give the above reward for them, of one thousand dollars, or five hundred dollars for either of them, if taken and lodged in any jail in Maryland, so that I get them again.
     Also two of Mr. Dade's, living in the neighborhood, went the same time; no doubt they are all in company together.
    THOMAS B. OWINGS
s24-6tWit*    

     These passengers reached the Philadelphia station, about the 24th of September, 1856, five days after they escaped from Carroll county.  They were in  fine spirits, and had borne the fatigue and privation of travel bravely.  A free and interesting interview took place, between these passengers and the Committee, eliciting much information, especially with regard to the working of the system on the farms, from which they had the good luck to flee.  Each of the party was thoroughly questioned, about how time had passed with them at home, or rather in the prison house, what kind of men their masters were, how they fed and clothed, if they whipped, bought or sold, whether they were members of church, or not, and many more questions needless to enumerate bearing on the domestic relation which had existed between them-

[Pg. 209]

selves and their masters.  These queries they answered in their own way, with intelligence.  Upon the whole, their lot in Slavery had been rather more favorable then the average run of slaves.
     No record was made of any very severe treatment.  In fact, the notices made of them were very brief, and, but for the elaborate way in which they were described in the "Baltimore Sun," by their owners, their narratives would hardly be considered of sufficient interest to record.  The heavy rewards, beautiful descriptions, and elegant illustrations in the "Sun," were very attractive reading.  The Vigilance Committee took the "Sun" for nothing else under the sun but for this special literature, and for this purpose they always considered the "Sun" a cheap and reliable paper.
     A slave man or woman, running for life, he with a bundle on his back or she with a babe in her arms, was always a very interesting sight, and should always, be held in remembrance.  Like wise the descriptions given by slave-holders, as a general rule, showed considerable artistic powers and a most thorough knowledge of the physical outlines of this peculiar property.  In deed, the art must have been studied attentively for practical purposes.  When the advertisements were received in advance of arrivals, which was always the case, the descriptions generally were found so lifelike, that the Committee preferred to take them in preference to putting themselves to the labor of writing out new ones, for future reference.  This we think, ought not to be complained of by any who were so fortunate as to lose wayward servants, as it is but fair to give credit to all concerned.  True, sometimes some of these beautiful advertisements were open to gentle criticism.  The one at the head of this report, is clearly of this character.  For instance, in describing Isaac, Mr. Thomas B. Owings, represents him as being of a "very light color,"  "almost yellow,"  "might be called a yellow boy."  In the next breath he has no perceptible marks.  Now, if he is "very light," that is a well-known southern mark, admitted everywhere.  A hint to the wise is sufficient.  However, judging from what was seen of Isaac in Philadelphia, there was more cunning than "foolishness" about him.  Slaves sometimes, when wanting to get away, would make their owners believe that they were very happy and contented.  And, in using this kind of foolishness, would keep up appearances until an opportunity offered for an escape.  So Isaac might have possessed this sagacity, which appeared like nonsense to his master.  That slave-holders, above all others, were in the habit of taking special pains to encourage foolishness, loud self-respect, banjo playing, low dancing, etc., in the place of education,  virtue, self-respect and manly carriage, slave-holders themselves are witnesses.
     As Mr. Robert Dade was also a loser, equally with Mr. Thomas B. Owings, and as his advertisement was of the same liberality and high tone, it seems but fitting that it should come in just here, to give weight and com-

Pg. 210]

pleteness to the story.  Both Owings and Dade showed a considerable degree of southern chivalry in the liberality of their rewards.  Doubtless, the large sums thus offered awakened a live feeling in the breasts of old slave-hunters.  But it is to be supposed that the artful fugitives safely reached Philadelphia before the hunters got even the first scent on their track.  Up to the present hour, with the  owners all may be profound mystery; if so, it is to be hoped, that they may feel some interest in the solution of these wonders.  The articles so accurately described must now be permitted to testify in their own words, as taken from the records.

     GREEN MODOCK acknowledges that he was owned by William Dorsey, Perry by Robert Dade, Sam and Isaac by Thomas Owings, all farmers, and all "tough" and "pretty mean men."  Sam and Isaac had other names with them, but not such a variety of clothing as their master might have supposed.  Sam said he left because his master threatened to sell him to Georgia, and he believed that he meant so to do, as he had sold all his brothers and sisters to Georgia some time before he escaped.
     But this was not all.  Sam declared his master had threatened to shoot him a short while before he left.  This was the last straw on the camel's back.  Sam's heart was in Canada ever after that.  In traveling he resolved that nothing should stop him.  Charles offered the same excuse as did Sam  He had been threatened with the auction-block.  He left his mother free, but four sisters he left in chains.  As these men spoke of their tough owners and bad treatment in Slavery, they expressed their indignation at the idea that Owings, Dade and Dorsey had dared to rob them of their God-given rights.  They were only ignorant farm hands.  As they drank in the free air, the thought of their wrongs aroused all their manhood.  They were all young men, hale and stout, with strong resolutions to make Canada their future home.  The Committee encouraged them in this, and aided them for humanity's sake - Mr. Robert Dad's advertisement speaks for itself as follows:

RAN AWAY - On Saturday night, 20th inst., from the subscriber, living near Mount Airy P. O., Carroll county, two Negro men, PERRY and CHARLESPerry is quite dark, full face; is about 5 feet 8 or 9 inches high; has a scar on one of his hands, and one on his legs, caused by a cut from a scythe; 25 years old Charles is of a copper color, about 5 feet 9 or 10 inches high; round shouldered, with small whiskers; has one crooked finger that he cannot straighten, and a scar on his right leg, caused by the cut of a scythe; 22 years old.  I will give two hundred fifty dollars each, if taken in the State and returned to me, or secured in some jail so that I can get them again, or a $1,000 for the two, or $500 each, if taken out of the State, and secured in some jail in this State so that I can get them again.
    ROBERT DADE.
     s23-3f.    

Pg. 211]

FROM RICHMOND AND NORFOLK, VA.

WILLIAM B. WHITE, SUSAN BROOKS and WILLIAM HENRY ATKINS. - STOWED AWAY IN THE STEAMSHIP CITY OF RICHMOND.

     But for their hope of liberty, their uncomfortable position could hardly have been endured by these fugitives.  William had been compelled to dig and delve, to earn bread and butter, clothing and luxuries, houses and land, education and ease for H. B. Dickinson, of Richmond.  William smarted frequently; but what could he do?  Complaint from a slave was a crime of the deepest dye.  So William dug away mutely, but continued to think nevertheless.  He was a man of about thirty-six years of age, of dark chestnut color, medium size, and of pleasant manners to say the least.  His owner was a tobacco manufacturer, who held some thirty slaves in his own right, besides hiring a great many others.  William was regularly employed by day in his master's tobacco factory.  He was likewise employed as one of the carriers of the Richmond Dispatch; the time allowed to fill the duties of this office, was however, before sunrise in the morning.  It is but just to state, in favor of his master, that William was himself the receiver of a part of the pay for this night work.  It was by this means William procured clothing and certain other necessaries.
     From William's report of his master, he was by no means among the worst of slave-holders in Richmond; he did not himself flog, but the overseer was allowed to conduct this business, when it was considered necessary.  For a long time William had cherished a strong desire to be free, and had gone so far on several occasions as to make unsuccessful attempts to accomplish this end.  At last he was only apprised of his opportunity to carry his wishes into practice a few moments before the hour for the starting of the Underground Rail Road train.
     Being on the watch, he hailed the privilege, and left without looking back.
     True he left his wife and two children, who were free, and a son also who was owned by Warner Toliver, of Gloucester county, Va.  We leave the reader to decide for himself, whether William did right or wrong, and who was responsible for the sorrow of both husband and wife caused by the husband's course.  The Committee received him as a true and honest friend of freedom, and as such aided him.

-------------------------

SUSAN BROOKS.

     Susan was also a passenger on the same ship that brought Wm. B. White.  She was from Norfolk.  Her toil, body and strength were clamed by Thomas Eckels, Esq., a man of wealth and likewise a man of intemperance

Pg. 212]

With those who regarded Slavery as a "divine institution," intemperance was scarcely a mote, in the eyes of such.  For sixteen years, Susanhad been in the habit of hiring her time, for which she was required to pay five dollars per month.  As she had the reputation of being a good cook and chambermaid, she was employed steadily, sometimes on boats.  This sum may therefor be considered reasonable.
     Owing to the death of her husband, about a year previous to her escape, she had suffered greatly, so much so, that on two or three occasions, she had fallen into alarming fits, - a fact by no means agreeable to her owner, as he feared into alarming fits,  - a fact by no means agreeable to her owner, as he feared that the traders on learning her failing health would underrate her on this account.  But Susan was rather thankful for these signs of weakness, as she was thereby enabled to mature her plans and thus to elude detection.
     Her son having gone on ahead to Canada about six months in advance of her, she felt that she had strong ties in the goodly land.  Every day she remained in bondage, the cords bound her more tightly, and "weeks seemed like months, and months like years," so abhorrent had the peculiar institution become to her in every particular.  In this state of mind, she saw no other way, than by submitting to be secreted, until an opportunity should offer, via the Underground Rail Road.
     So for four months, like a true and earnest woman, she endured a great "fight of affliction," in this horrible place.  But the thought of freedom enabled her to keep her courage up, until the glad news was conveyed to her that all things were ready, providing that she could get safely to the boat, on which she was to be secreted.  How she succeeded in so doing the record book fails to explain.
     One of the methods, which used to succeed very well, in skillful and brave hands, was this:  In order to avoid suspicion, the woman intending to be secreted, approached the boat with a clean ironed shirt on her arm, bare headed and in her usual working dress,  looking good-natured of course, and as if she were simply conveying the shirt to one of the men on the boat.  The attention of the officer on the watch would not for a moment be attracted by a custom so common as this. Thus safely on the boat, the man whose business it was to put this piece of property in the most safe Underground Rail Road place, if he saw that every thing looked favorable, would quickly arrange matters without being missed from his duties.  In numerous instances, officers were outwitted in this way.
     As to what Susan had seen in the way of hardships, whether in relation to herself or others, her story was most interesting; but it may here by passed in order to make room for others.  She left one sister, named Mary Ann Tharagood, who was wanting to come away very much.  Susan was a woman of dark color, round built, medium height, and about forty years of age when she escaped in 1854.

Pg. 213]

WILLIAM HENRY ATKINS.

     William Henry was also a fellow-passenger on the same boat with William B. White and Ssuan Cooke.  These might be set down, as first-class Underground Rail Road travelers.
     Henry was a very likely-looking article.  He was quite smart, about six feet high, a dark mulatto, and was owned by a Baptist minister.
     For some cause not stated on the books, not long before leaving, Henry had received a notice from his owner, (the Baptist Minister) that he might hunt himself a new master as soon as possible.  This was a business that Henry had no relish for.  The owner he already had, he concluded bad enough in all conscience, and it did not occur to him that hunting another would mend the matter much.  So in thinking over the situation, he was "taken sick."  He felt the need of a little time to reflect upon matters of very weighty moment involving his freedom.  So when he was called upon one day to go to his regular toil, the answer was, "I am sick, I am not able to budge hardly."  The excuse took and Henry attended faithfully to his "sick business" for the time being, while on the other hand, the Baptist Minister waited patiently all the while for William to get well enough for hunting a new master.  What had to be done, needed to be done quickly, before his master's patience was exhausted.  William soon had matters arranged for traveling North.  He had a wife, Eliza, for whom he felt the greatest affection; but as he viewed matters at that time, he concluded that he could really do more for her in Canada than he could in Norfolk.  He saw no chance, either under the Baptist minister, or under a new master.  His wife was owned by Susan Langely.  When the hour arrived to start, as brave men usually do,  Henry having counted all the cost, was in his place on the boat with his face towards Canada.
     How he looked at matters on John Bull's side of the house, letters from Henry will abundantly revewal as follows:

   
ST. CATHARINES, August 4, 1854.
     MY DEAR SIR: - It is with plesure that I now take my pen to inform you that I am well at present and I hope that these few lines may find you injoying good health, and will you plese to be so kind as to send a leter down home for me if you plese to my wife, the reason that I beg the favor of you I have written to you several times and never recieve no answer, she don't no whar I am at I would like her to no, if it is posible elizaran Actkins, and when you write will you plese to send me all the news, give my respect to all the fambley and allso to Mr lundey and his fambley and tell him plese to send me those books if you plese the first chance you can git.  Mrs. Wood sends her love to Mr. Stillanswer this as soon as on hand, the boys all send their love to all, the reason why i sends for an answer write away i expect to live this and go up west nex mounth not why i sends for a answer write away i expect to live this and go up west nex mounth not to stay to get some land, I have no more at present, i remain your frield.
    W. H. ACTKINS.

Pg. 214]

  ST. CATHARINES, C. W., October 5th, 1854.
    MR. WILLIAM STILL: - Dear Friend: - I take the liberty to address to you a few lines in behalf of my wife, who is still at Norfolk, Va.  I have heard by my friend Richmond Bohm, who arrived lately, that she was in the hands of my friend Henry Lovey( the same who had me in hand at the time I started).  I understood that she was about to make her start this month, and that she was only waiting for me to send her some means.  I would like for you to communicate the substance of this letter to my wife, through my friend Henry Lovey, and for her to come on as soon as she can.  I would like to have my wife write to me a few lines by the first opportunity.  She could write to you in Philadelphia, 31 North Fifth Street.  I wish to send my love to you & your family & would like for you to answer this letter with the least possible delay in the care of Hiram Wilson.
  Very respectfully yours, W. H. ATKINS
     P. S.  I would like for my friend Henry Lovey to send my wife right on to Philadelphia; not to stop for want of means, for I will forward means on to my friend Wm. Still.  My love to my father & mother, my friend Lovey & to all my inquiring friends.  If you cannot find it convenient to write, please forward this by the Boat.  H. W. A.

-------------------------

FOUR ARRIVALS.

CHARLOTTE AND HARRIET ESCAPE IN DEEP MOURNING - MASTER IN THE SAME CAR HUNTING FOR THEM, SEES THEM, BUT DOES NOT KNOW THEM - WHITE LADY AND CHILD WITH A COLORED COACHMAN, TRAVELING - AT CHAMBERSBURG AT A HOTEL, THE PROPRIETOR DETECTS THEM AS U. G. R. R. PASSENGERS - THREE "LIKELY" YOUNG MEN FROM BALTIMORE - "FOUR LARGE AND TWO SMALL HAMS" - POLICE OFFICER IMPARTING INFORMATION AT THE ANTI-SLAVERY OFFICE - U. G. R. R. PASSENGERS TRAVELING WITH THEIR MASTERS' HORSES AND CARRIAGES - "BREAK DOWN" - CONFLICT WITH WHITE MEN - SIX PASSENGERS RIDING TWO HORSES, &c.
 

     About the 31st of May, 1856, an exceedingly anxious state of feeling existed with the active Committee in Philadelphia.  In the course of twenty-four arrivals had come to hand from different localities.  The circumstances connected with the escape of each party, being so unusual, there was scarcely ground for any other conclusion than that disaster was imminent, if not impossible to be averted.
     It was a day long to be remembered.  Aside from the danger, however, a more encouraging hour had never presented itself in the history of the Road.  The courage, which had so often been shown in the face of great danger, satisfied the Committee that there were heroes and heroines among these passengers, fully entitled to the applause of the liberty-loving citizens of Brotherly Love.  The very idea of having to walk for days and nights in succession, over strange roads, through by-ways, and valleys, over mountains, and marshes, was fitted to appeal the bravest hearts, especially where women and children were concerned.
     Being familiar with such cases, the Committee was delighted beyond.

Pg. 215]

measure to observe how wisely and successfully each of these parties had managed to over come these difficulties

Party No. 1 consisted of Charlotte Giles and Harriet Eglin, owned by Capt. Wm. Applegarth and John Delahay.  Neither of these girls had any great complaint to make on the score of ill-treatment endured.
     So they contrived each to get a suit of mourning, with heavy black veils, and thus dressed, apparently absorbed with grief, with a friend to pass them to Baltimore depot (hard place as pass, except aided by n individual well known to the R. R. company), they took a direct course of Philadelphia.
     While seated in the car, before leaving Baltimore (where slaves and masters both belonged), who should enter but the master of one of the girls!  In a very excited manner, he hurriedly approached Charlotte and Harriet, who were apparently weeping.  Peeping under their veils, "What is your name," exclaimed the excited gentleman.  "Mary, sir," sobbed Charlotte.  "What is your name?" (to the other mourner) "Lizzie, sir," was the fait reply.  On rushed the excited gentleman as if moved by steam - through the cars, looking for his property; not finding it, he passed out of the cars, and to the delight of Charlotte and Harriet soon disappeared.  Fair business men would be likely to look at this conduct on the part of the two girls in the light of a "sharp practice."  In military parlance it might be regarded as excellent strategy.  Be this as it may, the Underground Rail Road passengers arrived safely at the Philadelphia station and were gladly received.
     A brief stay in the city was thought prudent lest the hunters might be on the pursuit.  They were, therefore, retained in safe quarters.
     In the meantime, Arrival No. 2 reached the Committee.  It consisted of a colored man, a white woman and a child, ten years old.  This case created no little surprise.  Not that quite a number of passengers, fair enough to pass for white, with just a slight tinge of colored blood in their veins, even sons and daughters of some of the F. F. V., had not on various occasions come over the U. G. R. R.  But this party was peculiar.  An explanation was

Pg. 216]

sought, which resulted in ascertaining that the party was from Leesburg, Virginia; that David, the colored man, was about twenty-seven years of age, intelligent, and was owned, or claimed by Joshua Pusey.  David had no taste for Slavery, indeed, felt that it would be impossible for him to adapt himself to a life of servitude for the special benefit of others; he had, already, as he thought, been dealt with very wrongfully by Pusey, who had deprived him of many years of the best part of his life, and would continue thus wrong him, if he did not make a resolute effort to get away.  So after thinking of various plans, he determined not to run off as a slave with his "budget on his back," but to "travel as a coachman," under the "protection of a white lady."  In planning this pleasant scheme, David was not blind to the fact that neither himself nor the "white lady," with whom he proposed to travel, possessed either horse or carriage.

     But his master happened to have a vehicle that would answer for the occasion.  David reasoned that as Joshua, his so called master, had deprived him of his just dues for so many years, he had a right to borrow, or take without borrowing, one of Joshua's horses for the expedition.  The plan was submitted to the lady, and was approved, and a mutual understanding here entered into, that she should hire a carriage, and take also her little girl with them.  The lady was to assume the proprietorship of the horse, carriage and coachman.  In so doing all dangers would be, in their judgment, averted.  The scheme being all ready for execution, the time for departure was fixed, the carriage hired, David having secured his master Joshua's horse, and off they started in the direction of Pennsylvania.  White people being so accustomed to riding, and colored people to driving, the party looked all

Pg. 217]

right.  No one suspected them, that they were aware of, while passing through Virginia.
     On reaching Chambersburg, Pa., in the evening, they drove to a hotel, the lady alighted, holding by the hand her well dressed and nice-looking little daughter, bearing herself with as independent an air as if she had owned twenty such boys as accompanied her as coachman.  She did not hesitate to enter and request accommodations for the night, for herself, daughter, coachman, and horse.  Being politely told that they could be accommodated, all that was necessary was, that the lady should show off to the best advantage possible.  The same duty also rested with weight upon the mind of David.
     The night passed safely and the morning was ushered  in the bright hopes which were overcast but only for a moment, however.  Breakfast having been ordered and partaken of, to the lady's surprise, just as she was in the act of paying the bill, the proprietor of the hotel intimated that he thought that matters "looked a little suspicious," in other words, he said plainly, that he "believed that it was an Underground Rail Road movement;" but being n obliging hotel-keeper, he assured her at the same time, that he "would not betray them."  Just here it was with them as it would have been on any other rail road when things threaten to come to a stand; they could do nothing more than make their way of the peril as best they could.  One thing they decided to do immediately, namely, to "leave the horse and carriage," and try other modes of travel.  They concluded to take the regular passenger cars.  In this way they reached Philadelphia.  In Harrisburg, they had sought and received instructions how to find the Committee in Philadelphia.
     What relations had previously existed between David and this lady in Virginia, the Committee knew not.  It looked more like the time spoken of in Isaiah, where it is said, "And a little child shall lead them," than any thing that had ever been previously witnessed on the Underground Rail Road.  The Underground Rail Road never practised the proscription governing other roads, on account of race, color, or previous condition.  All were welcome to its immunities, white or colored, when the object to be gained favored freedom, or weakened slavery.  As the sole aim apparent in this case was freedom for the slave the Committee received these travellers as Underground Rail Road passengers.
     Arrival No. 3.  Charles H. Ringold, Robert Smith, and John Henry Richards, all from Baltimore.  They ages ranged from twenty to twenty-four years.  They were in appearance of the class most inviting to men who were in the business of buying and selling slave.  Charles and John were owned by James Hodges, and Robert by Wm. H. Normis living in Baltimore.  This is all that the records contain of them.  The exciting and hurrying time when they were in charge of the Committee probably forbade the writing out of a more detailed account of them, as was often the case.

Pg. 218]

 
     
 
     
 
 
     
 
     
 
     

Pg. 219]

 
     
 
     
 
 
     
 
     
 
     

 

Pg. 220]

 

 
     
 
     
 
 
     
 
     
 
     

 

 

[INSERT ILLUSTRATION]

 

 

 

Pg. 221]

 
     
 
     
 
 
     
 
     
 
     

 

Pg. 222]

 

 
     
 
     
 
 
     
 
     
 
     

Pg. 223]

 
     
 
     
 
 
     
 
     
 
     

 

 

< BACK TO TABLE OF CONTENTS >

 

-----
 

CLICK HERE TO RETURN TO
BLACK HISTORY INDEX PAGE

CLICK HERE TO RETURN TO
GENEALOGY EXPRESS

GENEALOGY EXPRESS
FREE GENEALOGY RESEARCH is My MISSION

This Webpage has been created by Sharon Wick exclusively for Genealogy Express  2008
Submitters retain all copyrights