MARYLAND WITH THREE COLORED WIVES.
JAMES GRIFFIN ALIAS THOMAS BROWN
was a tiller of the soil under the yoke of Joshua
Hitch, who lived on a farm about seventeen miles
from Baltimore. James spoke rather
favorably of him; indeed, it was through a direct act of
kindness on the part of his master that he procured the
opportunity to make good his escape. It appeared
from his story, that his master's affairs had become
particularly embarrassed, and the Sheriff was making
frequent visits to his house. This sign was
interpreted to mean that James, if not others,
would have to be sold before long. The master was
much puzzled to decide which way to turn. He owned
but three other adult slaves besides James, and
females. One of them was his chief housekeeper,
and with them all his social relations were of such a
nature as to lead James and others to think and
say that they "were all his wives." Or to use
James's own language "he had three slave women; two
were sisters, and he lived with them all as his wives;
two of them he was very fond of," and desired to keep
them from being sold if possible. The third, he
concluded he could not save, she would have to be sold.
In this dilemma, he was good enough to allow James
a few days' holiday, for the purpose of finding him a
good master. Expressing his satisfaction and
gratification, James, armed with full authority
from his master to select a choice specimen, started for
On reaching Baltimore, however, James carefully
steered clear of all slave-holders, and shrewdly turned
his attention to the matter of getting an Underground
Rail Road ticket for Canada. After making as much
inquiry as he felt was safe, he came to the conclusion
to walk of nights for a long distance. He examined
his feet and legs, found that they were in good order,
and his faith and hope strong enough to remove a
mountain. Besides several days still remained in
which he was permitted to look for a new master, and
these he decided could be profitably spent in making his
way towards Canada. So off he started, at no doubt
a very diligent pace, for at the end of the first
night's journey, he had made much headway, but at the
expense of his feet.
His faith was stronger than ever. So he rested
next day in the woods, concealed, of course, and the
next evening started with fresh courage and renewed
perseverance. Finally, he reached Columbia,
Pennsylvania, and there he had the happiness to learn,
that the mountain which at first had tried his faith so
severely, was removed, and friendly hands were reached
out and a more speedy and comfortable mode of travel
advised. He was directed to the Vigilance
Committee in Philadelphia, from whom he received
friendly aid, and all necessary information respecting
Canada and how to get there.
James was thirty-one years of age, rather a
fine-looking man, of a chestnut color, and quite
intelligent. He had been a married man, but for
two years before his escape, he had been a widower -
that is, his wife had been sold away from him in North
Carolina, and in that space of time he had received only
three letters from her; he had given up all hope of ever
seeing her again. He had two little boys living in
Baltimore, whom he was obliged to leave. Their
names were Edward and William. What became
of them afterwards was never known at the Philadelphia
James's master was a man of about fifty years of
age - who had never been lawfully married, yet had a
number of children on his place who were of great
concern to him in the midst of other pressing
embarrassments. Of course, the Committee never
learned how matters were settled after James
left, but, in all probability, his wives, Nancy
and Mary (sisters), and Lizzie, with all
the children, had to be sold.
F. ARRIVES WITH NINE PASSENGERS.
NAMES OF PASSENGERS.
Eatontown, North Carolina; MATTHEW
BODAMS, Plymouth, North
South End, North Carolina; CHARLES
BOWSER, AND THOMAS
COOPER, Portsmouth, Virginia;
was announced by Thomas Garrett as follows:
WILMINGTON, 7th mo., 19th, 1856
- I now have the pleasure of consigning to they care
four able-bodied human beings from North Carolina, and
five from Virginia, one of which is a girl twelve or
thirteen years of age, the rest all men. After
thee ahs seen and conversed with them, thee can
determine what is best to be done with them. I am
assured they are such as can take good care of
themselves. Elijah Pennypacker, some time
since informed me he could find employment in his
neighborhood for two or three good hands. I should
think that those from Carolina would be about as safe in
that neighborhood as any place this side of Canada.
Wishing our friends a safe trip, I remain they sincere
After conferring with Harry Craige, we have
concluded to send five or six of them tonight in the
cars, and the balance, if those go safe, to-morrow
night, or in the steam-boat on Second day morning,
directed to the Anti-Slavery office.
There was much
rejoicing over these select passengers, and very much
interesting information was elicited from them.
PETER was only twenty-one
years of age, composed of equal parts of Anglo-Saxon and
Anglo-African blood - rather a model looking article,"
with a fair share of intelligence. As a slave, he
had fared pretty well- he had neither been abused nor
stinted of food or clothing, as many others had been.
His duties had been to attend upon his master (and
reputed father), Elias Heines, Esq., a lawyer by
profession in North Carolina.
No charges whatever appear to have been made against
Mr. Heines, according to the record book; but
Peter seemed filled with great delight at the
prospects ahead, as well as with the success that had
attended his efforts thus far in striking for freedom.
JAMES was twenty-seven
years of age. His experience had been quite
different from that of Peter's. The heel of
a woman, by the name of Mrs.. Ann McCourt, had
been on James's neck, and she had caused him to
suffer severely. As James recounted his
grievances, while under the rule, he by no means gave
her a very flattering character, but, on the contrary,
he plainly stated, that she was a "desperate woman" -
that he had "never known any good of her," and that he
was moved to escape to get rid of her. In other
words,, she had threatened to sell him; this well nigh
produced a frenzy in James's mind, for too well
did he remember, that he had already
been sold three times, and in different stages of his
bondage had been treated quite cruelly. In the
change of masters he was positive in saying, that he had
not found a good one, and, besides, he entertained the
belief that such personages were very rare.
Those of the Committee who listened to James
were not a little amazed at his fluency, intelligence
and earnestness, and acknowledged that he dealt
unusually telling blows against the Patriarchal
MATTHEW was twenty-three
years of age, very stout - no fool - a man of decided
resolution, and of the very best black complexion
produced in the South. Matthew had a very
serious bill of complaints against Samuel Simmons,
who professed to own him (Matthew), both body and
mind, while in this world at least. Among these
complaints was the charge of ill-treatment.
Nevertheless Matthew's joy and pleasure were
matchless over his Underground Rail Road triumph, and
the prospect of being so soon out of the land and reach
of Slavery, and in a land where he could enjoy his
freedom as others enjoyed theirs. Indeed the
entire band evinced similar feelings. Matthew
left a brother in Martin county.
Further sketches of this interesting
OWEN AND OTHO TAYLOR'S FLIGHT WITH
THREE BROTHERS, TWO OF THEM WITH WIVES AND CHILDREN.
REWARD, - Ran away from the
subscriber, residing near Bladensburg, Prince George's
county, Maryland, on Saturday night, the 22d of March,
1856, my negro man, Tom Matthews, aged about 25
years, about 5 feet 9 inches high, dark copper color,
full suit of bushy hair, broad face, with high cheek
bones, broad and square shoulders, stands and walks very
erect, though quite a sluggard in action, except in a
dance, at which he is hard to beat. He wore away a
black coat and brown pantaloons. I will give the
above reward if taken and brought home, or secured in
jail, so that I get him.
E. A. JONES, near
As Mr. Jones
may be unaware which way his man Tom traveled,
this item may inform him that his name was entered on
the Underground Rail Road book April 4th 1856, at which
date he appeared to be in good health and full of hope
for a safe sojourn in Canada. He was destitute, of
course, just as anybody else would hae been, if robbers
had stripped him of every dollar of his earnings; but he
felt pretty sure, that he could take care of himself in
her Majesty's dominion.
The Committee, encouraged by his efforts, reached him a
helping hand and sent him on to swell the goodly number
in the promised land - Canada.
On the same day that Tom arrived, the Committee
had the pleasure of taking JAMES JONES by the
hand. He was owned by Dr. William Stewart,
of King George's Court House, Maryland. He was
not, however, in the service of his master at the time
of his escape but was hired out in Alexandria. For
some reason, not noticed in the book, James
became dissatisfied, changed his name to Henry Rider,
got an Underground Rail Road pass and left the Dr.
and his other associations in Maryland. He was one
of the well-cared for "articles," and was of very near
kin to the white people, at least a half-brother
(mulatto, of course). He was thirty-two years of
age, medium size, hard-featured and raw-boned, but "no
marks about him."
James looked as if he had had pretty good
health, still the Committee thought that he would have
much better in Canada. After haring a full
description of that country and of the great number of
fugitives there from Maryland and other parts of the
South, "Jim" felt that that was just the place he
wanted to find, and was soon off with a free ticket, a
letter of introduction, etc.
ARRIVES WITH FOURTEEN "PRIME ARTICLES" ON BOARD.
Garrett announced this in the following letter:
WILMINGTON, 3d mo., 23d, 1856.
- Captain Fountain has arrived all safe, with the
human cargo thee was inquiring for, a few days since.
I had men waiting till 12 o'clock till the Captain
arrived at his berth, ready to receive them; last night
they then learned that he had landed them at the Rocks,
near the old Swedes church, in the care of or efficient
Pilot, who is in the employ of my friend, John Hillis,
and he has them now in charge. As soon as my
breakfast is over, I will see Hillis and
determine what is best to be done in their case.
My own opinion is, we had better send them to Hook and
there put them in the cars to-night and send a pilot to
take them to thy house. As Marcus Hook is
in Pennsylvania, the agent of the cars runs no risk of
the fine of five hundred dollars our State imposes for
assisting one of God's poor out of the Slate by
steamboat or ears.
As ever thy friend, THOS.
NAMES OF THE "ARTICLES."
Jones, and her three daughters, Sarah Frances,
Mary, and Rebecca; Isaiah Robison, Arthur Spence,
Caroline Taylor, and her two daughters, Nancy,
and Mary; Daniel Robinson; Thomas Page; Benjamin
Dickinson; David Cole and wife.
From the tenor of Thomas Garrett's letter, the
Committee was prepared for a joyful reception, knowing
that Captain F. was not in the habit of doing
things by the halves - that he was not in the habit of
bringing numbskulls; indeed he brought none but the
bravest and most intelligent. Yet notwithstanding
our knowledge of his practice in this respect, when he
arrived we were surprised beyond measure. The
women outnumbered the men. The two young mothers,
with their interesting, hearty and fin-looking children
representing in blood the two races about equally -
presented a very impressive spectacle.
The men had the appearance of being active, smart, and
well disposed, much above the generality of slaves; but,
compared with those of the opposite sex, their claims
for sympathy were very faint indeed. No one could
possibly avoid the conclusion, that these mothers, with
their handsome daughters, were valued on the Ledger of
their owners at enormously high prices; that lustful
traders and sensualists had already gloated over the
thought of buying them in a few short years.
Probably not one of those "beautiful girls would have
brought less than fifteen hundred or two thousand
dollars at the age of fifteen. It was therefore a
great satisfaction to think, that their mothers, who
knew full well to what a fate such slave girls were
destined, had labored so heroically to snatch them out
of his danger ere the critical hour arrived.
JONES was about twenty-eight
years of age; mulatto, good-looking, considerably above
medium size, very intelligent, and a true-born heroine.
The following reward, offered by the notorious
negro-trader, Hall, proved that Rebecca
and her children were not to be allowed to go free, if
slave-hunters could be induced by a heavy pecuniary
consideration to recapture them:
is offered for the apprehension of negro woman, REBECCA
JONES and her three children,
and man ISAIAH,
belonging to W. W. Davidson, who have disappeared
since the 20th inst. The above reward will be paid
for he apprehension and delivery of the said Negroes to
my Jail, by the attorney in fact of the owner, or the
sum of $250 for the man alone, or $150 for the woman and
three children alone.
WM. W. HALL, for the Attorney.
her escape, her mistress died in England; and as
Rebecca had always understood, long before this
event, that all the slaves were to be freed at the death
of her mistress, she was not prepared to believe any
other report. It turned out, however, as in
thousands of other instances, that no will could be
found, and, of course, the administrators retained the
slave property, regardless of any verbal expressions
respecting freeing, etc. Rebecca closely
watched the course of the administrators, and in the
meanwhile firmly resolved, that neither she nor her
children should ever serve another master. Rather
than submit, she declared that she would
take the lives of her children and then her own.
Notwithstanding her bold and decided stand, the report
went out that she was to be sold, and that all the
slaves were still to be held in bondage.
Rebecca's sympathizers and friends advised
her, as they thought for the best, to get a friend or
gentleman to purchase her for herself. To this she
replied: "Not three cents would I give, nor
do I want any of my friends to buy me, not if they could
get me for three cents. It would be of no use,"
she contended, "as she was fully bent on dying, rather
than remain a slave." The slave-holders evidently
understood her, and were in no hurry about bringing her
case to an issue - they rather gave her time to become
calm. But Rebecca was inflexible.
Six years before her arrival, her husband had escaped,
in company with the noted fugitive, "Shadrach."
For a time after he fled, she frequently received
letters from him, but for a long while he had ceased to
write, and of late she had heard nothing from him.
In escaping stowed away in the boat, she suffered
terribly, but faithfully endured to the end, and was
only too happy when the agony was over. After
resting and getting thoroughly refreshed in
Philadelphia, she, with others, was forwarded to Boston,
for her heart was there. Several letters were
received from her, respecting her prospects, etc., from
which it appears that she had gained some knowledge of
her husband, although not of a satisfactory nature.
At any rate she decided that she could not receive him
back again. The following letter has referenced to
her prospects, going to California, her husband, etc.:
School street, Boston, Oct. 18th, '56.
MY DEAR SIR:
- I can hardly express the pleasure I feel at the
receipt of your kind letter; but allow me to thank you
for the same.
And now I will tell you my reasons for going to
California. Mrs. Tarrol, a cousin of my
husband, has sent for me. She says I can do much
better there than in Boston. And as I have my
children's welfare to look to, I have concluded to go.
Of course I shall be just as likely to hear from home
there as here Please tell Mr. Bagnale I
shall expect one letter from him before I leave here.
I should like to hear from my brothers and sisters once
more, and let me hear every particular. You never
can know how anxious I am to hear from them; do please
impress this upon their minds.
I have written two letters to Dr. Lundy and
never received an answer. I heard Mrs. Lundy
was dead, and thought that might possibly be the reason
he had not replied to me. Please tell the Doctor I
should take it as a great favor if he would write me a
I suppose you think I am going to live with my husband
again. Let me assure you 'tis no such thing.
My mind is as firm as ever. And believe me, in
going away from Boston, I am going away from him, for I
have heard he is living somewhere near. He has
been making inquiries about me, but that can make no
difference in my feelings to him. I hope that
yourself, wife and family are all quite well.
Please remember me to them all. Do me a favor to
give my love to all inquiring friends. I should be
most happy to have any letters of introduction you may
think me worthy of, and I trust I shall ever remain.
P. S. - I do not know if I shall go this Fall, or in
the Spring. It will depend upon the letter I
receive from California, but whichever it may be, I
shall be happy to year from you very soon.
who was a fellow servant with Rebecca, and was
included in the reward offered by Hall for
Rebecca, etc. was a young man about twenty-three
years of age, a mulatto, intelligent and of
prepossessing manners. A purely ardent thirst for
liberty prompted him to flee; although he declared that
he had been treated very badly, and had even suffered
severely form being shamefully "beaten." He had,
however, been permitted to hire his time by the year,
for which one hundred and twenty-dollars were regularly
demanded by his owner. Young as he was, he was a
married man, with a wife and two children, to whom he
was devoted. He had besides two brothers and two
sisters for whom he felt a war degree of brotherly
affection; yet when the hour arrived for him to accept a
chance for freedom at the apparent sacrifice of these
dearest ties of kindred, he was found heroic enough for
his painful ordeal, and to give up all for freedom.
TAYLOR and her two children,
were also from Norfolk, and came by boat. Upon the
whole, they were not less interesting than Rebecca
Jones and her three little girls. Although
Caroline was not in her
MORE TO COME
SPENCE also deserves a notice.
He was from North Carolina, about twenty-four years of
age, and of pleasing appearance, and was heart and soul
in sympathy with the cause of the Underground Rail Road.
In North Carolina he declared that he had been heavily
oppressed by being compelled to pay $175 per annum for
his hire. In order to get rid of this heavy load,
by shrewd management he gained access to the
kind-hearted Captain and procured an Underground Rail
Road ticket. In leaving
bondage, he was obliged to leave his mother, two
brothers and one sister. He appeared to be
composed of just the kind of material for making a good
DICKINSON. Ben was also
a native of North Carolina - located at Eatontown, being
the property of "Miss Ann Blunt, who was very
hard." In slave property Miss Blunt was
interested in the number of about "ninety head."
She was much in the habit of hiring out servants, and in
thus disposing of her slaves Ben thought she was
a great deal more concerned in getting good prices for
herself than good places for them. Indeed he
declared that "she did not care how mean the place was,
if she could only get her price." For three years
Ben had Canada and the Underground Rail Road in
view, having been "badly treated." At last the
long-looked for time arrived, and he conferred neither
with master nor mistress, but "picked himself up" and
"took out." Age twenty-eight, medium size, quite
dark, a good carpenter, and generally intelligent.
Left two sisters, etc.
Of this heroic and promising party we can only mention,
in conclusion, one more passenger, namely:
PAGE. At the time of his
arrival, his name only was enrolled on the book.
Yet he was not a passenger soon to be forgotten - he was
but a mere boy, probably eighteen years of age; but a
more apt, ready-witted, active, intelligent and
self-reliant fellow is not often seen.
Judging from his smartness, under slavery, with no
chances, it was easy to imagine how creditably he might
with a white boy's chances have climbed the hill of art
and science. Obviously he had intellect enough, it
properly cultivated, to fill any station within the
ordinary reach of intelligent American citizens.
He could read and write remarkably well for a slave, and
well did he understand his advantages in this
particular; indeed if slave-holders had only been aware
of the growing tendency of Tom's mind, they would
have rejoiced at hearing of his departure for Canada; he
was a most dangerous piece of property to be growing up
After leaving the Committee and going North his uncaged
mind felt the need of more education, and at the same
time he was eager to make money, and do something in
life. As he had no one to depend on, parents and
relatives being left behind in Norfolk, he felt that he
must rely upon himself, young as he was. He first
took up his abode in Boston, or New Bedford, where most
of the party with whom he escaped went, and where he had
an aunt, and perhaps some other distant kin. There
he worked and was a live young man indeed - among the
foremost in ideals and notions about freedom, etc., as
many letters from him bore evidence. After
spending a year or more in Massachusetts, he had a
desire to see how the fugitives were doing in Upper and
Lower Canada, and if any better chances existed in these
parts for men of his stamp.
Some of his letters, from different places, gave proof
of real thought
and close observation, but they were not generally
saved, probably were loaned to be read by friendly eyes.
Nevertheless the two subjoined will, in a measure,
suffice to give some idea of his intelligence, etc.
Feb. 25th, 1857.
ESQ.: - Dear Sir - I
MORE TO COME
NIAGARA FALLS, N. Y., Oct. 6th, '58.
DEAR SIR: - I received your kind letter and I was very
glad to hear from you and your family. this leaves
me well, and I hope when this comes to hand it may find
you the same. I have seen a large number of your
U. G. R. R. friends in my travels through the Eastern as
well as the Western States. Well there are a good
many form my own city who I know - some I talk to on
private matters and some I wont. Well around
SUNDRY ARRIVALS - LATTER PART OF DECEMBER, 1855, AND
BEGINNING OF JANUARY, 1856.
CORNISH, Dorchester Co., Md.;
alias LEWIS JOHNSON,
Harford Co., Md.; ALEXANDER
MUNSON, Chestertown, Md.; SAMUEL,
and ANN SCOTT,
Cecil Cross-Roads, Md.; WM. HENRY
LAMINSON, Del.; ISAAC
STOUT, alias GEORGE
GRAVES, Md.; HENRY
and ELIZA WASHINGTON,
Alexandria, Va.; HENRY CHAMBERS,
and THOMAS ANDERSON,
CORNISH was about forty years
of age when he escaped. The heavy bonds of Slavery
made him miserable. He was a man of much natural
ability, quite dark, well-made, and said that he had
been "worked very hard." According to his
statement, he had been an "acceptable preacher in the
African Methodist Church," and was also "respected
by the respectable white and colored people in his
neighborhood." He would not have escaped but for
fear of being sold, as he had a wife and five children
to whom he was very much attached, but had to leave them
behind. Fortunately they were free.
Of his ministry and connection with the Church, he
spoke with feelings of apparent solemnity, evidently
under the impression that the little flock he left would
be without a shepherd. Of his master, Captain
Samuel Le Count, of the U. S. Navy, he had not one
good word to speak; at least nothing of the kind is
found on the Record Book; but, on the contrary, he
declared that "he was very hard on his servants,
allowing them no chance whatever to make a little ready
money for themselves." So in turning his face
towards the Underground Rail Road, and his back against
slavery, he felt that he was doing God service.
The Committee regarded him as a remarkable man, and was
much impressed with his story, and felt it to be a
privilege and a pleasure to aid him.
was a man of medium size, twenty-seven years of age,
good-looking and intelligent. He stated that he
had been hired out from a boy to a barber in Baltimore.
For his hire his mistress received eight dollars per
To encourage Lewis, his kind-hearted mistress
allowed him out of his own wages the sum of two dollars
and fifty cents per annum! His clothing he got as
best he could, but nothing did she allow him for that
purpose. Even with this arrangement she had been
dissatisfied of late years, and thought she was not
getting enough out of Lewis; she, therefore,
talked strongly of selling him. This threat was
very annoying to Lewis, so much so, that he made
up his mind that he would one day let her see, that so
far as he was concerned, it was easier to talk of
selling than it would be to carry out her threat.
With this growing desire for freedom he gained what little
light he could on the subject of traveling, Canada, etc.
and at a given time off he started on his journey and
found his way to the Committee, who imparted substantial
aid as usual.
MUNSON, alias Samuel
Garrett. This candidate for Canada was only
eighteen years of age; a well-grown lad, however, and
had the one idea that "all men were born free" pretty
deeply rooted in his mind.
....MORE TO COME
and husband, Samuel Scott. This couple escaped
from Cecil Cross-Roads, Md. The wife, in this
instance, evidently took the lead, and acted the more
manly part in striking for freedom; therefore, our
notice of this arrival will chiefly relate to her.
Anna was owned by a widow, named Mrs. Ann
Elizabeth Lushy, who resided on a farm of her own.
Fifteen slaves, with other stock, were kept on the
place. She was accustomed to rule with severity,
being governed by a "high temper," and in nowise
disposed to allow her slaves to enjoy even ordinary
privileges, and besides, would occasionally sell to the
Southern market. She was calculated to render
slave life very unhappy. Anna portrayed her
mistress's treatment of the slaves with much
earnestness, especially when referring to the sale of
her own brother and sister. Upon the whole, the
mistress was so hateful to Anna, that she
resolved not to live in the house with her. During
several years prior to her escape, Anna had been
hired out, where she had been treated a little more
decently than her mistress was wont to do; on this
account she was less willing to put up with any
subsequent abuse from her mistress.
To escape was the only remedy, so she made up her mind,
that she would leave at all hazards. She gave her
husband to understand, that she has resolved to seek a
home in Canada. Fortunately, he was free, but
slavery had many ways of putting the yoke on the colored
man, even though he might be free; it was bound to keep
him in ignorance, and at the same time miserably abject,
so that he wuld scarcely dare to look up in the presence
of white people.
apparently, was one of the number who had been greatly
wronged in this particular. He had less spirit
than his wife, who had been directly goaded to
desperation. He agreed, however, to stand by her
in her struggles while fleeing, and did so, for which he
deserves credit. It must be admitted, that it
required some considerable nerve for a free man even to
join his wife in an effort of this character. In
setting out, Anna had to leave her father (Jacob
Taylor), seven sisters and two brothers. The
names of the sisters were as follows: Emeline,
Susan, Ann, Delilah, Mary Eliza, Rosetta, Effie Ellender
and Elizabeth; the brothers - Emson and
Perry. For the commencement of their journey
they availed themselves of the Christmas holidays, but
had to suffer from the cold weather they encountered.
Yet they got along tolerably well, and were much cheered
by the attention of aid they received from the
came from near Newcastle, Delaware. He was smarter
enough to take advantage of the opportunity to escape at
the age of twenty-one. As he had given the matter
his fullest attention for a long
time, he was prepared to take rapid progress when he did
start, and as he had no great distance to travel it is
not unlikely, that while his master was one night
sleeping soundly, this young piece of property (worth at
least $1,000 in the market), was crossing Mason and
Dixon's Line, and steering directly for Canada.
Francis Harkins was the name of the master.
William did not give him a very bad character.
- alias ISAAC STOUT,
also took advantage of the holidays to separate from his
old master, Anthony Rybold, a farmer living near
Newcastle, Delaware. Nothing but the desire to be
free moved George to escape. He was a young
man about twenty-three years of age, of a pure black
color, in stature, medium size, and well-made.
Nothing remarkable is noted in the book in any way
connected with his life or escape.
Caroline was of the bond class belonging to the
State of Maryland. Having reached the age of forty
without being content, and seeing no bright prospect in
the future, she made up her mind to break away from the
bonds of Slavery and seek a more congenial atmostphere
among strangers in Canada. She had the privilege
of trying two masters in her life-tie; the first she
admitted was "kind" to her, but the latter was "cruel."
After arriving in Canada, she wrote back as follows:
TORONTO, Jan. 22, 1856.
DEAR SIR: - WILLIAM
STILL - I have found my
company they arrived here on monday eving I found them
on tusday evening. Please to be so kind as to send
them boxes we are here without close to ware we have
some white frendes is goin to pay for them at this end
of the road. The reason that we send this note we
are afraid the outher one woudent go strait because it
wasent derected wright. Please to send them by the
express than they wont be lost. Please to send the
bil of the boses on with them. Mrs. Brittion,
Lousig street near young street.
GRAHAM and wife, Jane,
alias Henry Washington and Eliza.
The cold weather of January was preferred, in this
instant, for traveling. Indeed matters were so
disagreeable with them that they could not tarry in
their then quarters any longer. George was
twenty-four years of age, quite smart, pleasant
countenance, and of dark complexion.
He had experienced "rough usage" all the way along
through life, not unfrequently from severe floggings.
Twice, within the last year, he had been sold. In
order to prevent a renewal of these inflictions he
resorted to the Underground Rail Road with his wife, to
whom he had only been married six months.
In one sense, they appeared to be in a sad condition,
it being the dead of winter, but their condition in
Alexandria, under a brutal master and mistress which
both had the misfortune to have, was much sadder.
To give all their due, however, George's wife
acknowledged, that she had been "well treated under her
old mistress," but through a change, she had fallen into
the hands of a "new one, " by whom her life had been
rendered most "miserable;" so much so, that she was
willing to do almost anything to get rid of her, and
was, therefore, driven to join her husband in running
CHAMBERS, John Chambers,
Samuel Fall, and Jonathan Fisher. This
party represented the more promising-looking field-hand
slave population of Maryland. Henry and
John were brothers, twenty-four and twenty-six years
of age, stout made, chestnut color, good-looking, but in
height not quite medium. Henry "owed
service or labor," to a fellow-man by the name of
William Rybold, a farmer living near Sassafras Neck,
Md. Henry evidently felt, that he did
master Rybold no injustice in testifying that he
knew no good of him, although he had labored under him
like a beast of burden all his days. He had been
"clothed meanly," and "poorly fed." He also
alleged, that his mistress was worse than his master, as
she would "think nothing of knocking and beating the
slave women for nothing." John was owned by
Thomas Murphy. From that day to this,
Thomas may have been troubling his brain to know why
his man John treated him so shabbily as to leave
him in the manner that he did. Jack had a
good reason for his course, nevertheless. In his
corn field-phrase he declared, that his master Murphy
would not give you half clothes, and besides he was a
"hard man," who kept Jack working out on hire.
Therefore, feeling his wrongs keenly, Jack
decided, with his other friends, to run off and be free.
another comrade, was also owned by William Rybold,
Sam had just arrived at his maturity
(twenty-one), when he was invited to join in the plot to
escape. A few brief words from Sam soon
explained the mystery. It was this: his master, as
he said, had been in the habit of tying him up by the
hands and flogging him unmercifully; besides, in the
allowance of food and clothing, he always "stinted the
slaves yet worked them very hard." Sam's
chances for education had been very unfavorable, but he
had mind enough to know that liberty was worth
struggling for. He was willing to make the trial
with the other boys. He was of a dark chestnut
color, and of medium size.
belongs to A. Rybold, and was only nineteen years
of age. All that need be said in relation to his
testimony, is, that it agreed with his colleague's and
fellow-servant's, Samuel. Before starting
on their journey, they felt the need of new names, and
in putting their wits together, they soon fixed this
matter by deciding to pass in future by the following
names: James and David Green, John Henry,
and Jonathan Fisher.
In the brief sketches given in this chapter, some
lost ones, seeking information of relatives, may find
comfort, even if the general reader should fail to be
escape, and that the service or labor of the person
escaping is due to the party in such record mentioned.
And upon the production, by the said party, of other and
further evidence, if necessary, either oral or by
affidavit, in addition to what is contained in said
record of the identity of the person escaping, he or she
shall be delivered up to the claimant. And said
court, commissioners, judge, or other persons authorized
by this act to grant certificates to claimants of
fugitives, shall, upon the production of the record and
other evidence aforesaid, grant to such claimant a
certificate of his right to take any such person,
identified and proved to be owing service or labor as
aforesaid, which certificate shall authorize such
claimant to seize, or arrest and transport such person
to the State or Territory from which he escaped:
Provided, That nothing herein contained shall be
construed as requiring the production of a transcript of
such record as evidence of aforesaid, but in its
absence, the claim shall be heard and determined upon
the other satisfactory proofs competent in law.
THE SLAVE-HUNTING TRAGEDY IN
LANCASTER COUNTY, IN SEPTEMBER, 1851.
"TREASON AT CHRISTIANA."
the Fugitive Slave Bill in these records of the
Underground Rail Road, one or two slave cases will
doubtless suffice to illustrate the effect of its
passage on the public mind, and the colored people in
particular. The deepest feelings of loathing,
contempt and opposition were manifested y the opponents
of Slavery on every hand. Anti-slavery papers,
lecturers, preachers, etc., arrayed them selves boldly
against it on the ground of its inhumanity and violation
of the laws of God.
On the other hand, the slave-holders South, and their
pro-slavery adherents in the North demanded the most
abject obedience from all parties, regardless of
conscience or obligation to God. In order to
compel such obedience, as well as to prove the
practicability of the law, unbounded zeal daily marked
the attempt on the part of slave-holders and
slave-catchers to refasten the fetters on the limbs of
fugitives in different parts of the North, whither they
In this dark hour, when colored men's rights were so
insecure, as a matter of self-defence, they felt called
upon to arm themselves and resist all kidnapping
intruders, although clothed with the authority of wicked
law. Among the most exciting cases tending to
justify this course, the following may be named:
was the first slave case who was summarily arrested
under the Fugitive Slave Law, and sent back to bondage
from New York.
WILLIAM and ELLEN CRAFT were hotly
pursued to Boston by hunters from Georgia.
ADAM GIBSON, a free colored man, residing in
Philadelphia, was arrested, delivered into the hands of
his alleged claimants, by commissioner EDward D.
Ingraham, and hurried into Slavery.
EUPHEMIA WILLIAMS (the mother of six living
children), - her case excited much interest and
SHADRACH was arrested and rescued in Boston.
HANNAH DELLUM and her child were returned to
Slavery from Philadelphia.
THOMAS HALL and his wife were pounced upon at
midnight in Chester county, beaten and dragged off to
And, as if gloating over their repeated successes, and
utterly regardless of all caution, about one year after
the passage of this nefarious bill, a party of
slave-hunters arranged for a grand capture at
One year from the passage of the law, at a time when
alarm and excitement were running high, the most decided
stand was taken at Christiana, in the State of
Pennsylvania, to defeat the law, and defend freedom.
Fortunately for the fugitives the plans of the
slave-hunters and officials leaked out while
arrangements were making in Philadelphia for the
capture, and, information being sent to the Anti-slavery
office, a messenger was at once dispatched to Christiana
to put all persons supposed to be in danger on their
Among those thus notified, were brave hearts, who did
not believe in running away form slave-catchers.
They resolved to stand up for the right of self-defence.
They loved liberty and hatred Slavery, and when the
slave-catchers arrived, they were prepared for them.
Of the contest, on that bloody morning, we have copied a
report, carefully written at the time, by C. M.
Burleigh, editor of the "Pennsylvania Freeman," who
visited the scene of battle, immediately after it was
over, and doubtless obtained as faithful an account of
all the facts in the case, as could then be had.
"Last Thursday morning, (the 11th inst.), a peaceful
neighborhood in the borders of Lancaster, was made the
scene of a bloody battle, resulting from an attempt to
capture seven colored men as fugitive slaves. as
the reports of the affray which came to us were
contradictory, and having good reason to believe that
those of the daily press were grossly one-sided and
unfair, we repaired to the scene of the tragedy, and, by
patient inquiry and careful examination, endeavored to
learn the real facts. To do this, from the varying
and conflicting statements which we encountered,
scarcely account we give below, as the result of these
inquiries, is substantially correct.
Very early on the 11th inst. a party of slave hunters
went into a neigh
borhood about two miles west of Christiana, near the
eastern border of Lancaster county, in pursuit of
fugitive slaves. The party consisted of Edward
Gorsuch, his son, Dickerson Gorsuch, his
nephew, Dr. Pearce, Nicholas Hutchins, and
others, all from Baltimore county, Md., and one Henry
H. Kline, a notorious slave-catching constable form
Philadelphia, who had been deputized by Commissioner
Ingraham for this business. At about day-dawn
they were discovered lying in an ambush near the house
of one William Parker, a colored man, by an
inmate of the house, who had started for his work.
He fled back to the house, pursued by the slave-hunters,
who entered the lower part of the house, but were unable
to force their way into the upper part, to which the
family had retired. A horn was blown from an upper
window; two shots were fired, both, as we believe,
though we are not certain, by the assailants, one at the
colored man who fled into the house, and the other at
the inmates, through the window. No one was
wounded by either. A parley ensued. The
slave-holder demanded his slaves, who he said were
concealed in the house. The colored men presented
themselves successively at the window, and asked if they
were the slaves claimed; Gorsuch said, that
neither of them was his slave. They told him that
they were the only colored men in the house, and were
determined never to be taken alive as slaves. Soon
the colored people of the neighborhood, alarmed by the
horn, began to gather, armed with guns, axes,
corn-cutters, or clubs. Mutual threatenings were
uttered by the two parties. The slave-holders told
the blacks that resistance would be useless, as they had
a party of thirty men in the woods near by. The
blacks warned them again to leave, as they would die
before they would go into Slavery.
From an hour to an hour and a half passed in these
parleyings, angry conversations, and threats; the blacks
increasing by new arrivals, until they probably numbered
from thirty to fifty, most of them armed in some way.
About this time, Castner Hanaway, a white man,
and a Friend, who resided in the neighborhood, rode up,
and was soon followed by Elijah Lewis, another
Friend, a merchant, in Cooperville, both gentlemen
highly esteemed as worthy and peaceable citizens.
As they came up, Kline, the deputy marshal,
ordered them to aid him, as a United States officer, to
capture the fugitive slaves. They refused of
course, as would any man not utterly destitute of honor,
humanity, and moral principle, and warned the assailants
that it was madness for them to attempt to capture
fugitive slaves there, or even to remain, and begged
them if they wished to save their own lives, to leave
the ground. Kline replied, "Do you really
think so?" "Yes," was the answer, "the sooner you
leave, the better, if you would prevent bloodshed."
Kline then left the ground, retiring into very safe
distance into a cornfield, and took the woods. The
blacks were so exasperated by his threats, that, but for
the interposition of the two white Friends, it is very
doubtful whether he would have escaped without injury.
Messrs. Hanaway and
THE CHRISTIANA TRAGEDY.
MORE TO COME.....