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

[pg. 64]

PERRY JOHNSON, OF ELKTON, MARYLAND.
EYE KNOCKED OUT, ETC.

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

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ISAAC FORMAN, WILLIAM DAVIS, AND WILLIS REDICK.
HEARTS FULL OF JOY FOR FREEDOM - VERY ANXIOUS FOR WIVES IN SLAVERY

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

[pg. 65]
seen how the thought of his wife being in bondage grieved his heart.  It would have required men with stone hearts to have turned deaf ears to such appeals.  Extract from letter soon after reaching Canada - hopeful and happy -

EXTRACT OF LETTER FROM ISAAC FORMAN.

TORONTO, Feb. 20th, 1854.

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

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

SECOND LETTER.

                                                                     TORONTO, May 7, 1854.

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

[pg. 66]

WILLIS REDICK.

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

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WILLIAM DAVIS.

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

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JOSEPH HENRY CAMP.
THE AUCTION BLOCK IS DEFEATED AND A SLAVE TRADER LOSES FOURTEEN HUNDRED DOLLARS.

     In November, 1853, in the twentieth year of his age, Camp was held to "service of labor" in the City of Richmond, Va., by Dr. K. Clark.  Being

[pg. 67]
uncommonly smart and quite good-looking at the same time, he was a saleable piece of merchandise.  Without consulting his view of the matter or making the least intimation of any change, the master one day struck up a bargain with a trader for Joseph, and received Fourteen Hundred Dollars cash in consideration thereof.  Mr. Robert Parrett, of Parson & King's Express office, happened to have a knowledge of what had transpired, and thinking pretty well of Joseph, confidentially put him in full possession of all the facts in the case.  For reflection he hardly had five minutes.  But he at once resolved to strike that day for freedom - not to go home that evening to be delivered into the hands of his new master.  In putting into execution his bold resolve, he secreted himself, and so remained for three weeks.  In the meantime his mother, who was a slave, resolved to escape also, but after one week's gloomy foreboding, she became "faint-hearted and gave the struggle over."  But Joseph did not now what surrender meant.  His sole thought was to procure a ticket on the U. S. R. R. for Canada, which by persistent effort he succeeded in doing.  He hid himself in a steamer, and by this way reached Philadelphia, where he received every accommodation at the usual depot, was provided with a free ticket, and sent off rejoicing for Canada.  The unfortunate mother was "detected and sold South."

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

SHERIDAN FORD.
SECRETED IN THE WOODS - ESCAPES IN A STEAMER

     About the twenty-ninth of January, 1855, Sheridan arrived from the Old Dominion and a life of bondage, and was welcomed cordially by the Vigilance Committee.  Miss Elizabeth Brown of Portsmouth, Va. claimed Sheridan as her property.  He spoke rather kindly of her, and felt that he "had not been used very hard" as a general thing, although, he wisely added, "the best usage was bad enough."  Sheridan had nearly reached his twenty-eighth year, was tall and well made, and possessed of a considerable share of intelligence.
     Not a great while before making up his mind to escape, for some trifling offence he had been "stretched up with a rope by his hands," and "whipped unmercifully."  In addition to this he had "got wind of the fact," that he was to be auctioneered off; soon these things brought serious reflections to Sheridan's mind, and among other questions, he began to ponder how he could get a ticket on the U. G. R. R., and get out of this "place of torment," to where he might have the benefit of his own labor.  In this state of mind, about the fourteenth day of November, he took his first and during step.  He went not, however, to learned lawyers or able ministers of the Gospel in his distress and trouble, but wended his way "directly to the woods," where he felt that he would be safer with the wild animals and reptiles, in solitude, than with the barbarous civilization that existed in Portsmouth.

[pg. 68]
     The first day in the woods he passed in prayer incessantly, all alone.  In this particular place of seclusion he remained "four days and nights," "two days suffered severely from hunger, cold and thirst."  However, one who was a "friend" to him, and knew of his whereabouts, managed to get some food to him and consoling words; but at the end of the four days this friend got into some difficulty and thus Sheridan was left to "wade through deep waters and head winds" in an almost hopeless state.  There he could not consent to stay and starve to death.   Accordingly he left and found another place of seclusion - with a friend in town - for a pecuniary consideration.  A secret passage was procured for him on one of the steamers running between Philadelphia and Richmond, Va.  When he left his poor wife Julia, she was then "lying in prison to be sold," on the simple charge of having been suspected of conniving at her husband's escape.  As a woman she had known something of the "barbarism of slavery," from every-day experience, which the large scars about her head indicated - according to Sheridan's testimony.  She was the mother of two children, but had never been allowed to have the care of either of them.  The husband, utterly powerless to offer her the least sympathy in word or deed, left this dark habitation of cruelty, as above referred to, with no hope of ever seeing wife or child again in this world.
     The Committee afforded him the usual aid and comfort, and passed him on to the next station, with his face set towards Boston.  He had heard the slaveholders "curse" Boston so much, that he concluded it must be a pretty safe place for the fugitive.

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JOSEPH KNEELAND, ALIAS JOSEPH HULSON.

     Joseph Kneeland arrived November 25, 1853.  He was prepossessing man of twenty-six, dark complexion, and intelligent.  At the time of Joseph's escape, he was owned by Jacob Kneeland, who had fallen heir to him as a part of his father's estate.  Joseph spoke of his old master as having treated him "pretty well," but he had an idea that his young master had a very "malignant spirit;" for even before the death of his old master, the heir wanted him, "Joe," sold, and after the old man died, matters appeared to be coming to a crisis very fast.  Even as early as November, the young despot had distinctly given "Joe" to understand, that he was not to be hired out another year, intimating that he was to "go somewhere," but as to particulars, it was time enough for Joe to know him.
     Of course, "Joe" looked at his master "right good" and saw right through him, and at the same time, saw the U. G. R. R., "darkly."  Daily slavery grew awfully mean, but on the other hand, Canada was looked upon as a very desirable country to emigrate to, and he concluded to make his

[pg. 69]
way there, as speedily as the U. G. R. R. could safely convey him.  Accordingly he soon carried his design into practice, and on his arrival, the Committee regarded him as a very good subject for her British Majesty's possessions in Canada.

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EX-PRESIDENT TYLER'S HOUSEHOLD LOSES AN ARISTOCRATIC "ARTICLE"

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

[pg. 70]
     "How did you like Mr. Tyler?" said an inquisitive member of the Vigilane Committee.  "I didn't like Mr. Tyler much," was the reply.  "Why?" again inquired the member of the Committee.  "Because Mr. Tyler was a poor man.  I never did like poor people.  I didn't like his marrying to our family; who were considered very far Tyler's superiors."  "On the plantation," he said, "Tyler was a very cross man, and treated the servants very cruelly; but the house servants were treated much better, owing to their having belonged to his wife, who protected them from persecution, as they had been favorite servants in her father's family."  James estimated that "Tyler got about thirty-five thousand dollars and twenty-nine slaves, young and old, by his wife."
     What prompted James to leave such pleasant quarters?  It was this:  He had become enamored of a young and respectable free girl in Richmond, with whom he could not be united in marriage solely because he was a slave, and did not own himself.  The frequent sad separations of such married couples (where one or the other was a slave) could not be overlooked; consequently, the poor fellow concluded that he would stand a better chance of gaining his object in Canada than by remaining in Virginia.  So he began to feel that he might himself be sold someday, and thus the resolution came home to him very forcibly to make tracks for Canada.
     In speaking of the good treatment he had always met with, a member of the Committee remarked, "You must be akin to some one of your master's family?"  To which he replied, "I am Christian's son."  Unquestionably this passenger was one of that happy class so commonly referred to by apologists for the "Patriarchal Institution."  The Committee, feeling a deep interest in his story, and desiring great success to him in his Underground efforts to get rid of slavery, and at the same time possess himself of his affianced, made him heartily welcome, feeling assured that the struggles and hardships he had submitted to in escaping, as well as the luxuries he was leaving behind, were nothing to be compared with the blessings of liberty and a free wife in Canada.

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EDWARD MORGAN, HENRY JOHNSON, JAMES AND STEPHEN BUTLER

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

[pg. 71]
     "Stephen Butler is a dark-complexioned negro, about five feet seven inches; has a pleasant countenance, with a scar above his eye; plays on the violin; about twenty-two years old.
     "Jim Butler is a dark-complexioned negro, five feet eight or nine inches; is rather sullen when spoken to; face rough; aged about twenty-one years.  The clothing not recollected.  They had black frock coats and slouch hats with them.  Any information of them address Elizabeth Brown, Sandy Hook P.O., of the Thomas Johnson, Abingdon P. O., Harford county, Md.

"ELIZABETH BROWN.
"THOMAS JOHNSON
."

FROM THE UNDERGROUND RAIL ROAD RECORDS.

     The following memorandum is made, which, if not too late, may afford some light to "Elizabeth Brown and Thomas Johnson," if they have not already gone the way of the "lost cause" -
     June 4, 1857. - Edward is a hardy and firm-looking young man of twenty-four years of age, chestnut color, medium size, and "likely," - would doubtless bring $1,400 in the market.  He had been held as the property of the widow, "Betsy Brown," who resided near Mill Green P. O., in Harford county, Md.  "She was a very bad woman; would go to church every Sunday, come home and go to fighting amongst the colored people; was never satisfied; she treated my mother very hard, (said Ed.); would beat her with a walking-stick, &c.  She was an old woman and belonged to the Catholic Church.  Over her slaves she kept an overseer, who was a very wicked man; very bad on colored people; his name was "Bill Eddy;' Elizabeth Brown owned twelve head."
     Henry is of a brown skin, a good-looking young man, only nineteen years of age, whose prepossessing appearance would insure a high price for him in the market - perhaps $1,700.  With Edward, he testifies to the meanness of Mrs. Betsy Brown, as well as to his own longing desire for freedom.  Being a fellow-servant with Edward, Henry was a party to the plan of escape.  In slavery he left his mother and three sisters, owned by the "old woman" from whom he escaped.
     James is about twenty-one years of age, full black, and medium size.  As he had been worked hard on poor fare, he concluded to leave, in company with his brother and two cousins, leaving his parents in slavery, owned by the "Widow Pyle," who was also the owner of himself.  "She was upwards of eighty, very passionate and ill-natured, although a member of the Presbyterian Church."  James may be worth $1,400.
     Stephen is a brother of James', and is about the same size, though a year older.  His experience differed in no material respect from his brother's; was owned by the same woman, whom he "hated for her bad treatment" of him.  Would bring $1,400, perhaps.
     In substance, and to the considerable extent in the exact words, these facts are given as they came from the lips of the passengers, who though having been kept in ignorance and bondage, seemed to have their eyes fully open to

[pg. 72]
the wrongs that had been heaped upon them, and were singularly determined to reach free soil at all hazards.  The Committee willingly attended to their financial and other wants, and cheered them on with encouraging advice.
     They were indebted to "The Baltimore Sun" for the advertisement information.  And here it may be further added, that the "Sun" was quite famous for this kind of U. G. R. R. literature, and on that account alone the Committee subscribed for it daily, and never failed to scan closely certain columns, illustrated with a black man running away with a bundle on his back.  Many of these popular illustrations and advertisements were preserved, many others were sent away to friends at a distance, who took a special interest in the U. G. R. R. matters.  Friends and stockholders in England used to take a great interest in seeing how the fine arts, in these particulars, were encouraged in the South. ("the land of chivalry").

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HENRY PREDO.
BROKE JAIL, JUMPED OUT OF THE WINDOW AND MADE HIS ESCAPE.

     Henry fled from Buckstown, Dorchester Co., Md., March, 1857.  Physically he is a giant.  About 27 years of age, stout and well-made, quite black, and no fool, as will appear presently.  Only a short time before he escaped, his master threatened to sell him south.  To avoid that fate, therefore he concluded to try his luck on the Underground Rail Road, and, in company with seven others - two of them females - he started for Canada.  For two or three days and nights they managed to outgeneral all their adversaries, and succeeded barely in making the best of their way to a Free State.
     In the meantime, however, a reward of $3,000 was offered for their arrest.  This temptation was too great to be resisted, even by the man who had been intrusted with the care of them, and who had faithfully promised to pilot them to a safe place.  One night, through the treachery of their pretended conductor, they were all taken into Dover Jail, where the Sheriff and several others, who had been notified beforehand by the betrayer, were in readiness to receive them.  Up stairs they were taken, the betrayer remarking as they were going up, that they were "cold, but would soon have a good morning."  On a light being lit they discovered the iron bars and the fact that they had been betrayed.  Their liberty-loving spirits and purposes, however, did not quail.  Though resisted brutally by the sheriff with revolver in hand, they made their way down one flight of stairs, and in the moment of excitement, as good luck would have it, plunged into the sheriff''s private apartment where his wife and children were sleeping.  The wife cried murder lustily.  A shovel full of fire, to the great danger of burning

[pg. 73]
the premises, was scattered over the room; out of the window jumped two of the female fugitives.  Our hero Henry, seizing a heavy andiron, smashed out the window entire, through which the others leaped a distance of twelve feet.  The railing or wall around the jail, though at first it looked forbidding, was soon surmounted by a desperate effort.
     At this stage of the proceedings, Henry found himself without the walls, and also lost sight of his comrades at the same time.  The last enemy he spied was the sheriff in his stockings without his shoes.  He snapped his pistol at him, but it did not go off.  Six on the others, however, marvellously got off safely together;  where the eighth went, or how he got off, was not known.

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DANIEL HUGHES.

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

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THOMAS ELLIOTT

     Thomas is also one of the brave eight who broke out of Dover Jail.  He was about twenty-three years of age, well made, wide awake, and of a superb black complexion.  He too had been owned by Richard Meredith.  Against the betrayer, who was a black man, he had vengeance in store if the opportunity should ever offer.  Thomas left only one brother living; his "father and mother were dead."
     The excitement over the escape spread very rapidly next morning, and desperate efforts were made to recapture the fugitives, but a few friends there were who had sympathy and immediately rendered them the needed assistance.
     The appended note from the faithful Garrett and Samuel Rhoads, may throw light upon the occurrence to some extent.
                                                                                          WILMINGTON, 3d mo. 13th, 1857.
     DEAR COUSIN, SAMUEL RHOADS: - I have a letter this day from an agent of the Underground Rail Road, near Dover, in this state, saying I must be on the look out for six brothers and two sisters, they were decoyed and betrayed, he says by a colored man

[pg. 74]
named Thomas Otwell, who pretended to be their friend, and sent a white scamp ahead to wait for them at Dover till they arrived; they were arrested and put in Jail there, with Tom's assistance, and some officers.  On third day morning about four o'clock, they broke jail; six of them are secreted in the neighborhood and the writer ahs not known what became of the other two.  The six were to start last night for this place.  I hear that their owners have persons stationed at several places on the road watching.  I fear they will be taken.  If they could lay quiet for ten days and two weeks, they might then get up safe.  I shall have two men sent this evening some four or five miles below to keep them away from this town, and send them (if found to Chester County).  Thee may show this to Still and McKim, and oblige they cousin,              
                                                            THOMAS GARRETT.

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

                                                                                   CAMDEN, DEL., March 23d, 1857.
     DEAR SIR: - I tak my pen in hand to write to you, to inform you what we have had to go throw for the last two weaks.  Thir wir six men and two woman was betraid on the tenth of this month, thea had them in prison but thea got out was conveyed by a black man, he told them he wood bring them to my hows, as he wos told, he had ben ther Befor, he has com with Harrett, a woman that stops at my hous when she pases tow and throw yau.  You don't no me I supos, the Rev. Thomas H. Kennard dos, or Peter Lowis.  He Road Camden Cirduit, this man led them in dover prisin and left them with a whit man; but tha tour out the winders and jump out, so cum back to camden.  We put them throug, we hav to carry them 19 mils and cum back the sam night wich maks 38 mils.  It is tou much for our littel horses.  We must do the bes we can, ther is much Bisness dun on this Road.  We hav to go throw dover and smerny, the two wors places this sid of mary land lin.  If you have herd or sean them ples let me no.  I will Com to Phila be for long and then I will call and se you.  There is much to do her.   Ples to right, I Remain your frend,
                                                                                             WILLIAM BRINKLY
     Remember me to Thom. Kennard.

     The balance of these brave fugitives, although not named in this connection, succeeded in getting off safely.  But how the betrayer, sheriff and hunters got out of their dilemma, the Committee was never fully posted.
     The Committee found great pleasure in assisting these passengers, for they had the true grit.  Such were always doubly welcome.

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MARY EPPS, ALIAS EMMA BROWN - JOSEPH AND ROBERT ROBINSON
A SLAVE MOTHER LOSES HER SPEECH AT THE SALE OF HER CHILD - BOB ESCAPES FROM HIS MASTER, A TRADER, WITH $1500 IN NORTH CAROLINA MONEY

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

[Pg. 75]
availed themselves of his accommodations and thus succeeded in reaching Canada.
     His risk was very great.  On this account he claimed, as did certain others, that it was no more than fair to charge for his services - indeed he did not profess to bring persons for nothing, except in rare instances.  In this matter the Committee did not feel disposed to interfere directly in any way, further than to suggest that whatever understanding was agreed upon by the parties themselves should be faithfully adhered to.
     Many slaves in cities could raise, "by hook or by crook," fifty or one hundred dollars to pay for a passage, providing they could find one who was willing to risk aiding them.  Thus, while the Vigilance Committee of Philadelphia especially neither charged nor accepted anything for their services it was not to be expected that any of the Southern agents could afford to do likewise.
     The husband of Mary had for a long time wanted his own freedom, but did not feel that he could go without his wife; in fact, he resolved to get her off first, then to try and escape himself, if possible.  The first essential step towards success, he considered, was to save his money and make it an object to the captain to help him.  So when he had managed to lay by one hundred dollars, he willingly offered this sum to Captain B., if he would engage to deliver his wife into the hands of the Vigilance Committee of Philadelphia.  The captain agreed to the terms and fulfilled his engagement to the letter.  About the 1st of March, 1855, Mary was presented to the vigilance Committee.  She was of agreeable manners, about forty-five years of age, dark complexion, round built, and intelligent.  She had been the mother of fifteen children, four of whom had been sold away from her; one was still held in slavery in Petersburg; the others were all dead.
     At the sale of one of her children she was so affected with grief that she was thrown into violent convulsions, which caused the loss of her speech for one entire month.  But this little episode was not a matter to excite sympathy in the breasts of the highly refined and tender-hearted Christian mothers of Petersburg.  In the mercy of Providence, however, her reason and strength returned.
     She had formerly belonged to the late Littleton Reeves, whom she represented as having been "kind" to her, much more so than her mistress (Mrs. Reeves)  Said Mary, "She being of a jealous disposition, caused me to be hired out with a hard family, where I was much abused, frequently flogged, and stinted for food," etc.
     But the sweets of freedom in the care of the Vigilance Committee now delighted her mind, and the hope that her husband would soon follow her to Canada, inspired her with expectations that she would one day "sit under her own vine and fig tree where none dared to molest or make her afraid."
     The Committee rendered her the usual assistance, and in due time, for-

[Pg. 76]
warded her on to Queen Victoria's free land in Canada.  On her arrival she wrote back as follows -

                                                                        TORONTO, March 14th, 1855
     DEAR MR. STILL: - I take this opportunity of addressing you with these few lines to inform you that I arrived here to day, and hope that this may find yourself and Mrs. Still well, as this leaves me at the present.  I will also say to you, that I had no difficulty in getting along.  the two young men that was with me left me at Suspension Bridge, they went another way.
     I cannot say much about the place as I have ben here but a short time but so far as I have seen I like very well.  you will give my Respect to your lady, & Mr. & Mrs. Brown.  If you have not written to Petersburg you will please to write as soon as can I have nothing More to Write at present yours Respectfully
                                                                           EMMA BROWN (old name MARY EPPS.)

     Now, Joseph and Robert (Mary's associate passenger from Richmond) very active and intelligent, and doubtless, well understood the art of behaving himself.  He was well acquainted with the auction block - having been sold three times, and had had the misfortune to fall into the hands of a cruel master each time.  Under these circumstances he had had but a few privileges.  Sundays and week days alike he was kept pretty severely bent down to duty.  He had been beaten and knocked around shamefully.  He had a wife, and spoke of her in most endearing language, although, on leaving, he did not feel at liberty to apprise her of his movements, "fearing that it would not be safe so to do."  His four little children, to whom he appeared warmly, he left as he did his wife - in Slavery.  He declared that he "stuck to them as long as he could."  George E. Sadler, the keeper of an oyster house, held the deed for "Joe," and a most heartless wretch he was in Joe's estimation.  The truth was, Joe could not stand the burdens and abuses which Sadler was inclined to heap upon him.  So he concluded to join his brother and go off on the U. G. R. R.
     Robert, his younger brother, was owned by Robert Slater, Esq., a regular negro trader.  Eight years this slave's duties had been at the slave prison, and among the daily offices he had to attend to, was to lock up the prison, prepare the slaves for sale, etc.  Robert was a very intelligent young man, and from long and daily experience with the customs and usages of the slave prison, he was as familiar with the business as a Pennsylvania farmer with his barn-yard stock.  His account of things was too harrowing for detail here, except in the briefest manner, and that only with reference to a few particulars.  In order to prepare slaves for the market, it was usual to have them greased and rubbed to make them look bright and shining.  And he went on further to state, that "females as well as males were not uncommonly stripped naked, lashed flat to a bench, and then held by two men, sometimes four, while the brutal trader would strap them with a broad leather strap."  The strap preferred to the cow-hide, as it would not

[Pg. 77]

ROBERT ROBINSON

break the skin, and damage the sale.  "One hundred lashes would only be a common flogging."  The separation of families was thought nothing of.  "Often I have been flogged for refusing to flog others."  While not yet twenty-three years of age, Robert expressed himself as having become so daily sick of the brutality and suffering he could not help witnessing, that he felt he could not possibly stand it any longer, let the cost be what it might.  In this state of mind he met with Captain B.  Only one obstacle stood in his way - material aid.  It occurred to Robert that he had frequent access to the money drawer, and often it contained the proceeds of fresh sales of flesh and blood; and he reasoned that if some of that would help him and his brother to freedom, there could be no harm in helping himself the first opportunity.
     The captain was all ready, and provided he could get three passengers at $100 each he would set sail without much other freight.  Of course he was too shrewd to get out papers for Philadelphia.  That would betray him at once.  Washington or Baltimore, or even Wilmington, Del., were names which stood fair in the eyes of Virginia.  Consequently, being able to pack the fugitives away in a very private hole of his boat, and being only bound for a Southern port, the captain was willing to risk his share of the danger.  "Very well," said Robert, "to-day I will please my master so well, that I will catch him at an unguarded moment, and will ask him for a pass to go to a ball to-night (slave-holders) love to see their slaves fiddling and dancing of nights), and as I shall be leaving in a hurry, I will take a grab from the day's sale, and when Slater hears of me again, I will be in Canada."  So after having attended to all his disagreeable duties, he made his "grab," and got a hand full.  He did not know, however, how it would hold out.  That evening, instead of participating with the gay dancers, he was just one degree lower down than the regular bottom of Captain B's deck, with several hundred dollars in his pocket, after paying the worthy captain one hundred each for himself and his brother, besides making the captain an additional present of nearly one hundred.  Wind and tide were now what they prayed for to speed on the U. G. R. R. schooner, until they might reach the depot at Philadelphia.
     The Richmond Dispatch, an enterprising paper in the interest of slaveholders, which came daily to the Committee, was received in advance of the passengers, when lo! and behold, in turning to the interesting column containing the elegant illustrations of "runaway negroes," it was seen that the unfortunate Slater had "lost $1500 in North Carolina money, and also his dark orange-colored, intelligent, and good-looking turnkey, Bob."  "Served him right, it is no stealing for one piece of property to go off with another piece," reasoned a member of the Committee.
     In a couple of days after the Dispatch brought the news, the three U. G. R. R. passengers were safely landed at the usual place, and so accurate were

[Pg. 78]
the descriptions in the paper, that, on first seeing them, the Committee recognized them instantly, and, without any previous ceremonies, read to them the advertisement relative to the "$1500 in N. C. money, &c.," and put the question to them direct: "Are you the ones?"  "We are," they owned up without hesitation.  The Committee did not see a dollar of their money, but understood they had about $900, after paying the captain; while Bob considered he made a "very good grab," he did not admit that the amount advertised was correct.  After a reasonable time for recruiting, having been so long in the hole of the vessel, they took their department for Canada.
     From Joseph, the elder brother, is appended a short letter, announcing their arrival and condition under the British Lion -

                                                                          SAINT CATHARINE, April 16, 1855.
     MR. WILLIAM STILL, DEAR SIR: - Your letter of date April 7th I have just got, it had been opened before it came to me.  I have not received any other letter from you and can get no account of them in the Post Office in this place, I am well and have got a good situation in this city and intend staying here.  I should be very glad to hear from you as soon as convenient and also from all of my friends near you.  My Brother is also at work with me and doing well.
     There is nothing here that would interest you in any way of news.  There is a Masonic Lodge of our people and two churches and societys here and some other institutions for our benefit.  Be kind enough to send a few lines of the Lady spoken of for that mocking bird and much oblige me.  Write me soon and believe me your obedient Servt.
     Love & respects to Lady and daughter
                                                                          JOSEPH ROBINSON.

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

[Pg. 79]
exactly tell the Committee, but they guessed he talked strong Democratic doctrine to them under the frightful circumstances.  But he was good at concealing his feelings, and obviously managed to avoid suspicion.

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

GEORGE SOLOMON, DANIEL NEALL, BENJAMIN R. FLETCHER AND MARIA DORSEY.

     The above representatives of the unrequited laborers of the South fled directly form Washington, D. C.  Nothing remarkable was discovered in their series of slave life; their narratives will therefore be brief.
     George Solomon was owned by Daniel Minor, of Moss Grove, Va.  George was about thirty-three years of age; mulatto, intelligent, and of prepossessing appearance.  His old master valued George's services very highly, and had often declared to others, as well as to George himself, that without him he should hardly know how to manage.  And frequently George was told by the old master that at his "death he was not to be a slave any longer, as he would have provision made in his will for his freedom."  For a long time this old story was clung to pretty faithfully by George, but his "old master hung on too long,"  consequently George's patience became exhausted.  And as he had heard a good deal about Canada, U. G. R. R., and the Abolitionists, he concluded that it would do no harm to hint to a reliable friend or two the names of these hard places and bad people, to see what impression would be made on their minds; in short, to see if they were ready to second a motion to get rid of bondage.  In thus opening his mind to his friends, he soon found a willing accord in each of their hearts, and they put their heads together to count up the cost and to fix a time for leaving Egypt and the host of Pharaoh to do their own "hewing of wood and drawing of water."  Accordingly George, Daniel, Benjamin and Maria, all of one heart and mind, one "Saturday night" resolved that the next Sunday should find them on the U. G. R. R., with their faces towards Canada.
     Daniel was young, only twenty-three, good looking, and half white, with a fair share of intelligence.  As regards his slave life, he acknowledged that he had not had it very rough as a general thing; nevertheless, he was fully persuaded that he had "as good a right to his freedom" as his "master had to his," and that it was his duty to contend for it.
     Benjamin was twenty-seven years of age, small of stature, dark complexion, of a pleasant countenance, and quite smart.  He testified, that "ill-treatment from his master," Henry Martin, who would give him "no chance at all," was the cause of his leaving.  He left a brother and sister, belonging to Martin, besides he left two other sisters in bondage, Louisa and Letty, but his father and mother were both dead.  Therefore, the land of slave-whips

[Pg. 80]
and auction-blocks had no charms for him.  He loved his sisters, but he knew if he could not protect himself, much less could he protect them.  So he concluded to bid them adieu forever in this world.   
     Turning from the three male companions for the purpose of finding a brief space for Maria it will be well to state here that females in attempting to escape from a life of bondage undertook three times the risk of failure that males were liable to, not to mention the additional trials and struggles they had to contend with.  In justice, therefore, to the heroic female who was willing to endure the most extreme suffering and hardship for freedom, double honors were due. 
     Maria, the heroine of the party, was about forty years of age, chestnut color, medium size, and possessed of a good share or common sense.  She was owned by George Parker.  As was a common thing with slave-holders, Maria had found her owners hard to please, and quite often, without the slightest reason, they would threaten to "sell or make a change."  These threats only made matters worse, or rather it only served to nerve Maria for the conflict.  The party walked almost the entire distance from Washington to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
     In the meantime George Parker, the so-called owner of Daniel and Maria, hurriedly rushed their good names into the "Baltimore Sun," after the following manner - 
     "FOUR HUNDRED DOLLARS REWARD - Ranaway from my house on Saturday night, August 30, my negro man 'Daniel,' twenty-five years of age, bright yellow mulatto, thick set and stout made.
     Also, my negro woman, 'Maria,' forty years of age, bright mulatto.  The above reward will be paid if delivered in Washington city.                 GEORGE PARKER,"
     While this advertisement was in the Baltimore papers, doubtless these noble passengers were enjoying the hospitalities of the Vigilance Committee, and finally a warm reception in Canada, by which they were greatly pleased.  Of Benjamin and Daniel, the subjoined letter from Rev. H. Wilson is of importance in the way of throwing light upon their whereabouts in Canada:
                                                                           ST. CATHARINE, C. W., Sept. 15th, 1856.

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

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