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I HAVE been solicited for many years to write a history of my 
anti-slavery labors and underground railroad experiences, and 
although I had kept a diary the most of my life, it was without 
any prospect of ever putting it into book-form. I had no desire 
to appear before the public as an author, having no claim to liter- 
ary merit. What I had done I believed was simply a Christian 
duty and not for the purpose of being seen of men, or for notoriety, 
which I have never sought. But I was continually urged by 
my friends to engage in the work, believing that it would be in- 
teresting to the rising generation ; but being so fully occupied 
with other duties, I seemed to find no time that I could devote to 
this work, so that it was put off from year to year. I also often 
received letters from different parts of the country, desiring me to 
write the history of my life and labors in the anti-slavery cause, 
reminding me that the most of my co-laborers had passed away, and 
that I must soon follow, and that these stirring anti-slavery times 
in which I lived and labored were a part of the history of our 
country, which should not be lost. But still I deferred it until 
now, in the seventy-eighth year of my age. And although I feel 
the infirmities of that period of life fast gathering around me, I 
have gathered up my diaries, and other documents that had been 
preserved, and have written a book. In my own plain, simple 




style, I have endeavored to tell the stories without any exaggera- 
tion. Errors no doubt will appear, which I trust the indulgent 
reader will pardon, in consideration of my advanced age and fee- 
bleness. It is here proper also to acknowledge the valuable services 
of a kind friend, for aid received in preparing these pages for the 
press. I regret that I have been obliged to leave out many inter- 
esting stories and thrilling incidents, on account of swelling the 
size and cost of the book beyond what was agreed upon with the 
publishers. Among the stories omitted is the account of the long 
imprisonment and sufferings of Calvin Fairbank, of Massachusetts, 
in the Kentucky penitentiary, for aiding fugitives, and of Richard 
Dillingham, of Ohio, who suffered and died in the penitentiary at 
Nashville, Tennessee, for a similar offense. 

Some time ago I requested my dear old friend and co-laborer in 
the cause of the slave, Dr. Wm. Henry Brisbane, to write a few 
introductory words for my book, which I here introduce as part of 
the preface : 

My very dear old friend has requested me to write some intro- 
ductory words, or preface, for his book; and I can not do justice 
to my own most affectionate feelings toward him and his amiable 
wife, dear "Aunt Katy," without complying with his request and 
accepting the honor thus conferred upon me. 

I have in my possession a picture, executed by Mr. Ball, a col- 
ored man from Virginia. The central figure is a native of South 
Carolina, a representative of the old planter class of that State, 
who manumitted his slaves many years before the Emancipation 
Proclamation of President Lincoln. On each hand sits with him 
a friend and Christian brother the one, a sedate, benevolent-look- 
ing Quaker, a native of North Carolina, and a faithful representa- 
tive of that class known as Orthodox Friends ; the other, with a 
countenance full of humor and amiable mischief, a native of Rhode 
Island, and a true representative of the old Roger Williams class 
of Soul-Liberty Baptists. The cause of the slave brought into a 
most intimate and happy friendship these three men of diverse 
origin, training, habits of life, temperament, disposition and other 
personal characteristics. For many years they labored and suffered 


together for those in bonds as bound with them. In Christian love 
they bowed themselves before their Heavenly Father and prayed 
together for the oppressed race; with a faith that knew no waver- 
ing they worked in fraternal union for the enfranchisement of their 
despised colored brethren, and shared together the odium attached 
to the name of abolitionist, and finally they rejoiced together and 
gave thanks to God for the glorious results of those years of per- 
severing effort. The youngest of these has gone to his reward in 
heaven, and those who knew Edward Harwood can not wonder 
that the other two loved him with a love that was more than a 
brother's. The oldest the placid, the benevolent, the kind- 
hearted and devoted friend of the slave, and of all mankind 
Levi Coffin, still lives to give, for the benefit of humanity, the 
reminiscences of his experiences, so full of interesting incidents 
and touching pathos. The other survivor thanks God with all his 
heart that his dear brother has been spared to leave this valuable 
record as a legacy to his thousands of friends, white and black, in 
this our beloved country, redeemed from the curse of slavery with 
the atoning blood of many a battle-field. 

And now, with no more fugitives to hide, and no clanking 
chains to disturb our peaceful old age, I subscribe myself, 
Fraternally and lovingly his, 


CINCINNATI, OHIO, June 17, 1876. 

Trusting that this volume will accomplish something toward the 
eradication of the spirit of caste, which still exists in our land 
though, in the providence of God, slavery itself has been removed 
and in the acceptance and practice of that command, which reads : 
"Love thy neighbor as thyself," I now commend it to the reader. 

CINCINNATI, Eighth Month, 1876. 


Genealogy 3-11 


Conversion to Abolitionism Incidents of the Cruelties of 
Slavery First Efforts on Behalf of the Slaves Stephen, 
the Kidnapped Negro The Captured Slave Services 
of Vestal Coffin The Story of Ede The White Slave... .12-3 1 


The Story of Jack Barnes My Journey with a Slave-owner 
A Mission Full of Anxiety The Story of Sam I Turn 
Slave hunter Narrow Escape from Arrest Penalty of 
Aiding a Slave Fate of Poor Sam . 32-68 


Teaching Slaves to Read Sabbath-School Work Agitation 
of the Anti-Slavery Cause Manumission Societies Trip 
to Indiana Incidents on the Way The Early Settle- 
ments of Indiana I Engage in School Labors Organi- 
zation of the first Sabbath-School in Western Indiana 
A Visit to Illinois Lost on the Prairie Springfield, 
Illinois, Fifty Years Ago Conclusion of School Labors 
in Indiana Return to North Carolina Short Trip to 
Virginia 69-102 


Marriage Removal to Indiana I Locate at Newport and 
Engage in Mercantile Business Underground Railroad"" 
Work Difficulties and Dangers of the Work Trip to 
North Carolina 1 Heart-rending Scene at a Slave Auction 
Temperance Work at Newport 103-138 



Newport Stories The Cunning Slave Robert Burrel Eliza 
Harris Sam, the Eloquent Slave Prejudice Against 
Color Aunt Rachel A Slave-hunter Outwitted 
Seventeen Fugitives I 39~ I 77 


Newport Stories Continued Seventeen Fugitives Two Slave 
Girls from Maryland Anecdote of a Visit to Cincinnati 
Story of Louis Talbert John White 178-222 


Discussion of the Anti-Slavery Subject Anti-Slavery Societies 
and Lecturers Opposition to the Movement Separa- 
tion of Friends of Indiana Yearly Meeting Action 
which Caused the Separation Reunion The Committee 
from London Yearly Meeting Interviews with the 
Committee Last Interview with William Forster 
Visit to Canada in 1844 Meetings with Fugitives 
Their Stories A Special Providence Aunt Susie's 
Dream The Story of Jackson A Mother Rescues her 
Children 223-264 


Free Labor Testimony of John Woolman and Others My 
Convictions Free-Labor Societies of New York and 
Philadelphia Our Organization in the West Removal 
to Cincinnati Free-Labor Business Southern Cotton 
Produced by Free Labor Incidents of a Southern Trip 
Interviews with Slaveholders 265-296 


/ Underground Railroad Work in Cincinnati A Reminiscence 
The Fugitive Cook Girl A Company of Twenty-eight 
Fugitives Aunt Betsey Jack and Lucy Assessments 
on Underground Railroad Stock A Pro-Slavery Man 
Silenced The Story of Jane 297-334 



Cincinnati Stories Continued The Rag Baby The Vice- 
President's Slave The Disguised Slave Wolves in 
Sheep's Clothing Sally, the Slave Mother Louis and 
Ellen The Michigan Raid 335~373 


Cincinnati Stories Continued John Wilson and Eliza 
Uncle Tom Rose, the White Slave Story of Jim and 
his Friend in a Tight Box 374-418 


Louisa Picquet, the Octoroon John Fairfield, the Southern 
Abolitionist John and Mary Narrow Escapes of 
Fugitives 419-461 


A Pro-Slavery Man Turns Abolitionist Fourteen Fugitives 
Cross on the Ice Slave Children Placed in our Charge 
The Case of William Thompson 462-489 


Major Phillips A Slaveholder's Colored Family My Trip 
with the Major down the River Incidents of the Journey 
Discussions with Slaveholders Insights into Southern 
Social Life A Whipping on Board a Boat 490-523 


The Mob Spirit in Cincinnati Destruction of the Philan- 
thropist Press in 1836 Demonstration of Pro-Slavery 
Feeling in 1841 A Disgraceful Riot-TheScanlan Mob.524~54i 


Trials Under the Fugitive Slave Law The Wash. McQuerry 
Case The Services of John Jolliffe Escape from a 
Court Room The Rosetta ase Margaret Garner 
The Story of a Hat .' 542-574 



An U. G. R. R. Depot The Purchase of Slaves by their Re- 
lativesOther Services for the Colored People The Case 
of Connelly Sambo in a Tight Box 575-593 


Last Work on the U. G. R. R. The Prince of Wales Be- 
ginning of the War Kirby Smith's Threatened Raid 
Rescue of a Slave Girl by Two Union Soldiers The 
Kentucky Policy and Col. Utley's Action 594-618 


Work Among the Freedmen Visit to CairoDestitution and 
Suffering of the Colored People Efforts in Their Behalf 
Organization of Relief Societies 619-650 


Mission to England Labors in Behalf of the Freedmen 
Incidents of the Work Contributions from all Classes of 
Society Public Meetings 651-712 



THE following brief sketch of the Coffin family- 
is gathered from the first number of the Amer- 
ican Historical Record, published at Philadelphia, 
and from private records copied from those kept at 
Nantucket. The earliest account of the name we 
have dates back to 1066. In that year Sir Richard 
Coffin, knight, accompanied William the Conqueror 
from Normandy to England, and the manor of Al- 
wington, in the county of Devonshire, was assigned 
to him. The authorities respecting the county of 
Devonshire make honorable mention of Sir Elias 
Coffin, knight of Clist and Ingarby, in the days of 
King John ; of Sir Richard Coffin, of Alwington, in 
the time of Henry II. ; of Sir Jeffrey Coffin and 
Combe Coffin, under Henry III. f and of other knights, 
descendants of these, until the time of Henry VIII., 
when we find Sir William Coffin, sheriff of Devon- 
shire, highly preferred at Court, and one of eighteen 
assistants chosen by the king to accompany him to a 
tournament in France, in 1519. He was also high 
steward of the manor and liberties of Standon, in 
Hertford. By his will he bequeathed his horses 
and hawks to the king, and -devised the manor of 
East Higgington, Devonshire, to his nephew, Sir 
Richard Coffin, of Portledge. His monument in 



Standon Church is mentioned in Weever's "Funeral 
Monuments," at page 534. 

Nicholas Coffin, of Butler's parish, in Devonshire, 
died in 1603. His will, which was proved at Tot- 
ness, in Devonshire, November 3, 1603, mentions 
his wife and five children, viz: Peter, Nicholas, Tris- 
tram, John and Anne. Peter married Joanna Thim- 
ber, and died in 1627, leaving four daughters and 
two sons. One of these sons was the famous Tris- 
tram Coffin or Coffyn, as he spelled it the ancestor 
of the numerous families of that name in this country. 
Nearly all his descendants are enabled, by means of 
the accurate genealogical records in existence, to 
trace their lineage back to him, although nearly two 
centuries have elapsed since his death. He was born 
at Brixton, near Plymouth, in the county of Devon- 
shire, England, in the year 1605. He married Dio- 
nis Stevens, and in 1642 came to New England, 
bringing with him his wife and five children, his 
mother and his two sisters. He first settled at Salis- 
bury, Massachusetts, where he lived a number of 
years, and in 1660 removed, with his family, and set- 
tled upon the island of Nantucket. He was one of a 
company of nine who first purchased Nantucket from 
the Indians, which fact appears in a conveyance from 
the Sachems, Wanackmamack, and Nickanoose. 
Prior to this purchase from the natives, the English 
title to the greater portion of the island had been 
obtained from Thomas Mayhew, who held the same 
under a conveyance from Lord Stirling. Tristram 
Coffin and his sons at one time owned about one- 
fourth of Nantucket, and the whole of the little island 


adjacent to it on the west, called Tuckernuck, con- 
taining one thousand acres, which was purchased of 
the old sachem, Potconet. He appears to have been 
a leading spirit among the first settlers, and was fre- 
quently selected by the inhabitants to transact im- 
portant public business. 

The children of Tristram Coffin were Peter, Tris- 
tram, Elizabeth, James, John and Stephen. We 
trace our line of the family from John. He married 
Deborah Austin ; their son Samuel married Miriam 
Gardner; their son William married Priscilla Pad- 
dock; their son Levi married Prudence Williams. 
These last were my parents, and this places me in 
the fifth generation from the first Tristram Coffin, of 
Nantucket. The different branches of Tristram Cof- 
fin's family have increased and scattered, until there 
are representatives in nearly every part of the United 

The island of Nantucket being small, and its soil 
not very productive, a large number of people could 
not be supported thereon, and as the population in- 
creased, a number of the men engaged in the whale 
fishery and other maritime pursuits, in order to gain 
a livelihood. Others turned their attention to other 
parts of the country, and were induced to remove 
and settle elsewhere, with a view to better their con- 
dition, as to providing for their children, etc. Awhile 
before the Revolutionary War a considerable colony 
of Friends removed and settled at New Garden, in 
Guilford County, North Carolina, which was then a 
newly settled country. My grandfather, William Cof- 
fin, was among those who thus emigrated. His re- 


moval took place in the year 1773. My grandparents, 
William and Priscilla Coffin, had ten children eight 
sons and two daughters all of whom lived to have 
families of their own. They settled at New Garden, 
, North Carolina, and were all members of the religious 
Society of Friends. My father, Levi Coffin, was the 
youngest of eight sons and next to the youngest 
child. He was born on the island of Nantucket, 
loth month, loth, 1763, and was about ten years old 
when the family moved to North Carolina. My 
grandfather Coffin lived to be eighty-three, and my 
grandmother eighty-one years old. Both died in 
the year 1803, at the place where they first settled in 
North Carolina. I remember them well, though I 
was young at the time of their death. Both were 
valuable elders in the religious Society of Friends, 
and were highly esteemed in the community. Their 
house had long been a resort and a place of enter- 
tainment for Friends who came into the neighbor- 
hood to attend religious meetings, and for traveling 
ministers. They lived on a farm, a short distance 
from New Garden Meeting-House. My father was 
brought up as a farmer, but managed to get a fair 
education, considering the limited advantages at that 
day, and, when a young man, engaged during the 
winter season in teaching school in the neighborhood. 
After the marriage of my parents, they settled on a 
farm in the neighborhood of New Garden, and I was 
brought up as a farmer, until I reached my twenty- 
first year. My parents had seven children. I was 
the only son and next to the youngest child. I could 
not well be spared from the farm to attend school, 


and the most of my education I obtained at home. 
My father took pains to instruct me and my sisters 
during his hours of leisure from out-door work, so 
that I kept about even with my associates in the 
neighborhood who had better opportunities for gain- 
ing an education, and during the short intervals that 
I attended school, I was classed with them, and often 
stood at the head of my class. But our schools then 
were very inferior, compared with those at the pres- 
ent. I thirsted for a better education, and as soon 
as I was of age I sought a better school than we had 
in our neighborhood. 

I remained there one session, then engaged as 
assistant teacher during the winter session, and the 
following winter attended another good school. I 
then taught, at intervals, for several years. In the 
year 1816 my sister Sarah died. She was in her 
twentieth year and two years my senior. This was 
a heavy stroke upon me. She was a kind and affec- 
tionate sister, and we had been inseparable compan- 
ions in our childhood. Although she died rejoicing 
in her dear Redeemer, with a bright and glorious 
prospect before her, I could not for a long time be 
resigned sufficiently to say concerning her loss, "Thy 
will, O Lord, not mine, be done." My older sisters 
were married, and I and my youngest sister Priscilla 
were all that were left at home with our parents. 
Priscilla was three years my junior. She was a sweet 
and attractive child, and we were warmly attached to 
each other. When she was about twelve years old 
she was converted, and at the age of fifteen she 
appeared in public testimony. She appeared to have 


a remarkable gift in the ministry, and her words 
impressed all who heard her and touched the hearts 
of many. Her mission and labors for several years 
seemed to be mostly confined to family circles and 
to social gatherings of young people. On such 
occasions she was frequently prompted to speak in 
a most remarkable manner, and her words seemed 
to have great effect on her young associates and 
others who heard her. For some years after her 
first appearance in the ministry, she spoke but sel- 
dom in public assemblies, but when she did, it was 
to the edification of her hearers. A few years after- 
ward she was recorded as a minister of the religious 
Society of Friends. 

In the spring of 1825 my parents and sister moved 
to the State of Indiana, where my married sisters 
had all located. I was then engaged in teaching, but 
expected soon to follow with my own little family, 
which I did the next year. My sister Priscilla mar- 
ried a short time before I removed to Indiana. My 
parents were now left alone, and being old and feeble, 
I took charge of them and located them near me, in 
the village of Newport. My father died in 1833, in 
his seventieth year. We then took my mother into 
our house and cared for her until the close of her 
life. She died in 1845, in her eighty-eighth year. 

My mother's family, the Williamses, were of Welsh 
extraction. I have understood that my great-grand- 
father, George Williams, came from Wales to Amer- 
ica, and settled in Prince George County, Maryland. 
My grandfather, Richard Williams, married Pru- 
dence Bales, and their oldest two children were born 


in Maryland. Afterward they emigrated to North 
Carolina and settled in Guilford County, about the 
year 1752. They located near the place where the 
old New Garden Meeting-House now stands, and 
where the yearly meeting of the religious Society 
of Friends has been held for many years. At the 
time of their removal to that neighborhood, it was 
thinly settled, but it grew in time to be a large 
and prosperous settlement, the members of which 
were mostly Friends. My grandparents had many 
hardships to encounter and privations to undergo, 
such as the first settlers of a new country always 
have to experience. When the stock of provisions 
which they had brought with them gave out, they 
had to go to an older settlement, about fifty miles 
distant, to get a new supply. The first winter they 
cleared a small piece of land, and in the spring 
planted corn and garden seed. Provisions again 
became scant, and they had to live on roasting-ears 
and vegetables till the corn ripened, being entirely 
deprived of bread. As soon as the corn was ripe 
enough to shell, they dried it by spreading it on the 
ground in the sun, and then took it on horseback to 
a mill about thirty miles distant, on Cane Creek, 
now in Chatham County. My grandfather Williams 
donated the ground on which New Garden Meeting- 
House was built, besides several acres of land, cov- 
ered with timber sufficient for all building purposes. 
The battle of Guilford Court-House, fought about 
the close of the Revolutionary War, commenced 
near New Garden Meeting-House and continued 
along the old Salisbury road, a distance of about 


three miles, to Martinsville, the old Guilford Court- 
House, near where the main battle was fought. A 
number of soldiers were killed near the meeting- 
house and along the road, and were buried by the 
roadside and in the Friends' burying ground near 
the meeting-house. I have often seen their graves. 
After the battle the meeting-house was used as a 
hospital for the wounded soldiers, and my grand- 
father Williams' house was occupied by the wounded 
British officers. My grandfather Coffin's house was 
used by the American officers as a hospital for their 
sick and wounded. The two farms joined, and the 
headquarters of the different forces were thus in 
close proximity. 

The small-pox broke out among the British offi- 
cers, and my grandfather Williams caught the disease 
from them and died. My grandmother was left with 
twelve children, five sons and seven daughters. She 
was sister to Thomas Bales, who is said to have been 
the first white emigrant that settled in Ohio. At his 
death he was buried in a coffin dug out of a log, 
there being no dressed timber available and no saw- 
mill within hundreds of miles. His descendants are 
quite numerous in the Western States. My grand- 
mother remained a widow for the rest of her life. 
She lived to a good old age, and died respected by 
all who knew her. She was an elder in the religious 
Society of Friends for many years, and was highly 
esteemed as a " Mother in Israel." The date of her 
death and her age are not in my possession, but I 
can remember her well. Most of her children lived 


to a good old age, and, with the exception of one 
son, all had large families, so that my connections, 
on my mother's side, as well as on my father's, are 
quite numerous. 

Both my parents and grandparents were opposed 
to slavery, and none of either of the families ever 
owned slaves ; and all were friends of the oppressed, 
so I claim that I inherited my anti-slavery principles. 







I DATE my conversion to Abolitionism from an 
incident which occurred when I was about seven 
years old. It made a deep and lasting impression 
on my mind, and created that horror of the cruelties 
of slavery which has been the motive of so many 
actions of my life. At the time of which I speak, 
Virginia and Maryland were the principal slave-rear- 
ing States, and to a great extent supplied the 
Southern market. Free negroes in Pennsylvania 
were frequently kidnapped or decoyed into these 
States, then hurried away to Georgia, Alabama, or 
Louisiana, and sold. The gangs were handcuffed 
and chained together, and driven by a man on horse- 
back, who flourished a long whip, such as is used in 
driving cattle, and goaded the reluctant and weary 
when their feet lagged on the long journey. One 
day I was by the roadside where my father was 
chopping wood, when I saw such a gang approach- 
ing along the new Salisbury road. The coffle of 


slaves came first, chained in couples on each side of a 
long chain which extended between them ; the driver 
was some distance behind, with the wagon of sup- 
plies. My father addressed the slaves pleasantly, 
and then asked: "Well, boys, why do they chain 
you?" One of the men, whose countenance be- 
trayed unusual intelligence and whose expression 
denoted the deepest sadness, replied: "They have 
taken us away from our wives and children, and they 
chain us lest we should make our escape and go 
back to them." My childish sympathy and interest 
were aroused, and when the dejected procession had 
passed on, I turned to my father and asked many 
questions concerning them, why they were taken 
away from their families, etc. In simple words, 
suited to my comprehension, my father explained to 
me the meaning of slavery, and, as I listened, the 
thought arose in my mind "How terribly we 
should feel if father were taken away from us." 

This, was the first awakening of that sympathy 
with the oppressed, which, together with a strong 
hatred of oppression and injustice in every form, 
were the motives that influenced my whole after-life. 
Another incident of my boyhood is indelibly en- 
graved on my mind. I accompanied my father one 
spring to the famous shad fishery at the narrows of 
the Yadkin River, a spot of wild and romantic 
scenery, where the stream breaks through a spur of 
the mountains and goes foaming and dashing down 
its rocky bed in a succession of rapids. Every 
spring, when the shad ascended the river, many 
people resorted to the place to obtain fish. They 


brought with them a variety of merchandise, sad- 
dlery, crockery-ware, etc., and remained in camp 
some time, buying and selling. The fishery was 
owned by two brothers named Crump. They were 
slaveholders, and sometimes allowed their slaves the 
privilege of fishing after night and disposing of the 
fish thus obtained, on their own account. A slave, 
who had availed himself of this privilege, disposed 
of the fish he caught to my father. Next morning 
he came to the place where we were preparing 
breakfast, and entered into conversation with my 
father, speaking of the fish he had sold him, and 
asking if he would take more on the same terms. 
Noticing this, and thinking it a piece of presuming 
familiarity and impertinence, on the part of the 
negro, a young man, nephew of the Crumps, seized 
a fagot from the fire and struck the negro a furious 
blow across the head, baring the skull, covering his 
back and breast with blood, and his head with fire ; 
swearing at the same time that he would allow no 
such impudence from niggers. My father protested 
against the act, and I was so deeply moved that I 
left my breakfast untasted, and going off by myself 
gave vent to my feelings in sobs and tears. 

A few such instances of "man's inhumanity to 
man" intensified my hatred of slavery, and inspired 
me to devote myself to the cause of the helpless 
and oppressed, and enter upon that line of humane 
effort, which I pursued for more than fifty years. I 
would still be engaged in it had not Abraham 
Lincoln broken up the business by proclamation in 



The first opportunity for aiding a slave occurred 
when I was about fifteen years old. It was a cus- 
tom in North Carolina, at that time, to make a 
"frolic" of any special work, like corn husking, 
log-rolling, etc. The neighbors would assemble at 
the place appointed, and with willing hearts and 
busy hands ^joon complete the work. Then fol- 
lowed the supper and the merry-making, and the 
night was in 

"The wee sma' hours ayant the twal, " 
before the lights were out and the company gone. 

At a gathering of this kind, a corn husking at Dr. 
Caldwell's, I was present. The neighbors assembled 
about dark, bringing their slaves with them. The 
negroes were assigned a place at one end of the 
heap, the white people took their place at the other, 
and all went to work, enlivening their labor with 
songs and merry talk. 

A slave-dealer, named Stephen Holland, had ar- 
rived in the neighborhood a short time before, with 
a coffle of slaves, on his way to the South, and as 
this was his place of residence, he stopped for a few 
days before proceeding on his journey. He brought 
with him his band of slaves to help his neighbor 
husk corn, and I was much interested in them. 
When the white people went in to supper I re- 
mained behind to talk with the strange negroes, and 
see if I could render them any service. In conver- 
sation I learned that one of the negroes, named 
Stephen, was free born, but had been kidnapped and 


sold into slavery. Till he became of age he had 
been indentured to Edward Lloyd, a Friend, living 
near Philadelphia. When his apprenticeship was 
ended, he had been hired by a man to help drive a 
flock of sheep to Baltimore. After reaching that 
place he had been seized one night as he was 
asleep in the negro house of a tavern, gagged and 
bound, then placed in a close carriage, and driven 
rapidly across the line into Virginia, ^here he was 
confined the next night in a cellar. He had then 
been sold for a small sum to Holland, who was tak- 
ing him to the Southern market, where he expected 
to realize a large sum from his sale. I became 
deeply interested in his story, and began to think 
how I could help him to regain his freedom. Re- 
membering Dr. Caldwell's Tom, a trusty negro, 
whom I knew well, I imparted to him my wishes, 
and desired him, if it could be arranged, to bring 
Stephen to my father's the next night. They came 
about midnight, and my. father wrote down the par- 
ticulars of Stephen's case, and took the address of 
the Lloyds. The next day he wrote to them, giving 
an account of Stephen and his whereabouts. In two 
weeks from that time, Hugh Lloyd, a brother of 
Edward Lloyd, arrived by stage in Greensboro. 
Procuring conveyance, he came to my father's, and 
there learned that Stephen had been taken south- 
ward by the slave-dealer Holland. Next day being 
regular meeting-day at the Friends Meeting-House, 
at New Garden, the case was laid before the men 
after meeting, and two of them, Dr. George Swain 


and Henry Macy, volunteered to accompany Hugh 
Lloyd in search of Stephen. 

A sum of money was made up for the expenses 
of their journey, and Lloyd was furnished with a 
horse and saddle and the necessary equipments. 
The party found Stephen in Georgia, where he had 
been sold by Holland, who had gone farther South. 
A suit was instituted to gain possession of him, but 
the laws of that State required proof, in such in- 
stances, that the mother had been free, and Hugh 
Lloyd was too young to give this proof. So the 
matter was referred to the next term of court, se- 
curity being given by Stephen's master that he 
should be produced when wanted. Lloyd returned 
North, and sent affidavits and free papers giving 
proof in the case, and in six months Stephen was 
liberated and returned home. The man who had 
hired him to drive the sheep to Baltimore had, in 
the meantime, been arrested on the charge of kidnap- 
ping, but as Stephen was the only prosecuting wit- 
ness, the suit could not go on while he was absent. 
The man's friends took him oot of jail on a writ of 
habeas corpus and gave bond for his appearance at 
court, but he preferred forfeiting his bond to stand- 
ing the trial, and fled the country before Stephen 


But I was not always so fortunate as to be able to 
render assistance to the objects of my sympathy. 
Sometimes I witnessed scenes of cruelty and injus- 
tice and had to stand passively by. The following 


is an instance of that kind : I had been sent one day 
on an errand to a place in the neighborhood, called 
Clemen's Store, and was returning home along the 
Salem road, when I met a party of movers, with 
wagons, teams, slaves and household goods, on 
their way to another State. After passing them I 
came to a blacksmith's shop, in front of which were 
several men, talking and smoking, in idle chat, and 
proceeding on my way I met a negro man trudging 
along slowly on foot, carrying a bundle. He in- 
quired of me regarding the party of movers; asked 
how far they were ahead, etc. I told him ' ' About 
half a mile," and as he passed on, the thought 
occurred to me that this man was probably a runa- 
way slave who was following the party of movers. 
I had heard of instances when families were sepa- 
rated 'the wife and children being taken by their 
owners to another part of the country of the hus- 
band and father following the party of emigrants, 
keeping a short distance behind the train of wagons 
during the day, and creeping up to the camp at 
night, close enough for his wife to see him and bring 
him food. A few days afterward I learned that this 
man had been stopped and questioned by the party 
of men at the blacksmith's shop, that he had pro- 
duced a pass, but they being satisfied that it was a 
forgery had lodged him in jail at Greensboro, and 
sent word to his master concerning him. A week or 
two afterward I was sent to a blacksmith's shop, at 
Greensboro, to get some work done. The slave's 
master had, that very day, arrived and taken posses- 
sion of him, and brought him to the blacksmith's shop 


to get some irons put on him before starting back to 
his home. While a chain was being riveted around 
the negro's neck, and handcuffs fastened on his 
wrists, his master upbraided him for having run 
away. He asked : 

" Wer'n't you well treated ? " 

"Yes, massa." 

"Then what made you run away?" 

' ' My wife and children were taken away from me, 
massa, and I think as much of them as you do of 
yours, or any white man does of his. Their massa 
tried to buy me too, but you would not sell me, so 
when I saw them go away, I followed." The mere 
recital of his words can convey little idea of the piti- 
ful and pathetic manner in which they were uttered ; 
his whole frame trembled, and the glance of piteous, 
despairing appeal he turned upon his master would 
have melted any heart less hard than stone. 

The master said, "I've always treated you well, 
trusting you with my keys, and treating you more 
like a confidential servant than a slave, but now you 
shall know what slavery is. Just wait till I get you 
back home!" He then tried to make the negro tell 
where he had got his pass, who wrote it for him, etc., 
but he refused to betray the person who had be- 
friended him. The master threatened him with the 
severest punishment, but he persisted in his refusal. 
Then torture was tried, in order to force the name 
from him. Laying the slave's fettered hand on the 
blacksmith's anvil, the master struck it with a ham- 
mer until the blood settled under the finger nails. 
The negro winced under each cruel blow, but said not 


a word. As I stood by and watched this scene, my 
heart swelled with indignation, and I longed to rescue 
the slave and punish the master. I was not converted 
to peace principles then, and I felt like fighting for 
the slave. One end of the chain, riveted to the ne- 
gro's neck, was made fast to the axle of his master's 
buggy, then the master sprang in and drove off at a 
sweeping trot, compelling the slave to run at full 
speed or fall and be dragged by his neck. I watched 
them till they disappeared in the distance, and as 
long as I could see them, the slave was running. 


Runaway slaves used frequently to conceal them- 
selves in the woods and thickets in the vicinity of 
New Garden, waiting opportunities to make their 
escape to the North, and I generally learned their 
places of concealment and rendered them all the 
service in my power. _My father, in common with 
other farmers in that part of the country, allowed 
his hogs to run in the woods, and I often went out to 
feed them. My sack of corn generally contained 
supplies of bacon and corn bread for the slaves, and 
many a time I sat in the thickets with them as they 
hungrily devoured my bounty, and listened to the 
stories they told of hard masters and cruel treatment, 
or spoke in language, simple and rude, yet glowing 
with native eloquence, of the glorious hope of free- 
dom which animated their spirits in the darkest 
hours, and sustained them under the sting of the 

These outlying slaves knew where I lived, and, 


when reduced to extremity of want or danger, often 
came to my room, in the silence and darkness of 
night, to obtain food or assistance. In my efforts to 
aid these fugitives I had a zealous co-worker in my 
friend and cousin, Vestal Coffin, who was then, and 
continued to the time of his death a few years later 
a stanch friend to the slave. 

Vestal was several years older than I, was married 
and had the care of a family, but, in the busiest season 
of work, could find time to co-operate with me in all 
my endeavors to aid runaway slaves. We often met 
at night in a thicket where a fugitive was concealed, 
to counsel in regard to his prospects and lay plans for 
getting him safely started to the North. We em- 
ployed General Hamilton's Sol, a gray-haired, trusty 
old negro, to examine every coffle of slaves to which 
he could gain access, and ascertain if there were any 
kidnapped negroes among them. When such a case 
was discovered, Sol would manage to bring the per- 
son, by night, to some rendezvous appointed, in the 
pine thickets or the depths of the woods, and there 
Vestal and I would meet them and have an interview. 
There was always a risk in holding such meetings, 
for the law in the South inflicted heavy penalties on 
any one who should aid or abet a fugitive slave in 
escaping, and the patrollers, or mounted officers, 
frequently passed along the road near our place of 
concealment. When information had been obtained 
from kidnapped negroes regarding the circumstances 
of their capture, Vestal Coffin wrote to their friends, 
arid in many cases succeeded in getting them liberated. 
In this way a negro man of family and means, who 



had been abducted from Pennsylvania and taken to 
New Orleans and sold, was finally restored to his 
friends. Obtaining through Vestal Coffin a knowl- 
edge of his whereabouts, they brooigJit^suit against 
his owners and gained his liberty. 


Another negro was* kidnapped from Delaware, and 
brought to Guilford County, North Carolina, by a 
man named John Thompson. Learning the partic- 
ulars of his case, Vestal Coffin went to Hillsboro, a 
neighboring town, and obtained a writ, which he 
placed in the hands of the sheriff to be served on 
Thompson, requiring him to produce the negro in 
court, for investigation regarding the unlawfulness 
of his being held in bondage. Thompson, disregard- 
ing the writ, sent the negro South, and sold him. 
Vestal Coffin went back and procured another writ, 
causing Thompson to be arrested on charge of kid- 
napping, and thrown into prison till the negro should 
be produced. This proceeding greatly enraged 
Thompson, but he was obliged to send for the 
negro, who was delivered to the charge of Vestal 
Coffin. When the case went into court, Thompson 
secured the best lawyers, but Vestal Coffin had right 
on his side, and finally triumphed. As the poet 
says : 

"Thrice is he armed who hath his quarrel just." 

The case was delayed nearly a year, and in that 
time Vestal Coffin procured affidavits and other doc- 
uments establishing the negro's freedom, and he was 


set at liberty. These are some of the results of the 
consultations held by night in the pine thickets. 


As I was always interested in the work and ready 
to engage in it, I found opportunities to be of service 
to the slaves in various ways. The following is an 
account of one of my efforts in this line : 

Dr. Caldwell, whose name has been mentioned 
before, was one of our near neighbors. He was a 
learned clergyman and physician, founded a college 
said to be the first in North Carolina and num- 
bered among his pupils many of the prominent men 
of that State. His son Samuel was a Presbyterian 
minister, and was located in the southwestern part 
of the State, in charge of a church there. At one 
time, when on a visit to his relatives in Guilford 
County, he told his father that his wife very much 
needed a good house servant, and, after some delib- 
eration, the old Doctor concluded to make him a 
present of one. 

The question thus was, Which one of the negro 
women should it be ? 

The mistress was a humane Christian lady, and did 
not like the idea of separating husband and wife, . but 
all the negro women that were grown had husbands, 
and the girls were too young to fill the place, so it 
was finally decided that a woman named Ede should 
go. She was strong and healthy, and in the prime 
of life, and would be the most suitable. She had four 
children, three of whom were to be left behind; the 
youngest, being a babe a few months old, was to go 


with its mother. To satisfy the scruples of his wife 
against separating husband and wife, the old Doctor 
told her that Ede's husband who belonged to another 
master was a trifling negro, and that his master 
would probably sell him before long ; that slave mar- 
riage was not legal ; and that perhaps Ede would 
soon get a better man for a husband. 

When Ede learned that she was to go and live with 
her young master, more than a hundred miles distant 
from her husband and children, she was rilled with 
grief and dismay, and studied how she might avert 
the threatened calamity. 

The night before the time fixed for her start to her 
new home, she decided to flee to the thickets and 
hide herself for a week or two, hoping that in this 
time her master and mistress would change their 
mind about sending her away, and consent to let her 
remain. Preparing a little store of provisions, and 
taking her baby in her arms, she fled to the woods, 
and found a hiding plate in a dense thicket, about a 
mile from my father's house. As it was some dis- 
tance from the road, she ventured to kindle a little 
fire by the side of a log, for the weather was cool and 
chilly, and both she and her child suffered from the 
cold. She made a bed of leaves, by the side of a 
large log, and sheltered herself as well as she could 
from the wind. She had remained in this hiding 
place for several days and nights, when her child be- 
came ill, from cold and exposure. Filled with fresh 
anguish at the sight of its sufferings, and unable to 
alleviate them, she determined to leave her place of 
concealment. Her little stock of provisions had by 


this time given out, and she was beginning to suffer 
with hunger. She was acquainted with my father's 
family, and knew us to be friends to the fugitive, 
and resolved to apply to us for help. She made her 
way to our house, at night, and was kindly received, 
though we knew we laid ourselves liable to a heavy 
penalty by harboring a fugitive slave. A hot supper 
was prepared for her, and then we heard her story, 
and consulted together in regard to what should be 
done. Father was liable to fine and imprisonment if 
she was discovered at our house, yet we could not 
turn her away. The dictates of humanity came in 
opposition to the law of the land, and we ignored the 
law. My mother said, "The child is sick, and may 
die before morning ; we can not turn them from our 
doors." My father said he would risk the penalty, 
and Ede was given a comfortable resting place for 
the night. My mother did all that she could for the 
sick child. She spent the night trying to relieve its 
sufferings, and, at daylight, had the satisfaction of 
seeing it free from pain and in a quiet sleep. 

When morning came, the question arose, What 
should be done with Ede ? We could not turn her 
out in the cold with her sick child, to return to her 
hiding place in the woods, and she begged us not to 
send her back to her master's. As she repeated her 
sad story, the tears streamed down her cheeks, and 
she said she would rather die than be separated from 
her family. 

I volunteered to go and plead her case with her 
master and mistress, as I was acquainted with them, 
and thought I could persuade them not to send her 


away. I also hoped to save my father from the pen- 
alty he had incurred by harboring a fugitive. Leav- 
ing Ede and the child at my father's, I made my way 
to the mansion of the aristocratic gentleman of the 
old school. I felt some misgivings as to the success 
of my mission when I entered the house, and was at 
first embarrassed when I was shown into the room 
where the Doctor was sitting. He received me 
kindly, as was his custom, and entered into conver- 
sation. Among the solid qualities of his character 
was a rich vein of humor, and he always made him- 
self attractive to young people, entertaining them 
with some droll story, or puzzling them with knotty 
questions. He inquired about our school at New 
Garden, where Jeremiah Hubbard, a well-known 
Quaker preacher, was then teaching, and said, "You 
ought to pay Mr. Hubbard double price for your 
tuition, for I hear that he has taught his pupils the 
art of courting, beside the common branches of a 
school education. I hear that two of his pupils have 
made known their intentions of marriage, or given 
in meeting, as you call it. How do you suppose 
those young Quakers feel now that they are half 
married ?" 

"Like they intended to be wholly married soon, 
I suppose," I replied. 

He continued, "Now, we Presbyterians do up 
such business sooner than you Quakers do" and 
was going on in this strain when his wife entered the 
room. My diffidence had vanished by this time, and 
I longed for an opportunity to introduce the subject 
which occupied my thoughts. After the mistress of 


the house had greeted me and taken her seat, I said 
that I had come to speak with them on an important 
matter, and inquired if their slave woman Ede had 
run away. 

The Doctor replied, "Yes, she ran off several days 
ago, to keep from going home with our son Sam, I 
suppose. She needs a good flogging for her foolish- 
ness she would have a good home at his house. Do 
you know where she is hiding?" 

I related the incident of her coming to our house* 
and what had been done for her, and then pleaded 
her case with all the earnestness and eloquence I was 
master of, quoting all the texts of Scripture bearing 
on the case that I could remember, and bringing the 
matter home to ourselves, putting ourselves in her 
place, etc. I soon saw that I had touched the old 
lady's feelings. She said she thanked my mother for 
taking such good care of the sick child, and that 
she had very reluctantly given her consent for Ede to 
be separated from her family. I told them that Ede 
said she wished to come home if they would let her 
stay, but that she had rather die than be sent away 
from her husband and children. The old Doctor had 
listened attentively to my pleading, but had made no 
reply. I now asked him if my father had done right 
in taking in Ede and her child in violation of the law, 
thus laying himself liable to a heavy penalty, if he 
was disposed to prosecute. 

He replied, "Your father has done right; I shall 
not trouble him, and I thank your mother for her 
kindness to the sick child. As for you, you have 
done your part very well. Why, Mr. Coffin, you 


would make a pretty good preacher ; if you will 
come to me I will give you lessons in theology with- 
out charge." 

I thanked him for his offer, but said I had not 
come to talk about theology that morning; I wanted 
to know what word I should carry back to poor Ede, 
who was waiting at our house, in anxious suspense. 

He said, "Well, this is no doubt your first ser- 
mon, and you would be disappointed and might give 
up preaching if you are not successful ; you may tell 
Ede to come home, and I will not send her away." 

I took my leave, and went home rejoicing. I gave 
an account of my visit and the success that had at- 
tended my efforts, and Ede shouted for joy. In the 
middle of the day, when it was warm and sunny, she 
started home, carrying her child, which my mother 
had wrapped comfortably in a small blanket. 

The Doctor kept his word, and she was allowed to 
remain at home with her family. 


In the following story I was no Avay concerned, 
but the incidents came under my observation, and I 
can well remember the feelings of deepest sympathy 
and indignation which it aroused in our neighbor- 
hood at the time of its occurrence. It shows one of 
the crudest phases of slavery, and gives one of the 
many instances in which the deepest suffering was 
inflicted on those who merited it by no act of their 
own, but received the curse by inheritance. 

A slaveholder, living in Virginia, owned a beau- 
tiful slave woman, who was almost white. She 


2 9 

became the mother of a child, a little boy, in whose 
veins ran the blood of her master, and the closest 
observer could not detect in its appearance any trace 
of African descent. He grew to be two or three 
years of age, a most beautiful child and the idol of 
his mother's heart, when the master concluded, for 
family reasons, to send him away. He placed him 
in the care of a friend living in Guilford County, 
North Carolina, and made an agreement that he 
should receive a common-school education, and at 
a suitable age be taught some useful trade. Years 
passed ; the child grew to manhood, and having 
received a good common-school education, and 
learned the shoemaker's trade, he married an esti- 
mable young white woman, and had a family of five 
or six children. He had not the slightest knowledge 
of the taint of African blood in his veins, and no 
one in the neighborhood knew that he was the son 
of an octoroon slave woman. He made a comfort- 
able living for his family, was a good citizen, a 
member of the Methodist Church, and was much 
respected by all who knew him. In course of time 
his father, the Virginian slaveholder, died, and when 
the executors came to settle up the estate, they 
remembered the little white boy, the son of the 
slave woman, and knowing that by law such law! 
he" belonged to the estate, and must be by this time 
a valuable piece of property, they resolved to gain 
possession of him. After much inquiry and search 
they learned of his whereabouts, and the heir of the 
estate, accompanied by an administrator, went to 
Guilford County, North Carolina, to claim his half- 


brother as a slave. Without making themselves 
known to him, they sold him to a negro trader, and 
gave a bill of sale, preferring to have a sum in ready 
money, instead of a servant who might prove very 
valuable, but who would, without doubt, give them 
a great deal of trouble. He had been free all his 
life, and they knew he would not readily yield to the 
yoke of bondage. All this time the victim was 
entirely unconscious of the cruel fate in store for 

His wife had been prostrated by a fever then 
prevalent in the neighborhood, and he had waited 
upon her and watched by her bedside, until he was 
worn out with exhaustion and loss of sleep. Several 
neighbor women coming in one evening to watch 
with the invalid, he surrendered her to their care, 
and retired to seek the rest he so much needed. 
That night the slave-dealer came with a gang of 
ruffians, burst into the house and seized their victim 
as he lay asleep, bound him, after heroic struggles 
on his part, and dragged him away. When he 
demanded the cause of his seizure, they showed him 
the bill of sale they had received, and informed him 
that he was a slave. In this rude, heartless manner 
the intelligence that he belonged to the African 
race was first imparted to him, and the crushing 
weight of his cruel destiny came upon him when 
totally unprepared. His captors hurried him out of 
the neighborhood, and took him toward the South- 

o ' 

ern slave markets. To get him black enough to sell 
without question, they washed his face in tan ooze, 
and kept him tied in the sun, and to complete his 


resemblance to a mulatto, they cut his hair short 
and seared it with a hot iron to make it curly. He 
was sold in Georgia or Alabama, to a hard master, 
by whom he was cruelly treated. 

Several months afterward he succeeded in escap- 
ing, and made his way back to Guilford County, 
North Carolina. Here he learned that his wife had 
died a few days after his capture, the shock of that 
calamity having hastened .her death, and that his 
children were scattered among the neighbors. His 
master, thinking that he would return to his old 
home, came in pursuit of him with hounds, and 
chased him through the thickets and swamps. He 
evaded the dogs by wading in a mill-pond, and 
climbing a tree, where he remained all night. Next 
day he made his way to the house of Stanton White 
(afterward my father-in-law), where he remained 
several days. Dr. George Swain, a man of much 
influence in the community, had an interview with 
him, and, hearing the particulars of his seizure, said 
he thought the proceedings were illegal. He held a 
consultation with several lawyers, and instituted pro- 
ceedings in his behalf. But the unfortunate victim 
of man's cruelty did not live to regain his freedom. 
He had been exposed and worried so much, trailed 
by dogs and forced to lie in swamps and thickets, 
that his health was broken down and he died before 
the next term of court. 







I NOW come to the relation of an occurrence in 
which, strange as it may seem, I turned slave- 
hunter. A gentleman by the name of Barnes, who 
lived in the eastern part of the State, had a body 
servant named Jack, to whom he was much attached. 
Barnes was a bachelor, with no direct heirs, and 
being in ill-health, he made his will, in which, as was 
allowed by a provision of the law, he bequeathed to 
Jack his freedom for faithfulness and meritorious con- 
duct, also a considerable portion of his estate. At 
his death, distant relatives flocked to the scene, 
seized upon the property and entered suit to contest 
the will. Jack knew very well that from Southern 
courts of justice he could expect no favor; so pro- 
curing a copy of the will, and a certificate of good 
conduct, signed by several leading white men of the 
place, who were friendly to him, he sought a more 
secure place in which to await the decision of the 
court. He had heard of a settlement of Quakers at 



New Garden, near Greensboro, Guilford County, 
who were opposed to slavery and friendly to colored 
people. He obtained directions to aid him in find- 
ing this place, and left home privately, that it might 
not be known where he was if the case should go 
against him. He reached New Garden safely, was 
introduced to me, and I took him to my father's 

Jack remained in our neighborhood for some time, 
employed on the farms of my father, of Vestal Cof- 
fin, and others, and -proved himself to be an indus- 
trious and faithful servant. He won the esteem and 
sympathy of all who knew him and his story, by 
his steady habits, intelligent character and manly 
deportment. He came to New Garden in the fall of 
1821, and in the following March received the news 
that the case in court had been decided against him. 
The property that had been willed to him was turned 
over to the relatives of his master, and he was con- 
signed again to slavery. The judge decided that 
Barnes was not in his right mind at the time he made 
the will ; this was apparent from the nature of the 
will. The heirs took possession of the property, but 
where was Jack, the able-bodied valuable servant, 
who also belonged to them? He was not to be 
found, and they advertised in the papers, offering 
one hundred dollars reward to any one who would 
secure him till they could get hold of him, or give 
information that would lead to his discovery. 

This advertisement appeared in the paper pub- 
lished at Greensboro, and when Jack saw it he was 
greatly alarmed. The questions which occupied his 


mind and with which he greeted his friends were, 
" What shall I do? can I get to a free State, or any . 
place, where I can enjoy liberty in safety?" 

It was decided that for the present he must be 
concealed, and he was secreted among his friends, 
part of the time at our house, and part at the house 
of Vestal Coffin. A council was held by Jack's 
friends to devise some plan to get him to a free 
State. Bethuel Coffin, my uncle, who lived a few 
miles distant, was then preparing to go to Indiana, 
on a visit to his children and relatives who had set- 
tled there. He would be accompanied by his son 
Elisha, then living in Randolph County, and by his 
daughter Mary. They intended to make the jour- 
ney in a two-horse wagon, taking with them pro- 
visions and cooking utensils, and camp out on the 
way. This was the usual mode of traveling in those 
days. The road they proposed to take was called 
the Kanawha road. It was the nearest route, but 
led through a mountainous wilderness, most of the 
way. Crossing Dan River, it led by way of Patrick 
Court-House, Virginia, to Maberry's Gap, in the 
Blue Ridge mountains, thence across Clinch moun- 
tain, by way of Pack's ferry on New River, thence 
across White Oak mountain to the falls of the Ka- 
nawha, and down that river to the Ohio,, crossing at 

This was thought to be a safe route for Jack to 
travel, as it was very thinly inhabited, and it was 
decided that my cousin Vestal and I should go to 
see our uncle, and learn if he was willing to incur 
the risk and take Jack with him to Indiana. He said 



he was willing, and all the arrangements were made, 
and the time for starting fixed. The night after they 
started, Vestal Coffin took Jack, on horseback, to 
Dan River, about twenty miles distant, where they 
camped the first night, and where the fugitive joined 

Here we will leave his story for a time, and turn 
to the trials and persecutions of another slave, named 
Sam, who lived in the neighborhood of New Garden. 
Osborne, his master, who might have represented the 
character of Legree in " Uncle Tom's Cabin," took 
particular delight in whipping and abusing poor Sam, 
till he was compelled to take to the thickets or the 
premises of his friends for safety. Even the slave- 
holders in the neighborhood sympathized with him. 
After living in this manner for several months, and 
finding no opportunity to escape to the North, Sam 
went to Robert Thompson, a slave-dealer, and asked 
him to buy him. He was willing to take the chance 
of getting a better master, even if he was sold to the 
rice swamps of the far South. Thompson went to 
Osborne, and offered him six hundred dollars for 
Sam, "as he ran," taking the chances of his capture. 

Osborne replied, "I'll not take less than $999.99 
for him until I have caught him ; then, after I have 
settled with him, you may have him for $55-" 

Thompson swore at Osborne, and told him he 
hoped he would never get Sam, then returned home, 
and giving Sam a pair of good pantaloons, told him 
to clear himself and never let his master get posses- 
sion of him again. 

A few days after my uncle had started on his 


journey to the West, Osborne was out looking for 
his slave. Meeting a man whom he knew, who was 
returning from a journey near the mountains, Os- 
borne asked him if he had met any movers on that 
road accompanied by a negro. 

"Yes," was the reply; "I met an old Quaker 
man with a two-horse wagon, who said he was going 
to Indiana, and there was a negro man walking a 
short distance behind the wagon." 

He described the negro, and Osborne said, with 
an oath : 

"That's my nigger Sam, I'm sure. The rascal 
has been lying out for several months, and I heard 
that he got the papers of some free nigger, and said 
he intended to follow the first movers he could meet 
with going to the West. It is old Mr. Coffin and 
his son Elisha; I know them. I suppose that rascal 
Sam has met with them somewhere on the road, and 
made them believe he is a free man, and is now 
traveling with them. I think they are both gentle- 
men and would not steal *my nigger. Well, I will 
follow them and get that rascal Sam." 

As I was returning" from Fourth-day meeting at 
New Garden, the third day after my uncle started, 
I met a man who had heard this conversation be- 
tween Osborne and the traveler, and who informed 
me that Osborne had gone directly home, got a 
fresh horse and started in pursuit that very morning. 
I hastened home and told my father the story. We 
decided that something must be done immediately. 
We knew that if Osborne should come up with the 
party and find that the negro was not his Sam, but 


Jack Barnes, he would capture him all the same, for 
he knew that Jack had been in the neighborhood, 
and that a reward was offered. He would recognize 
Jack by the- description in the advertisement, and 
would secure him, and bring him back for the sake 
of the one hundred dollars reward. It was decided 
that I should go at once to my Cousin Vestal, a man 
several years older than I was, and a faithful worker 
in the cause of liberty, and see if he could not sug- 
gest a plan by which Jack might be saved. I laid 
,the matter before Vestal, who felt, as we did, that 
something must be done, and that quickly, to rescue 
Jack from Osborne's clutches. We came to the con- 
clusion, that the only thing to be done was for some 
person to start at once on a good traveling horse, 
and go far enough ahead of Osborne to warn Jack of 
his danger. Vestal was so situated that hecould not 
go, but he accompanied me to his brother Elihu's, 
to see what arrangements could be made there. We 
laid the matter before him, knowing that he would 
be a suitable person to go, but he could not leave his 
business then. He insisted that I should undertake 
the trip, and Vestal uniting' with him, I decided to 
go, though I was young and had never been on such 
a responsible journey before. 

Elihu offered me his fine traveling mare and all 
the necessary equipments. I told him I had no 
money with me and no overcoat was entirely 
unprepared for traveling, as I had no such prospect 
in view when I left home. But they agreed to fur- 
nish everything needful, and to inform my parents 
of my mission, that they might not be uneasy at my 


long absence. Elihu had the horse brought out and 
freshly shod, and prepared a wallet of oats that I 
might feed it when necessary during the night. His 
wife prepared some provisions for me to eat on the 
journey, which were placed in the saddle-bags. I 
put on Elihu's warm overcoat, and with enough 
money in my pocket to take me to the Ohio River 
and back, I felt fully equipped. I ate my supper, 
mounted my beautiful traveling mare, and started, 
between sunset and dark. There was no moon, but 
the night was clear and the stars shone brightly. 
The first ten miles of the way was familiar to me, and 
I had directions as far as Dan River ford ; beyond 
that, all was new and strange. I traveled at a steady 
but moderate pace the first twenty miles, and reached 
the ford about midnight. Dan River at this place is 
a wide, Shallow stream, with a swift current, perfectly 
safe to cross if one is acquainted with the ford. 
There were piles of stones placed at intervals across 
it, to guide the traveler,. but it was difficult to see 
them by starlight, and when I got to the middle of 
the river I lost sight of them. I thought I had got 
into deep water and that my mare was swimming I 
seemed to go so swiftly and easily but I soon discov- 
ered it was my head that was swimming, and that the 
animal was standing still. I had involuntarily checked 
her by my tight hold on the reins. Casting my eye 
across the river I pushed ahead, and in a few mo- 
ments was below the ford and in deep water. My 
animal .swam out with me nicely, but I got a good 
wetting. Reaching the opposite shore, I alighted, 
and pulling off my shoes, wrung the water from my 



stockings and pantaloons as well as I could. I 
then rubbed the limbs of the mare, and after giving 
her some oats on a smooth stone, and partaking of 
some food from my store in the saddle-bags, I 
mounted again, and set off at greater speed. Now 
and then I drew rein in front of a house by the way- 
side, and calling somebody out of bed, inquired the 
road to Patrick Court-House. After receiving direc- 
tions, I rode on before the people had time to 
question me. Just at daybreak I came to a log- 
house with a tavern sign. Calling the man out, I 
inquired about the road and found I had traveled 
forty-seven miles. . The man told me if I would 
stop an hour or two, I would have company on my 
journey, a gentleman who had stopped with him 
that night and was going the same road, adding : 

"He is in pursuit of some movers who have one 
of his negroes with them." 

I made some excuse and pushed on. I knew that 
it was Osborne and that I was now ahead of him, 
but the next thought was can I keep ahead of him ? 
I was satisfied that I could not ; I had traveled all 
night and my animal was tired, while his had rested 
through the night and would be fresh for the 
journey. I had taken good care of my mare, giving 
her a light feed of oats several times during the 
night and rubbing her legs frequently ; she seemed in 
good condition, but I did not think it would be possi- 
ble to push ahead and reach my uncle's wagon 
before Osborne overtook me. 

Many anxious thoughts passed through my ex- 
cited mind, and finally I fixed on a plan. I would 


stop at the next tavern, which was a few miles ahead, 
feed my mare, get breakfast and rest a few hours, 
thus allowing Osborne to overtake me. I knew him 
by sight but did not think he knew me, as we had 
never had any acquaintance. I intended to travel 
awhile in his company and find out his plans, then 
make an excuse for taking another road, and fall back 
while he went on, then pass him in the night when 
he was at some tavern. Public houses were scarce 
in that poor and thinly settled part of Virginia, and 
private houses would not take in travelers, because 
the law of the State did not allow them to charge 
for entertainment without obtaining license. It was 
half past eight o'clock when I halted at the next 
tavern, and called . for breakfast, and food for my 
horse. About nine o'clock Osborne rode up and 
stopped for the same purpose. It was the custom 
then, in traveling on horseback, to make an early 
start, and stop about nine o'clock for breakfast. 

Osborne went to the bar and called for liquor and 
invited me to drink with him though I was a 
stranger to him but I declined. After breakfast 
he inquired which way I was traveling. I told him 
that I was going west, would cross the mountain at 
Maberry's Gap, then take the left-hand road, leading 
to Burk's Forks. At that place my Uncle Samuel 
Stanley had a stock farm where he kept a number 
of cattle through the winter, allowing them to fatten 
on the range during the summer. I said : 

"Last fall I went over there and helped my 
Cousin Jessie Stanley drive a drove of beef cattle 
home to Guilford County, then we crossed the 


mountain at Bell Spur, but I thought I would cross 
this time at Maberry's Gap." 

Osborne inquired: "Is your name Stanley?" 

"No, it is Coffin." 

"Are you any relation to old Mr. Bethuel Cof- 

"Yes, he is my uncle." 

"Well, I am in pursuit of him." 

"What is the matter?" 

"Why, he has one of my niggers with him, tak- 
ing him to Indiana, I suppose." 

" How is that?" I asked, assuming great surprise; 
"how did he get the negro? I saw him start and 
there was none with him then." 

" Oh, I don't think he stole the nigger," said Os- 
borne ; then he went on to relate the story that has 
been told before, how he supposed his negro had 
got free papers, and imposed on my uncle. 

Osborne now supposed my only business was the 
journey to Burk's Fork; I had certainly deceived 
him, but told no untruth. He had taken several 
drinks, and now became very jovial and familiar 
with me, expressing great satisfaction that I was 
going the same road ; it was lonesome traveling 
through that rough, thinly settled country, and he 
was glad to have my company. His pocket-bottle 
was filled with whisky ; then our horses were brought 
to the door, and we started off together. As we 
traveled along he talked and joked in great good 
humor, but I hardly heard what he said, for my 
mind was still full of plans and anxious thoughts 
He had frequent recourse to his whisky bottle, and 


pressed me to drink ; I turned it up to my mouth 
several times, but took care that no liquor passed 
down my throat. I wanted to encourage his drink- 
ing and keep my own head clear, thinking that if 
he became stupefied with liquor I could more easily 
gain ground upon him, reach the camp that night 
before him, and warn poor Jack of his danger. 

Osborne communicated all his plans to me, saying 
that he did not intend to go upon them in the day- 
time, but to keep back, when he came near them, 
till they had camped for the night; then he would 
gather a company of armed men, surround the 
camp and take Sam, dead or alive, shooting him 
down if he attempted to escape. He said : 

"See here, young man, I want you to go with 
me, and help capture the nigger; I will pay you 
well. If it proves not to be Sam, I think I know 
who it is. There was a nigger man working about 
last winter in the Quaker settlement, who was willed 
free by a crazy master, but the heirs broke the will 
and have advertised for'him, offering a hundred dol- 
lars reward to any one who will secure him and give 
them notice. His name is Jack Barnes, and he is 
so well described in the advertisement I think I 
would know him. If it is not my nigger with your 
uncle, it must be that fellow, and I will . land him in 
Greenboro jail, sure. If you will go along and help 
me I will divide the reward with you ; that will be 
fifty dollars apiece, and will pay us well these hard 

I made several excuses : said it would consume too 
much time, my business was urgent, etc. 



"Now, see here, my good fellow," continued Os- 
borne, "you will lose nothing. I will return with 
you through the Burk's Fork settlement, and spend 
a day or two there, giving you time to do your busi- 
ness. Come, what do you say?" 

I still made excuses, though I had fully made up 
my mind to go with him, having come, by this time, 
to the conclusion that my first plan would not do. 
Osborne had inquired of every person we met in 
regard to the party of movers, asking how far they 
were ahead and if there was a negro man with them. 
The answer to the last question was always "Yes;" 
then Osborne would ask them to describe the man, 
and when they did, he would exclaim, with an oath, 
"That's my nigger, sure/' 

He made similar inquiries at every house, and the 
statements he received confirmed him in the belief 
that the fugitive was his slave. Jack answered the 
description of Sam pretty well in regard to personal 
appearance. All this made it plainer to me that my 
original plan would not do : if I were to get ahead 
of Osborne, overtake my uncle and get Jack out of 
the way before Osborne came upon them, and try to 
keep him out of the way, Osborne, on coming to the 
wagon and not finding the negro, could easily prove 
that he had been with the party at the last camping 
place, and might harass and perhaps detain my uncle. 
Then it would be difficult for me to keep Jack secure 
in the mountains till Osborne gave up the search 
and returned home, and then try to place him with 
my uncle again. This arrangement, therefore, was 
abandoned, and I resolved to travel on with Osborne 


till we reached the movers, hoping that the influence 
of the liquor, which he had partaken of freely during 
the day, or some other influence, would aid me in 
effecting Jack's escape. We were now nearing the 
top of the Blue Ridge, and in the afternoon passed 
the spot where my uncle had camped the night be- 
fore. A short distance beyond the mountain ridge 
was the road that led to Burk's Forks. When we 
reached it, I halted and allowed Osborne to renew 
his urgent solicitations and offers of money. Finally, 
and in an apparently reluctant manner, I agreed to 
keep him company, just to oblige him, he thought 
and we went on together. By this time we were 
seemingly much attached to each other. Osborne's 
pocket bottle had been refilled, at my expense, and 
to gain still further his favor, I exerted myself to 
entertain him, telling him stories and recounting 
jokes that kept him constantly laughing. It is 
needless to say that this gayety was all assumed on 
my part, for I was strll weighed down with the 
heavy responsibility of my mission. Toward night- 
fall we learned that the wagon was only twelve or 
fifteen miles ahead of us. I was anxious to press on 
and accomplish our work that night, pleading the 
urgency of my business at Burk's Forks. Osborne, 
on the contrary, wished to stop for the night at the 
first house that afforded entertainment. I said, 
"Let us stop and get our horses fed, allow them to 
rest an hour or two and take some refreshment our- 
selves, then press on and finish our work to-night." 

"No, "said Osborne, "that will not do. I want 
to collect a company of eight or ten men, well armed, 


to surround the camp, and it is too late to rally them 

We stopped at a little log-house, where a sign 
indicated entertainment for man and beast, and 
called for refreshments. I was now getting into a 
part of the country I had seen before, Montgomery 
County, Virginia. I had spent two weeks in that 
county the previous fall, collecting cattle, as I had 
told Osborne. I knew that one Squire Howells kept 
a tavern on that road, not far ahead ; that he owned 
no slaves, and was a popular man among the moun- 
taineers. I inquired the distance to his house, and 
was informed that it was eight miles. I also learned 
that my uncle's party had passed a few hours before, 
and would probably camp near Squire Howells', as 
it was a favorable spot, on account of water, etc. 

I now renewed my persuasions to induce Osborne 
to go on ; told him that the poor cabin where we 
then were afforded little accommodation or comfort ; 
that if we went on to Squire Howells' we would be 
near the camp, and as that neighborhood was more 
thickly settled, we could collet the men he wanted 
and accomplish our work without spending another 
day. He finally yielded, and called for our horses. 
He invited me to drink with him at the bar, and I 
sipped the liquor lightly, wishing to promote his 
drinking. It was now dark, but the stars shone 
brightly, and we made our way along the road with- 
out difficulty. 

We arrived at Squire Howells' tavern before the 
inmates had gone to bed. Riding up to the gate, 
we hallooed, and the landlord came out. Osborne 


inquired if a two-horse wagon with movers had 
passed that evening, and where they would be likely 
to camp. Howells replied, "They passed this even- 
ing ; bought some horse feed of me, and inquired for 
a good camping place. I directed them to the Six- 
Mile Branch, as we call it, a stream about six miles 
from here, where they would find good water and 
every accommodation for camping." 

" Was there a nigger with them ?" asked Osborne. 

"Yes," answered Howells, and gave his descrip- 

"That's my nigger," said Osborne; "and I am 
after him, bound to have him, dead or alive. I want 
you to raise a company of men and help me capture 
him. I will pay you well for it." 

"I don't much like that kind of business," said 

"Oh, I'll make you like it," added Osborne; "I 
have plenty of money. " 

A glow of hope and. comfort warmed my heart. I 
liked Howells' expression, and thought perhaps he 
might aid me if I could enlist his sympathy for the 
fugitive. I dismounted and said: "Well, we will 
have our horses fed, get some refreshment, and talk 
the matter over." Howells invited us to walk into 
the house while he and his son took ourhorses to the 
stable. I told Osborne to go in and I would go to 
the stable to give directions about feeding our 
horses. I was all excitement, for I felt that the crisis 
was near. Now was the time to act, if I succeeded 
in saving Jack. It would be difficult to describe 
my feelings, my intense anxiety. I had traveled one 


hundred and twenty miles without sleep or rest, 
yet I felt no symptoms of sleepiness or fatigue. 
After giving directions to the young man about 
feeding our horses, I took Squire Howells to one 
side and, ventured to make a confidant of him. I 
told him that Osborne and I were from the same 
county in North Carolina, and that I fell in company 
with him that morning as I was traveling in this 
direction on business ; that Osborne was in pursuit 
of my uncle the man with the wagon, who was 
going to Indiana believing that he had one of his 
negroes with him. I gave him Osborne's story, 
about hearing that his slave had got hold of free 
papers; then pictured Osborne's character. I said 
that the master was a cruel tyrant, and that the 
slave was a faithful servant Who ran away on account 
of the inhuman treatment he received, and lay out 
in the woods and thickets for several months. Os- 
borne bore such a character for cruelty in the neigh- 
borhood, that even the slaveholders would not aid 
him in capturing his negro. After relating this, I 
went on to say that I did not believe the negro with 
my uncle was Osborne's slave, -t>ut another fugitive, 
and then gave the story of Jack Barnes. I said that 
before reaching the road, on top of the mountain, 
leading to Burk's Fork settlement, which I had 
intended to take, Osborne had insisted on my coming 
with him to help him capture his slave, and feeling 
pretty certain that the negro in question was not his 
Sam, but Jack Barnes, I had come on hoping to be 
of use in another way. Jack, in my opinion, was 
entitled to his freedom, having been willed free by 

4 8 


his master, and if this were he, I would have noth- 
ing to do with recapturing him. But if it proved to 
be Osborne's negro, I would do what I could in 
aiding the master to recover his property. I did 
not tell ; Howells all I knew ; I did not tell him that 
1 Sam, Osborne's slave, was lying in the hay-mow in 
my father's barn when I left home, nor that I knew 
to a certainty that the negro with my uncle was 
Jack Barnes. 

Ho wells said at once: "If it is the negro you 
describe, he ought to be free ; I would not detain 
him a moment, but would much rather help him on 
his way." 

I told him Osborne's plan was to raise a company 
of armed men, surround the camp and take the fugi- 
tive, dead or alive. If it proved to be Jack Barnes, 
Osborne would drag him back to slavery for the 
sake of the reward offered. 

I said: " I hope you will go with us, and help me 
in my efforts to save Jack from such a fate." 

He replied: "Since hearing your statement I 
have concluded to go with you. In regard to the 
other part, it will depend entirely on the class of 
men Osborne gets to go with him. However, I 
think I can manage that. I will take my son for 
one, and send for one of my near neighbors, and we 
will pick up a few more on the way." 

Some relief came to my overburdened mind, and 
I felt quite hopeful. We went into the house and 
found Osborne dancing in the bar-room ; he had 
been drinking, and was quite jubilant over the pros- 


pect of soon having his negro secured with the -hand- 
cuffs and rope he had in his saddle-bags. 

I told him that Squire Howells had agreed to go 
with us, and would collect a company of men to 
surround the camp. 

"How many do you want?" asked Howells. 

"A half dozen or more, beside Mr. Coffin and 
myself, and all must be armed, for if the rascal at- 
tempts to escape, I want him shot down. I would 
much rather kill him than let him get away ; he has 
been too much trouble t me already. I will give 
Mr. Coffin one of my pistols ; he says he has none." 

Howells' neighbor came, bringing his gun, How- 
ells and his son took their guns, and mounting our 
horses we started for the camp, six miles distant. It 
was now about midnight. As we traveled on, How- 
ells called at several houses a little off the road, leav- 
ing us in the road till he returned. He thus gained 
time to talk with the men and give them the right 
side of the story. Three more joined us, increasing 
our party to eight. All were armed but myself; I 
declined accepting a pistol from Osborne, telling 
him I did not believe in killing folks. We were 
now getting very near the Six-Mile Branch, and 
my heart throbbed with intense excitement. A 
few minutes more would decide it all. We soon 
espied the camp-fire and retreated a little way to 
hold a consultation, and settle the plan of operation. 

Howells struck a match and looked at his watch ; 

it was near daylight. Now was my time, and I 

nerved myself to the effort, feeling that I needed 

the eloquence of the most gifted orator to aid me 



in making the appeal in behalf of poor Jack. I told 
the men that before we formed our plan of attack, 
I had something to say to them, and then went on 
to state: "If the negro in camp with my uncle is 
Osborne's Sam, I will do all I can to secure him, but 
I am inclined to think it is another man, a negro 
who was willed free by his master for his merito- 
rious conduct." Then I gave the circumstances of 
the will case, and described Jack's character in glow- 
ing terms, adding the testimony of the recommend- 
ation signed by the leading white citizens of his 
own neighborhood. I said that Jack had worked in 
our settlement all winter, but since learning the 
news that the will had been broken and he was con- 
signed to slavery, he had disappeared, and I pre- 
sumed he was with my uncle trying to make his way 
to a free State. If this is the man we find in camp, 
I further said, I will have nothing to do with cap- 
turing him. 

Howells said: "Mr. Coffin appears to act from 
principle, and I think he will find us men of princi- 
ple too. If it should be the negro described, he 
ought to be free, and I would much rather aid him 
on his way to liberty than detain him." 

The rest of Howells' company joined with him, 
and Osborne seeing them all agreed, turned clever 
fellow too, and said if it were not his negro he would 
have nothing to do with him. But he still thought 
it would prove to be Sam. I now told them I had 
another proposition to make : 

"If we were to surround the camp and break in 
suddenly upon the sleepers, .it would be a great 


shock and alarm to them. They would find them- 
selves attacked by armed men, and seeing me in the 
midst would be greatly bewildered. The fright 
might prove an injury to the young lady, my cousin, 
who is with her father. As it is now near daybreak, 
I propose that we wait till daylight, when I will go 
up to the camp alone, leaving you concealed in the 
woods and thick underbrush. I will introduce my- 
self to my uncle and give him privately to under- 
stand what is going on, and if the negro with them 
is Sam, I will make some excuse in his hearing, pass 
on a little way, then take a circuit through the 
bushes, and return to you. Then we will hitch our 
horses here, slip up through the thick bushes, and, 
surrounding the camp, pounce upon Sam and secure 
him. But if I find that it is Jack, I will soon ride 
back in sight of you and give a signal for you to 
come up to camp." 

All agreed to this but Osborne, who objected to 
the plan, fearing he should lose his negro. I argued 
the matter with him and told him if his negro es- 
caped by that plan, I would obligate myself to pay 
for him. The rest thought this was a fair offer, and 
Osborne, seeing they were against him, finally sub- 
mitted. When daylight had fully appeared, I rode 
up to camp. They were greatly surprised at my 
unexpected appearance in the wild mountain regions 
of Virginia at such an hour. I hastily informed them 
of my errand. Jack was much alarmed and wanted 
to flee to the bushes, but I assured them there was 
no danger and induced him to remain where he was. 
I then rode back in sight of the company and gave 


them the signal to come forward. They advanced 
to the camp, presenting a formidable appearance 
with their guns, enough to strike terror to poor 
Jack's heart. My uncle and cousin knew Osborne 
and shook hands with him heartily. There was a 
general greeting for the rest of the party, then my 
uncle got out a jug of old peach brandy from his 
wagon, and passed the contents freely around. We 
all drank, and had a hearty laugh, which made the 
woods and rocks around us ring and echo. The 
morning was clear and bright, the load of care was 
off my heart, and I was jubilant. 

But poor Jack did not partake of our merriment. 
He still feared danger, and thought that the party of 
armed men had come to take him back to slavery. 
When brought face to face with him, Osborne ac- 
knowledged that it was not his negro, but said, " He 
looks a d sight like that rascal Sam." 

After some time spent in talking, joking, and par- 
taking of my uncle's good peach brandy, I told Os- 
borne that I would stay and breakfast with my uncle's 
party and see them off. He might return to the 
tavern with friend Howells and get breakfast and 
have his horse fed, and I would join him there. 

This gave me an opportunity to explain matters 
more fully to my uncle's party, and to remove Jack's 
doubts and fears. He expressed heartfelt thanks 
to me for my efforts in his behalf, and I felt repaid 
for my long fatiguing journey and intense mental 
anxiety. I spent an hour or two with them, then 
bade them good-by, wishing that they might have 



a safe and pleasant journey, and land Jack in In- 
diana, beyond the reach of the cruel task-master. 

I now turned my face homeward. The excitement 
was over, the anxiety was gone. In looking back 
over the work of the past few days, I felt that the 
hand of God was in it. He had blessed my efforts; 
he had guided my steps; he had strengthened my 
judgment. My heart was full of thankfulness to 
my Heavenly Father for his great mercy and favor; 
my eyes filled with tears, and I wept for joy. Then, 
as I rode along slowly through the thick woods, I 
reflected on what I should do next. Osborne was 
waiting for me at Squire Howells' tavern, and I must 
soon join him. I did not want his company on the 
homeward journey, but knew not how to get rid of 
it. He had promised to accompany me to Burk's 
Fork, where he understood I had business. That 
would be ten or fifteen miles out of our way, but I 
saw no other way to make my story good and keep 
him blinded in regard to my real mission. While 
pondering on this dilemma, I arrived at Howells', 
and soon saw a way out of my difficulties. In that 
State, magistrates had certaijr days to attend to law 
business, and this was one of Squire Howells' days. 
Several men had already come, on law business, and 
as Osborne and I were talking about our route, I saw 
a man whom I knew ride up and dismount from his 
horse. He lived in Burk's Fork settlement, near my 
Uncle Stanley's farm. I had had some acquaintance 
with him the previous fall, and when I went out and 
met him, he recognized me. I told Osborne to 
have his horse got out and we would be off; mean- 



while I took this man apart and entered into conver- 
sation with him. I asked him all the questions I 
could think of about my uncle's cattle, and his grass 
farm and the man who lived on it, inquiring if he 
gave proper attention to the cattle out on the range, 
salting them frequently to keep them tame and gen- 
tle, etc., etc. 

I then went to Osborne and told him that I had 
been quite fortunate; I had met a man right from 
Burk's Fork, a reliable person to whom I committed 
my business, and now we were saved the time and 
trouble of going out of the way we could go di- 
rectly home. This seemed to please him, and it 
was certainly a relief to me. He got his bottle filled 
at the bar, then we mounted our horses and set our 
faces homeward. My fleet mare kept up wonder- 
fully; she traveled well, though for two days and 
nights she had had little rest. As for myself, I was 
exceedingly weary ; the sharp tension of mind and 
body was relaxed, and -I felt the need of sleep and 
rest. When night overtook us, we were in a poor, 
thinly settled region, and though we asked for enter- 
tainment at all the private houses some of them 
mere huts which we passed, we were not taken in, 
and had to travel till eleven o'clock before we reach- 
ed a tavern. We had our horses put up and called 
for supper, and it was after midnight when we got 
to bed. I felt worn out and fell into a hard sleep ; 
arising in the morning but little refreshed. After an 
early breakfast, we started again, and pursued our 
journey together very pleasantly. The next day we 
arrived at home, and Osborne and I parted on good 


terms ; he lived eight or ten miles from my father's. 

I was warmly greeted by my parents and friends ; 
they had felt anxious about me and were elated with 
my success. The night after my return Sam slept 
in the hay-mow of my father's barn. I carried 
victuals to him and told him the story of my journey 
with his master. He evinced his emotion during 
the recital by various exclamations in a subdued 
tone. We dared not speak aloud, not knowing who 
might be lurking around in the dark, watching for 
him or some other fugitive. 

About two weeks afterward, Osborne came to my 
father's house to get me to go with him to hunt his 
negro. He said he thought Sam was skulking 
about in that neighborhood, probably hiding dur- 
ing the day in the thickets between our house and 
old Dr. Caldwell's. He thought Dr. Caldwell's 
negroes fed him, for he heard that runaways often 

lay in those thickets and were fed by those d d 

niggers. My father reproved him for using profane 
language, and he replied : 

"It's enough to make anvbody swear. I have 
lost time and money looking after that rascal. I 
can hear of his skulking around Dr. Caldwell's 
nigger huts, but can't find him. I have got ac- 
quainted with your son, Mr. Coffin, and think him 
a fine young fellow ; I had rather trust him than 
anybody in this neighborhood. I don't know the 
woods among these thickets, and want him to go 
with me." 

I said I would go, as I was well acquainted with 
all the paths and byways through the woods, hav- 


ing often traversed them when hunting for deer and 
wild turkeys, or looking after our out hogs. Father 
then invited Osborne to eat dinner with us and have 
his horse fed. He accepted the invitation, and my 
father was very social and friendly with him, but 
reproved him if he used profane language, as he 
frequently did in common conversation. After din- 
ner I got out my horse and his, and we started 
off slave-hunting. Rather novel business for me, I 
thought, but I guess I knew what I was about. Old 
Dr. Caldwell lived a mile and a half east of my 
father's place. The space between the two farms 
was densely Overgrown with small trees, shrubs and 
vines the large timber having been destroyed by 
fire some years before. These thickets were the 
resort of wild game of different kinds, and formed 
also good hiding-places for fugitive slaves. In some 
of these, near Dr. Caldwell's, Osborne supposed 
Sam to be lurking, but I knew that he was then sit- 
ting in a thicket, half a mile northeast of my father's, 
weaving baskets. Caldwell's slaves were frequently 
permitted to go to the neighbors after night to sell 
the baskets which they had woven during spare 
hours, and in this way they disposed of Sam's bas- 
kets for him. Only that morning I had taken him 
some victuals when I went to feed some of our out 
hogs that ranged in that direction. I guided Osborne 
toward the southeast, to a dense thicket not far from 
Dr. Caldwell's. Dismounting from our horses, we 
hunted through this thoroughly, and followed a 
spring branch to its source in another thicket look- 
ing for tracks made by Sam's feet when he came to 



get water. We then searched in neighboring thick- 
ets but found no trace of Sam. I guided Osborne far- 
ther to the south all the time, widening the distance 
between him and the object of his search. Quite 
discouraged at finding no track of Sam, Osborne 
finally gave up the hunt, and we rode out of the 
bushes into the Greensboro road. Osborne of- 
fered to pay me for my time and trouble, but I 
refused to take anything ; then he thanked me for 
my services and we parted. I reached home about 
sunset, feeling that I should be well satisfied if that 
was my last slave hunt. Osborne afterward re- 
marked to some one that there was not a man in 

that neighborhood worth a d n to help him hunt 

his negro, except young Levi Coffin. 

About this time one of our neighbors, named 
David Grose a man respected by all who knew 
him sold his farm, and prepared to move with his 
family to the State of Indiana. Vestal Coffin and I 
held frequent consultations about Sam, knowing 
that he was liable to be captured so long as he 
remained in the neighborhood, and we thought this 
was a good opportunity to get him to a free State, 
if David Grose was willing to assume the risk. We 
knew Grose to be a kind-hearted, benevolent man, 
of anti-slavery sentiments, but whether he would be 
willing to undertake anything so hazardous was a 
question to be decided. We concluded to go to his 
house and lay the matter before him. He seemed 
deeply interested in Sam's case, and said he would 
consult his wife and consider the subject. Having 
never seen Sam, he expressed a desire to see and 


talk with him, and ascertain if he was a bright, 
shrewd fellow, who could be relied on to act up to 
arrangements, and carry out plans for traveling, etc. 
Vestal and I agreed to bring Sam to Grose's house 
between twelve and one o'clock on a night ap- 
pointed. It was unsafe to come at an earlier hour, 
for there might be persons passing about who would 
betray us. It was death, by the law of North 
Carolina, to steal negroes, and a heavy penalty to 
feed or harbor a runaway slave. At the time ap- 
pointed, and on several subsequent nights, we ac- 
companied Sam to Grose's house and held confer- 
ences in a private room, maturing our plans and 
fixing the time for starting. One night we narrowly 
escaped being detected by the patrol, a body of 
armed men who acted as watchmen or mounted 
police. They acted chiefly in the interest of the 
slaveholders, arresting all slaves they found out at 
night without passes from their masters, and admin- 
istering to them severe whippings, and keeping a 
sharp look-out for fugitives. 

On the occasion referred to, Vestal and I, in com- 
pany with Sam, were going along the main road, 
about twelve o'clock at night, on our way to Urr^. 
house. Suddenly hearing the sound of horses i^ 
coming toward us, we sprang out of the road and 
threw ourselves down behind a large log in the 
woods. We had no time to get further away, and 
lay close to the ground, hoping to escape detection, 
while our hearts throbbed with excitement, and tue 
sound of horses' feet came nearer and nearer. When 
the party passed us, we heard the riders talking, and 


learned from their conversation that they were the 
patrol. They were talking about capturing runaway 
slaves, telling of their exploits in that business, and 
boasting of how many niggers they had whipped. 
Their conversation was plentifully interlarded with 
oaths. I well remember the thoughts that passed 
through my mind as I lay behind that log. I felt 
that I could fully realize the sensation of the poor 
hunted fugitive as he lay in woods or thickets, trem- 
bling lest any sound that greeted his ear should 
prove to be the step of a pursuer, come to drag him 
back to cruel bondage. I could appreciate the anx- 
iety and distress that filled his mind as he wandered 
about in search of food, perhaps bearing on his back, 
in marks that were bleeding and sore, the cruel cuts 
of his master's lash. I could realize vividly his for- 
lorn situation, exposed to the rain and cold and 
obliged to suffer from hunger, unless he could steal 
food or find some person who would venture to vio- 
late the laws of the land and give him something to 
eat, and allow him to seek shelter in the hay-mow 
of his barn. When the patrol had passed, and we 
heard the sound of their horses' feet dying away in 
the distance, we arose from our hiding-place, speak- 
ing to each other in whispers, and slipped silently 
through the woods in the darkness. Finally, we 
ventured to return to the road, and hearing no sound 
of horseman or foot traveler, we resumed our jour- 
ney, stepping as lightly as we could. We approach- 
ed David Grose's house cautiously, not knowing 
what enemy might be lying in wait. The dog, which 
was fast in his kennel, gave a short bark, but soon 


became quiet, and we passed around to the kitchen, 
where David was waiting for us. 

The windows were darkened, and a dim light was 
burning inside. David admitted us, and we soon 
completed the arrangement for Sam to accompany 
him to Indiana. He had a large wagon, drawn by 
four horses, and intended, to take what was called 
the Kentucky road, crossing the Blue Ridge at 
Ward's Gap, crossing New River near Wythe Court- 
House, Virginia, thence by way of Abingdon, cross- 
ing Cumberland River near Knoxville, thence over 
the Cumberland mountains and through Kentucky 
to Cincinnati, Ohio. He agreed to take the bundle 
of clothing we had prepared for Sam, in his wagon ; 
Sam was to travel at night, and come up to the camp 
each morning before daylight to get his breakfast 
and enough provisions to last him through the day, 
while hiding in the bushes. The road was rough, 
and led over hills and mountains the greater part 
of the way, and the movers would not be able to 
make more than twenty miles a day ; so Sam could 
easily keep up with them. 

Where the road forked, Grose was to leave a green 
bush or some other sign in the road he had taken, 
in order to guide Sam, and when he approached 
rivers that must be crossed by ferries, he would 
camp near the bank and wait for Sam to come up, 
then conceal him in the wagon, and thus convey him 
to the other side. 

Matters were now all arranged, and understood by 
both parties. Our conference closed, and -as it was 


near daylight we hurried away, Vestal and I to our 
separate homes, Sam to our hay-mow. 

Some shrewd young men, not over-conscientious 
about violating the slave laws of the State, believing 
that every man was entitled to liberty who had not 
forfeited that God-given right by crime, managed to 
get hold of free papers belonging to a free colored 
man in the neighborhood, and copied them, counter- 
feiting the names of the signers as well as they could, 
not stopping to consider the severe penalty attached 
to such violations of the law. It was so managed 
that the papers were given to Sam by a slave, and 
he was instructed not to use them unless he should 
get into a tight place even then they might not 
save him. 

The night after Grose and his family started on 
their journey, we sent Sam on horseback, with a 
trusty young. man, to my Uncle Samuel Stanley's, 
about ten miles on his route. According to arrange- 
ments, previously made, he was to remain there that 
night and the next day, then, on the following night, 
overtake the movers. 

But next day, my cousifr, Jesse Stanley, being 
about to start on a short business journey to the west, 
concluded to give Sam a lift by taking him to drive 
his carriage as far as he traveled on Sam's road. He 
thought that he would incur no risk, as Sam was now 
out of the neighborhood where he was known. But 
it was a daring venture, and afterward involved my 
cousin in trouble, for, while traveling the main road, 
they met a man living near Greensboro, who was 
returning from Salem, Stokes County, to his home. 


He did not know my cousin, but recognized Sam at 
once, though he did not speak. We will refer to 
this again. 

Sam overtook the movers that night and traveled 
on, as arranged, lying by in the daytime and pursuing 
his journey at night. He got along all right for 
more than a week, having in this time crossed the 
Blue Ridge, and traveled some distance in Virginia. 
One morning he came up to the party, then camped 
on the Abingdon road, some distance beyond Wythe 
Court-House, but still in Wythe County. He got 
his supply of food as usual, then retired- some dis- 
tance from the road to find a safe hiding-place among 
the hills. He remained in a dense thicket during the 
day, and at night attempted to make his way into 
the main road. But he heard wolves howling near 
him, and suddenly found himself surrounded by a 
hungry pack, their eyes glaring like balls of fire in 
the darkness. He had no weapon but a pocket- 
knife, and that was useless against such enemies. 
Seizing a club, he beat his way through them and 
reached a by-road, but was so frightened and bewil- 
dered that he knew not which way to turn to reach 
the main road. Running as fast as he could to escape 
the wolves, he heard dogs barking, and guided by the 
sound, made his way to a cabin. It was inhabited by 
the class of people known down South as poor white 
trash. He ventured in and inquired the way to the 
main road, saying he belonged to a party of movers, 
going to Tennessee, who had camped a few miles 
ahead on the Abingdon road. He said he had been 
sent back to look for something left behind, and had 


lost his way. The people seemed friendly and invited 
him, saying that they would send for one of the 
neighbors to go with him and show him the way. 
Sam suspected no danger and came into the cabin, 
to rest from his hasty run and his fright. In a short 
time the boy who had been sent to the neighbors 
returned, accompanied by two men. Poor Sam now 
saw that he was in a trap. There was but one door 
to the cabin, and the men stood in that, looking 
at him fiercely and questioning him closely. They 
accused him of being a runaway slave, which he 
denied, but could produce no free papers to prove 
his assertion the papers furnished him being with 
his bundle of clothes in the wagon. The men seized 
him and tied him fast, believing him to be a runaway 
slave, and hoping no doubt to receive a large reward 
for capturing so valuable a piece of property. Next 
day he was taken back to Wythe Court-House and 
put in jail, no camp of movers being discovered in 
the neighborhood where he was captured. 

In slave States every negro was regarded as a 
slave unless he could produce evidence that he was 
free, and when one was captiifed and it could not be 
ascertained who his master was, he was advertised in 
the county newspapers. A full description of him 
was given, and if no owner applied for him within the 
time fixed by law, he was sold to the highest bid- 
der; part of the money being used to pay jail fees 
and other expenses, the rest going into the county 
treasury. Sam would not give his master's name, 
still claiming that he was free, and he was adver- 
tised. The advertisement was copied in the Greens- 


boro Patriot, and Osborne saw it. Believing the 
person described to be his slave Sam, he went to 
Wythe Court-House, Virginia, and claimed him. 
He put poor Sam in irons and started homeward, 
but never brought him back to Guilford County. 
The story he told afterward was that he had re- 
turned by way of Salisbury, North Carolina, and 
there sold Sam to a slave-trader. We only had Os- 
borne's statement for this, and some thought that he 
was wicked and revengeful enough to have whipped 
poor Sam to death in some wild spot in the Virginia 
mountains ; others thought, however, that even his 
desire for revenge would not lead him to sacrifice so 
valuable a piece of property. At any rate, that is 
the last we ever heard of poor Sam. 

Some time after Osborne returned from Virginia, 
he learned that Sam had been seen driving my 
Cousin Jesse Stanley's carriage, just before he 
started for the Northwest. After getting all the 
necessary evidence, he set about procuring a writ to 
arrest Stanley for negro" stealing. This crime, it will 
be remembered, was punishable by death according 
to the laws of that State. I received intelligence of 
Osborne's intentions while at my school. I was 
then teaching near Deep River Meeting-House, 
about eight miles from my home. During the 
week I boarded with a family near by, riding home 
at the last of the week. The news reached me 
about noon one day, and I immediately adjourned 
my school till the next week, telling my pupils that 
special business claimed my attention. 

I kept my horse at my boarding-place, and it 


did not take long for me to saddle and bridle it, 
mount, and be off. My Uncle Samuel Stanley lived 
ten miles away, near the western line of Guilford 
County. I made the distance in a short time, and 
informed my uncle's family of the threatened danger. 
They were of course greatly alarmed, and immedi- 
ately began to ask what should be done. My Cousin 
Jesse was about my own age, and we were much 
attached to each other, seeming more like brothers 
than cousins. I entered fully into the feelings 
of the family, and advised Jesse to flee from the 
State at once. It was decided that he should go 
to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he had rela- 
tives. The distance was fully six hundred miles, and 
there was no public conveyance by the route he 
must go. He must travel on horseback and start 
immediately; there was no time for deliberate prepa- 
ration or leave-taking. He needed a new coat and 
hat, and as I happened to have on a good coat and 
a new hat, I exchanged with him. We fitted him 
out as well as we could on such short notice, and his 
horse was brought to the door. I agreed to travel 
with him that night, for company, and see him safely 
out of the State. 

We started about sunset and traveled a by-way 
till dark then came out into the main road. We 
made good progress and soon got out of Guilford 
County, and into Rockingham County, which bor- 
dered on Virginia. I continued with him until we 
crossed into Virginia, then bade him good-by and 
returned to my father's house, much fatigued with 


my journey, but rejoiced to know that my cousin 
was safe from the clutches of the law. 

He arrived safely in Philadelphia, where he soon 
engaged in teaching. He continued in that profession 
about twelve years, marrying in the meantime an 
excellent woman with whom he lived happily. After 
an absence of nearly twenty years he paid a visit to 
his friends in North Carolina, but heard nothing of 
Osborne's writ for negro stealing. I might relate 
here that after my cousin left the country, Osborne 
searched for evidence that might implicate others for 
harboring his slave. He finally learned that Sam 
had been seen at Abel Stanley's, Jesse's uncle. 
Abel at that time had sold his farm, intending to 
move to Indiana. Hearing that Osborne was pre- 
paring to have him arrested, he fled from the State, 
leaving his family to complete the arrangements for 
moving and join him in Indiana. The rest of us, 
who were more deeply involved in the crime of har- 
boring and feeding the.fugitive slave, than either of 
the Stanleys, escaped detection, and were never 
troubled by Osborne. 

In the fall of 1822, the year after David Grose 
had left North Carolina, I accompanied my brother- 
in-law, Benjamin White, and his family to Indiana. 
We traveled the same road that David Grose had 
traveled, camping out every night as was the cus- 
tom of movers at that day. While passing through 
Wythe County, Virgina, we camped near the place 
where Sam had been taken, and there learned all 
the particulars of his being chased by wolves, his 
capture and imprisonment. When we reached Rich- 


6 7 

mond, Indiana near which place my brother-in-law 
located for the winter I inquired for Jack Barnes 
and learned that he lived at Milton, about fifteen 
miles to the west. Having relatives at that place, 
I went there, in a few days, traveling on horseback. 
As I rode into the village, almost the first man I 
saw was Jack Barnes. As soon as he recognized 
me, he hastened to me and clasped me in his arms, 
uttering exclamations of joy and gratitude that at- 
tracted the passers-by. A little crowd of people gath- 
ered, and Jack told them that I had saved him from 
slavery, that if it had not been for me, he would 
have been dragged back to prison and perhaps 
sold to the rice swamps of Georgia, or the cotton 
fields of Alabama, where his only allowance of food 
would have been a peck of corn a week. When his 
first excitement was over, he wanted to give me 
some money, to repay me for my trouble and exer- 
tion on his behalf. I told him that I was amply 
repaid and would not receive a cent. Jack had got 
employment at good wages, had been industrious 
and frugal, and had accumulated property. Milton 
was a new place then ; Jack had bought a lot and 
built the first cottage in the village. He had many 
friends in the place, and it would have been a diffi- 
cult task for Osborne, Barnes' heirs, or anybody 
else, to have captured Jack and taken him away from 

Early in the following spring, I went to Terre 
Haute, Vigo County, to enter land for my brother- 
in-law, and finding that David Grose had settled in 
that county, several miles below, I went to visit 


him, receiving a warm welcome. He still had Sam's 
bundle of clothing, but had not heard a word about 
him since the morning he left their camp in Wythe 
County, Virginia, to hunt a place of concealment 
during the day among the thickets. On the follow- 
lowing morning, when he did not join them as usual, 
they felt much anxiety about him, fearing that he had 
got lost or been captured, or that some accident had 
befallen him. They still hoped that he might over- 
take them the following night, but when the next 
night came and no Sam appeared, they gave him 
up. Since locating in Indiana they had seen no 
person from North Carolina, of whom they could 
inquire, and until I arrived they were in the dark 
regarding the fate of poor Sam. 











IN the summer of 1821, my cousin, Vestal Coffin, 
suggested to me that we should organize a Sab- 
bath-school for the colored people, and endeavor to 
obtain the consent of the slaveholders in the neigh- 
borhood to teach their slaves to read. We knew 
that the Caldwell family the old doctor, and two or 
three of his sons who lived on their own plantations 
and a few other slaveholders, were lenient and would 
have no objection to our teaching their slaves to 
read the tjr Bible. I heartily united with my 
cousin in this project, and we visited the Caldwells, 
the Dokes, and a few other slaveholders, and ob- 
tained the desired permission. It was arranged that 


the slaves should come one Sabbath afternoon to 
the brick school-house, near New Garden Meeting- 
House. They collected at the time appointed, 
wondering at the new and unexpected privilege 
which had been accorded them. Among them was 
one of Thomas Caldwell's slaves, called Uncle Frank. 
He was a gray-haired old negro who had all his life 
been kept in ignorance, but his heart was full of love 
for God, and he was thankful for this opportunity of 
learning to read the Bible. He was quite a preacher 
in his way, and frequently exhorted the slaves in 
the neighborhood. On this occasion, he made a 
long and fervent prayer. He said : "I pray dat de 
good massa Lord will put it into de niggers' hearts to 
larn to read de good book. Oh, Lord, make de let- 
ters in our spellin' books big and plain, and make 
our eyes bright and shiru'n', and make our hearts big 
and strong for to larn. Make our minds sharp and 
keen ; yes, Lord, as sharp as a double-edged sword, 
so dat we can see clpan through de book. Oh, 
Hebbenly Fader, we tank De for makin' our massas 
willin' to let us come to dis school, and oh, Lord, 
do bress dese dear young men you has made willin' 
to come heah and larn us poor slave niggers to read 
de bressed word from de mouf of God. Oh, Lord, 
teach us to be good sarvents, and touch our massas' 
hearts and make 'em tender, so dey will not lay de 
whips to our bare backs, and you, great Massa, shall 
have all de glory and praise. Amen." 

Then the negroes broke out with one of their 
plantation songs or hymns, led by Uncle Frank ; a 


sort of prayer in rhyme, in which the same words 
occurred again and again. 

After this was over, we arranged them in separate 
classes, and began to teach them the alphabet. It 
was new business to them, and they were so excited 
with the novelty of the situation that they accom- 
plished little that day. The next Sabbath they 
made better progress, and in a short time some of 
them had mastered the alphabet and began to spell 
words of two or three letters. Others, mostly adults, 
were dull, and hard to teach, though they tried hard. 
After we had continued the school every Sabbath 
for the most of the summer, and had been encour- 
aged by the progress of some of our pupils, we 
found that we would be obliged to give it up. 
Some of the neighboring slaveholders, who were not 
friendly to our work, threatened to put the law in 
force against us, and visiting those who had let their 
slaves attend our school, told them they were guilty 
as well as the teachers, and that the school must be 
discontinued. They said that it made their slaves 
discontented and uneasy, and created a desire for 
the privileges that others had. 

Our pupils were kept at home, and we were 
obliged to give up our school and succumb to the 
influence of the slave laws. Thus ended our slave 


Strange as it may seem to us now, there were then 
no Sabbath-schools in that part of the country, either 
among Friends or other religious denominations. I 
think it was about 1 8 1 8 when a few of the young 


people of our society, at New Garden, met together 
to consult about organizing a Sabbath-school. I 
was among the number, and took an active part, for 
it was a subject in which I was deeply interested. 
Our conference resulted in opening a Sabbath-school 
in our new brick school-house, at New Garden. 
With few exceptions, we had no encouragement 
from parents and older Friends. On the contrary, 
we had much opposition to contend with. The 
school was small at first, but increased in numbers, 
and was soon large and interesting. It was the first 
Sabbath-school that I have any knowledge of in that 
part of the country. My cousin, Elijah Coffin, and 
my sister Beulah, afterward the wife of Daniel Puck- 
ett, a noted minister among Friends, were our ablest 
instructors. The results of the school were very 
satisfactory to all engaged in it, and instilled into 
my heart a love for Sabbath-school work that in- 
creased as I grew in years, and has continued with 
me even to the presenftime. 

In the spring of 1822, I opened my first school, 
having previously served as assistant teacher. 

I continued this business for more than three years, 
in different neighborhoods, and assisted in organiz- 
ing Sabbath-schools in various places. 

When I opened my first school, I had no prospect 
of continuing in the business long, for I felt that my 
qualifications were not sufficient for so responsible a 
work, but meeting with success in my school, gain- 
ing the affection of the pupils and the approbation of 
their parents, I felt encouraged to continue. I had 
a daep concern for the moral and religious welfare 



of my associates, for though young in years, I had 
experienced a change of heart. I had an earnest 
desire to exercise a good influence over those of my 
own age, and younger, who were my companions, 
and felt that I would have an opportunity to do so 
if I continued teaching. I found no difficulty in the 
government of my school ; I loved order and system, 
and after I gained the affection of my pupils, they 
yielded a ready and cheerful obedience to all my 
rules and regulations. I look back to those years 
as the pleasantest of my life, and regard my labors 
in teaching and establishing Sabbath-schools with 
much satisfaction. The attachments then formed 
between teacher and pupils have never been broken, 
and though more than fifty years have passed, I still 
meet, now and then, in different parts of the West, 
those who were associated with me in school, and 
they recur with pleasure to the days we spent to- 


During the time I was engaged in teaching, I was 
not idle in anti-slavery matters. The subject of 
gradual emancipation, or manumission of slaves, 
was agitated in various parts of the State. A paper, 
called the Greensboro Patriot, was started at Greens- 
boro, edited by William Swaim, a young man of 
rare talent. He advocated the manumission of 
slaves, and though he met with a storm of oppo- 
sition and was assailed by other papers, he con- 
tinued his course boldly and independently. He 
received letters from various parts of the State full 
of threats and warnings. These he published in his 


paper, and replied to them in editorials. Many 
public speakers and writers engaged in discussion 
with him, but they could not cope with him, and 
generally retired from the combat much worsted. 

Some plan of gradual manumission was the theme 
of general discussion at that day, but none of the 
advocates spoke or seemed to think of immediate 
and unconditional emancipation. Manumission so- 
cieties were organized in different counties. The 
first, I believe, was organized at New Garden, Guil- 
ford County. I was a member of it, and can well 
remember the proceedings. We also had several 
State Conventions, which were largely attended, and 
at which addresses were delivered and speeches 
made, by prominent men. The various branches 
were represented by delegates. The first conven- 
tion of this kind was held at Jamestown, in Guil- 
ford County, and William Swaim, editor of the 
Greensboro Patriot, took an active part in the pro- 
ceedings. His cousin jVIoses, a lawyer of Randolph 
County, delivered a lengthy and able address, which 
was afterward printed and widely circulated. It was 
a strong abolition speech, and would not have been 
allowed a few years later. Several lenient slave- 
holders united with us in those meetings, and advo- 
cated plans for gradual manumission. - About this 
time the same subject was agitated in East Tennes- 
see, and similar societies organized in that part of 
the State. 

Benjamin Lundy, of that locality, started a paper, 
called the Genius of Universal Emancipation, which 
I subscribed for and read as long as it was published. 



At our next convention, which was held at New 
Garden Meeting-House, Elihu Emory and James 
Jones, of East Tennessee, attended as delegates 
from that State. Both were active members of the 
Society of Friends able men and good speakers. 
The last convention that I attended was held at 
General Gray's, in Randolph County. He was a 
wealthy man and owned a number of slaves, but 
was interested in our movement. The meeting was 
held in his large new barn, which was covered but 
not weather-boarded, and which afforded ample room 
for the assembly. Quite a number of slaveholders 
were present who favored gradual manumission and 
colonization. They argued that if the slaves were 
manumitted, they must be sent to Africa; it would 
not do for them to remain in this country; they must 
return to Africa, and this must be made a condition 
of their liberty. A motion was made to amend our 
constitution, so that the name of our organiizaton 
would be, " Manumission and Colonization Society." 
This produced a sharp debate. Many, of us were 
opposed to making colonization a condition of free- 
dpm, believing it to be an oclious plan of expatri- 
ation concocted by slaveholders, to open a drain by 
which they might get rid of free negroes, and thus 
remain in more secure possession of their slave prop- 
erty. They considered free negroes a dangerous 
element among slaves. We had no objection to free 
negroes going to Africa of their own will, but to 
compel them to go as a condition of freedom was a 
movement to which we were conscientiously opposed 
and against which we strongly contended. When 

7 6 


the vote was taken, the motion was carried by a 
small majority. We felt that the slave power had 
got the ascendency in our society, and that we could 
no longer work in it. The convention broke up in 
confusion, and our New Garden branch withdrew 
to itself, no longer co-operating with the others. 
Our little anti-slavery band, composed mostly of 
Friends, continued to meet at New Garden until the 
majority of the members emigrated to the West, 
preferring to live in a free State, 

The laws relating to slavery were constantly made 
more oppressive. A law was finally passed prohib- 
iting slaves who had been set free by their masters 
from remaining in the State, except in exceptional 
cases, where they had been manumitted for merito- 
rious conduct. 

Slavery and Quakerism could not prosper together, 
and many of the Friends from New Garden and other 
settlements moved to the West. In the summer of 
1822, my brother-in-laiv, Benjamin White, sold his 
farm and prepared to move with his family to In- 
diana. I was anxious to accompany him and visit 
the Western States, a strange, new country then, 
where so many of my relatives and acquaintances 
had settled. With the consent of my parents I en- 
gaged to go with him and drive his team to the Far 
West, as it was then called, a distance of six hundred 
miles. The road we proposed to travel crossed the 
Blue Ridge at Ward's Gap, in Western Virginia, led 
through East Tennessee and Kentucky, and reached 
the Ohio River at Cincinnati. This was considered 
the best route for loaded wagons. I was then en- 


gaged in teaching at Dover Meeting-House, about 
ten miles from my father's, but closed my school in 
August, and prepared for the journey. My brother- 
in-law was provided with a tent and all the necessary 
equipments for camping out, and stored provisions 
and cooking utensils in his wagon. It was a trial to 
part from my dear parents, and from my youngest 
sister Priscilla, the only child left at home. 

After taking leave of them, I set out on the jour- 
ney with my brother-in-law. Every thing seemed 
bright and pleasant before us. The weather was 
fine, and the novelty of pitching our tent at night 
beneath the tall pines or by the roadside, and camp- 
ing out, was very attractive to me. Our little party, 
consisting of my brother-in-law and my sister, their 
four children, his niece, and myself, were all in good 
spirits, and enjoyed to the utmost the varied and 
beautiful scenery of mountain, forest and stream. 
We seemed to breathe new life and vigor with every 
breath of pure mountain air, and soon accommo- 
dated ourselves to the inconveniences of travel. At 
night we slept soundly near our camp fire, leaving 
our large watch dog to guarcfcthe camp. We trav- 
eled alone until we had passed Abingdon, Virginia, 
when we overtook a six-horse team with two men. 
They had been to the lead mines, near New River, 
and were returning to their home in Kentucky, near 
Crab Orchard. They proved to be pleasant com- 
panions, and we agreed to travel together. Al- 
though Kentuckians, they were anti-slavery in senti- 
ment, and there was perfect harmony between us on 
the subject. 


One morning, soon after we had left camp, three 
or four rough-looking men rode up hastily behind 
us and commanded us to stop. They said they had 
lost a valuable little dog, a pet, and that they be- 
lieved we had it concealed in our wagon. We told 
them we had not seen it, and had no use for another 
dog, having one to each wagon. This did not seem 
to satisfy them, and they said they must search our 
wagon and see. My brother-in-law told them they 
were welcome to look in the wagon. They dis- 
mounted from their horses, and after my sister and 
her children had got out of the wagon, they crawled 
in and tumbled the things about. I said to my 
brother-in-law, "We must watch them or they will 
steal something," and, stepping up to the wagon, 
took out the rifle we used for shooting game, think- 
ing they might take it. The Kentuckians, mean- 
while, were standing by their own team, and when 
the ruffians had done searching our wagon, they 
went to search the other. We knew from the first 
that the story about fhe dog was only a pretense. 
We were confident that the party of men were 
hunting for a negro, a fugitive slave, and thought it 
best to let them satisfy themselves that there was 
none with us ; otherwise they might continue to 
harass and molest us. But the Kentuckians were 
not so passive. Their wagon had nothing in it but 
lead and horse feed, but they were not willing to 
yield to the ruffians the right of search. The 
younger Kentuckian stood near the wagon with 
the lash of his heavy whip wrapped around his 
hand, and the butt clasped between his fingers, 



prepared to strike a violent blow. He dared them 
to approach, and said "I would like to see one of 
you put your head inside my wagon. I know what 
sort of dogs you are hunting. It is runaway negroes 
you are after, and I'll venture that neither of you 
are able to own a negro. If I had one in my wagon 
you could not get him, for you have shown no au- 
thority for searching private property." The elder 
Kentuckian added a few sharp words, and the ruf- 
fians, not liking to encounter such resolute men, 
mounted their horses, and rode away, cursing and 
swearing. We did not see them again, and were not 
further molested. The next night we camped near 
the house of a Methodist minister. Having occasion 
to go to the house on an errand, I met the gentleman 
and entered into conversation with him. He was 
pleasant and sociable in his manner and gave me 
much information concerning that locality. I saw no 
slaves about the house, and introduced the subject 
of slavery. I found that he was opposed to it. I 
related our adventure with the party of men, and he 
said that we were not the first movers who had been 
molested. A gang of ruffians, moved by the pros- 
pect of the large reward generally offered in such 
cases, frequently stopped emigrant wagons and 
searched them for runaway negroes. Not long be- 
fore, a negro had been found secreted in a mover's 
wagon, on his way to a free State, and had been 

We met with no accident or detention on our 
journey, yet we were five weeks on the way. Such 
a rate of progress seems exceedingly slow and tedi- 


ous in this day of railroads. We camped out all 
the way, with the exception of one or two stormy 
nights. During our travel through the mountains, 
I frequently took my rifle and made excursions in 
the woods in search of game. I succeeded in killing 
several wild turkeys, which made a pleasant addition 
to our stock of provisions. In one of these rambles 
in search of game, I wandered some distance from 
the road, but not out of hearing of the wagons 
ahead. I was making my way through the thick 
underbrush, with my gun on my shoulder, when I 
discovered something moving in the bushes not far 
away. I halted to ascertain what it was, and it soon 
made its way into an open space and stood in full 
view. It was a large black bear, the largest I had 
ever seen. It turned its head toward the noise of 
the wagons, and thus did not discover me. I low- 
ered my gun and took aim, not stopping to think 
what the consequence would be if I did not kill it, 
though I knew that a wounded and enraged bear 
was a dangerous enemy." The ball penetrated its 
body but did not kill it. It gave a cry of pain, then 
whirled around on its hind feet and made for me. 
I turned and ran as fast as I could, calling the dogs. 
They had heard the noise and came yelping toward 
me. The bear was close behind when they came in 
sight, but when it saw them, it turned and plunged 
into a thicket. The dogs pursued and soon reached 
it. A short but fierce combat ensued, in which the 
bear defended itself well. The dogs received so 
many hard blows and scratches that they soon re- 
tired from the conflict and came running back. The 


teams had stopped on hearing the noise of the 
affray, and the men came to see what was going on. 
I reloaded my gun and we attempted to pursue the 
bear, but the dogs had been demoralized in the fight 
and we could not induce them to trail it through 
the thickets. We hunted for it among the bushes 
for nearly an hour, but were obliged to give it up. 
This was my first and last experience in bear hunt- 

After reaching our destination, in Wayne County, 
Indiana, I spent several weeks in visiting relatives, 
then engaged in teaching, near Richmond. My 
school-house was near the spot where Earlham Col- 
lege now stands. Several pupils, from Richmond, 
attended during the winter. After the close of the 
term, in early spring, I went to Terre Haute, on the 
Wabash River, on business. There was then a 
small settlement of -Friends on White Lick, about 
twenty miles southwest of Indianapolis, where the 
town of Mooresville now stands. That part of the 
country was then a wilderness, covered with heavy 
timber. My brother-in-law, Benjamin White, and 
a few other Friends entered tracts of government 
land in that vicinity, and they are now dotted with 
thriving towns and villages, and the Western Yearly 
Meeting of Friends is held in their midst. This was 
in the spring of 1823. Indianapolis, the metropolis 
of the State, was then a new town with few houses. 
The country between it and Richmond was then 
unsettled. Where the National pike and Indiana 
Central Railroad now run, there were only a few 
paths and wagon trails cut through the bushes. 


Through this wilderness I traveled alone on horse- 
back, seeing, no inhabitants after leaving the settle- 
ment, on the west fork of White Water, until I 
reached a small settlement on Blue River, about 
forty miles west of Richmond. Here I turned a 
short distance from my route in order to visit Wil- 
liam Macy and his wife, who had been my associates 
and school-mates in North Carolina. They had emi- 
grated to the West a year or two before, and set- 
tled, with a few other families from North Carolina, 
on Blue River. They had entered a quarter section 
of land, most of it rich bottom land, and had built 
a little cabin in the woods. When I reached the 
cabin, I found the door closed and saw no sign of 
life but some squirrels that were frisking about on 
the roof. I alighted and knocked at the door, but 
gained no response. Just then I heard the sound 
of chopping some distance away, and making my 
way to the spot I saw William at work with his ax, 
and his wife piling brush, while their babe sat play- 
ing on a blanket spread on the ground. 

It was a joyful meeting. My friends stopped 
their work and we repaired to the little cabin, 
which was built in the most primitive style. It had 
but one door, the floor was made of puncheons, or 
split timber, and the fireplace was constructed of the 
same material plastered with mud. Round poles 
served as joists, and had clapboards laid on them to 
form the loft floor. My friends seemed well con- 
tented in this humble habitation, and as a number 
of other families had entered land near them, they 
had a fair prospect of being in the midst of a thriv- 


ing and thickly settled neighborhood in the course 
of a few years. In the fall of 1826 I visited them 
again, and found them living in a good frame-house, 
with a large barn and other buildings, surrounded 
by a well cleared and valuable farm. They, in com- 
mon with the other pioneers of that neighborhood, 
were now enjoying comfort and prosperity, the 
results of their own industry. They had removed 
from North Carolina to get away from the influences 
of slavery, and here breathed a free atmosphere. 

After visiting my old acquaintances in this local- 
ity, I went to the settlement on White Lick, passing 
through Indianapolis on the way. The Court-House 
was then in process of erection at that place; the 
State-House was not built for some time afterward. 
The Legislature had not then met there. A news- 
paper had just been started, and the editor gave me 
a copy. The next day, as I was riding alone through 
the thick woods on my way to White Lick, I took 
out the paper and opened it. The first thing that 
struck my attention was a story of a boy who was 
a witness in court, and was severely questioned by 
the opposing lawyer whol 'wished to show that his 
testimony was not reliable. At last the lawyer said 
to the judge: "I don't think the evidence of this 
witness can be taken. He does not seem to be 
very bright or intelligent. I will ask him some ques- 
tions and you can judge for yourself." 

He then said : "Boy, who made you." 

The boy scratched his head and replied: "I don't 
know. I guess Moses did." 

The lawyer said, triumphantly, "Now, gentlemen 


of the court, you can see that what I said was true. 
Boy, you may stand aside." 

"Stop," said the boy; "I want to ask you some 
questions. Can I, judge?" He was permitted to, 
and said to the lawyer: "Who made you?" 

The lawyer scratched his head in imitation of the 
boy and said: "I don't know. I guess Aaron did." 

"Well," said the boy; "I have heard that Aaron 
made a calf, but I didn't know that the thing had 
got in here." 

The whole audience broke out into a laugh at the 
expense of the lawyer. When I came to the end 
of the story I laughed aloud, startling the echoes of 
the silent woods around me. I stopped my horse 
and looked about, to see if anybody had heard me, 
but saw no one but a bright-eyed squirrel peering 
down at me from a tree. 

I reached White Lick settlement and spent sev- 
eral days there looking at the land I was to enter, 
and selecting an eighty-acre lot for myself. I then 
started for Terre Haute, sixty miles distant, having 
no road to guide me but an Indian trail, and there 
being no settlement on the way, except a small one, 
where Greencastle now stands. I reached this place 
the first night and stopped at a small log cabin. It 
had but one room, and this was the sleeping apart- 
ment of parents, children and chance visitors. A 
tramper had stopped there a few days before, pro- 
fessing to be a hatter by trade, and proposing to put 
up a shop at the place. I did not like his appear- 
ance, and having considerable gold and silver in my 
saddle-bags, which I was carrying to the land office, 


I did not wish to be in close quarters with him. He 
was very inquisitive in regard to my business in that 
part of the country, but I evaded his questions as 
best I could. We had to occupy the same bed, and 
though I was fatigued with my long journey I could 
not sleep. Anxiety, and a feeling of heavy respon- 
sibility for the money of others intrusted to my care, 
kept me wakeful and uneasy. I put my saddle-bags 
containing the specie under the head of the bed, 
and lay in such a position that my companion could 
not reach it without passing over me. 

No attempt at robbery was made that night, but 
I subsequently learned that* a few days afterward, 
the sheriff of Dayton, Ohio, arrived there and cap- 
tured this man and put him in irons ; he had com- 
mitted a heavy robbery in Ohio. The day after I left 
the cabin, I was riding through a dense forest when 
I encountered a terrific storm. Black clouds drifted 
rapidly across the sky, and heavy peals of thunder 
mingled with the noise of the wind in the timber. 
I dismounted from my frightened horse and stood 
holding him by the bridle, seeing no way to seek 
safety. It became very dark, tall trees fell crashing 
in every direction, and the* lightning ran in streams 
along the prostrate timber. It was an impressive 
and solemn time with me, for I expected every mo- 
ment to be crushed by the falling trees or struck by 
the lightning. 

The storm soon passed, and I was left unhurt in 
the midst of the ruined forest. My heart was filled 
with thankfulness to God for his great mercy in 
preserving my life. I at first thought I could not 


make my way with my horse out of the forest ; for 
the fallen trees completely obstructed the road, but 
I soon found that the track of the hurricane was nar- 
row, and when I was beyond that the way was clear. 
This hindrance prevented me from reaching the 
settlement near Terre Haute that night, but about 
dark I came to a house on the edge of Otter Creek 
prairie, where I spent the night. Next day I ar- 
rived safely in Terre Haute, where I accomplished 
my business at the land office, and got rid of my 
gold and silver. I then went on seven miles farther, 
to a little settlement of Friends on Honey Creek, 
and stopped at MoseS Hockett's for the night. I 
intended to go on the next morning, to another set- 
tlement, fifteen miles further down the Wabash, 
where a number of my acquaintances from New 
Garden, North Carolina, lived. But Moses Hockett 
informed me that next day was their monthly meet- 
ing, and persuaded me to stay and attend it. At 
the business meeting, I gave the clerk my certificate 
of membership, which had been given me by the 
monthly meeting at New Garden, North Carolina, 
when I started West. It stated that I was a member 
in unity with them, and recommended me to the 
Christian care and kind regard of Friends wherever 
my lot should be cast. This was a good introduction, 
and seemed to open my way among strangers. After 
meeting I had many invitations from those present, 
and finding that I had been engaged in teaching, 
they were anxious that I should open a school at 
their meeting-house. They assured me that I would 
have a large school. I could not engage to teach, 


as I expected to return to Richmond after visiting 
my friends at Termin's Creek, so did not make any 
agreement. I remained over Sabbath at this place, 
and next day went on to the lower settlement, 
where I spent over a week visiting my old associates, 
and hunting. Deer, wild turkeys, and other game 
were abundant and afforded us delightful sport. Sev- 
eral families of the Dixes and Hunts, and my old 
friend David Grose, had settled here, all from Guil- 
ford County. About the time I intended to start 
from this place, wet weather set in. It rained in- 
cessantly for several days, and all the streams were 
swollen so as to be impassable. The ground was 
thawed and the roads were very muddy ; altogether, 
it was a dismal prospect to a traveler. My friends 
dissuaded me from attempting to return to Rich- 
mond, and I concluded to wait till the streams that 
lay in my way could be forded. When the rain 
ceased, I returned to Honey Creek and agreed to 
open a school there, with the understanding that as 
soon as the roads were passable I should adjourn the 
school, for a week or two, and return to my brother- 
in-law's, near Richmond, lor the purpose of getting 
a supply of clothing, etc. I spent a day or two 
riding about the neighborhood with William Dur- 
ham, an elder, and the head of Honey Creek Meet- 
ing, for the purpose of getting subscribers to the 
school, and having obtained a sufficient number of 
names, I opened the school. It was soon full, and 
continued large until the close. 

Finding that there was a number of young people 
in the neighborhood who could not attend school in 


the busy season, I determined to organize a Sabbath- 
school. There had never been one in that place, 
and I knew that to insure its success I must enlist 
the interest of the parents. To affect this object I 
called a meeting at the Meeting-House, one Sabbath 
afternoon, requesting the young people and their 
parents to be present, both members of Friends' 
Society and others. I felt the responsibility I was 
taking on myself, and prayed for Divine guidance 
and strength and wisdom. At the time appointed a 
large meeting convened. I spoke of my concern for 
those of my own age and younger, whom I saw in 
that beautiful prairie settlement, and my desire to 
do something to promote their moral and religious 
welfare while among them. I then proposed that 
we organize a Sabbath-school, to meet every Sab- 
bath afternoon at the Meeting-House, for the object 
of reading and studying the Scriptures, and for mu- 
tual instruction in all that was good and elevating. 
I spoke of the Sabbath-schools in my native place, 
and their beneficial results, and, after I had aroused 
the interest of all, I addressed myself particularly 
to the parents, saying that much would depend on 
the encouragement they gave this undertaking and 
the part they took in it. If they would attend and 
heartily join in the proceedings, and encourage their 
children to come, we might be sure of an interest- 
ing and successful school. To my great joy, they 
united with me fully in the enterprise, and the mat- 
ter was all arranged. The school opened the fol- 
lowing Sabbath, and was well attended. It was 

o * 

held regularly, and increased in interest as long as I 


remained in that part of the country. Members of 

..^nations took part with us, and alj 

seemed to enjoy, and to be benefited by it. This 

was the first Sabbath-school started in that part of 

the country. When the roads were settled and the 

. weather was fair and pleasant, I adjourned my school 

and went to Richmond, as I had arranged to do, 

missing but one Sabbath-school by my absence. 

About the last of May, my cousin, Allen Hiatt, of 
Clinton County, Ohio, visited me at Honey Creek. 
He was on his way to Illinois to visit his sist*er, the 
wife of Absalom Dillon, who, with several other 
Friends, had removed from Ohio and formed a little 
settlement on the Sangamon River, ten or fifteen 
miles from the place where Springfield, the State 
capital, now stands. My cousin was very anxious 
that I should accompany him, as his route lay across 
the Grand Prairie, a tract of country then entirely 
uninhabited, and he would find it very lonely travel- 
ing several days without company. I felt inclined 
to go with him, as part of my business to the West 
was to see the country, so I applied to the trustees 
for permission to adjourn my school for an indefinite 
period. This was granted, and I made preparations 
for the journey. My horse was in good plight for 
traveling, and when I had provided myself with a 
pocket compass, a good rifle, and enough provisions 
to last a week, I felt ready to start. Each of us took 
a wallet of shelled corn for our horses, and a good 
blanket as a preparation for camping out. 

We \vere told that there was an Indian trail from 
Fort Harrison to the forks of the Sangamon River, 


where we would find a settlement and be not far 
from our destination ; so we resolved to take this 
route. Fully equipped, we bade good-by to our 
friends one bright morning, and started out on the 
wide prairie. We crossed the Wabash River, at 
Fort Harrison, four miles above Terre Haute, and 
entered Illinois. We found inhabitants for several 
miles, then struck the Indian trail and left behind us 
all signs of human habitation. 

We followed the trail for two days, winding about 
from northwest to southwest, through the vast un- 
bounded prairie. It led from one small grove of 
timber to another, which the Indians had used as 
camping places, and where they had erected scaf- 
folds on which to dry their venison. On the second 
day the trail grew dim, and toward night it seemed 
to fade out entirely. 

We directed our course to a. small grove of timber 
ahead, which we reached about dark. We prepared 
to camp here for the night, and were making a tent 
of green boughs to protect us from the heavy dew, 
when we were startled by seeing two men coming 
toward us through the high grass. They soon told 
their story. They had been lost on the prairie for 
several days, and were wandering about in search of 
the trail when they saw our camp-fire and directed 
their steps toward us. Their provisions had given 
out two days before, and they were suffering with 
hunger. We fed them sparingly that night, on 
account of their having fasted so long, and the next 
morning divided our store of provisions with them. 
They were trying to reach the settlement on the 


Wabash, and we were able to guide them on their 
way by directing them to the route which we had 

As for ourselves, we hardly knew how to proceed. 
We knew not how to steer our course for the Sanga- 
mon settlement by our compass, and our Indian 
trail had led us out of our way and then vanished. 
After some anxious consultation we concluded to go 
straight west across the trackless prairie. We con- 
tinued this course until we reached the Sangamon 
River, where we were again at a loss. We knew 
not whether to go up or down, but finally concluded 
that we were too far south, so we turned north and 
traveled the rest of the day up the river. We 
looked eagerly about us for some sign of habitation, 
but saw none, and at night camped in the edge of 
the timber that skirted the stream. We felt lonely 
and discouraged. Our stock of provisions was 
nearly gone and our horse feed was exhausted. The 
horses could subsist on grass, but what were we to 
do for something to eat? We now realized that we 
were lost, and began to forebode all kinds of disas- 
ter. To increase the discomfort of our situation, 
great clouds of mosquitoes surrounded and began 
to torment us, and the howl of wolves was heard in 
the distance. We hampered our horses and turned 
them out to graze, but the mosquitoes troubled 
them so much that they sought the smoke of our 
camp-fire for relief. We built several fires and sur- 
rounded ourselves by a cloud of smoke, preferring 
this discomfort to the torment of the mosquitoes. 
We slept but little during the night, our minds 

9 2 


being full of anxiety. The wolves howled almost 
continually, those near us seeming to answer those 
farther off. Sometimes we mocked them, by way 
of amusement ; though it was rather poor amusement 
under the circumstances. 

In the morning we concluded to retrace our steps, 
feeling satisfied that we should have turned down 
the river instead of up. We traveled southward all 
day, seeing no sign of inhabitants, and at night we 
camped again in the timber, weary and hungry. 
Our situation was now indeed serious. Our provis- 
ions were entirely gone and starvation seemed to 
stare us in the face. We frequently saw large herds 
of deer feeding on the prairie, but did not succeed 
in killing any. We were completely lost, not know- 
ing that our course would bring us to any settlement 
for hundreds of miles. 

In the morning we mounted our horses and con- 
tinued our journey. This was the sixth day we had 
traveled without seeing any human being, except 
the two lost men that came to our camp. We 
pushed our way onward through the tall grass of 
the prairie, and about one o'clock in the afternoon 
we were suddenly cheered by the sound of a bell. 
We halted to listen, then made our way in the 
direction whence the sound came. We found a few 
ponies in the shade of a small grove. One of them 
wore a bell around its neck, and it was the tinkle of 
this which we had heard. We supposed they were 
Indian ponies, and that we were not far from a camp 
of Indians. We had had very little acquaintance 
with Indians, and under other circumstances would 



have avoided meeting with them, but now we were 
anxious to find them. We took a circle around, 
looking for some track that might lead us to the 
camp or village, but found none. The sudden hope 
that had raised in our hearts died out, and we felt 
the peril of our situation more forcibly than ever. 
We traveled on down the bank of the river and had 
left the group of ponies several miles behind us, 
when we discovered smoke rising from a point of 
timber before us, that reached out into the prairie. 
We supposed this to proceed from the Indian camp 
we were in search of and hastened toward the place. 
On nearing it, we saw a small log-cabin, and when 
we came up to it, we discovered to our great joy 
that the inhabitants were white people. They were 
entire strangers to us, but seemed very kind and 
friendly. Words can not express the thankfulness 
that filled my heart; I was gladder to see these 
people than I had ever been to see my nearest 
friends. No one can realize our feelings who has 
not had a fimilar experience. The people welcomed 
us to their cabin and soon prepared for us an excel- 
lent dinner of fresh venison, warm corn-bread, wild 
honey, milk and butter. 'They told us that three 
families, their own and two others, had settled in 
that locality the year before, and had raised a very 
good crop in the summer, It was twenty-five miles 
to their nearest neighbors, near the forks of the 
river. The settlement they referred to was the one 
we had been trying to find. 

We tarried with these kind people until the next 
morning; then, with proper directions, we struck 


our course, and reached the settlement that evening. 
There was no ferry-boat at the river, but we found 
a man, living near by, who offered to take us across 
in his canoe. We accepted his offer and put our 
saddles .and saddle-bags in the canoe, compelling our 
horses to swim after us. I came near losing my 
horse in the river. He got fast in the branches of a 
tree that had fallen into the water, and struggled so 
hard to get loose that he was completely exhausted, 
and when he reached the bank, he was not able to 
rise out of the water. We kept his head, above 
the surface by the bridle, and after a little time he 
gathered strength to climb the bank. After waiting 
awhile to give our horses rest and let them feed, we 
traveled on a few miles to Absalom Dillon's, the 
place of our destination. We found a small settle- 
ment of Friends and others who had "squatted," 
as it is called, on government land. They had se- 
lected their land and were waiting for it to come into 
market. We were kindly received by our relatives 
and others, at this place, and I spent several days 
here very pleasantly. 

One day a party of us went out on the prairie, 
which was dotted with beautiful flowers, and gath- 
ered a plentiful supply of delicious strawberries. 
Other days were spent in hunting and in riding 
about to look at the country. In one of our excur- 
sions we visited the place where the city of Spring- 
field now stands. A little cluster of cabins marked 
the site of the present capital. All the people were 
"squatters" on government land, as it had not then 
come into market. The Dillons were preparing to 


visit another place, about forty miles westward, and 
my cousin Allen Hiatt was inclined to go with them. 
They asked me to go too, but I told them that ever 
since I had come to the West I had heard of a bet- 
ter place a little farther on, and now that I had got 
within forty miles of it, I thought I would turn back. 
I was anxious to return to my school, and there was 
a chance of company on the way, which I did not 
wish to lose. 

There was a man in the neighborhood from Ham- 
ilton, Ohio, who had come out by way of Vandalia, 
and who wished to return by Terre Haute. We 
arranged to travel together, and after preparing 
provisions for the journey across the Grand Prairie, 
and bidding our friends good-by, we set out. The 
first night we lodged at the place twenty-five miles 
up the river, where Allen Hiatt and I had been so 
kindly entertained, and the following morning, with 
nothing but our compass to guide us, we started 
across the wide prairie. I was satisfied that if we 
pursued a direct eastward course that we would 
strike the settlement on the Wabash. We made 
good progress that day, and camped at night in a 
small grove of timber. 

Next morning Seeley, my companion, declared 
that our course was leading us too far to the north- 
ward, and insisted that we must bear more toward 
the south. I differed with him on this point. I 
told him that we were now south of the route that 
Allen Hiatt and I had traveled when going out, and 
if we should bear farther south, it would increase 
the distance, and we should miss the settlement on 

9 6 


the Wabash that we wished to reach. If we bore 
farther north we might strike the trail that I had fol- 
lowed for two days when going out. Seeley, how- 
ever, still persisted in his belief. He was much 
older than I, and a more experienced traveler, but 
I could not yield to his judgment. I had the ad- 
vantage of him in several particulars ; the compass 
was mine, the gun was mine, and I had a larger 
stock of provisions ; I could do without him better 
than he could do without me. Nevertheless, he 
seemed resolved to part company and pursue his 
own route, unless I would change my course. It 
was a serious matter to separate in this vast prairie 
country where there were no roads or inhabitants, 
nothing to break the monotony of the level green 
plain but occasional groves of timber. But I would 
not change, and my companion would not, so we 
parted. I steered straight east by my compass, and 
Seeley bore to the southward. He probably thought 
I would yield at last and join him, but I held on my 
way, and the distance between us began to widen. 
He grew smaller and smaller, and about nine o'clock 
seemed like a black speck in the distance. At ten 
o'clock he appeared larger and seemed to be coming 
toward me. At eleven o'clock he fell into my 
course, and when I came up to him, he said: 
"Are you sure you are right?" 
"No," I replied, "I fear I am too far south." 
We continued our course directly east until about 
noon, when we met an Indian on horseback. He 
halted, and I spoke to him, but he did not seem to 
understand English, and made signs that he wanted 


something to eat. We all dismounted from our 
horses, and I gave him some bread and meat. I 
then asked him what tribe he belonged to, but he 
made no reply. I mentioned the names of several 
tribes, and when I said "Kickapoo," he responded 
at once. I found that he understood enough English 
to know the names of places in that part of the 
country. I inquired the course to Fort Harrison. 
He pointed straight east, and said "There Terre 
Haute," then a little farther south, and said "There 

Then he marked on the ground to indicate these 
places and the course, and made us understand by 
signs. that we -could not reach Fort Harrison by a 
straight course, for we could not cross the river. He 
made motions with his arms to imitate swimming, 
and showed us that our horses would swim and the 
water would come over our saddles. He then 
marked on the ground again, and showed us the 
course we must .take. We must go northeast until 
the sun reached such a place pointing to the sun 
then over our heads when we would reach the 
river. We could ford it th^re, then we must turn 
southeast and travel in that direction, until the sun 
reached such a place in the sky. Then we must 
turn straight east, and would soon reach the settle- 

We followed his directions, forded the river with- 
out difficulty, and reached the settlement near Fort 
Harrison the next day, after a wearisome journey of 
four days. During the latter part of our journey the 
weather was very warm, and the last night out was 



one of the most uncomfortable I ever experienced. 
During the day we had passed through a wet, 
swampy district, where the water stood in pools 
here and there, that were knee deep to our horses. 
We were pushing forward in hope of reaching a 
grove of timber which we saw in the distance, when 
a black cloud rolled up from the west, and the peals 
of thunder sounded through the sky. It rained 
heavily and we were soon drenched. Darkness 
settled around us before we reached the grove, and 
in trying to make our way to it, in order to camp 
for the night, we got into one of those morasses I 
have mentioned. We thought we could pass through 
it, and pushed on, but the water soon became so deep 
we were obliged to halt. We turned and tried to 
make our way out, but did not succeed, and coming 
to a spot of dry land, in the midst of the water, we 
concluded to stop. One held the horses while the 
other looked about. 

We found that we were completely surrounded by 
water, and decided that we had better remain where 
we were during the night. After hampering our 
horses and turning them loose to graze, we arranged 
our saddles and saddle-bags on the ground and lay 
down. We had blankets to spread over ourselves, 
but we were yet wet with the rain, and, were far 
from comfortable. The clouds passed away and the 
stars shone brightly in the clear sky. Being much 
fatigued, we soon fell asleep, but awoke about mid- 
night chilly and shivering. We got up and exer- 
cised by walking and jumping about on our little 
island, and soon got warm, but we could sleep no 


more during the night, having to repeat the exer- 
cise several times. When daylight came, we saw 
our horses some two hundred yards from us, grazing 
on the dry prairie. We found a narrow path by 
which we could reach them without wading, and 
gathering up our saddles and blankets, we left our 
camping place. We made good progress that day, 
and, as before stated, reached the settlement that 
afternoon in safety. I left my companion at Terre 
Haute and arrived at my home at Honey Creek that 
night. I received a hearty greeting from all my 
friends, and was very glad to get back. I felt fully 
satisfied with my adventures in the wild West, and 
did not care for any more experience of that kind. 
After one or two days' rest, I reopened my school, 
and continued it without further intermission until 
the last of August. Nothwithstanding the exposure 
I had undergone in my travels, I continued to enjoy 
the blessing of good health. 

Soon after the close of my school I left Honey 
Creek, and returned to Richmond through the 
southern part of the State, which had been longer 
settled than the central part. I went by way of 
Paoli, Orange County, and Salem, Washington 
County, where I had numerous relatives living. 
Two uncles my father's elder brothers were 
among the early settlers of that locality. Large 
settlements of Friends had grown up in these coun- 
ties, and a Quarterly Meeting was established near 
Salem, called Blue River Quarterly Meeting. After 
spending about a week in visiting my uncles, Libni 
and Matthew Coffin, and many of my numerous 


cousins, I went directly to the home of my brother- 
in-law, Benjamin White, near Richmond. This was 
my headquarters while I staid in the West, though 
a part of my leisure time was spent in visiting my 
other sisters, the wives of Daniel Puckett and Sam- 
uel Kellum, who lived about nine miles north of 
Richmond, in the village of Newport. The time 
for the Yearly Meeting of Friends \vas-drawing near, 
and I wished to attend it before starting back to 
North Carolina. Indiana Yearly Meeting had been 
established but a short time, and a large house in 
the suburbs of Richmond had been erected to 
accommodate the meeting. It was called White 
Water Meeting-House. 

The time for the meeting to open was in the Tenth 
Mo., October, and this gave me several weeks in 
which to visit my relatives and prepare for my home- 
ward journey. I had learned that there was a pros- 
pect of having pleasant company on my way back. 
My uncle, Jonathan Hockett, of Highland County, 
Ohio, and his son Jonathan ; Aaron Betts, of the 
same county, and Benjamin Beeson, of Indiana, were 
all going on horseback to North Carolina. The time 
of starting was agreed upon, and after taking leave 
of my friends in Indiana, and visiting relatives in 
Clinton and Highland Counties, Ohio, I joined this 
party and started for North Carolina. We crossed 
the Ohio River at Gallipolis, then went up the Ka- 
nawha River to the Falls. We crossed New River 
at Pack's Ferry, and our course from that place led 
across Peter's mountain, across the Blue Ridge at 
Maberry's Gap, and thence to Guilford County, 


North Carolina. I reached my father's house about 
the first of November, 1823. I was truly thankful 
to meet my dear parents and sister again, after a sep- 
aration of more than a year, and they were greatly 
rejoiced at my restoration to them in the enjoyment 
of health and prosperity. 

I remained quietly at home several weeks, aiding 
my father in the work of the farm. Schools gener- 
ally were taken up, and I saw no opening for em- 
ployment as teacher that winter. In the early part 
of winter I was applied to by a friend of mine to go 
on a collecting tour for him in the mountain regions 
of Southwestern Virginia. It would occupy me but 
a few weeks. I undertook the business reluctantly, 
fearing the inclemency of the weather in that cold 
mountain region. I crossed the Blue Ridge at Good 
Spur Gap, and spent about two weeks traveling over 
portions of Grayson, Wythe, and Montgomery 
Counties, Virginia. Snow lay on the ground, and 
the weather was extremely cold. I frequently en- 
countered heavy snow-storms, and this exposure 
gave me a severe cold. I was gone from home 
about three weeks, and soon after my return I was 
taken violently ill with the pleurisy. This distress- 
ing disease reduced me very low, but by the aid of a 
skillful physician, and the tender and careful nursing 
of my parents and sister, and the blessing of my 
Heavenly Father, I was so far restored in a few 
weeks as to be able to walk about a little when the 
weather was fair. I remained in feeble health the 
remainder of the winter, and was not able to engage 
in any heavy physical labor. 



One day, late in the winter, I was sitting in a 
rather dejected frame of mind, meditating on my 
situation and wondering what I should do, when a 
boy rode up to the door, and handed me a letter. I 
opened it and found that it was from Jesse Moore, 
of Deep River, near Jamestown, requesting me to 
take a school at that place. He wished me to en- 
gage for one year, and assured me that I would have 
a large school. I gladly accepted the offer, and as 
soon as my health permitted I opened the school. 
It was about eight miles from my father's, and by 
keeping my horse at my boarding place I had the 
opportunity of riding home at the close of the week. 
I taught here the whole year, and had a large and 
interesting school. 









ON the 28th day of tenth month, 1824, I was 
married to Catherine White, daughter of Stan- 
ton and Sarah White. We were brought up in the 
same neighborhood, and had been acquainted from 
childhood. She belonged to the Religious Society 
of Friends, and was then a member of Hopewell 
^Monthly Meeting, to which place her father had re- 
moved a few years before, from his former residence 
near New Garden. We were married at Hopewell 
Meeting-House, after the manner and custom of 

My wedding-day was my twenty-sixth birthday; 
my wife was twenty-one the preceding month. Our 
attachment to each other was of long standing. She 
was an amiable and attractive young woman of lively, 
buoyant spirits. Her heart has ever been quick to 
respond to the cry of distress, and she has been an 
able and efficient helper to me in all my efforts on 



behalf of the fugitive slaves, and a cheerful sharer in 
all the toils, privations and dangers which we have, 
in consequence, been called upon to endure. 

Soon after marriage I rented a house near my 
school, and here we first went to housekeeping. 
My school closed early in the spring, and I con- 
cluded to rest awhile from the arduous duties of 

Thinking that my health would be improved by 
the open-air exercise of farming, and having a very 
favorable offer made me of a comfortable house, 
without charge, in that neighborhood, and as much 
ground as I wished to cultivate, I prepared to en- 
gage in farming. This prospect was pleasant to us 
both, : as my wife and I had been brought up on 
farms. The house was tendered us by our friend 
and neighbor Shields Moore, who now lives in In- 
diana. We went to work in good spirits and soon 
had a garden planted and a crop in. But my plan 
for farming soon came to an end. 

A new school-house had just been completed, 
about two miles north of Deep River Meeting- 
House, in a thickly settled neighborhood of Friends. 
This settlement was called Nazareth, and the school- 
house received the same name. There was a large 
number of young people in the neighborhood, for 
whose benefit the parents were anxious to establish a 
good school. A committee, consisting of Abel Cof- 
fin, Thaddeus Gardner, Zacharias Coffin and Peter 
Hunt, visited me and asked me to take the school. 
They added inducements by offering me a good 
house, free of charge, and agreeing to guarante . my 



salary, but I declined the offer. I thought they had 
overestimated my qualifications and reputation as a 
teacher, and feared that I could not satisfactorily fill 
the place. They would not accept my answer as 
final, however, and said they would visit me again, 
giving me a Week to think on the subject. I con- 
sulted with my wife and some of our neighbors, and 
finally agreed to accept the offer. I accordingly sold 
my crop, and removed to the house near the school. 

In my article of agreement, I limited my school 
to fifty scholars. This number was soon made up, 
and I employed Susanna Overman, a graduate of 
Greensboro Academy, as assistant. 

This was the largest and most interesting school 
that I ever taught. During this year I was also 
engaged in Sabbath-school work. We organized a 
large Sabbath-school at Deep River Meeting-House, 
the first ever established in that place. In the early 
part of 1826 we organized a library association at 
my school-house, calling it the Nazereth Library 
Association. We got several of the prominent 
men of the neighborhood interested in this work, 
and succeeded in getting a small, yet good collec- 
tion of books with which fb start our library. We 
then made up a considerable sum of money, and 
having, by the aid of Jeremiah Hubbard and others, 
made out a list of valuable books, we sent by Abel 
Coffin, who was going to Philadelphia, and pur- 
chased others. This was the beginning of what 
grew in time to be a large and interesting library. 

When my school closed, I made a donation of my 
stock and interest in the library to the association. 


I was then preparing to move to the State of In- 
diana. The association afterward obtained a charter 
and became a corporate body. A year or two after 
my removal to the West, I received an official noti- 
fication of a resolution passed by this body, thank- 
ing me for the active part I had taken in organizing 
the association, and for my donation to the library. 

In the early part of the ninth month, 1826, we 
took a final leave of North Carolina. My parents 
had emigrated to Indiana the previous year, and I 
was the last one of our family to go. My family at 
this time consisted of myself, my wife, and our son 
Jesse, about a year old. My wife's parents were 
not then prepared to move, but followed the next 
year. On our way to Indiana we had the company 
of my wife's cousin, Elias Jessup, and his little 

We made the journey in light wagons, with good 
teams, and had a pleasant trip. We took the short- 
est route, called the Kanawha road, and arrived at 
our destination in four weeks from the time of start- 
ing. We located at Newport, Wayne County, In- 
diana, where we lived for more than twenty years. 
This village was in the midst of a large settlement 
of Friends, and a Quarterly Meeting was then estab- 
lished at New Garden Meeting-House, about a half 
mile from the village. I bought property in New- 
port, and finding that there was a good opening 
there for a mercantile business, I concluded to en- 
gage in it. I went to Cincinnati and purchased a 
small stock of goods and opened a store. This ven- 
ture was successful, and I increased my stock and 


varied my assortment of goods until a large retail 
business was established. 

The next year I commenced cutting pork in a 
small way, besides carrying on my other business. 
This I continued to do, enlarging my operations 
every year, and kept it up as long as I remained in 

In the year 1836, I built an oil mill and manufac- 
tured linseed oil. Notwithstanding all this multi- 
plicity of business, I was never too bi*sy to engage 
in Underground Railroad affairs. Soon after we lo- 
cated at Newport, I found that we were on a line of 
the U. G. R. R. Fugitives often passed through 
that place, and generally stopped among the colored 
people. There was in that neighborhood a number 
of families of free colored people, mostly from North 
Carolina, who were the descendants of slaves who 
had been liberated by Friends many years before, 
and sent to free States at the expense of North Car- 
olina Yearly Meeting. I learned that the fugitive 
slaves who took refuge with these people were often 
pursued and captured, the colored people not being 
very skillful in concealing them, or shrewd in making 
arrangements to forward them to Canada. I was 
pained to hear of the capture of these fugitives, and 
inquired of some of the Friends in our village why 
they did not take them in and secrete them, when 
they were pursued, and then aid them on their way 
to Canada? I found that they were afraid of the pen- 
alty of the law. I told them that I read in the Bible 
when I was a boy that it was right to take in the 
stranger and administer to those in distress, and that 


I thought it was always safe to do right. The Bible, 
in bidding us to feed the hungry and clothe the 
naked, said nothing about color, and I should try 
to follow out the teachings of that good book. I 
was willing to receive and aid as many fugitives as 
were disposed to come to my house. I knew that 
my wife's, feelings and sympathies regarding this 
matter were the same as mine, and that she was will- 
ing to do her part. It soon became known to the 
colored people in our neighborhood and others, that 
our house was a depot where the hunted and ha- 
rassed fugitive journeying northward, on the Under- 
ground Railroad, could find succor arid sympathy. 
It also became known at other depots on the various 
lines that converged at Newport. 

In the winter of 1826-27, fugitives began to come 
to our house, and as it became more widely known 
on different routes that the slaves fleeing from bond- 
age would find a welcome and shelter at our house, 
and be forwarded safely on their journey, the num- 
ber increased. Friends in the neighborhood, who 
had formerly stood aloof from the work, fearful of 
the penalty of the law, were encouraged to engage 
in it when they saw the fearless manner in which I 
acted, and the success that attended my efforts. 
They would contribute to clothe the fugitives, and 
would aid in forwarding them on their way, but 
were timid about sheltering them under their roof; 
so that part of the work devolved on us. Some 
seemed really glad to see the work go on, if some- 
body else would do it. Others doubted the propri- 
ety of it, and tried to discourage me, and dissuade 


me from running such risks. They manifested great 
concern for my safety and pecuniary interests, tell- 
ing me that such a course of action would injure my 
business and perhaps ruin me ; that I ought to con- 
sider the welfare of my family ; 8 'and warning me that 
my life was in danger, as there were many threats 
made against me by the slave-hunters and those who 
sympathized with them. 

After listening quietly to these counselors, I told 
them that I felt no condemnation for anything that 
I had ever done for the fugitive slaves. If by doing 
my duty and endeavoring to fulfill the injunctions 
of the Bible, I injured my business, then let my 
business go. As to my safety, my life was in the 
hands of my Divine Master, and I felt that I had his 
approval. I had no fear of the danger that seemed 
to threaten my life or my business. If I was faith- 
ful to duty, and honest and industrious, I felt that 
I would be preserved, and that I could make 
enough to support my family. At one time there 
came to see me a good old Friend, who was appar- 
ently very deeply concerned for my welfare. He 
said he was as much opposed to slavery as I was, 
but thought it very wrong to harbor fugitive slaves. 
No one there knew of what crimes they were guilty ; 
they might have killed their masters, or committed 
some other atrocious deed, then those who sheltered 
them, and aided them in their escape from justice 
would indirectly be accomplices. He mentioned 
other objections which he wished me to consider, 
and then talked for some time, trying to convince 
me of the errors of my ways. I heard him pa- 


tiently until he had relieved his mind of the burden 
upon it, and then asked if he thought the Good 
Samaritan stopped to inquire whether the man who 
fell among thieves was guilty of any crime before 
he attempted to help him? I asked him if he were 
to see a stranger who had fallen into the ditch would 
he not help him out until satisfied that he had com- 
mitted no atrocious deed? These, and many other 
questions which I put to him, he did not seem able 
to answer satisfactorily. He was so perplexed and 
confused that I really pitied the good old man, and 
advised him to go home and read his Bible thor- 
oughly, and pray over it, and I thought his concern 
about my aiding fugitive slaves would be removed 
from his mind; and that he would feel like helping 
me in the work. We parted in good feeling, and 
he always manifested warm friendship toward me 
until the end of his days. 

Many of my pro-slavery customers left me for a 
time, my sales were diminished, and for a while my 
business prospects were discouraging, yet my faith 
was not shaken, nor my efforts for the slaves less- 
ened. New customers soon came in to fill the places 
of those who had left me. New settlements were 
rapidly forming to the north of us, and our own was 
filling up with emigrants from North Carolina, and 
other States. My trade increased, and I enlarged 
my business. I was blessed in all my efforts and 
succeeded beyond my expectations. The Under- 
ground Railroad business increased as time ac! 
vanced, and it was attended with heavy expenses, 
which I could not have borne had not my affairs 


been prosperous. I found it necessary to keep a 
team and a wagon always at command, to convey 
the fugitive slaves on their journey. Sometimes, 
when we had large companies, one or two other 
teams and wagons were required. These journeys 
had to be made at night, often through deep mud 
and bad roads, and along by-ways that were seldom 
traveled. Every precaution to evade pursuit had to 
be used, as the hunters were often on the track, and 
sometimes ahead of the slaves. We had different 
routes for sending the fugitives to depots, ten, fif- 
teen, or twenty miles distant, and when we heard 
of slave-hunters having passed on one road, we for- 
warded our passengers by another. 

In some instances where we learned that the pur- 
suers were ahead of them, we sent a messenger and 
had the fugitives brought back to my house to re- 
main in concealment until the bloodhounds in human 
shape had lost the trail and. given up the pursuit. 

I soon became extensively known to the friends 
of the slaves, at different points on the Ohio River, 
where fugitives generally crossed, and to those 
northward of us on the various routes leading to 
Canada. Depots were established on the different 
lines of the Underground Railroad, south and north 
of Newport, and a perfect understanding was main- 
tained between those who kept them. Three princi- 
pal lines from the South converged at my house ; 
one from Cincinnati, one from Madison, and one 
from Jeffersonvillc, Indiana. The roads were al- 
ways in running order, the connections were good, 
the conductors active and zealous, and there was no 


lack of passengers. Seldom a week passed without 
our receiving passengers by this mysterious road. 
We found it necessary to be always prepared to re- 
ceive such company and properly care for them. 
We knew not what night or what hour of the night 
we would be roused from slumber by a gentle rap at 
the door. That was the signal announcing the ar- 
rival of a train of the Underground Railroad, for the 
locomotive did not whistle, nor make any unneces- 
sary noise. I have often been awakened by this 
signal, and sprang out of bed in the dark and opened 
the door. Outside in the cold or rain, there would 
be a two-horse wagon loaded with fugitives, perhaps 
the greater part of them women and children. I 
would invite them, in a low tone, to come in, and 
they would follow me into the darkened house with- 
out a word, for we knew not who might be watching 
and listening. When, they were all safely inside and 
the door fastened, I would cover the windows, strike 
a light and build a good fire. By this time my wife 
would be up and preparing victuals for them, and in 
a short time the cold and hungry fugitives would be 
made comfortable. I would accompany the conduc- 
tor of the train to the stable, and care for the horses, 
that had, perhaps, been driven twelity : five"~bT"thirty 
miles that night, through the cold and rain. The 
fugitives would rest on pallets before the fire the rest 
of the night. Frequently, wagon-loads of passen- 
gers from the different lines have met at our house, 
having no previous knowledge of each other. The 
companies varied in number, from two or three fugi- 
tives to seventeen. 


The care of so many necessitated much work and 
anxiety on our part, but we assumed the burden of 
our own will and bore it cheerfully. It was never 
too cold or stormy, or the hour of night too late, 
for my wife to rise from sleep, and provide food and 
comfortable lodging for the fugitives. Her sym- 
pathy for those in distress never tired, and her 
efforts in their behalf never abated. This work was 
kept up during the time we lived at Newport, a 
period of more than twenty years. The number of 
fugitives varied considerably in different years, but 
the annual average was more than one hundred. 
They generally came to us destitute of clothing, and 
were often barefooted. Clothing must be collected 
and kept on hand, if possible, and money must be 
raised to buy shoes, and purchase goods to make 
garments for women and children. The young 
ladies in the neighborhood organized a sewing so- 
ciety, and met at our house frequently, to make 
clothes for the fugitives. 

Sometimes when the fugitives came to us desti- 
tute, we kept them several days, until they could be 
provided with comfortable dothes. This depended 
on the circumstances of danger. If they had come 
a long distance and had been out several weeks or 
months as was sometimes the case and it was not 
probable that hunters were on their track, we 
thought it safe for them to remain with us until 
fitted for traveling through the thinly settled country 
to the North. Sometimes fugitives have come to 
our house in rags, foot-sore and toil-worn, and al- 
most wild, having been out for several months 


traveling at night, hiding in canebrakes or thickets 
during the day, often being lost and making little 
headway at night, particularly in cloudy weather, 
when the north star could not be seen, sometimes 
almost perishing for want of food, and afraid of 
every white person they saw, even after they came 
into a free State, knowing that slaves were often 
captured and taken back after crossing the Ohio 

Such as thfese we have kept until they were re- 
cruited in strength, provided with clothes, and able 
to travel. When they first came to us they were 
generally unwilling to tell their stories, or let us 
know what part of the South they came from. They 
would not give their names, or the names of their 
masters, correctly, fearing that they would be be- 
trayed. In several instances fugitives came to our 
house sick from exhaustion and exposure, and lay 
several weeks. One case was that of a woman and 
her two children little girls. Hearing that her 
children were to be sold -Jiway from her, she deter- 
mined to take them with her and attempt to reach 
Canada. She had heard that Canada was a place 
where all were free, and that by traveling toward 
the north star she could reach it. She managed 
to get over the Ohio River with her two little girls, 
and then commenced her long and toilsome journey 
northward. Fearing to travel on the road, even at 
night, lest she should meet somebody, she ma^e 
her way through the woods and across fields, living 
on fruits and green corn, when she could procure 
them, and sometimes suffering severely for lack of 


food. Thus she wandered on, and at last reached 
our neighborhood. Seeing a cabin where some col- 
ored people lived she made her way to it. The 
people received her kindly, and at once conducted 
her to our house. She was so exhausted by the 
hardships of her long journey, and so weakened by 
hunger, having denied herself to feed her children, 
that she soon became quite sick. Her children 
were very tired, but soon recovered their strength, 
and were in good health. They had no shoes nor 
clothing except what they had on, and that was in 
tatters. Dr. Henry H. Way was called in, and 
faithfully attended the sick woman, until her health 
was restored. Then the little party were provided 
with good clothing and other comforts, and were 
sent on their way to Canada. 

Dr. Way was a warm friend to the fugitive slaves, 
and a hearty co-worker with me in anti-slavery mat- 
ters. The number of those who were friendly to 
the fugitives increased in our neighborhood as time 
passed on. Many were willing to aid in clothing 
them and helping them on their way, and a few 
were willing to aid in secreting them, but the depot 
seemed to be established at my house. 

Notwithstanding the many threats of slave-hunt- 
ers and the strong prejudices of pro-slavery men, I 
continued to prosper and gained a business influence 
in the community. Some of my customers, who 
had left me several years before on account of my 
anti-slavery sentiments, began to deal with me 
again. I had been elected a director in the Rich- 
mond branch of the State Bank, and was re-elected 


annually for six or seven years, by the stockholders, 
to represent our district. When any one wished 
accommodation from the bank, much depended on 
the director from the district where the applicant 
lived. His word or influence would generally de- 
cide the matter. The remembrance of this seemed 
to hold a check on some of the pro-slavery men of 
our neighborhood. They wished to retain my 
friendship, and did not openly oppose my U. G. R. 
R. work as they might otherwise have done. My 
business influence no doubt operated in some de- 
gree to shield me from the attacks of the slave- 
hunters. These men often threatened to kill me, 
and at various times offered a reward for my head. 
I often received anonymous letters warning me that 
my store, pork-house, and dwelling would be burned 
to the ground, and one letter, mailed in Kentucky, 
informed me that a body of armed men were then 
on their way to Newport to destroy the town. The 
letter named the night in ^vhich the work would be 
accomplished, and warned me to flee from the place, 
for if I should be taken my life would pay for my 
crimes against Southern slaveholders. I had be- 
come so accustomed to threats and warnings, that 
this made no impression on me struck no terror to 
my heart. The most of the inhabitants of our vil- 
lage were Friends, and their principles were those 
of peace and non-resistance. They were not alarm- 
ed at the threat to destroy the town, and on the 
night appointed retired to their beds as usual and 
slept peacefully. We placed no sentinels to give 
warning of danger, and had no extra company at 


our house to guard our lives. We retired to rest 
at the usual hour, and were not disturbed during the 
night. In the morning the buildings were all there 
there was no smell of fire, no sign of the terrible 
destruction threatened. I heard of only one person 
who was alarmed, and he did not live in town. 

The fright of this man created considerable amuse- 
ment at the time and was not soon forgotten. He 
was a poor laborer, who lived a mile and a half from 
Newport, in a cabin which he had built in the woods. 
About half a mile east of his place, two roads cross- 
ed each other, one of them leading to Newport, and 
near the cross-roads was a large pond of water. This 
incident occurred in the spring of the year. Having 
heard that on a certain night the town of Newport 
was to be destroyed by an army from Kentucky, 
this man was listening, at the time appointed, for 
the sound of the approaching army. Soon after 
dark he was sure he heard martial music near the 
cross-roads. He hastened to town with all speed, 
and came into my store, almost out of breath, to 
give the alarm. We laughed at him, and told him 
that he heard the noise t*f frogs in that pond of 
water, but he would not be convinced. To satisfy 
him, a young man present said he would mount his 
horse and go with him to hear the music. He went, 
and soon returned and informed us that the frogs 
were making a lively noise in the pond in honor of 
the return of spring ; that was all the music to be 
heard. The laborer was so chagrined at his ludi- 
crous mistake, that he did not show himself in town 
for some time. 


Slave-hunters often passed through our town 
and sometimes had hired ruffians with them fron; 
Richmond, and other neighboring places. They 
knew me well, and knew that I harbored slaves and 
aided them to escape, but they never ventured to 
search my premises, or molest me in any way. 

I had many employes about my place of business, 
and much company about my house r and it seemed 
too public a place for fugitives to hide. These 
slave-hunters knew that if they committed any tres- 
pass, or went beyond the letter of the law, I would 
have them arrested, and they knew also that I had 
many friends who would stand at my back and aid 
me in prosecuting them. Thus, my business influ- 
ence and large acquaintance afforded me protection 
in my labors for the oppressed fugitives. I ex- 
pressed my anti-slavery sentiments with boldness 
on every occasion. I told the sympathizers with 
slave-hunters that I intended to shelter as many 
runaway slaves as came to. my house, and aid them 
on their way ; and advised them to be careful how 
they interfered with my work. They might get 
themselves into difficulty if they undertook to cap- 
ture slaves from my premises, and become involved 
in a legal prosecution, for most of the arrests of 
slaves were unlawful. The law required that a writ 
should... be obtained, and a proof that the slave was 
their property before they could take him away, and 
if they proceeded contrary to these requirements, 
and attempted to enter my house, I would have 
them arrested as kidnappers. These expressions, 
uttered frequently, had, I thought, a tendency to 


intimidate the slave-hunters and their friends, and 
to prevent them from entering my house to search 
for slaves. 

The pursuit was often very close, and we had to 
resort to various stratagems in order to elude the 
pursuers. Sometimes a company of fugitives were 
scattered, and secreted in the neighborhood until 
the hunters had given up the chase. At other 
times their route was changed and they were hur- 
ried forward with all speed. It was a continual 
excitement and anxiety to us, but the work was 
its own reward. 

As I have said before, when we knew of no pur- 
suit, and the fugitives needed to rest or to be 
clothed, or were sick from exposure and fatigue, we 
have kept them with us for weeks or months. A 
case of this kind was that of two young men who 
were brought to our house during a severe cold spell 
in the early part of winter. They had been out in 
the snow and ice, and their feet were so badly frozen 
that their boots had to be cut off, and they were 
compelled to lie by for three months, being unable 
to travel. Dr. Henry H. Way, who was always 
ready to minister to the fugitives, attended them, 
and by his skillful treatment their feet were saved, 
though for some time it was thought that a sur- 
gical operation would have to be performed. The 
two men left us in the spring, and went on to Can- 
ada. They seemed loth to part from us, and mani- 
fested much gratitude for our kindness and care. 
The next autumn one of them returned to our 
house to see us, saying that he felt so much in- 


debted to us that he had come back to work for us 
to try to repay us, in some measure, for what we had 
done for him. I told him that we had no charge 
against him, and could not receive anything for our 
attention to him while he was sick and helpless ; but 
if he thought he would be safe, I would hire him 
during the winter at good wages. He accepted this 
offer and proved to be a faithful servant. He at- 
tended night-school and made some progress in 
learning. He returned to Canada in the spring. 

Many of the fugitives came long distances, from 
Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, in fact from all 
parts of the South. Sometimes the poor hunted 
creatures had been out so long, living in woods and 
thickets, that they were almost wild when they came 
in, and so fearful of being betrayed, that it was 
some time before their confidence could be gained 
and the true state of their case learned. Although 
the number of fugitives that I aided on their way 
was so large, not one, so far as I ever knew, was 
captured and taken baclk to slavery. Providence 
seemed to favor our efforts for the poor slaves, and 
to crown them with success. 


% Early in the spring of 1828 1 started to North 
Carolina on business for myself and others, taking 
with me a small drove of horses to sell. 

I was accompanied by Ellis Mitchell, a light mu 
latto man, free born. He was from our neighbor- 
hood in North Carolina, where by his industry as a 
blacksmith he had become possessed of a comfort- 


able little property adjoining the farm of my wife's 
father, Stanton White. In the fall of 1827 my 
father-in-law moved from North Carolina and settled 
in Spiceland, Henry County, Indiana. Ellis had 
long wished to pay a visit to the western country, 
but was deterred from making the attempt by a 
knowledge of the difficulties that beset a colored 
man, who traveled alone from a slave State to the 
free States. Therefore, when my father-in-law pre- 
pared to start, Ellis saw his opportunity. He offered 
his services to drive my father-in-law's team, and was 
gladly accepted. 

He made the journey in safety and spent the win- 
ter in Indiana, visiting his numerous friends and 
acquaintances, who had emigrated from North Caro- 
lina. When he wished to return home in the spring, 
he offered to go with me and aid me in driving the 
horses, and I gladly availed myself of his services. 
Dr. Henry H. Way, who was then my partner in 
business, accompanied us on the first day's journey. 
We stopped at night at a tavern near Eaton, Ohio, 
had our horses put up and called for supper for three. 
When we were called to the supper table, however, 
we found plates and seats for bnly two. The doctor 
observed to the landlady that we had ordered supper 
for three, but that she had prepared for only two, 
and remarked: "Perhaps you did not understand 
that there were three in our company." 

"Yes, sir," she replied; "I did understand, but 
we don't admit niggers to our table to eat with white 
folks. I will give your servant his supper in the 



"He is not our servant," rejoined the doctor; 
"but a respectable gentleman, fully as worthy as we 
are, and nearly as white ; he owns good property, 
and is really worth more money than either of us." 

"I don't care," she replied ; "he can't eat at my 
table with white folks." 

In his quaint,* peculiar style of speaking the doc- 
tor asked : "Do you ever expect to go to heaven?" 

"I hope so," she replied, wondering how such a 
question could refer to the subject of their conver- 

The doctor said : "If this man should go there, as 
I trust he will, do you think he will be put in the 
kitchen?" and then went on to quote several pas- 
sages of Scripture, with which the woman was ap- 
parently not familiar, concluding by saying: "I had 
much rather eat with this man than with a person 
who would not eat with him." 

But the landlady did not yield, and Ellis had to 
eat in the kitchen. We traveled through the State 
of Ohio, but had no further difficulty in regard to 
Ellis' accommodations until we crossed the river at 
Gallipolis and entered the State of Virginia. Then, 
Ellis was a "nigger" and had to go into the kitchen 
the most of the way. While traveling up the 
Kanawha River, there was a sudden change of 
temperature, and the weather, which had been mild 
and pleasant, became cold and blustering, and snow 

Ellis Mitchell became quite sick from exposure, 
and was hardly able to travel. We wished to stop 
early, but could find no house of entertainment. 


Some time after sunset we arrived at a good tavern 
and called for quarters. The landlord came out to 
meet us and appeared very accommodating. He 
called several negro servants to take our horses, and 
said to me: "Send your servant with mine to take 
care of the horses." I told him that I would go to 
the stable myself to look after the horses, as my 
companion was sick and I wished him to go in to 
the fire. I requested the landlord to give him a 
comfortable room where he could lie down, for he 
had had a hard ague chill in the afternoon and the 
fever was now coming on. 

The landlord replied: "Oh yes, sir, he. shall be 
properly attended to; " and I told Ellis to go in. 

I went with the servants to see that our drove 
of horses was properly stabled and fed, then went 
back to the house and inquired about Ellis. 

The landlord said: "My niggers will take care of 
him ; don't be uneasy." 

But I was determined to see where he was, and 
how he fared, and walking out of the back door, I 
proceeded to a negro cabin which I saw a few rods 
off. Entering it, I saw Ellis sitting on a rough bench 
in one corner, near a large fireplace in which burned 
a few sticks of wood. In the opposite corner sat 
several negro children on the dirt floor, for only half 
of the cabin, the back part, had a rough board floor. 
On these boards lay a few old blankets and quilts 
which afforded all the bed that Ellis could expect 
for the night. 

I went back to the house with my feelings much 
disturbed, and said to the landlord: "I called fora 



comfortable room for the sick man, so that he might 
lie down, but I find him sitting on a rough bench, 
with no chance to lie down. I want him taken out 
of that dirty cabin and given a comfortable place to 
rest and sleep ; he is able to pay for it. He is a 
free man, owning a good property, and at home has 
nice feather beds to sleep on." 

The landlord replied : " I will see that he is made 

After supper, I went again to the cabin to see 
how Ellis was faring. I found him lying on the 
bench, with his overcoat over him. An old straw 
bed, with some ragged and dirty blankets, had been 
spread down in one corner for him, but he had re- 
fused to lie on it. For his supper he had been 
given some poor coffee and corn bread, of which he 
had. tasted but little. The floor of the cabin was 
occupied by the negro servants, men, women, and 
children. Ellis spent the night on the bench by the 
fire, sleeping but little. 

In the morning the breakfast offered him was the 
same as his supper, yet when we came to settle our 
accounts, hjjf^ljjjl .was the same as mine. Ellis had 
never been a slave, had always lived in a neighbor- 
hood of Friends, where he was respected and kindly 
treated, and this was the first time he had experi- 
enced the effects of slavery. The rest' of the way 
home he fared more comfortably. After crossing 
the mountains into Patrick County, where taverns 
were few and far between, we made an early start 
one morning, and traveled till ten o'clock to reach 
an inn. We stopped and called for breakfast for 


two, and, after waiting some time, I was informed 
that the meal was ready. I stepped into the dining- 
room, but seeing only one plate on the table, I 
called to the landlady, and said: "I ordered break- 
fast for two, and I wish this gentleman to eat with 

She replied: " After you have done, sir, he may 
come to the table." 

I told her that we had no time to spare to eat, 
one after the other, for we had a long journey be- 
fore us 1,hat day, and wished to be off as soon as 

"I don't care," she said, "niggers can't eat with 
white folks at my table." 

I answered : ' ' That gentleman is nearly as white 
as I am, and is a worthy man ; I have no objections 
to eat with him." 

She still persisted in her refusal; then I said: "I 
have no time to parley. That man is older than I 
am ; I will give him the preference if either of us 
have to wait." 

She at once set a plate on another table in the 
room, and set the same fare before Ellis. So we 
were permitted to eat in the same room. 

Ellis concluded that Virginia was a hard place for 
free negroes, even if they happened to be nearly 
white, and was glad to get out of the State, and 
reach his own comfortable home. 

After spending a week in the neighborhood of my 
old home, and disposing of part of my horses, I 
went farther south, into the edge of South Carolina, 
on the Pedee River, thence turned my course to- 


ward Fayetteville. Fifty miles south of that place 
lies the town of Lamberton, where I arrived one 
day at noon, and stopped for dinner. I saw a large 
crowd of people in the Court-House yard, and 
thought that it would be a good opportunity to 
dispose of the few horses which I had left. The 
landlord informed me that an auction was about to 
take place that a large number of slaves were to 
be sold that afternoon to the highest bidders. As 
soon as dinner was over, I walked out to the large 
lot in front of the Court-House, and looked about 
me. The slaves who were to be sold stood in a 
group near the auctioneer's stand, which was a high 
platform with steps. They appeared intelligent, 
but their -countenances betrayed deep dejection and 
anxiety. The men who intended to purchase, 
passed from one to another of the group, exam- 
ining them just as I would examine a horse which 
I wished to buy. These men seemed devoid of 
any feeling of humanity, and treated the negroes 
as if they were brutes. They examined their limbs 
and teeth to see if they were sound and healthy, 
and looked at their backs and heads, to see if they 
were scarred by whips, or other instruments of pun- 
ishment. It was disgusting to witness their actions, 
and to hear their vulgar and profane language. 
Now and then one of them would make some ob- 
scene remark, and the rest would greet it with peals 
of laughter, but not a smile passed over the sad 
countenances of the slaves. There were men, women 
and children to be sold, the adults appearing to 
be in the prime of life. When the examination 


was over, the auctioneer mounted the platform, 
taking one of the slave men with him. He de- 
scribed the good qualities of that valuable piece of 
property, then the bidding commenced. The slave 
looked anxiously and eagerly from one bidder to 
another, as if trying to read in their countenances 
their qualities as masters, and his fate. The crier's 
hammer soon came down, then another slave was 
placed upon the stand, and bid off. After several 
men had been sold in this way, a woman was placed 
upon the stand, with a child in her arms appar- 
ently a year old. She was a fine looking woman, 
in the prime of life, with an intelligent countenance, 
clouded with the deepest sadness. The auctioneer 
recommended her as a good cook, house servant, 
and field hand indeed, according to his represen- 
tation, she could turn her hand to anything, and was 
an unusually valuable piece of property. She was 
industrious, honest and trustworthy, and, above all, 
she was a Christian, a member of the church as if 
the grace of God would add to her price ! The bid- 
ding was quite lively, and she sold for a high price. 
I supposed that the child itfas inclu ied in the sale, 
of course, but soon saw that it was to be sold sepa- 
rately. The mother begged her new master to buy 
her child, but he did not want it, and would not 
listen to her pleading. 

The child was sold to another man, but when he 
came to take it from her, she clasped her arms 
around it tighter than ever and clung to it. Her 
master came up and tore it from her arms amid her 
piercing shrieks and cries, and dragged her away, 


cursing and abusing her as he went. The scene 
moved my heart to its depths ; I could endure it no 
longer. I left the ground, returned to my tavern, 
called for my horses, and left the town without at- 
tempting to do any business. As I mounted my 
horse, I heard the voice of the slave mother as she 
screamed: ' " My child, my child ! " I rode away as 
fast as I could, to get beyond the sound of her 
cries. But that night I could not sleep ; her screams 
rang in my ears, and haunted me for weeks after- 

This incident increased my abhorrence of slavery 
and strengthened my determination to labor for the 
cruelly oppressed slaves. I resolved to labor in this 
cause until the end of my days, not expecting that 
I would live to see the fetters broken and the bond- 
men free, yet hoping that the time of redemption 
was not far distant. I returned home with feelings 
of renewed energy and zeal for the cause of liberty. 

I devoted much time and labor to aiding the poor 
fugitives, but found opportunity to engage in other 
benevolent work. The Society of Friends had a 
standing committee, called the "Committee on the 
Concerns of the People of Color," whose business it 
was to look after the educational interest of the free 
colored people among us. I was a member of that 
committee. A fund was raised every year by our 
society to sustain schools, and to aid the poor and 
destitute among the colored people. I was appointed 
treasurer of this fund. We had several large settle- 
ments of free colored people in the limits of our 
Quarterly Meeting, which were under our care, and 


Xve sustained schools among them. With others of 
the committee, I often visited these neighborhoods 
to look after the interests of these poor, ignorant 

I also engaged in the cause of temperance, which 
was as unpopular then as the anti-slavery cause. 


I will here give a brief sketch of our struggle at 
Newport in the cause of temperance, and state how 
we succeeded in firmly planting those principles 
which afterward made that village noted for its 
sobriety and good moral influence. 

Our war with King Alcohol began in 1830, and 
continued for several years, resulting finally in a 
complete victory on our part. Newport was a small 
village of about twenty families, when I located 
there in the fall of 1826. A few mechanics, such 
as blacksmiths, wagon-makers, carpenters, shoe- 
makers, etc., had opened shops, and there were one 
or two dram shops where liquor was sold in small 
quantities. There was no dry-goods store in the 
village until I commenced business there. I first 
opened my store with a small assortment of dry- 
goods, groceries and hardware, such as was needed 
by the farmers, and gradually enlarged my stock as 
the demand for the articles increased. 

The country was new and thinly settled, but emi- 
grants from North Carolina and other places came 
in and the population grew in number year by year. 

The liquor business increased as the village and 
neighborhood became more thickly settled, and 



other dram shops were added. It was no uncom- 
mon thing to see a drinking, swearing gang of row- 
dies about these places of dissipation, or to hear 
them quarreling and fighting among themselves. 
Frequently, on the last day of the week a company 
of roughs from the surrounding neighborhoods 
would meet at Newport and have a drunken spree. 

The only religious denominations in the neighbor- 
hood were Friends and Methodists ; the former were 
the most numerous, but the latter had a church or- 
ganization. Friends in the village became much 
annoyed by the liquor shops and the noisy disturb- 
ances which resulted from them, and a few of us 
often labored with the liquor sellers, but to no effect. 
One evening Daniel Puckett, Dr. Henry H. Way and 
I met, according to agreement, to consult together in 
regard to this growing evil in our village. We felt 
that something must be done, if possible, to put a 
stop to it, but knew that before anything could be 
effectually accomplished, the public sentiment must 
be aroused, and that the people must recognize the 
enormity of this growing evil. How shall we pro- 
ceed to do this ? was the question that we consid- 
ered. It was suggested and agreed upon that we 
should try to organize a temperance society, but the 
next question was, how will this take with the pub- 
lic? We knew of no such organization west of the 
mountains, and realized that if we engaged in the 
work it must be as pioneers. We knew that Friends 
professed to be a temperance society ; that our dis- 
cipline prohibited our members from distilling, im- 
porting or vending spirituous liquors, and from the 


unnecessary use of the same, but we might differ as 
to what the necessary use of liquor was. 

Friends were not, as a general thing, total abstain- 
ers from liquor, and the question to be considered 
was, will they sustain us in this move ? To suc- 
ceed, we knew that we must also get the Meth- 
odists of the neighborhood interested in the matter 
and gain their support, so we selected three of the 
most influential members of that denomination in 
the place, and invited them to meet us in council. 

They came at the appointed time : Edward Star- 
buck, James Driggins, and another whose name I 
do not recollect. The result of the council was that 
we united in calling a meeting at our school-house in 
the town for the purpose of organizing a temper- 
ance society. 

Several advertisements were written and signed 
by the six persons present: three Friends and three 
Methodists. These were posted in different parts 
of the village, and the result was that a public ex- 
citement was created and that a large number of peo- 
ple both men and women assembled at the school- 
house on the appointed evening. A chairman was 
chosen and the meeting called to order ; then a com- 
mittee to prepare a constitution and by-laws was 
nominated. This committee retired, but as the 
writings had been previously prepared, they soon 
returned and reported. Then, on the motion to 
adopt, the battle commenced. We expected to 
meet with opposition, but were not prepared for 
such formidable opposition from many of the promi- 
nent religionists of the neighborhood. King Al- 


cohol and his votaries opened fire on our little band 
of cold-water adherents, but we were well prepared 
for defense, having enlisted for the war, and ex- 
pected a long hard struggle. Our number was 
small, but we felt that one, rightly armed, could 
chase a thousand, and two could put ten thousand to 

The battle continued for several hours. The 
enemy evidently weakened and lost ground ; a few 
were captured. The society was organized under 
the name of the "Newport Temperance Society," 
and twelve signers to. the constitution and pledge 
were obtained. The meeting then adjourned, to 
assemble again the next week at the same place. 
We knew that no church could be obtained for the 
purpose of holding such an incendiary meeting, as it 
was termed. At the next meeting the opposition 
was still formidable. All sorts of accusations were 
brought against us, and many flimsy arguments 
were adduced to prove that our work should not 
go on and could not end fn success. Among other 
things we were accused of wanting to take away 
their liberty as independent citizens, of wishing to 
connect Church and State, etc. The result of the 
second meeting was the addition of forty names to 
the temperance society. The women were now 
wide awake, and rallied to our side ; this gave us 
strength and encouragement. 

As the news of our organization spread over the 
neighboring country, the excitement became greater. * 
The frequent expressions were: "Our liberties are 
endangered by these fanatics at Newport ; they are 


turning the world upside down in their fanatical 
zeal," etc. Our work was now the absorbing topic 
of conversation. The liquor sellers became alarmed ; 
not only those in Newport, but those in neighboring 
villages. Their business was in danger ; something 
must be done to check the movement that had be- 
gun at Newport. They held a council at Williams- 
burg, a village four miles west of our place, and the 
result was that they sent us a challenge for a debate 
on the subject, between three men of their choosing 
and three men of our choosing. We called a meet- 
ing and accepted their challenge, appointing a com- 
mittee to make all preliminary arrangements, and 
to select our three men. Our opponents selected 
John Hough and E. Lee, of Williamsburg; and Jo- 
seph Lomax, of that vicinity, as their champions; 
all of them were Democrats. Lee was a merchant 
in Williamsburg, interested in the liquor business 
there, and was considered a strong debater. Our 
committee chose Dr. Henry H. Way, Willis Davis, 
our school teacher, of Newport ; and Abel Lomax, 
from the neighborhood of Williamsburg. Abel 
Lomax had been a member of the State Legisla- 
ture for several years, having been elected on the 
Whig ticket, and was a^ thorough temperance man. 
It was agreed that the meeting should be held at 
our school-house, commencing at two o'clock in the 
afternoon. A large company gathered, and strict 
attention was given to the proceedings. Esquire 
Curtis presided over the meeting, which lasted till 
twelve o'clock at night. The debate was long and 
hot on the side of the opposition, but their argu- 


ments were calmly and forcibly met by our valiant 
men, and a complete victory was gained for temper- 

Notwithstanding the opposition we had to con- 
tend with, and the flouts and jeers directed agamst 
us, even by professors of religion, we persevered in 
the work, holding frequent meetings, appointing 
committees to labor in the cause, visiting the liquor 
dealers and those who patronized them, and in every 
way we could forwarding a cause which seemed to 
us a righteous one. 

Our number increased, many who had first op- 
posed us falling into rank, and in less than one 
year we had between three and four hundred signers 
to our pledge. Public sentiment had so changed in 
our village and neighborhood, that a man who had 
any regard for his reputation would not be seen 
going into a liquor shop to purchase liquor for any 
purpose. Several of our liquor dealers were starved 
out for want of custom. Tt*ey closed their shops and 
moved away when their licenses expired, not being 
able to renew them for want of the requisite num- 
ber of freehold signers to their petitions. Many 
of the drinking, rowdy class in our neighborhood 
moved away into a more congenial atmosphere, so 
that quite a change was wrought in our quiet little 
village and the surrounding neighborhood. All the 
dram shops were now gone except one ; that was kept 
on a small scale. We had labored much with the 
proprietor of this shop ; he often promised to close 
his establishment but failed to do so, and finally 
bade us defiance. His license had not yet expired, 


and he thought that we could not move him. We 
called a meeting at the school-house to consider his 
case. We invited him to it, but he refused to come, 
and still defied us. We passed a resolution, pro- 
scribing him as an enemy to the peace and harmony 
of our town, and declaring that we would have no 
dealings with him and no social intercourse, except 
in case of sickness or death, while he persisted in 
his nefarious business. I volunteered to carry the 
resolution to him, and labor with him, having been 
well acquainted with him for many years. I did so, 
and in my conversation told him that it was impos- 
sible for him to stem the current of public senti- 
ment ; that "he had been kindly entreated by both 
men and women, and fair offers had been made to 
him by those who felt a deep interest in his wel- 
fare, but he had turned a deaf ear to all our plead- 
ings, and bade us defiance. Now, I told him, we 
were determined to stop the liquor business in New- 
port, and we should watch him, day and night, and 
prosecute him for every unlawful act, but I pleaded 
with him to stop at once, then no prosecution would 
be brought against him. I told him that we were 
his friends, not his enemies, and sought only his 
good. He finally yielded and gave up the busi- 
ness, and moved away. Not a drop of liquor was 
now sold in our town ; we had succeeded beyond 
our most sanguine expectations. But we did not 
rest in this quietness. 

A stranger to the most of us, by the name of* 
Mann, came to Newport, and rented a house, under 
the pretense of keeping a grocery. He moved into 



the dwelling attached to the store, but we soon 
found that his groceries were to consist of a gv neral 
assortment of liquors. He had managed to get the 
requisite number of signers to a petition for license 
to sell liquor; he had obtained them slyly in our 
township. As soon as it was known in Newport, 
we got up a remonstrance and obtained over four 
hundred signers to it. The next week was Com- 
missioner's Court at Centerville. Eli Osborne and 
I were appointed to attend court, and present the 
remonstrance when the license was applied for. We 
did this, and the license was not granted. We re- 
turned home rejoicing at our success, but next day 
Mann employed a lawyer, who succeeded in making 
the court believe that they were obliged to grant 
the license, as the -requisite number of freeholders 
had signed the petition. Mann now rejoiced over 
us, and bade us defiance. He opened his liquor 
shop, and drinking companies soon gathered from 
surrounding neighborhoods, and drunken men were 
again seen in our streets.* We labored with him, to 
no effect. But this reign of terror was of short 
duration. The Temperance Society held frequent 
meetings ; we had many able temperance lecturers ; 
our committees were at work ; we were vigilant in 
all our efforts, and endeavored to watch over and 
guard the reformed drunkards. One of these re- 
formed drunkards lived on the opposite side of the 
street from this shop; but he was faithful to his 
pledge, and did not yield to the temptation which 
was kept prominently before him. 

At a late hour, one night, a few weeks after this 


liquor shop had been opened, a pistol was fired from 
it, and the shot passed through a pane of glass in the 
house across the street, entered the bedroom where 
this reformed man and his wife were sleeping, and 
lodged in the wall a few inches above their heads, 
waking them immediately. 

Early next morning this man went to Centerville 
and got out a writ for the liquor seller, and the 
sheriff came and arrested him and lodged him in jail 
to await his trial before the next court While he 
was in jail his property was attached for debt. It 
was difficult for him to find bail, but at last he suc- 
ceeded in getting bailed out of prison, as it was 
some time till court convened, and he left for parts 
unknown. He never returned to Newport, for he 
knew that other writs awaited him. This closed the 
liquor traffic in Newport. 

We elected Esquire Curtis, one of our strong 
temperance men, to the Legislature from our district, 
and while he was our representative, we sent up a 
petition for a special act of the Legislature for the 
protection of our village against the liquor traffic. 
Special acts could sometimes be obtained under the 
old Constitution of the State, and thrgugh the influ- 
ence of Esquire Curtis and others an act was passed, 
so that no liquor could be sold in the corporate 
limits of Newport, for any purpose, without a permit 
from the trustees of the town. Now, we had gained 
a complete victory over King Alcohol in Newport, 
and public sentiment had been so changed that there 
was no dram shop in New Garden Township. 

Some of our citizens thought that it was neces- 



sary to have some spirits kept in Newport for medi- 
cal and mechanical purposes, and the temperance 
society appointed me liquor seller, as there was no 
drug store in the place at that time, and no stock 
of medicines except the small assortment which I 

I reluctantly submitted to become liquor seller 
and obtained a permit from the trustees. I procured 
at Cincinnati, from Allen & Co., druggists, three 
two-gallon jugs, one filled with French brandy, one 
with wine, the other with alcohol. Thus, my stock 
of liquor consisted of six gallons, which lasted for 
several months. I was the only liquor dealer in 
Newport for about a year, then Dr. Way opened a 
drug store, and I gladly turned the business over to 
him. Newport still remains a temperance town, 
having been guarded and protected for more than 
forty years, as no other town in the State has been, 
so far as I have any knowledge. After our work at 
Newport seemed to be accomplished, we extended 
our labors to other towns and villages near, but met 
with little encouragement. Public sentiment was 
opposed to us ; the people did not seem prepared to 
receive temperance doctrine at that early day. 







OF the many hundred cases that came under our 
personal notice during the twenty years that 
we lived at Newport, Indiana, a few will be given. I 
shall not attempt to give dates, nor the names of the 
runaway slaves. When the fugitives came to our 
house, they seldom gave the name by which they 
had been known in slavery, or if they did, we gave 
them another name, by which they were afterward 
known both at our house and in Canada. The 
stories that follow are gathered from the slaves' own 


Jim was a shrewd, intelligent chattel, the property 
of a man living in Kentucky. Having in some un- 
accountable manner got the idea that freedom was 
better than bondage, he resolved to make an effort 
to gain his liberty. He did not make his intention 
known to his wife or any of his fellow-bondmen, 
choosing to make the attempt alone. He watched 


for an opportunity to escape, and when it came he 
started' for the Ohio River. He knew that he was 
a valuable piece of property, and that his master 
would pursue him and make strong efforts to cap- 
ture him, so he let no grass grow under his feet till 
he reached the bank of the river. He wandered 
along this in the dark for some time, looking for a 
way to cross, and finally came to the hut of a col- 
ored man. He told his story to the negro living in 
the hut, and offered him part of the small sum of 
money he had if he would take him across in a skiff 
to the Indiana shore. The negro knew where a 
skiff lay drawn up on the shore, and consented to row 
him across. Jim reached the other side safely, and 
landed a short distance above Madison. It was now 
near daylight, and he must hasten to seek a place of 
concealment. He was directed how to find George 
De Baptist, a free colored man, who often aided 
fugitive slaves. George then lived in Madison, but 
soon after removed to .Detroit, Michigan, for his 
own safety. Jim made his way to the house of this 
friendly colored man, and remained secreted during 
the day. Some time in the day, George De Baptist 
learned that Jim's master had arrived in town with a 
posse of men, and that they were rudely entering 
the houses of colored people, searching for the miss- 
ing slave. By shrewd management on the part of 
George, the hunters were baffled, and the next 
night Jim was conducted through corn-fields and 
by-ways to a depot of the Underground Railroad. 
He was forwarded from station to station, at late 
hours in the night, until he reached William Beard's, 


in Union County, Indiana. Here he rested a few 
days, under the roof of that noted and worthy abo- 
litionist, whose house was known for many years as 
a safe retreat for the oppressed fugitive. From that 
place he was conducted to our house, a distance of 
about twenty-five miles, and, after remaining with 
us one day, he was forwarded on from station to 
station, till he reached Canada. Here he remained 
a few months. In telling his story, he said : 

"Oh, how sweet it was to breathe free air, to feel 
that I had no massa who could whip me or sell me. 
But I was not happy long. I could not enjoy liberty 
when the thoughts of my poor wife and children in 
slavery would rise up before me. I thought to my- 
self, I have learned the way and found friends all 
along the road; now I will go back and fetch my 
wife and children. I'll go to old massa's planta- 
tion, and I'll make believe I am tired of freedom. 
I'll tell old massa a story that will please him ; then 
I will go to work hard and watch for a chance to 
slip away my wife and children." 

So Jim left Canada and wended his way back to 
the old plantation in Kentucky. His master was 
greatly surprised, one morning, to see his missing 
property come walking up from the negro quarters 
as if nothing had happened. Jim came up to him 
and made a low bow, and stood before him as hum- 
ble as a whipped dog. In answer to the volley of 
questions and hard names that greeted him, Jim 
said : 

"I thought I wanted to be free, massa, so I run 
away and went to Canada. But I had a hard time 



there, and soon got tired of taking care of myself. 
I thought I would rather live with massa again and 
be a good servant. I found that Canada was no 
place for niggers ; it's too cold, and we can't make 
any money there. Mean white folks cheat poor 
nisfsers ou t of their wages when they hire them. I 

o O - 

soon got sick of being free, and wished I was back 
on the old plantation. And those people called 
abolitionists, that I met with on the way, are a mean 
set of rascals. They pretend to help the niggers, 
but they cheat them all they can. They get all the 
work out of a nigger they can, and never pay him 
for it. I tell you, massa, they are mean folks." 

In narrating his story, Jim said: "Well, old 
massa seemed mightily pleased with my lies. He 
spoke pleasant to me, and said: 'Jim, I hope you 
will make a good missionary among our people and 
the neighbors.' I got massa's confidence, and 
worked well and obeyed him well, and I talked to 
the niggers before him, in a way to please him. 
But they could understand me, for I had been doing 
missionary work among them, and the neighbors' 
niggers too, but not such missionary work as massa 
thought I was doing." 

Jim worked on faithfully through the fall and 
winter months, all the time arranging matters for 
a second flight. 

In the spring, when the weather was warm, he 
succeeded in getting his wife and children and a few 
of his slave friends across the Ohio River into In- 
diana. He got safely to the first station of the 
Underground Railroad, with his party, numbering 


fourteen, and hurried on with them rapidly from 
station to station, until they reached our house. 
They were hotly pursued and had several narrow 
escapes, but the wise management of their friends 
on the route prevented them from being captured. 
They remained at our house several days to rest, as 
they were much exhausted with night travel, and 
suffering from exposure, and while they were con- 
cealed in our garret, their pursuers passed through 
the town. 

The hunters went northward by way of Winchester 
and Cabin Creek, where there was a large settlement 
of free colored people. While they were searching 
in these neighborhoods, we forwarded the fugitives 
on another route, by way of Spartansburg, Green- 
ville and Mercer County, Ohio, to Sandusky. From 
this place they were shipped across the lake to Fort 
Maiden, Canada. Jim's opinions, as he had ex- 
pressed them to his master, now underwent a sudden 
change. He liked the country and the people, and 
thought that he could make a living not only for 
himself, but for his family. As to the abolitionists 
along the route, he thought they were the best peo- 
ple in the world. Instead of cheating the poor 
fugitives by getting their services without pay, they 
fed and clothed them without charge, and would 
help them on their journey ; often using their own 
horses and wagons, and traveling all night with the 
fugitives. A few years after I had the pleasure of 
seeing Jim and his family in their comfortable home 
in Canada. Jim said he hoped God would forgive 
him for telling his master so many lies. He said he 


felt no feelings of homesickness, no longings for 
massa and the old plantation in Kentucky. 


A colored man, who gave his name as Robert 
Burrel, came to my house, seeking employment. 
He said he had been working several months at Flat 
Rock, in Henry County, but that his employer there 
had no work for him during the winter, and had 
recommended him to call on me. He said he had 
been brought up in Tennessee, but, thinking he had 
rather live in a free State, had come to Indiana a 
few months before. I liked his sober and intelligent 
appearance, and gave him employment in my pork- 
house. I found him to be a deeply religious man 
and a most faithful and trustworthy servant. He 
was pleasant in his manner and speech, but was 
never heard to indulge in loud laughter. He seemed 
to have some serious subject on his mind, over 
which he was constantly brooding. If any one 
inquired particularly concerning his past life, he 
evaded the questions, and it was not until he had 
been in my employment for several months that he 
ventured to tell me the true state of his case. He 
was a runaway slave, and belonged to a man living 
in East Tennessee. He had married a free colored 
woman living there, and was as happy as it was pos- 
sible for a slave to be, until he learned that his 
master was about to sell him to a trader who would 
take him to the far South. Then he ran away, leav- 
ing his \/ife and two children, and made his way to 
Indiana. His object was to gain enough money to 


buy his freedom and send for his family. He had 
been working with this end in view, but had kept 
his fears, hopes and anxieties in his own heart, lest 
he should be betrayed and lose the liberty that was 
so sweet. His story gained my sympathy, and I 
promised to aid him in any way I could. We often 
consulted together concerning his wife and two little 
boys. He represented his wife as being a Christian 
woman, and said that she was a member of the 
Methodist Church; to which he also belonged. She 
had promised to remain faithful to him, and to await 
patiently the result of his effort. I discouraged his 
attempt to buy himself, as it would take several 
years of hard work, and might then be a failure. I 
advised him to save all the money he could, and 
perhaps some way would open by which his wife 
and children could get to him, and go with him to 
Canada. But he felt very timid about sending for 
his wife and children before securing his own free- 
dom, for he feared they would be tracked and his 
whereabouts discovered. 

I continued him in my empfey, putting him in my 
linseed oil mill, and paying him extra wages for his 
care and good management. In conversation with 
him, one day, I found that he knew something about 
John Rankin, a noted abolitionist and Presbyterian 
clergyman, formerly of East Tennessee, but then 
living at Ripley, Ohio. 

I wrote to friend Rankin, giving the outlines of 

Robert's story, and asking him if he thought the 

wife and two children could be brought to Ohio 

without arousing the suspicions of Robert's mas- 




ter and leading to his detection. He wrote me, in 
reply, that some of his family were going to East 
Tennessee soon, on a visit to their relatives there, 
and he thought they could have an interview with 
Robert's wife, and arrange to have her and the 
children removed to Ohio. I kept up a correspond- 
ence with him on the subject, and ascertaining that 
it would cost about forty dollars to move the woman 
and children to Ohio, I sent him that amount, to 
be applied for that purpose. I sent a message to be 
delivered to Robert's wife, telling her that if she 
would come to Ripley, Ohio, she could gain infor- 
mation of her husband. The message was delivered 
to her by the friends of John Rankin, but they did 
not succeed in gaining her confidence, and she would 
not come to Ohio, fearing that it was a scheme to 
betray her husband. So the project failed at that 
time, and John Rankin returned the money I had 
sent him ; but two years later we renewed our efforts, 
and succeeded in bringing the woman and her chil- 
dren to Ripley. From this place, lest somebody 
should have traced them from Tennessee, hoping to 
learn the whereabouts of Robert, they were taken 
to Cincinnati. Soon afterward they were brought 
to my house in Newport, and there was a joyful 
meeting between husband and wife, after a sepa- 
ration of four years. 

I purchased for them a little home in Newport, 
which Robert paid for by his work, and here they 
lived happily several years, with none to molest or 
make them afraid. When the fugitive slave law of 


1850 was passed, they left and went to Canada for 
greater security. 


Eliza Harris, of "Uncle Tom's Cabin" notoriety, 
the slave woman who crossed the Ohio River, near 
Ripley, on the drifting- ice with her child in her 
arms, was sheltered under our roof and fed at our 
table for several days. This was while we lived at 
Newport, Indiana, which is six miles west of the 
State line of Ohio. To elude the pursuers who were 
following closely on her track, she was sent across 
to our line of the Underground Railroad. 

The story of this slave woman, so graphically told 
by Harriet Beecher Stowe in " Uncle Tom's Cabin," 
will, no doubt, be remembered by every reader of 
that deeply interesting book. The cruelties of 
slavery depicted in that remarkable work are not 
overdrawn. The stories are founded on facts that 
really occurred, real names being wisely withheld, 
and fictitious names and imaginary conversations 
often inserted. From the fact that Eliza Harris was 
sheltered at our house several days, it was generally 
believed among those acquainted with the circum- 
stances that I and my wife were the veritable Simeon 
and Rachel Halliday, the Quaker couple alluded to 
in "Uncle Tom's Cabin." I will give a short sketch 
of the fugitive's story, as she related it. 

She said she was a slave from Kentucky, the 
property of a man who lived a few miles back from 
the Ohio River, below Ripley, Ohio. Her master 
and mistress were kind to her, and she had a com- 



fortable home, but her master got into some pecu- 
niary difficulty, and she found that she and her only 
child were to be separated. She had buried two 
children, and was doubly attached to the one she 
had left, a bright, promising child, over two years 
old. When she found that it was to be taken from 
her, she was filled with grief and dismay, and re- 
solved to make her escape that night if possible. 
She watched her opportunity, and when darkness 
had settled down and all the family had retired to 
sleep, she started with her child in her arms and 
walked straight toward the Ohio River. She knew 
that it was frozen over, at that season of the year, 
and hoped to cross without difficulty on the ice, but 
when she reached its banks at daylight, she found 
that the ice had broken up and was slowly drifting 
in large cakes. She ventured to go to a house near 
by, where she was kindly received and permitted to 
remain through the day. She hoped to find some 
way to cross the river the next night, but there 
seemed little prospect of any one being able to 
cross in safety, for during the day the ice became 
more broken and dangerous to cross. In the even- 
ing she discovered pursuers nearing the house, and 
with desperate courage she determined to cross the 
river, or perish in the attempt. Clasping her child 
in her arms she darted out of the back door and ran 
toward the river, followed by her pursuers, who had 
just dismounted from their horses when they caught 
sight of her. No fear or thought of personal dan- 
ger entered Eliza's mind, for she felt that she had 
rather be drowned than to be captured and sepa- 


rated from her child. Clasping her babe to her 
bosom with her left arm, she sprang on to the first 
cake of ice, then from that to another and another. 
Some times the cake she was on would sink beneath- 
her weight, then she would slide her child on to the 
next cake, pull herself on with her hands, and so 
continue her hazardous journey. She became wet 
to the waist with ice water and her hands were be- 
numbed with cold, but as she made her way from 
one cake of ice to another, she felt that surely the 
Lord was preserving and upholding her, and that 
nothing could harm her. 

When she reached the Ohio side, near Ripley, 
she was completely exhausted and almost breath- 
less. A man, who had been standing on the bank 
watching her progress with amazement and expect- 
ing every moment to see her go down, assisted her 
up the bank. After she had recovered her strength 
a little he directed her to a house on the hill, in the 
outskirts of town. She made her way to the place, 
and was kindly received and cared for. It was not 
considered safe for her to remain there during the 
night, so, after resting a while and being provided 
with food and dry clothing, she was conducted to a 
station on the Underground Railroad, a few miles 
farther from the river. The next night she was for- 
warded on from station to station to our house in 
Newport, where she arrived safely and remained 
several days. 

Other fugitives arrived in the meantime, and Eliza 
and her child were sent with them, by the Green- 
ville branch of the Underground Railroad, to San- 


dusky, Ohio. They reached that place in safety, 
and crossed the lake to Canada, locating finally at 
Chatham, Canada West. 

In the summer of 1854 I was on a visit to Can- 
ada, accompanied by my wife and daughter, and 
Laura S. Haviland, of Michigan. At the close of a 
meeting which we attended, at one of the colored 
churches, a woman came up to my wife, seized her 
hand, and exclaimed: "How are you, Aunt Katie? 
God bless you !" etc. My wife did not recognize 
her, but she soon called herself to our remembrance 
by referring to the time she was at our house in the 
days of her distress, when my wife gave her the 
name of Eliza Harris, and by relating other partic- 
ulars. We visited her at her house while at Chat- 
ham, and found her comfortable and contented. 

Many other fugitives came and spoke to us, whom 
we did not recognize or remember until they related 
some incident that recalled them to mind. Such 
circumstances occurred in nearly every neighbor- 
hood we visited in Canada. Hundreds who had 
been sheltered under our roof and fed at our table, 
when fleeing from the land of whips and chains, 
introduced themselves to us and referred to the 
time, often fifteen or twenty years before, when we 
had aided them. 

On the first day of August, 1854, we went, with 
a large company from Windsor, to attend a celebra- 
tion of the West India emancipation. The meeting 
was held in a dense settlement of fugitives, about 
eight miles south of Windsor. Several public 
speakers from Detroit were in our party. A plat- 


form had been erected in a grove near the school- 
house, where Laura S. Haviland had established a 
school for fugitives. The day was fine, and there 
was a large crowd of colored people, who had come 
from various settlements to hear the speaking. 
Here we met quite a number of those whom we 
had helped on their way to freedom, and the grati- 
tude they expressed was quite affecting. One old 
white-headed man came to my wife, and said he 
wanted to get hold of her hand. She reached her 
hand to him, and while he held it, he said : " Don't 
you 'member me, Misses ?" 

She looked at him closely, and said: "No, I be- 
lieve I do not remember thee." 

Then the old negro said: " La me! Misses, don't 
you 'member when dey was close after me to take 
me an' you hid me in de feather bed and saved me ? 
Why, bress your heart ! if it hadn't been for you I 
should nebber been here. It's more dan twenty 
years ago, and my head is white, but I hasn't forgot 
dat time. " 

She shook his hand heartily, and said : "Now I 
remember thee." 

At Amherstburg, generally called Fort Maiden, 
and many other places, we met with many, both 
men and women, whom we had assisted on their 
way to liberty, and their expressions of thankfulness 
and regard were very gratifying to us. 


The subject of this sketch was the property of a 
man living near Lexington, Kentucky. He had a 



wife and several children whom he was permitted 
to visit frequently, was well treated by his master, 
and had no fear of being sold away from his family ; 
so his condition was a very favorable one, compared 
with that of many other slaves. But this state of 
security came suddenly to an end. The master died 
and the heirs decided to sell Sam, but as he was 
very powerful, and a dangerous man to deal with 
when his spirit was roused, no one dared to take 
possession of him and tell him that he was sold 
away from his family. What could not be done by 
force was accomplished by stratagem. Sam was 
sent into the jail to take a box of candles, and, all 
unsuspecting, walked into the trap. Several men 
were hidden behind the door, and leaping out sud- 
denly, they knocked him down, overpowered and 
bound him. He then learned that he was bought 
by a negro trader, who intended taking him to the 
South. Just before the coffle started, Sam's wife 
was permitted to come to the jail to bid him good- 
by, but her distress was so great and she wept so 
loudly that she was hurried out and taken away 
without having been able to say a word. Sam 
was taken to Mississippi and sold, but after several 
months managed to escape, and after much difficulty 
and many hardships found his way back to Lexing- 
ton, Kentucky, where he hoped to find some one 
who would purchase him and allow him to remain 
near his family, but in this effort he did not succeed. 
Hearing that pursuers were on his track, he left 
that neighborhood, and succeeded in making his 
way to Newport, Indiana, where he arrived in the 


dead of winter, in a destitute and suffering condition. 

I persuaded him to remain till better weather, 
when the roads would be open and traveling easier, 
and he remained till spring, I in the meantime fur- 
nishing him with employment at good wages. It 
may be in place here to mention that the abolition- 
ists were frequently accused, by pro-slavery people, 
of availing themselves of the labor of the fugitive 
slaves by employing them several months on the 
promise of good wages, then raising the alarm that 
the masters were in pursuit, and hustling them off 
on the road to Canada without paying the wages 
due them. It is almost needless to say that this 
accusation was false. During that winter there was 
a monthly prayer-meeting, held in the Wesleyan 
Chapel at Newport, on behalf of the slaves, and I 
asked Sam to attend one of these meetings with me. 
He at first hesitated, so fearful was he of being 
betrayed, but on being assured that there was no 
danger, he consented to go. 

It seemed strange to him that white people should 
pray for slaves ; he had never heard of such a thing 
before. As others were telh'ng stories of the suffer- 
ings of slaves, I suggested to Sam that he should 
give his experience. To this he consented, with 
reluctance, and I rose and informed the meeting 
that a fugitive slave was sitting by my side, whose 
story I was sure would be interesting to all present. 
Sam then rose from his seat and gave a short history 
of his sufferings, together with a vivid description 
of the horrors of slavery, and so interested his hear- 
ers that they expressed a desire to hear him again. 



He was prevailed upon to speak another time, 
when a larger number would have an opportunity to 
hear him, and a meeting was appointed for this pur- 
pose. When the evening came the church was 
crowded. Sam was conducted to the pulpit by the 
minister and myself. We made short introductory 
speeches, then Sam spoke for more than an hour to 
the attentive and deeply interested audience. They 
had not expected to hear good language from a slave 
who had had no educational advantages, and were 
surprised to find his speech resembling that of a 
practiced orator. Sarn had, during the life of his 
indulgent master, had frequent opportunities of hear- 
ing public speeches in Lexington, and this experi- 
ence, which had been a sort of education to him, 
added to his native eloquence, enabled him to hold 
his audience spellbound, while he depicted in glow- 
ing words the cruelty of slavery and the manifold 
sufferings of the slaves. He then gave an account 
of his own trials, and pictured in a touching manner 
the scene of his wife's separation from him when he 
was bound in jail, and finished with an appeal to the 
audience so full of pathos that the heart of every 
one was touched, and nearly all his hearers were 
melted to tears. 

Some of them declared afterward that they 
thought Henry Clay could not surpass him in elo- 
quence. Shortly after this the United Brethren 
held a Conference in Newport, and wishing to have 
Sam address them, a deputation called at my house, 
to speak with him on the subject. They were 
shown into the parlor, where a fire was burning, and 


as I sat talking with them, Sam came in with an 
armful of wood to replenish the fire. 

One of the deputation said: "Is this the man?" 
and I answered, "Yes;" then remarked to Sam 
that these men wished to see him. Sam went out 
quickly and did not return. When I went to look 
for him, I found him outside the kitchen door, with 
a large butcher knife in his hand, ready to defend 
himself. He thought that the men had come to 
take him, and was determined to sell his life or lib- 
erty as dearly as possible. When the matter was 
explained, he went in to see the men, and afterward 
spoke for them. In the spring he was sent on to 
Canada, where he was out of the slave-dealer's 
power forever. 


A white man from Massachusetts moved with his 
family to Missouri, bought a farm and settled there. 
One of his neighbors had a slave, a young man 
nearly white, who was willed free at a certain age. 
The time of his bondage had nearly expired when 
the gentleman from Massachusetts hired him of his 
master, and after he became free, he continued in 
the same service. He proved to be a very intelli- 
gent, industrious and trusty man, and his employer 
soon gave him the entire control of the farm and all 
affairs of out-door business. The family did not 
have good health in their new home, and becoming 
dissatisfied with the locality resolved to return to 

The farm was sold and the other property dis- 


posed of, and they were about to start eastward, 
when the husband and father sickened and died. A 
short time "before he breathed his last, he called his 
servant to his bedside and requested him to take 
charge of his wife and two daughters and see them 
safely back to their home in the East. 

The man promised faithfully that he would fulfill 
this request, and soon after the funeral was over the 
little party started. It was before the time of rail- 
roads or turnpikes in the West, and they went in a 
wagon, drawn by four horses, the colored man driv- 
ing the team, and attending to all matters connected 
with the journey. Passing over the prairies of Illi- 
nois and Indiana, they found the mud very deep 
and the roads almost impassable, it being late in the 
fall, and when they reached Indianapolis they con- 
cluded to remain there during the winter. The 
young man found employment with his team, and 
supported the family by his work. 

The two daughters were well educated and accom- 
plished young, ladies, and when they became known 
were greeted as acquisitions to the society of the 
place. They were members of the Presbyterian 
Church and taught in the Sabbath-schools of that 
denomination, and being good singers were invited 
to join the choir. 

The mulatto man in their family, who was really 
almost white and possessed none of the negro feat- 
ures, was very gentlemanly in his appearance and 
manners, and so kind and attentive to them and 
thoughtful for their welfare, that one of the daugh- 
ters became very much attached to him. He had 


long loved her in secret, without daring to speak, 
but now, finding that his love was reciprocated, saw 
no reason why they should not be married. 

The mother gave her consent, and accompanied 
her prospective son-in-law to obtain the marriage 

On the evening of the wedding, the news spread 
through the city that a negro had married a white 
woman, and an infuriated mob filled the street in 
front of the house, and with hoots and yells pro- 
ceeded to search for the man several shades lighter 
than some of themselves who dared to marry a 
white woman. The bridgroom escaped by a back 
way and fled to the woods for safety, as if he were a 
fugitive slave. Not finding him, the mob dragged 
the bride out of the house and rode her on a rail 
through the streets, as a demonstration of the popu- 
lar indignation. The bridgroom remained concealed 
in the woods for awhile, finding no way to commun- 
icate with his wife, and not daring to venture back 
to get his clothes or to say good-by. He was in 
deep distress and knew not what to do. 

The city was in an uproar of excitement, and the 
indignant citizens were searching the houses of the 
colored people for this terrible criminal who had 
committed so great a sin as to marry a woman a 
shade lighter than himself, and that with the full 
approbation of her mother and sister. It was evi- 
dent that he could not show himself in Indianapolis 
again with safety. He moved eastward and got into 
a colored settlement at Flat Rock, Henry County, 

I 5 8 


from which place he was directed to my "house at 

The news of the marriage flew all over the State. 
The newspapers were full of it, and the public 
sentiment was aroused. The dreadful prospect of 
amalgamation loomed before the people like an 
impending curse. It must be put a stop to at once. 
The Legislature was in session at Indianapolis at the 
time this occurred, and they took immediate action 
concerning it. They passed a law placing a heavy 
penalty on any clergyman or magistrate who should 
marry a white person to one in whose veins there 
jwas a drop of colored blood. Several members of 
the Legislature, and a number of prominent citizens 
visited the offending family and urged them to apply 
for a divorce. 

The poor girl was almost crazy with trouble, hav- 
ing been disgraced by being ridden on a rail, and 
alarmed by the threats of the outrageous mob, and 
her mother and sister were.also alarmed, and finally, 
through fear, they yielded to the threats and per- 
suasions of their visitors, and signed a petition for a 
divorce. The Legislature at once divorced the 
couple, and the young lady was declared free from 
the disgraceful alliance. It was found to be a very 
nice point in carrying out the new law, to detect the 
drop of colored blood. No minister or magistrate 
was safe in marrying any couple. The law would 
not work, and was repealed the following year. 

Many people blamed me for taking in Charley, 
the young golored man, and harboring one whom 
they regarded as a great criminal. I gave him em- 


ployment, and he remained with me for several 
months. He proved to be quiet, orderly and in- 
dustrious, and very gentlemanly in all his ways, yet 
many of the women in our town and neighborhood 
were as much afraid of him as if he were a murderer. 
My wife and a few other women had no such foolish 
fear of poor Charley, but sympathized with him in 
his troubles. Soon after he came to my house, I 
called a council of a few of my particular friends, 
those who stood by me and sustained me in all my 
anti-slavery efforts. We were not in favor of amal- 
gamation and did not encourage the intermarriage 
or mixing of the races, but we were in favor of jus- 
tice and right-dealing with all colors. This seemed 
to be the united feeling of those in council. We 
looked upon such marriages as a matter of choice 
with the contracting parties, and not as a crime or a 
sin. Many reasons might be given why we did not 
encourage such a choice, but we did not criminate 
those who had made the choice. 

The object of this council was to take into consid- 
eration the propriety of sending a deputation to 
Indianapolis to learn the trufb state of things there, 
to ascertain the feelings of Charley's wife and her 
mother toward him ; and to obtain his clothing, 
which he had been compelled to leave behind in his 
hasty flight. 

Charley was in deep mental distress, and needed 
the counsel and sympathy of his friends. He was 
not sensible of having committed any crime in mar- 
rying the woman he loved, and who professed to 
love him in return, but all his hopes of happiness 


were destroyed, and he was regarded as a criminal. 
He was likewise deeply concerned for the welfare 
of the family that had been placed in his care by 
the dying husband and father. 

George Shugart volunteered to go to Indianapolis, 
and get Charley's clothes and learn the feelings and 
wishes of the family. It was just at the time that 
the Legislature had taken action in the case, and the 
family were so confused and alarmed that they could 
make no definite plans for the future. They thought 
it best to remain where they were until spring. The 
horses and wagon had been sold, at a heavy sacri- 
fice, and they had no means of continuing their 
journey then. So the messenger brought little 
comfort to Charley. He remained in my employ 
until late in the spring, when he learned that the 
mother and her two daughters had left Indianapolis 
and gone to Cincinnati. As soon as he received this 
information he went to Cincinnati, where he joined 
them. Soon after the. whole party disappeared 
from Cincinnati. No one knew where they went, 
but it was supposed that they returned to Massachu- 
setts, and that the husband and wife lived together 


The subject of this sketch, one of those good 
old darkey aunties whom we have all known or 
heard of, was brought up in Lexington, Kentucky. 
She was a slave, a house servant, and had a kind 
and ind'tlgent master and mistress, to whom she 
was much attached. She had the principal charge 

* AUNT RACHEL. ,5 t 

of household affairs. Her husband belonged to 
another person in the neighborhood, but was often 
permitted to visit her. They had a family of sev- 
eral children, and were as happily situated as it was 
possible for slaves to be. They knew that they 
were liable to be separated and sold away from each 
other, and this disturbed their happiness. At last 
the dreaded misfortune came to them. The husband 
was sold, and taken to the far South, and the wife 
never saw him nor heard from him afterward. This 
was a terrible shock to Aunt Rachel, and had it not 
been for her children, she said she would have 
prayed to die. But for their sake she bore her 
grief, not thinking that she would ever be called 
upon to part from them, or to experience deeper 
pangs of sorrow than those she had already known. 
She knew not what was in store for her. Two years 
afterward her,old master and mistress died, and she 
and her children were sold at public sale. The 
children were bid off by citizens of Lexington, but 
Aunt Rachel was sold to a Southern slave-trader. 
Now, indeed, came trouble. No one but a mother 
who has been separated from the children she loves 
can understand the depth of her distress, or sym- 
pathize with the anguish of her heart. Aunt Rachel 
was torn away from her children and taken South in 
a gang of slaves, which the trader had bought for 
the Southern market. In Mississippi she was sold 
to a cotton planter, and immediately set to work in 
the cotton field. She had never been accustomed 
to out-door work, and could not keep up with the 
other cotton pickers. For this she was cruelly pun- 


ished, and her allowance of food reduced. Finding 
that her strength was failing her under this hard 
treatment, she resolved to run away, and try to 
make her way back to her old Kentucky home. 
She hoped, if she lived to get there, to prevail on 
some of her white friends at Lexington to buy her, 
and thus enable her to stay near her children. She 
thought of the great distance she must traverse, and 
of the dangers and hardships of such an undertaking, 
but she said to herself: "It is death to stay here, 
and I had rather die in the attempt to get away." 

It was now the beginning of summer, and she 
thought she could live on berries and fruits the 
most of the time. She slipped off one night and 
made good headway during the hours of darkness, 
hiding in the cane-brakes when daylight appeared. 
The next night she ventured to the negro quarters 
of a plantation, and got some provisions. Her long 
and toilsome journey was attended with much 
danger and suffering, a*nd occupied the most of the 
summer. She finally reached her old home in Lex- 
ingion, Kentucky, and secreted herself with a friend. 
She did not dare yet to make herself known to 
her children, lest it should lead to her detection, 
but sometimes could hardly control herself when 
she saw her youngest child, a little girl three years 
old, playing in the adjoining yard. She remained 
in concealment for some time, while her colored 
friends tried to find some one in Lexington who 
would purchase her. They were unsuccessful in 
their attempts, and it was deemed unsafe for her to 
remain longer in the place, as it had by this time 


I6 3 

become known to a number of the citizens of Lex- 
ington that she had escaped from her master and 
was there. She thought she would start northward 
and try to reach Canada, but while her colored 
friends were making arrangements for her journey to 
the North on the Underground Railroad, she re- 
ceived the alarming intelligence that her master 
from Mississippi had arrived in Lexington in pursuit 
of her. He had had no clue to her whereabouts, 
but judged that in her flight she would be guided by 
that instinct which leads one across rivers and moun- 
tains to the spot endeared by associations of home 
and kindred. 

Soon after reaching Lexington he learned that she 
was secreted somewhere in the town. He offered a 
reward for her capture, and a diligent search com- 
menced. The police were on the alert, and poor 
Aunt Rachel was soon captured and dragged to jail 
for safe keeping. Her master was greatly incensed 
because she had run away, and put him to so much 
trouble and expense in pursuing her, and was very 
abusive and threatening in his language to her He 
gave her a few keen cuts with his whip, as tokens 
of what was in store for her, and told her he would 
have his pay out of her when he got home ; he 
would double her task, and if she did not perform it 
he would cut the hide off of her with his whip. 

Aunt Rachel trembled but made no reply; she 
knew that she was in his power. Handcuffs were 
put on her wrists, and a chain with a heavy ball fast- 
ened around her ankle. Thus ironed, she lay in the 
jail for more than a week, while her master was en- 

1 64 


gaged in buying a small company of slaves for his 
plantation in Mississippi. .When ready to start 
South, he hired a wagon in which to transport his 
slaves to Louisville, at which point he intended to 
put them aboard a down-river boat. Aunt Rachel 
was placed in the wagon, with her heavy irons on. 
After a wearisome day's travel, they stopped in front 
of a tavern, where they intended to spend the night. 
It was quite dark, for they had been compelled to 
travel some time after nightfall in order to reach a 
place where they could find quarters. While her 
master went into the house to see about getting 
entertainment, Aunt Rachel gathered up the ball 
and chain in her manacled hands, slipped out of the 
hind end of the wagon, and slid down into a deep 
ravine near the road. She crouched under the side 
of the bank and lay as still as death. She was soon 
missed, and the search for her began. Her master, 
and those he called to his assistance, ran in every 
direction, with lighted lanterns, looking for her, but 
they overlooked her hiding-place. She was so near, 
almost under the wagon, that they did not think of 
searching where she lay. She remained perfectly 
still, except the tumultuous throbbing of her heart; 
and this she thought would surely betray her when 
those in search passed near her hiding-place. 

Finally, all became quiet, and the search seemed 
given up for the night. Then Aunt Rachel gath- 
ered up her chain and crawled off into the woods, 
making her way through the darkness as fast as her 
fetters would allow. She did not venture to follow 
any road or beaten path, but wandered on through 


the woods, as best she could, for two or three miles. 
Being quite weary under the weight of her irons, 
she stopped to rest. It was cool weather, late in 
the fall, and she soon felt chilly. Looking about, 
she discovered some hogs lying snugly in a leafy 
bed under the side of a large log, and frightening 
them away, she crept into their warm bed. She now 
felt comfortable, and soon fell into a refreshing sleep 
that lasted an hour or two. When she awoke she 
felt quite refreshed, and ready to pursue her journey. 
Her situation was indeed forlorn. She had eluded 
the grasp of her master, but manacled as she was, 
how could she ever make her way to freedom and 
safety? Must she not perish of hunger in the lonely 
woods? How could she free herself from her hand 
fetters, and from the heavy chain that was chafing 
her ankle and making it sore ? As she reflected on 
these questions, distress filled her mind, and she 
wept. She knew of no friend but God, and she 
prayed to him in this hour of need ; she asked 
him to guide and help her. She seemed to feel 
his presence with her, in answer to her petitions, 
and a glow of comfort warmed her heart. She 
moved on, to look for a safe place where she 
might hide during the day, and came to a small 
stream of water, on whose banks were a number of 
large stones. She placed two stones close together 
and laid her chain across them, then lifting another 
stone in her fettered hands, she managed by re- 
peated blows and by frequently turning it, to break 
the chain; thus freeing herself of the greater part 
of it, and of the heavy ball. Several links, how- 


ever, were left hanging to the band riveted around 
her ankle; from this she could not free herself. She 
lay in the woods during the day, and at night ven- 
tured to a house where she saw some colored people. 
She was kindly ^received, and furnished with food. 
The man succeeded in getting her handcuffs off, 
which was a great relief to her, but having no file, 
J1& was unable to relieve her of the iron band on her 
leg. This colored brother gave her directions for 
her journey, and put her on a route that would reach 
the Ohio River, opposite Madison, Indiana. He 
even ventured to take two of his master's horses out 
of the field, and help her on her way several miles. 

The next night her progress was slow on account 
of her manacled ankle, which by this time was 
swollen and very painful. Some time before day- 
light she ventured to approach a hut, which was 
situated near the road she was traveling. She dis- 
covered a negro man kindling a fire, and made her- 
self known to him. I^e received her kindly, and 
his wife ministered to her needs. She remained 
secreted during the day at this hut, and at night 
felt strengthened and ready to pursue her journey. 
The man had a file, and succeeded in filing off the 
rivet, and loosening the band from her leg. He 
then applied what simple remedies he had at hand, 
and succeeded in some measure in assuaging the 
pain and swelling of the ankle. At night this 
kind friend helped her on her way, and conducted 
her to the house of a colored man, who lived near 
the Ohio River, below Madison. This man was a 
slave, but had a kind and indulgent master, who 


allowed him the use of A skiff, and permitted him 
to go over the river to trade. Aunt Rachel pre- 
vailed upon him to take her across the river that 
night, and he landed her near Madison, directing 
her how to find a settlement of free colored people 
near that place. At this settlement she fell into the 
hands of a trusty colored man, who lived about ten 
miles out in the country, where he owned a good 
.farm, and was comfortably situated. Aunt Rachel 
found a quiet home at his house, which was for- 
tunate for her, as she was now almost unable to 
travel. The chafing of the iron band around her 
ankle had caused inflammation, and made a very 
painful sore. She was able, however, to move 
about enough to do housework. She remained at 
this place all winter, unmolested. In the spring a 
fugitive was captured in the neighborhood, and 
Aunt Rachel and her friends became alarmed for 
her safety. She was put on the Underground Rail- 
road, and brought to pur house at Newport. She 
was anxious to remain with us for awhile, hoping 
that by sotne means she might hear from her chil- 
dren, concerning whom she 'Was very anxious. She 
thought she would be safe from pursuit, for her 
master in Mississippi would not be likely to spend 
much more time and money looking after her. My 
wife needed help at that time, and agreed to hire 
her for a few weeks. We soon found her to be one 
of the best housekeepers and cooks we had ever 
employed. She was careful and trustworthy, and 
exemplary in all her ways. We became much at- 
tached to her; indeed, the neighbors and all who 


knew her had a great deal of respect and liking for 
Aunt Rachel. Every one who heard her story, as 
she related it in simple yet thrilling language, felt a 
deep interest in her case. She staid with us more 
than six months, and would have remained longer 
had it not been considered unsafe. Some Kentuck- 
ians were scouting about through our neighborhood 
looking for fugitives. They made their headquarters 
at Richmond, at a hotel which was a well-known 
resort for negro hunters. Aunt Rachel became 
alarmed, and we thought it best for her to go on to 
Canada; where she would be safe. A good oppor- 
tunity in the way of company for the greater part 
the way offered just then, very fortunately. 

A committee of men and women Friends, ap- 
pointed by New Garden Quarterly Meeting to attend 
the opening of a meeting at Young's Prairie, Mich- 
igan, were just about starting on this mission. Aunt 
Rachel was acquainted with most of them, and 
wished to accompany .them, and they were very 
willing to engage in Underground Railroad work, 
though the Quarterly Meeting had not appointed 
them to that service. 

We provided Aunt Rachel with warm and com- 
fortable clothing for her journey to the North. A 
well-filled trunk was placed "in one of the carriages, 
and Aunt Rachel took her seat by one of the women 
Friends. She presented the appearance of a sedate 
and comely Quaker woman, quite as suitable to be 
appointed on the committee as any of the company. 
Aunt Pachel traveled very agreeably with this com- 
mittee to Young's % Prairie, Cass County, Michigan. 


She remained at the Friends' settlement there for 
several days, and was then sent on the mail coach 
to Detroit. At that city she called on some people 
to whom we had directed her, and they sent her 
across to Canada. She found employment in the 
homes of white families in Windsor and Norwich, 
where she remained for several months. Then she 
married a respectable colored man by the name of 
Keys, who owned a comfortable little home. Here 
I met with her eight years afterward, when on a 
visit to the fugitives in Canada, in company with 
William Beard. The meeting was very unexpected 
to Aunt Rachel, as she had no previous knowl- 
edge of our arrival in the country. We rode up 
to her little home, and hitched our horses at the 
gate, some distance from the house. Aunt Rachel 
was in the yard at the time, picking up kindling 
wood. She stood still a moment until she recog- 
nized me, then dropped her wood and rushed to 
meet me, shouting and praising God. She ex- 
claimed: "Is it possible the good Lord has sent 
you here?" then, with tears running down her black 
cheeks, she threw her arms abound me, and asked- 
many blessings on my head. Her emotions and 
manifestations of joy at meeting me quite unman- 
ned me for a time. She led us into the house, which ^ 
was snug and comfortable, and introduced us to her 
husband. He appeared to be a very friendly, kind- 
hearted man. Aunt Rachel informed me that she 
had suffered a great deal with her leg, where she 
had worn that cruel chain. At one time she lay 
for several months under treatment of some of the 


best doctors in Detroit. They decided that to save 
her life the limb must be amputated. She con- 
sented that the operation should be performed, and 
the doctors came with their surgical instruments, 
but her husband would not give his consent. He 
believed that she could get well without losing her 
limb. The doctors yielded, the limb was spared, 
and she did get well. 


The story that I am about to relate may, in some 
of its particulars, seem improbable or even impossi- 
ble, to any reader not acquainted with the workings 
of the southern division of the Underground Rail- 
road. That two young slave girls could successfully 
make their escape from a Southern State and travel 
hundreds of miles, hiding in the day, in thickets and 
other secluded places, and traveling at night, crossing 
rivers and swamps, and passing undiscovered through 
settlements, appears more like a story of romance 
than one of sober reality. But I will not test the 
reader's credulity by leaving this story unexplained ; 
I will give a few items regarding the manner of the 
escape of many slaves from the South. I have 
always contended that the Underground Railroad, 
so called, was a Southern institution ; that it had its 
origin in the slave States. It was, however, con- 
ducted on quite a different principle south of Mason 
and Dixon's line, from what it was on this side. 
South ^of the line money, in most cases, was the 
motive'; north, we generally worked on principle. 
For the sake of money, people in the South would 


help slaves to escape and convey them across the 
line, and by this means, women with their children, 
and young girls, like the subjects of this story, were 
enabled to reach the North. They were hidden in 
wagons, or stowed away in secret places on steam- 
boats, or conducted on foot through the country, by 
shrewd managers who traveled at night and knew 
What places to avoid. 

Free colored people who had relatives in slavery 
were willing to contribute to the utmost of their 
means, to aid in getting their loved ones out of bond- 
age ; just as we would do if any of our loved ones 
were held in thralldom. It was by some line of the 
Southern Underground Railroad that two slave girls, 
living in Tennessee, managed to escape and reach 
Cabin Creek, Randolph County, Indiana, where 
lived their grandparents and most of their near 
relatives, who were free. 

This neighborhood was settled principally by free 
colored people who had purchased government land 
in forty or eighty acre lots ; in some instances a 
quarter section one hundred and sixty acres had 
been entered. A dense settlement of free colored 
people had formed at Cabin Creek, and a good 
school had been established there, under the aus- 
pices of New Garden Quarterly Meeting of Friends. 

Near the center of the colony lived the grand- 
parents of the two girls mentioned, and there the 
girls staid, after their long and perilous journey, 
enjoying their newly gained liberty, and hoping that 
their master would never learn of their whereabouts. 
But they were not destined to dwell' here in safety. 



Their master had come to Richmond, ostensibly to 
look about the neighborhood and buy cattle, but 
really to gain some trace of his slave property. He 
hired spies and sent them into different neighbor- 
hoods, Cabin Creek among the rest, and thus the 
girls were discovered. When the master learned 
that his two slave girls were so near, he felt as if 
they were already in his power, but when he heard 
more concerning Cabin Creek neighborhood and the 
character of the colored people there, he began to 
think it might not be so easy to effect a capture. 
When a slave-hunter came to Cabin Creek, the 
people banded together to protect the fugitive he 
was after, and as they were very determined in their 
defense it was a difficult matter to capture the slave. 
They had prearranged signals for such occasions, 
and the alarm soon called the people together. 

The master of the two girls obtained a writ and 
placed it in the hands of an officer, then gathered a 
company of roughs from Richmond, Winchester and 
other neighborhoods, and rode out to Cabin Creek 
at the head of a large company of armed men. 
They marched to the cabin where the two girls 
were, and surrounded it. 

The alarm was given as soon as the company 
were seen approaching, and a boy mounted a horse 
and rode off at full speed to spread the alarm. He 
was fired at by some of the company, and a rifle 
ball grazed his arm, making a slight flesh wound. 
This only hastened his speed and increased the ex- 
citement'. The grandfather of the two girls was 
away from home, but the brave old grandmother 


seized a corn-cutter and placed herself in the only 
door of the cabin, defying the crowd and declaring 
that she would cut the first man in two who under- 
took to cross the threshold. Thus she kept the 
slave-hunter and his posse at bay, while a large 
crowd of colored people collected. Quite a number 
of white people came also, some out of curiosity or 
sympathy with the master, and others who sympa- 
thized with the fugitives. It is said that there were 
more than two hundred people gathered around the 
cabin. The sound of the horn> and the message of 
the boy, had brought together most of the colored 
people in the settlement. An uncle of the slave 
girls, who lived nearby, seeing the crowd as they 
rode Up, placed himself near his mother, on the out- 
side of the door, and several other sturdy negroes 
stood by his side. 

He was a shrewd sharp fellow, with a fair educa- 
tion, and kept his presence of mind under the ex- 
citing circumstances. He demanded to see the 
writ, and it was handed to him by the officer. He 
read it over carefully, and trie^i to pick flaws in it. 
He denied that it gave them any authority to enter 
that house to search for property. The laws of In- 
diana did not recognize human beings as property 
until they had been proven to be such, and that was 
a difficult thing to do. He said that he doubted 
very much whether the man who had obtained this 
writ to arrest two slave girls could prove them to be 
his property. Furthermore, he did not believe the 
girls-were in that house. He extended the debate 
with the master as long as possible, and in the mean- 


time several colored people had been permitted to 
pass in and out under the sharp edge of the old 
woman's corn-cutter, but no white person had been 

While the debate was going on, arrangements 
were being made, both outdoors and indoors, for 
the escape of the girls. The uncle understood all 
this perfectly, and he was doing his part toward 
success, by prolonging the palaver. The girls 
dressed in boys' clothes, and put on slouch hats ; 
then, while the debate outside grew warm and ex- 
citement began to run high, and the slave-hunters 
to declare that they would enter the house, in spite 
of the corn-cutter and other obstructions, the girls 
passed out of the door with other negroes, and made 
their way through the crowd. Two fleet horses, 
with light but very capable riders, stood near the 
side of a large log, screened from the sight of the 
crowd by some tall bushes. The girls stepped 
quickly on the log and sprang, one on each horse, 
behind the riders, and were soon out of sight. 
When the uncle knew that the girls were at a safe 
distance, he began to moderate and proposed a 
compromise. Speaking in a whisper to his mother, 
"he appeared to be consulting with her on the sub- 
ject, and finally said, that if the master of the girls 
would agree to give them a fair trial at Winchester, 
he and his posse would be allowed to enter the 
house peaceably. This was agreed to, and the 
grandmother laid aside her weapon of defense, and 
appeared calm and subdued. The master and his 
posse rushed in to seize the girls, and those outside, 


who could not see into the house, listened to hear 
the girls' screams of terror and pleadings for mercy 
while their master bound them. But they heard 
nothing of the kind, only oaths and exclamations 
from the men as they searched about the cabin and 
up in the loft. The hunters were baffled ; the girls 
were not to be found. The darkies seemed in a 
good humor, and there was a general display of 
white teeth in broad grins. Some of the white folks 
also seemed amused, and inclined to make sport of 
the misfortune of the master. It was no laughable 
matter to him to be duped by negroes and to lose 
such valuable property as these girls were, either of 
whom would soon be worth one thousand dollars. 
Some in the crowd were unfeeling enough to jest at 
his loss, and to advise him to look around and see if 
there was not a hole in the ground where the girls 
had been let down to the Underground 'Railroad. 

When the master fully realized how he had been 
outwitted, his wrath knew no bounds, but his 
hired assistants tried to comfort him with the 
thought that they could soon ferret out the fugi- 
tives, and promised to rriake a thorough search 
through all the abolition neighborhoods. 

The girls were taken a short distance on the Win- 
chester road ; then through by-ways and cross-roads 
they were brought through the Cherry Grove settle- 
ment of Friends to Newport, a distance of about 
twenty miles. The girls were much exhausted when 
they arrived at our house, having had a hard ride, 
part of the way in the night After taking some 
nourishment, they were placed in a private room to 


rest during the remainder of the night, and were soon 
sound asleep. We did not apprehend any danger 
that night, as we supposed a vigorous search would 
be made at Cabin Creek and neighboring settle- 
ments, and that our town would not be searched 
till the hunt in the other localities had been pros- 
ecuted and proved fruitless. 

Some time the next day, a messenger arrived at 
my house from Cabin Creek, and told us that after 
failing to find the girls at their grandfather's, the 
posse of pursuers had divided into several squads to 
search the different neighborhoods, and that one 
company were on their way to Newport. That 
afternoon several strangers were seen rambling 
about our village, inquiring for stray horses, and 
going abruptly into the houses of colored people 
living in the suburbs. It was not difficult to guess 
what was their real business. I was busy in my 
store when I learned of the conduct of these stran- 
gers, but went at once" to the house and told my 
wife that negro hunters were in town, and that she 
must secrete the two girls. She was used to such 
business, and was not long in devising a plan. 
Taking the two girls, who had by this time been 
dressed in female apparel, into a bedroom, she hid 
them between the straw tick and feather tick, allow- 
ing them room for breathing, then made up the bed 
as usual, smoothed the counterpane and put on the 
pillows. But the girls were so excited and amused 
at the remembrance of how they outwitted massa, 
and of tneir ride, dressed in boys' clothes, and at 
their novel position, that they laughed and giggled 


until my wife had to separate them, and put one in 
another bed. I went back to my store and left 
Aunt Katy, as every one called my wife, to manage 
affairs at the house. If the searchers attempted to 
enter our house, she was to rattle the large dinner 
bell violently, and at this signal the neighbors would 
rush in, and I would get the proper officers and have 
the negro hunters arrested for attempting to enter 
my house without legal authority. 

But these proceedings were not necessary. The 
hunters did not have courage enough to enter my 
house, though they knew it was a depot of the Un- 
derground Railroad. Hearing that threats were 
made against them in the village, they left without 
giving us any trouble. 

We kept the girls very secluded for several weeks 
until the master had given up the search, and gone 
home. Then having other fugitives to forward to 
the North, we sent them altogether via the Green- 
ville and Sandusky route to Canada, where they 
arrived in safety. 







THE largest company of slaves ever seated at 
our table, at one time, numbered seventeen, 
though we often had parties of from ten to fifteen. 
The party referred to, arrived at our house about 
dawn one morning, having been brought in two 
covered wagons from Salem, a settlement of Friends 
in Union County. The distance was about thirty 
miles, and the journey" occupied the most of the 

It was an interesting company, consisting of men 
and women, all apparently able-bodied and in the 
prime of life. They were of different complexions, 
varying from light mulatto to coal black, and had 
bright and intelligent expressions. They were all 
from the same neighborhood, a locality in Kentucky, 
some fifteen or twenty miles from the Ohio River, 
but belonged to different masters. 

For some time they had been planning to escape, 
but had kept their own counsels, not venturing to 
divulge their secrets to other slaves. A place of 


rendezvous was agreed upon, and at the appointed 
time they repaired to it, carrying small bundles of 
their best clothes which they had found opportunity 
to carry out previously and hide. One young man, 
who was engaged to be married, succeeded in get- 
ting his intended wife, a beautiful mulatto, from her 
master's place, and took her with him. Most of 
them had managed to save some money, and they 
found this of great service in helping them on their 
way. The leader of the party had made arrange- 
ments with a poor white man, living on the bank 
of the Ohio River, whom he knew to be trust- 
worthy. This man owned a wood boat and a skiff, 
and promised for the consideration of a liberal sum 
of money to have his boat in waiting, on a certain 
night, at a secluded point, and to take the party 
across the river to a point on the Indiana shore, 
some miles above Madison. 

At the time appointed, the party succeeded in 
getting together, and hastened to the river. Their 
white friend was in readiness for them, and landed 
them safely on the Indiana shore before daylight. 
They hurried into the woods, to find hiding-places 
among the hills and in ravines during the day, for 
they knew that they would be pursued, and that 
their masters would make great efforts to capture 
such valuable property. 

The next night they left their hiding-places and 
moved cautiously northward, not daring to travel in 
the road, but making their way through corn-fields 
and across plantations. At one time, when they had 
just crossed a road and entered a corn-field in the 


river bottom, they heard the sound of horses' feet, in 
the road near by. Two or three men, who were 
riding ahead of the main party, saw the fugitives and 
gave the alarm. The pursuers instantly dismounted 
and rushed into the corn-field, but having to climb a 
high rail fence they did not gain on the runaways. 
The party of fugitives scattered, and fled rapidly 
through the wilderness of tall, full-bladed corn. 
The field they were in was large, and other corn- 
fields joined it, lying in the rich river bottom, so 
that they had the advantage of shelter all the way. 
The pursuers, fifteen or twenty in number, divided 
and rushed after them with guns in hand, calling on 
them to stop or they would be shot down. Some 
of the fugitives recognized the voices of their mas- 
ters, but they heeded them not. They ran on with 
all their might, each one looking out for himself or 
herself. Several shots were fired at them as they 
ran, and they heard the bullets whistle through the 
corn around them. They-outstripped their pursuers, 
and ran from one corn-field to another in the bottom 
land until they had gone two or three miles. Hear- 
ing no sound of their pursuers, they stopped to take 
breath and see if all their party were safe. 

A few of them had kept in hearing of each other, 
and by a low whistle were soon brought' together. 
More than half the company were still missing. 
They moved on, a short distance, very cautiously, 
and gave another whistle, which was responded to, 
and in a few minutes the young man and his in- 
tended wife and two other women joined. They 
repeated their whistle, but heard no response. 


" About half the company were now together, 
including all the women. It was near morning, 
and as they did not feel safe in the corn-fields, they 
resolved to make their way, if possible, to the woods 
among the hills, and hide there during the day. 

They succeeded in this attempt, but just as they 
were entering the woods they were greatly alarmed 
by hearing, a little distance behind them, the report 
of several guns, fired in quick succession. They 
feared that their missing comrades had fallen into 
the hands of the enemy. They hastened forward in 
the woods, and concealed themselves in a thicket of 
young trees and bushes. Soon after daylight they 
were alarmed by hearing the sound of some one 
chopping with an ax near them. They cautiously 
reconnoitered, and found that it was a colored man 
chopping wood. One of the party ventured to 
approach him, and found him to be friendly. His 
house was not far off, but he did not think it safe 
to take them to it, as the hunters might come there 
to look for them. He conducted them to a safe 
hiding-place, and furnished them with food, of which 
they were greatly in need.* They had lost their 
bundles in their flight through the corn-fields, and 
\vere thus deprived of their little stock of provision 
and spare clothing. 

The next night their colored friend conducted 
them to a depot of the Underground Railroad, the 
Hicklin settlement, where fugitives were always 
kindly received and cared for, and helped on their 
way to other stations. Here they remained in con- 
cealment during the day, feeling great anxiety about 


their missing comrades fearing that they had been 
captured and taken back to slavery. During the 
day, however, Hicldin, at whose house they were, 
learned that there were other fugitives in the vicin- 
ity, among his neighbors who were abolitionists, 
and when he went to ascertain the facts concerning 
them he found them to be the comrades of the 
party at his house. They had met with a free col 
ored man who had conducted them to this neighbor- 
hood. Two of them had received gunshot wounds, 
which were very painful but not dangerous. Sev- 
eral hours after they had evaded the hunters in the 
corn-field, and while trying to make their way to the 
woods, they had come upon a party of the hunters 
who were lying in ambush, having dismounted from 
their horses and tied them in the bushes. The 
fugitives saw the horses, and instantly comprehend- 
ing the situation, they started off at full speed and 
ran for life. The pursuers fired at them, but they 
did not stop, though one'received a number of small 
shot in his back and shoulder, and the other was 
wounded by a rifle ball that passed through his 
clothes and made a gash several inches long in his 
side. They reached the woods and soon distanced 
their pursuers, and saw them no more. , 

The two companies were glad to meet again, and 
soon prepared to renew their journey to the North. 
Their friends at Hicklin settlement provided two 
wagons and transported them to the next station, 
and they were hurried on from station to station, 
traveling at night and hiding during the day, until 
they reached my house, as I have mentioned. On 



that morning my wife had risen first, and when she 
heard the two wagons drive up and stop, she opened 
the door. She knew the drivers, who were from 
Union County, and who had been at our house on 
similar errands before. She spoke to these con- 
ductors, and asked: "What have you got there?" 

One of them replied: "All Kentucky." 

"Well, bring all Kentucky in," she answered, 
then stepped back to our room and told me to get 
up, for all Kentucky had come. I sprang up and 
dressed quickly, and when I went out, I found the 
fugitives all seated in the room, my wife having wel- 
comed them and invited them to take chairs and sit 
down. I said to one of the conductors : 

"The train has brought some valuable looking 
passengers this time. How many have you ?" 

"Only seventeen this load," he replied. 

"Well," I said, "seventeen full-grown darkies 
and two able-bodied Hoosiers are about as many as 
the cars can bear at one time. Now you may switch 
off and put your locomotives in my stable and let 
them blow off steam, and we will water and feed 

My wife and our hired girl soon had breakfast 
prepared for the party, and the seventeen fugitives 
were all seated together around a long table in the 
dining-room. We assured them that they could 
partake of their food without fear of molestation, 
for they were now among friends, in a neighborhood 
of abolitionists, and a fugitive had never been cap- 
tured in our town. Their countenances brightened 
at this assurance, and they seemed more at ease. 


Several of our near neighbors came in to see this 
valuable property seated around our table, and esti- 
mated that, according to the owners' valuation, they 
were worth $17,000. Two of the company were 
still suffering from the wounds they had received. 
After breakfast, Dr. Way and Dr. Stanton were in- 
vited in to see the wounded fugitives. They took 
the two men to their office near by and examined 
them. They extracted a number of small shot from 
the back and shoulders of one, then dressed his 
wounds and the wound of the other, who had been 
struck by a rifle ball. The men then seemed com- 
fortable, and were very thankful for this kind treat- 

This interesting company of fugitives remained 
two days at my house to rest and prepare for their 
journey northward. Having lost their bundles of 
clothing, as mentioned, many of them were in need 
of garments and shoes. These were furnished to 
them, and when all were made comfortable, I ar- 
ranged for teams and suitable conductors to take 


them on to the next station. It was decided, for 
greater safety, to forward them via the Mississineway 
route, though that was not the most direct line to 
Canada. When all necessary arrangements were 
made, the fugitives left my house shortly after dark 
in two wagons drawn by good teams, and accom- 
panied by suitable conductors. The station they 
were directed to reach that night was the house of 
John Bond, a well-known friend to the slave, who 
lived in la Friends' settlement on Cabin Creek. The 
distance was something over twenty miles, and as 


the road was new and rough, it would take them the 
most of the night to reach the station. The con- 
ductors returned the next day with the teams, say- 
ing they had arrived safely with the fugitives at the 
station and left them there. Early the next morn- 
ing, after the fugitives had left my house, a messen- 
ger, who had been sent by Aquilla Tones, of Rich- 
mond, arrived at my house, and informed me that 
fifteen Kentuckians, in search of fugitive slaves, had 
come to Richmond the night before, and were stop- 
ping at the hotel of one L B , who was a 

well-known friend to the slave-hunter. Aquilla 
Jones did not know of any fugitives passing re- 
cently, but supposed that if there were any in the 
neighborhood J would be likely to know it. I 
immediately started a messenger on horseback to 
overtake the party of fugitives, and to have them 
scattered and secreted among their friends, thus to 
remain until further orders. Expecting that the 
fugitives were still at John Bond's, I wrote a note 
to him apprising him of their danger, but they had 
been forwarded that morning* to a Friends' settle- 
ment in Grant County, some twenty-five or thirty 
miles further on. The intervening country being 
thinly settled, it had been thought safe to let them 
travel in the daytime. 

On receipt of my message, John Bond mounted 
his horse and pursued the party. He overtook 
them that night, and had them scattered and con- 
cealed among friends. They remained in their 
hiding-places for several weeks, until the hunters 
had given up the chase and returned home ; then 


they came together again, and were forwarded on 
from station to station, by way of Adrian and De- 
troit, Michigan, until they reached Canada in safety. 
On their way they rested a few days in a settlement 
of abolitionists not far from Adrian, and here the 
young man and his intended wife, whom I have pre- 
viously mentioned, were legally married. A few 
years afterward I had the pleasure of visiting them 
in Canada, and dining with them in their own com- 
fortable little home. They had a beautiful son, 
about a year old, and proudly said: "We can call 
him our own ; old master can not take him from us 
and sell him." 

We will now turn back and notice the proceed- 
ings of the bloodhounds in human shape who were 
on the trail of the fugitives. The morning after the 
fifteen Kentuckians arrived at Richmond, they em- 
ployed several roughs of that place to accompany 
them as guides. These roughs were always ready 
to help capture fugitives, for the sake of money, 
and professed to know all the abolitionist neighbor- 
hoods toward the North. 

The Kentuckians divided into three companies, 
each having a guide. One company was to go by 
the way of Hillsboro and Spartansburg, another by 
way of Williamsburg and Economy, and the third 
through Newport and Cherry Grove. They hoped 
in this way to strike the trail of the fugitives, and 
arranged to meet at Winchester, the county seat of 
Randolph County, and give an account of their 
search. The party that was to come by way of 
Newport, came through town one or two at a time, 


some distance apart, so as to avoid exciting sus- 
picion in regard to their business. When they met 
children in the street, they inquired if any stray 
horses or cattle had been seen, and then asked if 
any fugitive slaves had been in town lately. In 
this way they learned that a large company of fugi- 
tives had been at my house a few days before, but 
that they had gone on to Canada. 

The three companies met at Winchester according 
to agreement, but no discoveries had been made 
except by the "company that passed through New- 
port. It was now decided that two of the companies 
should follow up the supposed line of the Under- 
ground Railroad to the lake, and watch for the 
fugitives at the points where they would be most 
likely to pass over to Canada. The guides pro- 
fessed to understand the route and to know the 
places where the fugitives would most likely be har- 
bored. The third company, with some additional 
guides from Winchester, were to canvass the differ- 
ent settlements of Friends in that neighborhood and 
around Newport, in the hop of gaining some clue 
to the fugitives, if they were still sheltered among 
the abolitionists there. They were told by some 
who were favorable to their cause, that it was quite 
probable that Levi Coffin, the notorious nigger thief 
of Newport, had got intelligence of their move- 
ments, and had hid their slaves among some of his 
friends in the neighborhood, for he had many friends 
there no better than himself, and there were many 
in Richmond who would give him warning of pur- 
suers. This part of the company, after an unsuc- 


cessful search through the various neighborhoods, 
returned to Richmond, stopping on the way at a 
tavern three miles north of Newport. Here they 
uttered many threats against me, declaring they 
would hang me or shoot me, and burn my houses. 
The tavern-keeper was friendly toward me, though 
he did not believe in aiding runaway slaves, and he 
felt alarmed for my safety. After the hunters were 
gone, he mounted his horse and came to see me and 
warn me of my danger. He advised me to keep 
closely at home, not to venture put alone lest my 
enemies should take my life. I thanked him for his 
kindness, but told him that I felt no fear of danger. 
I had obeyed the commands of the Bible, and the 
dictates of humanity, in feeding the hungry, clothing 
the naked, and aiding the oppressed, and I felt no 
condemnation for it. I should go about my busi- 
ness as usual, and if duty called me from home, I 
should pay no attention to the threats of slave- 
hunters, but attend to my duty. 

The hunters made their headquarters at L 

B 's tavern in Richmond, while awaiting the 

return of their companions from the lakes. They 
were not idle in the meantime, but made frequent 
night raids through our neighborhood and other set- 
tlements of abolitionists, supposing that their slaves 
might still be harbored among us. 

One evening, in company with several roughs of 
Richmond, they started toward Newport, making 
terrible . threats against me. They would burn me 
out, if it cost them ten thousand dollars; they 
would shoot me down at sight or drag me into the 


woods and hang me to a limb, etc., etc. These 
threats were made publicly, and one of my friends 
who heard them became much alarmed for my 
safety. He mounted his horse and rode to New- 
port to give me warning. He arrived at my house 
about midnight, when all of us were asleep. He 
knocked loudly at the door, and when I arose and 
let him in, he repeated in an excited manner the 
threats he had heard, and seemed much alarmed. I 
thanked him for the interest he manifested m my 
welfare, and told him to make himself entirely easy, 
for I anticipated not the slightest disturbance. Ac- 
cording to the old proverb, I said barking dogs 
'never bite, and if these men intended to do such 
terrible things to me, they would not have told of it 
publicly. I discovered that he had a couple of 
loaded revolvers with him, and told him to put them 
away, for I did not want such weapons ; I did not 
depend on fire-arms for protection. He said he 
thought he might come in contact with the slave- 
hunters on the way, and would need these to defend 
himself with. I had his hgrse put up, and per- 
suaded him to go to rest. When morning came, 
my buildings were all standing, there was no smell 
of fire about the premises, I was not hanging to a 
tree, and niy friend had found no use for his revol- 

The hunters, who had gone northward toward the 
lakes, returned without having obtained any clue to 
their valuable missing property. They remained at 
Richmond a few days, then the whole party returned 
South. But before going, they conferred upon me 


a high honor. They said that they could never get 
the slightest intelligence of their slaves after they 
reached my house, and declared that there must be 
an Underground Railroad, of which I was president. 
They repeated this several times in Richmond, and 
I heard of it when next I went to attend the board 
of bank directors at that place. 

Some of my friends asked me if I had heard of 
my promotion to office, and when I said I had not, 
they toid me what the Kentuckians had said. I 
replied that I would accept that position or any 
other they were disposed to give me on that road 
conductor, engineer, fireman or brakeman. This 
was the first time I ever heard of the Underground 

The saying of the Kentuckians soon became 
widely circulated, and I frequently received letters 
addressed to " Levi Coffin, President of the Under- 
ground Railroad." I had the honor of wearing 
that title for more than thirty years, and it was not 
until the great celebration of the Fifteenth Amend- 
ment to the Constitution, by the colored people at 
Cincinnati, that I resigned the office, and laid aside 
the name conferred on me by Southern slave-hunt- 
ers. On that occasion I said that our underground 
work was done, and that as we had no more use for 
the road, I would suggest that the rails be taken up 
and disposed of, and the proceeds appropriated for 
the education of the freed slaves. 

A few weeks after the Kentucky slave-hunters 
had leff Richmond, I was summoned, with several 
of my neighbors, to appear before the grand jury 


at Centerville, the county seat of our county, where 
court was then in session. I at once guessed the 

cause of the summons. Knowing that L B , 

of Richmond, was one of the grand jurors, I sup- 
posed that he was acting in the interests of the 
slave-hunters who had recently made their head- 
quarters at his house, and that I was to be indicted 
for harboring fugitive slaves, while my neighbors 
were summoned as witnesses. Though almost sure 
that this was the case, I felt no alarm. I thought t 
that if the grand jury should find a bill against me, 
and I should be compelled to stand a trial in court, 
and be convicted of a violation of the fugitive slave 
law, arid have to suffer the penalty, it might be the 
means of advancing the anti-slavery cause, and of 
raising up other friends for the slave. Some of the 
ablest lawyers of that district were my friends, and I 
knew that I would have plenty of defenders. These 
were some of my reflections as I rode to Centerville, 
a distance of eleven miles, in company with Daniel 
Puckett, Dr. Henry H. Way, Samuel Nixon, and 
Robert Green, who had been summoned to appear 
with me before the grand jury. When I entered 
the court room I discovered that I was personally 
acquainted with a majority of the jurors, and knew 
some of them to be strongly anti-slavery in their 
sentiments. Bloomneld, of Centerville, was fore- 
man of the jury. He asked me whether I knew of 
any violations of the law in our neighborhood within 
a certain time, any cases of assault and battery, or 
other outbreaks. I told him that I knew of nothing 
of the kind, adding that we were nearly all aboli- 


tionists, and were a peaceable people. The foreman 
then turned to L B , and said : 

"Mr. B , I believe that it is you who are in- 
terested in the negro question. If you wish to ask 
Mr. Coffin any questions, you can proceed." 

L B then asked me if I understood the 

statute in regard to harboring fugitive slaves. I told 
him that I had read it, but did not know whether I 
understood it or not. I suggested that he turn to it 
and read it, which he did. I told him that I knew 
of no violation of that statute in our neighborhood. 
Persons often traveled our way and stopped at our 
house who said they were slaves, but I knew noth- 
ing about it from their statements, for our law did 
not presume that such people could tell the truth. 
This made a laugh among the jury, with the excep- 
tion of L B . I went on to say that a few 

weeks before a company of seventeen fugitives had 
stopped at my house, hungry and destitute, two of 
them suffering from wounds inflicted by pursuers 
who claimed them as slaves, but I had no legal 
evidence that they were slaves ; nothing but their 
own statements, and the law of our State did not 
admit colored evidence. I had read in the Bible 
when I was a boy that it was right to feed the hun- 
gry and clothe the naked, and to minister to those 
who had fallen among thieves and were wounded, 
but that no distinction in regard to color was men- 
tioned in the good Book, so in accordance with its 
teachings I had received these fugitives and cared 
for then\ I then asked: 

"Was I right, Friend B , in doing so?" 


He hesitated and seemed at a loss how to reply. 
I continued: "How does thy Bible read? Was it 
not as I have said?" 

"Yes," he answered, "it reads somehow so." 

He evidently wished to change the subject. He 
next asked me if I understood the statute in regard 
to hiring free colored people who had not given 
bond and security, as the law required, that they 
would not come upon the county for support. I told 
him that I had read it, but, perhaps, did not under- 
stand it, and requested him to turn to it and read it. 
He did so, and I then said : " I presume I am guilty 
of violating that statute, for I am in the habit of 
hiring service whenever I need it, without distinc- 
tion of color, and without asking any questions in 
regard to that law." 

One of the jury asked me if I knew of any case 
in the county where the requirements of that statute 
had been fulfilled. 

I replied: "No, not one. It appears to be a dead 
letter in this part of the State, and many of our 
best lawyers believe it to be an unconstitutional act 
of the Legislature." 

The foreman then said: "Mr. B , I believe 

Mr. Coffin understands the negro law about as well 
as you do. If you are through asking questions, he 
need not be detained." 

"I have no further questions to ask him." 

As I was retiring I said: "I do not know whether 

I understand the law as well as Friend B does; 

but I know that I have more to do with aiding the 


fugitives and less to do with aiding their pursuers, 
than he has." 

Dr. Henry H. Way was then called in. L 

B questioned him in regard to the party of 

seventeen fugitives, and asked him at whose house 
they had stopped in Newport. 

"At Levi Coffin's," the doctor replied, and in 
answer to questions gave a full description of them ; 
adding that he and Dr. Stanton had dressed the 
wounds of the two men who had been shot. 

B asked : ' ' Did you know that they were 

slaves, escaping from their masters ?" 

The doctor replied: " We had no evidence except 
their own statements. They said they were slaves 
from Kentucky, but their evidence is worthless in 
law in this State." 

Here they got into an argument in regard to law, 

in which the doctor completely confounded B . 

The foreman finally interfered, told B that he 

was wrong, and dismissed the doctor. The other 
'witnesses were called "in and questioned, but their 
testimony all amounted to the same thing, showing 
that the fugitives had been sheltered at my house 
for several days, and that anybody who wished to 
see them had access to them. Notwithstanding 

B 's attempt to implicate me, the jury found no 

bill against me. 

Anti-slavery sentiment had largely increased in 

our county, and this effort of B ?'s to indict me 

for harboring fugitive slaves soon became widely 
known and had a tendency to kill him politically. 



The laws of Indiana, Illinois and Ohio allowed 
persons from a slave State to pass through with 
their 'slaves if they did not stop to locate. If they 
made any purchases amounting to location, the 
slaves were to be considered free. 

The following case came under this law : Two 
brothers from Maryland, by the name of Dawes, 
each accompanied by his family and one slave girl, 
were traveling through Indiana on their way to the 
State of Missouri, when the illness of the wife of 
Elisha Dawes, the elder brother, compelled them to 
stop for a time near Winchester, Randolph County, 
Indiana. During their stay at that place, they 
decided to locate there and to buy a tan-yard which 
was for sale at Winchester, at a great bargain ; they 
being tanners by trade. The terms were agreed 
upon and were satisfactory to both paties, but before 
the writings were drawn or the bargain closed, the 
thought occurred to the Dawes brothers that if they 
located in Indiana they would lose their slaves ; they 
could not hold them in a free^State. This would 
be a heavy loss to them, as the girls were valuable 
property, the one belonging to the elder brother 
being nearly grown, and the other about fourteen 
years old. They knew not what to do, and con- 
sulted with the man with whom they were stop- 
ping, who was pro-slavery in his sentiments. He 
advised them not to close the contract for the prop- 
erty until they had disposed of the slave girls, then 
the money thus obtained would give them a good 



start in business. In accordance with his advice, 
they concluded to take the girls to Kentucky by 
way of Cincinnati, sell them there, and with the 
money obtained from their sale, buy a quantity of 
hides in Cincinnati, then return to Winchester -and 
close the contract for the property. Their friend 
and adviser agreed to go with them and aid them in 
disposing of their slaves and purchasing stock. But 
notwithstanding all their wise precautions they made 
one serious mistake. They contracted for a lot of 
tan-bark and for some household furniture, which in 
the sight of the law amounted to location, and the 
moment they did so the slaves were free. When 
ready to go to Cincinnati, they fitted up a light cov- 
ered wagon, drawn by two horses, and taking the 
two slave girls and their friend, they started from 
Winchester in the middle of the day, and passed 
through Newport between sunset and dark. The 
slaves were out of sight behind the hay in the back 
part of the wagon, and were not noticed by any one 
as the party passed hastily through our village. 
They were hardly out of sight when Dr. Hiatt, an 
abolitionist from the neighborhood of Winchester, 
arrived at my house. He understood the whole mat- 
ter, and knew that the men violated the law of the 
State in taking the two girls out of it to sell them as 
slaves. When he learned that they had started to 
Kentucky, he had mounted his horse and followed 
them, hoping to reach Newport before they did, and 
have them arrested as kidnappers. He had not sup- 
posed t'hat they would reach Newport that night, but 
they had driven rapidly, and he had not succeeded in 


getting ahead of them. We at once called a meet- 
ing in our school-house, and by ringing the bell 
and sending out runners, we soon had most of the 
citizens convened. Esquire Curtis presided at the 
meeting. Dr. Hiatt gave the outlines of the story, 
and as he had in writing all the particulars of the 
purchases which the men had made near Winches- 
ter, he was able to prove that they had violated 
the law of the State and should be arrested as kid. 
nappers. But there was no time to delay ; if any- 
thing was to be done to save the girls, it must be 
done at once. The masters had only eleven miles 
to travel until they would be out of the State. The 
questions to be immediately considered were : Who 
will file an affidavit and procure a writ ? Who will 
pursue the men to-night, arrest them as kidnappers, 
and bring them before Esquire Curtis for trial ? 

There were no volunteers in the meeting, so I 
suggested the names of two or three persons who 
would be suitable to go ; but they declined. My 
name was then suggested. I said: "Yes, I ex- 
pected to have it to do from the first, but I wanted 
to see if any others were willing." I at once filed 
an affidavit before Esquire Curtis, and he issued a 
writ and placed it in the hands of John Hunt, who 
was the constable. 

It was now after night and quite dark, and rain 
was beginning to fall. The constable summoned his 
posse before leaving the school-house ten able- 
bodied, resolute men, making, with himself and me, 
twelve men in the company. We had to go home 
and get our suppers, saddle our horses and prepare 


for traveling in the rain ; and it was ten o'clock 
when we were all mounted and ready to start. The 
constable and I led the way. It was quite dark, the 
rain was falling heavily and the mud in the road was- 
deep ; so our progress was necessarily slow. 

After riding about two hours, we discovered the 
white cover of the travelers' wagon which was stand- 
ing in the yard of a farm-house, about a hundred 
yards from the road. We rode up the short lane 
that led to the house, and calling out the man of 
the house explained our business to him; then 
leaving the others outside, the constable and I 
went inside and arrested the two slaveholders, 
who were in bed. They were naturally much sur- 
prised at being thus disturbed in the middle of the 
night, and when they learned the reason, .they were 
very angry and used oaths and hard names quite 

The two slave girls were lying on a pallet on the 
floor, in the same room. They knew not what to 
think of being thus aroused, but I spoke to them 
reassuringly, and told them not to be alarmed. 
Elisha Dawes seeing me speak to them, ordered 
them not to say a word. I paid no attention to 
him, but told them they were in a free State, and 
were now free according to the law of the State, 
and that they need not be afraid to speak. I assured 
them that we would protect them and see that they 
were not sold into slavery. 

The constable told the men that they were his 
prisoners, and must go back with us to Newport. for 
trial. They reluctantly obeyed his orders, leaving 


their friend from Winchester and two of our men to 
bring the wagon and the two girls next morning. 
It had now ceased raining, and the moon had risen 
and gave a dim light. As we rode back to Newport 
with the two slaveholders, one of them said: 

" I would like to see the man who filed that affi- 
davit; I would put daylight through him." 

I rode up by his side, and said: "If it will afford 
thee any satisfaction to see that person, look at me ; 
I am the man. But it is not I that you have to con- 
tend with; it is the State of Indiana. You have 
violated the law of the State by attempting to take 
your slaves out of the State after making purchases 
that amounted to location. We are able to prove 
this. The moment you made the contract at Win- 
chester, the girls were free, and now, in the sight 
of the law, you are kidnappers carrying off free 
persons to sell them into slavery. The lightest pen- 
alty for this is five hundred dollars' fine and -two 
years' imprisonment in the penitentiary. You shall 
have a fair trial ; nothing will be done unfairly. The 
case will come up before court, where you will have 
the benefit of counsel and jury. There will be a 
preliminary hearing before^Esquire Curtis at New- 
port, and he will no doubt bind you over to appear 
in court." 

After hearing these statements, the slaveholders 
ceased their abusive language. They appeared to 
be alarmed at the serious aspect of the case, and 
were more subdued and friendly in their manners. 
When we reached Newport, I took them to my 
house and had their horses put in my stable. Next 


morning, when the two slave girls were brought to 
town I gave them quarters at my house, and enter- 
tained the whole company two days free of charge. 
I treated the men as kindly as I could, and sought 
to make their position as prisoners as pleasant 
as possible. They desired to send to Winchester 
for witnesses, having a brother-in-law and some 
others in their company whom they wished to 
be present at the trial, and I sent a messenger to 
bring these persons. I also sent to Centerville for 
a lawyer, Abner Haines, now Judge Haines, of 
Eaton, Ohio. It was on account of sending for 
these persons that the trial was postponed until the 
second day. Just before the hour set for trial, Law- 
yer Haines read to the two prisoners the law bearing 
on their case, and cited several instances of a simi- 
lar kind that had been tried in court, resulting in the 
conviction of the defendants. He told them that 
the .very moment they had made purchases prepar- 
atory to location their slaves were free, and that 
their attempt to take the two girls out of the State 
and sell them amounted to kidnapping ; and assured 
them that if prosecuted they could not escape con- 
viction and the penalty for that offense. 

They were much alarmed at this and wished to 
compromise with me, in some way, that I might not 
appear against them, or carry the case into court. 
They offered to give up the slave girls to me if I 
would not appear against them. I told them that I 
would consent to this on one condition, and that 
was that they should make out papers of emancipa- 
tion for tne girls. This they agreed to do, and Law- 


yer Haines wrote out the papers at once, and they 
were signed and acknowledged before Esquire Cur- 
tis. The slave girls were then given into my care, 
and the prisoners discharged. 

Before starting back to Winchester, Elisha Dawes 
asked me to let him take his girl the oldest one 
home with him as a nurse for his child. He prom- 
ised to treat her well, and said he did not know how 
his wife, who had a young child, could do without 
her. I asked him why he did not think of that be- 
fore he started to sell the girl, and said that now I 
could not trust her with him. So the two girls were 
left at our house, and the men returned to Winches- 
ter. I sent the girls to school, and had the care 
and oversight of them for several years. The older 
of the two married a respectable colored man, and 
is still living. The younger went to Canada of her 
own choice, and died there a few years afterward. 

The Dawes brothers located at Winchester, and 
being told by some of their pro-slavery friends that 
I had scared them out of their slaves, and being 
assured that the whole proceedings were illegal and 
could be upset in law, they became very much dis- 
satisfied. They were much enraged at me, and 
made so many threats against me, that some of my 
friends advised me not to go to Winchester for some 
time, lest I should meet with harm. I. replied that 
I often had business at Winchester, and that when 
it called me there I should not stay away on account 
of the threats of the Dawes brothers. They finally 
resolved to prosecute me, and went to Centerville 
to employ some of our best lawyers, but did not 


succeed in getting any one to undertake the case. 
A few weeks after their return to Winchester, my 
business called me to that place, and the first person 
I saw after dismounting from my horse was Elisha 
Dawes, who happened to be on the street. I walked 
straight up to him and shook hands with him, and 
inquired after the health of his family. He appeared 
quite cordial in his manner. I often met him and 
his brother afterward, and kept up a friendly ac- 
quaintance with them for several years. At one 
time when I met with Elisha Dawes, he told me 
that his father, who lived in Maryland, and who was 
anti-slavery in sentiment, was quite rejoiced that the 
slave girls had been taken away from them. 


While living at Newport I often went to Cincin- 
nati on business, and on one occasion when my wife 
and little daughter were with me, a free mulatto 
woman and her fugitive slave daughter nearly 
white were put in my charge. I took them back 
to Newport in my carriage, stopping on the way at 
a tavern near Hamilton. At supper the landlord 
seated us all at the table, except the mulatto wo- 
man, who, he intended, should eat with the colored 
servants. After the meal was over, I told him that 
he was quite partial, to admit a slave to the public 
table and exclude a free woman. He was much 
astonished and could not believe that the girl was a 

"WUy, " he said; "she is white, perfectly white." 
"That may be," I replied; "but she is neverthe- 


less a slave. Color is no protection in the South." 
The landlord then acknowledged the inconsist- 
ency of his conduct, and we enjoyed the joke very 

At another time when I was in the city accom- 
panied by my wife and daughter, Hiram S. Gillmore, 
a noted abolitionist and one of my particular friends, 
asked me if I knew of any person in from the 
country with a wagon who would take a fugitive 
slave girl out to a place of safety. He then gave 
me the outlines of her story. She had come from 
Boone County, Kentucky, having run away because 
she learned that she was to be sold to the far South. " 
Knowing that she would be pursued and probably 
retaken if she started northward immediately, she 
conceived a plan like that adopted by Cassie and Em- 
meline when they ran away from Legree, in "Uncle 
Tom's Cabin." She hid herself in the interior of 
a large straw pile near her master's barn, having 
previously arranged apertures for air, and a winding 
passage with concealed entrance, by which her fel- 
low-servants who brought her food could enter. 
Here she remained six weeks, while her master with 
a posse of men scoured the country in search of her. 
Like Cassie who looked from her hiding-place in the 
garret, and heard the discomfited Legree swearing 
at his ill luck as he returned from the unsuccessful 
pursuit, this young woman could hear in her hiding- 
place, in the straw pile, the noise of horses' feet and 
the sound of talking, as her master and his men 
returned from their fruitless search for her. When 
the hunt was over, she stole out and made her way 


safely to the Ohio River, crossed in a skiff and 
reached the house of a family of abolitionists in 
Cincinnati, where she was kindly received, and fur- 
nished with comfortable clothing. 

In answer to the inquiry of Hiram S. Gillmore, I 
replied that I was there in a carriage, and would 
take her out, if she would be ready when I called 
for her at nine o'clock next morning. At the ap- 
pointed time we started. The young slave woman 
was nearly white, was well dressed, and presented 
quite a lady-like appearance. 

At the end of the first day's travel, we stopped 
about four miles above Hamilton, at a private house, 
the residence of one of my friends a democrat, by 
the way who had often invited me to call at his 
house, with my wife, and pay his family a visit. 
The gentleman's daughter ran out to meet us, and I 
said to her: "Well, Ellen, I have brought my wife 
with me this time ; now guess which of these ladies 
she is." 

She looked from one to the other, hardly able 
to decide, but, finally, judging perhaps from the 
Quaker bonnet my wife wore, decided on the right 
one. The gentleman and his wife now came out to 
meet us, and when I introduced the young lady 
with us as a fugitive slave, they were full of sur- 
prise and curiosity, having never seen a fugitive 
slave before. 

I told them her story, and then said to my friend : 
"Will she be safe here to-night, Thomas?" 

"I reckon so," was the reply. 

"I don't want any reckon about it," I rejoined; 


"I shall put her in thy care, and I don't want 
thee to let anybody capture her." She was kindly 

Next morning it being the Sabbath day we 
went on about eight miles to West Elkton, a 
Friends' settlement, to attend meeting and spend 
the day. Meeting had just commenced when we 
arrived. My wife took the fugitive into meeting 
with her and seated her by her side. This was the 
first time the girl had ever attended a Quaker meet- 
ing. At its close I introduced her to a number of 
our friends, as a run away slave from Kentucky. 
She was the first that had been seen at that place, 
and a mysterious influence seemed to invest her at 
once. Men lowered their voices as if in awe, when 
they inquired about her, and some of them seemed 
alarmed, as if there was danger in the very air that 
a fugitive slave breathed. I spoke in a loud, cheer- 
ful tone and asked: "Why do you lower your 
voices ? Are you afraid of anything ? Have you 
bloodhounds among you ? If so, you ought to 
drive them out of your viMage. " We stopped at 
the house of Widow Stubbs, a thorough abolitionist, 
and soon afterward one of her near neighbors, a 
man with whom I was well acquainted, came in to 
inquire concerning the girl. 

He asked if she was safe, whether she had not 
better be secreted, etc., all the time speaking in a 
low tone. I said: "What is the matter, Henry? 
What makes thee speak so cautiously ? Is there any 
one in your village who would capture a fugitive 
slave ? If there is, hunt him up and bring him here. 


I would like to see him and to introduce this young 
lady to him. I think we could make an abolitionist 
of him. For my part, I have no fears of any one 
in this village, and think thou may make thyself 
quite easy." 

In the course of the afternoon quite a number of 
people came in who seemed concerned in a similar 
manner for the safety of the girl, but seeing me so 
entirely at ease, their fear and anxiety passed away. 

This public exposition of a fugitive slave, at 
Friends' meeting and in the village seemed to 
have a good effect in the place, for West Elkton 
afterward became one of our best Underground 
Railroad depots, and the timid man first alluded to 
became one of the most zealous workers on the 


Louis Talbert was an intelligent colored man, who 
belonged to a slaveholder living in Kentucky, a few 
miles back of the Ohie. River, above Madison. 
Louis was not content with being a chattel that 
could be bought and sold, but kept planning how 
he might gain his freedom. For several years he 
had quietly and shrewdly been gaining all the in- 
formation he could in regard to that land of liberty 
he had heard of so often, and at last concluded to 
make the attempt to reach it. He ventured to 
divulge his secret to several of his trusty friends 
and fellow-servants in the neighborhood, and twelve 
of them agreed to join him in the attempt to gain 
freedom. jThey met frequently, late at night, in the 
woods or some other secluded place in the neigh- 


borhood, to consult together and to make their 
plans. The chief difficulty that they would have to 
encounter in their journey was the Ohio River 
they had no way of crossing it, and knew not what 
to do. Finally, Louis Talbert, who was the leacfing 
spirit among them, suggested the construction of a 
raft. This at once solved the problem, and the time 
to start was agreed upon. On the appointed night 
the party made their way to a point on the river 
bank, selected by Louis. Having some suitable 
tools with them, they soon prepared two logs and 
pinned -them together. When the little raft was 
launched upon the water, it was found that only two 
persons could ride on it at a time. Their expecta- 
tions of all getting across that night were disap- 
pointed, for it was late when they reached the river, 
and only six had been transported to the Indiana 
shore when daylight warned the party to seek con- 
cealment. They hid in the thickets, on each side 
of the river, during the day, and when night came 
the remaining six were safely ferried across. But 
this delay operated against them, and came near 
proving fatal to their hopes. * When so much valu- 
able property was found to be missing in the neigh- 
borhood they had left, it created great excitement 
among their masters and other slaveholders. A 
large company started out to hunt for the runaways, 
and crossed the river at various points, in order, if 
possible, to intercept them in their flight. The 
second night, when all the fugitives were safely over 
the river, they started on their way northward 
through Indiana. They made but little progress 


before day began to dawn, and soon had to seek 
places in the bushes, where they could remain in 
safety during the day. By this time, some of the 
hunters had got ahead of them, and had given the 
alarm, and offered large rewards for their capture. 
In the counties of Indiana bordering the Ohio River, 
fugitive slaves were in as much danger of being cap- 
tured as on the other side of the river, for there 
were many persons on the look-out for them who 
hoped to get the rewards offered by the slaveholders 
in such cases. 

The next night Louis and his companions left 
their hiding-places, but being pinched with hunger, 
they sought to obtain some food before starting on 
their journey northward. They went to a house to 
buy some provisions, not thinking that they were in 
great danger. But a large party of hunters were in 
the neighborhood, and were soon apprised of their 
presence. The fugitives were closely pursued by a 
large party of armed men, the party from Kentucky 
having been joined by a number of ruffians in the 
neighborhood, who were as eager in the chase as 
they would have been in a fox or a deer hunt. 
Louis and his companions ran in different directions, 
and endeavored to hide in the woods and, corn-fields, 
but most of the party were captured, only Louis 
and three others succeeding in making their escape. 
After traveling several nights, during which time 
they suffered much from hunger and exposure, they 
reached my house. We received and cared for 
them, and they remained with us several days, rest- 
ing from their fatiguing and anxious journey. They 


were then put on the old reliable road leading to 
Canada, and reached that country in safety, 

Louis remained there about one year, then re- 
turned to Indiana, and staid a few days at my 
house. He said he was on his way back to Ken- 
tucky. He had two sisters still in bondage, and was 
determined to make an effort to bring them away. 
They belonged to a man living about thirty miles 
back from the river. Louis felt much anxiety about 
them, as they were young women grown and were 
regarded as valuable property by their master. He 
feared that they would be sold to traders and taken 
to the far South, as such property was in demand 
and would bring high prices. I tried to dissuade 
Louis from such a hazardous undertaking. I told 
him that he would risk his own liberty and might 
not beable to effect the rescue of his sisters, but he 
was determined to go. He was well acquainted in 
that neighborhood with both colored and white peo- 
ple, and, relying on his shrewdness and judgment, 
he made the bold venture. After crossing the 
river into Kentucky, he pipyed cautiously in the 
night season from one negro quarter to another 
where he was acquainted. He encouraged several 
of his particular friends to join him and prepare to 
make the journey to Canada. He assured them 
that he was well acquainted with the route and could 
conduct them safely, and told them of the many 
good friends they would find on tjie road who would 
help them on their way to liberty. The sweet word 
of liberty, and the hope of all its blessings and 
privileges, thrilled their hearts, and they at once 



agreed to make the effort to gain it under the lead- 
ership of Louis. The plans were all made, both 
men and women being in the party who were to at- 
tempt to escape. 

Louis went several nights to the place where his 
sisters were, and watched about the house, trying 
to get an interview with them, but they were house- 
servants, and were kept in at night so closely that 
it seemed impossible for him to make himself known 
to them and talk with them without discovery. 

One moonlight night as he was watching the 
house, trying to attract the attention of his sisters, 
their master saw and recognized him. The signal 
for pursuit was at once given and the alarm raised. 
A neighbor who had several bloodhounds was sum- 
moned, and the dogs were put on the trail. By this 
time, however, Louis had reached the woods, and 
being well acquainted with the country, he knew 
how to choose the paths that would be most difficult 
for the pursuers. Louis knew how to charm the 
dogs, and he received no harm from them. 

He baffled his pursuers and made good his escape, 
bringing with him four or five of his slave friends, 
including two women. Thus, though he failed to 
get his sisters, his mission was not entirely unsuc- 
cessful. He -made his way to the Ohio River with 
his company, and finding a skiff they crossed in 
safety to the Indiana side. They then proceeded as 
rapidly as possible to a station of the Underground 
Railroad, and that line soon brought them to my 
house. They remained with us a short time ? and 
were then forwarded to Canada. 


After seeing his friends safe in that country, Louis 
returned to Indiana and attended school at a manual 
labor institution, in Randolph County, called the 
Union Literary Institute. It was chartered by the 
State of Indiana for the benefit of colored students. 
Louis remained here nearly two years, making satis- 
factory progress in his studies and gaining the 
esteem of all who knew him. During vacation in 
the first year he made a second attempt to rescue 
his sisters from slavery, but was again unsuccessful 
in getting them, though he succeeded in bringing 
out of bondage another company of his friends. 
He still did not abandon the hope of rescuing his 

At the school which he attended, Louis became 
acquainted with M. W., a young white man who 
lived in Hamilton County, Indiana. To him Louis 
communicated his resolve to make another effort to , 
get his sisters out of slavery. M. W. became so 
much interested in the matter that he agreed to 
accompany Louis on his next trip into Kentucky. 

Some months afterward Lbuis went to Westfield, 
Hamilton County. He was then on his way to 
Kentucky to make another attempt, and reminded 
his friend of his promise, but M. W. had just been 
married and declined to go. He directed Louis to 
the house of L. Pennington, who lived in the neigh- 
borhood. This Friend tried to discourage Louis 
from making the attempt ; telling him that he would 
risk his own liberty and might not achieve that of 
his sisters. But Louis was determined to go, and 
made a confidant of a young man by the name of 


N. W., who was interested in his case and who 
agreed to accompany him. They made all their 
plans and appointed the time for starting. They 
were to take the train at Indianapolis and go to 
Madison, then cross into Kentucky and proceed 
secretly on their mission. These arrangements were 
made a week or two before the time fixed for start- 
ing, and might have been successful had not N. W., 
in the meantime, unwisely made a confidant of one 
of his acquaintances at Indianapolis, telling him all 
the particulars of the case. This friend in turn con- 
fided the whole matter to another person living in 
Indianapolis, who knew Louis' master in Kentucky, 
and who immediately wrote to him, giving all the 
particulars, and telling him the day and hour that 
Louis intended to take the train at Indianapolis for 

Louis' master, as soon as he received this informa- 
tion, gathered a posse of "men and started to Indian- 
apolis, arriving there the night before Louis was to 
start South. He obtained a writ for arresting his 
slave and put it in the hands of an officer, then, with 
the witnesses who were to prove his property, he 
waited to capture Louis as soon as he should come 
into the depot. 

The next morning Louis, who was all unconscious 
of the danger he was going into, walked into the 
depot to get aboard the train and found himself con- 
fronted by his master. He could not save himself, 
either by 'resistance or flight, and soon found him- 
self heavily fettered. N. W. , who was to accom- 
pany him, was a short distance behind, but seeing 


the excited crowd in the depot and learning that 
Louis had been captured, he turned back and went 
immediately home and told the news to Louis' 

Louis' master said to him: "I would have paid 
any price to get hold of you, and now that you are 
in my power, I will make an example of you. You 
have carried off thirty-seven thousand dollars' worth 
of slave property." 

Louis had been a very successful missionary 
among the slaves in Kentucky. Beside bringing a 
number out of the house of bondage, he had directed 
others how to get on the Underground Railroad and 
go right through to Canada where they would be 
free. They had listened with deep interest to his 
stories of Canada and liberty, and frequent stam- 
pedes of slaves from that part of Kentucky was the 

Louis' master took him back to Kentucky strong- 
ly bound, and exhibited him in fetters in many 
towns and public places in^ that section of the 
country, in order, as he said, to make an example 
of him, and to intimidate other slaves who might 
have thoughts of running away. But the master 
soon found that he had a troublesome piece of 
property on his hands. He did not dare to turn 
Louis loose and set him to work, for he might stray 
off and take a good deal of valuable property with 
him, of his own kind. He kept him bound for 
several weeks, waiting for a favorable opportunity 
to sell him, and finally disposed of him to a South- 
ern slave-dealer for the sum of seven hundred dol- 



lars. This was considered a low price, but there 
was some risk in buying such a shrewd, wily fellow 
as Louis, who had dared to run away from his 

Louis was taken on board a steamboat, with other 
slaves, to go down the river to a Southern slave 
market. He was kept bound for several days on the 
journey, but managed to gain the confidence of his 
master, so that his fetters were taken off and he was 
allowed the same privileges that the other slaves 
had. His master knew that he would not be likely 
to sell so well if he was kept bound, for the pur- 
chasers would think he was a dangerous fellow, and 
undesirable as a piece of property. 

As soon as Louis was turned loose he began to 
look out for a chance to escape. They were now 
near the mouth of the Ohio River, and Louis was 
very anxious to make his escape from the boat be- 
fore they entered the^.Mississippi River, at Cairo. 
But he found no opportunity, and they were soon 
on the broad stream of the Mississippi. The night 
after they reached this river, Louis determined on a 
plan of escape. A small boat or yawl was tied to 
the rear end of the steamboat and floated in the 
water. It was kept there for the convenience of 
landing passengers without rounding to the steamer, 
and for putting the mail ashore at different points 
along the river. Louis planned to get into this 
boat under cover of darkness, and arranged with the 
chamber maid to cut the rope that bound it to the 
steamer. Two other slave men, to whom Louis had 
confided his plans, had agreed to go with him, but 


at the last moment their hearts failed them and they 
concluded to stay. Louis got into the boat, and the 
colored chamber-maid, faithful to her promise, cut 
the rope, and he paddled away in the darkness. 

Louis was now in the middle of the Mississippi, 
with a slave State on each side of the river. He 
knew how to row well, and soon made his way to 
the Missouri side. He pulled up stream near the 
bank for some time, but found that it was hard 
work, and that he made little headway. When day- 
light appeared he tied the yawl in a secluded place 
on the shore, and sought a hiding-place, where he 
spent the day. When night came, he felt that he 
must seek some food, for he was now very hungry. 
He concluded to abandon the yawl and make his 
way up the river by land. After walking some dis- 
tance he came to a farm, and discovering several 
negro huts he ventured to approach one. He was 
kindly received and furnished with a supply of food. 
He gained some information about the country be- 
tween that place and Cairo, and pursued his journey. 
He lay by during the day,^and traveled at night 
until he reached the Mississippi River, some dis- 
tance above Cairo. He suffered from hunger and va- 
rious hardships, but found some true friends among 
the slaves near the river. Here he rested awhile in 
safe concealment, then was helped across the river 
into Southern Illinois. In this section fugitive 
slaves found few friends, for most of the settlers 
were from slave States, and were disposed to cap- 
ture all runaways. Through this country Louis 
cautiously made his way in the night season, ven- 


turing now and then to call at a house and beg for 
food. In a few places he found friends, and was 
enabled to rest in safety, and recruit his strength. 

Thus he slowly made his way through Illinois into 
Indiana, and arrived at the house of Levi Penning- 
ton, in Hamilton County, just three months from 
the day he first called there. Friend Pennington 
was much surprised to see him, having heard of his 
capture at Indianapolis, and of his being taken back 
to slavery by his master. After resting awhile here, 
Louis returned to school and resumed his studies. 

We learned afterward that Louis' new master, the 
slave-trader, was much enraged when he discovered 
his loss, and blamed the captain of the boat for 
having his yawl where it was so easy of access. 
When they arrived at Memphis, he sued the captain 
for the price of his slave, contending that the cap- 
tain was responsible for the loss of his property. 
The trader lost the suit, and had the costs to pay, 
then the captain sued him for the detention of the 
boat, and gained the suit, and the trader had to pay' 
seven hundred dollars. Then the captain sued him 
for the value of the yawl which his slave had carried 
off, and got judgment against him, which it is said 
cost him seven hundred dollars more. According 
to this statement, Louis Talbert was a dear piece of 
property to the negro-trader. 


John White was the slave of a man who lived in 
Kentucky, just opposite Rising Sun, Indiana, on 
the Ohio River. He married a slave woman, the 


daughter of her master, who lived in the neighbor- 
hood, and they had several children. He was very 
much attached to his family, and visited them as 
often as he was permitted by his master. Hearing 
one day that his master intended to sell him to the 
far South, and knowing that he would thus be sepa- 
rated from his family, he determined to run away. 
Carrying his plan into' execution he crossed the 
river into Indiana, where he had some friends free 
colored people and by them was directed to my 
house at Newport. Here he remained some weeks, 
and my deepest sympathies were aroused in his 
behalf. He was naturally very bright and intelli- 
gent, but his mind seemed overclouded with gloom 
at the prospect of leaving his family in slavery. He 
finally started toward Canada, stopping on the way 
at Raisin Institute, near Adrian, Michigan, a school 
open to all, irrespective of color, where he met that 
noted abolitionist and noble-hearted woman, Laura 
S. Haviland, having been directed to her by me. 
He remained in Canada several months, but being 
anxious and concerned about his family, resolved to 
return to his abolition friends in the States, to se.e 
if something could not be done, and accordingly 
came back to Raisin Institute, in Michigan. It was 
then winter and not a suitable season to make an 
attempt to rescue his wife and children, so he re- 
mained at the institute during the winter and spring, 
and attended school. He was very eager to learn, 
and made rapid progress in his studies. 

In the summer he returned to my house, at New- 
port, and consulted with me regarding the project 



he had so much at heart. A messenger was sent to 
his colored friends, at Rising Sun, to see if arrange- 
ments could be made with them to aid his family 
in escaping, but nothing definite could be deter- 
mined upon. Not willing to give it up, John White 
remained several months at Newport working and 
attending school, and in the winter ventured to 
go to Cincinnati, hoping to make arrangements with 
the colored stewards of the Louisville and Cincin- 
nati packets, with whom he was acquainted, but 
failed in this. He then returned to Michigan, where 
he remained a year or two, continuing his education 
at the Raisin Institute, but never forgetting his 
anxiety about his wife and children, and his hope to 
see them free. 

His story finally so enlisted the sympathies of 
Laura S. Haviland that she resolved to aid him in 
his desire, and, with that purpose in view, went 
down to Rising Sun and introduced herself to John's 
colored friends, who were, by the way, almost white. 

Disguising herself, she went with one of the 
women across the river into Kentucky, ostensibly to 
pick blackberries. Going to the house where John's 
wife lived, the colored woman introduced Laura 
Haviland as her aunt, and the mistress gave John's 
wife permission" 1 to accompany them in their search 
for blackberries. This afforded the opportunity 
which had been so long desired, and the wife soon 
heard the message from her long lost husband, and 
was made acquainted with the plans for the escape 
of herself and her children. 

During this interview the arrangements were all 


made and the time fixed, and on the appointed night 
John crossed the river from Rising Sun, and brought 
away his wife and six children from their place of 
bondage. This was the opportunity for which he 
had worked and prayed so long, and success seemed 
at last to have crowned his efforts. But alas ! it was 
only a gleam of light before a darker night. 

Reaching the river they entered a skiff, and at- 
tempted to row across to a point above Rising Sun, 
where a wagon was to meet them, but the water 
was high and the current swift and strong, and in 
spite of their efforts, they floated down the river 
some distance below Rising Sun, and were unable 
to reach the landing where the wagon was waiting. 

Daylight coming on, they hid in the thickets and- 
remained there all day, and at night unwisely ven- 
tured out into the high road. There had been am- 
ple opportunity for the master to gather a posse of 
men and start in pursuit, and the fugitives had not 
proceeded far when they found themselves hemmed 
in between two companies of pursuers. The wife 
and children were recaptured, but John sprang into 
the thickets and managed to elude the pursuers. 
He could not protect his family by staying with 
them ; he would only be caught himself, and he 
sought safety in flight, but the cries of his wife and 
children rang in his ears, and the thought of their 
anguish lacerated his heart. 

He lay out in the woods several days, and then 
made his way to the hut of a free colored man, 
where he obtained food, of which he was sadly in 
need, being almost famished. Here he was found 


and captured by Wright Ray, a noted negro-hunter, 
of Madison, Indiana, who was in search of other 
fugitives at that time. He took John to Madison, 
then across into Kentucky, and lodged him in jail. 
When questioned, John had the shrewdness to give 
not his own name but that of a fugitive with 
whom he became acquainted in Canada. He said 
that his name was James Armstrong, that he was 
the property of the widow Armstrong, of Augusta, 
Kentucky, but had lived several years in Michigan. 
Wright Ray pretended to go to the widow Arm- 
strong, and buy her slave James at a low price "as 
he ran," and then told John that if he had any 
friends in Michigan who would raise the money in a 
certain time, that he would sell him for three hun- 
dred and fifty dollars. At John's request the sheriff 
wrote to an address in Michigan, giving this infor- 
mation, and the letter came into the hands of 
Laura S. Haviland. " Though all the names were 
fictitious, she concluded that the person referred 
to was John White, and immediately took measures 
to obtain his liberty. She came to our house we 
were then living at Cincinnati and told her story, 
intending to go on to Madison, Indiana, cross over 
into Kentucky, and see if the slave in jail was really 
John White. I persuaded her to remain, and sent 
instead, my nephew, M. C. White, giving him 
letters to Judge Stevens, of Madison, and other 
notecl abolitionists, who might be of service to him 
in his mission. He went to Kentucky, found that 
the slave in question was John White, and then en- 
tered into negotiations to obtain his freedom. In 


presence of Judge Stevens, of Madison, he made 
a contract with Wright Ray to pay the three hun- 
dred and fifty dollars on the following conditions : 
Wright Ray was to bring John White to Madison, 
and place him on board the packet bound for Cin- 
cinnati ; the money was to be deposited with the 
clerk of the boat, and be paid over when John was 
safely delivered to his friends in this city. 

M. C. White then returned to Cincinnati, and 
made known the success of his mission. I borrowed 
the money as Laura S. Haviland had not time to 
obtain it before she started and sent him back to 
Madison. The terms of the contract were carried 
out, and John White arrived at Cincinnati. The 
boat came in before daylight, when the clerk who 
had the money in charge was asleep, but M. C. 
White informed Wright Ray that he would take 
John up town and return at eight o'clock to pay 
over the money. 

As soon as John reached my house he was con- 
cealed, as it was not thought safe for him to be seen 
in the streets, lest he might be recognized by some 
one who had seen him in Kentucky. \ 

Then, following my instructions, M. C. White 
returned to the boat and told Wright Ray that he 
was ready to pay over the money, but informed him 
that the slave was not the person he (W. R. ) 
thought he was, that he was a free man (taking the 
ground that all men are free until they forfeit their 
liberty by crime), and that if he received the money, 
he would be guilty of kidnapping, and must risk 
the consequences. Ray, however, decided to take 


the money and it was paid over to him. Lawyer 
Joliff, and I obtained a writ as soon as possible 
which was at nine o'clock and placed it in the 
hands of an officer with instructions to arrest 
Wright Ray, but when the officer went to the boat 
Ray was not to be found. We immediately for- 
warded the writ to Judge Stevens, at Madison, 
and Ray was soon afterward arrested at that place 
and lodged in jail, where he remained several 
months, awaiting the opening of court. The case 
would, without doubt, have gone against him had it 
been tried, but the presence of John White as prose- 
cuting witness would have been necessary, and his 
friends feared to risk his freedom, so the case was 
allowed to go by default. 

. John returned to Michigan, almost broken-hearted. 
All his endeavors to gain the freedom of his wife 
and children had been in vain, and he never saw 
them again. They were shortly afterward sold and 
separated, the master taking a price for his own 
daughter. Laura S. Haviland wrote to him several 
times, portraying in the strongest terms the sin of 
selling hjs own child. Her letters made a deep im- 
pression on his mind, and he was so much distressed 
that he became almost insane ; he would walk the 
floor of nights, hour after hour, striving to make 
terms with his guilty conscience. He made great 
efforts to buy back his daughter and her children, 
but without success, and it was thought that this 
trouble, shortened his days. 















THE subject of slavery had been talked about 
and discussed at Newport and in other neigh- 
borhoods of Friends in our part of the State, by 
Friends and others who felt for those in bonds as 
bound with them, for several years previous to the 
agitation of the Free Labor question. Abolitionism 
at that time was very unpopular. Some Friends 
advocated colonization, or gradual emancipation, 
and many joined the popular current of opposi- 
tion to abolitionism. Some of us felt that there 
was need of more earnest labor and renewed ex- 
ertions on behalf of suffering humanity, even among 



Friends who professed to bear a testimony against 
slavery that an effort should be made to enlighten 
the minds of the people, and to advance the cause 
of immediate and unconditional emancipation on 
Christian principles. We felt that this movement 
could be forwarded by giving circulation to such 
publications as were calculated to create an interest 
in the cause of the oppressed and suffering slave. 
To promote this object, a few of us, of Newport and 
vicinity, held, in the year 1838, a conference to con- 
sult in regard to our duty in this matter. Daniel 
Puckett, and other prominent Friends, took an inter- 
est in the conference. The result was that we de- 
cided to establish an anti-slavery library at Newport, 
and to collect all the books, tracts, and other pub- 
lications on the subject that we could, and circulate 
them among the people. There was then a depos- 
itory of anti-slavery publications open at Cincinnati. 
The sum of twenty-five dollars was subscribed, and 
I was authorized to obtain the publications that we 
needed. I afterward bought others with my own 
means, and kept up the supply. We gave away 
these publications, or loaned them until they were 
worn out. The effect of this effort was manifested 
in a deep and increasing interest on the subject of 
slavery, in our neighborhood. We often held libra- 
ry meetings, as we called them. In that day of 
mobs and the ridicule of abolitionism, it would not 
do to call them abolition meetings, even though the 
anti-slavery sentiment was on the increase in In- 
diana. About that time a number of Friends, who 
were in favor of immediate and unconditional eman- 


cipation, joined with others in the formation of the 
State Anti-Slavery Society of Indiana, which was 
organized at Milton, in Wayne County. 

In the year 1840, Arnold Buffum, a member of 
the Society of Friends, and one of the noble band 
of twelve that organized the American Anti-Slavery 
Society, in 1833, on the ground of immediate and 
unconditional emancipation, came to the West for 
the purpose of holding meetings among the people ; 
to talk about the wrongs and sufferings of the slave, 
and to excite an interest in his behalf. It was a 
work that lay near his heart and one to which he 
believed .himself called by his Heavenly Father. 
He believed that he was required to plead the cause 
of the oppressed ; to speak for the dumb, and to 
show forth the cruelty of slavery. He had labored 
extensively in the Eastern States, and had encoun- 
tered much opposition in the path of his duty. 
Some of those who had opposed his labors in the 
East, endeavored to block up his way and spoil his 
influence in the West, by writing defamatory letters 
to their friends here. In these letters they made 
statements concerning him in which there was not a 
particle of truth. These stories were circulated 
wherever he went, with a view to prejudice the 
people against him ; but his enemies were foiled in 
their designs. One of the wicked and foolish stories 
told concerning him was, that he was an amalgama- 
tionist, and had a colored woman for his wife. But 
the people among whom he traveled could soon see 
for themselves that this was a falsehood. His ami- 
able and excellent wife, who accompanied him in all 


his travels for the purpose of sustaining and comfort- 
ing him, and who was in full sympathy with him, 
was a highly esteemed member of the religious So- 
ciety of Friends, and had no connection with the 
colored race. 

After laboring for some time in Ohio, Arnold 
Buffum made his way to our neighborhood and 
came directly to my house. I had never seen him 
before, but had heard much of him and his work, 
and the cold reception that he had met with in 
many places. I gave him a hearty welcome to my 
house and our State, and told him that when I heard 
he was pleading the cause" of the poor slave in Ohio, 
I had earnestly desired that the Lord would send 
him to Indiana. We appointed a meeting for him 
at our meeting-house in Newport, and there was a 
good audience of Friends and others, to hear him on 
the subject of slavery. He made a good impres- 
sion, and a number of "meetings were held in our 
place ; appointments also were made in other neigh- 

Daniel Puckett, a noted minister among Friends, 
accompanied him to some of these neighboring 
meetings, and Jonathan Hough, another well-known 
Friend, was his companion w.hen he went to Win- 
chester, and other places in Randolph County. 
After he returned to Newport, I went to Center 
ville, our county seat, and obtained the privilege of 
holding a meeting in the Court-House. At the ap- 
pointed time, I accompanied him to the place. We 
had a large meeting, but there was some disorder. 
The mob spirit plainly manifested itself, but was 


finally quelled without any serious disturbance. 
Buffum was used to such demonstrations, and was 
not embarrassed by them in the least. He was the 
first anti-slavery lecturer who had spoken in that 
part of the State, and he had ignorance as well as 
prejudice to contend with. From Centerville we 
went to Spiceland, in Henry County, where we had 
an appointment, and held two meetings. We also 
held two meetings at Greensboro, then went to 
Raysville. These meetings were well attended, but, 
strange as it may seem now, many Friends seemed 
shy of them, appearing to be afraid to risk their 
reputation by attending an abolition meeting. They 
professed to be as much opposed to slavery as any 
one, but seemed to be more opposed to abolition- 
ism. Different religious denominations partook of 
this same prejudice, and we found ourselves opposed 
by the cultured as well as the ignorant. It tried a 
man's soul to be an abolitionist in those days, when 
brickbats, stones and rotten eggs were some of the 
arguments we had to meet u 

Arnold Buffum did not attempt to organize anti- 
slavery societies. His mission did not seem to be 
that work, but the endeavor to rouse an interest in 
the minds of Friends and others on behalf of the 
slave, and to prepare the way for more efficient 

He labored for several months in Wayne and ad- 
joining counties, making my house his headquarters. 
His anti-slavery lectures in the different neighbor- 
hoods created an excitement among the people, and 
set them to thinking and talking on the subject, 


and debating it among themselves. The arguments 
that Buffum used made deep impressions on many 
minds, and caused them to reflect on a subject to 
which they had previously given little attention. 

Soon after Buffum's first tour in Indiana, Louis 
Hicklin, a Methodist preacher, from near Madison, 
Indiana, traveled over the same ground, delivering 
anti-slavery lectures, and organizing anti-slavery so- 
cieties. The agitation of this subject was now fairly 
under way. Anti-slavery lecturers began to canvass 
the State, strong anti-slavery societies were organ- 
ized in various places, and the subject received more 
thoughtful attention than had before been bestowed 
upon it. A State Anti-Slavery Convention was held 
at Newport, and was largely attended by delegates 
from various parts of the State. Newport was 
called by the pro-slavery party, "the hot-bed of 
abolitionism." My house was generally the home 
of the lecturers and speakers who were traveling 
through our neighborhood, pleading the cause of 
the slave. I was always glad to entertain them, 
and to do all I could in forwarding the cause we had 
so much at heart. Charles Burley, Frederick Doug- 
lass and other speakers from the East were among 
those who stopped at my house. 

But as the anti-slavery movement gained strength, 
the opposition to it became more powerful. Poli- 
ticians and other prominent men opposed it, and 
their influence gave encouragement to the lower 
classes who possessed the mob spirit and who often 
interrupted the anti-slavery meetings. When Fred. 
Douglass made his first lecturing tour through the 


West, accompanied by other prominent speakers 
from Massachusetts, he had to contend with prej- 
udice expressed in the most insulting manner. 

At their meeting at Richmond, while they were 
on the stand speaking, rotten eggs were thrown at 
them, and at Pendleton they were pelted with brick- 
bats, stones and eggs, until they were driven from 
the platform. M. C. White, my wife's nephew, 
who was on the platform, had two of his front teeth 
knocked out by a brickbat, thrown by one of the 
mob. Such disgraceful disturbances were of fre- 
quent occurrence in various parts cf the State, 
when meetings were held to plead the cause of the 
slave. This, however, only served to forward the 
anti-slavery cause among quiet, well disposed citi- 
zens. Daniel Worth, a prominent Wesleyan min- 
ister, was made President of the State Anti-Slavery 
Society, and several State Conventions were held at 
Newport, Wayne County, and Greensboro, Henry 
County. The work commenced by Arnold Buffum, 
in 1840, went on with incr-easing interest, being sus- 
tained by Dr. Bennett and other prominent speakers 
who devoted much time and labor in pleading the 
cause of the oppressed, until the eastern, middle and 
northern counties of the State became so strongly 
abolitionist in sentiment, that the number of the 
people were very small who would risk their repu- 
tation in giving aid to the slave-hunters. Public 
opinion became so strongly anti-slavery in our 
neighborhood, that I often kept fugitives at my 
house openly, while preparing them for their jour- 


ney to the North, without any fear of being mo- 

But, notwithstanding this large increase of anti- 
slavery sentiment, the pro-slavery party still held 
the reins of government, in both Church and State, 
and there was a strong opposition to the abolition 
movement. The doctrine of immediate and uncon- 
ditional emancipation was unpopular. Some promi- 
nent members of the Society of Friends opposed it, 
and favored colonization or gradual emancipation. 

This difference of opinion subsequently led to a 
separation in Indiana Yearly Meeting of Friends, 
which occurred in 1843, an ^ was a sore trial to 
many of us. The causes of this painful separation 
are fully set forth in the history of the separation of 
Friends of Indiana Yearly Meeting, compiled by 
Walter Edgerton. The two Yearly Meetings con- 
tinued their separate organizations for thirteen years, 
but a reunion was finally effected, to the rejoicing 
of many hearts on both sides. 

We were proscribed for simply adhering to what 
we believed to be our Christian duty, as consistent 
members of the Society of Friends, in regard to the 
anti-slavery movement; in uniting with others in 
anti-slavery societies, opening our meeting-houses 
for anti-slavery meetings, to plead the cause of the 
oppressed, and laboring for the spread of anti- 
slavery truth in every way we could, consistent with 
our profession as Christians. We asked only liberty 
of conscience freedom to act according to one's 
conscientious convictions. We did not wish to 
interfere with the conscience or liberty of others. 


but strictly to live up to that part of our Discipline 
which bore a testimony against slavery. We had 
no new doctrine to preach ; we advocated immediate 
and unconditional emancipation as we had done all 
our lives. This we understood to be the doctrine 
and testimony of the Society of Friends for genera- 
tions past. But abolitionism was unpopular; an 
odium was attached to the very name of abolitionist. 
It tried men's souls in those days to meet the cur- 
rent of opposition. 

Strange as it may seem to the rising generation 
who read the part of Friend's Discipline relating to 
slavery, and who would naturally suppose that they 
would give their support to every movement oppos- 
ing slavery, there was a spirit of opposition to aboli- 
tionism attributable to various causes, which had 
almost imperceptibly crept in among Friends, and 
which manifested itself in the Yearly Meeting. A 
few leading members were colonizationists, some 
were gradualists, and many^were led to believe that 
there was some disgrace about abolitionism they 
could hardly tell what and they fell in with the cur- 
rent of opposition. Charles Osborne, that faithful 
servant of the Lord, who preached no new doctrine, 
had experienced no change, but followed the same 
course and advocated the same anti-slavery doctrine 
that he had for forty years. He, with many others 
of our prominent and faithful ministers, Daniel 
Puckett, Thomas Frazier, Abel Roberts, Isam 
Puckett, Martha Wooton, etc., were proscribed and 
considered disqualified for service in the church, 
because they could not conscientiously adhere to 


the advice of the Yearly Meeting. We were ad- 
vised not to unite in abolition societies, nor to open 
our meeting-houses for abolition meetings. 

This took place at the Yearly Meeting in the fall 
of 1842. These advices were sent down to Quar- 
terly and Monthly Meetings, with a committee to see 
that they were carried out. Thus we had no alter- 
native ; we must separate, or be disowned for oppos- 
ing the advice of the body, as they called it. In 
the winter of 1843 we called a convention at New- 
port, Indiana, which was largely attended by mem- 
bers of the various Quarterly Meetings who felt 
aggrieved with the action of the Yearly Meeting. 

We spent some time in prayerful deliberation and 
the result was the reorganization of Indiana Yearly 
Meeting and the establishment of the Yearly Meet- 
ing of Anti-Slavery Friends. No change in the Dis- 
cipline was thought necessary. Five Quarterly 
Meetings and twelve Monthly Meetings were organ- 
ized and established; these constituted the New 
Yearly Meeting. As soon as these meetings were 
organized the opposite party seemed to take alarm, 
and ceased to prosecute the prescriptive measures 
which had caused the separation. 

By this loosening of the cord they no doubt saved 
many of their members, who sympathized with us, 
but who on account of the change in policy were 
not driven to the necessity of separating from the 
body. Thus a large number of Friends in the limits 
of Indiana Yearly Meeting retained unity with us 
and brotherly feeling toward us, and many of the 
members of other Yearly Meetings sympathized 


with us. We had many able ministers, both men 
and women, with us, and we experienced many 
precious meetings, where the overshadowing wing 
of Divine Goodness was sensibly felt to hover over 
us and bless our assembly. The trials and suffer- 
ings through which we had passed together made 
us near and dear to each other. This feeling 
remains with those still living, to the present day, 
and is renewed whenever we meet. Several of our 
most prominent ministers of the present day were 
connected with anti-slavery Friends ; many of the 
older ones have gone to their reward. 

As time rolled on, and the anti-slavery sentiment 
increased, and the odium attached to abolitionism 
lessened, many of the younger members of the old 
Yearly Meeting came forward nobly and joined us 
on the anti-slavery platform, and many of the older 
ones acknowledged that the Yearly Meeting did 
wrong in pursuing the course that brought the sep- 
aration, and manifested the most friendly feeling 
toward us. The Yearly Meeting made a change in 
the Discipline in regard to acknowledgments from 
those who had once been members ; thus leaving the 
door open for a reunion. Many of the older ones 
on both sides had passed away. There seemed 
now to be nothing to keep us longer apart, so we 
dissolved our separate organizations, and in most 
or all of the Monthy Meetings, where anti-slavery 
Friends lived, a proposition was made to the 
Monthly Meeting in writing, to unite in a body 
without making any acknowledgment. This prop- 
osition was accepted in most cases, at that meeting, 


without making an appointment. Thus a happy 
reunion was effected. 

In the year 1845, London Yearly Meeting issued 
an address to the anti-slavery Friends who had sep- 
arated from Indiana Yearly Meeting, and appointed 
a committee to accompany it and to endeavor 
to heal the breach. This commmittee was com- 
posed of four prominent and influential Friends 
William Forster, George Stacy, Josiah Forster and 
John Allen. They arrived in this country in time 
to attend the Yearly Meeting at Richmond in the 
tenth month of that year. 

The Yearly Meeting of Anti-Slavery Friends was 
in session at the same time at Newport, ten miles 
distant. We supposed that the committee would at- 
tend our meeting also, but in this we were mistaken. 
The old Yearly Meeting appointed a committee to 
give such information as they desired. The day after 
that Yearly Meeting closed, the English Friends 
paid a short social visit to Charles Osborne, who 
was stopping at my house. Several other Friends 
were present. During this short interview some 
intimation of their intended course was given, in- 
fluenced perhaps by the counsel of the advisory 
committee of the old Yearly Meeting. They re- 
turned the same evening to Richmond, which was 
their 'headquarters. They concluded to visit the 
distant meetings or outposts of anti-slavery Friends, 
before visiting the larger body at Newport, and 
other meetings in that vicinity. After they left 
Newport several of the leading anti-slavery Friends 
thought it necessary to confer together a little on 


the circumstances of their conclusions, believing 
that the course of action the committee had decided 
upon would not heal the breach or effect the object 
of their mission to this country. This conference 
resulted in our addressing a letter to the committee, 
in brotherly love, suggesting a different course. 
This letter was signed by fourteen prominent 
Friends Charles' Osborne, Daniel Puckett and 
others and Benjamin Stanton;" Henry H. Way and 
I were nominated to carry it to them at Richmond 
before they started West, and to have an interview 
with them. We were kindly received by the com- 
mittee, and had a free and open conversation with 
these noble Christian men on the subject of their 
mission. We fully believed that the course they 
were about to pursue would not bring the differing 
parties together as they desired, and as we also 
greatly desired. 

We thought that if the leading influential mem- 
bers of both parties could Le brought together, and 
the causes of the differences that produced the sep- 
aration investigated, and clearly set forth to the 
committee, they might be able to judge* clearly and 
intelligently, and to advise in the matter. But they 
thought that their minute of appointment from 
London Yearly Meeting would not justify them in 
taking that course, as the address of that meeting 
was to anti-slavery Friends, advising them to cease 
holding their separate meetings and to return to the 
body from which they had separated. London 
Yearly Meeting did not understand all the causes 
of the separation, but took it for granted that the 



Society of Friends was everywhere an anti-slavery 
body, and bore a testimony against slavery both in 
Europe and America. They did not understand the 
different sentiments among us in this country in 
regard to anti-slavery action that the spirit of col- 
onization and gradual emancipation was deeply 
seated in the minds of many Friends here, notwith- 
standing that, in their General' Epistle, London 
Yearly Meeting had denounced colonization as an 
odions plan of expatriation. They were not aware 
that the great body of the Society of Friends in 
America had, with nearly all other religious socie- 
ties, thrown the weight of their influence against 
the few true abolitionists who advocated immediate 
and unconditional emancipation. 

Friends in America, as a body, had fallen into the 
popular current and denounced abolitionism, though 
there were in all the Yearly Meetings noble excep- 
tions, persons who had to suffer on account of their 
testimonies, and who stood firm in the face of oppo- 
sition and battled for the right. 

These members of the minority sympathized with 
us who hacl dared to stand firm in the cause of the 
oppressed and suffering slave, and to the testimony 
of the Society of Friends against slavery. We often 
received letters of cheer and encouragement from 
memberr-of other Yearly Meetings. Charles Os- 
borne, who was widely known and loved as a faith- 
ful minister of the gospel, and who had traveled and 
labored much in the ministry, was among the num- 
ber proscribed and pronounced disqualified for labor 
in the church. 


Friends in England had no such trials to pass 
through; abolitionism was popular there, and they 
were united in their sentiments on the anti-slavery 
subject. They united with others in anti-slavery 
societies, and opened their meeting-houses for anti- 
slavery meetings. In this country our meeting- 
houses were refused for such purposes, when we 
wished to assemble to plead the cause of the slave 
and to try to enlighten and awaken public sentiment 
on the subject of slavery. We apprehended that 
the English Committee were not fully apprised of 
all these circumstances, which led to our separation, 
hence our letter to them and our interview with 
them. All these matters were carefully laid before 
them, and received a kind and respectful hearing, 
but they could not feel it right to change their pro- 

They had decided to visit all the different neigh- 
borhoods of anti-slavery Friends belonging to our 
Yearly Meeting, call the Friends together at their 
meeting-places, and after reading to them the ad- 
dress of London Yearly Meeting, advise them to 
discontinue their separate organizations,* and return 
to the body. This was as far as they thought they 
were justified by their appointment to go ; they felt 
that they could not act as umpires or mediators be- 
tween the two parties. We assured them that such 
a course of action could not effect a reunion. We 
said that anti-slavery Friends had counted the cost 
and suffered much before they separated ; that our 
meetings had been much blessed, and that we had 
abundant evidence that our assemblies had been 



owned by the great Head of the Church. We had 
been forced to take the step we did by the act of 
Indiana Yearly Meeting, and if we enjoyed religious 
society at all there was no alternative for us but to 
continue our meetings. Until a different spirit was 
manifested by the body we had separated from, we 
could not relinquish or discontinue our organiza- 
tions ; we believed that the cause we had so much 
at heart would suffer by such a course. We were 
fully convinced that their labors in the direction 
they had decided upon would not effect the object 
desired. This seemed to make a deep impression 
on the mind of dear old William Forster ; indeed, 
all of them seemed full of love and kind feeling to- 
ward us. They talked freely with us on the matter, 
expressing their earnest desire that the unity of the 
body might be restored. We desired the same 
thing, but we were not disposed to cry Peace, 
peace, when there was no peace. Those days 
were trying and proving seasons to many of us. 
We parted from the committee in love and kind 
feeling, leaving them to ponder over our sugges- 
tions. But they pursued the course planned out, 
visiting the various neighborhoods of anti-slavery 
Friends on the outskirts of our Yearly Meeting, 
calling the people together at .their different meet- 
ing-places, reading the address to them, and advis- 
ing them to discontinue their separate organizations. 
The result was what we had anticipated ; anti- 
slavery Friends were not prepared to accept their 
advice or to adhere to their counsels. I wish to 
speak of these dear Friends from England with 


much love, and to hold in kind remembrance their 
many good works, and their devotedness to the 
cause of. Christ. But I think they erred in judg- 
ment as it is possible for good and wise men to do 
and I believe they were fully sensible of it before 
they left this country. Our separate organization 
was kept up, and it was nearly eleven years after 
their visit that a satisfactory reunion was effected. 

Their meeting with anti-slavery Friends at New- 
port was held about three days before they started 
home. When they arrived in town in the morning, 
a short time before the appointed hour of their 
meeting, they took quarters at the house of William 
Hobbs, a prominent member of the old Yearly 
Meeting. At the close of the meeting, I invited 
them to our house to dine, but they declined, hav- 
ing promised to return to William Hobbs'. I told 
them I wanted them to pay me a visit before they 
left town, having learned that they had to return to 
Richmond that evening. I said I had something to 
show them, which I thought would interest them, 
and which they would be likely to remember after 
they returned to their own country. 

William Forster said: "We will go home with 
thee now," as it was on their way to their stopping 
place. He took me by one arm, George Stacy by 
the other, and the other two Friends followed us. 
When we arrived at our house, I seated them in the 
parlor, excused myself for a moment, and went into 
a back room where there were fourteen fugitive 
slaves, who had arrived the night before. An old 
white-haired grandmother was there, with several of 


her children and grandchildren; one of her daugh- 
ters had a child three months old. I invited them 
all to follow me into the parlor to see the four En- 
glish Friends, telling them the gentlemen lived 
.on the other side of the ocean where there was no 
slavery, and were true friends to the slave. This 
seemed to remove all fear from them, and they fol- 
lowed me into the parlor. I had them to stand in a 
semicircle, and introduced them to the English 
Friends as fugitive slaves fleeing from the land of 
whips and chains, and seeking safety in the Queen's 
dominions. The Friends all rose and shook hands 
with them. Taking the child in my arms, I said : 
''See this innocent babe, which was born a slave," 
and handed it to George Stacy, who stood near me. 
He took it in his arms and fondled it, for it was a 
pleasant looking child. All the Friends seemed 
deeply interested, and asked the fugitives many 
questions. The old woman seemed to be quite in- 
telligent, and answered their questions readily. 

William Forster said : " It is a long road to Can- 
ada ; do you think you will ever reach that coun- 
try?" He did not know the facilities of the Under- 
ground Railroad. 

The old negress replied: "De Lord has been with 
us dis far, an' I trust He will go with us to de end 
of de journey." 

William Forster said: "Thou art old and feeble," 

"Yes, massa, " she replied, "but I'se been pray- 
in' de good Lord a great while to let me breathe 
one mouthful of free air before I died, and bress his 
great name, He opened de way so dat we got off 


safe and He has guided us to dis good man's house, 
and he and his good wife has give us clothes to 
make us warm, and when we rest a little so we can 
stand more night travel, he says he will send us on. 
May de Lord bress him ! You see, gent'men, dat 
de Lord is good to us and helps us." 

Many more questions were asked by the Friends, 
and answered by the old woman and others of the 
party. The Friends seemed so interested that they 
hardly knew how to close the interview. When the 
fugitives retired, I turned to George Stacy, and 

"For pleading the cause of innocent babes like 
the one thou held in thy arms, and sheltering the 
fugitives, such as you have seen, we have been 
proscribed. Now, my dear friends, if you fully 
understood the difference of sentiment that exists, 
and the course pursued by some of the leading 
members of Indiana Yearly Meeting, which led to 
our separation, you could not advise the discontin- 
uance of our organization, while they persist in 
their course toward us. Your efforts have strength- 
ened the opposition to our labors." 

I then alluded to the course pursued by the com- 
mittee of the old Yearly Meeting, when they visited 
the Quarterly and Monthly Meetings to enforce the . 
epistle of advice issued by the Yearly Meeting. 
My remarks seemed to make a deep impression on 
their minds. William Forster said : "It must have 
been very trying, indeed," to which the others as- 
sented. Their time had now expired and we must 



separate, but, before starting, William Forster said 
to his companions : 

"We must not leave this country without having 
a more deliberate opportunity with Levi Coffin; I 
do not feel satisfied." After consulting together a 
few moments, they asked me if I would be willing 
to meet them at Richmond. I said that I would, 
and told then) to appoint the time and place most 
convenient to themselves, and I would endeavor to 
meet them promptly. They had an appointment 
for the next day at Dover, which would close their 
labors .in that part of the country, and suggested 
that I meet them the day following, at nine 
o'clock in the morning. The place appointed was 
the house of my cousin, Elijah Coffin, in Rich- 
mond, where they made their headquarters. I 
suggested having another Friend to accompany me, 
but they seemed to prefer an interview with me 
alone. I met them at the hour appointed, having 
a deep sense of my incompetency to engage in 
debate with four well-educated and well-informed 
English gentlemen. William Forster was a prom- 
inent and widely known minister, George Stacy was 
clerk of London Yearly Meeting, and Josiah Fors- 
ter and John Allen were highly esteemed elders. 
How could I, a lay-member of a proscribed body 
of abolitionists, venture to differ from or call into 
question the acts of these wise Christian fathers 
in the church? These feelings and thoughts passed 
through my mind as I proceeded to Richmond, and 
I prayed earnestly that I might be guided and 
rightly directed in everything I uttered that self 


might be entirely subdued and nothing but the 
cause of Christ and his poor have any place in my 
mind. I was cordially greeted by the committee 
and conducted to a room which had been prepared 
for the meeting, where we would not be interrupted. 

All diffidence or embarrassment had passed away ; 
I felt calm and quiet in my mind, and much open- 
ness and freedom seemed to be felt by us all. Will- 
iam Forster opened the conversation by saying that 
when they were at my house their time was so 
limited that I did not have the opportunity of ex- 
pressing all that I wished to say on the subject of 
our trials and in regard to their labors among us, 
and that he felt it was right to give me a further 
opportunity, and hoped that we might be brought 
nearer together in sympathy. I then commenced 
where our conversation at my house had ended, and 
gave them, in detail, the beginning and continuance 
of our difficulties on the anti-slavery subject, show- 
ing how the opposition spirit gained the ascendency 
and proscribed Charles Osborne and other promi- 
nent Friends. 

I spoke more fully of the measures adopted by 
the Yearly Meeting, which caused many of us to 
pass through deep trials and sufferings, and finally 
brought about the separation, and said that I be- 
lieved the matter was not fully understood by Lon- 
don Yearly Meeting, that if it had been, they would 
not have issued that address advising us to discon- 
tinue our separate organization. Yearly Meetings 
are not infallible, I continued, and individuals are 
not infallible, and you, my dear friends, may have 



erred in judgment from lack of a full understanding 
of this difficulty, for you are only men. 

George Stacy, who sat near me, patted me affec- 
tionately on the knee, and said: "We know that, 
Levi; we are very poor creatures of ourselves." 

William Forster said: "I hope thou. wilt award 
honesty to our purpose." 

' I said: "Certainly I will. I love you as Chris- 
tian brothers and have no doubt of the honesty of 
your purpose, but your labors will not have the 
desired effect. Our organization will not be discon- 
tinued until a different spirit is manifested by the 
opposing party, and Indiana Yearly Meeting opens 
the way for a reunion." The committee asked 
many questions, which I endeavored to answer care- 
fully. They seemed to be deeply impressed and 
often said in the course x>f my statements, "How 
painful and trying that must have been." They 
appeared very humble and manifested much love 
and kindness in their manner toward me. I felt 
perfect freedom during the interview, notwithstand- 
ing the misgivings I had felt beforehand. After 
spending two hours together we parted, with many 
expressions of love and kind feeling. After their 
return home, I received several communications 
from them which expressed the same brotherly feel- 
ings. Eight years afterward London Yearly Meet- 
ing issued an address to the President of the United 
States and the governors of the various States in 
America, on the subject of slavery. 

William Forster, that noble anti-slavery Christian 
minister, volunteered to carry the address and visit 



all the governors and heads of departments in our 
Government. Josiah Forster, his brother, and two 
other Friends, John Candler and William Holmes, 
were appointed to accompany him in this undertak- 
ing. I was then living in Cincinnati. I heard of 
their arrival in America, but had no knowledge of 
their having reached this city until I went to 
Friend's Meeting one First day, and saw William 
Forster sitting at the head of the meeting, with his 
brother Josiah by his side. I was rejoiced to see 
these dear friends again. 

William Forster was favored to preach the gospel 
with great power and unction that day. As soon as 
the meeting closed he made his way to me and 
grasped my hand, having previously recognized me. 
He told me that they had arrived in the city the 
evening before and had taken quarters at Abraham 
Taylor's, and invited me to go with them and dine. 
I excused myself, as we had company to dine with 
us that day, and invited them to visit us, which 
they promised to do. We then had charge of the 
Colored Orphan Asylum. In the afternoon they 
made us a visit and spent a few hours very pleas- 
antly. They had the orphan children collected 
together, and spoke in an interesting manner, im- 
parting much wholesome counsel to them. Learn- 
ing that the asylum was a benevolent institution, 
dependent on contributions for support, they gave 
some money to be applied as we saw fit. We had 
taken charge of the asylum a short time, to try to 
build it up and get it in a good condition. When 
the English Friends were ready to start away, Will- 


iam Forster declined to get into the carriage, say- 
ing that he would walk with me a short distance, as 
he wished to have some conversation with me before 
we parted. We walked together slowly for several 
squares. He said he had often thought of me since 
we parted at Richmond, eight years before, and 
expressed the kind feelings he still had for me. 

I expressed the same for him, and went on to 
say that the breach was not yet healed in Indiana 
Yearly Meeting, but a very different feeling was 
now manifested toward us. Many of our opposers 
showed a kind and loving spirit ; several of the 
prominent members of the old Yearly Meeting 
had acknowledged to me that the Yearly Meeting 
did wrong in taking the course that brought about 
the separation. I believed the way was opening 
for a reunion; many of the younger members 
of the old Yearly Meeting were now boldly advo- 
cating the cause we had espoused ; the prescriptive 
measures were no longer prosecuted ; and a change 
had been made in their Discipline, which opened a 
door for us to reunite with them. William Forster 
seemed much rejoiced on hearing these statements. 
I told him that a change of public sentiment was 
rapidly taking place in the North, both in Church 
and State, and that abolitionism had lost much of 
the odium formerly attached to it. This also seemed 
to rejoice his heart, and he said he earnestly hoped 
that a happy reunion would soon be effected in In- 
diana Yearly Meeting. He expressed much satis- 
faction and comfort in our interview, and said that 
it was probably the last time we would meet in this 



world, but that he hoped we would meet in the 
realms of never-ending peace and joy. We parted 
with much love for each other. 

The next day the party visited the governor of 
Kentucky, then went by way of Indianapolis to Illi- 
nois, Wisconsin, and Missouri, and continued their 
tour through the Southern States, visiting the gov- 
ernor of each State. They had a kind reception and 
respectful hearing in every instance. This arduous 
work and extensive travel proved too much for the 
strength of William Forster. He was taken sick, 
and died in East Tennessee, before their mission 
was completed. A full account of his peaceful and 
happy close is given in the "Memoirs of William 
Forster," edited by Benjamin Seebohm. He was 
buried in Friends' burying-ground, at Friendsville, 
Blount County, East Tennessee. 

The remaining members of the delegation finished 
the work of their mission, and returned to England 
in the spring of 1854. When I heard of the death 
of this dear old Friend and faithful servant of the 
Lord, it was a great comfort and satisfaction to me 
to remember our last interview in Cincinnati. 


In the fall of 1844, William Beard, of Union 
County, Indiana, a minister of the religious Society 
of Friends, felt a concern to visit, in gospel love, the 
fugitive slaves who had escaped from Southern 
bondage and settled in Canada. A number of them 
had stopped at his house in their flight, and had 
been forwarded by him to my house, a distance of 



thirty miles. He felt that I was the person who 
should accompany him on this mission, and came to 
see me to present the subject. I heartily united 
with him, having felt a similar desire. We then laid 
the concern before our different Monthly Meetings, 
where it was cordially united with, and a certificate 
of unity and concurrence was given us. Thus pro- 
vided with the proper credentials, and with the love 
of God in our hearts, we set out on our mission to 
the poor fugitives, intending also to visit the mis- 
sionary stations among the Indians in Canada. 

We started on horseback on the sixteenth day of 
the ninth month September. On our way we vis- 
ited several colored settlements in Ohio and Michi- 
gan, and held meetings with the people. 

We. reached Detroit on the twenty-fifth of the 
ninth month, about noon, and in company with Dr. 
Porter, a noted abolitionist of that city, spent the 
afternoon visiting the colored schools and various 
families of fugitives, many of whom remembered 
us, having stopped at our houses on their way from 
slavery to freedom. In the evening we attended a 
good meeting among the colored people, and visited 
Aunt Rachel, whose story of escape and suffering is 
given elsewhere. She had come over from Canada 
and settled in Detroit. She was married, and had a 
kind husband. I had not seen her since she left my 
house, eight years before. 

On the twenty-sixth we passed over to Windsor, 
on the Canada side. Here, and at Sandwich, we 
visited a number of colored families, many of whom 
recognized me at once, having been at my house in 


the days of their distress when fleeing from a land 
of whips and chains. 

The Queen's Court was in session at Sandwich 
while we were there, and a white man was on trial 
for having, under the inducement of a bribe, de- 
coyed a fugitive across the river into the hands of 
his master. We went into court and listened for a 
time with much interest to the lawyers pleading. 
We heard Colonel Prince reaffirm the proud boast 
of England, that the moment a fugitive set his foot 
on British soil his shackles fell off and he was free. 
We afterward learned that a heavy penalty of fine 
and imprisonment was placed on the culprit. 

From Sandwich we made our way down the Can- 
ada side of the Detroit River to Amherstburg, gen- 
erally called Fort Maiden, near the head of Lake 
Erie. In this old military town, and in the vicinity, a 
great many fugitives had located. The best tavern, or 
house of public entertainment, in the town, was kept 
by William Hamilton, a colored man. While at this 
place we made our headquarters at Isaac J. Rice's 
missionary buildings, where he had a large school 
for colored children. He had labored here among 
the colored people, mostly fugitives, for six years. 
He was a devoted self-denying worker, had received 
very little pecuniary help, and had suffered many 
privations. He was well situated in Ohio, as pastor 
of a Presbyterian church, and had fine prospects 
before him, but believed that the Lord called him 
to this field of missionary labor among the fugitive 
slaves who came here by hundreds and By thou- 
sands, poor, destitute and ignorant, suffering from 


all the evil influences of slavery. We entered into 
deep sympathy with him in his labors, realizing the 
great need there was here for just such an institu- 
tion as he had established. He had sheltered at this 
missionary home many hundreds of fugitives till 
other homes for them could be found. This was 
the great landing point, the principal terminus of 
the Underground Railroad of the West. 

We held meetings among the fugitives here and 
in the various settlements in the neighborhood. 
Isaac J. Rice accompanied us on these visits, and 
down the lake to Colchester and Gosfield. Here we 
had several meetings and visited many families, 
hearing thrilling stories of their narrow escapes, 
their great sufferings and the remarkable providences 
that attended their efforts to gain freedom. They 
told how they had prayed to the Lord, asking him 
to be with them and protect them in their flight 
from their tyrannical masters, and how he had never 
forsaken them in their time of need, but had ful- 
filled his promise to go with them. They frequently 
spoke as if they had held personal conversations 
with the Lord, and their simple and untutored lan- 
guage was full of expression of praise and thanks- 
giving. I was often led to believe that these poor 
ignorant and degraded sons and daughters of Africa, 
who were not able to read the words of the precious 
Savior, were blessed with a clearer, plainer manifest- 
ation of the Holy Spirit than many of us who have 
had better opportunites of cultivation. My heart 
was often touched and my eyes filled with tears on 
hearing their simple stories, or listening to their fer- 


vent earnest prayers in the services of family devo- 
tion, which we held from house to house. Holding 
meetings in families and in public constituted our 
work among them. We visited all the principal set- 
tlements of fugitives in Canada West, as well as the 
various missionary stations among the tribes of 
Indians there, and had an interesting and satisfac- 
tory season among them. We spent nearly two 
months in this way, traveling from place to place on 
horseback, as there were no railroads in that section 

Leaving Gosfield County we made our way to 
Chatham and Sydenham, visiting the various neigh- 
borhoods of colored people. We spent several days 
at the settlement near Down's Mills, and visited the 
institution under the care of Hiram Wilson, called 
the British and American Manual Labor Institute 
for Colored Children. Friends in England had fur- 
nished the money to purchase the land and aid in 
establishing the institution ; Friends of New York 
Yearly Meeting also contributed to aid this work. 
The school was then in a prosperous condition. 

From this place we proceeded up the river 
Thames to London, visiting the different settlements 
of colored people on our way, and then went to the 
Wilberforce Colony. This was the only settlement 
we visited in our travels where we did not find fugi- 
tives who had been sheltered under my roof and fed 
at my table during their flight from bondage. 

At the close of our religious meetings I generally 
addressed the colored people on the subject of edu- 
cation . I urged the parents to send their children 


to- school, and to attend Sabbath-schools and night- 
schools themselves whenever opportunity offered ; 
to learn at least to read the Bible. We had visited 
most of their schools, and I contrasted their present 
situation and advantages with their former state of 
servitude, where they were not allowed to learn to 
read. I sometimes mentioned that I had had the 
privilege of aiding some of them in the time of 
their distress, of sheltering them under my roof and 
feeding them at my table when they were fleeing 
from the hardships and cruelties of slavery and seek- 
ing safety and freedom in the Queen's dominions. 
Whenever I touched that subject it brought out 
shouts of "Bless the Lord ! I know you. If it 
hadn't been for you I wouldn't be here ;" and at 
the close of the meeting the people would come 
round us to shake hands in such crowds that it was 
impossible for all to get hold of our hands. Some 
would cling to our garments as if they thought 
they would impart some virtue. I often met fugi- 
tives who had been at my house ten or fifteen 
years before, so long ago that I had forgotten 
them, and could recall no recollection of them 
until they mentioned some circumstance that 
brought them to mind. Some of them were well 
situated, owned good farms, and were perhaps worth 
more than their former masters. Land had been 
easily obtained and many had availed themselves of 
this advantage to secure comfortable homesteads. 
Government land had been divided up into fifty- 
acre lots, which they could buy for two dollars an 
acre, and have ten years in which to pay for it,, and 


if it was not paid for at the end of that time they 
did not lose all the labor they had bestowed on it, 
but received a clear title to the land as soon as 
they paid for it. 

We found many of the fugitives more comfortably 
situated than we expected, but there was much des- 
titution and suffering among those who had recently 
come in. Many fugitives arrived weary and foot- 
sore, with their clothing in rags, having been torn 
by' briers and bitten by dogs on their way, and when 
the precious boon of freedom was obtained, they 
found themselves possessed of little else, in a 
country unknown to them and a climate much 
colder than that to which they were accustomed. 

We noted the cases and localities of destitution, 
and after our return home took measures to .collect 
and forward several large boxes of clothing and bed- 
ding to be distributed by reliable agents to the most 
needy. Numbers arrived every week on the differ- 
ent lines of the Underground Railroad, destitute of 
every comfort and almost of clothing ; so we found 
that end of our road required Christian care and 
benevolence as well as this. We were gratified to 
learn that the colored people of Canada had organ- 
ized benevolent associations among themselves, for 
the purpose of assisting the newly arrived fugitives 
as far as they could. 

William Beard and I afterward made short tours 
to Canada at different times to look after the welfare 
of the fugitives. At the time of our visit, in 1844, 
there was said to be about forty thousand fugitives 
in Canada who had escaped from Southern bondage. 



While mingling with the fugitives in Canada we 
heard many interesting stories of individual adven- 
tures and trials, a few of which will be given. 

The first may be appropriately called : 


There lived in Mississippi, a black woman who 
was poor, ignorant, and a slave, but rich in the 
knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus, and strong 
in unwavering faith. Working in the field under 
the driver's lash, or alone in her little hut, she never 
ceased praying to God, asking him to help her to 
escape, and assist and protect her on the long jour- 
ney to the North. She had heard there was a place 
called Canada, far to the northward, where all were 
free, and learned that, in order to reach it, she must 
go a long way up the Mississippi River, then cross 
over and steer her course by the north star. Finally, 
her prayers seemed to be answere'd, and she had 
perfect faith that she would be preserved through 
all the dangers that would menace her if she ran 

One night, when all around were wrapped in sleep, 
she put a small supply of food and some clothing 
together, in a little bundle, and, stealing away from 
the negro quarters, left the plantation and plunged 
into the forest, which was there a labyrinth of 
swamps and cane-brakes. She made her way 
through this slowly, for several days, often hearing 
the bloodhounds baying on her track, or perhaps in 
search of other fugitives. Slaves often fled to these 
swamps and took refuge among the thickets, pre- 


ferring the companionship of the deadly moccasin 
snake and the alligator, and the risk of death from 
starvation or exposure to the cruel treatment of 
their masters, and the keen cut of the overseer's 

This slave woman "managed to evade the dogs by 
wading in pools and streams of water, where she 
knew they would lose the scent and be thrown off 
her trail. One time, however, she heard the deep 
baying of the bloodhounds coming toward her, 
when she was some distance from any water. There 
was no way of escape and she knew they would 
soon come up with her, ,and perhaps tear her to 
pieces before the pursuers could reach them. In 
this dire extremity, she fell on her knees and asked 
God to preserve her to give her some sign of his 
protecting power ; then, with all fear gone, she rose 
to her feet and calmly watched the dogs approach. 
As they came near, she took from her pocket a 
handful of crumbs the remainder of the food she 
had brought and held them out toward the hounds. 
They came up to her, but instead of seizing and 
mangling her, they gamboled about her, licked the 
crumbs from her hands, then ran off through the 

This remarkable preservation she felt was the 
sign she had asked of God, and, falling on her knees 
once more, she dedicated herself wholly to him, 
vowing that if she reached Canada, the rest of her 
life should be devoted solely and entirely to his ser- 
vice. She had a long journey after that, lasting for 
several months, and encountered many dangers, but 



was preserved safe through them all. She traveled 
at night and hid in the thickets during the day, 
living mostly on fruit and green corn, but venturing 
now and then to call at negro huts and beg for a 
little of the scanty food which they afforded. When 
she came to rivers and streams of water too deep 
for wading, she made rafts of logs or poles, tied 
together with grape-vines or hickory withs, and 
poled or paddled herself across as best she could. 
Reaching Illinois, she met with kind people who 
aided her on to Detroit, Michigan. Here also she 
found friends and was ferried across to Canada. A 
colored minister who witnessed her arrival says that, 
on landing, she fell on her knees and kissed the shore, 
and thanked the Lord for his wonderful mercy in 
preserving her through so raany dangers and bring- 
ing her at last to the land of freedom. She then 
arose and jumped up and down for half an hour, 
shouting praises to God and seeming almost delir- 
ious in her great joy. We were informed that she 
was a devoted Christian worker, and was earnestly 
endeavoring to fulfill her vows and promises to the 


The following story was related to us at Amherst- 
burg, by a negro woman. She had been a slave in 
South Carolina, and though she had longed all her 
life to be free, no opportunity for escape had pre- 
sented itself. At last, when she was approaching 
middle age and was the mother of several children, 
she was taken to one of the Northern States, by her 
master and mistress, who went there on a visit. 


She ran away from them, and by the aid of kind 
people on the way reached Canada in safety. She 
rejoiced to think she was free, and would have been 
perfectly content in her new home had not the 
thought of her two children in bondage troubled her. 
Their images were constantly before her during her 
waking hours, and in dreams she sought them in 
their Southern home. 

One night she dreamed that she was gifted with 
the power of flight, and soared over the long dis- 
tance that separated iier from the objects of her 
love. She alighted near her children and was en- 
tranced in the joy of a happy meeting, when their 
master approached and tried to take them from her. 
She placed one on each of her wings, and, rising 
high in the air, flew back to Canada. Her heart 
was so full of joy at this fulfillment of her dearest 
hopes that she shouted aloud. With the shouting 
she awoke, and realized that she was still bereaved, 
but gathered comfort from her dream, regarding it as 
an omen that her children would be restored to her. 
The following lines were written by an English lady, 
to whom I related this incident, in the year 1864, 
when on a mission to England in behalf of the 
Freedmen : 

A mother was sleeping, 

Yet silently weeping, 
And sorrow stole over her heart like a wave ; 

For while liberty blest her 

The feeling oppressed her 

That her children were still in the land of the slave. 

2 S 8 


A mysterious power, 

Had seized her that hour, 
And her once timid heart had grown fearless and brave; 

And regardless of dangers, 

Of bloodhounds and rangers, 
Undaunted she flies to the land of the slave. 

Far, far to the southward, 

Her flight is still onward, 
From Canada's shore, by Ontario's wave ; 

To the warm plains outspreading, 

Where the planter is treading, 
That land which is known as the land of the slave. 

How her pulses are swelling ! 

In her old cottage dwelling, 
She beholds the two girls she has come there to save ; 

And, embracing, doth tell them, 

That no one shall sell them, 
She'll bear them away from the land of the slave. 

The children caress her, 

And smiling address her 
"Dear mother! you come to snatch us from the grave! 

For our master has told us 

This day he has sold us, 
To the lonesome rice swamps of the land of the slave.** 

Then gently that mother 

Lifted one and the other 
Upon those soft pinions, so mighty to save ; 

Her children upraising, 

While the master stood gazing, 
She bears far away from the land of the slave ! 

The mother was sleeping, 

At an end was her weeping, 
And loud was the shout of rejoicing she gave ; 

But alas ! on awaking, 

The vision forsaking, 
Her children were still in the land of the slave. 


Oh ! ye English mothers, 

Ye sisters and brothers, 
Who love the free children whom Providence gave; 

Now, without stint or measure, 

Give for those, from your treasure, 
Whose children are still in the land of the slave. 


We heard from his own lips, while visiting at his 
house in Canada. He had formerly been the prop- 
erty of a man living in Kentucky, who found him to 
be a trusty servant, and frequently sent him on busi- 
ness errands some distance away. Jackson was 
married to a woman who was the property of 
another man, but his master hired her time, and the 
husband and wife were permitted to live together. 
They had one child at the time the story begins. 

One day Jackson was sent away to a distant mar- 
ket with his master's team, and while he was gone 
his wife and child were sold by their master to a 
Southern trader, who removed them to a place 
about thirty miles distant, where the gang of slaves 
was gathered, preparatory to starting South the 
next day. The wife, torn so suddenly from her 
home, was frantic with distress, and prayed to God 
to trouble her husband's heart that he might know 
something was wrong, and come to her rescue. Her 
prayer was answered, for her husband had a strong 
presentiment on the day mentioned that all was not 
well at home, and not being able to account for it, 
hastened his return and learned the facts. Taking 
two of his master's horses that night, he started in 
pursuit; rode all night and just before daybreak 


reached the place where his wife was. She had 
slept none, but had prayed through all the hours of 
darkness, and so confident was she that her prayer 
would be answered that as she lay in the cabin with 
the rest of the gang of slaves, she kept her head 
turned in the direction whence her husband would 
come, and listened intently for the sound of his 
horses' feet. When she did hear him, she took her 
child in her arms, slipped out quietly in the dark, 
and joined him. There was no time for explanation 
or rejoicing then ; they were still in the midst of 
danger and must fly to a place of safety before they 
uttered the feelings of their full hearts. Mounting 
the horses, and riding at full speed, they made some 
distance before the growing light of corning day 
warned them to seek a 'hiding-place. They con- 
cealed themselves in the woods all that day, and 
pursued their journey northward during the night. 
Finally, they reached the banks of the Ohio River, 
and leaving the horses, they crossed to the other 
side, where they found friends who directed them 
on their way. In the northern part of Ohio, they 
stopped in a quiet settlement, where the people 
were abolitionists. Here they had a good situation 
offered them, and thinking they would be safe from 
pursuit in this secluded neighborhood, they accept- 
ed the offer and went to work. 

Here they remained several years, very happy in 
their humble home, and here two more children 
were born to them. By their industrious habits 
and good conduct they gained the esteem of those 
around them, and seemed secure in the protection 


of so many friends. The law, however, still re- 
garded them as slaves, and they learned in time 
that they were not safe, even on the soil of free 

An agent, sent out from Kentucky in search of 
other fugitives, came into this neighborhood, and 
recognizing Jackson, lost no time in conveying the 
news to his master. As soon as he received the 
intelligence, the master gathered a posse of men 
and came in pursuit. They pounced upon the un- 
suspecting family and were dragging them back to 
bondage, when Jackson's friends learned what had 
happened and came to the rescue. Hastening to 
the county seat, they obtained a writ, and pursuing 
the party arrested the master for kidnapping, and 
brought them all back to the Court-House for trial. 
Shrewd lawyers were employed, who picked a flaw 
in the writ which the master had obtained, and the 
slaves were released. The master hastened to re- 


new his writ, intending now to gain full legal pos- 
session of his property. But Jackson's friends were 
wide awake, and did not risk another arrest. They 
hurried the fugitives from the Court-House by a back 
way, through an alley, to a place where a wagon 
and two swift horses procured for the occasion 
were in waiting. They were quickly stowed in the 
wagon, then the driver took the reins, and off they 
went at full speed. The master and his posse pur- 
sued them, but in vain. Jackson and his family 
were conveyed to the lake that night, and put on 
board a steamer. They crossed safely to Canada, 
and made their home in Gosfield County. 


At the time he related this story, Jackson was 
living on land of his own, in a house erected by the 
industry of himself and family, and surrounded by 
peace and prosperity. He and his wife often related 
to their children the story of their early hardship 
and suffering, and when they contrasted their pres- 
ent with their former lot their hearts overflowed 
with gratitude to God for his protecting and guiding 


While at Fort Maiden, on Lake Erie, we heard 
of a brave woman named Armstrong, who had 
recently gone back to Kentucky and rescued five of 
her children from slavery. We were anxious to see 
her and hear the story from her own lips, and ac- 
cordingly visited her at her home in Colchester, 
about ten miles below Maiden. She was a portly, 
fine-looking woman, and we were much impressed 
with the noble expression of her countenance. She 
told us that about two years before she and her 
husband, with their youngest child, a babe a few 
months old, made their escape from Kentucky. 
Their home in that State was about ten miles from 
the Ohio River, at a point opposite Ripley, the 
home of that worthy divine and noted abolitionist, 
John Rankin. After crossing the river, they found 
friends who helped them on their way to Canada. 

They gained freedom for themselves, but they 
were not happy ; they had left seven children in 
slavery. The mother wept and prayed over their 
fate, and planned continually how they might be 
rescued. She felt that she must make some attempt 


to bring them away, but her husband thought of the 
risk and danger attending such an effort on her part, 
and tried to dissuade her from going. She said: "I 
inquired of the Lord concerning the matter. I 
prayed most all night, and the Lord seemed to say, 

"Next morning I told my husband I was going, 
that the Lord would go with me and help me. I 
had all my plans laid ; I dressed in men's clothes, 
and started. I went to our friends in Ohio, and had 
all the arrangements made for a skiff to come over 
to the Kentucky side. I took by-ways and through 
fields to old master's farm, and got there in the early 
part of the night. I hid myself near the spring,, 
and watched for my children, for I knew some of 
them would come to get water. I had not been 
there long before my eldest daughter came. I called 
her name in a low voice, and when she started up 
and looked round, P told her not to be afraid, that I 
was her mother. I soon convinced her, and her 
alarm passed away. I then told her my plans, and 
she said she could bring the rest of the children to 
me when master and mistress got to sleep. The 
night was very dark, and that favored our plans. She 
brought all the children to me but two ; they were 
sleeping in the room with old master and mistress, 
who had gone to bed, and she could not get them 
out without raising the alarm. I started with the 
five, and hastened back to the river as fast as we 
could go in the dark. We found the skiff waiting 
for us, and soon crossed. On the other side, a 
wagon was ready to take us in, and the man with it 



drove us a few miles to a depot of the Underground 
Railroad. Here we were secreted during the follow- 
ing day, and next night were forwarded on to 
another station, and so on from station to station 
till we reached Sandusky, where we were put on 
board the Mayflower called the Abolition Boat. 
We landed safely at Fort Maiden two weeks ago, 
and are out of old massa's reach now. The Lord 
did help me, and blessed be his holy name!" 

She said she had made arrangements with her 
friends in Ohio, living near the river, to try to get 
her two other children and send them to her, and 
she had faith that they would succeed. 





FOR several years my mind had been deeply 
impressed with the inconsistency of abolition- 
is f s partaking indiscriminately of the unpaid toil 
of the slave. I thought that to be consistent in 
bearing testimony against slavery, we should dis- 
courage unpaid labor and encourage paid labor as 
far as practicable. I knew, however, that it would 
be very difficult to abstain entirely from the prod- 
ucts of slave labor. I was then engaged in mer- 
cantile business retailing dry-goods and groceries, a 
large portion of which was produced by slave labor, 
and I knew of no facilities for obtaining free-labor 
goods. I had heard Charles Osborne, a worthy 
minister of the Society of Friends, express his sen- 
timents on the subject, and they made a deep im- 
pression on my mind. Charles Osborne had long 
been a consistent and thorough abolitionist, and was 


the editor of the first anti-slavery paper published in 
America so far as I have any knowledge which 
advocated immediate and unconditional emancipa- 
tion. The paper was called the Philanthropist, and 
was published at Mount Pleasant, Ohio, in 1816. 
The statement that this was the first paper favoring 
immediate and unconditional emancipation may be 
called in question by some, as the Genius of Univer- 
sal Emancipation, published by Benjamin Lundy, in 
East Tennessee, has long had the credit of being 
the first. But I know that the statement I make is 
correct. Benjamin Lundy was a journeyman printer 
under Charles Osborne, in Mount Pleasant, and went 
from that office to East Tennessee. He was accom- 
panied by Charles Osborne's son Isaiah, who aided 
him in printing the Genius of Universal Emancipa- 
tion. The Philanthropist was also the first paper 
ever published in the United States, which promul- 
gated the doctrine of the impropriety of using the 
products of slavery. 

In a printed address to the Society of Friends, 
written many years after his removal to the State of 
Indiana, Charles Osborne makes the following re- 
marks: "On whom has the mantle of Woolman 
fallen ? We have approved and admired his course 
on the subject of slavery for more than half a cen- 
tury, but with a few exceptions we have halted and 
stumbled at the most essential part of his Christian 
testimony: that of abstaining from the gains of 
oppression." This subject was discussed by promi- 
nent abolitionists of Ohio and Indiana, and a paper 
called the Free Labor Advocate was established at 


Newport, Indiana. It was edited by Benjamin Stan- 
ton, and the subject of free labor was ably advocated 
in its columns. 

About the year 1844 I became so strongly im- 
pressed with the horrors of slavery, and its results, 
which were ever before me, that I was led to reflect 
more deeply on the subject than I had done before, 
and to view it in all its practical bearings. I read 
the testimony of John Woolman and other writers, 
and became convinced that it was wrong to use the 
product of slave labor. I felt that it was inconsistent 
to condemn slaveholders for withholding from their 
fellow-men their just, natural and God-given rights, 
and then, by purchasing the fruits of the labor of 
their slaves, give them the strongest motive for con- 
tinuing their wickedness and oppression. Knowing 
so well the sad realities of life on the Southern plan- 
tations, I felt that in purchasing and using cloth 
made from cotton, grown by slaves, I made use of a 
product which had been planted by an oppressed 
laborer, fanned by sighs, watered with tears, and 
perhaps dressed with the blood of the victim. The 
words of John Woolman found an echo in my heart: 
"Seed sown with the tears of a confined, oppressed 
people harvests cut down by an overborne, discon- 
tented reaper, make bread less sweet to the taste of 
an honest man, than that which is the produce or 
just reward of such voluntary action as is a proper 
part of the business of human creatures." 

The free States furnished a good market for the 
products of the South, and made slave labor valu- 
able to the master. If it had not been so, then 


John Randolph's prophecy would have been fulfilled 
the slave would not have run away from his mas- 
ter, but the master from his slaves, for they would 
have been a burden and expense to him. The 
object of the slaveholder was to make money by 
selling the cotton, sugar, etc., produced by his 
slaves, and without a market for these he would 
have been deprived of the great motive for holding 
the negroes in bondage. Northern consumers, by 
their demand for articles thus produced, stimulated 
the system by which they were produced, and fur- 
nished the strongest incentive for its continuance. 

I felt by purchasing the products of slave labor, I 
was lending my individual encouragement to the 
system by which, in order to get their labor without 
wages, the slaves were robbed of everything else. 
In the language of Charles Stuart: "Their bodies 
are stolen, their liberty, their right to their wives 
and children, their right to cultivate their minds and 
to worship God as they please, their reputation, 
hope, all virtuous motives, are taken away by a 
legalized system of most merciless and consummate 
iniquity. Such is the expense at which articles pro- 
duced by slave labor are attained. They are always 
heavy with the groans and often met with the blood 
of the guiltless and suffering poor." "If our moral 
sense would revolt at holding a slave ourselves and 
using his unpaid labor, it should also revolt at using 
his unpaid toil when held by another." 

With these strong convictions, I determined, as a 
matter of conscience, to abstain so far as I could 
from the products of slavery, and in my business to 


buy and sell, so far as possible, only the products 
of free labor. I had learned that there had be.-n 
associations formed at Philadephia and New York, 
which were manufacturing goods of free-labor cot- 
ton, and that they had obtained free-labor groceries 
from the British West Indies, and other countries, 
where slavery did not exist. I decided to go to 
Philadelphia and New York, and ascertain how the 
business of these associations was managed 
whether it was a mere speculation to make money 
or was conducted on conscientious principles, and 
whether the goods purchased were really the prod- 
ucts of free-labor. When I arrived at Philadelphia 
and made inquiries, I found that the business was 
conducted by such men as Enoch Lewis, Abraham 
L. Pennbck, Samuel Rhodes, George W. Taylor, 
James Mott, James Miller McKim, Charles Wise, 
etc. These were all prominent abolitionists, and 
well known as conscientious men of high reputa- 
tions; many of them were leading members of 
the religious Society of Friends. They had erected 
a cotton factory, which was conducted by George 
W. Taylor. I found that instead of making money 
at it, they were carrying on the business at a heavy 
sacrifice, being actuated solely by conscientious 
principles. The cotton they were manufacturing 
was obtained from Friends' settlements in North 
Carolina. I was personally acquainted with their 
agents in that State who obtained it for them, and 
knew them to be reliable men. After becoming 
fully satisfied that there was no deception, that from 
the field to the factory the cotton could be relied 


upon as the product of free labor, I purchased as 
good an assortment of cotton goods as I could ob- 
tain. The assortment was not extensive ; in prints 
particularly it was quite limited. The goods were 
mostly staple articles that afforded little profit. 

I next went to New York, and found the business 
there conducted by such men as Robert Lindley 
Murray, Lindley M. Hoag, and other equally reli- 
able and conscientious men. They dealt mostly 
in free-labor groceries, West-India sugar, molasses, 
coffee, etc. , and had arrangements for obtaining 
free-labor rice, indigo, and other articles. They also 
kept Laguira, Mocha, and other coffee, the product 
of free labor. Here I purchased my groceries, 
though at a higher price than I had been accustomed 
to pay for slave products.. The assortment of free- 
labor goods obtainable was so limited and the prices 
of so many articles higher, that I knew my profits 
would be curtailed, and I would lose many of my 
customers. In addition to the heavy pecuniary 
Sacrifice I would sustain, I expected to meet with 
opposition and ridicule, though I knew that the free- 
labor subject had taken deep hold of the minds of 
many abolitionists in my own and other neighbor- 
hoods, and that many who desired to bear a faithful 
testimony against slavery wished to get a supply of 
the products of free labor. 

Cotton yarn was then much used among the 
farmers in the West in making jeans, linseys, etc., 
for their own wear. This article I could not obtain 
from the Philadelphia cotton mills, as they only made 
warp for their own manufactures. To obviate this 


difficulty, I purchased a bale of their free-labor cot- 
ton and shipped it to Indiana, and prevailed on a 
Friend, who owned a small cotton mill near Rich- 
mond, to clear his machinery of other cotton, and 
make this bale into warp for me. I obtained, after- 
ward, a larger supply of cotton, and visited the cot- 
ton mills at Dayton and Hamilton, hoping to get it 
manufactured separately. I at first met with diffi- 
culties, for the proprietors were not willing to clear 
out their machinery, but the foreman of one of the 
mills at Hamilton was an abolitionist, who felt an 
interest in promoting the cause, and he agreed to 
do the . work for me, though it entailed additional 

Beside the many obstacles I had to encounter in 
obeying the dictates of my conscience on this sub- 
ject, I had to contend with innumerable discourage- 
ments, and to endure much ridicule. I had to meet 
the arguments of the pro^slavery party, but I also 
had the support of many warm friends, who har- 
monized with me and encouraged me in the work, 
and who were willing, at any sacrifice, to abstain 
from the use of slave-labor products. In my own 
neighborhood such prominent men of our society as 
Daniel Puckett, Benjamin Thomas, Samuel Charles, 
Jonathan Hough, Dr. Henry H Way, Benjamin 
Stanton, and many others, were warm advocates of 
free labor, and in other neighborhoods I had many 
true friends, such as William Beard, Jacob Grave, 
Daniel Worth, and others. 

My custom was confined measurably to abolition- 
ists, and the supply of free-labor goods that could 


be obtained was inadequate to meet the demand. 
Better facilities for supplying the demand were 
much needed. The free-labor subject had been 
agitated in various communities of anti-slavery peo- 
ple, and by this time the principles involved in it 
had become widely known and had been adopted 
by many in various parts of the Western States. 
In Ohio and Indiana conventions were held for the 
purpose of devising some plan whereby free-labor 
goods could be supplied to all who desired to use 

In Ohio, such men as Thomas Morris, Samuel 
Lewis, Dr. William H. Brisbane, Dr. G. Bailey, 
and John Jolifif, had taken an interest in the subject. 
Several plans were suggested, but as no suitable 
person could be found to ca'rry them out they were 

In the autumn of 1846, a union convention of 
those interested in the subject of free labor was 
held in Friends' Meeting-House at Salem, Union 
County, Indiana. It was largely attended by 
prominent men of Ohio and Indiana. From Cincin- 
nati came Dr. Brisbane, John Joliff, Edward Har- 
wood, Thomas Franklin, and others. 

The convention held two days and during that 
time the subject was ably discussed. A resolution 
was passed to raise a fund of thee thousand dollars 
to be loaned for five years, without interest, to some 
suitable person for the purpose of enabling him to 
open a wholesale depository of free-labor goods at 
Cincinnati. A committee was appointed to select 
the person, and to report his name to the conven- 


tion the next day. The committee made choice of 
me and reported my name to the meeting. The 
resolution appointing me to the position was carried 
by acclamation, but I could not give my consent to 
accept the position. I thought it would prove too 
great a sacrifice to me to "pull up stakes" and 
move to Cincinnati. I had lived in Newport twenty 
years, and was much attached to my house and to 
my friends and acquaintances there. A few years 
before I had built a dwelling-house, taking much 
pains to make it comfortable and convenient in all 
its appointments, with the expectation of occupying 
it as long as I lived. Neither I nor my wife thought 
that we would like city life, so notwithstanding the 
deep interest I felt in the concern, I declined to 
accept the position. 

The committee was continued for the purpose of 
finding some suitable person who would undertake 
to carry out the proposed plan, and individuals of 
different neighborhoods were appointed to raise the 
fund of three thousand dollars, by soliciting sub- 
scriptions from those who were interested in the 
subject. But the committee did not succeed in 
finding a suitable person to undertake the business, 
and again applied to me and urged me strongly to 
go to Cincinnati and open the desired depository. 

During the winter I received many letters from 
different parts of the country soliciting me to engage 
in the proposed business. I was thought to be the 
most suitable person to engage in such an undertak- 
ing as I had already had several years' experience in 
dealing in free-labor goods at Newport. I finally 


consented to go to Cincinnati for five years, and try 
the experiment. I sold out my business at New- 
port, rented my house and moved to Cincinnati the 
twenty-second day of April, 1847, having previously 
rented a store and dwelling-house in the city. 

We fully expected to return to our home in New- 
port at the expiration of five years, or sooner, hop- 
ing that some suitable person would be found to 
take the business off my hands and continue it. I 
went to Philadelphia and New York that spring and 
purchased as good an assortment of free-labor cot- 
ton goods and groceries as could be obtained. The 
demand for such articles was increasing, and the 
Philadelphia Association had enlarged their business 
arid were furnishing a better supply of cotton goods. 
Beside selling their own manufactures, they were 
obtaining from England a finer quality of cotton 
goods than their own mills furnished. The English 
goods were manufactured at Manchester under the 
auspices of a free-labor association, and could be 
relied upon as being the product of free labor. 

I opened the store in Cincinnati and sent j( out 
printed circulars, which were widely circulated by 
friends of the enterprise. Orders from various parts 
of the West soon began to come in far exceeding 
my meager assortment of cotton goods. I had not 
been able to obtain a sufficient supply of brown 
muslins, sheeting, cotton yarn, carpet warp, etc. 
This difficulty I knew might be remedied if I could 
obtain a supply of cotton, for there were several 
cotton mills in this vicinity that manufactured yarn, 
wicking, twine, batting, etc. Having been reared 


in the South and having acquaintances in nearly all 
the cotton-growing States, I knew that there were 
many settlements there of the poorer class of farm- 
ers who owned no slaves and hired none, part of 
them doing this from principle, part of them because 
they were too poor to do otherwise. These small 
farmers generally raised from one to ten bales of 
cotton for market ; a few raised larger quantities. I 
learned through correspondence that a good supply 
of free-labor cotton could be obtained from this class 
of people, and resolved to avail myself of the oppor- 
tunity thus afforded. The previous winter, Nathan 
Thomas, a worthy member of the Society of Friends, 
who lived near Newport, Indiana, had gone with his 
wife to spend the winter with some of her relatives 
living near Holly Springs, Mississippi. Pleasant 
Diggs, the uncle of Nathan Thomas' wife, with 
whom they spent most of the time, had been reared 
in a neighborhood of Friends and was opposed to 
slavery. He owned no slaves and hired none, and 
the cotton which he raised was the product of free 
labor. Knowing Nathan Thomas to be interested 
in the free-labor cause, I requested him to ascertain 
if cotton could be obtained in that part of the State, 
which could be relied upon to be clear of slave 
labor. He wrote me that a large quantity was 
raised by free labor, but that it had all been ginned 
and baled by slave labor, as none of the farmers in 
that neighborhood owned a cotton gin. He added 
that he knew of other neighborhoods, in that 
county, where free-labor cotton was raised. 

I corresponded with Samuel Rhodes, of Philadel- 


phia, concerning the information I had received 
from Nathan Thomas, and informed him that Will- 
iam McCray, who lived near Holly Springs, Missis- 
sippi, a son-in-law of Pleasant Diggs, made about 
thirty bales of cotton annually, cultivated entirely 
by free labor, and that he was willing to put up a 
gin and gin his own and his neighbors' cotton by 
free labor, if we would furnish him the gin and 
allow him to pay for it in cotton. 

I suggested that the Philadelphia Association 
should join me in this enterprise, for I believed they 
could obtain a larger supply and a better quality of 
cotton than they got from North Carolina, and per- 
haps at less cost. The subject was brought before 
the board, and an agreement was at once made. I 
was authorized to purchase a cotton gin and 
ship it to William McCray, of Mississippi. I at 
once applied to James Pierce, of Cincinnati, who 
manufactured cotton gins for the South, and pur- 
chased an excellent thirty-saw gin for $300, and 
shipped it immediately that it might be put up at 
once, and be ready for use in the fall. 

The Philadelphia Association authorized me to 
employ Nathan Thomas as our agent to go South, 
next winter, to see that all the arrangements made 
with the cotton planters were strictly carried out. 
The second winter that Nathan Thomas spent in the 
South, he was authorized by the Philadelphia Free- 
Labor Association to travel through the different 
Southwestern States, and hunt out the settlements 
of small farmers and ascertain what quantity of free- 
labor cotton could be obtained. He traveled 


through parts of Mississippi, Tennessee, Louisiana, 
Texas and Arkansas, and gave the information he 
obtained in a series of letters, which were afterward 
published by the managers of the Free-Labor Asso- 
ciation of Ohio Yearly Meeting. 

The gin I shipped to William McCray proved to 
be an excellent one, and was known in that part of 
the country as the "Abolition Gin." Arrangements 
were made to purchase all the free-labor cotton in 
reach of that gin, and other arrangements were 
made by which it could be hauled to Memphis the 
nearest shipping point free of slave labor. At 
Memphis it was to be delivered to a commission 
merchant, formerly of Philadelphia, who employed 
no slave labor, and who was recommended by Sam- 
uel Rhodes, and others, as a reliable man. This 
merchant shipped the cotton up the river by boats 
that employed no slaves. By these means large 
quantities of free cotton were sent from the South, 
and we obtained a full supply. The Philadelphia 
Association was enabled to ship cotton to the Man- 
chester mills in England in/exchange for a finer class 
of goods than they were making, and I was supplied 
with all the cotton I could purchase, for manufac- 
turing at Cincinnati. I had made arrangements 
with Gould, Pearce & Co., of Cincinnati, to spin 
cotton yarn, carpet warp, twine and candle wicking, 
and with Stearns & Foster to make batting and wad- 
ding from the cotton which I furnished. Afterward, 
I induced Gould, Pearce & Co. to put up looms and 
make brown muslin for me, in addition to the other 


When these arrangements were completed and 
the work in operation, I furnished the Philadelphia 
and New York Associations with heavy brown mus- 
lins, cotton yarn, carpet warp, twine, wicking, bat- 
ting and wadding in exchange for their goods, for 
several years. I was authorized by the Philadelphia 
Association to employ Nathan Thomas to spend the 
third winter in the South to superintend the cotton 
business to see that all the arrangements were 
carried out, and to engage the next year's crop of 
cotton in various localities. In engaging cotton, 
Nathan Thomas always promised to give the market 
price and no more, thus affording no advantage to 
the producer which would prove a motive for decep- 
tion. Suitable persons were appointed agents in 
the different neighborhoods to receive the cotton 
and pay for it, and the producers were thus saved 
the trouble and expense of hauling it to a distant 
market. We also had arrangements for shipping 
from Hamburg and Eastport, on the Tennessee 

The next year I traveled over part of 'the same 
ground, visiting free-labor neighborhoods in Hard in 
and McNairy Counties, Tennessee, and Tishomingo 
County, Mississippi. I found quite a number of 
settlers from Guilford County, North Carolina, and 
being acquainted with some of their relatives in that 
locality, I was kindly received and made welcome 
among them. I talked freely on the subject of 
slavery, explaining Friends' principles and testi- 
mony in regard to slavery and war, and dealing in 
or unnecessarily using intoxicating liquors. Strong 


drink seemed to be much in use in that part of the 
country. I also explained the feelings and views 
of many Friends and other conscientious people in 
the North in regard to the use of the unpaid toil of 
the slave. I talked freely with many slaveholders 
on these subjects, and was kindly treated by them. 
Many of them understood something of the prin- 
ciples of Quakers regarding slavery, and discovering 
from my dress and language that I was a Quaker, 
they seemed disposed to talk freely and asked many 

I explained our principles to them as well as I 
could, and said that we bore a testimony against 
slavery in our Discipline, and that no person could 
be a member of our society who owned a slave. I 
told them that I was a Southern man, having been 
born and brought up in North Carolina, in the midst 
of slavery, and was well acquainted with the system. 
I was and always had bee'n opposed to slavery, but 
it was no part of my business, in the South, to inter- 
fere with their laws or their slaves. I was attending 
to my own affairs, and did not intend to busy my- 
self with other matters. 

I had shipped to Eastport, Mississippi, and Ham- 
burg, Tennessee the points from which our cotton 
was shipped North a quantity of flour, cheese and 
other produce. The boat on board which I had 
shipped these articles was one of the best on the 
Tennessee River, and as it was a popular boat for 
travelers, we took on a number of passengers at dif- 
ferent points. They were all Southerners, from va- 
rious places in Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama, 


and most of them were merchants who had been to 
Louisville to replenish their stock of goods. The 
majority of them were slaveholders, but they ap- 
peared to be a very civil and gentlemanly set of 
men. Several of them seemed disposed to make my 
acquaintance and to find out who and what I was, 
whence I came and whither I was going. I was 
aware that Northern men were watched with jealous 
eyes in the South. 

I made myself sociable with the passengers, and 
when they learned that I was from Cincinnati, and 
had a large cargo of produce on board which I was 
shipping to Eastport and other points to sell or 
exchange for cotton, and that I was brought up in 
the South, and had many relatives and acquaint- 
ances there, their jealous suspicions seemed to be 
entirely removed and they treated me with much 
respect. Different ones politely invited me to drink 
with them, according to the fashion prevalent in the 
South, but I declined, saying that I was a temper- 
ance man and used no liquor, except as medicine. 

In the course of our journey I talked freely on the 
subject of slavery, speaking of its evil influences 
and my conscientious convictions in regard to it. 
On one occasion I got into a warm debate with one 
of the passengers by the name of Bell. He was a 
merchant of Farmington, Mississippi, and a member 
of the Legislature of that State. 

I had given him and several others my business 
card, which bore my name and the words, "Commis- 
sion merchant and dealer in free-labor cotton goods 
and groceries." He asked me what "Free-labor 


rotton goods" meant. I told him it meant just 
vhat it said goods produced by free labor, and 
Went on to say that I dealt exclusively in such 
goods, and was then on my way South to collect 
free-labor cotton. 

He became excited and angry, and began to ask 
questions. I explained to him calmly the whole 
free-labor subject, speaking of the class of men in 
the free States who were interested in it, and my 
own conscientious convictions that induced me to 
engage in the work. I told him that many of our 
best citizens, both East and West, who believed 
that slavery was wrong and who felt for those in 
bonds as bound with them, had come to the conclu- 
sion that they could not consistently partake of the 
unpaid labor of the slave, and that this feeling was 
largely on the increase. This brought up the whole 
subject of slavery. Bell advocated it excitedly, and 
said that he would not li\se in a free State, that the 
blacks were made to serve and the whites to govern,, 
etc., and went on to give the usual pro-slavery argu- 

Most of the passengers had gathered round us 
by this time to hear the debate. I spoke of the 
evils of slavery, of its horrors and cruelties, many 
of which I had witnessed myself while living in the 
South the separation of husbands and wives, par- 
ents and children, etc. I dwelt largely upon the 
deleterious effects of slavery on the white popu- 
lation of the South, the disregard of marriage 
bonds, the license which slavery afforded, etc. I 
referred to several instances which had come under 


my notice in North Carolina, where men of high 
political and social standing had lived with their 
slave women and reared families of mulatto children. 
I said that I had always been opposed to amalgama- 
tion, which was the direct result of slavery. I re- 
ferred to the slaves of mixed blood whom we saw 
in every part of the South, and spoke of the com- 
mon practice of fathers selling their own children. I 
then gave him an instance which came under my 
personal observation. A planter of Mississippi, 
named William Thompson, had come to Cincinnati 
a few years before, bringing with him fourteen of his 
slaves, all his own children and grandchildren, and 
the slave woman with whom he had lived, the 
mother of his children. He had sold one of his 
cotton farms, and wished to buy land in a free State 
and settle his children "where they would be safe 
after his death. He was referred to me for advice 
regarding a suitable place to locate, and I directed 
him to a colored settlement in Darke County, Ohio, 
where land could be bought at a reasonable price, 
and where his children could have the benefit of a 
good school. He went to that locality, bought a 
farm and saw his people comfortably settled. 

He then returned to Mississippi, and the next 
year sold his other farm and brought another com- 
pany of slaves to Ohio, among whom was a middle- 
aged colored woman, with five or six yellow chil- 
dren, whom he acknowledged to be his own. He 
bought land for this party, and lived among them. 
Thompson claimed to be a member of the Baptist 


Church. This, I said, is the state of morals which 
slavery produces. 

I then referred Bell to another instance in his own 
State. Major William Phillips, a wealthy cotton 
planter, who lived near Yazoo City, Mississippi, was 
a gentleman of high social standing, and was for 
some years a member of the legislature. His white 
children were grown and settled in homes of their 
own when he lost his wife. He married a second 
wife, lived with her a few years, then separated from 
her, giving her a farm and a few negroes. He then 
took one of his own slaves, a young mulatto woman, 
arid kept her as his wife. He had several children 
by her, and concluding that he wanted them to be 
free, he sold his plantation and one hundred and 
thirty of his slaves, and brought his slave woman 
and her children to Cincinnati. He purchased a 
valuable piece of property on Broadway, where he 
now lives, professing to keep the mulatto woman as 
a hired servant. His children attend school, which 
they would not be allowed to do in your State. I 
have been told that two of his sons, who live in the 
South, have followed their father's example and 
keep slave women for wives. 

By this time my friend Bell had become quite 
calm, and did not attempt to contradict my state- 
ments. An old gentleman from Alabama, a slave- 
holder, who sat near by, spoke several times during 
the debate, confirming my statements in regard to 
the evils of slavery. The company that had gath- 
ered round seemed to listen to the conversation 
with interest. I endeavored to speak with modera- 


tion, maintaining at the same time my independence 
and my right as an American citizen to express my 
conscientious convictions. 

The gentleman from Alabama said that he be- 
lieved slavery was a curse to the South, and that he 
would be willing to give up his slaves at any time if 
they could be properly provided for. 

After this discussion, Bell became very sociable, 
and finding that I expected to travel in his county, 
he invited me to call and see him, offering me the 
hospitality of his home. I told him that if I should 
be in his neighborhood I would accept his invita- 

At Hamburg, Tennessee, I stored a part of my 
produce with William Campbell, a merchant, and 
went on to Eastport, thirty miles farther, where I 
discharged the rest of my freight. The next day I 
returned to Hamburg, and stopped at a tavern in 
that village. On the Sabbath I inquired if there 
was any church in the place, and was directed to a 
Methodist church, in the edge of the town, where 
there was to be preaching that day. I found the 
meeting-house to be a log cabin, with nothing to fill 
the cracks between the logs. The congregation 
consisted of eight or ten white people, half a dozen 
negroes, and several dogs. The men all chewed 
tobacco and spit on the floor, the women dipped 
snuff, and the dogs quarreled and fought with each 
other. The sermon was good, but no one seemed 
impressed by it except an old negro woman, who 
sobbed aloud and rocked herself to and fro. After 
meeting, the minister invited me to go home with 


him and spend the night. He lived four miles on 
the road I had to travel the next day, so I accepted 
his kind invitation. I inquired of the landlord where 
I could procure a horse to use a week or two, and 
he said I could have one of his. I asked him if he 
was not afraid to trust a stranger, and he replied: 
"I am not afraid to trust a Quaker." I thanked 
him for his kind offer, but thought he might be de- 
ceived by wolves in sheep's clothing. 

I went home with the preacher, and spent the 
night at his house very pleasantly. He owned no 
slaves, and said that he had always been opposed to 
slavery, although he had been reared in the South. 
Some of his neighbors were slaveholders, and that 
night when we were talking on the subject of 
slavery, he lowered his voice, and spoke in a sub- 
dued tone. I asked him why he did so, and he 
replied : 

"You are a stranger here, and we do not know 
who may be eavesdropping and listening to our 
conversation." The night was dark and rainy, and 
a person might have listened under the window 
without being discovered. 

I told my friend that I would not live in a country 
where I could not talk freely and speak above my 
breath in my own house. The next day the preacher 
kindly accompanied me to a neighborhood of non- 
slaveholders, where Nathan Thomas had engaged 
free-labor cotton. We went to Lemuel Lancer's, 
who owned a cotton gin worked by free labor, and 
who acted as agent for us in purchasing cotton from 
those of his neighbors who owned no slaves. I 


spent a few days pleasantly at this place, then 
visited other neighborhoods of free-labor farmers in 
Hardin and McNairy counties, Tennessee. I then 
went into Tishomingo County, Mississippi, and find- 
ing myself in Farmington, I called on my friend 
Bell, at his store. He received me cordially, and 
invited me to spend some time with him, "but as I 
wished to reach another neighborhood that after- 
noon I declined his invitation. 

He introduced me to several merchants of the 
place, and as it seemed to be a leisure hour, we 
seated ourselves in the shade near Bell's store and 
entered into conversation. One old gentleman 
named Jones asked me many questions about the 
Quakers, saying he had read some of their writings 
and thought he should like to live among them. 
Bell had introduced me as a merchant from Cincin- 
nati, and the conversation turned on that place and 
business matters there. He said he thought pro- 
visions and goods might be bought on better terms 
in Cincinnati than in Louisville, where their mer- 
chants usually went to buy their stock. One of the 
merchants said the reason he did not go to Cincin- 
nati to buy goods was because he understood there 
were so many free negroes there that a gentleman 
could not walk the street without being insulted by 
them. I told him that I had lived there several 
years and had never been insulted by a colored 
person ; as a general thing the colored people were 
very civil. 

Another man said that he understood we were 
amalgamated in Cincinnati, mixed up with the 


negroes that white men had colored wives, etc. I 
replied that we had a great many people of mixed 
blood in Cincinnati, but that they all came from the 
South. This caused a laugh, and I went on to say, 
I knew of no case of amalgamation occurring in 
Ohio, but I knew many instances of white men 
bringing their yellow children from the South to our 
State to be set free, and I knew of two or three 
cases of white men having colored wives. About a 
year ago two good-looking young white men from 
this State came to Cincinnati, bringing with them 
mulatto women, whom they claimed as wives. They 
wished to purchase land and settle in Ohio, and 
having been referred to me for advice respecting a 
suitable locality, they called on me. I went with 
them to the place where they were stopping the 
Dumas House, a hotel for colored people, kept by a 
colored man to see their* families. One of the 
women had three children ; the other was younger 
and was finely dressed and decked with jewelry. I 
asked the husband of the latter if this was his wife ? 
He answered in the affirmative. I then turned to 
the other man and asked him if the elder woman 
was his wife, and if those three children were his ? 
He answered, "Yes." I then asked the men if they 
were legally married to these women ? They said 
they were not ; that the women were slaves, and 
according to law in Mississippi the marriage of slaves 
was not legal. Well, I said, it is not legal for you 
to live this way in Ohio. The law of our State will 
not permit it. If you intend to keep these women 
as your wives, you must be legally married. A 


few days afterward the men obtained license and 
were legally married to the colored women. Such 
cases as these, I continued, are all that I know of in 
Cincinnati. We of the North are opposed to amal- 

One of the merchants present said that he had 
heard that if fugitive slaves reach Ohio, the aboli- 
tionists would harbor them and help them on their 
way to Canada. Well, I replied, we have all sorts 
of people in Ohio. I heard a story about a runa- 
way slave a short time before I left home. It was 
told to me by a Presbyterian minister, who ought 
to be truthful. He said that the fugitive slave 
escaped from his master and made his way through 
Ohio on his way to Canada. He generally traveled 
at night and lay concealed during the day, but when 
near the northern boundary of the State, he con- 
cluded that it would be safe to travel in the day, 
riot knowing that his master was on his trail and 
close behind him. That day his master had heard 
several times that his slave was a short distance 
ahead, traveling on the main road. The fugitive 
stopped at a house near the road to beg for some- 
thing to eat, as he was very hungry. It happened 
that the people were good folks, who thought it 
right to feed the hungry, and they invited him in. 
The lady of the house began to prepare some food, 
and her husband went out to chop some stove-wood. 
While he was at the wood-pile, which was near the 
road, the slave's master rode up and inquired if he 
had seen a negro pass along the road that day. 

The man quit chopping and asked : "What kind 


of a looking fellow is the negro you are after? Is 
he black or brown or of mixed blood, and where 
was he from?" When the master had given a full 
description of his slave and answered the other 
inquiries, the man said: "Yes, I saw just such a 
negro pass along here to-day." 

The master brightened up and said : "That is my 
slave. What time of day was it when he passed ? 
How long ago did you see him?" 

" It has not been more than an hour; he can't be 
far ahead." 

"Did you speak to him ? " 

"Yes, I talked with him for some time." 

"What did he tell you?" 

" Well he told me a good deal about himself." 

"Now, sir," said the master, "I wish you would 
tell me all you know about him. He is my prop- 
erty and I intend to capture him at any cost, I will 
pay you fifty dollars if you will aid me to get hold 
of him " 

The man deliberated for some time, then said : 
"I don't know that that would be just right, but I'll 
tell what I will do. I'll go and counsel with Deacon 
Jones, who lives at that next house, about a hun- 
dred yards off, and if he says it is right I'll tell you 
all I know about your slave." 

He then dropped his ax, and started to see Dea- 
con Jones. The master rode by his side, and stop- 
ped at the deacon's gate, while his companion went 
into the house. The man staid so long counseling 
with the deacon that the master grew impatient, 


and when, at last, the man came out he asked him, 
hurriedly: "What did the deacon say?" 

The man, however, was in no haste. He scratched 
his head and hesitated awhile, then replied : 

"He said he did not think it would be any harm 
to tell you all I know about your slave." 

The master asked, more impatiently than before, 
"Well, what do you know about him. Can you tell 
me where he is now?" 

The man replied: " I don't know exactly where 
he is now, but when you were talking to me at the 
wood-pile he was in my house." 

They returned together to the house, the master 
in no very good humor. The man asked his wife 
about the negro, and she replied: "He has been 
gone more than half an hour. When he saw his 
master ride up, he slipped out of the back-door, and 
hid in the bushes, and when you were at Deacon 
Jones', I saw him running like a turkey right toward 
Canada. You can't catch that fellow!" 

The merchants all laughed at this story, and said 
it was a Yankee trick. They asked me no more 
questions about runaway slaves. I had a free and 
open conversation with them regarding my business 
in that part of the country. I informed them that 
I could not deal in slave-labor cotton, on conscien- 
tious principles, and gave them a clear understand- 
ing of the free-labor business, and of the class of 
people in the North who were engaged in it. 

The old man Jones said he knew that the Quakers 
were a quiet and peaceable people who were op- 
posed to slavery, and that they had a right to live 


according to their conscientious convictions. He 
concluded, by saying: "I think that Mr. Coffin is 
about right, and that slavery is a curse to our coun- 

I received several warm invitations to stop over 
night, but I declined them and continued my jour- 
ney. I was thankful that I had met with so good 
an opportunity to advocate anti-slavery principles 
among the slaveholders. 

I visited in various neighborhoods the planters 
who produced free-labor cotton, and those who 
owned gins worked by free labor. I found all the 
arrangements made by Nathan Thomas working 
well. On account of drought, the cotton produced 
that year was considered but half a crop, but I 
found in Tishomingo County, Mississippi, one hun- 
dred -and twelve bales of free-labor cotton, in Mc- 
Nairy County, Tennessee, six hundred and sixty-six 
bales, and in Hardin County, two hundred and 
sixty-three bales. All this had been ginned by free 
labor, and was ready for shipment north on the 
Tennessee River. From Marshall County, Missis- 
sippi, several hundred bales were shipped by way 
of Memphis to Philadelphia. After spending nearly 
two weeks traveling and visiting in these neighbor- 
hoods, and talking freely everywhere on the subject 
of slavery, I returned to Hamburg. After finish- 
ing my business there and at Eastport, I returned 
home, feeling thankful that I had found such an 
open field for spreading anti-slavery principles in 
the South. I believe' that our traveling through the 
cotton-growing States and buying free-labor cotton, 


encouraging paid labor and discouraging unpaid 
labor, were the means of preaching abolitionism in 
the slave States, and was really pleading the cause 
of the poor slave. 

Notwithstanding the facilities we had for procur- 
ing large quantities of free cotton and the arrange- 
ments I had made for manufacturing staple articles 
in Cincinnati, I found it to be a losing business. 
On account of the additional expense of procuring 
free-labor cotton and the difficulty of obtaining and 
keeping an assortment of dry-goods and groceries, 
it soon became evident after I opened the store in 
Cincinnati that the enterprise would not sustain 
itself unless it could be conducted on a much larger 
scale than my means allowed. 

Only about half the sum proposed to be raised to 
aid me in the work was ever raised. It was much 
easier to pass resolutions in conventions than to 
carry them into effect. I invested all my available 
means in the free-labor business and had to use bor- 
rowed capital besides. To help sustain me in the 
work, I connected with it a commission produce 
business, which entailed much additional labor. 

By this time the demand for free-labor goods in 
the West had largely increased. I received orders 
r rom nearly all the free States west of the moun- 
tains, from Canada, and from two of the slave States, 
Kentucky and West Virginia. My supply was not 
equal to the demand, and I could not fill the orders 
for a large assortment. The Philadelphia Asso- 
ciation had but one mill for manufacturing cotton, 
and their prints were coarse in quality. Often, for 


want of goods, they could fill my orders only in 

The New York Association often lacked a full 
supply of groceries so that I was unable to obtain 
enough to fill all my orders. I sold usually in 
wholesale quantities, and though I did a large busi- 
ness for several years, it was at a constant pecuniary 
sacrifice, so far as free-labor goods were concerned. 

It required a much larger capital than I was using 
to make it a self-sustaining business. In order 
to supply the increasing demand for free-labor 
goods, it was necessary to enlarge our manufactur- 
ing busines ; that required a large capital, and men 
of large capital could not be induced to invest in 
the business. Few of that class were in sympathy 
with the free-labor movement. 

I felt anxious for some capitalist to take charge 
of the business, and release* me from it I wanted to 
return to my comfortable home in Indiana but 
many of my friends seemed to think that if I let go 
of the helm the ship would stop. They encouraged 
me to hold on, and suggested the organization of a 
joint-stock company. It was accordingly advertised 
that a convention would be held at Salem, Union 
County, Indiana, on the nineteenth of November, 
1850, for the purpose of forming a Free-Labor 
Association. The convention was largely attended, 
and a deep interest was manifested in the subject 
under consideration. In conformity with the reso- 
lutions passed, a committee was appointed to take 
steps to form a joint-stock company, with sufficient 
capital to enlarge our manufacturing business. The 


company was organized under the act of the Gen- 
eral Assembly of the State of Ohio relative to incor- 
porations for manufacturing and other purposes. A 
charter was obtained, and a board of trustees, con- 
( sisting of William H. Brisbane, Samuel Lewis, 
John Joliffe, Thomas Freeman, Richard Gaines, 
Thomas Franklin and myself, were appointed. Will- 
iam H. Brisbane was elected president, Thomas 
Franklin was secretary, and I was chosen to be 
treasurer. The title of the company was, "West- 
ern Free Produce Manufacturing Company." Books 
were opened and an appeal was issued to the friends 
of the cause to come forward and take stock in the 
company. In order to get as many as possible 
interested in the work, the stock was divided into 
small shares. According to our constitution and 
charter, the company could not go into operation 
until a specified sum was subscribed and paid in. 
A number of the friends of free labor responded to 
the call, but their subscriptions did not reach the 
sum required ; so the enterprise proved to be a 
failure, and had to be abandoned. The fugitive 
slave law was enacted that year, and the anti-slavery 
cause seemed shrouded in gloom, but in the midst 
of these discouragements we were encouraged by 
the intelligence of the spread of the free-labor cause 
in England. A little periodical entitled " The Slave 
His Wrongs and Their Remedy" was started there 
about the first of that year, for the purpose of advo- 
cating free-labor principles. From the first number 
we gained the information that twenty-six free-labor 
associations had been established, and that notwith- 


standing the issue from the press, at Newcastle, of 
more than one hundred thousand tracts and papers 
on free-labor subjects, within the three months past, 
it was difficult to meet the demand for information 
OH this important branch of the anti-slavery enter- 
prise. The free-labor warehouse, at Manchester, 
had more than equaled the expectations of the 
proprietor, and efforts were being made to supply 
him with additional capital for extending operations, 
and also to open a warehouse in London. 

The associations in England had depended, to 
some extent, on cotton furnished by the free-labor 
associations in America, but the cultivation of free- 
labor cotton in other countries was becoming more 
extensive. Great Britian had received more cotton 
from the East Indies the previous year than ever 
before it amounted to two-thirds more than the 
import of the preceding year and the cultivation 
of cotton had been commenced on the west coast 
of Africa. Experiments on the island of Jamaica 
the previous year had proved the soil and climate to 
be admirably adapted for its cultivation, the cotton 
produced being pronounced clean and of good staple 
and color. 

These accounts from England were encouraging 
to the friends of the free-labor cause in this country ; 
we hoped to be able soon to procure a better assort- 
ment of free-labor goods. I was also encouraged to 
continue my efforts in this cause by receiving from 
the East an able and interesting report printed 
in pamphlet form giving an account of what had 
been done there in the interests of free labor. It 


was called "The Report of the Board of Managers 
of the Free-Labor Association of Friends, of New 
York Yearly Meeting, adopted at the annual meet- 
ing of the Association, held Fifth month 2/th, 
1851," and was signed by direction and on behalf of 
the board of managers, by Benjamin Tatham, secre- 
tary. A list of the names of the members of the 
association was given. The number was eighty- 
three, which comprised many of the most promi- 
nent members of New York Yearly Meeting, by 
which it appeared that the Yearly Meeting was alive 
to the free-labor subject. This contrasted strongly 
with the apathy manifested by many Friends of 
Indiana Yearly Meeting. The report showed that 
the New York Association had been actively at 
work, and had recently furnished the mill at Man- 
chester, England, with fifty bales of free cotton. 
Friends of the free-labor cause in the West seemed 
anxious for me to continue the business at Cincin- 
nati, and some additional means were furnished that 
enabled me to continue the manufacture of free 
cotton and to obtain a better supply of free-labor 
goods. By close financiering and strict economy I 
kept up the business at Cincinnati for ten years, 
then sold out, and retired from mercantile life with 
very limited means. 










WHEN we moved to Cincinnati in the spring 
of 1847, m y wife an d I thought that per- 
haps our work in Underground Railroad matters 
was done, as we had been in active service more 
than twenty years. 

We hoped to find in Cincinnati enough active 
workers to relieve us from further service, but we 
soon found that we would have more to do than 
ever. When in the city on business, I had mingled 
with the abolitionists and been present at their 
meetings, but some of them had died, and others 
had moved away, and when I came to the city to 
live, I found that the fugitives generally took refuge 
among the colored people, and that they were often 
captured and taken back to slavery. 

Most of the colored people were not shrewd man- 
agers in such matters, and many white people, who 
were at heart friendly to the fugitives, were too 


timid to take hold of the work themselves. They 
were ready to contribute to the expense of getting 
the fugitives away to places of safety, but were not 
willing to risk the penalty of the law or the stigma 
on their reputation, which would be incurred if they 
harbored fugitives and were known to aid them. 

Abolitionists were very unpopular characters at 
that time, both in religious and political associ- 
ations, and many who favored the principles of 
abolitionism lacked the moral courage to face pub- 
lic opinion, when to do so would be to sustain an 
injury in their business and to lower their reputation 
in public esteem. But there were a few noble ex- 
ceptions brave and conscientious workers who 
risked every thing in the cause they believed to be 
right. I had already risked every thing in the 
work life, property and reputation and did not 
feel bound to respect human laws that came in 
direct contact with the law of God. 

I was personally acquainted with all the active 
and reliable workers on the Underground Railroad 
in the city, both colored and white. There were a 
few wise and careful managers among the colored 
people, but it was not safe to trust all of them with 
the affairs of our work. Most of them were too 
careless, and a few were unworthy they could be 
bribed by the slave-hunters to betray the hiding- 
places of the fugitives. We soon found it to be the 
best policy to confine our affairs to a few persons,, 
and to let the whereabouts of the slaves be known 
to as few people as possible. 

When slave-hunters were prowling around the 



city we found it necessary to use every precaution. 
We were soon fully initiated into the management 
of Underground Railroad matters in Cincinnati, 
and did not lack for work. Our willingness to aid 
the slaves was soon known, and hardly a fugitive 
came to the city without applying to us for assist- 
ance. There seemed to be a continual increase of 
runaways, and such was the vigilance of the pur- 
suers that I was obliged to devote a large share of 
time from my business to making arrangements for 
their concealment and safe conveyance of the fugi- 
tives. They sometimes came to our door frightened 
and panting and in a destitute condition, having fled 
in such haste and fear that they had no time to 
bring any clothing except what they had on, and 
that was often very scant. The expense of pro- 
viding suitable clothing for them when it was neces- 
sary for them to go on Immediately, or of feeding 
them when they were obliged to be concealed for 
days or weeks, was very heavy. Added, to this was 
the cost of hiring teams when a party of fugitives 
had to be conveyed out of the city by night to some 
Underground Railroad depot, from twenty to thirty 
miles distant. The price for a two-horse team on 
such occasions was generally ten dollars, and some- 
times two or three teams were required. We gen- 
erally hired these teams from a certain German 
livery stable, sending some irresponsible though 
honest colored man to procure them, and always 
sending the money to pay for them in advance. The 
people of the livery stable seemed to understand what 
the teams were wanted for, and asked no questions. 


It was necessary to use every precaution, and I 
thought it wise to act, as the monkey did, take the 
cat's paw to draw the chestnut from the fire, and not 
burn my own fingers. I generally gave the money 
to a second person to hand to the colored man. \^Le 
had several trusty colored men who owned no 
property and who could lose nothing in a prosecu- 
tionwho understood Underground Railroad mat- 
ters, and we generally got them to act as drivers, 
but in some instances white men volunteered to 
drive, generally young and able-bodied. Sometimes 
the depot to which the fugitives were consigned was 
not reached until several hours after daylight, and 
it required a person of pluck and nerve to conduct 
them to their stopping-place. If the party of 
fugitives were large they were soon scattered among 
the abolitionists in the neighborhood, and remained 
in safe concealment until the next night. 

While the fugitives were resting and sleeping, 
their friends provided suitable wagons and drivers 
for the next night's travel to another depot, perhaps 
twenty-five or thirty miles distant. After our 
drivers had breakfasted, fed their horses and rested 
a few hours, they would return home. 

Learning that the runaway slaves often arrived 
almost destitute of clothing, a number of the be- 
nevolent ladies of the city Mrs. Sarah H. Ernst, 
Miss Sarah O. Ernst, Mrs. Henry Miller, Mrs. Dr. 
Aydelott, Mrs. Julia Harwood, Mrs. Amanda E. 
Foster, Mrs. Elizabeth Coleman, Mrs. Mary Mann, 
Mrs. Mary M. Guild, Miss K. Emery, and others, 
organized an Anti-Slavery Sewing Society, to pro- 



vide suitable clothing for the fugitives. After we 
came to the city, they met at our house every week 
for a number of years, and wrought much practical 
good by their labors. 

Our house was large and well adapted for secret- 
ing fugitives. Very often slaves would lie concealed 
in upper chambers for weeks without the boarders 
or frequent visitors at the house knowing anything 
about it. My wife had a quiet unconcerned way 
of going about her work as if nothing unusual was 
on hand, which was calculated to lull every sus- 
picion of those who might be watching, and who 
would have been at once aroused by any sign of 
secrecy or mystery. Even the intimate friends of 
the family did not know when there were slaves 
hidden in the house, unless they were directly 
informed. When my wife took food to the .fugitives 
she generally concealed it in a basket, and put some 
freshly ironed garment on the top to make it look 
like a basketful of clean clothes. Fugitives were 
not often allowed to eat in the kitchen, from fear 
of detection ; notwithstanding the following little 
reminiscence which appeared in print about a year 
ago. It was given as a typical circumstance of 
our experience. . 

" SCENE. Before the war; a house in Cincinnati. 
Two negroes newly arrived, and evidently planta- 
tion hands, eating heartily in the kitchen. Two 
planters and the marshal of Cincinnati, coming 
hastily up the street. A lady (Aunt Katy) enters 
the parlor hurriedly and addressing a broad brim- 
med Quaker, speaks : ' Levi, make thee haste. I 


see strange men coming with that pestilent mar- 
shal. ' Levi goes out and meets them at the gate. 

"Marshal 'Good-morning, Friend Coffin. We 
are seeking for two runaways. ' 

"Coffin 'Two escaped slaves thee would recap- 

"Marshal and both owners 'Yes, yes. Can 
you tell us where they are ? ' 

"Coffin 'Was one boy very black and rather 
heavy set; the other yellow and but slightly built ?' 

"Both owners 'Yes, yes! You describe them 
exactly. ' 

"Coffin 'I saw two such boys, not half an hour 
since, pass this gate ; they inquired where the Cin- 
cinnati, Hamilton and Dayton depot was, and if you 
haste you may reach the depot before the train 
leaves. ' 

"Away go the marshal and the slave-owners, 
while Coffin re-enters the house and addressing his 
wife, says: 

"'Mark, Katie, I did but say the boys passed 
the gate, but said not whether they went in or out. 
Go, hurry them with their meal, while I hitch up 
the old bay horse to drive the poor souls a station or 
two beyond the city, where they can embark with 


At one time, a slave girl who ran away from Cov- 
ington, came to our house, and my wife let her 
assist the cook in the kitchen, until a suitable oppor- 
tunity for her escape to Canada should arrive. She 
did not ask what her name was or make any inquiries 


about the master or mistress she had left, for it was 
the policy in our family to make no inquiries of 
slaves, in some intances, that we might be burdened 
with no information if the slave-hunters should ask 
questions of them. One morning when the girl 
mentioned was eating her breakfast in the kitchen, 
a man came into the parlor and inquired of a young 
man, one of the boarders who was sitting there, 
reading, if he knew of a runaway slave in that 
family. The young man said that we often hired 
colored servants, and called "Aunt Katy " in to 
speak to the man. 

He made known his errand to her by saying : 
"One of my neighbors has lost his cook girl, and 
we think she is here or in this neighborhood." 

My wife replied : " I do not know anything about 
your cook girl, but will inquire of my servant ; per- 
haps she will know." 

She then called in our cook and~made the inquiry 
in hearing of the man, receiving an answer in the 
negative. Our daughter was in the kitchen, and 
heard the inquiry, and hastened the slave girl up a 
back stairway, leading out of the kitchen. 

If the man had stepped into the kitchen, at first, 
he mi^-ht have seen the object of his search sitting 
at the table eating. He withdrew from the house, 
and walked up and down the sidewalk in front of it, 
till noon. Henrietta, the cook, resolved to aid her 
fugitive fellow-servant to escape from quarters so 
closely guarded, and taking her up stairs, dressed 
her in a new black silk which she had just bought 
and made up, and put on her head a fashionable bon- 


net, which was provided with a vail. Then attiring 
herself for the street, the two went boldly out of the 
front door, just as the man had turned his back and 
was walking toward the next square. They followed 
behind him, at the distance of half a square, until 
they reached a side street, then, turning off, they 
made their way across the canal to a settlement of 
colored people, where the fugitive remained for two 
weeks. At the end of that time she returned to 
our house, and we took her and several other fugi- 
tives with us when we went to Canada on a visit a 
short time afterward. 

My wife said : "I did not know whether she was 
a cook girl, chambermaid, nurse girl or field hand, 
for I had never inquired, and I did not think it 
necessary to ask her when her pursuer was standing 
in the next room, ready to take her back to 


The fugitives generally arrived in the night, and 
were secreted among the friendly colored people or 
hidden " in the upper room of our house. They 
came alone or in companies, and in a few instances 
had a white guide to direct them. 

One company of twenty-eight that crossed the 
Ohio River at Lawrenceburg, Indiana twenty miles 
below Cincinnati had for conductor a white man 
whom they had employed to assist them. The char- 
acter of this man was full of contradictions. He 
was a Virginian by birth and spent much of his 
time in the South, yet he hated slavery. He was 


devoid of moral principle, but was a true friend to 
the poor slave. 

Sometimes slaves would manage to accumulate a 
littl.jeney-by working at making baskets at night 
or on the Sabbath, and when they had saved a few 
dollars they were very willing to give it all to some 
white man in whom they had confidence, if he would 
help them across the river and direct them how to 
reach the Underground Railroad. 

Thus I have always contended that this road was 
a Southern institution, being conducted however on 
a different principle from what it was on this side 
Mason ancTOixon's line. The company of twenty- 
eight slaves referred to, all lived in the same neigh- 
borhood in Kentucky, and had been planning for 
some time how they could make their escape from 
slavery. This white man John Fairfield had 
been in the neighborhood for some weeks buying 
poultry, etc., for market, and though among the 
whites he assumed to be very pro-slavery, the 
negroes soon found that he was their friend. 

He was engaged by the slaves to help them across 
the Ohio River and conduct them to Cincinnati. 
They paic 1 him some money which they had man- 
aged to accumulate. The amount was small, con- 
sidering the risk the conductor assumed, but it was 
all they had. Several of the men had their wives 
with them, and one woman a little child with her, a 
few months old. John Fairfield' conducted the party 
to the Ohio River opposite the mouth of the Big 
Miami, where he knew there were several skiffs tied 
to the bank, near a wood-yard. When I asked him 


afterward if he did not feel compunctions of con- 
science for breaking these skiffs loose and using them, 
he replied : ' ' No ; slaves are stolen property, and it 
is no harm to steal boats or anything else that will 
help them gain their liberty." The entire party 
crowded into three large skiffs or yawls, and made 
their way slowly across the river. The boats were 
overloaded and sank so deep that the passage was 
made in much peril. The boat John Fairfield was 
in was leaky, and began to sink when a few rods 
from the Ohio bank, and he sprang out on the sand- 
bar, where the water was two or three feet deep, 
and tried to drag the boat to the shore. He sank 
to his waist in mud and quicksands, and had to be 
pulled out by some of" the negroes. The entire 
party waded out through mud and water and reached 
the shore safely, though all were wet and several 
lost their shoes. They hastened along the bank 
toward Cincinnati, but it was now late in the night 
and daylight appeared before they reached the city. 
Their plight was a most pitiable one. They were 
cold, hungry and exhausted; those who had lost 
their shoes in the mud suffered from bruised and 
lacerated feet, while to add to their discomfort a 
drizzling rain fell during the latter part of the night. 
They could not enter the city for their appearance 
would at once proclaim them to be fugitives. When 
they reached the outskirts of the city, below Mill 
Creek, John Fairfield hid them as well as he could, 
in ravines that had been washed in the sides of the 
steep hills, and told them not to move until he 
returned. He then went directly to John Hatfield, 


a worthy colored man, a deacon in the Zion Baptist 
Church, and told his story. He had applied to 
Hatfield before and knew him to be a great friend 
to the fugitives one who had often sheltered them 
under his roof and aided them in every way he 

John Fairfield also knew me and knew that I was 
a friend to the slave. I had met him several times, 
and was acquainted with the plan of his operations 
in the South, but I was opposed to the principles on 
which he worked. I will have occasion to refer to 
him at another time and will explain more fully his 
plans, and the reason why I opposed his operations 
in the South. When he arrived, wet and muddy, 
at John Hatfield's house, he was scarcely recognized. 
He soon made himself and his errand known, and 
Hatfield at once sent a mes.senger to me, requesting 
me to come to his house without delay, as there 
were fugitives in danger. I went at once and met 
several prominent colored men who had also been 
summoned. While dry clothes and a warm break- 
fast were furnished to John Fairfield, we anxiously 
discussed the situation of the twenty-eight fugitives 
who were lying, hungry and shivering, in the hills 
in sight of the city. 

Several plans were suggested, but none seemed 
practicable. At last I suggested that some one 
should go immediately to a certain German livery 
stable in the city and hire two coaches, and that 
several colored men should go out in buggies and 
take the women and children from their hiding- 
places, then that the coaches and buggies should 


form a procession as if going to a funeral, and march 
solemnly along the road leading to Cumminsville, 
on the west side of Mill Creek. In the western 
part of Cumminsville was the Methodist Episcopal 
burying ground, where a certain lot of ground had 
been set apart for the use of the colored people. 
They should pass this and continue on the Colerain 
pike till they reached a right-hand road leading 
to College Hill. At the latter place they would 
find a few colored families, living in the outskirts 
of the village, and could take refuge among them. 
Jonathan Cable, a Presbyterian minister, who lived 
near Farmer's College, on the west side of the vil- 
lage, was a prominent abolitionist, and I knew that 
he would give prompt assistance to the fugitives. 

I. advised that one of the buggies should leave the 
procession at Cumminsville, after passing the bury- 
ing-ground, and hasten to College Hill to apprise 
friend Cable of the coming of the fugitives, that he 
might make arrangements for their reception in 
suitable places. My suggestions and advice were 
agreed to, and acted upon as quickly as possible, 
John Hatfield agreeing to apprise friend Cable of 
the coming of the fugitives. We knew that we must 
act quickly and with discretion, for the fugitives 
were in a very unsafe position, and in great danger 
of being discovered and captured by the police, who 
were always on the alert for runaway slaves. 

While the carriages and buggies were being pro- 
cured, John Hatfield's wife and daughter, and other 
colored women of the neighborhood, busied them- 
selves in preparing provisions .to be sent to the fugi- 


tives. A large stone jug was filled with hot coffee, 
and this, together with a supply of bread and other 
provisions, was placed in a buggy and sent on ahead 
of the carriages, that the hungry fugitives might 
receive some nourishment before starting. The 
conductor of the party, accompanied by John Hat- 
field, went in the buggy, in order to apprise the 
fugitives of the arrangements that had been made, 
and have them in readiness to approach the road as 
soon as the carriages arrived. Several blankets 
were provided to wrap around the women and chil- 
dren, whom we knew must be chilled by their ex- 
posure to the rain and cold. The fugitives were 
very glad to get the supply of food, the hot coffee 
especially being a great treat to them, and felt much 
revived. About the time they finished their break- 
fast the carriages and buggies drove up and halted 
in the road, and the fugitives were quickly con- 
ducted to them and placed inside. The women in 
the tight carriages wrapped themselves in the blan- 
kets, and the woman who had a young babe muf- 
fled it closely to keep it warm, and to prevent its 
cries from being heard. The little thing seemed to 
be suffering much pain, having been exposed so 
long to the rain and cold. 

All the arrangements were carried out, and the 
party reached College Hill in safety, and were 
kindly received and cared for. But, sad to relate, 
it was a funeral procession not only in appearance 
but in reality, for when they arrived at College Hill, 
and the mother unwrapped her sick child, she found 
to her surprise and grief that its stillness, which she 


supposed to be that of sleep, was that of death. 
All necessary preparations were made by the kind 
people of the village, and the child was decently 
and quietly interred the next day in the burying- 
ground on the Hill. 

When it was known by some of the prominent 
ladies of the village that a large company of fugi- 
tives were in the neighborhood, they met together 
to prepare some clothing for them. Jonathan Cable 
ascertained the number and size of the shoes 
needed, and the clothes required to fit the fugitives 
for traveling, and came down in his carriage to my 
house, knowing that the Anti-Slavery Sewing So- 
ciety had their depository there. * I went with him 
to purchase the shoes that were needed, and my 
wife selected all the clotliing we had that was suit- 
able for the occasion ; the rest was furnished by the 
noble women of College Hill. 

I requested friend Cable to keep the fugitives as 
secluded as possible until a way could be provided 
for safely forwarding them on their way to Canada. 
Friend Cable was a stockholder in the Underground 
Railroad, and we consulted together about the best 
route, finally deciding on the line by way of Hamil- 
ton, West Elkton, Eaton, Paris and Newport, In- 
diana. West Elkton, twenty-five or thirty miles 
from College Hill, was the first Underground Rail- 
road depot. That line always had plenty of loco- 
motives and cars in readiness. I agreed to send 
information to that point, and accordingly wrote to 
one of my particular friends at West Elkton, in- 
forming him that I had some valuable stock on hand 


which I wished to forward to Newport, and re- 
quested him to send three two-horse wagons cov- 
ered to College Hill, where the stock was resting, 
in charge of Jonathan Cable. I said: "Please put 
straw in the wagons so that they may rest easy on 
the journey, for many of them have sore feet, hav- 
ing traveled hastily over rough ground. I wish you 
to get to College Hill to-morrow evening; come 
without fail." 

The three wagons arrived promptly at the time 
mentioned, and a little after dark took in the party, 
together with another fugitive, who had arrived the 
night before, and whom we added to the company. 
They went through to West Elkton safely that 
night, and the next night reached Newport, Indiana. 
With little delay they were forwarded on from sta- 
tion to station through Indiana and Michigan to 
Detroit, having fresh teams and conductors each 
night, and resting during the day. I had letters 
from different stations, as they progressed, giving 
accounts of the arrival and departure of the train, 
and I also heard of their safe arrival on the Canada 

I often received intelligence of the arrival in Can- 
ada of fugitives whom I had helped on the way 
to liberty, and it was always very gratifying to me. 
I was well known on the different routes of the 
Underground Railroad, and people wrote to me of 
the success of my shipments. From the stories of 
hundreds of slaves who arrived at our house, hav- 
ing made their escape on foot through cane-brakes 
and forests, across rivers and mountains, or hidden 


in wagons, or concealed amid cotton bales on steam- 
boats, the following have been selected : 


A slave family of ten, consisting of a man and his 
wife, and their eight children, some of them grown, 
lived in Kentucky, about fifteen miles from Coving- 
ton. Their master, in order no doubt to prevent 
their attempting to cross into Ohio and escape, 
often told them that he intended to set them free, 
and assured them that they should never have to 
serve any one but him. Aunt Betsey, the mother 
of the family, was a trusty old servant, and he 
reposed considerable confidence in her, giving her a 
standing pass, and sending her frequently to Cincin- 
nati with a wagon and two horses, to take vege- 
tables to market. She faithfully fulfilled all her 
duties, and though often urged by her colored 
friends in Cincinnati to escape while such good 
opportunities were allowed her, she refused to do 
so, trusting that her master would do as he had 
promised, and that all her family would be free. 
But she learned, after awhile, that he intended to sell 
some of her children, and became fully convinced 
that there was no hope of the fulfillment of his 
promise. She had not been allowed to go to the 
city for some time, and she feared her pass would be 
taken from her, and that she would not be permitted 
to go to the city any more. But undismayed at 
these discouragements, she began to plan for the 
escape of the whole family. Her husband, more 
timid than herself, and much less energetic, was 



afraid to make the attempt, for he thought they cer- 
tainly woujd be captured and brought back, and 
their condition would then be worse than ever. She 
urged it so much, however, that he finally yielded 
and consented to go, leaving all the arrangements to 
her. One night when her master and mistress had 
retired, and there was no one about who would act 
as a spy on her movements, she got out the horses 
and wagon, and prepared a load, as if she were 
going to market; first putting their clothing and 
bedding in the bottom of the wagon, then piling 
vegetables on top. 

In the evening she had asked a little white boy 
who lived in the neighborhood, if he did not wish 
to go to the city' with her, and he, pleased at the 
prospect of seeing so large a place as Cincinnati, 
eagerly accepted her invitation. She told him she 
would take him that night/ but he must not men- 
tion it to his parents, lest they should not let him go. 
He was on hand at the hour of starting, and the 
whole party got into the wagon and started on their 
journey. Aunt Betsy drove the horses over the 
road which she had usually traveled on her way to 
the city, and just before daylight came to the 
town of Covington. Before entering it she stopped 
the team, unloaded the vegetables, secreted her - 
husband and children among the clothing and bed- 
ding, and then scattered the vegetables smoothly 
over the top. Her husband's fear and indecision 
had increased during the journey, and his courage 
entirely failed him when they neared Covington. 



He wanted to go back, and only the firmness and 
decision of his wife compelled him to go on. 

Aunt Betsey, having seen her family stowed 
away out of sight, mounted the seat again, with the 
white boy by her side. When they reached the 
ferry, she handed the reins to him, and took them 
again when they were across the river. The ferry- 
men asked her no questions, for they had often seen 
her going to market, and supposed that she had the 
pass she usually carried. After reaching the city, 
she drove to the house of a colored friend on North 
Street, where there was.a dense colored population, 
and the wagon was unloaded as soon as possible. 
The bedding, etc., were stored in the basement of a 
colored Wesleyan church, and the family scattered 
among several friends, where they could find places 
of safety and concealment. Aunt Betsy then drove 
into Bpoadway, and after going several squares 
stopped the team, and told the white boy that she 
must go to the market and that he must remain and 
watch the horses. 

I had been duly notified of the arrival of the 
party, had already received some of them into my 
house, and was now applied to for further assistance. 
I soon planned an arrangement by which the team 
could be returned and no clue gained to the where- 
abouts of the fugitives. A colored man went to a 
German who could speak but little English, and 
hired him to drive the team across the ferry to Cov- 
ington, telling him some one would take charge of 
it there. When they reached the wagon, they found 


the little boy crying; he said he was tired of waiting 
for Aunt Betsey, she was gone so long to market. 

The master next morning, finding his slaves gone, 
started in pursuit, and when he reached Covington 
he found the team, the little boy and the German 
driver. The child could tell nothing, except that 
he had gone to market with Aunt Betsey, and that 
she left him to mind the horses and did not come 
back. The master had the German arrested, but as 
he knew nothing about the affair, except that he 
had been hired by a colored man whom he did not 
know, to drive the team across to Covington, he 
was soon discharged. The master continued his 
search in Cincinnati ; he informed the police, and 
had them on the alert ; offered a large reward for 
the fugitives, and did all in his power to find them, 
but could gain no clue to their retreat. 

A close watch was kept on every road leading out 
of the city, and the friends of the fugitives dared 
not move them in any direction for more than a 
week. At last we hit upon a plan to get them out 
in disguise, in open daylight. The males were dis- 
guised as females, and the females as males, and 
thus attired they were seated in elegant carriages, 
and driven out of the city at different points, ex- 
actly at noon, when most of the people were at 
dinner. Those who were on the look-out for a com- 
pany of frightened, poorly dressed fugitives, did n^>t 
recognize the objects of their search, for it was quite 
common for the colored gentry to go out riding in 
that style. They were taken about thirty miles 
from the city, and thence proceeded by night travel 


to Canada. Their bedding and clothing were boxed, 
and shipped to a trusty friend in Detroit. 

In connection with my efforts for this party of 
fugitives, an incident occurred which has often been 
related with much gusto by those whom it amused. 
The Ladies' Anti-Slavery Sewing Society fitted out 
the family with necessary clothing, and it devolved 
on me, as usual, to collect money to defray expenses. 
I started out to call on some of the stockholders of 
the Underground Railroad, and stopped first at the 
pork-house of Henry Lewis, whom I knew to be a 
true friend to fugitives, and always ready to con- 
tribute when there was need. Walking into the 
office, I found Henry, his brother Albert, and M. B. 
Hagans, now Judge Hagans, who was then Henry 
Lewis' book-keeper. There were also three stran- 
gers sitting in the office, slaveholders from Ken- 
tucky, who had come on business connected with 
pork Henry Lewis generally bought their hogs 
and the hogs of others in their neighborhood. I 
said: "Henry, I want to raise a little -money for a 
family of poor people ; they are in need, and I 
am called on for help." I knew that Henry would 
understand me. 

He asked: "Are they very poor?" 

"Yes," I replied, "among the poorest of the 
poor, and must suffer if they are not helped ; thou 
knows I am often called on in such cases." 

Henry remarked to the company in the office : "I 
never care to ask Mr. Coffin many questions when 
he calls for money to help the poor, for I know that 
he is often applied to in such instances, and will not 


take hold of a case without he is satified that it is a 
case of real need. I am always willing to contribute 
when he calls. " He then handed me a dollar, and 
said: "Now, gentlemen, show your liberality. " 

His brother Albert and M. B. Hagans each 
handed me a dollar, and the three Kentuckians, not 
wishing to be behind the others in generosity, 
handed me a dollar apiece. I thanked them and 
retired, with six dollars in my pocket for the poor 

About a week afterward three or four other Ken- 
tuckians, from the same neighborhood, were in 
Henry Lewis' pork-house on similar business, and 
hi the course of their conversation they made use 
of threats and curses against the abolitionists, ac- 
cusing them of harboring their slaves and helping 
them on to Canada. Henry Lewis interrupted them, 
and said: "Gentlemen, yu needn't say a word 
about the abolitionists helping your slaves to get 
away. There were three of your neighbors here 
the other day all slaveholders and an old gentle- 
man came into this office to beg some money to 
help a family of fugitives to get to Canada, and they 
every one contributed. Now, what have you got 
to say, seeing that your own folks have turned abo- 
litionists?" They uttered a few more oaths, and 
dropped the subject. 

It was the custom of myself and other.abolition- 
ists in the city to try the roads before starting out a 
company of Underground Railroad passengers. If 
we suspected there were watchers lying in wait at 
the outlets, we sent out a carriage or wagon, con- 


taining some noted abolitionist and a number of free 
colored people, and much merriment was excited 
when they were pounced upon by the watchers, who 
shortly learned their mistake and retired discomfited. 

A large proportion of the fugitives who came to 
my house in Cincinnati were from Kentucky. The 
Ohio River, after they ran away from their masters, 
was the principal barrier between them and freedom 
but they generally found some means to cross it. 
They could not cross on the ferry-boats from Ken- 
tucky without producing a pass, indorsed by some 
responsible person known to the ferryman. 

Another story of Kentucky fugitives is that of a 
couple whom we will call 


They were husband and wife, and belonged to a 
man who lived' ten or twelve miles from Cincinnati. 
They were very valuable property, and the master, 
through reverses of fortune or for some other rea- 
son, was obliged to dispose of them. He sold 
them to a Southern slave-trader, and promised to 
deliver them at Louisville, at a certain time, in sea- 
son for a down-river boat. The night after the bar- 
gain was made, they were locked in a back-room up 
stairs, for greater safety. In spite of this precau- 
tion, they managed to escape. Tying their bed- 
clothing together, and fastening one end securely to 
the bedpost near the window, they let themselves 
down to the ground in the back-yard, and ran away, 
barefooted, bareheaded, and very thinly clad. 
When they reached the bank of the Ohio, they 


found a little skiff tied to the shore, and breaking it 
loose, they got in and rowed across to the other 
side. Reaching Cincinnati, they went to the house 
of a colored friend, who brought them immediately 
to my house, where they arrived about daylight. 

They were placed in a garret chamber and locked 
up, none but myself and wife knowing of their pres- 
ence in the house. 

Their escape was discovered in the night, and the 
master with a posse of men started immediately in 
pursuit. They crossed the river between Covington 
and Cincinnati, about the same time that the fugi- 
tives were crossing below the city. Supposing that 
they had not had time to cross yet, the pursuers 
watched the river for some time, in hope of cap- 
turing them, not knowfng that they were safely 
ensconced in our garret. Finding himself foiled, the 
master then went to Covington, and had handbills 
printed, offering four hundred dollars' reward for his 
property. Jack and Lucy were worth a thousand 
apiece, and their owner felt that he had rather pay a 
large reward for them than to lose them entirely. 
These handbills were distributed among the police- 
men of Cincinnati, and scattered about the city, and 
one of them soon came into my hands. 

A vigilant search was made for several weeks, but 
no less vigilant were we who secreted the fugitives. 
From a small window in their room, Jack and Lucy 
saw their master passing up and down the street in 
front of the house, and often some of his company 
passed by, late at night, as if reconnoitering, but 
no attempt was made to search the premises. After 


keeping Jack and Lucy secreted in our garret for 
two weeks, during which time the ladies of the 
Anti-Slavery Sewing Society provided them with 
clothing, the hunt seemed to be over and it was 
decided to send them on to Canada. 

Money was to be raised to hire a carriage to take 
them away, and I considered myself appointed to 
collect it. Starting out one morning, I went into a 
store where I was slightly acquainted. I did not 
know whether the proprietor was friendly to the 
cause or not, but asked him if he had any stock 
in the Underground Railroad. He inquired what 
road that was, and when I told him it was the one 
on which fugitives slaves were sent to Canada, he 
replied : 

"If that is the road I believe I have a little stock 
in it." 

I then told him that there was an assessment on 
the stock, and that I was authorized to collect it. 

" How much will mine be? " asked the merchant. 

"Mine is a dollar," I replied, "I suppose thine 
will be the same." 

I received a dollar,, and went on to another store 
whose keeper was a Jew. I did not know his senti- 
ments, but as soon as I informed him that money 
was wanted for Underground Railroad purposes, he 
handed me two dollars. I went next to a wholesale 
drug store, and explaining my errand, received one 
dollar from each of the proprietors, who we're abo- 
litionists ; then to a queensware store and received 
a similar amount from each proprietor. I next 
called at a wholesale grocery on Pearl Street, where 


I had business to transact. I knew that the princi- 
pal member of the firm was not in sympathy with 
my anti-slavery work, but resolved to speak to him 
on the matter. Meeting him at the door, I intro- 
duced the subject, and the following conversation 
took place : 

' ' Hast thou any stock in the Underground Rail- 
road, Friend A ?" 


" It pays well; thou ought to take stock ; it makes 
one feel good every time he is called on for an 

"I want nothing to do with it. I don't believe in 
helping fugitives." 

"Stop, my good friend, I don't believe thou 
knowest what thou art talking about. Suppose thy 
wife had been captured and carried off by Indians or 
Algerines, had suffered all the cruelties and hard- 
ships of slavery, and had escaped barefooted, bare- 
headed and with but little clothing, and must perish 
without aid, or be recaptured and taken back into 
slavery ; suppose some one was to interest himself in 
her behalf and call on me to aid in restoring her to 
freedom, and I should refuse to do it and say, ' I 
want nothing to do with helping fugitives' what 
wouldst thou think of me?" 

"I do not expect my wife ever to be in such a 

"I hope she will not be, but I know of some- 
body's wife who is in just such a condition now, and 
I have been called on for help. It always does me 
good to have the opportunity to help in such cases, 


and as I am never permitted to enjoy any good 
thing without wishing others to partake with me, I 
thought I would give thee the opportunity to enjoy 
this with me." Then I told him of the man and wife 
who were sold to a negro-trader to be taken to the 
far South, and related how they made their escape, 
bareheaded, barefooted and thinly clad, and hast- 
ened to the Ohio River in the dark, over ten miles 
or more of rough road, while their hearts were full of 
fear and dread lest they should be recaptured. At 
the river they found a skiff which they succeeded in 
breaking loose, and crossed safely to the ,city, where 
they found good quarters. I said: "Great exertions 
have been made to find them and drag them back to 
slavery, but the efforts have not succeeded; the 
fugitives have been kept in close quarters. We 
think now that it may be safe to forward them on 
the Underground Railroad to Canada, but they 
must be suitably provided for the journey, and 
money must be raised to help them on their way. 
Now I want thee to take stock to help us clothe 
and forward these people; I know thou wouldst feel 
better to contribute for their relief. Now I have 
done my duty ; I have given thee the opportunity 
to contribute, and if thou art not disposed to do so, 
it is thy look-out, not mine." I then left him and 
went into the counting-room to transact some busi- 
ness with the book-keeper. When this was done, 
I turned to go, but as I was passing out of the store 
the merchant, who was waiting on a customer, called 
to me. I stopped, and he came to me and said in a 
low tone : 



"I will give you a trifle if you want something." 

I replied: "I want nothing; but if it is thy desire 
to contribute something to help those poor fugitives 
I told thee about, I will see that it is rightly ap- 

The merchant then handed me a silver half-dollar. 
I took it, and said: "Now I know thou wilt feel 
better," then left the store, About a week after- 
ward I was passing down Walnut Street, below 
Fourth, when I saw this merchant coming up on the 
opposite side. When he saw me, he crossed over 
and coming up to me, smiling, he shook hands, and 
asked, in a whisper: "Did they get off safely?" 

I laughed outright, and exclaimed "Ah, thou 
hast taken stock in the Underground Railroad, and 
feels an interest in it ; if thou hadst not taken stock 
thou wouldst have cared nothing about it. Yes, 
they got off safely, and by this time are probably in 


Beside dealing in free-labor goods, I carried on 
a large commission business, receiving and selling 
all kinds of country produce. One of the merchants 

with whom I had frequent dealings was M. C , 

who was pro-slavery in his sentiments, profane in 
his speech, and who often threw out slurs about 
abolitionism and negro-stealing. He came into my 
store one morning to inquire about some produce he 
wished to purchase, and greeted me with, "Good- 
morning, Friend Levi, how are you ?" 


" Only tolerably well, " I replied, "I do not feel 
very bright this morning; how art thou ?" 

"Oh, first rate; but what is the matter with you 
that you don't feel bright this morning have you 
been out stealing niggers?" 

"There's no need of stealing them," I replied; 
"they come about as fast as we can take care of 
them. There is one here now; he arrived in the 
city last night and met with a colored man, who 
took him to the house of Preacher Green, pastor of 
Allen Chapel, whom he knew to be a friend to fugi- 
tives. Green brought him to my house this morn- 

"Where do you keep them?" M. C inquired; 

"in your cellar?" 

"No," r answered, "we don't put people in the 
cellar ; we take them into the parlor or sitting-room. 
This poor man has suffered nearly everything but 
death ; he has traveled a long distance, and been on 
the way several months, suffering from cold, hunger 
and exposure. He formerly lived in Kentucky, but 
was separated from his family some years ago and 
sold to a negro-trader, who took him to the South, 
and sold him to a cotton planter in Mississippi. He 
was set to work in the field, but not being used to 
picking cotton he could not keep up with the others 
who were accustomed to the work. When he fell 
behind or failed to perform his task, he received 
such severe cuts from the whip carried by the cruel 
overseer that the blood ran down his back, and the 
wounds left scars and painful sores. At night the 
cotton was weighed by the overseer, and if this 


man's share lacked the required weight he was strip- 
ped, tied up, and cruelly whipped. At night the 
slaves had to prepare their scanty store of food for 
next day, or go without and suffer hunger. This 
man concluded that he would endure such a life no 
longer; he had rather die in the woods in endeavor- 
ing to escape, than to live in such cruel bondage. 
He had heard that there was a country far to the 
north where all people were free, and he started for 
Canada. He was trailed by dogs and torn by them, 
and captured and put in jail, but he would not tell 
where he was from, and finally he broke jail and 
made his escape. After enduring much suffering 
and passing through many dangers, he reached this 
city last night, barefooted and clothed in rags. 
Preacher Green, a colored man, brought him to our 
house early this morning, and we have already pro- 
vided him with food and clothing. Preacher Green 
collected a little money among the colored people, 
and has gone out to buy a pair of shoes for the fugi- 

M. C listened to my story with strict atten- 
tion. When it was finished, I stepped from behind 
the counter, and said: "Come with me to my 
house, near by, and see the poor fellow. He seems 
quite intelligent, and tells a straight story." 

"Where is he?" M. C repeated; "in your 


I spoke with emphasis, and said: "No! I told 
thee we did not put people in the cellar ; he is in 
the sitting-room." 

We walked out together, and had reached the 


door of my house when I stopped suddenly, and 
said: "There is one thing which I forgot. If thou 
sees him thou must pay a dollar to help him on his 
way ; wilt thou do it ?" 

M. C shook his head, but I looked him in the 

face, and said: "I guess thou wilt; come in." 

We entered the house, and I introduced the fugi- 
tive, calling him Sam his real name I did not know. 
"Now, Sam," I said, "tell this gentleman the story 
thou told me this morning. Tell him the reason 
thou ran away, and what thou suffered in thy long 
journey. Don't be afraid, there is no danger." 

Sam told his story in simple and touching lan- 
guage, and M. C listened with interest, asking 

questions now and then. Sam showed his scars and 
wounds in confirmation of his story. 

I then told M. C that it was not safe for Sam 

to remain longer in the city, and we had decided to 
send him on that morning. We intended to put him 
aboard the train for Detroit, and we had but'a short 
time in which to raise the money to purchase his 
ticket. I said : " Preacher Green will be here in a 
short time to take Sam to the depot. He has raised 
some money among the colored people, and I told 
him I would try to raise the rest that was needed. 
I want thee to help us." 

M. C - pulled out his purse, and handed the 
fugitive a dollar. We then returned to the store, 
and I said to my companion: "Now, my good fel- 
low, go and tell it ! Thou hast laid thyself liable not 
only to a heavy fine, but to imprisonment, under 



the fugitive slave law. Thou gave a fugitive slave a 
dollar to help him to Canada; I saw thee do it." 

He turned toward me with a peculiar look, and 
said: "D n it, you've got me !" 

I told the story on him frequently when I met 
him in suitable company, sometimes asking those 
present if they had heard of friend C 's con- 
version ; he had been converted to abolitionism, and 
had taken stock in the Underground Railroad. This 

always created surprise and merriment. M. C 

declared that he dreaded to meet me, and never 
again troubled me with slurs or insinuations about 
abolitionism and negro-stealing. 


Jane was a handsome slave girl, who lived in Cov- 
ington, Kentucky, her old master and mistress 
having moved from Virginia, and settled in that 
place some years before the time our story opens. 
She was kindly treated by her owners, and her old 
mistress, who was very fond of her, taught her to 
sew and do housework, and took such pains in teach- 
ing her that she beoame quite skillful in needle- 
work and everything pertaining to housekeeping. 
Jane's lot was a pleasant one, and until she reached 
the age of sixteen none of the evils of slavery shad- 
owed her life. Then her old master died and she 
became the property of his son, who took posses- 
sion of the premises and assumed the care of Jane's 
old mistress. This son was a wicked, thoughtless 
man, and poor Jane was completely under his con- 
trol. After living with him some time, she became 


the mother of a beautiful little girl, who was almost 
as white as her father, Jane's master. 

Those who have seen quadroons and octoroons 
will remember their peculiar style of beauty, the 
rich olive tint of the complexion, the large bright 
eyes, the perfect features, and the long wavy black 
hair. A hundred romantic associations and myste- 
rious fancies clustered around that class in the 
South, owned, as they often were, often by their 
own fathers and sold by them. 

Jane was a house-servant, and did not have to 
work under the lash or toil in the fields, as many 
slave-women were compelled to do, but she felt 
keenly the degradation of her position and longed 
to be free, that she might live a purer life. She had 
experienced a change of heart and become a Chris- 
tian, and this offended her master. He decided to 
sell her, when her little girl was about three years 
old. The old mistress was opposed to it, but her 
words had no effect; the master declared that he 
would sell Jane to the first trader that came along. 
Jane's mistress informed her of the fate in store for 
her, and said that she longed to save her from it, 
but was powerless. Jane was greatly alarmed, and 
in her distress went to tell her grief to an English 
family, who lived near by, kind-hearted people, who 
were opposed to slavery. They were much attached 
to Jenny, as they called her, and felt great sym- ; 
pathy with her in her distress. The old gentleman 
went to see her master, and tried to dissuade him 
from his purpose of selling Jane, but he could not 
be moved. Nothing was said about the child. The 


old gentleman told me afterward that he had no 
thought that the brute would sell his own child. 
Next day the old Englishman and his son-in-law 
concluded that by their united efforts they could 
raise a sum sufficient to purchase Jane, supposing 
that her master would sell her at a fair price. They 
went to him and offered him five hundred dollars for 
her, intending to secure her freedom and to allow 
her reasonable wages until she paid back the 
amount. But the master refused to take it. He 
said Jane was a handsome girl and would bring a 
high price down South; .he would not take less than 
eight hundred dollars for her, and thought perhaps 
he might get a thousand. This was more money 
than Jane's friends were able to give ; they thought 
it was an unreasonable price, and gave up the idea 
of buying her. A few days afterward the master 
sold Jane and her beautiful child to a Southern 
negro-trader, receiving eleven hundred dollars for 
them both nine hundred for the mother and two 
hundred for the child. 

When Jane learned that she was sold, to be 
taken to the far South, her distress was indescriba- 
ble. She and her little girl were to go together, but 
she knew not how soon they would be separated. 
She slipped into the house of her English friends, 
almost overwhelmed with grief, and begged them 
to help her in some way, to save her from being 
sent away. They felt deeply for her distress, but 
what could they do ? Jane was to have one day, in 
which to wash and iron her clothes, then she must 
start away with her new master, the slave-trader. 


The old Englishman concluded to go over to Cin- 
cinnati that day and see William Casey, a worthy 
colored man of his acquaintance, and counsel with 
him about Jane. Casey soon suggested a plan to get 
her over the river and put her on the Underground 
Railroad for Canada. The old man knew very little 
about the Underground Railroad, but he had full 
confidence in William Casey, knowing him to be a 
true and reliable man, and agreed to carry out his 
suggestions if possible. Casey said he would get a 
skiff and go across the river in the early part of the 
night to a wood-boat that lay at the bank in the 
lower part of Covington. The nights were then 
dark, and he thought Jie could carry out his plan 
unmolested. The old Englishman was to apprise 
Jane of the plan, and tell her to watch for an oppor- 
tunity to slip out into a certain dark alley, where he 
would be in waiting. He would then conduct her 
to the wood-boat where Casey agreed to be, and she 
could be rowed across to the city under cover of 
darkness, and secreted in some safe place. 

Her English friend managed to communicate the 
plan to Jane, and she watched diligently for an op- 
portunity to escape, but she was kept busy, till 
late, washing and fixing her clothes preparatory 
to starting on her journey next day, and her mis- 
tress or some one else staid in the room to watch 

Jane's heart throbbed with anxious excitement as 
the time drew near for the door to be closed, and no 
opportunity offered for her to get away. She did 
not want to leave her little girl, but knew not how 


she could take her out of the house without exciting 
suspicion. She went into the yard several times in 
the evening, and finally the child who had remained 
awake something altogether unusual followed her 
out. This was the very opportunity for which Jane 
had been watching and hoping, and she did not let 
it pass. Taking her little daughter in her arms, she 
made her way into the back alley, and walked rap- 
idly toward the place where she was to meet her 
friend, the Englishman. The child, as if knowing 
that something was at stake, kept perfectly quiet. 

Jane's friend was waiting at the rendezvous, 
though he had almost given her up, and concluded 
that it was impossible for her to get away. To- 
gether they proceeded to the river, Jane trembling 
so much with excitement that she was obliged to 
give her child to her conductor to carry. Walking 
across the wood-boat, the Englishman perceived a 
man waiting in a skiff, and though it was too dark 
to distinguish faces, he felt confident that it was the 
faithful Casey, and handed him the child. Then 
assisting Jane into the skiff, he bade her good-by, 
with a fervent "God bless you!" 

Casey brought the fugitives to our house, where 
they arrived about midnight. We knew nothing of 
the circumstances beforehand, but were accustomed 
to receive fugitives at all hours. They were soon 
secreted in an up-stairs room, where they remained 
in safety for several weeks. About a week after 
Jane's escape, the old Englishman, who had been 
afraid to make any inquiry before, came over to 
Cincinnati to learn what had become of her. He 


stopped at Oberlin, Ohio, and had a meeting with 
the friends of fugitives there, and as I could not well 
spare the time for the journey, a reliable and trust- 
worthy gentleman offered to go in my stead. The 
girls being convinced that they could put entire con- 
fidence in this escort, excused me from the task, 
and soon were on their way. 

Some years afterward I accompanied a party of 
fugitives to Amherstburg, Canada West, and there 
had the pleasure of dining with Jane in her own 
home. She had married an industrious man of 
nearly her own color, and was comfortably situated 
and very happy. If it had not been for the interven- 
tion of the friends of humanity she would doubtless 
have been toiling, broken-hearted, beneath the 
burning sun in Southern fields, and ofttimes fallen 
under the cruel sting of the lash instead of living 
in peace and happiness in her northern home. 





A GENTLEMAN from the South, accompanied 
by his wife, came to Cincinnati to spend a 
short time, and brought with him, as waiting-maid 
and general servant, one of his slave girls. He had 
not been long in this city Before he experienced one 
of the annoyances incident to slavery his slave girl 
ran away. She had a longing to taste the sweets 
of freedom, and being assisted by some friendly 
colored people to whom she made known her desire, 
she succeeded in getting safely away from her mas- 
ter and mistress and reaching the house of Thomas 
and Jane Dorum, worthy colored people, well known 
for their efforts in befriending slaves, who then lived 
on Elm Street. The girl remained here a short 
time, but as the house was liable to be searched by 
the officers whom the master would employ to look 
for his missing property, it was not prudent for her 
to stay. Jane Dorum or "Aunt Jane," as she was 
generally known, sent a message to my wife, asking 
her to bring some suitable clothing, and come pre- 


pared to take the girl to our house. My wife at 
once prepared a bundle of clothes and went to Aunt 
Jane's. Having dressed the slave girl in suitable 
apparel, she conducted her to our house, where she 
remained two days. At the end of that time it 
seemed advisable to take her to another place, for 
the search for her was being prosecuted with much 
zeal and energy, and our house was in a public situa- 
tion ; we lived then on the corner of Sixth and Elm 

My wife planned how she could get her away 
without attracting attention, or rousing the suspi- 
cions of persons who might be watching for her, and 
at last hit upon a plan which seemed good. She 
dressed herself in fashionable clothes, a plaid 
shawl, a gayly trimmed straw bonnet, and other 
articles at variance with her usual garb, and put 
upon the fugitive garments suitable to the occasion. 
Then she rolled up some clothes and made a rag 
baby, being careful to provide it with a vail for its 
head and face. This she put into the arms of the 
slave girl, and thus equipped they sallied forth into 
the street. As they passed along they presented 
the appearance of a fashionable lady and her nurse- 
girl the servant bearing the infant in her arms. 
They made their way across the canal to the house 
of William Fuller, an English abolitionist, where 
my wife left the fugitive, knowing that she would 
be cared for. 

William Beard, of Indiana, that true friend to the 
slave, was in the city at the time with his market- 
wagon, a large covered vehicle which often did duty 


as a car of the Underground Railroad. The case 
of this slave girl was made known to him, and when 
he was ready to start for home, he called at William 
Fuller's house and took in a passenger. The girl 
reached his house in safety, and was soon afterward 
forwarded by the old reliable road to Canada. 


Jackson, the subject of this story, was the prop- 
erty of Vice-President King, of Alabama, who was 
elected to office with Franklin Pierce. 

While the master was at Washington, the slave 
ran away from him and came to Cincinnati. He 
was a barber by trade, and after remaining here 
unmolested for some time, he opened a shop, in 
which he served several jsears, having a number of 
patrons and being liked by all who knew him. By 
some means his master learned of his whereabouts, 
and sent an agent to secure him. The man arrived 
in Cincinnati, and without procuring a writ, as the 
law required, resolved to take forcible possession of 
Jackson. He gathered a posse of men with pistols 
and bowie-knives, had the ferry-boat in waiting at 
the wharf at the foot of Walnut Street, in readiness 
to take them across to Kentucky as soon as they 
came on board, and about noon, one day, pounced 
upon Jackson at the corner of Fifth and Walnut 
Streets, as he was going to his dinner, and dragged 
him down Walnut Street to the wharf. Jackson 
struggled with all his might and calling for help, 
but most of the men of the stores had gone to 
their dinner at that hour, and the policemen, who 


pared to take the girl to our house. My wife at 
once prepared a bundle of clothes and went to Aunt 
Jane's. Having dressed the slave girl in suitable 
apparel, she conducted her to our house, where she 
remained two days. At the end of that time it 
seemed advisable to take her to another place, for 
the search for her was being prosecuted with much 
zeal and energy, and our house was in a public situa- 
tion ; we lived then on the corner of Sixth and Elm 

My wife planned how she could get her away 
without attracting attention, or rousing the suspi- 
cions of persons who might be watching for her, and 
at last hit upon a plan which seemed good. She 
dressed herself in fashionable clothes, a plaid 
shawl, a gayly trimmed straw bonnet, and other 
articles at variance with her usual garb, and put 
upon the fugitive garments suitable to the occasion. 
Then she rolled up some clothes and made a rag 
baby, being careful to provide it with a vail for its 
head and face. This she put into the arms of the 
slave girl, and thus equipped they sallied forth into 
the street. As they passed along they presented 
the appearance of a fashionable lady and her nurse- 
girl the servant bearing the infant in her arms. 
They made their way across the canal to the house 
of William Fuller, an English abolitionist, where 
my wife left the fugitive, knowing that she would 
be cared for. 

William Beard, of Indiana, that true friend to the 
slave, was in the city at the time with his market- 
wagon, a large covered vehicle which often did duty 


as a car of the Underground Railroad. The case 
of this slave girl was made known to him, and when 
he was ready to start for home, he called at William 
Fuller's house and took in a passenger. The girl 
reached his house in safety, and was soon afterward 
forwarded by the old reliable road to Canada. 


Jackson, the subject of this story, was the prop- 
erty of Vice-President King, of Alabama, who was 
elected to office with Franklin Pierce. 

While the master was at Washington, the slave 
ran away from him and came to Cincinnati. He 
was a barber by trade, and after remaining here 
unmolested for some time, he opened a shop, in 
which he served several 3*ears, having a number of 
patrons and being liked by all who knew him. By 
some means his master learned of his whereabouts, 
and sent an agent to secure him. The man arrived 
in Cincinnati, and without procuring a writ, as the 
law required, resolved to take forcible possession of 
Jackson. He gathered a posse of men with pistols 
and bowie-knives, had the ferry-boat in waiting at 
the wharf at the foot of Walnut Street, in readiness 
to take them across to Kentucky as soon as they 
came on board, and about noon, one day, pounced 
upon Jackson at the corner of Fifth and Walnut 
Streets, as he was going to his dinner, and dragged 
him down Walnut Street to the wharf. Jackson 
struggled with all his might and calling for help, 
but most of the men of the stores had gone to 
their dinner at that hour, and the policemen, who 


were generally on the side of the slaveholders, 
remained out of sight. Thomas Franklin, a Friend, 
who was passing, attempted to interfere and rescue 
Jackson, but the men threatened him with their 
weapons, and he was obliged to desist. Jackson 
was hurried aboard the ferry-boat and taken across 
to Kentucky, where his captors had no fear of his 

He was bound and carried back to Alabama, 
where he remained in slavery two or three years, 
and where he married a free woman, a Creole of 
Mobile, who possessed some property. She was 
portly in form and had^ handsome features, with 
straight hair and olive complexion. When dressed 
up, she presented the appearance of an elegant 
Southern lady. A plan was soon formed to gain 
Jackson's liberty. His wife was to act the part of a 
lady traveling to Baltimore on business, and Jack- 
son, who was small in stature, was to be disguised as 
a woman and accompany her as her servant. When 
all the preparations were made, they sent their 
trunks on board the regular vessel for New Orleans, 
and took passage for that city, in their newly 
assumed characters. 

At New Orleans they took an up-river boat for 
Cincinnati. On the way the lady stated that she 
was going to Baltimore on business, but that she 
intended to stop a short time at Cincinnati, and 
ordered her servant about in a haughty manner, 
keeping her in her room when not engaged in some 
service for her comfort. Some of the Southern 
ladies on board advised her not to land at Cincinnati, 


as Ohio was a free State, and the laws of that State 
declared all slaves free as soon as they touched its 
borders, when taken there by their owners, but to 
stop at Covington, on the opposite side of the river, 
and leave her slave there while she transacted her 
business. She informed those kind ladies that 
she had no fears regarding her servant's running 
away, or being enticed off by the abolitionists, for 
she was much attached to her mistress, and would 
not leave her under any circumstances. 

On the other hand, several Northern ladies, who 
were on board, took private opportunity to speak to 
the servant when her mistress was not near, and 
inform her that she would be in a free State when 
she reached Ohio, and that she had better seize the 
opportunity to escape. s V- 

Her answer was, that she would not leave her 
mistress, and the abolition ladies desisted from their 
attempts to advise and counsel, pitying the infatua- 
tion of one who had rather be a slave than be free. 
When the boat reached the wharf at Cincinnati, the 
lady took a carriage, and, with her servant, drove to 
the Dumas House, a public hotel kept by a colored 
man. Jackson was well acquainted in the city and 
knew where to find friends. A few hours afterward 
I received a message requesting me to call at tin 
Dumas House, as a lady there wished to see me on 
business. I went, accompanied by John Hatfield, a 
colored man who was a prominent worker in the 
cause of freedom, and who had received a similar 
message. The landlord conducted us up-stairs to 
the ladies' parlor, and introduced us to the lady 


from Alabama. She was a fine-looking, well-dressed 
Creole, with straight black hair and olive complex- 
ion, presenting the appearance of the ladies one 
sees in New Orleans and other Southern cities. She 
was polite and ladylike in her manner, and informed 
us that she had sent for us, though she was a 
stranger to us both, that she might consult us on a 
matter of business. She went on to say that she 
had a servant with her whose liberty she wished to 
secure, and she had been referred to us for advice. 
She was not very well acquainted with the laws of 
Ohio, and felt at a loss how to proceed. We 
advised her to have a deed of emancipation made 
out. I inquired if it was" a male or female servant 
that she wished to emancipate, and she called 
"Sal" to come from the adjoining room. 

The servant came, and made a graceful courtesy 
to us and stood looking at us It was Jackson, 
dressed in woman's clothes, but we did not recog- 
nize him, though both of us had been acquainted 
with him before he was taken away. 

The lady then ordered her servant to go into their 
bedroom and open her trunk and get out that bun- 
dle. We supposed that she referred to some papers 
that she wished to show us. While the servant 
was gone I asked the lady what part of Alabama 
they were from. She answered, "Mobile." I then 
inquired what route they came, and she told me 
of their journey. At this juncture her servant 
returned, but the bundle seemed to be on the per- 
son, who had turned to a man. We recognized 
Jackson, the barber, at once, and greeted him with 


a hearty hand-shake. Then followed an introduc- 
tion to his wife, a full explanation and a hearty 
laugh over the whole affair. It was decided that it 
would be unsafe for Jackson to remain in Cincin- 
nati; he was too well known here. He concluded 
that he would go to Cleveland, where he was not 
known, and where he could be on the lake shore, 
so that, if danger appeared, he could step on board 
a steamer and cross to Canada. It was decided that 
his wife should remain at Cincinnati until he had 
made preparations for housekeeping, and established 
himself in business, if a suitable opening presented 
itself. His wife had means on which she could 
depend for support in the interval, 

We approved of Jackson's plan, and the next 
night he took the train to Cleveland. He soon 
secured a comfortable house and shop, and wrote 
for his wife. She joined him immediately, and 
when we last heard from them they were living 
comfortably and happily at Cleveland. Jackson had 
a good business in his barber shop, and was troubled 
with no fear of molestation. 


There are numerous other incidents of slaves who 
escaped in disguise, and in many instances there is 
humor as well as pathos connected with them. A 
slave man living in the State of Arkansas resolved 
to make his escape, and fixed upon a plan, at once 
daring and safe. He was past middle age, spare in 
form and below the medium height, so his personal 
appearance favored his plan. 



Procuring the free papers, of a colored woman 
living in the neighborhood, he disguised himself in 
woman's apparel, put on a cap and a pair of green 
spectacles, and provided himself with knitting work. 
Thus equipped, he went aboard of a boat bound for 
Cincinnati, having made up a suitable story to tell 
if he should be questioned. The captain examined 
his free papers, and finding everything satisfactory, 
he "was permitted to take passage, and the journey 
was accomplished without his disguise being sus- 
pected by any one. 

In talking he could imitate a woman's voice, but 
spoke only when spoken to ; he devoted himself 
industriously to his knifting, and affected to be in 
poor health. Some ladies noticing him said : " It is 
too bad for that sick old auntie to sleep on deck ; 
let her sleep on the floor in the ladies' cabin," and 
the chamber-maid accordingly put a mattress there 
for him. Arriving safely at Cincinnati, he went to 
a colored boarding house, having enough money left 
to pay his expenses there, but not enough to take 
him on to Canada. I was sent for, and after hearing 
his story raised sufficient means to purchase for him 
a ticket to Detroit. Before starting on his journey 
toward the North, I advised him to throw off his 
female apparel and resume his proper dress, but he 
said that his disguise had done him such good ser- 
vice so far, that he would wear it till he reached 


Disgraceful as it is to those whom it concerns, it 
is nevertheless true, that colored persons sometimes 


turned .traitors to their own race, and, Judas-like, 
betrayed their brethren for a little money. A man 
of this character, who had been sent as a spy from 
Kentucky, applied to me, asking my help and pro- 
tection, and seeming to be much alarmed lest he 
should be captured. As other attemps of similar 
character had often been made, I was on the look- 
out,i and was wary and guarded in what I said. I 
took the man to the house of one of my colored 
friends, whom I privately informed of my suspi- 
cions, and told him to be on his guard till it should 
be discovered whether the man was a fugitive or a 
spy. It was soon .ascertained that he was the latter, 
and the colored people, among whom he had been 
staying, arose in their indignation, took him out 
of the city, and administered punishment in the 
shape of a severe whipping. After this he returned 
to Kentucky, and was never known to play such a 
part again. 

At another time, a man who had been employed, 
to act as spy, by some slave-hunters of Kentucky, 
came across the river in female apparel, and pre- 
sented himself at the basement of a colored church, 
in Cincinnati, where fugitives were in the habit of 
stopping. The sexton's wife was suspicious that all 
was not right, and sent for me. When I went, I 
questioned and cross-questioned the suspected fugi- 
tive, and feeling almost certain that it was a man in 
disguise, I turned him over to the colored people, 
who stripped off the female apparel, and inflicted 
such a severe punishment upon him that he was 


glad to escape with his life, and return to the other 
side of the river. 

Such schemes of deception were not uncommon, 
but they never succeeded in accomplishing their 
designs. A white man once called at my house, 
and when he was ushered into the parlor, he intro- 
duced himself as a friend of the oppressed slaves, 
who had often heard of my efforts in their behalf, 
and wished to enter into an arrangement with me 
by which a number in Kentucky could be liberated. 
He made many professions of interest in, and sym- 
pathy with, my work for the fugitive, but I did not 
like his appearance and manner, and after question- 
ing him closely came to the conclusion that he was 
a spy. I informed him that he was "barking up 
the wrong tree," and tHat his little plan of engaging 
me in an attempt to liberate some Kentucky slaves 
would not work. I said that I had nothing to do 
with slavery on the other side of the river, and did 
not believe in interfering with the laws of slave 
States, except by moral suasion. If persons came 
to my house hungry and destitute, I received and 
aided them, irrespective of color, but I had no 
intention of engaging in a plan such as that pro- 
posed. The man left discomfited, and I afterward 
learned that he was a slaveholder, who had designed 
to entrap me. 

At another time a man was introduced to me as a 
friend of the slaves, and proceeded to inform me 
that he traveled up and down the river a great deal, 
being engaged in some capacity on board a boat, 
and suggested to me that arrangements might be 


made to help away a number of slaves. I had good 
reasons for believing that he was an impostor who 
hoped to entangle me in some scheme that would 
cause trouble, and answered him in the same man- 
ner that I had the slaveholder. Several similar 
attempts to entrap me were made by agents and 
spies from Kentucky, but they were unsuccessful. 


Sally, an intelligent woman of brown complexion, 
belonged to a couple of maiden ladies who lived in 
Covington, Kentucky, having become their prop- 
erty by inheritance. She had been well trained in 
household work, and was an excellent cook and 
housekeeper, besides being skillful with the needle. 
Her husband, who belonged to another family, had 
been sold from her when her youngest child was a 
few months old, leaving her with five children, all 
girls. He was taken to the far South, and she never 
heard of him afterward. Sally's eldest two daugh- 
ters were hired out, but the three younger ones, 
being too young to be put out to service, were left 
with her at home. 

Sally was a good and faithful servant, and had 
never suffered the sting of the lash, or other abuse. 
Her mistresses, probably to dissuade her from 
taking advantage of her proximity to a free State 
and running away, often told her that they intended 
to set her and her children free, but the time was 
deferred from year to year. Sally often reminded 
them of their promise without getting any satisfac- 
tory reply, and she began to feel that its fulfillment 


was "mighty onsartain, " as she expressed it, but 
she had no thought of being sold until her mis- 
tresses called her into the house, one morning, from 
the kitchen and told her that she and her youngest 
three children were sold, and would be taken away 
that day. She said this announcement was like a 
thunderbolt ; it struck her dumb. She almost fell 
to the floor before her mistresses, but they did not 
seem to pity her, or to pay any attention to her. 
When she found speech she begged to be permitted 
to go and see her two girls- who were hired out, but 
her mistresses refused her request, and ordered her 
to go up-stairs to the room where she slept, and 
pack up her own and her children's clothes, in readi- 
ness to start away with her new master. When 
Sally reached her room up-stairs she set her wits to 
work to find a way to escape. She managed to get 
out of the window on to the kitchen-roof, then on 
to an adjoining shed-roof, from which she slid down 
to the ground in the back yard. She then slipped 
out the back way and ran to the house of a widow 
lady living near by, whom she kne.w to be friendly, 
and hastily told her sad story. The lady deeply 
sympathized with her, and being a mother she 
could understand the distress she felt on her chil- 
dren's account. She concealed Sally in a safe place, 
thinking that the children would not be taken away 
unless the mother was found. 

Sally was soon missed, and a diligent search was 
made for her. The news spread through the neigh- 
borhood that Sally had deserted, and a company of 
men started in pursuit, anxious to capture the run- 


away slave. They searched among the colored 
people, thinking she had taken refuge there. They 
did not think of her being so near her home, and 
thus overlooked her place of concealment. In the 
afternoon, when the ardor of the search seemed to 
have abated a little, the widow lady came over to 
Cincinnati to consult with some of her friends, whom 
she knew to be abolitionists, in regard to Sally. 

William Casey, a worthy colored man who was a 
good manager in such matters, was consulted and a 
plan was soon agreed upon. Sally was to be dressed 
in men's apparel and taken about midnight to a 
point in the upper part of Covington, near the Lick- 
ing River, where William Casey would be to receive 
her, and bring her across the river. Sally being a 
small woman, it was somewhat difficult to find men's 
apparel to fit her, but with her friends' assistance 
the widow obtained a suit of black summer cloth 
belonging to a youth, which she took home with 
her. Sally donned the suit and made a presentable 
appearance in it, but it was rather thin for the sea- 
son, it being cool weather in early spring. The 
undertaking was a hazardous one, both for Sally 
and for William Casey, for the bank might be 
watched, but Sally's liberty was at stake, and Casey, 
who was ever ready to aid his people when in dis- 
tress, felt it his duty to risk his own safety in order 
to rescue her from slavery. Sally's lady friend sent 
a trusty companion with her to the place appointed, 
and as the night was dark they escaped detection, 
and the whole arrangement was completed without 


William Casey brought Sally directly to our 
house on the corner of Franklin and Broadway, 
near Woodward College. Between twelve and one 
o'clock in the night I was awakened by the ringing 
of the door-bell. It was no alarm, for we were used 
to hearing it at late hours of the night and knew 
what it meant. I sprang up, dressed hastily, and 
went to the front door. When I opened it I saw 
William Casey and another colored person, appar- 
ently a boy, standing on the steps. Casey told me 
he had brought a fugitive whom he wished me to 
keep in safety for awhile, and I at once invited them 
in. When we reached the sitting-room, I addressed 
a few questions to Casey's companion, but received 
replies that denoted embarrassment. When Casey 
informed me that it was a woman in disguise I was 
much surprised, so completely did she make the 
appearance of a boy, or young man. Seeing that 
her countenance denoted trouble and that she seem- 
ed to wish to avoid conversation, I asked no more 
questions. Casey said that she would tell her story 
to us in the morning, and assured her that I and my 
wife were true friends ; that she could confide in us 
with safety. Casey then left us and went to his 
home. I went up to our room and told my wife 
that Casey had brought a fugitive woman in men's 
clothing, and asked where I should put her to sleep. 
She told me to take her to the fourth story, and let 
her sleep with Jane Clark, our colored hired girl, 
directing me first to go into another room where we 
had some clothes for fugitives, and get a bundle of 
women's clothes, and tell Jane to dress the fugitive 


in proper apparel. I acted according to my wife's 
directions, and conducted the fugitive to the fourth 
story. When we reached Jane's door I knocked on 
it and called her by name, requesting her to open 
the door, as I had a bed-fellow for her. She rose 
and unlocked the door, then slipped back to bed. 
I opened the door and took in Sally who looked like 
a man. Jane glanced at us wildly, then covered up 
her head. 

I felt a little mischievous and spoke command- 
ingly: "Jane, thou must take this person in bed 
with thee." 

" I sha'n't! " she exclaimed from beneath the bed- 

"Now, Jane," I said ; "don't act so ugly; he is a 
good-looking fellow. Btft if thou dost not like the 
idea of sleeping with a man, get up and make a 
woman of him ; here is a bundle of clothes with 
which Aunt Katy said he could be dressed." Jane 
now began to understand. She uncovered her head, 
opened her big eyes, stared at Sally and exclaimed : 

"That's no man; you can't fool this chile." 

Sally smiled for the first time, and said: "Dear 
child, I am a woman." 

I retired to our room and left them to arrange 
matters to their own liking. Next morning Sally 
was neatly dressed and made the appearance of a 
good-looking, middle-aged colored woman, below 
medium stature. Her expression was intelligent, 
but sad, and her countenance denoted anguish of 
heart. After breakfast she was brought into our 
room and related to me and my wife her touching 


story. Her heart seemed ready to break with 
trouble for her children. She felt that she could not 
go to Canada and leave them to suffer and die in 
slavery. She was sold, with her youngest three 
children, to a man of whom she knew nothing, and 
did not know where her children would be taken, 
or whether they would be separated. Her eldest 
two daughters might soon be sold and taken to 
the cotton-fields or rice swamps of the far South. 
Why her mistresses sold her she could not tell; 
she had had no warning of their intention. It 
might be that they were pecuniarily embarrassed 
and needed money. Her .heart yearned especially 
for her youngest child, about three years old, 
who had weak eyes and was almost blind. She 
would cry, "Oh, my precious child, what will it do 
without mother?" then tears would stream down 
her cheeks. 

We advised her to compose herself and remain 
quietly at our house and await the result. Perhaps 
now that she was gone, her children would not be 
taken away. That day the Anti-Slavery Sewing 
Society held its weekly meeting at our house, and 
my wife introduced Sally to the ladies and left her to 
tell her story, which she did with so much pathos 
and simple eloquence, that when it was finished, 
there was not a dry eye in the room. 

Most of the ladies present were mothers and 
could sympathize with her feelings as a mother. 
Her friends took measures to ascertain the fate of 
her children, and learned that they had been sold to 
a man living near Lexington, Kentucky.- Sally was 


much grieved at this news, but still hoped to gain 
possession of the two who were hired out. She 
staid with us several weeks ; then, fearing for her to 
remain longer in the city, I took her to the house 
of a trustworthy friend in the country, a few miles 
away, where she stopped several weeks, hoping to 
hear some news of her children. A vigorous search 
for her was kept up, and feeling uneasy about her, I 
brought her back to our house. Efforts were made 
by some of her colored friends to secure the liberty 
of her two children who were hired out, and we 
endeavored to purchase her youngest child from her 
master in Lexington, but all these efforts failed, and 
Sally was finally sent on to Canada alone. I heard 
from her frequently afterward. She married again 
in about two years, but the consuming grief for her 
lost children never left her. One daughter finally 
escaped and went to Canada, but her mother died 
just before she reached her. There was never a 
reunion of the family on earth, but let us hope there 
will be a reunion in heaven, without the loss of one. 
There all their wrongs will be righted, and their 
benighted souls will expand in the light and freedom 
of eternity. 


A merchant who lived in Newport, Kentucky, 
and did business in Cincinnati, on the opposite side 
of the river, owned several slaves, among whom 
were a man and his wire, named Louis and Ellen. 
They were favorites with their master and mistress, 
and enjoyed many privileges not usually allowed to 
slaves. They had no children, and Ellen's time was 


fully engaged in fulfilling the duties of the place 
she occupied in the household. She was intrusted 
with the keys and the management of household 
affairs in general, and attended to her duties with as 
much dignity as if she were a lady, instead of a 
servant. She was an intelligent woman, of fine per- 
sonal appearance, tall, and of light complexion, 
with straight black hair. She had learned to read, 
used good language, was attractive in her man- 
ners, and was liked and respected by every one 
who knew her. She was a member of a white 
Baptist church in Cincinnati, and being consistent 
in her religious professions had the esteem of her 
white brethren and sisters. She often had the 
privilege of attending the church to which she 
belonged. Louis was a confidential servant, of 
genteel manners and appearances. He was of 
browner complexion than his wife, and was not 
her equal in general intelligence. He was often 
intrusted to make deposits in bank for his master, 
and to collect checks, and generally did the family 
marketing in the city. Both Louis and Ellen had 
standing passes to cross by the ferry-boat to and 
from Cincinnati, and occasionally the opportunity 
was given them to make a little money for them- 
selves. Their master and mistress often gave them 
presents as rewards for their good management, or 
as incentives to good conduct, and succeeded in 
rendering them contented with their lot. Their 
master often promised them that they should never 
serve any one else. Louis and his wife saved their 
money, and in the course of ten or twelve years 


accumulated about three hundred dollars, which 
they deposited in a bank in Covington, Kentucky. 
The cashier of the bank knew that the laws of Ken- 
tucky did not allow him to deal with slaves, without 
a permit from their master, but being well acquainted 
with Louis and Ellen, he ventured to take their 
money on his own responsibility, and gave them his 
individual note, to be cashed on demand. 

These were palmy days for Louis and Ellen, but 
they could not last, always. Slaves were never 
secure ; their situation was liable to be changed at 
any time, by the death or bankruptcy of their mas- 
ter. Louis and Ellen experienced a sudden change 
after their years of content and prosperity. 

Their master became embarrassed in his business, 
and was involved in debt* so deeply that he decided 
to make an assignment of all his property to his 
creditors. This intention was concealed from his 
slaves ; but Ellen happened to find it out, and felt 
greatly alarmed fearing that she and her husband 
would fall into other hands, and possibly be sepa- 
rated. She came over to Cincinnati and consulted 
with a prominent member of her church a book- 
seller and publisher in the city. She told him her 
troubles and fears, and asked him about the Under- 
ground Railroad, thinking that she and Louis might 
find it necessary to resort to that means to secure 
their liberty. 

Her friend said that he would help them all that 
he could; he knew very little about the Under- 
ground Railroad, but was acquainted with a gentle- 
man in the city who knew all about it, and would 


consult with him. Soon after his interview with 
Ellen, he came to see me, and very cautiously told 
me the story. He had never taken stock in the 
road and was ignorant of its operations ; and feared 
that he might involve himself in difficulty or danger. 
I was much amused at his extreme caution. I told 
him that the road was in good working order, and 
if his friends could get across the river safely, I 
would see that they were started safely on the 
Underground Railroad. Ellen was over again in a 
day or two, and her friend gave her the information 
he had obtained, and encouraged her to put their 
plan of escape in execution at once, lest the way 
should be closed. Ellen replied that it would be 
some time before she could be ready ; she had a 
number of valuable things she did not wish to leave, 
and she and Louis wanted to get their money from 
the bank in Covington before they went away. Her 
friend reminded her of the danger of delay. She 
replied that her greatest anxiety was in regard to 
her husband if she could prevail on him to come 
over without her, and get away safely, her mind 
would be easy, and she would stay awhile and get 
better prepared before joining him. She did not 
think they would sell her, for her mistress could not 
do without her, and she thought she could manage 
to get away ; but Louis was not willing to leave her. 
She believed her master intended to sell Louis, for 
he had been trying to create a difficulty between 
them ; he had tried to make her jealous by accusing 
Louis of intimacy with one of the slave girls, and 
had advised her to turn him off and have nothing 


more to do with him. But she knew that Louis was 
innocent, and she indignantly resented the accusa- 
tion. She told her master that she had lived with 
her husband fourteen years, and he had always been 
faithful and kind to her, and she would not believe 
any such thing against him. (Some time after 
Louis was gone, the sin of which he was accused 
was proven on a young white man, connected with 
the family. ) 

The day following Ellen's interview with her 
friend in the city, she was arranging the dinner 
about noon, when in passing the open door of the 
sitting-room where her master and mistress were 
talking, she heard Louis' name mentioned. She 
stepped behind the door and listened, and though 
the conversation was carried on in a low tone, she 
heard that Louis was sold and was to be taken away 
the next day. She was so shocked that it was with 
difficulty she finished her work and arranged the 
dinner table. Louis was in the kitchen, but she did 
not venture to tell him the news until the family 
were seated at the table ; then suppressing her agi- 
tation as well as she could, she communicated to 
him what she had heard. The announcement of the 
trouble in store for him was so sudden and stunning 
that Louis was almost overwhelmed. He could not 
collect his thoughts enough to decide what to do, 
but Ellen had already rallied from the shock and at 
once suggested a plan for his escape. She told him 
he must act at once, or his pass would be taken from 
him, then handing him the market basket she told 
him to go across to the city as if to get some eggs. 


She often sent him on such errands, for she had the 
management of the kitchen and provided articles 
for cooking; so his movements in this instance 
would excite no suspicion. Louis was loth to leave 
her thus, not knowing that he would ever see her 
again, but she encouraged Jiim by saying that she 
would join him in Canada at no distant day, and 
urged him to start immediately, while the family 
were at dinner. She gave him the address of her 
friend, the bookseller, in the city, and told him to 
g.o directly to him, and consult him in regard to 
what was best to do nex. Louis followed her di- 
rections and told his story to the merchant. I was 
sent for immediately, and when I arrived Louis was 
weeping bitterly, being much dejected at the pros- 
pect of leaving Ellen. I tried to console him by 
telling him that she would soon follow him, and 
they would be reunited in a land of liberty ; for the 
present he must remain in concealment and await 
results. Louis' friend, the merchant, now suggested 
a plan by which his master would be misled as to 
his whereabouts. The market basket was to be 
filled with eggs, and placed, together with Louis' 
hat and coat, on the wharf where the Newport ferry- 
boat landed. The supposition was that they would 
be recognized by the ferryman, who knew that Louis 
had crossed on the boat a few hours before, and 
that he would communicate the news to Louis' mas- 
ter, who would naturally conclude that Louis, in his 
despair, had thrown himself into the river and been 
drowned, I was afraid that if the plan were carried 
out it would alarm Ellen, but the merchant urged 



it, and I told him to manage that part according to 
his liking ; I would take care of Louis, and see that 
he was safely concealed. 

When another hat and coat had been furnished 
Louis, instead of his, which he left at the merchant's, 
I told him to follow me on the opposite side of the 
street, walking a short distance behind and keeping 
his eye on me ; to notice where I stopped, and to 
follow me into the house a few minutes after I en- 
tered ; I would meet him at the door inside. He 
did as I directed, and I conducted him several 

squares to the house of J. B and wife, well 

known friends to the slave. They belonged to the 
colored race, but were generally taken for white 

people, so light were their complexions. J. B 

was quite a business man, and a shrewd manager 
in Underground Railroad affairs. The house this 
worthy couple occupied was their own property. 
Here I left Louis for awhile, knowing that he would 
be in safe hands. 

The merchant carried out his proposed plan that 
evening. At dusk, a sharp, trusty colored man 
took the basket of eggs, and Louis' hat and coat, to 
the river, and watching his opportunity when the 
ferry-boat was on the other side, placed the things 
on the wharf, where the boat landed. He then 
passed on a short distance, and concealed himself 
where he could watch the basket, and had the satis- 
faction when the boat returned of seeing the ferry- 
man take them up. The ferryman at once recog- 
nized the articles, knowing that Louis had been sent 
to the city for eggs and had not yet returned. He 


took them to the other side, and gave them to 
Louis' master, who had been at the wharf there to 
inquire for Louis, and was waiting the return of the 
boat, thinking he might be on it. He was much 
surprised when the basket, hat and coat were 
handed to him, and exclaimed at once "Louis 
must have jumped into the river; poor fellow!" 
He seemed to feel regret, aside from the loss of his 
property, for Louis had been his confidential ser- 
vant. He took the things home and showed them 
to Ellen. It was a terrible shock to her, for at first 
thought she supposed, that in his deep distress 
Louis might have drowned himself. She said little, 
however, and hope soon sprang up in her mind ; 
she concluded that it might be a trick arranged by 
Louis' friends to deceive his master. Her uneasi- 
ness was so great that she could not sleep that 
night, and next morning she wished to go across 
the river and see if she could hear anything of 
Louis. Her mistress said she would go with her, so 
they crossed over and made inquiries about the river 
and along East Pearl Street, where Louis generally 
bought eggs, but gained no information. Ellen 
wished to get rid of her mistress, and requested her 
to remain at the house of one of her friends, on 
East Pearl Street, while she went up town, among 
some of her colored friends, to see if she could hear 
anything of Louis. The mistress consented, and 
Ellen hastened to the house of her friend, the mer- 
chant. He was absent, but his wife heard Ellen's 
story, and sent immediately for me. 

When I arrived I found Ellen weeping, and in 


great distress. She told me how the basket and hat 
and coat had been found, and said that she feared 
her husband was drowned. I told her to dry her 
tears, for her husband was alive and safe. 

"Oh! where is he? I must see him!" she cried, 
transported in one moment from the deepest sorrow 
to the liveliest joy. 

I told her that it was not best for her to see 
Louis, that such a meeting might open a way for 
his discovery, and endanger his liberty, but she 
begged so much that I finally yielded, and promised 
to conduct her to him. She followed me along the 
street as Louis had done, walking some distance 
behind and going into the house she saw me enter, 

and was soon face to face with her husband. The 


meeting was a most joyful one ; they threw them- 
selves into each other's arms, and wept happy tears. 
Those who witnessed the meeting shared in their 
emotion, fulfilling the injunction, "Rejoice with 
them that rejoice, and weep with them that weep." 
I informed Ellen that the interview must be brief; 
she must return to her mistress, whose suspicions 
would be aroused by a long absence. I told her 
that she must suppress all signs of gladness, or her 
master and mistress would suspect that she had 
heard of Louis' safety. 

She replied : "They shall not learn it from me." 
We encouraged her to make her escape as soon as 
possible, and join her husband in his journey to a 
land of freedom. Louis was very anxious for her 
to leave at once, fearing that her situation might be 
changed and the chance of escape made more diffi- 


cult, but Ellen said she did not wish to leave her 
good clothes and other valuable property behind, or 
to come away without getting the three hundred dol- 
lars they had in bank at Covington. There was so 
much excitement about Louis' disappearance that 
'she did not dare to attempt to get the money, lest the 
movement should create suspicion. I asked if their 
master knew that they had money in bank. Louis 
said he knew that they had saved some money, but 
did not know that it was in the bank. I then 
inquired if they had a bank book, and they replied 
that they had not ; the cashier had given them his 
note. I told them that was a different thing; the 
cashier was individually responsible, and not the 
bank. Louis said that he had rather lose the money 
than to have Ellen get into any difficulty about it. 

I asked Ellen if she did not think her liberty was 
worth more than the three hundred dollars, and she 
said, " Yes ! " I then advised her not to attempt to 
collect the money, but to leave her note with her 
friend, the merchant ; after they were gone he could 
obtain the money and send it to them. 

Louis could be kept safely for several days, and 
that would give her time to collect her valuables and 
prepare for her escape. She must now return to 
her mistress, who was waiting for her on Pearl 
Street. She took her leave reluctantly and hastened 
away, saying that she would try to come over again 
in a few days, on the pretense of marketing. 

She betrayed no signs of having received any 
intelligence of Louis, and went home in apparent 
great distress, completely deceiving her master and 


mistress. She succeeded in sending to her friend, 
the merchant, several bundles containing her own 
and Louis' best clothing; she bundled it up at night, 
and, without discovery, conveyed it out of the house 
to some trusty friends, who carried it across to the 
city for her. In a few days she got permission to 
cross the river again, and completed the arrange- 
ment for her final escape. J B , at whose 

house Louis was concealed, agreed to go over in a 
skiffon the night appointed, land at a certain point 
in the upper part of Newport a private locality 
and wait for Ellen in an alley, not far from her mas- 
ter's. As soon as the family were asleep, she was 
to meet him there, with several bundles, containing 
the rest of her property, an4 he was to conduct her 
across to his house, in the city. 

This plan was carried out, and J B in 

company with Ellen arrived at his house about half 
an hour after midnight. Ellen's friend, the mer- 
chant, and I were present, and witnessed another 
happy meeting of husband and wife. I told them 
that they must change quarters at once ; there had 
been so much passing in and out of the house that 
night, that it might have attracted the attention of 
policemen or others, and it would not be safe for 
them to remain longer. I proposed taking them to 
a place on Ninth Street, the house of a white man, 
who was a strong abolitionist and who would gladly 
shelter fugitives. 

Ellen, who was neatly dressed, put on a vail so 
that no one would know whether she was white or 
colored, took my arm and we passed out of the 


house. We were then on Third Street, from which 
we passed to Plum, and made our way to Ninth. 
Louis and the merchant, shortly after we left, 
passed out, one at a time, then met and followed us 
up Plum Street, walking a short distance behind. 

When we reached A S 's house, I rang the 

door bell. A S looked out of his bedroom 

window, up-stairs, and recognized me at once. He 
came down and opened the door and received the 

I told him that we would call the next day and 
make further arrangements for their safety ; then the 
merchant and I returned to our respective homes, 
walking a few squares together. This gentleman, 

D A by name, was a prominent member 

of Ninth Street Baptist Church, and a popular 
bookseller and publisher. I told him I thought he 
was initiated into Underground Railroad work, and 
as he had now taken stock and had a little experi- 
ence, I wanted him to manage the case then on 
hand, and see that the fugitives got safely to 
Canada. Perhaps he would be willing to go with 
them ; Ellen was a sister in the church with him, 
and that gave her a claim on him. I told him I 
would give him a position as conductor on the 
Underground Railroad, as I was President of the 
road. He said he was much obliged for my offer 
but thought that his experience was not sufficient. 

Next day D A and I examined the note 

for three hundred dollars, given to Louis and Ellen 
by the cashier, who had received their money. I 
told them to leave it with their friend, D A 


and I would put him in a way to collect it. I asked 

him if he was acquainted with T H , who 

was cashier of a bank in this city, and he replied 
that he was not. I said that I would introduce 

him to T H , who was an abolitionist, and 

would feel an interest in the case, and probably be 
of service to him in collecting the money. Louis 
and Ellen left the note with their friend, as I 
advised. The next night they were moved to 
the northwest part of the city, for greater safety. 

D A had proposed a plan to them which 

they were anxious to have executed. He agreed to 
write a letter for them to their master, dating it 
some days ahead and giving Chatham, Canada 
West, as the place from which it was written. This 
he would inclose in an envelope and send to Elder 
Hawkins, of Chatham, Canada West, a colored 
Baptist minister, formerly of Cincinnati, with whom 
he was well acquainted, who would mail it to their 
master at Newport, Kentucky. The letter would 
inform their master that they were free, yet felt that 
their liberty was not complete, for if they crossed 
the Canada line into the United States, their liberty 
would be endangered. If he would send them deeds 
of emancipation, they would give him three hundred 
dollars, which was all the money they had been 
able to accumulate during the many years they had 
faithfully served him. He was also reminded of the 
promise he had made so often, that they should be 
free. This was the substance of the letter. 

D A sent it to Elder Hawkins, and it 

was mailed at Chatham, Canada West. It was 


thought safer for Louis and Ellen to go out of the 
city, and a few evenings afterward they were con- 
veyed to the house of Joel Haworth, a well-known 
abolitionist, living in Union County, Indiana. Here 
they remained several weeks, awaiting results. 

Their master answered the letter he received from 
Canada; he refused to comply with their request, 
but promised them that if they would come back, 
he would give them free papers, etc. Elder 

Hawkins sent this letter to D A and 

he forwarded it to Louis and Ellen, in Indiana. 
They knew too well wbat their master's promises 
amounted to, and resolved to go on to Canada. 

I introduced D. A to T. H , the cashier 

of abolition sentiments, and made the latter gentle- 
man acquainted with the circumstances of the case. 
He said at once that he would collect the money 
which the note demanded ; he was acquainted with 
the cashier at Covington, and if he refused to pay it 
he would threaten him with the penalty of the law, 
for dealing with slaves without their master's per- 
mission. This, however, was not necessary, for the 
cashier paid the money without a word. When T. 

H returned from Covington, he handed the full 

amount to D. A , who carried it in person to 

Louis and Ellen, in Indiana. They were much 
rejoiced to receive the small sum which they had 
been so many years in accumulating, and which 
they had feared was lost. They were immediately 
forwarded on that old, reliable branch of the Under- 
ground Railroad, which extended through Union 
County, Indiana, and reached Canada in safety. 


A year or two afterward I was in Chatham, Can- 
ada West, and met Elder Hawkins in the street. 
He invited me to dine with him, and I accepted his 
invitation, promising to be at his residence in time 
for dinner. I had some business to attend to, and 
several visits to make among fugitives who had been 
at our house. Elder Hawkins pointed out his place 
to me, a large brick house, and when my business 
was completed and my visits paid, I started to it. 
But it was with difficulty that I made my way along 
the street. Many fugitives whom I had helped on 
their way to freedom had settled in that place, and 
the news had spread among them that I was in 
town. They thronged to meet me to shake hands 
with me, and say, " God bless you !" I thought as 
I made my way through the crowd that I could not 
have attracted more attention if I had been the ele- 
phant of a traveling show. Many of the fugitives 
I did not recognize, but they remembered me. As 
I approached Elder Hawkins' house, Ellen rushed 
out to greet me, manifesting much joy and grati- 
tude. She and Louis occupied part of the Elder's 
house. Louis was not at home, as he was engaged 
in tending a saw-mill, a short distance out of town. 
He received good wages, and Ellen worked at dress- 
making; their combined income supported them 
very comfortably. She took me into their apart- 
ments, which were nicely furnished, and looked 
neat and comfortable. She said they lived very 
happily there and were very thankful for their many 
blessings. Louis had been converted and had joined 




the church, and was now free, both soul and body, 
which was a great joy to Ellen. 

The Elder's wife had prepared a good dinner, and 
we all dined together. Soon after dinner I parted 
from them, feeling much pleased with my visit. 


The farther north from the land of slavery that a 
fugitive traveled, the more friends he found, and 
quite a number of runaway slaves, thinking they 
would be safe in Michigan, stopped there instead 
of crossing over to Canada. At a place called 
Young's Prairie, in Cass County, Michigan, where 
there was a settlement of Friends, and a number 
of Eastern people, all stanch abolitionists, there had 
accumulated quite a little colony of colored fugi- 
tives who secured homes in the neighborhood. 
Some families owned small patches of ground on 
which they had erected comfortable little log houses, 
and by industry and thrift managed to live very 

But they were not secure in these humble, vine- 
clad homes, for Southern bloodhounds in human 
shape were on their trail, and had scented out" 
their places of retreat. Spies sent out to hunt for 
fugitive slaves in various neighborhoods in Ohio, 
Indiana, and Michigan, discovered the colony at 
Young's Prairie, and ascertained that most of the 
fugitives had come from Kentucky. Among these 
spies was a young Kentuckian who professed to be 
a Yankee and a stanch abolitionist. He claimed 
to be an agent for some anti-slavery papers which 


he carried with him, but his speech betrayed him. 
A Yankee living in Michigan said: "You are not 
from New England; you are no Yankee; if you 
were you would say keow and not cow. You are 
here for no good purpose, and the sooner you leave 
this neighborhood the better it will be for you." 

Several of the colored families spoken of were 
from Boone County, Kentucky, and their masters 
learned of their whereabouts. In that county there 
was a company organized for the purpose of cap- 
turing fugitives, with funds for hiring pursuers. A 
plan was formed to seize the negroes at Young's 
Prairie and bring them back to slavery, and about 
thirty men, with several two-horse wagons for trans- 
porting the negro women^ and children, started to 
Michigan. Part of the company on horseback went 
ahead of the wagons to ascertain the exact location 
of the fugitives, and to have all things arranged for 
a simultaneous raid upon the different negro cabins 
scattered around the edge of the prairie, and in 
small groves in the neighborhood. They were to 
make their headquarters at Niles, a few miles dis- 
tant, in an adjoining county, and scatter out through 
Young's Prairie in small parties, under pretense of 
looking for land to purchase, or buying stock. By 
this means they could obtain all necessary informa- 
tion in regard to the location of the colored people 
without exciting suspicion as to their real mission. 
Then some of the company were to meet the teams, 
and conduct the wagons to different localities in the 
neighborhood, where they would camp until a late 
hour at night. This arrangement appeared to con- 



tain the elements of success, but it did not succeed. 
Slaves often have friends living in slave States 
people whose principles are unknown to the slave- 
holders. One of this class, a man living in the 
neighborhood of the Kentucky slaveholders, be- 
came apprised of all their plans for capturing the 
fugitives in Michigan, but was misinformed in 
regard to the time they were to start. He wrote 
to a confidential friend in Cincinnati, informing him 
of all the plans of the raiders, but stated the time 
of their starting incorrectly they started several 
days earlier. His friend came directly to me and 
gave me all the information he had received. .1 at 
once set about to intercept their plans. I was well 
acquainted at Young's Prairie, Michigan. There 
was a settlement of Friends there, many of whom 
had emigrated from Wayne County, Indiana, and 
were among the early settlers of that neighborhood. 
Some had formerly been my neighbors in Indiana. 
I had been at Young's Prairie, and visited several 
of the families of fugitives in that settlement. 
Friends had established a school among them, and 
they seemed to be prospering. I decided to send 
a messenger at once to apprise them and their 
friends of their danger. At that day, letters were 
often eight or ten days in reaching Young's Prairie, 
and I knew it would not do to risk sending a mess- 
age by mail ; it would not reach them in time. 

A young man then boarding with us, an active 
and energetic abolitionist, volunteered to go if his 
expenses were paid. I agreed to pay his expenses, 
and started him at once. As there were no rail- 


roads or stage lines then, we had to depend on 
private conveyance for the journey. I gave the 
young man letters to my friends 'in the various 
neighborhoods in Indiana, through which he would 
pass, requesting them to furnish him with fresh 
horses on the stages of his journey. This was 
promptly done on his way through Wayne, Ran- 
dolph and Grant Counties, Indiana, and greatly 
facilitated his journey to Michigan. But his labo- 
rious and energetic effort proved too late ; the raid 
was over. The Kentuckians had started several 
days earlier than the time named in our informant's 
letter, and their plans had been put into execution. 
On the night of the raid they divided their company, 
and each party made a simultaneous attack on the 
negro cabins. They seized the unsuspecting inmates 
as they slept, bound them, and placed them in the 
wagons. There were desperate struggles at many 
of the cabins, and a number of the fugitives were 
bruised and wounded, before they were overpow- 
ered and bound. A certain place on the prairie had 
been agreed upon as a rendezvous, and thither the 
different companies made their way. In one party 
of marauders was a Baptist minister, who claimed 
to be the owner of a negro man and his wife val- 
uable property. They had leased a piece of land of 
Zachariah Shugart, a Friend, and had built a snug 
cabin in which they had lived two or three years. 
They had one child, a babe a few months old. 
Being frugal and industrious they had prospered, 
and were much respected by their neighbors. The 
minister and his party approached this cabin and 


tried to gain entrance at the only door, but it was 
barred inside and resisted their efforts. They 
demanded entrance, but the negro man recognized 
his master's voice and refused to open the door. 

The party seized an ax, battered down the door 
and entered. The negro man made weapons of 
chairs or anything he could get hold of and fought 
desperately, keeping them at bay for some time, 
but was at last wounded and overpowered. During 
this conflict his wife, leaving her babe in bed, 
crawled out of a small window at the back of the 
cabin and ran to Zachariah Shugart's. She gave 
the alarm and then hid Herself. Zachariah Shugart 
mounted his horse and rode as fast as he could to 
the house of his nearest neighbor, Stephen Bogue, 
who had a very fleet saddle-horse. As soon as he 
heard the news, Stephen Bogue mounted this horse 
and rode with all possible speed to Cassopolis, the 
county seat, three miles distant, to give the alarm 
and to obtain a writ and to have the kidnappers 

It was now daylight. A large company of men 
soon rallied and hastened toward Young's Prairie, to 
rescue the fugitives. They were headed by a reso- 
lute, brawny-armed blacksmith, called Bill Jones, 
who assumed command of the party. Theit-com- 
pany increased rapidly as they entered the prairie, 
until it numbered two hundred men. The whole 
neighborhood was aroused, and hastened to the 

Now to return to the cabin whence the alarm 
originated. Zachariah Shugart, after carrying the 



news to Stephen Bogue, went to see what had 
become of his tenants and to watch the movements 
of the kidnappers. The negro man, after his brave 
struggle, had been knocked down, dragged into the 
yard, securely bound and placed in the wagon. The 
preacher then rushed into the cabin to secure his 
other property, but the wife was not to be found, 
having escaped, as mentioned, through a back 
window when the fight was in progress. The child 
was crying, and the minister took it up from the 
bed. Although it had been born in a free State, he 
claimed it as his property, on the plea that the child 
follows the condition of the mother the rule in 
slave States. He carried it out, supposing that 
when the mother heard its^screams she would come 
out of her hiding-place and run to her child but 
no mother came. Young children were worth two 
hundred dollars in Kentucky too much to lose. 

The minister mounted his horse with the child in 
his arms, and they moved toward the place of ren- 
dezvous in the main road, half a mile distant. 
About the time they reached the place Bill Jones 
and his company arrived, and the other companies 
of raiders soon came up. The Kentuckians were all 
well armed with revolvers and bowie-knives, and 
thought to intimidate their assailants by threats and 
a free display of their weapons. But they were 
mistaken. On one side of the road stood a low 
stake fence, the kind generally used on prairies. 
Bill Jones and his company soon stripped the fence 
of its stakes, and with these formidable weapons, 
the blacksmith commanded his party to charge, 


telling them not to leave a kidnapper alive. But 
fortunately for the Kentuckians, there were several 
Friend Quakers present, who stepped in between 
the parties and prevented a collision. The brave 
Kentucky slave catchers were completely cowed, 
and agreed to go quietly to Cassopolis, the county 
seat, and prove their property before the proper 
authorities, as the law required. 

The negroes who were bound were soon released, 
and Bill Jones seeing the Baptist minister on horse- 
back with the infant in his arms compelled him to 
dismount, and let the child's father, who was bleed- 
ing irom his wounds, ride in his stead. The min- 
ister he compelled to walk and carry the child in 
his arms, and whenever they passed a house, the 
people were called out to look at that child-stealer, 
a preacher. When they reached Cassoplis, Bill 
Jones further compelled him to march up and down 
the street, and called the attention of the people to 
this divine, who had been stealing a negro babe, 
and taunted him so much that he actually cried with 
vexation. The raiders were here served with a writ 
by the sheriff, arresting them for kidnapping, and 
were committed to jail where they were kept for 
several days unt : l the negroes were on their way 
to Canada. A fair trial was promised to the pris- 
oners, and they were allowed to send to Niles for 
lawyers. When the time appointed came, a kind of 
sham trial was held, and they were dismissed with- 
out further punishment than paying costs. These 
amounted to a considerable sum, and but one man 
in the company had money to pay the bill. The 


main object to be gained was the freedom of the 
negroes. The kidnappers were glad to return to 
Kentucky without the fugitives, and there was soon 
a general move of the latter from Young's Prairie 
to Canada. 

After awhile the owners of some of these slaves 
brought suit for the amount of their full value 
against those persons who had befriended them. 
The fugitive slave law visited a heavy penalty on 
those who befriended slaves, not only fine and 
imprisonment, but sometimes the payment of the 
full value of the slaves. The case was tried in the 
Supreme Court at Detroit. The trial was put off 
from one session of the court to another, subjecting 
those who had been sued* to much inconvenience 
and cost in attending court, paying lawyers' fees, 
etc. But the slaveholders failed to make out the 
case against them, and the slaves were out of their 
reach in Canada. 









A WHITE man named John Wilson, a machin- 
ist by trade, went from Pittsburg, Pennsyl- 
vania, to the South, where he spent several years 
putting up sugar-mills and other machinery. He 
resided at Bayou Plaquemine, on the Mississippi 
River, about one hundred miles above New Orleans, 
and while there became attached to a young woman 
nearly white, the slave of a planter named Bisscll, 
who lived at that place. He tried to purchase her 
from her master that he might give her her freedom 
and make her his wife, and offered a high price, but 
Bissell would not sell her. The girl, whose name 
was Eliza, reciprocated the sincere attachment of 
Wilson, but no slave could be legally married in 
that State, and it was useless to expect to be his 
wife in law. She and Wilson remained faithful to 
each other through several years, and in that lime 
two children were born to them. 

Eliza's master finally became suspicious that Wil- 


son would try to take her to the North, and resolved 
to separate them and send her away from him. She 
was an excellent house servant, but he had her 
taken from the house and sent, without her children, 
to a cotton plantation which he owned about four- 
teen miles from Bayou Plaquemine, and there set to 
work as a common field hand. She was forbidden, 
under heavy penalties, to have any communication 
with her husband, as she called Wilson, and he was 
warned that if he visited her it would be at the risk 
of his life, but notwithstanding these threats they 
managed to see each other frequently. Eliza's 
master heard of these meetings, and had her se- 
verely punished for her disobedience. 

Wilson had friends at Bayou Plaquemine and 
vicinity, and through the help of these and by 
means of an arrangement made with the officers of 
a Pittsburg boat running on the Mississippi, with 
whom he was acquainted, he managed to get Eliza 
to the river and to send her to New Orleans, where 
she remained for three months, supported by his 
bounty. Finally, he hired a white man to take her 
from New Orleans to Cincinnati, paying him two 
hundred dollars for her expenses and his own 
recompense. The man took Eliza on board a boat 
bound for Cincinnati, but on the passage gambled 
away the money that Wilson had paid him, and had 
not paid her fare. He told the captain of the boat 
that she was a slave whom he was taking to join her 
master and mistress in Cincinnati, and that her fare 
would be paid by them at that place. When the 
boat stopped at Cincinnati, he told Eliza that she 


was now in a free State, and could go where she 
pleased, and, taking leave of her, walked down the 
gangway, and was soon lost to sight in the crowd 
on the wharf. 

Eliza pondered awhile regarding the course she 
should pursue, then started to leave the boat, not 
knowing that her fare was unpaid. As she stepped 
on the plank, the captain stopped her and told her 
she could not go ashore until her passage money 
was paid. She referred him to the man in whose 
charge she had been, and told the captain to look to 
him for the money, for .he was responsible for it, 
and requested him to let her pass, as she was a free 
woman. But the captain's suspicions were aroused 
and he resolved to detain her. Thinking she was a 
runaway slave, he arranged to take her across to 
Covington, Kentucky, and lodge her in jail till his 
boat was ready to start on the return trip,- then take 
her back with him and deliver her to her master and 
mistress, if they could be found. 

The sympathies of the colored steward of the boat 
had been aroused in Eliza's behalf, and he resolved 
to aid her if possible. He hastened up into the city 
to the office of lawyer Joliffe, whom he knew as a 
tried friend of the slaves, and told the story. Joliffe 
sent for me, and we immediately got out a writ for 
the captain of the boat, and placed it in the sher- 
iff's hands, with orders to bring him and the woman 
before court. The sheriff reached the boat just as 
the captain had got Eliza into a skiff, and was pre- 
paring to pull across to the Kentucky shore. In two 
minutes more it would have been too late. The 


sheriff took Eliza in charge, arrested the captain for 
an attempt to kidnap, and brought them before the 
Probate Court, the only one in session. Judge Bur- 
goyne, a stanch abolitionist, who was then on the 
bench, required the captain to show cause for de- 
taining the woman. The captain replied that he 
had no claim on her except for the amount of her 
unpaid fare, which was twenty dollars, but as she 
could produce no papers or other evidence that she 
was free, he regarded her as a fugitive slave, and 
had resolved to detain her till the truth could be 

The Court decided that he had no right to detain 
her on suspicion, and could not remove her from 
the State of Ohio without* legally proving that she 
was his slave, and Eliza was set at liberty. Lawyer 
Joliffe and I soon made up enough money to pay 
her boat fare, and she was sent to a respectable col- 
ored boarding-house on McAllister Street. She had 
a large trunk full of clothes on the boat, having 
been well supplied by her husband and friends before 
leaving New Orleans, and for this she held a check. 
I sent the check and the price of her passage by a 
drayman to the boat, and obtained her trunk and 
had it taken to her boarding-place. That afternoon 
I and Preacher Green (colored), pastor of Allen 
Chapel, went to see Eliza, and after convincing her 
that we were her true friends, and gaining her con- 
fidence, she told- us her true story; she had pre- 
viously claimed to be free. She said it was the 
arrangement made by her husband that she should 
remain in Cincinnati until he came to her, which 


would be about Christmas time, as he could not 
complete his business engagements in the South 
before some time in December. She had entire 
confidence that he would fulfill his promise and 
come to her ; yes, follow her to the ends of the 
earth, she said, for they were attached to each 
other as much as it was possible for any husband 
and wife to be. 

It was now early spring, and as she would be ex- 
posed to the danger of capture if she remained so 
long in Cincinnati, it was decided that she should 
be sent to Canada with a party of free colored peo- 
ple who were going from Cincinnati to that country 
soon, on a visit. After hearing her story, it was 
deemed advisable to remove her from the boarding- 
house where she was, as it was too public a place 
to afford any concealment, and would be among the 
first searched if her master heard of her where- 
abouts and came in pursuit. 

It was accordingly decided to remove her to our 
house, but in order that the inmates of the boarding- 
house should not know where she was gone, she 
was taken, with her trunk, first to the house of 
Pastor Green, and then to our house, where she 
found a secure retreat. When the party of colored 
people were ready to start to Canada, Pastor Green 
came with a carriage to take Eliza to the depot 
where she could join them, but she was unwilling 
to go so much farther away from her husband and 
children, and cried and begged to be allowed to 
remain where she was till she could hear from her 
husband. Moved by her entreaties, I finally told 


her that if she were willing to incur the risk of 
staying, she might remain at our house, where we 
would employ her at good wages, having learned 
that she was an excellent house servant. She 
gladly availed herself of this offer and remained. 
She and her husband had arranged to correspond 
under fictitious names, and I wrote several letters 
for her, in which I was very guarded and careful not 
to give information that would enable an uninitiated 
person to understand the facts of the case. Eliza 
received several letters from Wilson, inclosing 
money. Letters from the North were frequently 
broken open at Southern post-offices, before reach- 
ing the persons to whom they were directed, in 
order to intercept abolition documents, etc., and in 
this way masters sometimes obtained information 
of their runaway slaves. Other persons wrote 
letters to Wilson for Eliza, who were not so guarded 
in their expressions, and one which purported to be 
from Wilson's sister, and stated that she was in Cin- 
cinnati, at the house of a Quaker, fell into the 
hands of Bissell, at Bayou Plaquemine, who broke it 
open and read it. He immediately inferred that the 
person who pretended to be Wilson's sister was 
Eliza, and after causing Wilson to be arrested on 
suspicion of aiding a slave to escape, and lodged in 
jail, he started in pursuit of his property. 

On arriving at Cincinnati Bissell obtained a writ, 
from Commissioner Pendery, and put it into the 
hands of the marshal with orders to arrest Eliza, if 
she could be found, adding, it was said, a hundred 
dollars by way of stimulating the officer's zeal and 


quickening his efforts. It was conjectured that our 
house was the house referred to in the letter, but in 
order to ascertain this beyond doubt, it was planned 
that a deputy marshal should gain access to the 
house under the pretense of peddling books, pene- 
trate into the kitchen, and see if there was a person 
answering Eliza's description. The plan was well 
arranged and had it been kept secret might have 
succeeded, but the marshal made a confidant of a 
local editor of all persons in the world ! It is well 
known that a local editor, can not retain an item of 
news two hours, without seriously injuring his con- 
stitution, and in a very short time I was made 
acquainted with the whole affair. The same infor- 
mation, afterward, reached me through other chan- 
nels. Commissioner Pendery had informed a person 
of the circumstance of Bissell's obtaining the writ, 
and that person informed Lawyer Joliffe. As soon 
as Joliffe heard it, he notified me. I also heard of 
it through Christian Donaldson, who had been 
informed of it privately. 

The slaveholder before leaving Bayou Plaquemine 
had written to a nephew of his, who was at school 
at Ann Arbor, Michigan, giving information of 
Eliza's escape, and her supposed whereabouts, and 
requesting him to meet him at Cincinnati to act as 
witness, if she could be found. 

It so happened that this young man arrived in 
Cincinnati the day that Bissell obtained the writ for 
Eliza's arrest, but instead of going to see his uncle, 
who was stopping at the Burnet House, he went 
first to see James Burney, a lawyer. Presenting 


letters of introduction from professors in the college 
he attended, and from prominent citizens of Detroit, 
he informed Lawyer Burney, that during his stay at 
the North, he had been converted by the abolition- 
ists, and that his real errand in Cincinnati at that 
time was to prevent his uncle from gaining posses- 
sion of Eliza and carrying her back to slavery, and 
that he would do all in his power to aid her in 
securing her freedom. Burney went with him across 
the street to the office of Salmon P. Chase, to whom 
also he had letters of introduction, and related all 
the circumstances. Chase sent a student from his 
office to accompany the young man to my store, 
supposing that if such a fugitive were in the city I 
would be likely to know it, and from the young 
man's introductory letters inferring that he was 
trustworthy, and that his intentions were what he 
represented them to be. 

Arriving at my store, they found that I was 
absent, having gone to the railroad depot on busi- 
ness, and they did not wait my return. As soon as 
I returned, Lawyer Thomas, Burney's partner, came 
in and informed me that Bissell's nephew had been 
there to see me, and related the other circumstances 
of the case. I was disposed to be cautious, and said 
that I had no confidence in the anti-slavery preten- 
sions of the young man, that I thought it a shrewd 
scheme to gain information regarding Eliza, and 
added: "He would have gained nothing from me 
had I been here." Lawyer Thomas was returning 
to his office, when on crossing a street he saw Bis- 
sell making his way up the street toward my house. 


Bissell had been pointed out to him the day before, 
and he recognized him. Thomas hastily returned lo 
my store, to put me on my guard. My store was 
then on the northwest corner of Sixth and Elm 
Streets; our dwelling-house adjoined it on the north, 
fronting on Elm and George Streets. While Thomas 
and I were standing near the front door of my store, 
Bissell made his appearance on the southwest corner, 
and stood for awhile, looking anxiously toward our 
house, then slowly mVed on to Plum Street and 
around the square. 

I went into the house and told Eliza that her 
master was in search of her, that he had just passed 
down Sixth Street, and that she must dress herself 
as quickly as possible in her best clothes, and I 
would send her to a safe place. The 'news greatly 
agitated her, and she began to cry. Her chief 
trouble seemed to be a fear that her husband had 
got into difficulty on her account. I told her that 
she had no time to cry, she must dry her tears and 
act with promptness, fcr a great deal depended on 
immediate action. Just then my wife came in; she 
had been out shopping with two young ladies who 
were staying with us, one as a visitor, the other a 
boarder. I gave Eliza into their charge and she was 
soon made ready. They attired her in her best 
clothes, of which she had a good supply which her 
master had never seen. She and the other two 
young ladies, all closely vailed, then walked out at 
the front door, in sight of her master who had 
passed around the square and was now standing on 
the northeast corner of Sixth and Elm, looking 


toward the house. He was apparently deceived by 
the boldness of the movement, and had no suspicion 
that one of the ladies was his slave. He did not 
offer to molest them or follow them, and they, 
according to directions I had previously given them, 
made their way to the house of Edward Harwood, 
that noble friend of the slave, at the head of Elm 
Street, where Eliza was to remain in seclusion until 
I called for her. That evening I ordered my car- 
riage brought not to my door but to a point two 
blocks away, and entering it drove to Eliza's hiding- 
place about dark. Taking her in the carriage, I 
went to Mt. Auburn and there left her for greater 
safety, at the house of the pastor of a prominent 
church in the city. 

Supposing that the marshal would endeavor to 
ascertain if Eliza were at my house, I engaged a 
young colored woman who answered to her descrip- 
tion in regard to age, personal appearance, etc., to 
come and stay at my house a week, filling the posi- 
tion that Eliza had occupied. This girl was free, 
and there could be no danger, even if she were 
arrested. She understood the case, and was eager 
for the fun. 

A druggist, named Kent, whose store was on the 
opposite side of the street from mine, learned all 
the particulars of the case, and, being a stanch 
abolitionist, resolved to have some fun at the 
expense of the marshal, in case that official should 
make any demonstration. He planned to have his 
buggy in waiting, and as soon as the marshal was 
seen in the street to drive hastily up to my door, 


take in the colored girl, excitedly and hurriedly, as 
if fearing pursuers, and then drive away with the 
speed of Jehu. It was supposed that the marshal 
would give chase, and in that case Kent would man- 
age to be captured, then end the farce by having 
the marshal and his posse arrested for kidnapping a 
free girl. The plan promised well, and Kent kept 
his buggy waiting till a late hour at night, expect- 
ing the arrival of the marshal, but that official did 
not have the moral courage to carry out his arrange- 
ment for entering my house, and it all came to 

In the meantime, .Bissell's lawyer informed him 
that he could not take legal possession of Eliza, as 
he had no bill of sale or other evidence that she was 
his property, and that if he entered suit, the abo- 
litionists would be sure to defeat him. Eliza had 
been a present to Bissell's wife from her father, on 
the occasion of her marriage, and as no paper of 
conveyance had been given, she was considered in 
law still the property of her first owner. It was 
therefore necessary for Bissell to obtain a power of 
attorney from his father-in-law, before he could pro- 
ceed further in the case. He immediately dis- 
patched to Bayou Plaquemine for the necessary 
papers, and resolved to wait in Cincinnati until they 
reached him, but his nephew, representing to him 
that a week or two must elapse before they could 
arrive, invited him to return with him to Ann 
Arbor, as he could not remain longer away from 
college. The uncle accepted the invitation, and 
spent a week or two at Ann Arbor and Detroit. 


When he was ready to return to Cincinnati, the 
nephew telegraphed to Lawyer Burney that his 
uncle would re^ach Cincinnati that evening, and it 
would be well to have Eliza out of the way thus 
proving his anxiety and interest in Eliza's welfare 
to my entire satisfaction. 

Eliza was removed from Mt. Auburn to Walnut 
Hills, where she remained for several weeks in the 
families of prominent religionists. 

Bissell staid in Cincinnati for two weeks after his 
return, and made every exertion to find her, but 
could get no clue to her whereabouts, and finally 
gave up the search and started South. The boat on 
which he took passage met another boat coming up 
the river, on board of which was John Wilson, the 
husband of Eliza, but the vessels passed without the 
two enemies recognizing each other. Bissell had 
left Wilson in prison when he came away from 
Bayou Plaquemine, and expected to find him there 
on his return, and prosecute him to the full extent 
of the law, but when he reached home he learned 
that Wilson's friends had given bond for his appear- 
ance, that he had been release % d from jail, and had 
gone North. 

We now turn to the fortunes of the husband and 
wife, who had passed through such trying scenes on .. 
account of their devotion to each other. As soon 
as Wilson arrived in Cincinnati, he came to my 
house seeking for tidings of Eliza. I took him in 
my carriage to Walnut Hills, and there was a joyful 
meeting of the husband and wife, who remained so 
fondly attached to each other through danger, sepa- 


ration and misfortune. I gave them letters to 
friends in Michigan, and they went to the home of 
that noted worker in the cause of freedom, Laura 
S. Haviland, who lived near Adrian, and was the 
proprietress of the Raisin Institute, a school in which 
students of all colors have equal privileges. Here 
they remained for several weeks, and here they 
were legally married. 

From this place they went to Canada, and 
remained there awhile, but soon returned to Mich- 
igan and settled near Raisin Institute. Eliza had 
previously had no advantages of education, and her 
husband wishing her to attend school placed her in 
the institute, while he found employment in a 
machine shop at Adrian. With the proceeds of his 
industry he bought a lot and a snug brick house, 
near the institute, and here, after many vicissitudes, 
he and Eliza found themselves in the enjoyment of 
peace and plenty. Here, after carrying the hero 
and heroine through all sorts of adventures and nar- 
row escapes, a well regulated tale of fiction would 
end with the remark that they lived happily ever 
afterward, but this \e> a narrative of facts, and must 
chronicle new undertakings and fresh scenes of 
danger and distress. A motive no less strong than 
that which led John and Eliza to join each other 
and seek a land of freedom, now prompted them to 
separate, while one braved again the dangers of the 
land of slavery. The hearts of the parents yearned 
for their children, and they determined to make an 
effort to rescue them from bondage. Eliza, being 
yet a slave in the sight of the law, could not venture 


southward without jeopardizing her own liberty, so 
it was arranged that she should remain behind while 
John made the hazardous attempt to find and carry 
off their children. 

Proceeding to Pittsburg, his former home, he 
made arrangements with the officers of a Pittsburg 
and Mississippi River boat, with whom he was 
acquainted. According to this plan, they were to 
land him at a point near Bayou Plaquemine on the 
downward passage to New Orleans, and on the 
return trip to stop in the night at a secluded place 
agreed upon the night and the hour being ap- 
pointed where he and his children would be taken 
on board, if he succeeded in getting them. He 
went to the neighborhood of Bayou Plaquemine, and 
by the aid of friends, with whom he communicated 
secretly, succeeded in gaining possession of his chil- 
dren. He proceeded with caution, concealing his 
presence in the neighborhood from the knowledge 
of Bissell, but by some means he was discovered 
and pursued as he was taking his children to the 
appointed rendezvous. He was obliged to leave 
them and flee through the woods and thickets, 
reaching the landing barely in time to be taken on 
board the boat before his pursuers reached him. 
Thwarted and disappointed in his efforts he now 
sought to make new plans to gain his children, 
but found that the journeys he had taken and the 
expenses he had incurred had exhausted his ready 
means, and that he must seek employment again in 
order to recruit his finances. Landing at Louis- 
ville, Kentucky, on the homeward trip of the boat, 


he found employment in a machine shop, and made 
arrangements with the officers of the boat to bring 
him his chest of tools which he had left at Pitts- 
burg on the next trip. In the mean time his 
securities, those who had signed his bond while he 
was in jail at Bayou Plaquemine, learning that he 
had been seen in that vicinity again, sent an officer 
to arrest him. It was known that he had taken 
passage up the river, and as it was thought that he 
would be in Louisville, Cincinnati or Pittsburg, 
requisitions for his delivery were obtained from the 
Governor of Louisiana to the Governors of Ken- 
tucky, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The officer in 
search of him stopped first at Louisville, but did 
not happen to find him, and went on to Cincinnati 
and Pittsburg. Not gaining any clue of him in 
either of these places, the officer returned to 
Louisville, and after a more extended inquiry 
succeeded in finding him. The Governor of Ken- 
tucky was applied to and gave the necessary per- 
mission, and Wilson was immediately arrested. 

To prevent his escaping on the way to Bayou 
Plaquemine the officer had him ironed. The water 
in the Ohio River was so low at that time the fall 
of the year that large New Orleans packets could 
not run, and the officer took Wilson by rail to St. 
Louis, Missouri, and there put him aboard of a 
steamer which was to start down the river next day. 
Here one of Wilson's friends, from New Orleans, 
saw him, and, learning the particulars of his case, 
resolved if possible to aid him to escape. Through 
his influence the handcuffs of Wilson were taken off) 


but he was still closely guarded. When night 
approached, the officer arranged to take Wilson on 
shore and place him in jail for greater security. 

Wilson's friend learned of this and saw that his 
time to act had come ; if he delayed longer it would 
be too late. Giving a signal to Wilson, that the 
latter might embrace the opportunity, he managed 
to engage the attention of the officer a few moments. 
Wilson slipped back, sprang on the wheel-house, 
and from that to the wheel-house of another boat 
lying at the wharf. From this he jumped on the 
wharf, and as it was now dark he escaped unseen 
and made his way into the city. Passing through 
it, he directed his course to the upper wharf, where 
he knew the Pittsburg boats lay. There he found 
an engineer from Pittsburg, with whom he was 
acquainted, and after hurriedly relating his story 
asked to be taken on board jind secreted. The 
engineer had an interview with the captain, who 
favored Wilson's cause, and they hid the fugitive in 
the boat. Next morning the papers gave full 
accounts of the affair, announcing, in double-leaded 
headlines, ' ' ESCAPE OF A NIGGER THIEF, " and adding 
that there was a strict search for him in the city, 
and that no doubt he would soon be recaptured. 

The boat on which Wilson was secreted lay at 
the wharf several days taking on cargo, but he was 
not discovered, and in time landed safely at Cincin- 
nati. He came immediately to my house and gave 
an account of his adventures. I had received hun- 
dreds of colored fugitives, but this was the first 
Anglo-Saxon fugitive that had claimed my protec- 


tion. I took him in my carriage to the Cincinnati, 

Hamilton, and Dayton depot, bought a ticket for 
him, and saw him started on the way to Adrian, 
Michigan. Wilson's box of tools were at Louisville, 
in the machine shop where he had been arrested, 
and he arranged to have them sent to him. In a 
few days an iron-bound chest was unloaded from a 
dray, on the sidewalk in front of my house. It was 
addressed "Levi Coffin, Cincinnati," but knowing 
very well whose it was, I merely changed the direc- 
tion to "John Wilson, Adrian, Michigan," and 
reshipped it to its destination. 

Wilson afterward made other attempts to rescue 
his children, but did not succeed, and it was not till 
President Lincoln issued the proclamation of eman- 
cipation that these parents indulged in the certain 
hope of meeting their son and daughter. Even 
then they were partially disappointed, for the little 
boy died before they could gain possession of him. 
The daughter joined her parents, and is now married 
and living in Ohio. 

I met with John Wilson and Eliza again, after an 
interval of eight years. After the war had closed, 
but while the Union army was still at Nashville in 
the autumn of 1865 I went to visit the colored 
schools at that place, accompanied by Dr. Massey, 
of London, who was much interested in the freed- 
men. One day, just as we were starting from one 
school building to another, I met John Wilson, who 
was at work in the government machine shops at 
that place. After greetings and mutual inquiries, I 
asked after Eliza, and learning that she was then in 


Nashville arranged to go to see her. After visiting 
the school to which we had started, John conducted 
us to his residence, and then stepped back that I 
might enter first and give Eliza a surprise. They 
occupied two rooms, with a passage between, on 
the second floor, which was reached by a flight of 
stairs on the outside. I went up first, followed by 
Dr. Massey and John. Just as I reached the door 
of the hall Eliza was passing from one room to the 
other, carrying something in her hands. As soon 
as she saw me, she dropped it, and springing for- 
ward, clasped me in her arms, exclaiming with great 
emotion, "Yqu saved me twice from slavery," 
while tears sprang to her eyes and rolled down her 
cheeks. This meeting, and the gratitude mani- 
fested by Eliza toward me, seemed to make a deep 
impression on Dr. Massey, and he often referred to 
it afterward. 

John and Eliza soon after returned to their com- 
fortable little home in Michigan, and since that have 
visited us in Cincinnati several times. 


While we lived at the corner of Franklin and 
Broadway a runaway slave came to our house in 
an extremely cold time in the middle of winter. 
He had been brought up in the neighborhood of 
Lexington, Kentucky, and belonged to a well- 
known politician, T. M . His master had 

r>' v ed^ him to a cruel task-master, living about 
twenty miles from Lexington, who treated him 
with much harshness, often whipping him unmer- 


cifully. He finally concluded that he would bear 
it no longer, and made his way back to his mas- 
ter. He told his master how cruelly he was treated 
and plead for a change of situation, but his mas- 
ter was unmoved and ordered him to go back to 
his new home, threatening him with severe punish- 
ment if he disobeyed. He left his master, but not 
to return to the cruel man to whom he was hired. 
He had a different purpose. He said he had heard, 
through some free' colored people in Lexington, 
that there was a good man living in Cincinnati, by 
the name of Levi Coffin, who was a great friend to 
the negroes, and would help runaway slaves on their 
way to Canada that country where all were free. 
He thought he would try to get to Cincinnati and 
find this man. He had been told that the railroad 
from Lexington led to Cincinnati, and he concluded 
to follow it. After going a short distance as if 
intending to return to the man who had hired him, 
he hid himself and waited till night, then got on the 
railroad and walked rapidly on the ties, facing the 
cold north wind. The distance to Covington was 
ninety-six miles ; he thought he walked and ran on 
the railroad about fifty miles that night. When 
daylight came he hid himself in some corn shocks in 
a field, and here, in consequence of his exposure in 
his heated and exhausted condition, he took a severe 
cold. Next night he made slow progress on his 
journey, being stiff and sore. When a train passed 
he concealed himself in the thickets, then contin- 
ued his painful journey along the railroad track. 
When daylight appeared he sought a hiding place 


again among some corn fodder, but suffered greatly 
from the cold. Having little left of the scanty 
morsel of food he had provided himself with, he 
began to feel the pangs of hunger. The third night 
he reached the Ohio River, but could find no way 
to cross. The river was not frozen over, but ice 
was forming, and it was dangerous to attempt to 
cross in a skiff even if he had found one. He 
almost perished with cold and hunger that night. 
In the morning he went to the outskirts of Cov- 
ington, and ventured into a negro hut, where he 
was supplied with provisions and allowed to remain 
through the day. The next night he was assisted 
by a free colored man to cross the river, in a skiff, 
below Covington. He was directed to the house of 
a colored man living near the river, of whom he 
inquired concerning me, saying that he wished to 
see me. The colored man* knew me, and at once 
conducted him to our house. 

He was a stranger and we took him in, hungry 
and we fed him, not naked but very destitute and 
we clothed him, sick and we ministered unto him. 
He was a noble looking man, in the prime of life, 
of good muscular development, and a pleasant and 
intelligent countenance. When he entered, my 
wife exclaimed, "Here's Uncle Tom!" and he was 
afterward called that by all the inmates of the house 
and those who visited him. The deep cold he had 
taken settled on his lungs, producing a hard cough, 
and, notwithstanding care and kind treatment, it 
'developed into lung fever. He was soon confined 
to his bed, and we called in Dr. W. H. Mussey, 


who was ever ready to give aid or medical attention 
to fugitives and other poor people without charge. 
The doctor found poor Tom very ill, and requiring 
prompt attention and careful nursing. We hired a 
good nurse to stay with him day and night, and Dr. 
Mussey was indefatigable in his attentions. 

Tom had been a strong healthy man, and his 
vitality did not yield easily to the disease that was 
preying upon him. For a slave, one whose lot had 
been cast in that system which tended to trample 
out every spark of intellect and reduce men and 
women to the level of brutes, Tom possessed un- 
usual intelligence. He was a professor of religion 
and loved the words of the Bible, though the priv- 
ilege of reading them had been denied to him. 
Our boarders manifested great interest in Uncle 
Tom, and rendered him many kind attentions. 
Favorable symptoms now and then appeared which 
encouraged hopes of his recovery, but cold and 
hunger and exposure had done their work, and the 
disease was too deeply seated for human skill. 

Dr. Mussey called in other prominent physicians 
to see Tom, and consulted with them regarding his 
case. This was done several times during his illness, 
which lasted nine weeks. At first, Tom was quiet 
and rational, then delirium appeared and his mind 
wandered. He became alarmed at every noise he 
heard in the house or street, thinking that it was 
his master coming after him, and would beg pit- 
eously to be taken to the house of that good man, 
Levi Coffin. His attendants could not persuade 
him that he was already there, and when I would 


go to his bedside and tell him that he was safe at 
my house, whence no fugitive had ever been taken 
by their masters, he would seize hold of me and beg 
me to save him, adding, ''If master catches me, he 
will stretch me out on the ground with stakes, and 
cut my back to pieces, and I am too weak to bear 
it; I will die." 

I would talk to him in a soothing manner, assur- 
ing him of his safety, and he would grow calm, then 
again start up in the delirium of fever, and beg to 
be boxed up and sent to Canada, or to be carried to 
the house of Levi Coffin. Then he would assume 
another phase; he was independent, he feared no 
man, the Lord was with him ; he was a missionary 
sent out to preach the gospel, and would pray and 
preach in a voice so loud that it could be heard in 
the street. He sometimes imagined that he was 
out on the wide ocean, or in a river steamer, or in 
the cars. At other times* he would imagine himself 
pursued and attacked by bloodhounds, then he 
would spring out of bed and lay hold on anything 
he could reach, with which to defend himself. As 
his ravings became more violent, two men were 
required to control him. He fancied that we were 
all his enemies, that his nurses and the doctors were 
trying to poison him, and he refused to take medi- 
cine or nourishment of any kind. What was given 
him had to be administered by force. At one time 
he did not close his eyes in sleep for forty-eight 
hours. The doctors decided to try stimulants, and 
forced him to take a small quantity of brandy and 
e gg> every hour, during one afternoon. This had 


the desired effect; he dropped into a quiet doze 
that evening and awoke in a calmer frame of mind. 
A few more doses of stimulant were given him, and 
about ten o'clock he fell into a peaceful sleep, awak- 
ing next morning at daylight in his right mind. He 
took a little nourishment and seemed to revive. It 
was a lesson of instruction to be in his room and 
witness his resignation to the will of his Divine Mas- 
ter, and to hear him talk of his religious experience 
and the goodness of the Lord. Several ministers 
visited him and had seasons of prayer with him. 
For several days the doctors had great hopes of his 
recovery, but an unfavorable change in his disease 
took place, and he quietly and peacefully passed 
away at two o'clock on the sixth day of the week, 
after being confined to his bed at our house for nine 
weeks, and requiring a great deal of care and ex- 
pense in nursing, which I can say in truth we will- 
ingly rendered. 

We had poor Tom neatly dressed, and obtained a 
nice coffin from the undertaker, also hiring a hearse 
and two carriages. The funeral was appointed at 
two o'clock, Sabbath afternoon, in Allen Chapel, on 
Sixth Street, the largest colored church in the 
city, and notice of it was given in all the colored 
churches. Rev. George Rogers, a white Wesleyan 
minister, volunteered to preach the funeral sermon. 
A large congregation gathered, of both colored and 
white people, and the chapel was filled to its utmost 
capacity. The coffin was placed in front of the 
pulpit. I took a seat by the side of the minister, 
and at the close of the sermon, I gave a short his- 


tory of Uncle Tom, of his death struggle for free- 
dom, his sufferings and long sickness, his dying 
expressions and happy close of life. Then the 
large congregation moved quietly up one aisle and 
down the other, to view the peaceful face of the 
dead fugitive. A number of private carriages joined 
the funeral procession and followed the body to its 
resting-place in the colored burying ground at 

A few days after Uncle Tom's death, an old 
lady, a prominent member of Ninth Street Baptist 
Church, called to see us, and said: "I have been 
thinking that you and your wife will occupy a high 
place in heaven for nursing and taking care of Uncle 

I replied: "Thou hadst better advise us not to 
depend on works for salvation. If we have true 
faith, we shall do good works. We have done no 
more than our duty ; worjts without faith will not 
save us." 

The day that Uncle Tom died I was tempted to 
send a telegram to his master, informing him that 
his slave was at my house, and that if he would 
come at once he could get him, knowing that he 
could reach here by railway before the funeral. 
Then, if he came, I would take him into the room 
and show him the form of poor Tom, cold in death. 
I thought strongly of doing this, and was urged by 
others to do it, but, on mature deliberation, I de- 
cided that it would not be advisable. 




At the time that I was engaged in the work of 
the Underground Railroad at Cincinnati, there lived 
in Louisville, Kentucky, a man whom I will call 
Jones, who was in sentiment a strong abolition- 
ist, and who aided runaway slaves whenever it was 
in his power. The colored people of Louisville, 
learning that he was kindly disposed toward their 
race, frequently applied to him for counsel and 
assistance when in perplexity or distress. 

Louisville was the headquarters in Kentucky 
for slave-traders, buying negroes for the Southern 
market, and coffles were often brought in from the 
surrounding country, preparatory to being shipped 
on the packets for New Orleans or other Southern 
ports. Occasionally husbands or wives, who had 
been separated from their families, would escape 
from these coffles and make their way to some safe 
hiding-place among their colored friends, where 
Jones would be summoned to hear their sad story, 
and to devise some plan of aiding them to escape. 
After waiting till pursuit was over, he would pro- 
ceed to the Cincinnati and Louisville packet, lying 
then at the wharf, and in his own or some fictitious 
name engage a state-room for the passage to Cin- 
cinnati, and get the key of the room. A short 
time before the boat started, and while there was a 
great bustle on the wharf and along the gangway, 
he would have the fugitives come on board with 
their bundles as if they were servants bringing the 
of their master or mistress and would 


direct them by a prearranged signal to pass into 
the room which he had engaged. Here they found 
the key on the inside of the door, and immediately 
locked themselves in. 

After a state-room had been engaged, the fare 
paid and the key given up, no officer or servant of 
the boat had a right to go into the room, and the 
passengers would be unmolested on their way to 
Cincinnati. Jones was always careful to engage 
and pay for both berths of a state-room, that no one 
else might occupy part of it. At different times he 
came to Cincinnati on the same boat with the 
fugitives and conducted them to my house. The 
packet boats left Louisville in the morning and 
reached Cincinnati before daylight next morning, 
and when he did not come himself, Jones would 
telegraph to me to apprise me of the coming of the 
fugitives, and request me to look out for them. 
This information and request were conveyed in a 
manner that could convey no suspicions of the truth 
to others. Sometimes the message read: "Go to 
box seventy-two, at the post-office, and take charge 
of my letters or papers which you will find there; " 
at other times, " Pay forty-three dollars to Dr. Peck 
on my account;" different numbers being used at 
different times. 

I understood that the number mentioned desig- 
nated the number of the state-room in which the 
fugitives were, and could tell whether it was in the 
gentlemen's or the ladies' cabin. I arranged for 
some person to go aboard the boat when it reached 
the wharf, tap at the door mentioned in a way that 


the fugitives would understand, wait till the door 
opened enough for him to be recognized, then walk 
away ; the fugitives would follow him. A colored 
person was generally chosen to perform this mission, 
and passed unnoticed amid the crowd of colored por- 
ters, draymen and hackmen, who went up and down 
the gangway, carrying baggage and assisting passen- 
gers. Sometimes the fugitives had a trunk of cloth- 
ing, and as Jones saw that it was checked before 
leaving Louisville, there was no trouble in present- 
ing the check at Cincinnati, after the fugitives were 
safe at our house, and obtaining the trunk. 

In this manner, during one spring and summer, 
twenty-seven slaves safely escaped from Louisville, 
and reached my house in Cincinnati. Among these 
were many interesting cases, but a reference to 
them would make this story too long. They were 
sent on to Canada, where many of them had friends, 
or husbands, or wives, who had made their escape 

Escaping detection in all the cases where he had 
been implicated, Jones was finally arrested, in a case 
where he was innocent, tried in court, and convicted 
on false evidence. Aiding a fugitive slave was at 
that time a grave offense, and he was sentenced to 
three years in the penitentiary. On account of 
some flaw in the evidence, or illegality in the pro- 
ceedings, his lawyers petitioned for a second trial, 
which was granted, but he was again found guilty, 
by another jury. His sentence this time was less- 
ened to two years. 

Some new witnesses having been discovered whose 


evidence it was thought would prove his innocence, 
a petition for a third trial was made and granted. 
This was the fall term of court, and he was returned 
to jail to await the next term. His bail bond was 
fixed at one thousand five hundred dollars, but he 
not being blessed with an abundance of this world's 
goods could not raise the amount. He was a 
weakly man, and his previous imprisonment and 
present confinement in jail, during cold weather, 
were a further injury to his health. He became very 
ill and his physician thought that he could not long 
survive unless he was released from prison, and 
restored to his home where he could be nursed and 
cared for by his family. Through the influence of 
his lawyer and physician, his bail was reduced to 
one thousand dollars, and his wife and step-daughter 
went to work -to raise this amount to indemnify a 
prominent citizen of Louisville, who had agreed to 
sign his bond. But it could not be expected that a 
man who was guilty of aiding a slave to escape 
would have many friends in a slave State, like Ken- 
tucky, where a negro-stealer, as an abolitionist was 
called, was looked upon as worse than a horse-thief, 
and Jones' wife and daughter found it impossible to 
raise the amount required. Six hundred dollars 
was the utmost they could command. Jones' step- 
daughter, an amiable young lady of about eighteen, 
wrote to me, giving the particulars of the case, and 
appealing to me in a very pathetic manner to try to 
raise the remaining four hundred dollars required. 
With the exception of Jones himself, the family 
were strangers to me, but my sympathies were 


aroused in their behalf, and I wished to aid them. 
I had, however, just finished helping a colored 
woman to raise a sum of money to purchase her 
daughter from slavery, and felt that in this instance 
I could not render any considerable aid. 

I wrote a reply to this effect, inclosing a small 
sum of money in the letter as a token of my sym- 
pathy. In a short time I received another letter 
from the same source, acknowledging the receipt of 
my favor, and still urging me to make an effort in 
her father's behalf, saying that he would die if not 
removed from prison. Thomas Wistar, of Philadel- 
phia, one of my intimate friends, was in Cincinnati 
at that time on business, and I showed him the 
young lady's letters and related the circumstances 
of the case. He Was much interested, and his 
sympathy aroused. He gave me five dollars to 
send to Jones' family, and I forwarded it at once, 
again expressing my personal inability to do any- 
thing that would materially aid them. 

Not long afterward there came a third letter, 
pleading with me most earnestly to make an attempt 
in some direction to raise the four hundred dollars 
still lacking. I sent this letter to Thomas Wistar, 
who had returned to Philadelphia, and asked him to 
lay the case before those who might be interested, 
and if they could feel with "those in bond as 

bound with them," to solicit them to contribute. 

He replied that he would show this letter to 
various friends of his, and report results from time 
to time. He wrote frequently, saying he had 
received subcriptions to be applied as desired, and 



in a few days directed me to draw on him for three 
hundred and fifty dollars, adding that I must raise 
the remaining fifty dollars. I called on Abram and 
James Taylor, and showed them Thomas Wistar's 
letter. They advanced the fifty dollars at once, 
and I drew on Thomas Wistar for the amount des- 
ignated, and thus had the four hundred dollars 
required. The next question was how to get it to 
Louisville, and have matters there properly adjusted. 
I knew that prompt action was necessary if Jones 
was benefited, for the weather was extremely cold, 
and he was lying sick in jail. I had already devoted 
considerable time to the matter, and tried to find 
some suitable person to go in my stead, but in this 
I failed and the duty seemed to devolve on me. 

The Ohio River was frozen over, and there were 
no boats running. I started to Jeffersonville on the 
early train, hoping to reach Louisville that after- 
noon, but the track was covered with ice and snow, 
the water-tanks were frozen, and owing to the diffi- 
culty of travel the train was behind time. Miss- 
ing connections at Seymour, I did not reach Jef- 
fersonville till midnight, and here I was told that 
I could not cross the river, as the ferry-boats had 
stopped running on account of the ice. Next morn- 
ing I went to the wharf, and finding two men who 
had a skiff, I made arrangements with them \f> take 
me across. There was a narrow channel free from 
ice where the water was swift, and by skillful man- 
agement a boat might pass through this nearly to 
the opposite side. Walking a hundred yards or so, 
on the ice, we reached the place where the skiff 



lay, and getting into it, the men pulled up current 
through the channel, occasionally meeting floes and 
cakes of ice coming down the stream. At such 
times, it was necessary to pull up the skiff on the 
stationary ice till the floating ice passed. 

When nearly to the opposite shore we came to a 
mass of ice that had been jammed up edgewise. 
The skiff could go no farther, and I left it and 
walked the rest of the way. It was a hazardous 
undertaking to attempt to spring from one sharp 
edge to another, but I reached the shore in safety, 
and made my way to Jones' house. When I intro- 
duced myself to the wife and daughter, and made 
known my errand, I felt amply repaid for all that I. 
had done. They burst into tears and thanked me 
again and again, seeming unable to express the full 
measure of their gratitude. It was then eleven 
o'clock A. M., on the last day of the week, and I 
had but little time to spare, as the train on which I 
wished to return left Jeffersonville at two p. M., so 
I sent immediately for the lawyer, and when he 
arrived paid the money into his hands, taking a 
receipt for it. The limited time at my command 
did not admit of my going to the jail to see Jones, 
but the lawyer agreed to get him out of prison that 

Learning that a channel had been cut across 
the river at New Albany, I took the stage to the 
ferry-wharf, and arrived while the boat was on the 
opposite side. I had to wait some time, and the 
delay increased my impatience, but finally the boat 
returned, and I reached New Albany. I found that 


I had a very short time in which to reach Jefferson- 
ville, and looked around for a conveyance, but the 
omnibuses Jiad all gone. I started up town to find 
a livery stable, but seeing a man in a sleigh drawn 
by two good horses, I ran to him and told him if he 
would take me to the depot, in time for the train, I 
would give him a dollar. The man replied that he 
had fast horses and thought he could make the dis- 
tance nearly three miles in time, so off we started 
at flying speed. When we came into Jeffersonville, 
before quite reaching the depot, the train began to 
move off. I tossed a dollar to the man, sprang out 
of the sleigh, and running as fast as I could, caught 
the last car, being pulled up by a gentleman on the 
rear platform. I reached home early in the morn- 
ing. Jones was released from jail a few hours after 
I left Louisville. He had taken a deep cold, and 
was reduced quite low with severe illness, but after 
several weeks of suffering* his health improved, so 
that he was able to attend to business, and a few 
weeks before the opening of court he came to Cin- 
cinnati, in the hope of obtaining another witness in 
his case. 

He came at once to my house, wishing to consult 
with me in regard to risking a third trial. I called 
a meeting of several of our prominent anti-slavery 
men, to deliberate on the subject. We thought 
that there was no probability of his being cleared at 
his next trial, and advised him not to return, but to 
forfeit his bond. Jones seemed to have some hope 
that he would be cleared, but as he had been twice 
convicted on false evidence, we thought that there 


was little prospect of a jury of slaveholders ac- 
quitting him of the crime he was charged with, 
that of aiding a fugitive. 

Some of us knew that he was innocent in that 
case, but that in many other cases he was guilty, 
and that if convicted the penitentiary would be his 
doom. Jones finally agreed to forfeit his bond and 
not return. He wrote to his wife, informing her of 
his decision, which was in accordance with her 
advice. I gave him a room in an upper story, and 
he staid at our house for some time. His case 
came up in court, but he did not appear, and his 
bond was forfeited. When court was over his wife 
came to see him and spent several days, but it was 
thought best for her not to leave Louisville any con- 
siderable time, for Jones,' prosecutors might attempt 
to trace his whereabouts, through her, and she 
returned to her home. His enemies seemed deter- 
mined to hunt him out, and supposing him to be in 
Cincinnati, they obtained a requisition on the Gover- 
nor of Ohio, from the Governor of Kentucky, for a 
permit to arrest him. Jones' wife wrote to him 
from Louisville, giving him intelligence of this 
movement addressing the letter to me that no clue 
to Jones might be obtained. I at once wrote to 
Salmon P. Chase, then Governor of Ohio, giving 
him the particulars of the case, and requesting him 
to let me know if he was applied to for a permit to 
arrest Jones. 

Chase immediately wrote to his former law partner 
in this city to inform me that, if occasion required, I 
would hear from him. Close search was made for 


Jones, but his enemies failed to get any clue to his 
whereabouts, and they never applied to Governor 
Chase. When matters became quiet and the search 
seemed to be over, Jones' wife joined him, and they 
took rooms in another part of the city. But they 
had been settled in their new home only a few weeks, 
when Jones was discovered by a Louisville officer, 
who was about to arrest him without legal authority 
and hurry him off to Kentucky. Jones narrowly 
escaped by slipping out a back way, and resolved to 
leave the city at once and seek a place of security. 
He and his wife removed to Iowa, where they 
remained for several years ; then returned to Cin- 
cinnati, and are still living here. The daughter 
married in Louisville and remained there. After 
his return to this city, Jones entered the Eclectic 
College, studied medicine, and is now a practicing 


Among the fugitives who escaped from Louisville 
and reached Cincinnati, by the aid of Jones, was a 
woman whom I will call Rose. She was so nearly 
white that a stranger would never suspect that there 
was a drop of African blood in her veins. Her 
form was tall and graceful, her face beautiful, and 
her expression one of intelligence. She had long, 
straight black hair, and her hands were as delicate 
as those of any lady. Although she was a slave, 
she had never experienced any of the hardships and 
cruelties of slavery. She was the property of a man 
who lived in the central part of Kentucky, and 
being a favorite house servant, she was kindly 


treated by her indulgent master and mistress. She 
had a comfortable home, and her tasks were the 
lighter work of the household, and the use of the 
needle. But her lot did not remain unshadowed by 
the evils of slavery. She was seduced by her mas- 
ter and became the mother of a handsome boy, 
apparently white. On account of the disturbance 
which this created in the family, the master took 
Rose and her child to Louisville, and hired her for a 
house servant to an acquaintance of his who owned 
no slaves. According to the terms of their written 
agreement, made for a specified number of years, 
the employer was to pay fifty dollars a year for her 
services, and to clothe her and the child, beside 
paying doctor's bills in case of their sickness. 

To Rose's great comforjt, she found her new mas- 
ter and mistress to be kind-hearted Christian people. 
They treated her and her child with kindness, and 
her new home proved to be a pleasant one. Her 
little boy soon became the pet of the family. When 
he grew large enough to attend school, he was., ad- 
mitted to the white schools, as he showed no trace 
of colored blood. He was a bright, intelligent 
child, and made rapid progress in learning. When 
the term of years for which Rose had been hired 
had nearly expired, her employer received a letter 
from her master stating that he had sold his farm 
and was preparing to move to Mississippi, and 
wished Rose and her child to be in readiness to join 
him and his family when they came to Louisville to 
take a down-river boat. Her employer imparted 
this intelligence to Rose, and said that he and his 


wife were sorry to part with her, but that she must 
obey her master's orders. Rose was filled with dis- 
may at the prospect of leaving her comfortable 
home and going to the far South. Her little boy, x 
she knew, would then be a slave, for in slavery the 
child followed the condition of the mother, and for 
herself she dreaded some hard fate, worse than she 
had yet known. She might be sold to a cruel 
master and made to toil in the cotton fields, beneath 
the driver's lash, or she might become the property 
of some sensual wretch, and she would choose death 
rather than such a lot. She began to plan a way to 
escape. Some 'colored people who knew that Jones 
was disposed to aid fugitives directed her to con- 
sult with him. She sought an opportunity and had 
an interview with him, during which the whole mat- 
ter was arranged. 

The family with whom Rose had been living had 
often given her money for* her faithful services, 
beside paying her master the amount agreed upon, 
and she had saved a sum more than sufficient to pay 
her passage to Cincinnati. She also had a supply 
of good clothing for herself and her little boy, and 
a large trunk. She began to pack her things and 
make ready for traveling. Her indulgent mistress 
seemed to understand that she contemplated making .. 
her escape, but placed no obstruction in her way. 
On the contrary, she seemed disposed to encourage 
her attempt, but asked her no questions lest she 
should be, in turn, questioned by Rose's master 
when he came. 

Jones went to the Cincinnati packet, and engaged 



a state-room for a lady and her little boy, entering 
fictitious names on the clerk's book. He paid for 
both berths and obtained the key to the room. 
Later he managed to send Rose's trunk aboard and 
have it checked for Cincinnati. Rose dressed her- 
self in her best clothing and put a thick vail over 
her face, and then, leading her little boy, she went 
aboard the boat, passing unnoticed in the bustle and 
crowd. In the cabin she saw Jones, who passed 
before her into the ladies' cabin, and made a signal, 
designating the room she was to enter. She went 
in, and finding the key on the inside, locked the 
door. She and her little boy were unmolested on 
the trip, and arrived safely at Cincinnati about four 
o'clock next morning. 

In the meantime Jones had telegraphed to me, 
requesting me to go to box 72 and take charge of 
his papers until called for. I knew from the number 
that the state-room referred to was in the ladies' 
cabin. Just at daybreak, when people began to 
leave the boat, and draymen and hackmen were 
going on board to look for freight and passengers, 
I sent a man to the boat who went to the room 
numbered 72, and gave a tap on the door that Rose 
understood. She opened the door and followed the 
man ashore, and was soon safe at my house, with 
her little boy. When her vail was removed it was 
difficult for us to realize that the handsome, well- 
dressed lady who sat before us was a fugitive slave. 
The tinge of African blood in her face was so slight 
that it was hardly noticeable. Her boy, a hand- 
some little fellow, was as white as any child. When 


breakfast was over and Rose had recovered from the 
first excitement of her arrival, we took her into our 
room, and she related to me and my wife the par- 
ticulars which I have given. We were deeply 
interested in her at once, and felt that we wanted to 
exhibit these white slaves to some of our acquaint- 
ances, whose sympathies had never been so strongly 
enlisted for the slave as ours had been. I invited 
several prominent citizens, who were not abolition- 
ists, to call at my house, saying that I had recently 
received a curiosity from the South which I wished 
to show them. They responded to the invitation, 
and came at the time appointed. I assured Rose 
that she need not feel any fear or embarrassment in 
the presence of the men to whom I was about to 
introduce her; they were all men of honor and high 
standing, and would give no information that might 
lead to her detection. I then conducted her into 
the parlor where they were* seated, and introduced 
her and her little boy as fugitives, fleeing to a land 
of liberty. The gentlemen were greatly surprised, 
and said: "Can it be possible that they are slaves, 
liable to be bought and sold? It is a shame." 

They asked Rose many questions, which she 
answered with clearness and in a ladylike manner, 
manifesting a keen sense of her degradation as a 
slave. The gentlemen seemed deeply interested in 
her case, and expressed much concern for her wel- 
fare, saying that they hoped she would reach a land 
of liberty in safety. While Rose was at our house 
I introduced her to a number of other persons, 
whom I wished to interest in behalf of the poor 



slaves in bondage, as well as the fugitives who 

After she had been with us several days, John 
Jolliffe, that noble advocate of liberty, took her to 
his house, as he wished to invite some of his law 
brethren to see her and her boy.. She remained 
there several days, and Lawyer Jolliffe introduced 
her to Judge Storer, and other prominent members 
of the bar. Much interest was manifested by all 
who saw and talked with her. Some thought that 
no effort would be made to capture her, and that 
she might be safe in Cincinnati, but Rose thought 
that it would be unsafe to remain here, as her mas- 
ter might empower an agent to hunt her out and 
capture her. John Jolliffe and I decided that it 
would be best for her to go farther north, so I 
bought a ticket for her to Detroit, and saw her and 
her child safely started on their journey. I after- 
ward heard from her ; she was living in Detroit and 
doing well. 


Not far from Louisville, Kentucky, there lived a 
slave whom I will call Jim. He had a wife and one 
child, who belonged to a different master, a person 
living in Louisville. Jim's master was more indul- 
gent than some slaveholders, and allowed him the 
privilege of visiting his wife frequently. Jim's 
parents having grown old, and become worthless, in 
the sense of property, had been emancipated by 
their master, and as they could not, according to 
the law of Kentucky, remain in that State and be 


free, they had been sent to Ohio, and had settled at 
New Richmond, twenty miles above Cincinnati, 
where some of their relatives, free colored people, 
were living. After they had lived here a year or 
two, Jim solicited the privilege of going to see them 
and carrying some presents to them. The work of 
the summer was over and he had accumulated a 
little money, enough to pay the expenses of the 
trip. After some deliberation, his master consented 
to give him a pass for a week's absence, and per- 
mitted his little brother, about twelve years old, to 
go with him to see their parents. He thought there 
was no danger of Jim's not returning promptly, for 
he knew that he was much attached to his wife and 
child, and thought that he would not leave them. 

But Jim had other thoughts in his mind; he had 
a yearning to be free. Although he had a kind 
master he knew that his situation was liable to 
sudden change. His maste/ might die, or become 
involved in debt and be obliged to sell him, or his 
wife and child might be sold away from him. These 
thoughts Jim had revolved in his mind for some 
time, and he now resolved to make a bold stroke 
for freedom. He also had a plan for aiding one 
of his friends, a slave, whom I will call Joe. 

Joe was the property of a man living about thirty 
miles from Louisville, but being cruelly treated by 
his master he ran away, and secreted himself among 
some colored friends in that city. Jim's plan for 
aiding Joe was to nail him up in a goods box, and 
ship him to New Richmond, pretending that the 
box contained some things which he was taking to 


his parents at that place. By the aid of some of his 
colored friends this was accomplished without at- 
tracting suspicion. Joe disposed himself as com- 
fortably as he could in the box, the cover was nailed 
on, and it was directed to Jim's father at New 
Richmond, in care of Jim himself. Then it was 
conveyed to the wharf on a dray, to be placed on 
board the Cincinnati packet as freight for New 
Richmond. Jim had gone to the boat before and 
paid the price of passage for himself and little 
brother to Cincinnati. He showed his pass to the 
captain and informed him that he had a box to take 
with him to his father, on which he wished to pay 
the freight to Cincinnati in advance. This was sat- 
isfactory to the captain, and the weight being 
marked on the box, which was now on the wharf, 
Jim paid the freight required. The mate ordered 
the box to be rolled on board, but Jim took hold 
and helped the deck hands carry it on deck, and 
saw that it was placed right side up. The boat 
arrived at Cincinnati before daylight next morning, 
and landed at the foot of Main Street. Jim wished 
to know if his friend was all right, and watching his 
opportunity when the deck hands were engaged in 
another part of the boat, he leaned down and whis- 
pered through a crack in the box, "Joe, is you 

The answer came back, in muffled tones: " Fs 
hyar, all right." 

The wharf of the Maysville packet line, where 
Jim was to take passage for New Richmond, was at 
the foot of Broadway, two squares above, but the 


boat was not yet in. Jim had the box containing 
his friend conveyed on a dray to the upper wharf, 
where it had to lay several hours in the hot sun- 
shine. As soon as the boat arrived and her freight 
was discharged, Jim had the box put on board, 
watching carefully to see that it was right side up. 
At four in the afternoon the Maysville boat started. 
Jim walked the deck impatiently, feeling much 
anxiety about Joe, and watching eagerly for the 
sight of his destination. The boat reached New 
Richmond about sunset, and Jim paid the charges 
on his box of live freight, and had it rolled off on 
the wharf. Waiting till the boat had gone on her 
way, Jim ascertained that Joe was still alive, and then 
looked around for a dray. Seeing none, he hired a 
wood wagon to transport the box to the house 
where his father and mother lived, in the outskirts 
of the village. Jim was glad to meet his father and 
mother, but was so anxious^ to release Joe from his 
confinement that he hardly waited to speak to them. 
When the box was unloaded, and the man who 
drove the wagon was gone, Jim took a hatchet and 
knocked off the box-lid, and Joe crawled out of the 
narrow quarters where he had been confined for 
thirty-six hours, without food or drink, except a 
crust of corn bread. He appeared to be in good 
condition, and was thankful to breathe the free air 
of Ohio, which he said was sweet. Jim was much 
rejoiced at the success of his plan and his friend's 
safe arrival. 

A few abolitionists white men who lived near, 
were called in to see the fugitive, and to advise in 


regard to his safety. It was decided that he must 
go to Canada immediately, via the Underground 
Railroad, and that the line leading through Cincin- 
nati was the best for him to take. One of the abo- 
litionists who knew me offered to bring Joe to my 
house the next evening in his buggy. He had a 
swift horse, and by starting early in the evening he 
reached my house about ten o'clock at night. The 
next day I obtained a ticket to Sandusky for Joe, 
and put him aboard the night train. I learned after- 
ward that he arrived safely in Canada. 

Jim remained a few days with his parents at New 
Richmond, then came to Cincinnati, and called at 
my house to inquire about his friend. He told me 
the particulars, which I have given, of Joe's journey 
in the box, and also confided to me his own inten- 
tions. He said that the time for which his pass was 
good had not yet expired ; he had several days to 
spare, and he thought of taking a trip to Canada to 
see how his friend Joe was prospering. If he liked 
the country himself, he thought he would not 
return. I asked him about his wife and child; 
would he leave them in slavery ? 

He replied: "I hope to get them to Canada be- 
fore long. I have been talking with the steward on 
board the Cincinnati and Louisville packet. He is 
a trusty fellow, and well acquainted with my wife. 
He will go to see her and tell her that I have gone 
to Canada to prepare a home for us, and that she 
must try to join me." 

I said: "But it may be difficult for her to get 
away with her child." 


Jim replied: "We have a white friend living in 
Louisville who will plan for her if she will apply to 

Jim then went to the Louisville packet, where he 
had left his little brother. He paid the fare of his 
brother to Louisville, and had a private understand- 
ing with the colored steward; then a short time 
before the hour for the boat to start, he told his 
brother that he had some business up town that he 
must attend to before starting, and hastily left the 
boat. His brother supposed that he would soon 
return, but the boat went off without Jim. 

Jim returned to my house and took the train that 
evening for Sandusky. I told him that according 
to the laws of Ohio he was already free ; that when 
a slave was brought into this State by his master, 
or came here with his master's permission, the law 
would protect him if he chose to remain. But if 
Jim's wife ran away and came to him here, the law 
could not protect her; she would be liable to be 
captured and taken back to slavery. 

Jim concluded that he would try the English do- 
minions, and reached Canada in safety. When his 
wife received the message that he had sent her, she 
resolved to follow him as soon as she could find an 
opportunity to make her escape. She consulted with 
Jones, of Louisville, and a few months afterward he 
managed to get her safely on board the packet for 
Cincinnati, and telegraphed to me to go to box 73 
and take charge of his papers till called for. I knew 
by the number that the state-room designated was 


in the ladies' cabin, and that the fugitive was a 

According to arrangements previously explained, 
she, with her child, was brought to our house, and 
the next night was forwarded to Canada, where she 
joined her husband in safety. 





AMONG the many interesting cases that came 
under my personal notice while engaged in 
efforts to aid the slave, that of Louisa Picquet, the 
octoroon, is recalled to memory. Her story as told 
by herself has been written by Rev. H. Mattison, 
pastor of Union Chapel, New York, and published 
in pamphlet form. I refer to it for the particulars 
given below. 

Louisa was born in Columbia, South Carolina, 
where her mother was a slave in the family of John 
Randolph, not the celebrated John Randolph, of 
Roanoke, but probably one of the same family. As 
little Louisa strongly resembled the Randolph chil- 
dren, Madame R. became much dissatisfied, and 
caused her and her mother to be sold. They were 
bought by a Mr. Cook, of Georgia, in whose 
family they remained for some time Louisa as nurse 
girl, her mother as cook. Their master had a large 
cotton plantation, warehouses, stores, etc., but was 
not a, good manager and became deeply involved in 
debt. His creditors came to take possession of his 


property, and he ran off to Mobile, taking seven 
of his slaves, including Louisa and her mother, and 
hired them out Louisa was in the family of a Mr. 
English, where she was well treated. She was at 
this time a beautiful girl of fourteen, with dark eyes 
and hair, rosy cheeks and brunette complexion, but 
with no indication of a drop of African blood in her 
veins. She attracted the attention and gained the 
affection of a young man of nineteen or twenty, 
white in appearance, but the slave of a man in the 
city of Mobile. He was a coachman and used to 
drive when his master's young sisters went out rid- 
ing. They frequently called at Mr. English's, and 
when the coachman rang the bell, it was answered 
by Louisa. In this way the acquaintance was 
made. He called to see her on Sundays, and 
finally asked her to marry him. She loved him in 
return, and would have been his wife, with all the 
sanction that the law allowed to slaves, had not 
circumstances separated them. Her lover was ac- 
cused to his master of an offense of which he was 
innocent, and when he denied it he received a 
severe whipping, which made him resolve to run 
away. He was strengthened in this resolve by the 
advice of his master's partner, an Englishman, who 
abhorred the cruelties of slavery. 

This gentleman said : "I would go away if I were 

The reply was : "I have no money, and I love a 
girl here I don't want to leave." 

The gentleman then inquired concerning Lpuisa, 
and learning that she was white, said : ' ' There will 


be no difficulty in your going away ; neither of you 
will be taken for slaves. As to the other excuse, 
here is money enough for your traveling expenses." 

The young lover hastened to Louisa and unfolded 
these plans. But she was afraid to venture. She 
knew that they could not read or write, and was 
afraid that they would be questioned and discov- 
ered. When she made known her decision, her 
lover was sorry to part from her, but all his arrange- 
ments were made and he had resolved to go. So 
after a long talk they bade each other good-by 
destined to meet again under very different circum- 

Mr. Cook's creditors traced him to Mobile, took 
possession of his slaves, and sold them to satisfy his 
debts. Louisa was taken to the public auction 
rooms, and her merits discussed by various pur- 
chasers. The auctioneer recommended her as a 


good-looking girl, a good nurse, kind and affection- 
ate to children ; she had never been put to hard 
work, as they could see by her white hands, etc. 
He even noticed her hair, which had lately been cut 
off because it was prettier than that of her master's 
daughter, and said, " You see it is good quality, and 
in a short time it will grow out fine and long." The 
bidding commenced at six hundred dollars, and 
mounted by hundreds and fifties to fourteen hundred. 
The rival bidders were a Mr. Horton, from Texas, 
who had bought Louisa's mother, and a Mr. Will- 
iams, of New Orleans. The former gentleman said 
that Louisa should go with her mother, but the 


latter declared that he would have her at any price, 
and bidding fifteen hundred she was sold to him. 

As Louisa was being led away, she heard some 
one crying and praying, and saw her mother 
on her knees in the midst of the crowd, with 
her hands lifted up and her eyes raised toward 
heaven, streaming with tears. All the people were 
looking at her, but she did not think of them, she 
was asking the Lord to go with her only daughter 
and protect her. 

This scene made a deep^ impression on Louisa, 
and she remembered it years afterward in waking 
hours and in dreams. There was no time allowed 
for saying good-by. The slaveholders did not recog- 
nize the claims of natural affection between mother 
and daughter, but led them away one to hard 
work in Texas, the other to a home in New Orleans, 
where she was to live in daily violation of God's 
command. Mr. Williams told Louisa of her destina- 
tion, and the fate in store for her, as he took her on 
the boat to New Orleans. He said he was getting 
old, and when he saw her he thought he would buy 
her and end his days with her. He told her that 
if she behaved herself she would be treated well, 
but if not, he would whip her almost to death. He 
was about fifty years old, and gray-headed, and was 
very jealous of Louisa lest she should find a lover 
of her own race. He never allowed her to go 
out ; when she begged to go to church, he accused 
her of having some object in view, antl said there 
were too many opportunities for rascality there. 

He would sometimes say: "Go on, I guess you've 


made your arrangement; go on, I'll catch up with 
you." But Louisa knew his watchful, suspecting 
disposition and never ventured out. 

She had four children while living with Mr. Will- 
iams, two of whom died. She was known as his 
housekeeper and did all the work. He never 
brought guests to the house, but if he had company 
took them to the hotel and entertained them. He 
finally became so harsh and strict with Louisa, and 
so disagreeable in his ways, that she begged him to 
sell her, saying that she would rather die than live 
in that manner. He became much enraged, and 
said that nothing but death should separate them, 
and that if she attempted to escape, he would blow 
her brains out. 

Louisa knew that it was wrong to live as she lived 
with Mr. Williams, for in early childhood Mrs. 
Cook had explained to her^the meaning of the com- 
mandments. She had this trouble in her soul all 
the time, and said to herself: " There's no chance 
for me: I'll have to die and be lost." She some- 
times spoke to Mr. Williams of these scruples, but 
he only swore about it, and told her he had that to 
answer for himself, and that if she was only true to 
him she could get religion. But Louisa felt there 
was no use trying to be religious when she was 
living in sin, and not knowing what else to do, 
began praying that Mr. Williams might die. 

She said in relating her story: "I promised the 
Lord one night, faithful in prayer, if he would just 
take him out of the way, I'd get religion and be 
true to Him as long as I lived. If Mr. Williams 


only knew that and could get up out of his grave, 
he would beat me half to death. Finally he did get 
sick, and was sick nearly a year. Then he began 
to get good and talked kind to me. I could see 
there was a change in him. He was not all the 
time accusin' me of other people. Then when I 
saw that he was sufferin' so, I began to get sorry 
and to pray that he might get religion before he 
died. It seems he did get religion, for he was so 

A short time before his death, Mr. Williams 
willed Louisa and her children free, and told her, 
when he was dead, to go to the North and live a 
new life. He also willed her the household goods, 
all that he had in the way of property the house 
he lived in was rented. " After his death Louisa 
felt a new peace and happiness, for she was free. 

On Sunday she went to church for the first time 
in six years, and was much impressed with the 
words of the preacher. Mr. Williams' brother soon 
afterward told her that she must leave the house, as 
he could not pay the rent, and a colored woman, 
who took in washing, kindly received Louisa and 
her children and cared for them till she could make 
other arrangements. One day she met her late 
master's brother and he asked her what she was 
doing. She replied, " Nothing, " and he then said 
that rightly she belonged to him, because his 
brother had not paid him the money he had bor- 
rowed to buy her. He asked her why she did not 
go North as her master had told her to do. She 
told him it was because she had no money, and 


asked him to give her some. He replied that she 
had better thank God for her freedom, without 
asking favors, and that his brother had got enough 
from him. Louisa related this conversation to the 
humble friend who had kindly taken her in, and was 
advised to get away as soon as possible. 

The furniture left to Louisa by her master was 
sent to a second-hand furniture store and sold, and 
with the money thus realized, Louisa and her chil- 
dren came to Cincinnati, having little money left 
after paying traveling expenses. On her arrival 
here, Louisa went to the house of a colored woman 
named Nelson, once a slave in Georgia, whom she 
had known in former years. She found friends 
among the colored and white people, and was 
respected by all. Two or three years after coming 
to Cincinnati, Louisa married Henry Picquet, a 
mulatto, formerly a slave and the son of a French- 
man in Georgia. He had been married once before, 
but his wife was sold away from him. Louisa had 
thought of her mother during the long years of sep- 
aration, and in that time had heard from her once. 
She now endeavored to learn in what part of Texas 
her mother was, and to ascertain if she could be 
purchased. She had letters written to different 
parts of Texas, making inquiries, and succeeded in 
learning the address of her mother's master. Nego- 
tiations were then opened, relative to her mother's 
purchase, and the master agreed to dispose of her 
for one thousand dollars. Louisa's next concern 
was, " How shall I raise this money?" She 
thought of selling everything she had, but her 


entire worldly possessions would amount to but a 
small sum. She then talked with friends on the 
matter, and was advised by them to go out and 
solicit money for the purpose. She was at first 
reluctant to do this, as she had a family to care for, 
had never traveled, except from New Orleans to 
Cincinnati, and feared that her efforts would be 
vain, as there were so many abroad on similar 
errands, but she finally resolved to make the 

I gave her a recommendation. Joseph Emery, 
known for many years as city missionary, did like- 
wise, and she received several encouraging notices 
from the press. With these pasted in her book she 
started out, first in Cincinnati, where she obtained 
subscriptions to the amount of about three hundred 
dollars, and then made her way to other cities and 
towns in the State of Ohio, .where she received 
various sums. At Cleveland she was advised to 
visit Buffalo, where the General Conference of the 
Methodist Episcopal Church was in session. She 
received letters of introduction to a minister settled 
at Buffalo, and to another who was there temporarily, 
as delegate to the Conference, and went to that city. 
She presented her claims, but received so little 
encouragement that she decided to go on to New 
York, having letters to Henry Ward Beecher and 
others in that city. She did so, and met with 
excellent encouragement, her collections amounting 
to two hundred and twenty-three dollars, in a few 
days. One day in New York she was passing along 
a street near the Park, when she saw a man on 


top of an omnibus who looked at her earnestly and 
seemed to know her. She recognized him instantly 
as the young man who, years before in Mobile, had 
asked her to marry him and run away from slavery. 
He got down from the omnibus, and came and 
spoke to her. After some conversation, in which 
she explained how she happened to be there, he 
told her that he had been in New York ever since 
he ran away, that he had married a white woman, 
and that no one suspected him of having a drop of 
African blood in his veins. He afterward brought 
his three children to the Park for Louisa to see, and 
she says they were very pretty, and prettily dressed 
the two little girls, white and fair, the little boy a 
brunette. "Ah," said she, laughing, "that one has 
the stain on it." She promised to keep the matter 
secret the early history of her friend lest it might 
break up a family, or cause* a white citizen of New 
York to be remanded back to slavery. 

Louisa returned to Buffalo, where for the first 
time in her travels she was treated with doubt and 
suspicion. Calling on a minister, who was a dele- 
gate to the Conference, from Baltimore, and stating 
her business, she was received coldly. After look- 
ing over her papers and listening to her story, he 
expressed his opinion that she was not a colored 
woman, and that the money collected was not for 
the specified purpose; consequently, that her claims 
were false and she was an impostor. 

Another gentleman in Buffalo, learning of this 
incident, kindly undertook to aid Louisa and sub- 
stantiate her claims, for the benefit of those dis- 


posed to doubt her. He telegraphed to the banking 
firm of Evans and Company, of Cincinnati, to whom 
Louisa referred him, making inquiries in regard to 
her, and received by mail a full indorsement of her 
and her representations. 

About this time Louisa received news that the 
master of her mother had decreased the price he 
demanded from one thousand dollars to nine hun- 
dred, which was, of course, cheering news, as it 
obviated much labor and anxiety. Louisa returned 
to Cincinnati, and, after some discouragement, suc- 
ceeded in completing her collections and making up 
the sum required. The money was sent to the mas- 
ter in Texas, per Adams Express Company, and 
Louisa's mother was brought to Cincinnati by the 
same Company at an expense of eighty dollars. 
To obtain this sum Louisa had to sell some of her 
household goods. The old woman, who had toiled 
all her life in bondage, was free at last thanks to 
the efforts of her daughter and the kindness of 
Northern friends. 

There was a joyful reunion of mother and daughter 
after the long separation of years. They parted in 
wretchedness, at a slave auction in Mobile, with the 
hopelessness of a life of bondage before them ; they 
met on a free soil, rejoicing in the possession of 
freedom, and full of thanksgiving and joy too great 
for utterance. 


It is seldom that one hears of a person who has 
been brought up in the midst of slavery, surrounded 


by its influences from his earliest recollection, being 
a hater of the "peculiar institution," but there are 
several such cases on record. Among them is that 
of John..Eairfi.eld, who has already figured in these 
pages in connection with a party of twenty-eight 
fugitives, whom he conducted to Cincinnati from 
their homes in Kentucky. 

His early home was in Virginia, east of the moun- 
tains, where he imbibed anti-slavery sentiments 
from what source it is unknown, certainly not from 
his relatives, who were all slaveholders. When 
quite a young man, he decided to make a visit to 
the State of Ohio, and seek his fortunes in a free 
State. Thinking that it would be a good opportu- 
nity to put his anti-slavery principles into practice, 
he planned to "take with him one of his uncle's 
slaves, a bright, intelligent young man, about his 
own age, to whom he was much attached. John 
and this young colored man had played together 
when boys, and had been brought up together. 
They had often discussed plans by which Bill, the 
slave, could make his escape to Canada, but no 
attempt had been made to carry them out, until 
young Fairfield determined to visit Ohio. The 
arrangement was then made for Bill to take one of 
his master's horses, and make his escape the night 
before Fairfield started, and wait for him at a ren- 
dezvous appointed. This plan was carried out, and 
Bill traveled as Fairfield's servant until they reached 
Ohio. Not feeling safe in that State, he went on to 
Canada, accompanied by Fairfield, who spent sev- 
eral weeks there looking at the country. Bill, in 


the meanwhile, found a good situation, and when 
Fairfield left him he was rejoicing in his newly 
achieved liberty and prosperity. 

When Fairfield told me the story, some years 
afterward, I asked him if he did not feel guilty of 
encouraging horse-stealing, as well as negro-stealing. 
I knew that death was the penalty for each of these 
crimes, according to the laws of Virginia and North 

The reply was: "No ! I knew that Bill had earned 
several horses for his master, and he took only one. 
Bill had been a faithful fellow, and worked hard for 
many years, and that horse was all the pay he got. 
As to negro-stealing, I would steal all the slaves in 
Virginia if I could." 

Aftej spending several months in Ohio, John 
Fairfield returned to Virginia, but did not remain 
long. His uncle suspected him of having helped 
his able-bodied and valuable servant to escape, and 
having obtained evidence from some source proba- 
bly from Ohio he set about procuring -a writ and 
having his nephew arrested. 

Fairfield learned of his uncle's intention, and 
concluded to leave that part of the country. Ac- 
tuated by a feeling of spite, or some other motive, 
he resolved to take other slaves, as he had taken 
Bill, and succeeded in getting away with several, 
some of whom belonged to his uncle. They trav- 
eled during the night and hid themselves during the 
day. Sometimes when they were safely secreted 
for the day, Fairfield went forward a few miles and 
purchased provisions, under the pretense of buying 


for movers in camp ; then returned and supplied the 
party of fugitives. They finally arrived safely in 
Canada, and Fairfield, liking the country, concluded 
to make his home there. Bill was now married and 
comfortably settled'. 

Fairfield's success in conducting the slaves from 
Virginia to Canada was soon known to many of the 
fugitives settled in that country, and having confi- 
dence in him, they importuned him to bring away 
from slavery the husbands, wives, children, or other 
relatives which they had left behind them in various 
parts of the South. Some of them had accumulated 
small sums of money, and offered to pay him if he 
would undertake the mission. 

Fairfield was a young man without family, and 
was fond of adventure and excitement. He wanted 
employment, and agreed to take the money offered 
by the fugitives and engage in the undertaking. He 
obtained the names of masters and slaves, and an 
exact knowledge of the different localities to be 
visited, together with other information that might 
be of use to him; then acted as his shrewd judg- 
ment dictated, under different circumstances. He 
would go South, into the neighborhood where the 
slaves were whom he intended to conduct away, 
and, under an assumed name and a false pretense of 
business, engage boarding, perhaps at the house of 
the master whose stock of valuable property he 
intended to decrease. He would proclaim himself 
to be a Virginian, and profess to be strongly pro- 
slavery in his sentiments, thus lulling the suspicions 
of the slaveholders while he established a secret 


understanding with the slaves gaining their confi- 
dence and making arrangements for their escape. 
Then he would suddenly disappear from the neigh- 
borhood, and several slaves would be missing at the 
same time. 

Fairfield succeeded well in his daring adventures, 
and in many instances brought members of fami- 
lies together in Canada, who had been separated 
for several years. Husbands and wives were again 
united, and there were joyful meetings between 
parents and children. The fugitives settled in Can- 
ada had unbounded confidence in Fairfield, and 
were constantly begging him to bring away their 
friends and relatives from slavery. He continued 
this unique business for more than twelve years, 
and during that time aided, it is said, several thou- 
sand slaves to escape from bondage and reach 
Canada. He was a wicked man, daring and reckless 
in his actions, yet faithful to the trust reposed in 
him, and benevolent to the poor. He seemed to 
have no fear for his personal safety was always 
ready to risk his life and liberty in order to rescue 
the slaves from bondage. 

He was an inveterate hater of slavery, and this 
feeling supplied a motive for the actions of his whole 
life. He believed that every slave was justly entitled 
to freedom, and that if any person came between him 
and liberty, the slave had a perfect right to shoot 
him down. He always went heavily armed himself, 
and did not scruple to use his weapons whenever he 
thought the occasion required their use. He resorted 
to many stratagems to effect his object in the South, 


and brought away numbers of slaves from nearly 
every slave State in the Union. He often stopped 
at Cincinnati, on his way South, and generally made 
his home among the colored people. He frequently 
called to see me, and told me of his daring exploits 
and plans of operation, to all of which I objected. 
I could have no sympathy with his mode of action, 
and at various times urged him to cease his opera- 
tions in the South and return to his home in Canada 
and remain there. I would have nothing to do with 
aiding him to carry out his plans, for I could not 
indorse the principles he acted upon. 

At the time I did not believe half the stories 
that he told me ; but afterward, learning from other 
sources of the many instances of his wonderful 
success, and knowing several of them from personal 
observation, and hearing sto/ies from fugitives of 
their deliverance by his aid, I began to think that 
most of his stories might be true. 

Fairfield was always ready to take money for his 
services from the slaves if they had it to offer, but 
if they did not he helped them all the same. Some- 
times the slaves in the South had accumulated a 
little money, which they gave gladly to any one who 
would conduct them out of the house of bondage ; 
and sometimes the fugitives in the North gave their 
little hoard to Fairfield, and begged him to rescue 
their relatives from slavery. Though always willing 
to take money for his services, he was equally ready 
to spend it in the same cause, and, if necessary, 
would part with his last dollar to effect his object. 
Fairfield had various methods of carrying out his 


plans. When he had obtained a list of the names 
of the slaves he wished to bring away, together with 
the names of their masters, and an exact knowledge 
of the different localities he was to visit in various 
parts of the South, he went to work without any 
hesitation, relying on his intimate knowledge of 
Southern customs to bear him safely through his 
perilous mission, and on his ingenuity and daring 
to extricate him from any difficulty he might fall 
into. Sometimes he engaged in some trading busi- 
ness and remained in the South six or twelve 
months at a time, familiarizing himself with differ- 
ent localities, making the acquaintance of the 
slaves and maturing his plans. At other times he 
would enter a neighborhood where he was an entire 
stranger, represent himself as a slave-dealer, and 
gain a knowledge of the slaves he Wished to take 
away. He would make known his plans to them 
secretly, and some night they would leave their 
homes, and intrust themselves to his guidance. 
Fairfield would conduct them safely across the Ohio 
River, and after placing them on some branch of 
the Underground Railroad, and seeing them started 
toward Canada, he would return to the South, 
assume another name, and enter another neighbor- 
hood, to enact the same over again. 

At one time he took a company of slaves from 
the northwestern part of Kentucky, and to elude 
pursuit made directly toward Nashville, Tennessee. 
The company consisted of able-bodied men, who 
were all well armed. They took horses belonging 
to their masters, and rode as far as they could the 


first night, then turned the horses loose and hid 
themselves during the day. The next night they 
took other horses, and so on, night after night, 
until they reached the Ohio River, near Maysville, 
Kentucky. Fairfield managed to get the men over 
the river and started safely on their way to Canada, 
thea he returned to the South to continue his 
adventurous business. 

At one time when he went South he had a few 
horses to sell, and took with him two able-bodied, 
free, colored men, whom he treated as his slaves, 
ordering them about in a peremptory manner. 
These men were shrewd and intelligent, and under- 
stood his plans. They ingratiated themselves with 
the slaves Fairfield had come to rescue, gained their 
confidence and ran off with them one dark night, 
steering their course to Canada by the north star. 
At other times Fairfield assumed to be returning 
from Louisiana, where he had been with a drove of 
slaves. He had with him, on such occasions, a body 
servant whom he professed to treat with great 
harshness, but who was really his confidant and 
accomplice. Through this servant he gained access 
to the slaves he wished to rescue. 

Fairfield was several times betrayed and arrested, 
in the South, and put in prison, but being a Free 
Mason, high in the Order, he managed to get out 
of prison without being tried. He broke jail once 
or twice and escaped. He often had to endure 
privation and hardship, but was ready to undergo 
any suffering, for the sake of effecting his object. 
He sometimes divided his clothing with a destitute 


fugitive, and was willing to make any sacrifice of 
personal comfort. We often heard of his arrival in 
Canada with large companies of fugitives, whom he 
had conducted thither by some line of the Under- 
ground Railroad. 

Fairfield was once betrayed and captured in 
Bracken County, Kentucky, and put in prison, 
where he remained through a winter of unusual 
severity. Before the time for his trial came, he 
escaped from jail by the aid of some of his friends, 
and crossed the Ohio River to Ripley. At the 
house of a noted abolitionist of that place, Fairfield 
lay sick for two weeks, having taken a deep cold 
while confined in jail. . When he became well 
enough to travel he came to Cincinnati, and stopped 
at the house of a colored friend. I went to see him 
and had a long talk with him. I again advised him, 
to quit his hazardous work, in which he constantly 
risked his life and liberty. I told him I had no 
sympathy with his mode of operation, -and urged 
him strongly to go home to Canada, and never cross 
Mason and Dixon's line again. He did not accept 
my advice, but swore that he would liberate a slave 
for every day that he had lain in prison. Although 
a man of strong constitution he appeared to be 
much broken in health by the hardships he had 
undergone. After resting a few weeks and recruit- 
ing his strength, he disappeared from the city, and 
no one knew where he had gone. 

The next news we had concerning him was that 
he had crossed the Ohio River, near Lawrenceburg, 
with a party of twenty-eight fugitives, from Ken- 


tucky. The story of this party I have previously 
related. After that, we heard nothing more of 
Fairfield for some time. The following autumn I 
received a letter from George D. Baptist, of Detroit, 
stating that Fairfield had just arrived there with a 
company of thirty fugitives from the State of Mis- 

Free colored people in the Northern States who 
had relatives in slavery heard of Fairfield's success- 
ful efforts, and applied to him to bring their friends 
out of bondage, sometimes offering him several 
hundred dollars. At one time I was told of one of 
Fairfield's adventures up the Kanawha River, near 
Charleston, Virginia. Several colored people in 
Ohio, who had relatives in slavery at and near the 
salt works, importuned Fairfield to bring them 
away, and he at last yielded to their frequent solic- 
itations, and promised to make the attempt. He 
knew that it would require some time to accomplish 
his object, as there were several slaves to be res- 
cued, and he laid his plans accordingly. He chose 
the early spring for the time of his action, as the 
water was then flush in the Kanawha. Taking two 
free colored men with him, whom he claimed as his 
slaves, he went to the salt works on the Kanawha, 
and professing to be from Louisville, Kentucky, 
said that, he had come to engage in the salt trade. 
He contracted for the building of two boats and for 
salt with which to load them when finished. These 
arrangements afforded time for his colored men to 
become acquainted with the slaves he wished to 


rescue, gain their confidence, and mature the plans 
for their escape. 

Some of the slaves were good boatmen, as also 
were Fairfield's men, and it was planned that when 
the first boat was finished, one of the slaves and one 
of Fairfield's men should get into it on Saturday 
night, and float down the river a short distance to a 
point agreed upon, and take in a company of slaves, 
both men and women. They were then to take 
advantage of the high water and swift current of the 
Kanawha, and make all possible speed to the Ohio 
River. This plan was carried out successfully. 
Search was made in the neighborhood on Sabbath 
for some of the missing slaves, but no clue was 
gained. The loss of the boat was not discovered 
till Monday morning. 

When Fairfield learned that one of his boats and 
one of his men were gone, he affected to be much 
enraged, and accused his other man of having some 
knowledge of the affair, and threatened him with 
severe punishment. The man denied having any 
part in the plot, but Fairfield professed to doubt 
him, and said that he should watch him closely. 

When the owners of the missing slaves learned 
that the boat was gone, they at once surmised that 
their servants had made their escape by that means, 
and as there was no steamboat going down the rivet 
that day, they sent horsemen in pursuit, hoping that 
the boat might be intercepted at the mouth of the 
river. But when the pursuers reached that point, 
they found the new boat tied on the opposite side 


of the river; the fugitives were gone, and no clue 
to their course could be obtained. 

Fairfield remained at the salt works to await the 
completion of his other boat, and to watch his 
other negro servant, of whom he professed to be 
very distrustful. In a few days the boat was com- 
pleted, and the next Saturday night it disappeared, 
together with Fairfield 's. negro man and ten or 
twelve slaves. Fairfield was now ruined ! Both his 
boats and both his slaves were gone; and the loss 
of his property made him almost frantic. He 
started in hot pursuit, accompanied by several men, 
determined to capture the fugitives at any hazard. 
When they reached the Ohio River they found the 
boat tied to the bank on the Ohio side, but the 
fugitives were gone. 

The pursuers ferried alzross the river, and, ac- 
cording to Fairfield's suggestion, divided company 
and took different routes, with the understanding 
that they were all to meet at a point designated. 
But Fairfield never met them, and was never seen 
at the salt works afterward. He well knew, how- 
ever, where to meet the fugitives; all that had been 
previously arranged. After the search was over, 
he conducted them safely to Canada, via the Un- 
derground Railroad. 

Soon afterward Fairfield performed another dar- 
ing feat, east of the mountains. There were a 
number of fugitives in Canada, nearly white, who 
had come from Maryland, the District of Columbia 
and Virginia, and who had a number of relatives of 
the same complexion in the localities they had left. 


There were also some free people living in Detroit, 
who had mulatto and quadroon relatives in the local- 
ities mentioned. Fairfield had often been solicited 
by these fugitives and free people to bring their 
friends out of slavery, and he finally agreed to make 
the attempt if a sum of money was raised for him, 
sufficient to justify it: The amount was made up 
and paid to him, and he went East on his hazardous 

He spent some time making the acquaintance 
of these mulattoes and quadroons in the different 
neighborhoods, and maturing his plans for their 
escape. Most of them were bright and intelligent, 
and some of them had saved enough money to pay 
their passage to Canada. After gaining their confi- 
dence and making them acquainted with his plans, 
Fairfield went to Philadelphia and bought wigs and 
powder. These cost him eighty dollars I after- 
ward saw the bill. His first experiment with these 
articles of disguise was made at Baltimore. , Having 
secretly collected the mulatto slaves of that city 
and vicinity, whom he had arranged to conduct to 
the North, he applied the powder and put on the 
wigs. The effect was satisfactory ; the slaves looked 
like white people. 

Fairfield bought tickets for them and they took 
the evening train to Harrisburg, where he had made 
arrangements for another person to meet them, 
who would accompany them to Cleveland and put 
them aboard the boat for Detroit. 

Fairfield, having seen this party safely on the 
way, returned immediately to Washington City for 



another company, who, by the aid of wigs and 
powder, passed for white people. He put these 
fugitives on the train, and accompanied them to 
Pittsburg. I received a letter from a friend in Cleve- 
land, informing me of the arrival of both these par- 
ties, through Fairfield's agency, which was the first 
intelligence I had of his operations in the East. 
From Pittsburg, Fairfield returned to Philadelphia, 
and finding that he had not enough money to com- 
plete his work, he applied to the abolition society of 
that city for assistance, but, as he was a stranger to 
them, they hesitated about granting his request. 

He told them that Levi Coffin, of Cincinnati, 
knew him well. George W. Taylor telegraphed 
to me at once "John Fairfield wants money; shall 
we give it to him?" 

I replied: "If John Faiifield needs money, give 
it to him." 

He was then furnished with the amount he called 
for, and made his way at once into Virginia, near 
Harper's Ferry, for the third company of slaves. 
One of this company was too dark to be transformed 
into a white person by means of a wig and powder, 
and Fairfield was compelled to leave him behind. 
He regretted to do so, but feared that his appear- 
ance would betray the others. Fairfield got the 
rest of the party to the railroad and took the 
express train for Pittsburg, but they were soon 
missed and the course they had taken was discov- 
ered. Their pursuers engaged an engine and one 
car, and followed the express train at full speed, 
hoping to overtake it and capture them before they 



reached Pittsburg. The engine overtook the train 
just as it was entering Pittsburg, but before the 
cars were fairly still, Fairfield and the fugitives 
sprang out and scattered, and ran in various direc- 
tions through the city. The pursuers spang out and 
gave chase, but did not succeed in capturing any 
of them. The fugitives soon found safe quarters 
among the abolitionists, and lay still for several 
days. Great efforts were made to find them, but 
they were unsuccessful, and the pursuers finally 
gave up the hunt and returned home. I received a 
letter from a friend in Pittsburg giving me these par- 
ticulars, and shortly after learned that the fugitives 
had arrived in Cleveland. I also heard of their safe 
arrival in Detroit. A friend in that city wrote me 
that Fairfield had just reached there with the best 
looking company of fugitives that had ever passed 
through Detroit. 

Thus, in numerous ways, John Fairfield was 
instrumental in rescuing hundreds of slaves from 
bondage, and in bringing together, in Canada, hus- 
bands and wives, parents and children, who had 
long been separated. He seemed to glory in the 
work, much as a military commander would in a 
victory over his enemies. 

Although I could not sympathize with or encour- 
age Fairfield's mode of operation, yet I often took 
in the fugitives whom he aided to escape. Some he 
brought himself; others traveled by his special 
directions, secreting themselves on steamboats or 
making the journey on foot. They generally 
reached our house in a state of destitution and dis- 


tress, and we were always ready to succor them. 
In one instance John Fairfield came from a great 
distance, bringing a company of fugitives. They 
did encounter many dangers and hardships on the 
way, and had suffered much from hunger and 
exposure. Fairfield's money had all been expended, 
and his clothes were ragged and dirty ; he looked 
like a fugitive himself. I took him and his com- 
pany in, and after the fugitives rested and were 
fitted for the journey they were forwarded to 
Canada, via the Underground Railroad. 

Fairfield remained in the city to recruit his 
strength and renew his clothing; he had left some 
money and clothing here when on his- way South. 
The company referred to consisted of eight or ten 
brave, intelligent-looking slaves, who had deter- 
mined to reach a land of liberty under the leader- 
ship of John Fairfield, or die in the attempt. Fair- 
field had spent some time in their neighborhood, 
buying eggs and chickens and shipping them to 
some point on the river. This was his ostensible 
business : his real errand was to get acquainted with 
the slaves. He had private interviews with them 
at night, in some secluded spot in the woods, and 
made all the plans and arrangements for the journey. 
Each one of the party he furnished with a revolver 
and plenty of ammunition. 

One of the most intelligent of the fugitives said 
to me : "I never saw such a man as Fairfield. He 
told us he would take us out of slavery or die in 
the attempt, if we would do our part, which we 
promised to do. We all agreed to fight till we 


died, rather than be captured. Fairfield said he 
wanted no cowards in the company; if we were 
attacked and one of us showed cowardice or started 
to run, he would shoot him down." 

They were attacked several times by patrolers, 
and fired upon, but always succeeded in driving the 
enemy and making their escape, keeping near their 
leader and obeying his commands. Fairfield said 
that they had a desperate battle one moonlight 
night with a company of armed men. They had 
been discovered by the patrolers, who had gathered 
a party of men and waylaid them at a bridge. 

Fairfield said : ' ' They were lying in ambush at 
each end of the bridge, aad when we got fairly on 
the bridge they fired at us from each end. They 
thought, no doubt, that this sudden attack would 
intimidate us and that we would surrender, but in 
this they were mistaken. I ordered my men to 
charge to the front, and they did charge. We fired 
as we went, and the men in ambush scattered and 
ran like scared sheep." 

" Was anybody hurt ? " I asked. 

In reply Fairfield showed me several bullet holes 
in his clothes, a slight flesh wound on one arm, and 
a slight flesh wound on the leg of one of the fugi- 

" You see," he said, " we were in close quarters, 
but my men were plucky. We shot to kill, and we 
made the devils run." 

I reproved him for trying to kill any one. I told 
him it was better to suffer wrong than to do wrong, 
and that we should love our enemies. 


"Love the devil !" he exclaimed. "Slaveholders 
are all devils, and it is no harm to kill the devil. I 
do not intend to hurt people if they keep out of the 
way, but if they step in between me and liberty, 
they must take the consequences. When I under- 
take to conduct slaves out of bondage I feel that it 
is my duty to defend them, even to the last drop 
of my blood." 

I saw that it was useless to preach peace principles 
to John Fairfield. He would fight for the fugitives 
as long as his life lasted. When Fairfield left Cin- 
cinnati I knew not where he went, and did not hear 
any news of him until some time the next year. I 
then learned that in the interval he had rescued slaves 
from Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia, 
who had been forwardeq^ to Canada on the lines of 
the Underground Railroad leading through Illinois 
and Michigan, and that he had just arrived in Canada 
himself with a company of fugitives from the State 
of Missouri. Not long afterward Fairfield arrived 
in Cincinnati, bringing with him a party of slaves 
from Kentucky. He forwarded them on to Canada, 
and remained in the city to have the benefit of 
medical treatment. He had a hard cough, con- 
tracted, no doubt, by exposure and hardship, and 
his general health seemed shattered. I again urged 
him to quit the perilous business he had been 
engaged in, and he seemed inclined to accept my 
advice. He bought a few goods and opened, a small 
store in Randolph County, Indiana, in the midst of a 
large settlement of free colored people, where he 
was well known. 


He remained here for a year or two, then closed 
up his business and disappeared. It was thought 
in that neighborhood that he had gone to Canada, 
but we could never learn that he had been seen in 
Canada afterward. We supposed that when he left 
'Indiana he went South. This was a short time 
before the Rebellion in 1861, and from that time to 
the present no news of Fairfield has been received 
by any of his friends. The conjecture is that he 
was killed in Tennessee, near the iron-works, on the 
Cumberland River. It was reported through the 
papers that there was an insurrectionary movement 
among the slaves in that locality ; that a number of 
them had obtained arms ; and an alarm started that 
the negroes were about to rise. This was sufficient 
to create great excitement in the whole neighbor- 
hood, and to bring out a little army of armed 
men to hunt the suspected negroes. Several 
negroes who attempted to defend themselves were 
shot ; others were captured and hung by the infu- 
riated mob. It was reported that a white man, 
supposed to be the instigator of the movement and 
the leader of {he negroes, was found among them, 
and that he was killed. He was a stranger in that 
neighborhood, and his name was not known. I have 
always supposed that this man was John Fairfield, 
and that in this way his strange career was ended by 
a violent death. With all his faults and misguided 
impulses, and wicked ways, he was a brave man ; he 
never betrayed a trust that was reposed in him, and 
he was a true friend to the oppressed and suffering 




There lived near Lexington, Kentucky, a slave man 
of unusual intelligence, whose master was in the 
habit of buying horses and mules and taking them 
to Georgia and South Carolina to sell. The slave, 
whom I will call John, was such a trusty, servant 
that he was always taken on the expeditions to the 
South to aid his master, and was of great service on 
such occasions. His master treated him kindly, and 
allowed him some privileges of which slaves are 
usually deprived. 

John had a wife, an intelligent negro woman, 
named Mary, who belonged to a man in the vicinity, 
and hired her time of her master, as was sometimes 
the custom. By this arrangement John and Mary 
lived together in a snug little house on his master's 
premises, which they had comfortably furnished by 
means of their joint industry. They had everything 
they could hope for in their station of life, and were 
so happily situated that it seemed they were not to 
know the darker side of slavery. But their happi- 
ness was rudely disturbed by the intelligence that 
John's master had become involved in debt and had 
concluded to sell him on the next trip South. This 
news reached John shortly before the time fixed to 
start, and he lost no time in communicating it to 
Mary, and consulting with her as to what should be 
done. They decided that they would make the 
attempt to escape. John had some free colored 
friends in Cincinnati one of whom was on a visit to 
that neighborhood at that time, and to him he com- 


municated his resolve, requesting him when he 
returned to Cincinnati to send some one who would 
conduct them out of Kentucky and across the Ohio 
River. He had saved some money, and authorized 
his friend to offer fifty dollars to some suitable per- 
son who would thus run the risk of aiding 
escape.. The services of a young white man, who 
was no stranger to the business, were secured, and 
in due time he came into the neighborhood and 
made himself known to them. Mary had been sick ; 
she was just then recovering, and hardly able to 
travel ; but not willing to jeopardize her husband's 
safety by waiting any longer, she resolved to start 
with them immediately. 

They left their house in order; bed neatly made, 
and everything arranged that no one might suspect 
their real intentions in case their place was visited 
shortly after their departure. 

They traveled on foot all that night, and, hid them- 
selves during the following day in the thick bushes, 
subsisting on the scanty food they carried with them. 
They proceeded thus for nearly a week, traveling at 
night and hiding as best they coulcl in the daytime. 
Their progress was slow, on account of Mary, who 
was hardly able to walk. She became very weak, 
and the last night she was so exhausted that her 
husband and the guide had to walk one on each side 
of her, and support her. They reached the Ohio 
River before daylight at a point where the guide had 
arranged for a skiff to be placed, and in this they 
crossed the river. Reaching Cincinnati, they went 
to the house of their colored friends. I was sent 


for, and when I visited them I found Mary very ill 
and weak, and unable to take any food. In the 
evening I visited her again, and finding her no better, 
I went to the office of Dr. W. H. Mussey, that noble 
philanthropist, who was always ready to minister to 
the needs of the poor fugitives. The doctor was out, 
and I left a note requesting him to call at my resi- 
dence as soon as he returned, at any hour of the 
night, adding, in a postscript, "None of my family 
are ill." I knew that the doctor would understand, 
for he had been called upon in such instances before. 

Dr. Mussey came at midnight, and together we 
went to see Mary, who seemed to be sinking fast. 
The doctor remained with her some time that night, 
and attended on her closely for more than a week, 
doing everything in his power to relieve her. For 
several days her recovery^seemed doubtful, but we 
at last had the satisfaction of seeing her improve. 
At the end of two weeks she was so far restored as 
to be able to be removed, and for greater safety was 
brought to our house, where she received every care 
and attention, and remained until strong enough to 

I was going to Newport, Indiana, on business, 
about that time, and concluded to travel in my 
carriage that I might take John and Mary with me. 
I said to my wife, "It is fashionable to have a 
colored driver, and nobody's business who sits on 
the seat with me behind," so when the carriage was 
brought around, John took the lines and I occupied 
the back seat by the side of Mary, who was we.ll 
dressed and heavily vailed. 


We started about three o'clock in the afternoon, 
and drove across Mt. Auburn, through Clifton, and 
along the Winton road to Hamilton. We arrived 
that night at a Friends' settlement at West Elkton, 
and stopped at the house of 'Squire Stubbs, a well- 
known abolitionist. 

The next day being Sabbath, I attended Friends' 
meeting, and remained till about three in the after- 
noon. At that hour we pursued our journey by 
way of Camden, taking a country road leading up 
Paint Creek, and coming into the Darrtown and 
Richmond pike, some distance below Boston, be- 
fore dark. The moon afforded us light, and we 
traveled on very pleasantly until about ten o'clock, 
when we reached the house of my friend Daniel 
Clark, who lived on Elkhorn, about five miles below 
Richmond. We halted in the road opposite the 
house, which stood a few rods back from the high- 
way, and I hallooed to arouse the inmates. Clark's 
son-in-law, T. Hill, came out into the yard, and, 
not recognizing me, asked what was wanted. 

I replied: "I want to know if you take Under- 
ground Railroad passengers here." 

Daniel Clark had opened the window of his room, 
which fronted the road, and recognizing my voice, 
he cried out: "Yes! drive in." 

T. Hill opened the large gate, and I drove into 
the yard. By this time Daniel had dressed and 
came out to meet us; we had a hearty welcome. 
After some conversation and refreshment, we all 
retired to rest, but before we got to sleep we heard 
a knocking at the door. T. Hill rose and opened 


the door. I looked out of the window and saw a 
wagon standing in the road, and heard the man at 
the door ask for quarters for a company of fugitives. 
As they had just received one company, Hill 
thought that they could not accommodate more, 
and accompanied this party to the next house, a 
few hundred yards ahead, where James Hayworth 
then lived, in Daniel Clark's former residence. The 
fugitives were comfortably quartered here for the 

James Hayworth, having learned that I was at the 
other house with a company of fugitives, came over 
early the next morning to see me .and inquire what 
must be done with those at his house. He said 
there were four in the company, three men and one 
woman. I told him that I knew all about them. I 
had forwarded them from my house in Cincinnati, 
on this route, a night or two before I left home. I 
supposed that they were ahead of me, but as I had 
traveled part of the time in daytime, and they only 
at night, I had got ahead of them. I said: "They 
left West Elkton night before last and were con- 
veyed to Friend Brown's, on Paint Creek; he ac- 
companied them last night to thy house. They are 
valuable property, and good care must be taken of 
them. I want thee to get thy carriage ready, and 
take them on to Newport with me." 

"Not in daytime !" he exclaimed. 

"Yes," I said, "in daytime; I expect to start as 
soon as breakfast is over, and I want thee to be 
ready with thy carriage to go with us." 

"But there are four in the company," he replied, 

45 2 


"and that will make an overload in my carnage." 
"I will take one of them in my carriage," I said, 
"which will make four in each." 

After breakfast I drove on to James Hayworth's, 
and found them all ready. I took one of the com- 
pany in my carriage and led the way. When we 
arrived at Richmond, James seemed reluctant to 
pass through the main part, so we bore to the right 
and passed through the eastern edge of the town, 
by way of Moffat's mill, on the east fork of White- 
water. The mill then belonged to William Ken- 
worthy and Benjamin Fulghum, of. Richmond, and 
as we drew ner it, I discovered them among a 
company of men who we're raising an addition to 
the building, and noticed that their attention was 
attracted to us. When we got opposite the com- 
pany, perhaps fifty yards distant, I sang out at the 
top of my voice the words of an old anti-slavery 

"Ho! the car Emancipation, 
Moves majestic through the nation." 

The men suspended work to cheer us in reply. 
They recognized the President of the Underground 
Railroad at work, and came out in a body to greet 
us and wish us God-speed. They were mostly 
Friends, and well known to me ; we felt no fear. 
Pursuing our journey, we turned into the Newport 
pike and soon came to a toll-gate, with the keeper 
of which I was acquainted. I said to him : "I sup- 
pose you allow the Underground Railroad cars to 
pass free on this road." 


"Yes," he replied; so we passed on without 

Just before reaching Newport we came to another 
toll-gate, kept by an old man named Hockett, lately 
from North Carolina. He had lately been placed 
here as gate-keeper, and I was not acquainted with 
him. I halted, and said to him: "I suppose you 
charge nothing for the cars of the Underground 
Railroad that pass through this gate." 

"Underground Railroad cars?" he drawled, 

"Yes," I said; "didn't they give thee orders 
when they placed thee here to let such cars pass 

"No," he replied; "they said nothing about it." 

"Well, that's strange. JVTost of the stockholders 
of this road are large stockholders in the Under- 
ground Railroad, and we never charge anything on 
that road. I am well acquainted with the president 
of this road, and I know that he holds stock in our 
road. I expect to see him to-day, and several of the 
directors, and I shall report thee for charging Un- 
derground Railroad passengers toll." 

The gate-keeper seemed much confused, and said 
that he knew nothing about the Underground Rail- 

"Why!" I exclaimed, with apparent surprise, 
"what part of the world art thou from?" 

"North Carliny," he drawled. 

"I thought thee was from some dark corner of 
the globe," I said, and handed him the money, 
which I had been holding in my fingers during the 



conversation, and which, was but a trifle. I then 
started on, but had not gone more than a few rods, 
when the gate-keeper called to me, and asked: "Is 
your name Levi Coffin?" 

"Yes," I replied, "that is my name," but did 
not check my team, lest he should follow me and 
give back the money. I had had my sport with 
him, which was all I wanted. I think he always 
knew me afterward. That day, in Newport, I met 
David Willcuts, who was the president of the road, 
and reported the gate-keeper. We had a hearty 
laugh over my interview with him. 

I stopped with John and Mary at Daniel Huff's, 
in Newport, and James Hayworth went on to Will- 
iam Hough's, a short distance further, across the 
creek. The latter place was a noted depot of the 
Underground Railroad. The company of four fugi- 
tives were considered to be in the greatest danger 
of pursuit, so they were sent on toward Canada that 
night by the Greenville route. 

John and Mary were kept at Daniel Huff's until 
next day, to wait for the Richmond and Winchester 
stage, which generally changed horses at Huff's. 
I had decided to forward them to Winchester by the 
stage if there were no suspicious passengers aboard. 
I made out a regular bill of lading to a mercantile 
firm in Winchester, with the members of which I 
was well acquainted, and whom I knew to be stanch 
abolitionists. The bill read thus: 

"Shipped in good order and well conditioned, 
two baboons,* of fine stock and very valuable. 

*In reference to the views of some slaveholders, who thought 
that negroes had no souls but were a species of baboon. 


Please receive and forward the same to George D. 
Baptist, Detroit, Michigan, by way of Camden and 
Fort Wayne ; I consider that to be the safest route. 
Take special care of them; do not allow them to 
run at large. They are quite tame, but bloodhounds 
sometimes get on their track, and might injure 
them. They are male and female ; the female is not 
very stout at present, having just recovered from a 
spell of sickness. Please give them a warm dry 
place in which to lie, while at Winchester, and do 
not let them be too much exposed to idle spec- 
tators, as it might annoy them. They will be of 
little trouble about feeding, as they eat the same 
kind of food tnat human beings do, and seem to 
thrive on it. Put them in charge of a good con- 
ductor, who will take special care of them. Your 
prompt attention to this matter will much oblige 
your friend, LEV: COFFIN. " 

I sealed this and gave it to John, and told him 
that when the stage stopped at the tavern at Win- 
chester, he and Mary must go directly across the 
street to the store on the opposite side, and hand 
that letter to the person they would see behind the 
counter : they would be taken care of at once. 
They followed my directions. Dr. Woody, who 
had formerly been salesman in my store in New- 
port, happened to be in the store, and the letter 
was handed to him. He read it, and at once took 
charge of the mentioned property. The next day 
I received a letter from this firm, acknowledging the 
receipt of the property in good order and well con- 
ditioned. The letter further said that the old car 


Emancipation, Number One, was standing ready 
with - steam up, and that my consignment was put 
in charge of a special agent and forwarded accord- 
ing to my directions, without delay; and notified 
me that similar consignments would always receive 
prompt attention. 

I had inclosed a short note to 'Squire Hopkins, 
of Camden, Jay County, the next depot, which was 
delivered to him by the agent who conducted John 
and Mary to that place from Winchester. In a short 
time I received a note from him, acknowledging the 
receipt of my consignment, stating that car Eman- 
cipation, Number Two,, was standing ready, and 
that the freight was forwarded at ortce according to 
my directions, in charge of a special agent. The 
writer said he hoped I would favor him with more 
such consignments. 

I received intelligence of the safe arrival of John 
and Mary in Detroit, and afterward had news of 
their arrival in Canada. They told their friends 
there that they had no idea there were such white 
people in the world as those who had so kindly be- 
friended them in their hour of need. 

All they had ever known of humanity was ex- 
hibited in the tender mercies of the slaveholder. 

In this case and many others I have mentioned, 
there seems to have been no close pursuit; but 
in many instances the fugitives narrowly escaped 
capture after they had reached Cincinnati. I will 
relate two or three incidents of this kind. 




A slave woman escaped from the vicinity of 
Maysville, Kentucky, with her two children, made 
her way to Cincinnati, and went to a long tenement 
house on East Alley, where several colored families 
lived. In about a week her master arrived in search 
of her, and having learned of her whereabouts 
through the treachery, it is supposed of a negro man 
who betrayed her hiding-place he obtained a writ, 
placed it in the hands of officers, and, with a posse, 
went to capture her and her children. A colored 
woman, occupying a separate apartment of the ten- 
ement house, was just starting down street when 
she saw the officers coming, and, divining their 
object, ran quickly round a back way, gave the 
alarm, and succeeded in getting the woman and two 
children secreted and locked up, in her part of the 
house, just as the party arrived. They searched the 
rooms that the fugitive had just left, but found no 
traces of her, and began to hunt in some of the 
neighboring buildings. The woman who had given 
the alarm, in the meantime locked her door, and 
slipping out a back way, came to our house and 
related her story with much excitement. While she 
was yet talking, two more colored women came to 
tell the same story, and ask advice. 

I told them all to go back, one by one, and show 
no alarm. To the first one I gave a large market 
basket containing a full suit of men's clothing- 
including an overcoat, as it was then cool spring 
weather directing her to disguise the slave woman 


and send her out by some by-way to the corner of 
Fifth and Central Avenue, where some, one would 
be waiting whom she would recognize. She was to 
follow the person at some distance, and would be 
conducted to our house. Then the children were 
to be disguised and taken out, one at a time, accom- 
panied by a single person, and brought in a round- 
about way to the same place. 

These directions were followed, and by II A. M. 
the alarm had been given early in the morning 
they were all safe at our house. The next night 
they were conveyed on the Underground Railroad, 
thirty miles out of the "city, in the care of a trusty 
conductor, and in a few days were beyond the reach 
of pursuers. Her master and the officers watched 
around the place she had left for more than a week 
after she was safe in Canada. 


A man and wife escaped from Louisville and 
reached Cincinnati by aid of the chamber-maid on 
the regular packet, who secreted them during the 
passage and fed them. They were acquainted with 
a free colored woman, a washerwoman, who had 
formerly lived in Louisville, and on their arrival in 
Cincinnati made their way to her room, which was 
in the basement of a building on Third Street, near 
Walnut. She secreted them, and they remained 
with her several days. A colored woman, a friend 
of hers living across the canal learned of the fugi- 
tives' hiding-place, and was very uneasy lest they 
should be discovered. One night she became so 


troubled concerning them that she could not rest, 
and about ten o'clock made ner way to our house, 
and told me the story of the fugitives, and related 
her premonition of danger. I told her that the 
place where the slaves were hiding was very unsafe 
and they must come away immediately ; that time 
enough had elapsed since their flight for their 
master to come in pursuit of them, and that their 
hiding-place would probably be the first place 
searched, as the master knew of their acquaint- 
ance with the free colored woman. I told her 
to conduct me to the place, directing her to walk 
ahead, and explaining that I would follow a short 
distance behind. We reached the place about 
eleven o'clock. The woman with whom they were 
stopping knew me, and introduced me to the fugi- 
tives. I told them that they must leave immedi- 
ately, directed them to get ready at once, and to 
leave the house in a manner which I explained. I 
then went out and in a short time the slave man 
followed. Turning to the left he saw me on the 
corner of Third and Walnut Streets, and walking 
some distance behind me, he reached my house in 
safety. The slave woman was disguised in a dress 
and vail belonging to her friend, and, accompanied 
by the woman who had conducted me to the place, 
walked out of the house?, turned to the right and 
went up Main Street. In a short time they reached 
the corner of Franklin and Broadway where we 
then resided and the fugitives were secreted. 
Twenty minutes after they had left the house of the 
washerwoman, a posse of men entered it, some at the 


front, others at the rear entrance. A short search 
convinced them that their prey had escaped, and 
they were much enraged to find themselves foiled. 
The fugitives remained quiet several days, until the 
search in the city seemed to be over, and were then 
forwarded via the Underground Railroad to Canada. 


A slave man who had made his escape from Ken- 
tucky, and reached Cincinnati in safety, took refuge 
among the colored people living on Sixth Street, 
near Broadway. He remained here several days, 
without my knowledge; and it was only at the last 
moment that I learned of his presence and was 
able to warn him of his danger. I was informed 
one evening by a white man that a company of 
slave-hunters were in the city, in pursuit of a slave 
man that they had employed spies who had been 
prowling around the colored settlements all day, 
under pretense of business that concealed their 
real errand. My informer was not known as an 
abolitionist, but was friendly to fugitives; being a 
business man, he kept his anti-slavery principles in 
the dark as a matter of policy. Knowing my prin- 
ciples, he divulged to me the intelligence that had 
been confided to him, and inquired if I knew of such 
a fugitive in the city. I told him I did not, but that 
I would inquire of some of the colored people and 
put them on their guard. 

That night I called at Lloyd Lewis', a colored 
family, with whom fugitives often stopped, and 
inquired if they knew of a runaway slave lying in 


concealment somewhere in the city. Louis' wife 

said that she knew of a fugitive at 's, on Sixth 

Street, below Broadway. I went immediately to 
the place, and found the fugitive and the man of the 
house, sitting out in the yard, enjoying the cool 
evening breeze, which was quite refreshing after the 
warm day. They had no suspicion of danger, but 
I soon alarmed them by telling them that there 
were slave-hunters in the city looking after such a 
man. I told the fugitive that he ; was in great 
danger, and must change his quarters without a 
moment's delay. It was then about nine o'clock at 
night. He was conducted, at once, to a certain 
point on Mount Auburn, at the head of Sycamore 
Street, where I sent my horse and carriage to 
meet him and conduct him to the next depot of the 
Underground Railroad. 

I was informed the next day that in less than ten 
minutes after the fugitive left, the house was entered 
by his master and a posse of men, who had pre- 
viously discovered his whereabouts. They searched 
the house thoroughly, but they were too late ; they 
soon realized that their prey had escaped. I might 
relate many similar instances that occurred in the 
city. Fugitives were often spirited away when all 
the preparations for their capture had been made, 
and their foiled and baffled pursuers continued to 
search for them after they had safely reached Can- 
ada by way of the Underground Railroad. 




THE merchant to whom I allude, in the follow- 
ing story, was connected with a large commis- 
sion house on Walnut Street, below Second. The 
principal business of the firm was with the South. 
They received large quantities of sugar, molasses, 
and cotton from the slaveholders, and filled the 
orders of their Southern customers for provisions 
of various kinds, and other articles. The planters 
and Southern merchants regarded this firm as all 
right on the slavery question, otherwise they would 
not have patronized them and intrusted them with 
their business. One of the customers of this house 
lived in Virginia, but owned a large cotton planta- 
tion in Mississippi, where he spent a part of his 
time. On one occasion he was taking a company 
of slaves, which he had purchased in Virginia, to 
his plantation in Mississippi. He shipped them at 
Wheeling, and intended to keep a sharp watch on 
them as the boat passed down the Ohio River, lest 


they should attempt to escape. The boat arrived 
at Cincinnati in the night, and lay at the wharf till 
morning, discharging freight. The slaves were kept 
in the back part of the boat, and closely guarded, 
but one of them, a strong active man, managed to 
spring on to another boat that lay alongside the 
wharf, and slip ashore under cover of darkness 
without being discovered. He made his way 
through the city, and concealed himself among 
the hills on the northern limit. 

When the planter discovered that one of his men 
had escaped, he resolved to remain a few days and 
endeavor to capture him ; expecting that his friends 
in Cincinnati would, of course, give him all the 
assistance in their power. He could not think of 
losing so valuable a piece of property without 
making every exertion to recover it. But it would 
not do to detain the boat apd run the risk of losing 
other slaves, so he sent an agent to take charge of 
his slaves, and the boat went on. He went imme- 
diately to the mercantile house, of which I have 
spoken, to tell his grievances, and get assistance 
and advice. He described his negro's personal ap- 
pearance very particularly to the members of the 
firm; but they were too busy to hunt runaway 
slaves, and referred him to the police. The master 
related his story to the police and put them on the 
alert ; he also employed others to make a thorough 
search among the various colored settlements in the 
city. But no discovery was made that day, and the 
master continued to mourn the loss of his valuable 


The fugitive, whom I will call Jack, lay concealed 
all that day and the following night among the hills 
north of the city. Being unacquainted with the 
locality he knew not what direction to take, and 
feared to venture into the city to look for people of 
his own color. The weather was mild, and his 
hiding-place among the woods and ravines on Vine 
Street Hill was not uncomfortable to one who had 
known the hardships and sufferings of slavery. 

Jack supposed that his master would not stay 
long in the city to hunt for him, and concluded to 
lie still until the search was over. But he had no 
food, and the second morning he was suffering with 
hunger. After debating in his mind regarding the 
best course of action, he decided to venture out 
and inquire for work at the few houses he saw not 
far off, and beg for something to eat. Now, it so 
happened that his hiding-place was near the resi- 
dence of the merchant of whom I have spoken, who 
lived on the top of Vine Street Hill, and Jack made 
his way to this house, little thinking that .the owner 
was his master's friend. 

The merchant had his horse and buggy at the 
gate and was about to start to his place of business, 
when Jack walked up and inquired for work, saying 
that he had been hunting work, but had not found 
any, and concluded by begging for something to 
eat. The merchant instantly recognized him, from 
the description given by his master of his runaway 
slave, and accused him of being the negro who had 
made his escape from the boat a short time before. 

Jack confessed that he was, but plead earnestly 


with the gentleman not to betray him, and begged 
pitifully not to be taken back to slavery. The mer- 
chant professed no anti-slavery or abolition senti- 
ments, but as he saw the hunted, famished fugitive 
pleading before him, his humanity gained the 
ascendency, and he promised Jack that he would not 
betray him. His next thought was, "What shall 
I do with him?" He had heard of the Under- 
ground Railroad but knew nothing of its practical 
workings, and knew not where to apply for advice 
and assistance. He stood for some minutes in 
thought, while poor Jack eagerly scanned his face, 
longing to know if he was to- be sent back to 
slavery, yet dreading to ask. 

The merchant finally decided what he should do 
next. He had some victuals put into a tin bucket, 
which he gave to Jack, and told him to go down a 
steep ravine, about one ^hundred and fifty yards 
north of the house, and hide himself in a cleft or 
small cave in the rocks which he pointed out to 
him and remain there till some arrangement for 
securing his freedom could be made. 

A great load was lifted from poor Jack's heart. 
He said: "Thank you, massa ! God bless you, 
massa," and did as he had been directed. Then the 
merchant stepped into his buggy and proceeded on 
his way down town, much perplexed concerning his 
charge. He had resolved to secure Jack's freedom 
if possible, but knew not how to get him to a safe 
place, or how to start him on that mysterious road 
leading to Canada. Instead of going directly to his 
office, he called at the business house of a wholesale 


grocery firm on Columbia Street, east of Main. He 
wished to see one of the firm whom he knew to be 
an abolitionist. Finding the gentleman in the office, 
he took him to one side, and said in a low tone: "I 
have a secret I would like to divulge to you, but do 
not know whether or not it will be safe. I have got 
myself into a predicament, and know not how to 
get out of it." 

The other replied: "You need feel no diffidence 
or fear about divulging any thing to me ; what you 
say will be kept in confidence." 

Thus assured, the merchant related the circum- 
stances that had occurred that morning, and asked 
for counsel and assistance. 

His confidant laughed and replied: "I can help 
you out of that difficulty easily enough. I can take 
you to a man who knows all about the Under- 
ground Railroad, and who will help you out of that 

The merchant then went to his office, but soon 
returned, and his friend stepped into the buggy with 
him and they drove to my store. The grocery 
merchant, with whom I was acquainted, came into 
my counting-room, and told me that there was a 
gentleman waiting in his buggy outside, who wished 
to see me on some special business. I walked out 
with him to the buggy and he introduced me to his 
friend. I knew the merchant at sight, but had no 
personal acquaintance with him. He related the 
whole circumstance to me, and seemed to regard 
it as a very serious affair. I laughed, for I was 
used to such cases and was amused to see how 


he regarded it. I told him there need be no 
difficulty in the matter, and recommended him to 
go to John Hatfield, a trusty colored man who was 
used to such business, and relate the circumstance 
to him. He would go out and take charge of the 
fugitive and conduct him to some safe place where 
he could remain until the train of the Underground 
Railroad was ready to start for Canada. The mer- 
chant said he was not acquainted with Hatfield ; he 
wished I would go myself and tell him about the 
fugitive. He then undertook to describe the place 
where the fugitive was hid, but I told him that I 
was not acquainted in that locality, and could not 
describe it to Hatfield so that he could find it. 

"Well, then," replied the merchant, "just step 
into my buggy and I will drive out and show you 
where he is hid." ^ 

So I took my seat by him in the buggy, and the 
other gentleman returned to his store. We drove 
hastily out to the top of Vine Street Hill, and 
stopped in front of my companion's residence. 
Hitching the horse at the gate, we walked through 
the garden and down the hill to the place where the 
fugitive was trying to conceal himself among the 
rocks. I saw his head, as he peeped out at us, 
while we were yet several rods distant. As we 
neared his place of concealment I called out, com- 
mandingly, "Come out of there, Jack; what are 
you doing among the rocks?" He crawled out, 
looking much alarmed ; he evidently supposed that 
the merchant had been to get help and had come to 
take him. I then spoke kindly to him, telling him 


not to be alarmed, that we were his friends, and 
ended by cordially shaking hands with him. His 
countenance brightened, and he seemed to feel that 
all was right. 

A consultation was then held, and it was decided 
that he must be removed immediately. The place 
did not afford secure concealment, for people often 
passed over the hills hunting birds and other 
small game. I said: "There are plenty of safe 
places in the city if we can only get him to them 

The merchant replied: "My buggy is at your 
service ; take him where ~you please." 

"Not so fast, my friend," I answered; "that 
would not do at all. Thy buggy and horse are 
well known, and so am I. It would not do for me 
to appear in open daylight with a fugitive slave in 
thy buggy ; we might meet Jack's hunters in the 
street, It would probably lead to his capture, and 
bring both thee and me into trouble. 

A plan for getting Jack into the city was finally 
agreed upon. Bordering on the west line of the 
merchant's premises was a strip of woods which 
opened near the head of Elm Street. A path led 
down this ravine, by a stone quarry, where some 
men were at work, near the road, quarrying out 
stone. These surroundings suggested and aided 
our plan. According to our directions, Jack took 
off his coat, rolled up his sleeves, hung his coat on 
his arm and took the tin bucket in his hand, thus 
presenting the appearance of a laborer. It was 
then gardening time in spring, and several people 


were at work in sight. We made our way into 
the merchant's garden and passed slowly through 
it, looking at the vegetable beds and appearing 
to direct Jack where to work, then crossing the 
adjoining garden which belonged to the merchant's 
mother-in-law, we made our way into the strip of 
woods. Here I directed the merchant and the 
fugitive to remain until I reached the road, about 
a hundred yards ahead, that led down the ravine, 
then Jack was to follow me keeping his eye on 
me and stopping when he saw me stop. I remarked 
to the merchant as I started, "It is nobody's 
business who travels the same road that I do." 
Looking back in a few minutes I saw Jack fol- 
lowing me, and the merchant standing in the 
woods, anxiously watching us as we passed the 
men working in the stone*quarry. When he saw us 
pass them without being molested, he went back to 
his buggy, feeling much relieved. I walked on 
leisurely, and Jack followed at a short distance. 
Reaching the head of Elm Street, I proceeded on 
my way down that street till I came to the house 
of Edward Harwood, that ever faithful friend to the 
slave. His good wife met me on the porch and 
invited me into the house. To her invitation I 
replied: "Not yet; I will wait fora friend who is 
nearby." Jack had now arrived at the gate. He 
halted there and stood irresolutely, as if fearing to 
enter. I said: "Come in, there is no danger," and 
Harwood's wife, a meet companion for her husband 
in all benevolent impulses and actions, also invited 
him in. It is no wonder that Jack was fearful and 


distrustful ; a fugitive always suspected danger, not 
knowing but that the plans made to secure his 
safety were schemes to betray him. 

The family were at the table in the dining-room, 
having just completed their noon repast. We 
walked into this room, and when Harwood rose to 
welcome us, I said: "Edward, here is a stranger, a 
man seeking liberty ; I want thee to take care of 
him till he is called for. He is hungry feed him, 
and keep him safely for awhile, for he is sought 

Harwood extended a hearty welcome to the fugi- 
tive, and in his good-humored manner of talking, 
said: "Sit down right here, and eat your fill, and 
if any one comes in and attempts to molest you 
while eating, pick up that chair and knock him 

"Stop, my friend," I said; "I did not tell thee 
to fight, but to keep him safe till called for." The 
family had many similar cases in their experience, 
and did not need further explanation. The fugitive 
remained with them several days, when a suitable 
opportunity occurred for his removal from the city. 
William Beard, a prominent abolitionist from Union 
County, Indiana, came to town with market stuff in 
a two-horse wagon, and arrangements were made 
with him. When he went out of town, he had a 
negro driver who was dressed in good clothes and 
wore a white hat, and who bore little resem- 
blance in personal appearance to the half-starved 
negro who had hidden in the ravines and hills at the 
head of Vine Street. William Beard took him to 



Union County, Indiana, where he tarried a few 
days, and then took passage for Canada, via the old 
reliable road. 


The Ohio River was a great barrier to fugitive 
slaves. They often escaped from their masters and 
made their way to the river, but not being able to 
find any means of crossing, they were overtaken 
and captured by their pursuers, sometimes being 
detected while looking for a skiff or some other 
craft which they could break loose from its fasten- 
ing and appropriate to their own use. The slaves 
who lived some distance from the river generally 
knew nothing about managing a skiff, and if they 
could find one, they were afraid to venture into it 
and attempt the passage oT the river alone. Some- 
times they made a confidant of some colored person 
living near the river, who would help them across. 
In the winter, however, when an unusually cold 
spell of weather stopped navigation and bridged the 
river over with ice, the main obstacle in the way of 
the slaves who wished to reach Ohio was removed. 
At such times we always expected a stampede of 
fugitives from Kentucky. Large companies some- 
times got together and crossed the same night, so 
that the Underground Railroad did a lively busi- 
ness while this natural bridge lasted. 

During one of these cold spells, when the river 
was frozen over and the crossing was good, a num- 
ber of slaves, who lived a short distance back of 
Newport, Kentucky, concluded that it was a favor- 


able time for them to get out of slavery. They had 
been contemplating such a movement for some 
time consulting together and preparing themselves 
for the attempt to gain their liberty by flight. 
Some of them had friends and acquaintances among 
the colored people in Cincinnati, and one of the 
company ventured to come over on the ice one 
night, and inform these colored people of the plan 
their slave friends had made. 

The night for commencing the flight was ap- 
pointed, and it was arranged that some of their 
colored friends should meet the fugitives at the 
river and conduct them to places of safety. The 
company was to divide and land at three separate 
points, that they might not attract attention and 
arouse suspicion, by their numbers. This was the 
plan I suggested when the friends of the fugitives 
applied to me for advice, and assistance. I also 
suggested that teams should be in readiness to meet 
them at these points in order to convey them that 
night to the next depot of the Underground Rail- 
road. My team and two others were accordingly 
put in readiness. 

Dr. Blunt, of Darke County, Ohio, who often 
stopped with me when he came to the city on busi- 
ness, happened to be in the city that day, and came 
to my house in the evening. After supper, he said : 
' 'Mr. Coffin, I wish that some of your Underground 
Railroad passengers would come along to-night. I 
have never had the pleasure of seeing a fugitive 
slave, and I would like to see one. . There have 
been a few in our neighborhood, and I have con- 


tributed to help them on their way, but I did not 
see them." 

" Doctor," I replied, " thou hast come just at the 
right time ; I can initiate thee into the work to- 
night. Fourteen fugitives are to cross on the ice at 
twelve o'clock, and we have three teams and drivers 
ready to meet them at separate points, and take 
them out of the city by different roads to a place 
beyond Mt. Auburn. I expect to see them stowed 
into the wagons, if they succeed in crossing the 
river, and then I must see that they all get together 
safely on top of the hill. That will probably con- 
sume the most of the night ; dost thou think thou 
can stand such a jaunt as that?" 

"I think I can endure as much as you," he re- 
plied, "and I am ready for* the adventure." 

About eleven o'clock we went to the house of 
Thomas Dorum, one of the fugitives' colored 
friends, and where part of the company were to 
be brought. About midnight we had the pleasure 
of seeing the expected fugitives arrive, and soon 
saw them and the other two companies stowed in 
the wagons, and started on their separate routes. I 
directed them where to meet, on the top of the hill 
beyond Mt. Auburn. 

The doctor and I then went up Sycamore Street 
to the place appointed for them to meet, and had 
the pleasure of seeing them all together. They were 
able-bodied, good looking men and women two 
or three of the men had their wives with them. 
The men were armed and provided with plenty of 
ammunition ; they seemed determined never to be 


captured. Dr. Blunt's deepest interest was aroused, 
and he became quite enthusiastic. 

"That's right," said he to the men when he saw 
their weapons ; "let your watchword be liberty or 
death. Die in your tracks, boys, rather than be 
taken back to slavery." He directed them to load 
their revolvers and keep them in readiness. 

I N told them that my advice was to throw away 
their revolvers, and look to a higher pov/er for pro- 
tection, and gave them my views in regard to carry- 
ing weapons in a few words, for we had but little 
time to talk. 

The doctor still encouraged them to fight for 
their liberty, if necessary, and gave them all the 
money he had with him to help them on their way, 
retaining only what he thought he would need for 
his expenses home. I do not remember the amount 
he gave them, but it was several dollars. 

This was a few years before the rebellion. The 
doctor moved to Kansas soon after this occurrence, 
and after the war broke out, and I heard that he 
was made General, and was at the head of an army, 
I said, when I read accounts in the papers of his 
victories : ' ' They have one General who will fight 
for liberty or die, and if slaves come inside his lines, 
they will never be given up to their masters, even 
if they are claimed by men professing to be loyal. " 


In addition to our labors for the fugitives, we 
often had the care of slave children who were 
brought from the South by their white fathers, or 


by agents, for the purpose of being educated, and 
placed in our charge. Besides the care and respon- 
sibility thus placed upon us, the children often 
proved troublesome and expensive. I will refer to 
a few cases. 

A prominent lawyer in Tennessee sent two slave 
boys his own children to Cincinnati in the care 
of an agent. On their arrival in this city the agent 
inquired for an abolitionist, saying that the master 
of the boys wished him to place them in the charge 
of some reliable anti-slavery man who would put 
them in a good school and look after their interests. 
He was referred to me and came to my store, bring- 
ing the boys with him. When he made known his 
business to me, I declined, at first, to assume the 
responsibility. I told hii that I was experienced 
in such cases and had often found the charge 
a troublesome one; besides, I had much business on 
my hands, and my time and attention were fully 
occupied. I recommended him to take the boys to 
the Union Literary Institute, in Indiana, a chartered 
institution, established for the benefit of colored 
people. It was a well-managed and cheap board 
ing-school about ninety miles distant ; but he plead 
several excuses he was a stranger in the country, 
the limited time of his stay in Ohio would not 
admit of his going with them, etc., and begged and 
insisted tha,t I should take charge of the boys, until 
I finally promised to do so. He left money enough 
to defray their expenses for the first term at school, 
and assured me that more would be sent from time 
to time, to meet further expenses, and to pay me 


well for my trouble. I placed the boys at school, 
but when the sum was expended I had to advance 
money to defray their expenses, and never suc- 
ceeded in getting it refunded. 

Another case was that of a slave girl who was 
brought from Mississippi to this city by her father. 
She was a handsome girl of about sixteen, as white 
in appearance as any of our children. She had no 
education, and her master wished her to attend a 
good school. He stopped at a hotel, made known 
his errand, and was referred to me. He came to 
see me, but I refused to take charge of the girl 
and recommended other persons to him. He went 
to see them, but they also refused to accept the 
charge, and he returned to my house, bringing the 
girl with him. He laid the case before my wife, and 
finally succeeded in getting her consent to receive 
the girl. He left seventy-five dollars to be used in 
defraying the school and boarding expenses of his 
slave daughter, and gave me his address/ promising 
to remit more money soon after his return, to pay 
her board and buy clothing. We at once sent the 
girl to the Ninth Street public school, and as she 
was white in appearance no objection was made to 
her presence there. She had been brought up 
under the evil influences of slavery, but had not 
been harshly treated. She was averse to study and 
unwilling to go to school, and gave us much trouble 
on that account. Coming from a milder climate 
than ours, the clothing that had been provided for 
her was not suitable for winter, and we had to pur- 
chase some at once. 


Her expenses soon consumed the seventy-five 
dollars left by her master. I wrote to him several 
times, inclosing a bill of her expenses, and at last 
received a reply from him. The letter contained no 
money, and was couched in abusive language. He 
said that if the abolitionists were too mean to school 
the girl, they could send her back to slavery, where 
she would be better cared for; he would be at no 
further expense on her account. We kept the girl 
at school as long as we could prevail upon her to 
attend. Our counsels and admonitions could not 
counteract the influences of her early life. She 
quit school and fell into bad company among the 
colored people, but finally married a respectable 
colored man, and withdrew from all improper asso- 

In other instances we were more fortunate, 
though such a charge always brought heavy respon- 
sibility and care. Old Judge Cage, a wealthy planter 
of Louisiana, living several miles distant from New 
Orleans, had an interest in mercantile business, 
conducted by his brother in the city. Both were 
slaveholders. The brother living in the city pur- 
chased a light mulatto woman to whom he was 
much attached, and kept her as his wife. The law 
did not recognize such bonds, and the children of 
such marriages followed the condition of the mother 
and were slaves. This couple had a family of eight 
children, nearly white. They were brought up as 
other wealthy gentlemen's children in the South, and 
had slaves to wait on them. They had good educa- 
tional advantages in their childhood, and when they 



grew up, the three eldest children two sons and a 
daughter were sent East to complete their educa- 
tion. The five younger children were still at home 
when their parents died, their father leaving no will. 
According to the law they were part of the estate 
and were liable to be sold, but in the settlement, 
Judge Cage managed to get them as a part of his 
share of his brother's estate, so they became his 
property. But he did not intend to make slaves 
of them. One of them, a boy twelve or fourteen 
years old, the judge wished to send to Ohio to be 
educated, and he wrote to Judge Matthews, of Cin- 
cinnati, concerning the matter. Matthews recom- 
mended him to put the boy under my care. The 
first I knew of the case, the boy was sent to me 
from New Orleans with a letter from Judge Cage, 
requesting me to take charge of the bearer, and 
place him in some good school. The writer 
informed me that he had sent a draft to Judge 
Matthews to defray expenses, and that all bills 
would be promptly paid. 

I took charge of the boy and placed him at school 
at the Union Literary Institute, where I kept him 
for three or four years. All his bills were promptly 
settled by Judge Cage. A few years before the 
war, old Judge Cage died, and the settling of his 
estate devolved upon his son, Duncan S. Cage. 
The children of his uncle that still remained in the 
South four daughters came into his possession as 
part of the estate, but He had no wish to enslave his 
cousins. Shortly before the rebellion, I received 
a letter from him, stating that he had shipped the 


four girls to my care at Cincinnati, and wished me 
to take charge of them on the arrival of the boat, and 
place them at a school at Oberlin. He inclosed a 
draft for five hundred dollars, and said that all bills 
would be promptly paid. He requested me to 
address him at Baton Rouge, as he was then a 
member of the Louisiana Legislature, which met at 
that place. On the arrival of the boat I met the 
girls at the river, and conveyed them to our house. 
They remained with us several weeks, until I could 
correspond with the proper authorities at Oberlin, 
and make proper arrangements for boarding, and 
until we could provide the girls with clothing suit- 
able for this climate. They were well supplied with 
fine clothes adapted for a Southern climate, but had 
few articles of dress warm etiough for service here. 
It was autumn when they arrived, and it was neces- 
sary to purchase winter clothing. The oldest girl, 
a young woman of twenty-one, who had been kept 
by a merchant of New Orleans, according to South- 
ern custom, and well furnished with rich dresses and 
jewelry, seemed unwilling to go to school. She 
said she did not wish to come away from New 
Orleans, but Mr. Cage would have her come with 
her sisters. She wanted to go back to the life* 
she had left. I tried to reason with her, and prevail 
upon her to change her course of life entirely. I 
endeavored to impress upon her mind a sense of 
the sinfulness of living in such a way; I told her 
that the merchant who kept her as his wife was not 
her husband legally, that he could not be in Louis- 
iana, and probably had no intention of making her 



his wife by coming North, where their bond could 
be legalized. If he was honest and sincere in his 
profession of love for her, he would come to her in 
the North; while if she returned to him in the 
South, she would be liable to be enslaved. 

But she received letters and money from him, and 
turned a deaf ear to my counsel. She was deter- 
mined to go back, and returned to live the life of a 
concubine. This case gives us a glimpse into the 
customs and state of morals that existed in the 
South, and shows the demoralizing influences of 

When all the necessary arrangements were made, 
I took the three sisters to Oberlin, and deposited 
with the treasurer of the college enough money to 
defray their necessary expenses. All bills incurred 
on their account were promptly settled by Duncan 
S. Cage, until the war cut off communication be- 
tween Cincinnati and New Orleans. This gentleman 
was an officer in the rebel army, and I learned that 
during the war he lost not only his slaves but all 
the rest of his property. No money was received 
from him after the war commenced, and when' the 
means on hand were exhausted, the girls were left 
'without support. I was obliged to bring them from 
Oberlin to my house and look for situations for 
them, for their only alternative now was to support 
themselves by their own labor. They were not 
accustomed to housework ; they could use the 
needle pretty well, but had not been used to hard 
work of any kind, so that I found it difficult to get 
situations for them. I succeeded finally, however, 


in getting them placed in good homes, where they 
were looked after and cared for. They are now all 
married, and are said to be doing well. They were 
amiable and beautiful young women, and fair 

At another time, three slave children, from the 
State of Kentucky, were emancipated by their white 
father and placed under our care while they were 
obtaining an education. They attended school for 
several years, making our house their home during 
the intervals. They were nearly white, and were 
unusually bright and handsome children. They 
obtained a good education, grew up, and married 

Thus it seemed to fall to cuir lot to have such 
cares upon us, the most of the time, for nearly 
twenty years after our removal to Cincinnati. It 
was perhaps attributable, in part, to the fact that 
my wife and I had been favored to overcome preju- 
dice against color or caste. 


My attention was often called to other cases of 
emancipated slaves. Families of slaves were fre- 
quently brought to Cincinnati by their white fathers 
who wished to emancipate them and locate them 
somewhere in Ohio. I was often called upon for 
advice in regard to suitable localities, where land 
could be obtained on reasonable terms, etc. 

Among the many cases to which my attention was 
called, was that of William Thompson, a planter 
from Mississippi, of whom some account has pre- 


viously been given. He owned two cotton plan- 
tations in that State, and about forty slaves. 
Wishing to emancipate some of his human prop- 
erty, he came to Cincinnati, bringing with him 
fourteen slaves, whom he designed to settle on a 
farm in this State. They traveled all the way 
by land, in a common road wagon, with a team 
of four mules, and on their arrival in this city 
stopped at the Black Bear tavern, on Ninth Street, 
where there was a good wagon yard. Thompson 
had sold one of his farms to enable him to settle 
this family of fourteen in a free State, and intended 
the next year to sell his other farm and bring the 
rest of his slaves to Ohio. He was a man over 
fifty years old, very ignorant and illiterate, and an 
entire stranger in this part of the country. He was 
at the mercy of unscrupulous, designing people, 
and had fallen into the hands of such persons before 
I knew anything about him. 

Those to whom he made known his business in- 
troduced him to J. F , a well known pro-slavery 

lawyer, who had been Judge of the Criminal Court, 
and had won an unenviable notoriety by deciding 
several fugitive cases that were brought before him 
in favor of slavery in direct violation of law of the 
State of Ohio. He lost his position as judge when 
the Criminal Court was abolished by an act of the 
legislature. When he learned that Thompson had 
money with him to the amount of several thousand 
dollars and was informed of his intentions, he began 
to plan to get the money into his own hands. He 
said to Thompson: "As you are a stranger here, 


and have but little knowledge of the quality and 
value of land in this State, I would advise you to 
rent a house in the city for your people at. present, 
and employ an agent, some responsible person, to 
purchase land for you, and settle your people on it. 
Then you can return at once to Mississippi, and 
attend to your business there, and make prepara- 
tions for bringing the rest of your people to the 
North next year. I am well acquainted in the 
country, and will act as your agent here, if you will 
place your money in my hands." 

All this looked plausible, and Thompson seemed 

inclined to accept the offer. J. F returned to 

his office and drew up a contract constituting him- 
self agent for Thompson, with full power to invest 
Thompson's money and locate his people, at his 
own discretion. Thompson deferred signing the 
article until the next day, wishing a little time to 
consider the matter before signing the contract. 

Somebody had whispered in his ear that J. F 

was not a responsible man, and that he drank too 
much whisky. This caused Thompson some un- 
easiness, and he went out among the merchants to 
make some inquiry. Several of them advised him 
to have nothing to do with J. F , and recom- 
mended him to come to me, and to act according to 
my advice. Next morning, a respectable merchant 
came to my store, and said: "I wish that you 

would get that Mississippi man out of J. F 's 


"What Mississippi man?" I asked, for I had 
heard nothing of Thompson. 


The merchant then told me who he was, what 
constituted his business in Cincinnati, and gave an 

account of J. F 's endeavors to get hold of his 


I replied: "I had not heard of such a man being 
in the city, but if I were to see him, I would advise 
him to attend to his own business." 

While we were talking, another prominent mer- 
chant entered my store in company with Thompson, 
whom he introduced to me. He said "that he had 
met with Thompson that morning, and advised him 
to come to me for advice in regard to setling his 
slaves in Ohio. He was about to make an agent of 

J. F ; he has an article of agreement written by 

J. F , but I advised him not to sign it, and 

assured him that he could rely upon your advice. 
I will now leave him in your hands." He then re- 
turned to his place of business. 

I asked Thompson some questions, in order to 
inform myself regarding his intentions, and, after 
answering them, he handed me J. F 's docu- 
ment to read. 

I advised him not to sign it, or to make an agent 
of any person, but to attend to the business him- 
self; to go into the country where he could buy 
land on reasonable terms and make his own pur- 
chases. I mentioned several colored settlements 
that afforded the advantages of schools, and told 
him that I would give him letters of introduction to 
men in those neighborhoods, who would assist him 
in selecting a suitable location for his people, and 
whose advice and judgment he could rely upon. 


Thompson's only knowledge of business related to 
raising and selling cotton, and buying negroes ; in 
regard to money matters he was quite ignorant. I 
found that he had several thousand dollars in South- 
ern paper with him, which was at a small discount 
here, and advised him to deposit it in bank at 
what it was worth, so that he could draw it 
out, as he had need, in our currency. I in- 
formed him that he could not purchase land in 
the country with Southern money. He had, 
besides, several hundred dollars in "gold, which I 
advised him to take with him. He appeared to 
have no knowledge of banking business, and it 
seemed difficult for him to understand anything 
about it. I told him that I would go with him 
to the bank where I kept my deposits, and assist 
him in this matter, charging him nothing for my 
trouble, but he appeared confused and reluctant. 
I referred him to two or three prominent business 
men, telling him that he could consult with them 
and return to my store at one o'clock, when I 
would give him further directions about locating 
his people, and furnish him with letters of intro- 
duction. He returned at that hour, seeming 
more cheerful, and settled in his mind. He said 
that he wanted me to act as his agent, to take 
charge of his people and locate them ; he would 
place all his money in my hands except enough to 
take him home. I told him that I could not assume 
the responsibility that he ought not to put his 
money into another person's hands, but to keep it 
in his own and attend to it himself. He then urged 


me to go with him to the country and assist him to 
find a suitable location, offering to pay me well for 
my time and trouble. I told him that I could not 
leave my business, and that it was unnecessary for 
him to incur additional expense. I advised him to 
settle his people in Darke County, Ohio, near the 
Union Literary Institute, which was situated near 
the State line, dividing Ohio and Indiana. This 
institution, as I have mentioned before, was estab- 
lished for the benefit of colored children ; it had a 
charter granted by the Indiana Legislature. I told 
Thompson that there "were large settlements of col- 
ored people on both sides of the State line, land 
could be purchased on reasonable terms, and I 
considered the locality in every way a suitable one. 
I said that I would give him a letter to a friend of 
mine living near there, who was an abolitionist and 
a good man in every sense of the word, and who 
would take an interest in his people, and assist him 
in finding a good location. I examined his paper 
money, and again advised him to deposit it in bank 
at its worth, as it was not current in the country, 
and would not be taken at par value for land. By 
his request I went with him to the bank to deposit 
his money, but I could not prevail on him to get a 
bank book and deposit the money in his own name ; 
he insisted on having it deposited in my name. I 
finally consented to this arrangement and gave him 
my check for the amount. I gave him a letter to 
Nathan Thomas, made out a map of the road he was 
to travel, and gave him all necessary directious. I 
went with him that afternoon to the wagon-yard, 


where his slaves were staying, and to my surprise I 
found that, with the exception of one old woman, 
all had complexions that showed they were related 
to the white race. Thompson informed me that the 
whole family were children or grandchildren of the 
old negro woman, with the exception of one young 
woman, who was the wife of her oldest son. 

This daughter-in-law, who had several small chil- 
dren, Thompson had bought, that she might accom- 
pany her husband. I next inquired about the father 
of the family, and Thompson confessed that he was 
their father. Two or three of his sons were grown 
to manhood. 

J F , the lawyer, came while we were 

talking, and appeared much disappointed when 
Thompson stated his conclusions, and refused to 
sign the document which the lawyer had drawn 
up, constituting himself Thompson's agent. He 
said that his charge for writing the document was 
five dollars ; Thompson paid it and appeared glad to 
get rid of him so easily. 

The next morning the party started on their 
way to Darke County, according to my directions. 
Thompson delivered my letter to Nathan Thomas, 
who went with him to look for a farm, as I 
requested. They soon found a suitable farm on 
the Ohio side of the State line, near Union Literary 
Institute. Thompson purchased it and settled his 
family on it. In a few weeks he returned to Cin- 
cinnati, bringing one of his yellow sons with him. 
He purchased a carriage here and harnessing to it 


two good mules, which he had brought with him, he 
started back to Mississippi. 

In the autumn of the next year, after selling his 
remaining farm and his crop of cotton, he fitted out 
another team and brought to Ohio all the rest of 
his slaves, with the exception of one man, whose 
wife and children belonged to another master, and 
who preferred to remain with them in slavery. 
Thompson sold this man to his wife's owner. 

This latter company of slaves numbered twenty- 
six, including women and children. Among them 
was a woman of between twenty-five and thirty 
years of age, who had several mulatto children. 
Thompson confessed that these were his own chil- 
dren. Their mother had lived on the farm which 
he had just sold; so it appeared that he kept a 
slave wife on each of his plantations. Yet Thomp- 
son was a professor of religion, according to his 
own representations, and a member of the Baptist 

Such personal histories as this show the demoral- 
izing and corrupting influences of slavery. 

Thompson wished to buy lancMor each family and 
for his sons. I advised him to deposit his money 
most of which was in Southern paper in the bank, 
and to draw it out whenever he found a tract of 
land that he could purchase at low rates for cash. 
This plan suited him in regard to buying land, but 
he wished to leave his money with me, and draw on 
me instead of on the bank. He said he desired to 
deposit ten thousand dollars with me, and have me 
to loan it out for him. I said that I did not wish to 


take the responsibility, and advised him not to loan 
the money just then ; opportunities might soon 
offer for purchasing land on good terms for cash, 
and he had better deposit his money so that he 
could draw it at any time. He seemed to place 
much confidence in me, and still insisted that I 
should take charge of his money. Knowing that 
he was ignorant of business matters in this part of 
the country, and might easily be defrauded by such 

men as J. F , I at last consented to assume the 

responsibility and receive his money. He placed 
ten thousand dollars in my hands, which I deposited 
in bank, subject to his order at any time, and for 
which I gave him my individual obligation. 

Thompson went to the locality where he had set- 
tled his first company of slaves, and soon found 
opportunities to purchase several tracts of land. He 
drew his money, bought the land, and located his 
people on it. He remained in that settlement, 
making his home with his first family. 









A FEW years after my experience with Thomp- 
son, I was called to assume another trouble- 
some and responsible charge. As it involved 
experiences of varied characters, and gave an 
insight into some of the internal workings of 
slavery, I will give it at some length. The prin- 
cipal personage in the case was Major Phillips, an 
old gentleman nearly eighty years of age, who, 
when I first knew him, lived on Broadway, in this 
city, in a fine residence nearly opposite the Presby- 
terian church. He had moved to this city from a 
large cotton plantation in Mississippi, near Yazoo 
City. Having engaged extensively in cotton plant- 
ing, there he had accumulated a large fortune, part 
of which was invested in slaves ; he owned a hun- 
dred and forty at one time. Before coming to Cin- 
cinnati he sold the greater part of his real estate 
and most of his slaves, bringing to this city sev- 


eral of his favorite servants, whom he emancipated. 
Among these was a mulatto woman, with four or 
five small children, nearly white, whom he claimed 
as his own. He also brought with him one of his 
grandsons, a boy about fifteen years old, the son 
of his daughter, who was dead. He had two or 
three white sons whom he had settled in business 
in New Orleans, some years before he moved to 
Ohio, giving them a large estate. 

They had every advantage, but proved to be 
reckless and dissipated ; they soon squandered their 
property, and caused their father much trouble and 
anxiety. Major Phillips lost his wife several years 

before he left the South. She was said to have 


been a woman of much natural ability and culture ; 
was an excellent wife, and a kind and indulgent 
mistress. The major was a man of more than 
ordinary talent. He had once been president of a 
bank in New Orleans, and was several times elected 
to the State Legislature. In the war of 1812 he 
was a major under General Jackson. He possessed 
a high reputation and much influence in that part 
of the South where he was known, and was 
regarded as a man of honor and respectability. 
There were many excellent qualities in his char- 
acter. He was a kind master, and would not allow 
his overseers to whip his slaves cruelly, or other- 
wise abuse them. He and his first wife a short 
time before her death came to the conclusion to 
liberate all their slaves, and made out deeds of 
emancipation for them. The Legislature of Miss- 


issippi was then in session, and passed a law pro- 
hibiting the liberation of slaves in that State. 

Major Phillips and his wife went to the county 
seat to acknowledge the deeds and have them 
recorded, but when they arrived in town they heard 
of the law that had just been passed, and were 
obliged to abandon their good intentions. Phillips 
had the reputation of being kind to the poor, and 
in several instances instituted lawsuits to secure 
the rights of orphan children, who were being 
defrauded of them, and succeeded in his benevo- 
lent efforts, at a heavy expense to himself. 

This information was given me by one of his 
neighbors, who added that he thought no other 
man could have succeeded in such cases, but the 
major had great influence and was very benevolent. 
After his first wife died, the major remained a wid- 
ower for several years, then contracted a second 
marriage, which, unfortunately, did not prove to 
be a happy one. His wife was unfaithful to her 
marriage vows, and he put her away, treating her, 
however, with kindness and consideration. 

The two entered into a legal contract of separa- 
tion, in which they bound themselves .to live unmar- 
ried the rest of their lives. The major gave her 
one of his cotton farms, besides other property, 
and allowed her to retain her own servants. To 
aid her in cultivating the. plantation, he left thirteen 
of his own slaves on it. He gave her no title to 
these slaves, and it was understood that they should 
only remain there until he called for them. 

Soon after this separation, the major bought from 


a drove of slayes offered for sale in Yazoq City, a 
young mulatto girl, who was recommended to be a 
good house servant, and who proved to be a most 
excellent one. A short time afterward the major 
had a stroke of paralysis, and was rendered almost 
entirely helpless for several months. He lost the 
use of his right arm, and his power of speech was 
for a time impaired. He never recovered the use 
of his right arm, and ever afterward signed his 
name with his left hand. During his illness, the 
new house servant was very kind to him, and 
nursed him tenderly through all his suffering. He 
became much attached to her, and afterward kept 
her as his wife. She became the mother of several 
children. After his strdke of paralysis, Major 
Phillips was not able to carry on the business of his 
plantation, and he resolved to sell out and come 
to the North, in order to educate his little yellow 
children, to whom he was much attached, and have 
them brought up in a free State. He had given 
his -profligate sons about seventy-five thousand dol- 
lars and they had squandered most of it ; he now 
wished to secure the rest of his estate to his young 

He sold his plantation, with more than one hun- 
dred slaves on it, to a wealthy planter, binding the 
purchaser not to separate families, and then moved 
to Cincinnati, bringing with him his yellow chil- 
dren, their mother, and a few favorite servants, as I 
have before mentioned. The mulatto woman he 
now professed to keep as a hired servant but she 


dressed richly, and her extravagant expenditures 
showed that she was not a mere servant. 

The major's house was large and well furnished. 
He kept a span of horses and a fine carriage, and 
he and his grandson often rode out to take the fresh 
air. He employed an intelligent colored woman, 
nearly white, to act as matron in his establishment, 
and her daughter, who was a fine scholar, a gradu- 
ate of Oberlin College, to teach his yellow children. 
This young woman was a good pianist, and the 
major bought a fine piano for her use in teaching 
his grandson and elder children music.. 

On his arrival in Cincinnati, Major Phillips depos- 
ited in the Trust Company Bank ten thousand dol- 
lars, a similar amount in Ellis and Company's bank, 
and a third ten thousand in Smead's bank, besides 
paying eleven thousand dollars for his house. He 
also loaned several thousand dollars to a merchant 
who had managed to gain his confidence. This man 
appeared to be a person of wealth ; he lived in a 
good house, on which he gave Phillips a mortgage, 
and sold Phillips other property which he professed 
to own receiving cash for it, and making the deeds 
in the name of Phillips' children, as he requested. 
The major was old, and not being able on account 
of his failing strength to attend to his business, he 
intrusted the care of it largely to his friend, the 
merchant, whom he supposed to be perfectly hon- 
est. Among other things, the major intrusted 
Wilcox, the merchant, with making deposits for 
him in bank, collecting checks, and drawing the 
interest for him on his deposits in bank. At one 


time, when Phillips was ill, he sent for Wilcox, and 
told him that he wished his illegitimate children 
and their mother to have the benefit of his money 
in bank ; he wished real estate to be purchased for 
them, and gave other directions for the disposition 
of his money, in case he should not live. 

Wilcox agreed to attend to the business and 
carry out his wishes, but told him that he must 
sign some blank checks in order that he Wilcox 
could draw the money. He said to the major: "If 
you should not live I will fill them out, draw the 
money and carry out your wishes, but if you re- 
cover, I will return the checks to you, blank." 

The old man was very feeble, and evidently not 
in his right mind, and after signing one blank check 
on the Trust Company Bank with much difficulty, 
he seemed to lose his consciousness, and signed no 
other very fortunately for him, as it afterward 
proved. After a tedious spell of sickness he recov- 
ered his usual health, but had no recollection of 
signing the blank check. When informed of it by 
his matron, or housekeeper, he sent immediately 
for Wilcox, to inquire abut the check and have it 

Wilcox said: " I destroyed it, when I found that 
you were getting well." 

Phillips now began to lose confidence in Wilcox, 
and in another shrewd man who had managed to 
gain his confidence so far as to be appointed his 
agent to go to New Orleans and Yazoo City, and 
other places in the South, to collect money for him. 
This man had also transacted some business for him 


here. Phillips believed that both of these men 
were dishonest, and that they had deceived him. 

One morning a messenger from the major came 
to my store, and said that he requested that I 
should come to see him, as he had some special 
business about which he wished to talk with me 
that morning. 

He had lived in Cincinnati several years, but I 
had had no acquaintance with him. I had fre- 
quently seen him passing along the street in his car- 
riage, but had never spoken to him. My knowledge 
of him had been confirTed to what I heard from 
others concerning him that he had brought some 
slaves to Ohio and had liberated them, and that he 
had some colored children which was not very 
reputable in this State, but I concluded to go and 
see what special business he had with me an entire 
stranger. When I arrived at his house, I found the 
old man quite feeble; he was just recovering from a 
spell of sickness. He appeared to be very much 
of a gentleman in his manners, and impressed me 
favorably. He told me of his troubles how he 
had been deceived by dishonest men since he had 
been paralyzed and not able to attend to his own 
business. He said: "I know you by reputation, 
Mr. Coffin, but have never had the pleasure of a 
personal acquaintance. I have several times been 
advised to call on you and consult with you about 
my business." He then went on to mention his 
deposits in different banks, and said that he wished 
me to draw the interest for him at the Trust Com- 
pany Bank, where he had ten thousand dollars 


deposited. I agreed to do this, and taking his 
bank-book and check, went to the bank and told 
the cashier that I wished to draw the interest due 
on Major Phillips' deposit. 

He said : "Major Phillips has no funds here." 

I spoke with surprise, and said: "He told me - 
that he had ten thousand dollars here." 

" He did have," replied the cashier, "but Wilcox 
drew it all out, both principal and interest." 

"When?" I asked. 

He turned to his books, and said: "Last Au- 
gust." It was now December. 

When I returned and informed Major Phillips that 
he had no money in the Jpank, that Wilcox had 
taken it all out on his check, he seemed astounded, 
and was very angry. He sent for Wilcox immedi- 
ately, and begged me to remain until he came, 
which I did. Wilcox stepped in, but seemed to be 
in great haste and would seated. He said 
he had but a moment to spare, that he had left 
some men at his store who had special business with 
him, and he must return immediately. Phillips 
inquired about the money. 

Wilcox acknowledged that he had drawn it, and 
said, hurriedly, "I will make it all right, but can't 
stop to talk now." 

Then without giving any satisfaction, but promis- 
ing to call again soon, he stepped out. I was sent 
for again to meet Wilcox at Major Phillips' house, 
but he failed to make his appearance, and failed in 
all his promises to secure Phillips from loss. 

Suit was entered against him, but his property 


proved to be covered with mortgages and nothing 
could be realized from it, to reimburse the major. 
There were judgments of older date against the 
property on which the major held a mortgage, and 
the property which Wilcox had sold to the major 
for his children was covered with mortgages. 

Altogether, Major Phillips lost by him over 
eighteen thousand dollars. After this the major 
seldom transacted any business without consulting 
me. He seemed destined to sustain heavy losses. 
A money panic came ; several banks failed, and 
stopped payment, among them Goodman and Com- 
pany's and Smead and Company's banks, where 
his money was deposited. He made a compromise 
with Goodman and Company, agreeing to take half 
of the amount of his deposit, which they paid him. 
Smead and Company secured him in fulj, by giving 
him good notes for the principal, and paying the 
interest in gold. 

By failures in New Orleans Phillips lost about 
forty thousand dollars. Thus his means seemed to 
be fast diminishing, and no property was secured to 
his yellow children and their mother. Knowing 
that they were illegal heirs and could not inherit 
their portion of his estate when he was gone, I 
advised Phillips to buy real estate and have the title 
made in their names. He agreed to do this, and 
hearing of a valuable farm for sale in Shelby 
County, Ohio near Sidney, the county seat he 
visited that place and bought the farm, having the 
title made to his children. He then sold his prop- 
erty in Cincinnati and purchased a valuable house 


and lot in Sidney for his own residence, the title 
of which he also secured to his colored children, 
and another house and lot for their mother, the 
mulatto woman, making the title to her. He then 
removed to Sidney, and there spent the remainder 
of his days. I had much to do in these transac- 
tions, feeling an interest in these helpless children, 
and being anxious that they should be provided for 
and their rights secured while the old man lived. 

Before Major Phillips moved to Sidney, he ex- 
pressed a wish to get from Mississippi the thirteen 
slaves whom he had left there with his wife, from 
whom he had separated, and bring them to Ohio 
and emancipate them. I encouraged him to act in 
this matter at once, and to secure their liberty with- 
out delay. I wrote letters from him to his attorney 
at Yazoo City, who had charge of his business in 
Mississippi, and whom Phillips represented to be a 
worthy man and his particular friend. This attor- 
ney had previously informed him that his former 
wife had married a reckless young man, contrary 
to law and to their contract, and that he could 
legally take possession of the slaves. 

It was advisable that the major should, be there 
in person to take possession of them, and he asked 
me to go with him and assist him in bringing the 
company to Ohio. He said he had many warm 
friends at Yazoo and in the neighborhood of his 
former home, but they were slaveholders, and 
might oppose his bringing the slaves to a free State. 

The major was quite feeble, and having lost the 
use of his right arm from the effects of paralysis in 


that side, he had to have a servant to wait on him 
and to dress and undress him, consequently he 
could not have the oversight of the thirteen 
slaves on their journey up the river, and he 
wished me to see that they were properly cared 
for on their way to Cincinnati. I agreed to accom- 
pany him, and we made the journey down the river 
together. I had some business in New Orleans 
which I wished to attend to, and the major also 
had some business matters there, which he wished 
me to look after for him, as he expected to be 
detained at Yazoo City a week or two, having other 
business to engage his attention, besides getting 
possession of his slaves. So we parted at Vicks- 
burg; I went on to New Orleans and Phillips to 
Yazoo City, where he was to await my return. 

I had a power of attorney to enable me to transact 
the major's business in New Orleans, and at other 
points on the river. I expected to be detained two 
or three weeks, and the major thought that he 
could have his business transacted at Yazoo City 
and his negroes in readiness by the time I returned. 

At Vicksburg, several passengers were added 
to our company, among whom was a gentleman 
who lived on a cotton plantation near that place, 
and had another plantation in Louisiana. He 
owned a large number of slaves. Our list of pas- 
sengers represented almost every class of society. 
The boat was a large and popular steamer, and 
passengers had come aboard at nearly all the prin- 
cipal towns on the Mississippi River. They were 
all strangers to me, and being nearly all Southern 


slaveholders were not congenial companions for me. 
There was much drinking, card-playing and loud, 
profane talking in the cabin, and I frequently seated 
myself out on the guard-deck where it was more 
pleasant, and took out my pocket Bible, my daily 
companion. Here I could read, undisturbed, and 
be away from the smell of whisky, and the sound 
of the card-players' profane language. 

Several passengers having often noticed me sit- 
ting alone, reading my Bible, introduced themselves 
to me, professing to be religionists. They said 
they inferred from my dress and address, that I was 
a Quaker, and they wished to make my acquaint- 
ance. I told them that I* was a member of the 
religious Society of Friends, called Quakers a 
name given in derision by our persecutors in the 
early rise of the society. The name Quaker did not 
appear on our records. They asked many ques- 
tions in regard to Friends. I endeavored to explain 
our principles and testimonies, dwelling most on 
our testimony against slavery. I told them that 
a Friend could not own a slave anywhere, and 
retain his right of membership in our society. 
This generally brought on a discussion about 
slavery. I discussed the subject mildly but can- 
didly, and they treated me with much kindness and 
respect; often telling me, however, that if I lived 
in the South, I would change my notions about 

I informed them that I had been brought up in 
the South, in the midst of slavery; that I was well 
acquainted with the system, and its deleterious 



effects and influences. Quite a company had gath- 
ered around to listen to the conversation, and 
though I spoke freely of my abhorrence of slavery, 
I used mild and respectful language, and no one 
appeared to be offended. 

After this interview I was treated with marked 
respect by several of the professors of religion who 
had taken part in the conversation. They seemed 
to want to know more about the Quakers, and made 
many inquiries concerning them. I answered their 
questions to the best of ,my ability, and endeavored 
to explain Friends' testimonies on the subject of 
war and spirituous liquors, our manner of worship, 
our views in regard to outward forms and ceremo- 
nies, types and shadows of Christ, the substance, 
etc., and generally ended by referring to slavery as 
contrary to the teachings of the gospel -which they 
professed to believe. 

One day the cotton planter, who lived near 
Vicksburg, came and took a seat by me, and com- 
menced talking on the subject of slavery. He said 
he was a member of the Methodist Church, and he 
believed there was not much difference between the 
Methodists and Quakers on doctrinal matters, ex- 
cept on the subject of slavery ; then he undertook 
to justify slavery by the Bible, referring to the Jew- 
ish servitude, and quoting many passages from the 
Old Testament in support of his views. 

I heard him through patiently, and then replied 
that Methodists differed on that subject. John 
Wesley was an anti-slavery man, and some of the 
Methodists in the North had strong anti- slavery 


sentiments. I told him that the Bible was the best 
anti-slavery book we had, and turning to it, I read 
several passages to him, and asked him how he 
could reconcile slavery with them. 

He seemed confused and evaded direct answers 
to my questions, saying "Ah, Brother Coffin, if 
you lived in the South you would soon change your 
opinions about slavery." 

I told him that the longer I lived in the South 
the stronger were my convictions of the sin of 
slavery, and then referred to the separation of hus- 
bands and wives, parents and children, and other 
evils contrary to the teachings of the gospel. 

The planter replied that he thought it was wrong 
to separate husbands and wives. He owned a good 
many slaves, but had tried to keep husband and 
wife together. "But sometimes," said he, "they 
separate of their own accord. I have a man and 
his wife who had lived together many years, but 
some time ago they quarreled ; the man became 
jealous of his wife and refused to live with her. I 
took them out into my orchard, and cut two bun- 
dles of peach-tree sprouts, and made them wear 
them out on each other. They both got severely 
whipped, and it cured them; they lived together 
very peaceably after that." He laughed heartily at 
the recollection. 

I said: "Perhaps the woman was innocent. I 
have known instances where the master or the 
overseer was the guilty one. A slave woman has 
no power to protect herself; according to your 
law, her body belongs, not to herself, but to some 


one else, and is subject to the will of the master or 
overseer. It may be that thou hast punished the 
innocent. This good book which I hold in my 
hand says that we should do to others as we would 
have others do to us. Now, suppose that thou and 
thy wife should have some difficulty of the kind, 
and I had it in my power to compel you to whip 
each other in the same way wouldst thou not 
think that I was a cruel tyrant?" 

He said again: "Ah, Brother Coffin, if you were 
to come down South and live there a few years, you 
would soon get over these tender notions." 

"Yes," I replied, "and deny the teachings of 
this precious book a result to Avhich slavery leads." 

He replied: "I see that we do not agree on the 
subject of slavery," and left me, but continued to 
be friendly as long as we traveled together. He left 
the boat, some distance above New Orleans, oppo- 
site his plantation. 

Before reaching New Orleans, I inquired of some 
of the passengers with whom I had become ac- 
quainted, whether there was a temperance house 
of entertainment in the city, saying that if there 
was, I wished to patronize it, as I intended to stay 
a week or two. One gentleman said that there 
was a respectable boarding-house, called the Farm- 
er's Hotel, where there was no bar, a place where 
country merchants often stopped, and which was 
kept by a worthy man. He gave me the num- 
ber and street, and on my arrival in the city I went 
directly to that house. Finding it to be a comfort- 


able house, I took my quarters there during my 
stay in New Orleans. 

I had corresponded with Judge Cage, the gentle- 
man previously mentioned, who had sent a colored 
boy to my care, some years before, and had in- 
formed him of my prospect of being in New Orleans 
some time that spring. He lived some distance from 
the city, but desiring to see me in regard to the 
boy, and other matters concerning the rest of his 
brother's children, he requested me, as soon as I 
arrived in the city, to call on his nephew, a lawyer, 
whose address he gave me. This nephew, he said, 
would inform him at once, and he would come to 
the city to see me. 

Accordingly, I called at the lawyer's office, and 
gave him his uncle's the judge's letter to read. 
He appeared pleased to see me, and treated me 
with much cordiality and kindness. He said that 
he had often heard. me spoken of, and knew that his 
uncle was very anxious to see me, and would come 
to the city as soon as he learned of my arrival. He 
then introduced me to several gentlemen, prominent 
citizens of New Orleans, and kindly tendered his 
services in looking after Major Phillips' business. I 
availed myself of this offer, and received much aid 
from him. Having to examine the records of the 
court, in regard to some of Major Phillips' business, 
he accompanied me to the Court-House, introduced 
me to the clerk and other officers of the court. All 
of these gentlemen treated me with kindness and 
respect, so that I felt at home among them. This 
state of things was quite different from that which 


my friends in Cincinnati had pictured for me, when 
they heard of my intended trip -to New Orleans. 
They had tried to discourage me from going down 
the river with Major Phillips, saying that it would 
be at the risk of my life. I was extensively known 
in the South as a notorious abolitionist, and I might 
be taken by a mob and shot or hanged to a tree 
as the slaveholders had often threatened to hang 
abolitionists. I told these foreboders of danger 
that I was not troubled with fears on that score I 
was a Southern man and understood Southern char- 
acter. I had always traveled in the South, or in 
any other section of the country where I had tangi- 
ble business, without fear, and had always been 
kindly treated. I never carried weapons, and never 
visited saloons or theaters, but associated with the 
better class of people, who would not allow a man 
of peace to be maltreated. I told them that my 
wife had not tried to discourage me from going to 
New Orleans. This was no new advice ; I had often 
been cautioned about going South, but when duty 
or business called me, I never hesitated, and though 
in all my travels in the Southern States, I had 
spoken my mind freely on the subject of slavery, I 
had endeavored to speak in the spirit of love and 
kindness, and had never been molested. 

As soon as Judge Cage received information of my 
arrival at New Orleans, he came to see me. This 
was our first meeting. I found the old man to be 
noble looking, and a perfect gentleman in his man- 
ners. He was a man of wealth and high standing 
in that part of the country. He manifested a great 


deal of interest in the boy he had sent to me some 
years before, to be educated, and spoke of the rest 
of the family of his unfortunate brother, as he .called 

This brother had died some years before, leaving 
a large family of children, who were slaves, accord- 
ing to the law of Louisiana. They followed the 
condition of their mother who, though rjX.iy white, 
and a perfect lady, was a slave. I have referred to 
this case previously. The judge told me that his 
brother, who had been his partner in business, left 
a considerable estate when he died, which he 
wished his children to have. As they were not 
legal heirs in Louisiana, and could, not inherit his 
property there, he had irftended to send them 
to the North, have them educated, and buy prop- 
erty for them there. He intended to have his sons 
taught trades, and had sent the older ones to the 
East before he died. The whole family came into 
the judge's hands as property when their father 
died, and he told me he intended to carry out the 
wishes of his brother. 

The younger girls were then in school in New 
Orleans. The judge furnished me some means 
to continue the boy, in my care, at school, and 
requested me to put him to a trade when he came 
out of school. After our business was finished, 
the judge introduced me to several of his friends, 
bankers and other prominent business men. 

While in New Orleans I called at the banking- 
house of old Jacob Barker, and introduced myself 
to that well-known financier and remarkable man, 


having had some knowledge of his reputation and 
history. He was formerly of Nantucket, but had 
lived a number of years in the city of New York, 
where he was engaged in an extensive trading and 
shipping business owning a fleet of trading vessels. 

He accumulated an immense fortune, and during 
the war of 1812 he loaned to the Government a 
large sum of money. He met with some reverses, 
and having in some of his trading operations taken 
a large tract of land in Louisiana, to secure a debt, 
he moved to that State and settled in New Orleans, 
in the year 1834. He had lived there twenty-four 
years, when I visited him. 

On learning that my name was Coffin, and that I 
was of Nantucket descent, he seemed much pleased 
to meet me, and invited me to his house. He was 
quite an old man, but full of life and activity, being 
blessed with the preservation of his mental and 
physical faculties to a greater degree than is 
usually accorded to persons of his age. He was 
still engaged in banking business. He owned a 
number of slaves and had tried various experiences 
with them had settled some on his lands and had 
several families living in houses that he owned in 
the city yet he professed to be opposed to the 
system of of slavery. He had sent several of his 
slaves to the East to be educated, and two to 
Europe one to England and one to Germany. 
The law of Louisiana would not permit slaves 
to be educated in that State. Barker took me to 
visit several families of his slaves, who lived in com- 


fortable houses provided with all the furniture nec- 

They all appeared glad to see the old man. He 
told me that he had bought many of his slaves, out 
of pity, and with a hope of bettering their condi- 

Barker was thoroughly versed in the law, and 
had rescued several slaves that were illegally held 
in bondage, but notwithstanding his kindness and 
humane endeavors, I could not sanction his holding 
property in human beings, and advised him to 
secure their liberty to them while he lived. I do not 
know that he acted on my advice, but he and all 
other slaveholders were relieved of responsibility 
in the matter, a few years later, by the proclama- 
tion of President Lincoln. 

One morning Jacob Barker took me to the slave 
pen, or auction room, where a large drove of slaves 
were to be sold that day. There were men and 
women, of various shades, from the complexion of 
ebony black with woolly hair, flat nose and thick 
lips, to the fair complexion, with light wavy hair 
and delicate features. Several handsome young 
women were in the company, and these were 
arranged on raised benches to show to the best 

The auction had not yet commenced, but a num- 
ber of men who wished to purchase were examining 
the stock. They selected such slaves as they 
thought would suit them, and took them through a 
close and critical examination as I would a horse 
which I wished to purchase. Their limbs, bodies, 


and teeth were examined, and many questions were 
asked in regard to the quality of the article under 
notice. The purchasers gave utterance to many 
profane and indecent expressions, plainly evincing 
that their natures were rough and coarse and low 
that they had lost the higher and more refined sen- 
timents of humanity. This company of slaves I 
was informed were from Virginia and Kentucky, 
and were considered quite valuable, as they all had 
the appearance of being sound and healthy. Their 
countenances were sad )t> and while they were under 
examination, they looked with expressions of aver- 
sion and dread upon those who wished to buy 
them. Many of them, no doubt, had been sepa- 
rated from wives or husbands or children, and were 
now to be sold and taken to rice swamps or cotton 
fields or cane plantations, there to toil beneath the 
lash of a cruel task-master, until life left their suf- 
fering bodies. When I gazed upon them and pic- 
tured to myself the fate in store for them, I longed 
to give them passage on the Underground Railroad 
to Canada. I turned from the scene in sorrow and 
disgust, before the bidding commenced, and made 
my way back to my boarding-house. There I again 
met my Methodist friend, the planter from Vicks- 
burg, who had stopped at his plantation, some 
distance up the river. After completing his busi- 
ness there, he had come on to New Orleans, and 
had taken quarters in the house where I was stay- 
ing. He accosted me as an old acquaintance, call- 
ing me "Brother Coffin," and seemed to be glad 
to meet me again. He introduced me to a mer- 


chant from Arkansas who was stopping in the 
same house as Brother Coffin, of Cincinnati, who 
also was a merchant and produce dealer, but who 
would not deal in negroes. He added that I was a 
Quaker and opposed to slavery. 

I replied: "That is true I have been opposed 
to slavery from my childhood to the present day. 
I was brought up in the South in the midst of 
slavery, and when I was a little boy learned to 
hate it. I saw a coffle of slaves driven past my 
father's premises on their way to the South, to be 
sold like cattle in the public market, and my child- 
ish sympathy and indignation were aroused. Just 
such a scene have I witnessed in the slave market 
in this city to-day. " '...* 

I then described what I had seen, and told how 
it operated on my feelings to see human beings 
the image of God chattelized and sold like brutes, 
or put upon the auction block and sold as common 
articles of merchandise, and added: " I can not see 
that any one who professes to be a Christian can 
sanction such things." 

My Methodist friend, addressing himself to the 
Arkansas merchant, said: "Brother Coffin and I 
do not read the Bible alike. As we came down 
the river I tried to convince him that the Bible 
sanctioned slavery, but he does not appear to be 

The merchant said: "The Quakers are good 
honest folks; I like to deal with them. I go to 
Philadelphia every spring to buy goods have just 
now returned from there, and come here to buy 


sugar and molasses. I tell you, Mr. Compton, 
they are good folks, but they have queer notions 
about slavery. I don't agree with them about 
that, but think they are nice people. I like to 
hear them say 'thee' and 'thou.' I can tell a 
Quaker by his dress, and I always love to meet 
one. The Quaker women, Mr. Compton, wore 
the prettiest bonnets I ever saw the young women 
wore silk bonnets without any feathers or flowers 
about them, and they looked so nice and plain. I 
really think I would like to have a Quaker woman 
for a wife. I have lost* my wife since I moved to 
Arkansas I want another one, and think that a 
Quaker woman would make a good mistress over 
my negroes." 

I said: "Quaker women are generally abolition- 
ists and opposed to slavery, and if one is worth 
having for a wife, she would not marry a slave- 

"Oh, they would soon lose their notions about 
slavery if they lived down here," the merchant 
replied, then went on to say that he had formerly 
lived in South Carolina, and had known some Yan- 
kee girls who came down there to teach. They 
were abolitionists in sentiment, but soon lost that 
notion and married slaveholders and made first-rate 

I became tired of his palaver and turned the con- 
versation to business matters, then soon withdrew. 
That afternoon I went into a large commission store 
or warehouse, where I had some business. This 
firm received large consignments of produce from 


up the river, and also sold large quantities of cotton 
for the planters. While I was in the office a 
country planter, who appeared to be one of their 
customers, .came in. It seemed that he had been 
at the slave auction, for as soon as he entered one 
of the firm said : 

"Well, Mr. S , did you buy all the women 

you wanted ? " 

"No," he replied, "I intended to buy five, but 
I bought only three. I have five men who have no 
wives, and I intended to purchase a wife apiece for 

them, but the women sold so d d high, I bought 

only three." 

"You ought to have bought one apiece for your 
men," rejoined the merchant. 

"I intend to get two more," replied the planter; 
"but I think I can do better nearer home." 

The next day while I was alone in the sitting- 
room of my boarding-house, reading, my friend the 
Vicksburg planter, accompanied by his friend the 
merchant, came in, and, seating themselves near me, 
broached the subject of slavery again. They spoke 
in a friendly, persuasive manner as if they wished 
to convince me of my error of opinion, and repre- 
sented the happy condition of the slaves, saying 
that all their wants were provided for by their 
masters they were fed and clothed, doctored when 
sick, and had no care assigned to them. "Yes," I 
said; "they even have wives assigned to them by 
their kind master, whether they want them or not. 
It is a matter of profit to the master, and the slave 
can have no choice in the matter ; he must take the 


woman assigned to him." I then related what I had 
heard the day before, of the planter buying wives 
for his men, and went on to say: "No doubt these 
five men, whom the planter had recently bought 
out of a drove of slaves, from Virginia or Ken- 
tucky, had been sold away from their wives and 
children, whom they loved, and the women he 
bought for them had probably been forced away 
from husbands and children that were near and dear 
to them. While their hearts were weighed down 
with grief, they were brought to this market and 
sold for wives for men whom they had never seen 
or heard of, and for whom they could not possibly 
have any affection. How can these men and 
women fix their affections upon each other under 
such circumstances? But it is not a question of 
choice with them; they are doomed by their mas- 
ter's will to live together in violation of their own 
feelings and of God's command to live in a state of 
adultery, for marriages among slaves are not legal- 
ized. To whom will this sin be charged ?" They 
evaded the question but seemed to feel the force 
of my argument. I continued to speak of the hor- 
rors and evils of slavery, giving instances that had 
come under my observation, while living in a slave 
State, speaking of N the separation of families, etc. 
This phase of slavery they admitted to be wrong, 
but still justified the system. Notwithstanding our 
discussion of the subject from different standpoints, 
these two slaveholders manifested kind feeling 
toward me as long as we continued together, fre- 
quently introducing me to others as their Quaker 


friend. Thus, instead of being mobbed or hung, as 
some of my friends had feared, I was treated with 
kindness and respect by all with whom I came in 
contact although I often expressed my sentimejits 
freely on the subject of slavery. 

After closing my business in New Orleans, I took 
passage up the river, stopping at Baton Rouge, 
Natches and Vicksburg, to attend to business for 
Major Phillips. At Vicksburg I took boat up the 
Yazoo River to Yazoo City, one hundred and 
twenty miles distant, where I was to join Major 

On my arrival in Yazoo City I went to the hotel 
where I expected to meet the major, but to my 
surprise found that he was gone, and learned that 
the thirteen slaves he had come to take away were 
in jail, awaiting a decision of the court. Major 
Phillips had left a note with the hotel-keeper, 
directing me to call on his attorney, who would 
give me all necessary directions regarding his busi- 
ness. I went immediately to the office of the 
attorney, who received me very cordially and said 
that he was glad I had arrived. He had been anx- 
iously looking for me, hoping that I would come in 
time to take possession of the major's slaves as soon 
as the decision was made in court which decision 
he had no doubt would be in the major's favor. 
He then gave me an account of what had occurred. 

The major's former wife, as has already been 
mentioned, had married again a reckless young 
man, whose object, no doubt, was to get pos- 
session of her property. When the major arrived 


in Yazoo, and sent out an order for the thirteen 
slaves he had left on her plantation, she and the 
young man she called her husband refused to give 
them up, although they had no right or title to 
them, and the young man swore that he would kill 
any person who attempted to take them away. 

Then Major Phillips got out a writ of replevin for 
his property. This was placed in the hands of 
the sheriff, who took a posse of men, went out to 
the farm several miles distant and brought the 
slaves into Yazoo City, and put them into jail for 

The young man who claimed the slaves as the 
property of himself and wife followed them into 
town, and employed lawyers to defend his claim. 
He was a desperate fellow, was in the habit of 
drinking freely, and, on this occasion, raved about 
the streets, displaying his pistols, and threatening 
to shoot Major Phillips the moment he got sight 
of him. Knowing the character of this desperate 
fellow, and knowing also that the major was brave 
and could not be intimidated, the major's friends 
managed to keep him out of sight, for they were 
sure somebody would be killed if the two came in 
contact. Hearing that this young man had been 
hunting for Phillips all day, with intent to shoot 
him, and that in the evening he had gathered a 
posse of ruffians, they feared that he intended to 
mob the house where Phillips was stopping and 
kill the old man, so they contrived to get the major 
away privately. He went to Vicksburg, and would 
await my arrival there, with the negroes, He left 


an order for the sheriff to deliver the slaves to me. 

The day after I arrived in Yazoo City, the case 
of the right of property in the negroes was brought 
before court. The lawyers employed by the young 
man to oppose Phillips' claim picked a flaw in the 
proceedings. The sheriff had neglected to do his 
duty; the writ had not been served in due time, 
according to law. It was returnable, according to 
date, the day before it was served, therefore it 
was out of date when served. This caused a 
long debate between the lawyers. Major Phillips' 
lawyers contended warmly against the quibble 
raised by the other lawyers, but the judge decided 
that the sheriff had neglected his duty and that the 
proceedings were illegal. He then dismissed the 

Phillips was gone, and there was no one to renew 
the writ, so the slaves were brought out of jail and 
delivered to that wicked ypung man who claimed 
to own them. They looked sad and disappointed ; 
they had hoped to go to Ohio and be free, but 
found themselves doomed to return to bondage. 
The man mounted his horse, cracked his whip, and 
started them back to the farm, as though he were 
driving a drove of cattle. I felt sorry for them, and 
regretted that it was not in my power to rescue 
them from the hands of that tyrant. I now felt 
anxious to leave Yazoo City, which was said to be 
one of the worst sinks of iniquity in the State of 
Mississippi, but there was no boat. The Vicksburg 
packet had passed up the river that day and I must 
await its return, the next morning, so I reluctantly 

5 i8 


made up my mind to pass another night in the 
midst of the drinking, swearing, and dissipation of 
every kind that abounded. 

That evening, while sitting on the sidewalk, 
under the awning, talking to the hotel-keeper, two 
colored ladies passed by us, dressed in rich silks, 
and adorned with jewelry. I said to the hotel- 
keeper: " I suppose that those persons are free ? " 

"No," he replied, "they are both slaves, but are 
kept as mistresses by two of our wealthy mer- 

I asked: "Is such a state of society permitted 

He answered, "Oh, yes; most of our merchants, 
and other gentlemen of wealth and high standing, 
keep such women. The- practice is quite common 
in our community." 

He then spoke of a wealthy gentleman living a 
few miles out of town, who had a wife and a family 
of children. He owned several plantations, and on 
one of them he kept a black wife, who had several 

"And does his white wife know it?" I asked. 

"Yes," was the reply, "but she can't help it, 
and I don't think she makes any fuss about it. 
One of his colored sons is his carriage driver. That 
gentleman stands fair in this community." 

I spoke of the demoralizing effect of such exam- 
ples upon the lower classes and upon the young. 
I felt depressed in spirit when I reflected upon such 
a state of society and the wickedness that abounded 
in the South. It appeared to me that the cup of 


iniquity was about full ; that a dark cloud was hang- 
ing over that land and must soon burst. 

I was anxious to get away from that Sodom of 
debauchery. It was known in Yazoo City that I 
was there as the major's agent to take possession 
of his slaves, if the court decided in his favor, and 
conduct them to Cincinnati. I had been treated 
with kindness and respect by the officers of the 
court and all others with whom I came in contact, 
but as the mob spirit had been manifested toward 
Major Phillips, I knew not what the feeling of his 
enemies might be toward his agent, or what demon- 
stration might be made against me. 

I was favored, however, to rest quietly and peace- 
fully through the night, and the next morning I 
took passage on the Vicksburg packet. There 
were several passengers who had come aboard at 
other points up the river, among them a Baptist 
minister who introduced himself to me. He said he 
always liked to meet a Quaker, and asked many 
questions, which I answered briefly. He informed 
me that he was a Baptist clergyman, and said that 
he was always glad to meet with a professor of relig- 
ion. I told him that I was also glad to meet with 
such, but I had seen very little of the fruits of true 
religion in that part of the country, He admitted 
that the fruit was not very abundant. The boat 
was delayed an hour or more after I went aboard, 
taking on bales of cotton and other freight. The 
deck-hands were all slaves, and the mate was hurry- 
ing them and swearing at them at a fearful rate, 



though they appeared to be doing all that they 

The preacher and I were sitting on the guard- 
deck in front of the cabin, and I said to him that 
the mate appeared to be a cruel tyrant. 

He replied: "Oh, those lazy niggers must be 

When the freight was nearly all aboard and a 
number of passengers had come, one of the deck- 
hands, a slave man who lived in that town, asked 
the mate to let him run up to his house and get a 
clean shirt, as the one .he wore was torn and very 
dirty. He said that he would be gone only a few 
minutes, but the mate cursed him and refused to 
let him go. Shortly afterward the mate went on the 
boat with some of tlj hands to move some of the 
freight, and while he was aboard, the slave man 
started on a run to his house to get his shirt. The 
mate saw him and hallooed to him to come back, 
making use of dreadful oaths and threats. The 
man replied that he would return in a few minutes 
and ran on toward his home. The mate rushed 
after him, calling on some of his acquaintances 
among the passengers for assistance. They sprang 
out and joined in the chase. 

The slave reached the hut where his wife and 
children lived, but before he had time to get his 
shirt, he was knocked down by the mate, who 
had a, club in his hand, and was bound. He was 
brought back to the boat with his arms tied behind 
him and a rope around his neck, while the blood 
trickled over his body from a gash that had been 


cut in his head when he was knocked down. The 
mate had picked up a piece of barrel hoop with 
which he struck him at nearly every step, using at 
the same time the most abusive language in reply 
to the begging and crying of the poor slave. It 
was, to me, a most heart-sickening spectacle. 

The mate was a younger man than the slave he 
was beating so cruelly, but what of that? The 
negro was a poor chattel whom no law protected ; 
he had no rights that a white man was bound to 
respect. The mate and his company dragged the 
poor fellow aboard and tied him to a post on the 
lower deck. 

The freight and passengers were now all on board, 
and the boat started down the river. 

All seemed quiet for a mile or two, until we had 
got fairly under headway, then I discovered that 
the cabin passengers were all in a stir and going 
down stairs to the lower declc. I asked the Baptist 
minister what was going on, and he replied : 

"Oh, nothing; only that-nigger is to be whipped 
and they are going down to see the fun. Will you 
go down?" 

"No, indeed," I replied; "it is the mate that 
ought to be punished, and I hope that he will not 
be allowed to punish that poor man any more." 

" He needs a good thrashing for his impudence," 
said the preacher; "he even tried to resist, and 
they had to drag him on the boat." 

He then followed to see the fun, as he called it, 
leaving me alone in the men's part of the cabin ; 
a few ladies remained in the ladies' apartment. 




The whipping soon commenced and continued for 
what seemed to me a long time. I could hear the 
blows but was too much agitated to count them, 
for the cries of the poor slave pierced my ears and 
stirred every feeling of humanity in my breast. 
Toward the last his cries and moans became faint 
and weak. I could not sit still, nor get out of hear- 
ing of the dreadful sounds, and in my agitation I 
walked the room, thinking: "How long, O Lord, 
how long will such cruelty be permitted on the 
earth?" Soon after the whipping was over, dinner 
was announced, but my feelings were so wrought 
upon that I could taste little. I retired to my room 
a'nd sought comfort in prayer. I had often been in 
the South, but never before had been so sensible of 
the Egyptian darkness" that overhung the land. I 
was deeply impressed with the belief that the day 
was not far distant when the fetters of slavery 
would be broken. 

Some time in the afternoon the boat stopped to 
take on wood, and the deck-hands were hurried 
ashore. The poor, tortured slave was driven out, 
among them, and my heart bled afresh in sym- 
pathy. His shirt was soaked with blood all over 
his back, and he appeared weak and exhausted ; 
it was with difficulty that he could carry a stick 
of wood. I learned that his shirt had been 
taken off before the whipping, and that his back 
had been gashed and cut to pieces, then washed 
with salt and water. The Baptist preacher was 
a slaveholder, and justified the whipping; he said 
that slaves must be made to obey, otherwise 


there was no managing them. I protested against 
such inhumanity and cruelty, but felt that it was 
most prudent to avoid entering into a discussion on 
the subject of slavery. I felt no freedom in con- 
versation with any one on board, and was truly 
thankful when we reached Vicksburg, and I was 
able to get out of hearing of the profane language 
to which I had been obliged to listen on that boat. 
Major Phillips was much chagrined with the way 
matters had terminated in Yazoo City, and seemed 
determined to renew his efforts to get possession 
of his slaves and bring them to Ohio. We took 
passage on a boat for Memphis, where we stopped 
one day, as I had some business to attend to, and 
then went aboard the Memphis and Cincinnati 
packet. I reached home in safety, and I was thank- 
ful that I was permitted to breathe again the free 
air of Ohio. Major Phillips made further efforts, 
through his attorneys at Yazoo City, to obtain his 
slaves, but he grew more feeble, and died before it 
was accomplished. 





j;v/ II . / 


THE mobs caused by the pro-slavery element 
in Cincinnati occurred before I moved to the 
city, but the following accounts of them are com- 
pilecl from authentic records and narratives. 

I first refer to the demonstration of the mob 
spirit, exhibited when the office of the Philanthro- 
pist was broken into by a crowd of men, and the 
press destroyed. 

"The 'Philanthropist' was the organ of the Ohio Anti-Slavery 
Society, and was edited by James G. Birney, a stanch abolitionist. 
It was first published at New Richmond, twenty miles from Cin- 
cinnati, but in April, 1836, after a few numbers had been issued, 
the establishment was removed to Cincinnati. 

"The pro-slavery spirit was strong in the city, but no demon- 
stration was made against the paper at first. The subscription list 
of the 'Philanthropist' numbered 1,700, and was rapidly increas- 
ing at the time of the disturbance. Testimony was given almost 
daily of the fair and manly and respectful conduct of it. From 
the time of its removal to Cincinnati, there was not the least show 
of molestation till the I2th of July. At midnight a band of men, 
amounting to thirty or forty in number, including those who stood 
as sentries at different points of the street, made an assault on the 


premises of Achilles Pugh, the printer, scaled a high wall by 
which the lot was inclosed, and with the aid of a ladder and plank 
mounted the roof of the press office. They then made their way 
through a window on the roof into the room below intimidated 
into silence, by threats of bodily violence, a boy who was asleep 
there covered his head with the bed-clothes to prevent him from 
seeing who were the perpetrators tore up the paper that was 
prepared for that week's number of the 'Philanthropist,' as well 
as a larger part of the impression of an omitted number that had 
not yet been mailed, destroyed the ink, dismantled the press and 
carried away many of its principal parts. Whilst the depredation 
was going on within doors, a watch of the confederates was sta- 
tioned in the street, near the door of Achilles Pugh's dwelling- 
house, to prevent him from giving the alarm. A remarkable 
feature in the transaction is this notwithstanding so long time 
(nearly or quite two hours) was occupied in doing the mischief, 
and that Pugh's premises lay on one of the principal streets of the 
city, and that the noise and confusion made by the rioters were 
loud enough to wake many of the neighbors (who were mysteri- 
ously admonished to be quiet), still no interference was offered by 
the night watch of the city to prevent the outrage. 

" Although the names of the actors in this scene were not ascer- 
tained sufficiently to authorize rtieir publication, yet there is 
reason to believe that some of the leaders were persons of wealth 
and reputed respectability who would never, before this, have 
been suspected of engaging in such a transaction. The work was 
done, as it is supposed, by their dependents and hirelings. Next 
morning, as soon as the damages could be repaired, the business 
of the office went on as usual. Whatever the character and de- 
signs of those committing the trespass were, it was plainly to be 
discerned that there was a plan, to intimidate those concerned in 
the press." 

This act of depredation seemed to be the expres- 
sion of a state of popular feeling existing in the city. 
Placards were posted on the corners of the streets 
warning the abolitionists to beware, and several 
of the city papers expressed the same sentiments, 
though in more guarded terms. The excitement 


appeared to increase, instead of diminishing, and 
many threats of violence were made against the 
editor and publisher of the Philanthropist. 

A public meeting was held at the Lower Market 
House, and a series of resolutions was adopted 
expressing abhorrence of the principles advocated 
by the abolitionists, and warning those connected 
with the Philanthropist to desist from publishing it 
in the city of Cincinnati. These resolutions were 
formally presented to the Executive Committee 
of the Ohio Anti-Slavery Society, and the mem- 
bers composing that committee returned a formal 
answer, stating their resolve to continue the pub- 
lication of their paper, and giving their reasons. 

This answer appeared in the city papers on the 
morning of July 30. The following account from 
the Cincinnati Gazette relates the disturbances that 
took place that night. 


" On Saturday night, July 30, very soon after dark, a con- 
course of citizens assembled at the corner of Main and Seventh 
Streets, in this city, and, upon a short consultation, broke open 
the printing-office of the 'Philanthropist,' the abolition paper, scat- 
tered the type into the streets, tore down the presses and com- 
pletely dismantled the office. It was owned by Achilles Pugh, a 
peaceable and orderly printer, who published the ' Philanthropist ' 
for the Anti-Slavery Society of Ohio. From the printing-office the 
crowd went to the house of Achilles Pugh, where they supposed 
there were other printing materials, but found none, nor offered 
any violence. Then to the Messrs. Donaldsons, where ladies only 
were at home. The residence of Mr. Birney, the editor, was 
then visited ; no person was at home but a youth, upon whose 
explanations the house was left undisturbed. A shout was raised 
for Dr. Colby's, and the concourse retiirned to _ Main Street, 
proposing to pile up the contents of the office in the street, and 


make a bonfire of them. Joseph Graham mounted the pile and 
advised against burning it, lest the houses near might take fire. 
A portion of the press was then dragged down Main Street, 
broken up and thrown into the river. The Exchange ' was then 
visited and refreshments taken ; after which the concourse again 
went up Main Street to about opposite the 'Gazette' office. Some 
suggestions were hinted that it should be demolished, but the hint 
was overruled. An attack was then made on the residences of 
some blacks in Church Alley; two guns were fired upon the 
assailants, and they recoiled. It was supposed that one man was 
wounded, but that was not the case. It was some time before a 
rally could be again made, several voices declaring that they did 
not wish to endanger themselves. A second attack was made, the 
houses were found empty, and their interior contents destroyed. 
It was now about midnight, when the party parading down Main 
Street was addressed by the Mayor, who had been a silent specta- 
tor of the destruction of the printing-office. He told them that 
they might as well now disperse. A dispersion to a considerable 
extent followed ; but various other disturbances took place 
through the night, of the magnitude and particulars of which 
we are not advised." 

There were some demonstrations of the public 
feeling next day Sabbath but no serious disturb- 

Several mobs collected on Monday night, but 
were prevented from violence and dispersed by the 
city authorities, and the volunteer companies acting 
under their orders. 

The excitement died out without any more 
serious demonstrations. The publication of the 
Philanthropist was afterward resumed and contin- 
ued for many years. 

THE MOB OF 184!. 

The next outbreak of violence, which disgraced 
the city of Cincinnati, occurred in the early part of 


of September, 1841. The Daily Gazette, of Septem- 
ber 6, gives the following account of it : 

"This city has been in a most alarming condition for several 
days, and from about eight o'clock on Friday evening until 
about three o'clock yesterday morning, almost entirely at the 
mercy of a lawless mob, ranging in number from two to fifteen 
hjmdrecL_ .-- 

" On Tuesday evening last, a quarrel took place near the corner 
of Sixth Street and Broadway, between a party of Irishmen and 
some negroes, in which blows were exchanged and other weapons, 
if not fire-arms, used. Some two or three of each party were 

" On Wednesday night the quarrel was renewed in some way, 
and some time after midnight a party of excited men, armed with 
clubs, etc., attacked a house occupied as a negro boarding-house, 
on McAlister Street, demanding the surrender of a negro who 
they said had fled into the house and was there secreted, and 
uttering the most violent threats against the house and the 
negroes in general. Several of the adjoining houses were occu- 
pied by negro families, including women and children. The 
violence increased and was resisted by those in or about the 
houses. An engagement took place, several were wounded on 
each side, and some say guns and pistols were discharged from the 
house. The interference of some gentlemen in the neighborhood 
succeeded in restoring quiet, after about three-quarters of an hour, 
when a watchman appeared. But it is singular that this violent 
street disturbance elicited no report to the police, no arrest 
indeed, that the Mayor remained ignorant of the affair until late 
in the day, when he casually heard of it. 

" On Thursday night another rencounter took place in the 
neighborhood of the Lower Market, between some young men 
and boys, and some negroes, in which one or two boys were badly 
wounded, as it was supposed, with knives. 

"On Friday, during the day there was considerable excitement, 
threats of violence and lawless outbreaking were indicated in 
various ways, and came to the ears of the police and of the 
negroes. Attacks were expected upon the negro residences in 
McAlister, Sixth arid New Streets. The negroes armed them- 
selves, and the knowledge of this increased the excitement. 


But we do not know that it produced any known measure of 
precaution on the part of the police to preserve the peace of the 

"Before eight o'clock in the evening, a mob, the principal 
organization of which, we understand, was arranged in Kentucky, 
openly assembled in Fifth Street Market, unmolested by the police 
or citizens. The number of this mob, as they deliberately marched 
from their rendezvous toward Broadway and Sixth Street, is 
variously estimated, but the number increased as they progressed. 
They were armed with clubs, stones, etc. Reaching the scene 
of operations, with shouts and blasphemous imprecations, they 
attacked a negro confectionary on Broadway, and demolished the 
doors and windows. This attracted an immense crowd. Savage 
yells were uttered to encourage the mob onward to the general 
attack upon the negroes. About this time the Mayor came up 
and addressed the people, exhorting them to peace and obedience 
to law. The savage yell was instantly raised, ' Down with him.' 
'Run him off,' was shouted, intermixed with horrid imprecations, 
and exhortations to the mob to move onward. 

"They advanced to the attack with stones, etc., and were 
repeatedly fired upon by the negroes. The mob scattered, but 
immediately rallied again, and again were in like manner, 
repulsed. Men were wounded on tfbth sides and carried off, and 
many reported dead. The negroes rallied several times, advanced 
upon the crowd, and most unjustifiably fired down the street into 
it, causing a great rush in various directions. These things were 
repeated until past one o'clock, when a party procured an iron 
six-pounder from near the river, loaded it with boiler punchings, 
etc., and hauled it to the ground, against the exhortations of the 
Mayor and others. It was posted on Broadway, and pointed 
down Sixth Street. The yells continued, but there was a partial 
cessation of firing. Many of the negroes had fled' to the hill-. 
The attack upon houses was recommenced with firing of guns 
on both sides, which continued during most of the night, and 
exaggerated rumors of the killed and wounded filled the streets. 
The cannon was discharged several times. About two o'clock a 
portion of the military, upon the call of the Mayor, proceeded to 
the scene of disorder and succeeded in keeping the mob at bay. 
In the morning, and throughout the day, several blocks, including 
the battle-ground, were surrounded by sentinels, and kept under 



martial law keeping within the negroes there, and adding to 
them such as were brought during the day, seized without partic- 
ular charge, by parties who scoured the city, assuming the author- 
ity of the law. 

"A meeting of citizens was held at the Court-House, on Satur- 
day morning, at which the Mayor presided. This meeting was 
addressed by the Mayor, Judge Reed, Mr. Piatt, Sheriff Avery 
and Mr. Hart. They resolved to observe the law, to discounte- 
nance mobs, invoked the aid of the authorities to stay the vio- 
lence, and pledged themselves to exertion in aid of the civil 
authority to arrest and place within reach of the law the negroes 
who wounded the two white boys on Columbia Street; that the 
Township Trustees enforce the law of 1807, requiring security of 
negroes, pledging themselves to enforce it to the very letter, until 
the city is relieved of the effect of ' modern abolitionism,' assuring 
our 'Southern brethren ' to carry out that act in good faith and 
to deliver ' up, under the law of Congress, forthwith' every negro 
who escapes from his master and comes within our borders. They 
requested the Mayor, Sheriff, and the civil authorities to proceed 
at once to the dwellings of the blacks and disarm them of all 
offensive weapons and recommended search for offenders against 
the laws, immediate legal proceedings against them, and an effi- 
cient patrol to protect the persons and property of the blacks, 
during the existence of the present excitement, and until they 
give the bonds required by the act of 1807, or leave the city. 
They requested the parents and guardians of boys to keep them 
at home, or away from the scene of excitement. They resolved, 
' That we view with abhorrence the proceedings of the abolition- 
ists in our city, and that we repudiate their doctrines, and believe 
it to be the duty of every good citizen, by all lawful means, to 
discountenance ever man who lends them his assistance.' These 
resolutions adopted unanimously, and signed by the Mayor. They 
were afterward printed in handbills and posted in all parts of the 

"The City Council also held a special session and passed reso- 
lutions invoking the united exertions of orderly citizens to the 
aid of the authorities to put down the violent commotion existing 
in the city, to preserve order and vindicate the law against the 
violence of an excited and lawless mob requesting all officers, 
watchmen and firemen to unite for the arrest of the rioters and 


violators of law, and the Marshal to increase his deputies to any 
number required- not exceeding five hundred to preserve life and 
protect property ; requiring the Mayor and Marshal to call in the 
aid of the county militia to preserve order, and the captain of the 
watch to increase his force. These proceedings were posted in 
handbills. Intense excitement continued during the day, the 
mob and the leaders boldly occupying the streets without arrest, 
or any effort to arrest them, so far as we have heard. 

"The negroes held a meeting in a church, and respectfully 
assured the Mayor and the citizens that they would use every 
effort to conduct themselves as orderly, industrious and peace- 
able people to suppress any imprudent conduct among their 
population, and to ferret out all violation of order and law. 
They deprecated the practice of carrying about their persons any 
dangerous weapons, pledged themselves not to carry or keep any 
about their persons or houses, and expressed their readiness to 
surrender all such. They expressed their readiness to conform to 
the law of 1807, and give bond, or to leave within a specified 
time, and tendered their thanks to the Mayor, watch officers and 
gentlemen of the city, for the efforts made to save their property, 
their lives, their wives and their children. 

"At three o'clock in the aftern<*on the Mayor, Sheriff, Marshal, 
and a portion of the police proceeded to the battle-ground and 
there, under the protection of the military, though in the pres- 
ence of the mob, and so far controlled by them as to prevent the 
taking away of any negroes, upon their complying with the law, 
several negroes gave bond, and obtained the permission of the 
authorities to go away with sureties some of our most respect- 
able citizens but were headed even within the military sentinels, 
and compelled to return within the ground. It was resolved to 
embody the male negroes and march them to jail for security, 
under the protection of the military and civil authorities. 

" From two hundred and fifty to three hundred negroes, includ- 
ing sound and maimed, were with some difficulty marched off to 
jail, surrounded by the military and officers; and a dense mass 
of men, women and boys, confounding all distinction between the 
orderly and disorderly, accompanied with deafening yells. 

"They were safely lodged, and still remained in prison, 
separated from their families. The crowd was in that way 
dispersed. Some then supposed that we should have a quiet 



night, but others, more observing, discovered that the law- 
less mob had determined on further violence, to be enacted 
immediately after nightfall. Citizens disposed to aid the author- 
ities were invited to assemble, enroll themselves, and organize 
for action. The military were ordered out, firemen were out, 
clothed with authority as a police band. About eighty citi- 
zens enrolled themselves as assistants of the Marshal, and acted 
during the night under his direction, in connection with Judge 
Torrence, who was selected by themselves. A portion of this 
force was mounted, and a troop of horse and several compa- 
nies of volunteer infantry continued on duty till near midnight. 
Some were then discharged to sleep upon their arms ; others 
remained on duty till morning, guarding the jail, etc. As was 
anticipated, the mob, efficiently organized, early commenced 
operations, dividing their force and making attacks at different 
points, thus distracting the attention of the police. The first 
successful onset was made upon the printing establishment of 
the 'Philanthropist.' They succeeded in entering the establish- 
ment, breaking up the press, and running with it, amid savage 
yells, down through Main Street to the river, into which it was 

" The military appeared in the alley near the office, interrupt- 
ing the mob for a short time. They escaped through by-ways, 
and, when the military retired, returned to their work of destruc- 
tion in the office, which they completed. Several houses were 
broken open in different parts of the city, occupied by negroes, 
and the windows, doors and furniture totally destroyed. From this 
work they were driven by the police, and finally dispersed from 
mere exhaustion, whether to remain quiet or to recruit their 
strength for renewed assault, we may know before this paper is 
circulated. . 

" Mortifying as is the declaration, truth requires us to acknowl- 
edge, that our city has been in a complete anarchy, controlled 
mostly by a lawless and violent mob for twenty-four hours, tramp- 
ling all law and authority under foot. We feel this degradation 
deeply but so it is. It is impossible to learn the precise number 
killed and wounded, either of whites or among the negroes; prob- 
ably several were killed on both sides, and some twenty or thirty 
variously wounded, though but few dangerously. 

" The authorities succeeded in arresting and securing about 


forty of the mob, who are now in prison. Others were arrested, 
but were rescued or made their escape otherwise. 

" Monday morning, three A. M. No disturbances have occurred 
in our city during the night. The different military companies 
were stationed at various points through the city. Captain Tay- 
lor's troop of horse, together with a large number of citizens, 
formed themselves into companies of about thirty each, and kept 
up a patrol until about two o'clock, when the citizens generally 
retired, leaving the military on duty. 

" Governor Corwin issued a proclamation on the 5th of Septem- 
ber (the day on which the mob demonstrated), calling upon and 
commanding all people who might be in the city, to yield prompt 
obedience to the civil authorities engaged in the preservation of 
the peace, and enjoining upon all persons to abstain from all 
unlawful assemblages, or any act of violence against the persons 
or property of the citizens. 

"There was no further disturbance; and thus ended the dis- 
graceful outbreak." 

Some particulars not given in this account may be 
mentioned here. While these demonstrations were 
in progress it was reported*that a number of negroes 
had fled to Walnut Hills, and were concealed at 
Lane Seminary. The mob expressed their intention 
to ferret them out, and breathed many threats 
against those who protected them. The students 
of Lane Seminary heard of this, and began prepara- 
tions for defense. They formed a military company, 
under command of E. M. Gregory, and collected all 
the available weapons in the neighborhood. Gov- 
ernor Corwin, hearing of their organization, sent 
them a supply of fire-arms from the State Arsenal. 
The mob mustered a company two hundred strong, 
and started to make an attack on the "d d abo- 
lition hole," as they called the seminary, but hear- 
ing of the warlike preparation of the students, they 


concluded that prudence was the' better part of 
valor, and relinquished their purpose. 


Slaveholders from the South often brought their 
families to the North to spend the summer months, 
and the vicinity of this city was a favorite stopping 
place. In the summer of 1843, a man from New 
Orleans, named Scanlan, was spending the time 
here with his brother-in-law, whose name was Haw- 
kins. He had with him his family, part of which 
consisted of a slave girl, nine or ten years old, 
named Lavinia. The mother of this girl, who was 
a slave in New Orleans, knew that, according to the 
law of Ohio, a slave brought to this State by his 
master was free as soon as he touched the soil ; and 
she wanted her daughter to profit by this law. She 
told Lavinia to make her escape while in Ohio, and 
go to some of the Northern people who would pro- 
tect her, adding that she would whip her severely 
if she allowed the opportunity to pass and came 
back to New Orleans with her master. She said 
that she intended to escape herself some time, and 
in order to identify her daughter, if the two should 
meet, years afterward, in Canada, the mother put 
around Lavinia's neck a small gold chain, with a 
pendant ornament, which she superstitiously re- 
garded as a charm, and gave her other little keep- 
sakes. Lavinia remembered all her mother's advice 
when she reached Ohio, and looked wistfully into 
the face of every stranger, longing to find some one 
who "looked kind," to whom she could apply for 


help in making her escape. She soon made the 
acquaintance of a colored man and woman who 
lived near the place where the Scanlans were stay- 
ing, and to them she confided her hopes and fears, 
and asked their assistance. They promised to aid 
her, and one night they dressed her in a suit of 
clothes belonging to one of their sons, and took her 
to the house of Samuel Reynolds, a Quaker, who 
lived at the head of what was then called Spring 
Street, near the foot of Sycamore hill. 

Here she was concealed and remained several 
days undiscovered, though Scanlan had offered a 
reward and a strict search was made. 

The wife of Edward Harwood, whose residence 
was near Reynolds', called one day, and being in- 
terested in Lavinia took her home with her. All 
the members of Harwood's family, including, then, 
John H. Coleman and hft wife, were strong aboli- 
tionists, and they were ready, in case of danger, to 
defend the slave girl to the last. The rest of the 
story shall be told in the graphic language of Mrs. 
Elizabeth Coleman, who was a participant in the 
scenes that followed : 

"We kept Lavinia closely in the house all day, 
but at dusk we let her out to play in the yard, for 
exercise and fresh air. There was a steep grade of 
perhaps twenty feet in front of the house, so that 
the street below was entirely hidden from our view, 
and we could not see any one approaching until he 
reached the top of the stone steps that led up from 
below. On the sides and in the rear, however, the 
house could be easily approached, as the land was 


high and sloped directly to the back part of the 
house. At night when the lamps were lit, any per- 
son concealed outside could see directly into the 

"One night as Lavinia was playing in the yard, 
the big watch dog ; Swamp, kept growling as. though 
there were intruders on the premises. Mr. Har- 
wood and Mr. Coleman went out several times to 
examine, but could see no one. They said : ' That 
child had better come in, there may be parties 
about watching for her.' So I put my head out of 
the window and called, ' Come in, Lavinia, some 
one might see you.' She came in, and we heard no 
more growling from Swamp that night. 

"The next day she was not very well, and at 
dinner time was lying asieep up stairs, so we did 
not call her to come down. Shortly after dinner, 
when we were sitting in the front room with the 
doors and windows open, a man suddenly appeared 
at the top of the steps leading from the street, and 
without any ceremony walked right into the house. 
Mr. Harwood and Mr. Coleman had gone down 
town, and there was no one there but Mrs. Har- 
wood, myself, and a gentleman who was an invalid. 
We thought at once that the intruder was Scan- 
Ian, looking for Lavinia. He looked round hur- 
riedly, and exclaimed in an excited manner: 
' Where's my child ? I want my child ! ' 

"I replied: 'Your child is not here.' 

"He turned toward me and exclaimed 'She is 
here, my slave girl Lavinia. ' I saw her last night, 
and if it hadn't been for you and that cursed dog I 


would have got her. I had my hand almost on her 
shoulder when you called her in. Where is she ? I 
want her ! ' The flight of stairs descended into the 
sitting-room, and the stair-door stood open. He 
went to it, saying, 'If my child hears my voice she 
will answer,' and he called, 'Lavinia, Lavinia!' I 
trembled lest she should wake suddenly out of sleep 
and answer him, but, as soon as she recognized his 
voice, she crawled between the beds and hid her- 

"Mr. Scanlan raved round the room awhile, 
threatening divers things if his property was not 
delivered to him, and finally said : ' I'm going down 
town to get a warrant to search this house, and I'll 
set a guard to watch you while I am gone ;' then 
stepping to the door, he said : ' Mr. Hawkins, come 
in here,' and a man whom we had not seen Mr. 
Scanlan 's brother-in-law, ^we afterward learned 
appeared at the top of the steps and came into the 
house. 'Just guard this family while I am gone,' 
and Mr. Hawkins took a seat in the room, looking 
embarrassed and ill at ease, while Mr. Scanlan 
started down town. Half way down the hill he 
recognized Mr. Harwood coming up in his buggy, 
and, beckoning to him to stop, he informed him in 
a few words that he was in search of his slave whom 
he knew to be then concealed at his (Mr. H.'s) 
house ; that he had left a guard there to await his 
return, and was going for a search warrant, thinking 
to intimidate Mr. Harwood, and force him to give 
up the girl. Mr. Harwood replied, with some 
warmth, that he would have no one guarding his 


house, and, leaving Scanlan, he drove on quickly, 
and, reaching the house, accosted Mr. Hawkins: 'I 
understand that you are here to guard my family; 
we need no such service and can dispense with your 
presence ; leave my house immediately, or I will 
pitch you over that bank. Leave, sir !' Mr. Haw- 
kins stood not upon the order of his going, but 

"Scanlan in the meantime had proceeded on his 
way down town, breathing out threatenings and 
slaughter, and going to the "Alhambra," then a 
popular saloon on Third Street, gathered a crowd 
of roughs around him, gave orders for an open 
bar, and, after dispensing liquor freely to all, made 
a speech to them relating his grievances. He then 
invited them all up to the hill that evening, to help 
him obtain his slave and to see the 'fun.' A great 
many promised to support him, and the excitement 
ran high, as they exchanged threats against the 
nigger thieves. 

"Mr. Harwood went down town to alarm our 
friends, telling us to allow no one to enter whom 
we did not know. 

"A strong, trusty person a stone-cutter in the 
marble yard of Mr. Coleman started up to the 
house as soon as he heard of the state of affairs, 
and on the way noticed numerous small flags stuck 
up at intervals to ' blaze the way ' for the mob. 
He threw them down wherever he found them. By 
the time Mr. Coleman arrived, a crowd of people 
had collected in the street below, and he saw 
among them an officer who was notorious for his 


sympathy with slave-hunters, and his willingness to 
send fugitives back to bondage for the sake of a 
few dollars. Mr. Coleman went up to him, said, 
' How do you do, O'Neal?' and shook hands with 
him, then said, ' I understand that you have a war- 
rant to search my house.' 'Is this your house, Mr. 
Coleman ?' ' Yes, sir, I live here and claim this as 
my home, and wish to see what kind of a paper 
authorizes you to search my house.' He knew that 
no warrant to search the house could be legally 
issued, for only in case of murder or stolen prop- 
erty could a house be searched, and the law of Ohio 
did not recognize human beings as property. ' Oh, 
there's some mistake, Mr. Coleman, I did not un- 
derstand the nature of the case,' said the other, 
apologetically. ' Let me see the paper, sir. ' 'No,' 
said the other, backing away, 'it is of no conse- 
quence,' and went off dwn town, looking cowed 
and ashamed. 

"Mr. Harwood returned with some friends, and 
saw an increasing throng in the street. No one had 
yet tried to enter the house, though several had 
started up the steps. Mr. Harwood stood at the 
top, with his big dog by his side, and when any one 
started up the steps, he said, 'Watch him, Swamp,' 
and the brute growled and showed his teeth till 
those below returned. 

"Mr. Coleman, premising that there would be 
trouble that night, went, accompanied by young 
Alf. Burnet, to a Dutch armory near by, and pro- 
cured powder, shot, and an arm-load of guns. The 
weapons were rusty with disuse and had to be 


cleaned before they could be used. We took up 
the carpets in the parlor, and gave that room to the 
men for their preparations. Mrs. Harwood and I 
bundled our valuables silver, papers, etc. and 
sent them to a neighbor's. All this time the crowd 
grew larger, and there were howls and oaths and 
cries to bring out the girl. One ruffian kept ex- 
claiming : ' If my property was in there, I'd have 
it or I'd have those villains' heart's blood.' 

"Alf. Burnet went and came frequently to and 
from town, and reported matters from there. He 
said Scanlan was still making speeches, the liquor 
was flowing freely at the saloons, and new recruits 
were joining the mob, though some said, 'They 
have shooting irons up there, and we are not going.' 
Earlier in the day Mr. Coleman had applied to the 
Sheriff to protect his house, but received the reply : 
' If you make yourself obnoxious to your neighbors 
you must suffer the consequences.' Toward even- 
ing the street was packed with a howling mob, but 
they had no leader, had no interests at stake, and 
were too cowardly to make any attempt that would 
place themselves in danger, for they knew that 
those in the house were armed, and that they were 

1 ' Between thirty and forty abolitionists, about all 
there were in the city at that time, had gathered to 
our aid, and a council was held as to what should 
be done with the girl. It was decided that she must 
be taken away from the house. The suit of boy's 
clothes that she wore when she escaped were put 
on her, and Mr. Harwood, Mr. Coleman, Albert 


Lewis, and others, conducted her out of the house 
without arousing the suspicion of the mob. She 
was taken to the house of Mr. Emery, at the foot 
of the hill. The mob remained some time longer, 
without, however, making any attempt to enter the 
house, overawed by the preparations for defense 
they saw. An armed guard marched at the top of 
the steps, and strangely enough the crowd never 
thought of obtaining access to the building by any 
other way. 

"The mob afterward went to the house of Mr. 
Burnet, Alf. Burnet's father, on Fifth Street, and 
stoned it, breaking in all the windows and damaging 
the whole front of the building. Mr. Burnet col- 
lected all the stones in barrels, and kept them for 
years as specimens of pro-slavery arguments. 

"Scanlan detailed his grievances in notices printed 
in the city papers, but cotild not, forcibly or other- 
wise, gain possession of his slave girl, and, hearing 
that he was to be arrested for trespassing, left sud- 
denly and returned to New Orleans. 

"Lavinia remained at Mr. Emery's a week or 
two, then, dressed in the suit of boy's clothes she 
had worn before, she followed some boys who drove 
cows out of town to pasture on the hills, and was 
conducted by them to the house of a trusty friend. 
She was afterward sent to Oberlin, where she re- 
ceived a good education, and proving to be a 
woman of good ability and much intelligence, she 
was sent as missionary to Medina mission in Africa. 
A few years since she came back on a visit to see 
her friends, and, while in Cincinnati, she was taken 









THE first fugitive case that occurred in this 
district, after the passage of the fugitive slave 
law of 1850, was tried before Judge McLean, of the 
Supreme Court of the United States, on the i6th 
and I /th of Augus*t, 1853. The following account 
is culled from reports of the trial : 

"The fugitive, Wash. McQuerry, was a bright mulatto, about 
twenty-eight years old, well-built and intelligent looking. ^Four 
years before he and three other slave 'boys,' had escaped from 
their master, Henry Miller, who lived about fifty miles back of 
Louisville, in Washington County, Kentucky. Their flight was 
soon discovered, and they were closely pursued. One of the four was 
captured in Louisville, but afterward made his escape ; the other 
three, including Wash., crossed the Ohio River just above Louis- 
ville, in the night. They found a skiff tied to a raft and took it ; 
there were no oars, but they managed to row across with pieces of 
bark. After getting into Ohio, they traveled by night and lay 
concealed during the day. One of them had two or three dollars 
with him, which was used to purchase food. They would watch 
until the men had left the farm-houses for their daily work, then 
go in and buy something to eat from the women. Whether 


Wash.s' companions went on to Canada or settled in this State I 
do not know ; Wash, himself, thinking, no doubt, that he would 
be safe here, settled near Troy, Miami County, Ohio. He was 
industrious and upright, and was well respected in the neighbor- 
hood. He married a free colored woman and became the father 
of one or two children. His prospects for the future were 
bright. He had escaped from the thralldom and curse of slavery, 
and, in the enjoyment of those ' inalienable rights,' liberty and 
the pursuit of happiness, he felt the dignity of manhood felt 
that he was no longer on a level with the brutes. He was a 
peaceable and law-abiding citizen, and in every way proved him- 
self worthy of the boon of freedom. But this state of tranquillity 
and happiness did not last long ; Wash, was destined to be torn 
from his family and dragged back to slavery, and that not surrep- 
titiously, but with the sanction of the law of the United States, 
as pronounced by one of its highest officers. A white man 
named John Russell, living not far from Piqua, learned in some 
way that McQuerry was a fugitive, and having also ascertained 
the name and locality of his master, basely, and perhaps actuated 
by a desire for gain, wrote to Miller, informing him where his 
slave could be found. Miller had offered a reward of one hun- 
dred dollars each for the four^slaves when they escaped, and 
Russell no doubt expected to receive this amount as his reward 
for betraying McQuerry to his master. 

"As soon as he received this information, Miller, accompanied 
by four other Kentuckians, came to Miami County, and, having 
engaged the services of an officer, sought McQuerry, who was at 
work on a canal boat, arrested him and conveyed him to Dayton, 
where he was placed in the hands of Deputy United States 
Marshal Trader. A writ of habeas corpus was taken out against 
the sheriff of Montgomery County, but the judge of the Probate 
Court, before whom the case was brought, decided that the col- 
ored man was in the custody of the United States Deputy Marshal. 
This officer had McQuerry ironed and brought him to this city. 

"The party took quarters at the Gait House, about which a 
large crowd of colored people soon collected, having heard of the 
case o? the fugitive. They made some demonstrations of their 
sympathy with McQuerry, but were held in check by the police 
force. At two o'clock in the morning an application was made 
by Peter H. Clark, a prominent colored man of this city, to Judge 


McLean for a writ of habeas corpus requiring those persons who 
held McQuerry in custody to bring them before him the judge 
and show cause why they deprived him of his liberty. This appli- 
cation was carried to the residence of Judge McLean, in Clifton, 
some three miles from the city, and he granted the writ, and 
appointed ten o'clock A. M. for the hearing of the same. In the 
meantime Miller, the claimant of the fugitive, made application to 
S. S. Carpenter, United States Commissioner, who appointed 
seven o'clock A. M. for a hearing. The fugitive was brought 
before the Commissioner in irons, which he humanely ordered to 
be taken off. At that hearing the Commissioner postponed 
further proceedings until two P. M. at the Criminal Court-room, 
and ordered the United States Marshal to receive the fugitive 
into his custody and safely keep him until discharged by due 
course of law. 

" At ten o'clock, the time appointed by Judge McLean to hear 
evidence on the habeas corpus writ, Deputy Marshal Black, to 
whom the writ had been directed, made return that McQuerry was 
not in his custody, and informed the judge that he had been taken 
by the claimant and Deputy Marshal from Dayton, before 
United States Commissioner Carpenter, who had postponed the 
hearing of the case before him until two P. M., at the Criminal 
Court-room, until which time he had committed him to jail. 
Upon which the case was referred to the Commissioner to proceed 
with, but he, inasmuch as the matter had thus come before Judge 
McLean, and as it was the first case under the fugitive slave law 
in Ohio, said that he was willing and would prefer that the hear- 
ing should proceed before him (Judge McLean) as it was import- 
ant as a precedent that it should be determined by the highest 
authority. Judge McLean thereupon ordered the two Deputy 
Marshals, Black and Trader, to bring the prisoner before him at 
two o'clock P. M., at the Criminal Court-room, as appointed by 
the Commissioner. 

"At the time appointed, the court-room was crowded by whites 
and blacks, the jury box being filled by ladies. The Mayor was 
present, and had ordered a large police force to station themselves 
in and around the Court-House. 

" T. C. Ware appeared for the claimant, and Messrs. Jolliffe and 
Birney for McQuerry. The testimony for the claimant went to 
prove that the prisoner was his property, and was a ' fugitive from 


service and labor,' due to him as his master. The counsel for the 
prisoner moved for a continuance of the case until absent wit- 
nesses could be produced to prove that he had resided for more 
than four years in Ohio, during which time he had been reputed 
and taken by his neighbors to be a free man and had borne an 
irreproachable character, but as the counsel for the claimant was 
willing to admit all that, the judge ordered the case to proceed. 
When the testimony closed, Ware opened the argument, very 
briefly, for the plaintiff. He said that when he came into the 
court-room he had no doubt but that he should be able to prove, 
as he had done, that the man Wash. McQuerry was the fugitive 
property of his client. ' We have proved,' said he, ' that 
he and his mother before him were the slaves of Mr. Miller 
that the whole family belonged to Miller. It is in evidence 
that he was always well treated, and it is probable that the 
good character he has proved in this State is the result of 
his good training by Mr. Miller. May it please the Court, I 
am free to say that aside from our constitutional obligations, 
as an abstract question, I can agree with the counsel for the 
defense, as to the abstract rights of his client and the wrong of 
slavery. But I came up here to assist in supporting the constitu- 
tion and the laws to do this peaceably and with dignity, and 
without the excitement of the natural sympathies.' He then 
alluded briefly to the admission made by McQuerry that he ran 
away from Miller, and waived further argument for the present. 

"Mr. Jolliffe followed for the defense. He concurred entirely 
with the opposite counsel in loyalty to the constitution and readi- 
ness to support it. . But not alone the constitution, not alone the 
laws. Human justice and human right were also to be regarded. 

" 'Our only evidence,' said he, ' is that of the hunters of this 
man, that he has been four years a resident of this State ; that he 
has been a sober industrious man, a good husband, a respected 
neighbor. Four years in Ohio, and reputed to be a free man. 
But now comes a man from the State of Kentucky, demanding a 
process by which this defendant this intelligent and upright 
human being -may be dragged from his home, from the wife of 
his bosom, from the graves of his children, and, bound hand and 
foot, hurried forever away from them and from all he holds dear, 
into a bondage by the side of which Egyptian thralldom was a 
mercy ! Nor is his home to be in the Kentucky of his youth. 
4 6 


Already the wielder of irresponsible power the awful power 
over a human soul has warned the heart-broken husband that he 
is to be sold ; the last drop of his blood may be scourged out on 
far Southern plantations, till his soul is freed by the Great Eman- 
cipator and goes to its God. 

" 'The question upon which your Honor is now to pass is one 
of extraordinary interest ; it is the first time it has been brought 
before so distinguished a tribunal. The question is still open ; it 
has not yet been decided by any binding authority." Mr. Jolliffe 
then proceeded to a powerful constitutional argument, taking the 
broad ground that the fugitive slave law of 1850 was unconstitu- 
tional and void. On this point the defense rested. Why was it 
assumed that Washington McQuerry was a slave ? What was the 
evidence that Miller had a right to his body, which God made, 
and to his soul, for which Christ died ? No statute of Kentucky 
could be found to establish that right. He quoted a number of 
authorities to support his position, and asked the consent of the 
Court for a friend Dr. Brisbaue, of South Carolina to read an 
argument on the point, which he had adopted as his own. The 
request was granted. After Dr. Brisbane had read an elaborate 
argument, Mr. Jolliffe concluded his own by a powerful review 
of the fundamental principles of human law, and the nature of 
human rights. There was a difference between rightful legisla- 
tion and tyranny ; was not that legislation which struck down all 
the rights of a man tyranny ? Suppose one man should be placed 
aside, and all the millions of earth's population passed by him, and 
as they passed, each one cast a vote that this one man should be a 
slave would that divest him of a single natural right? There 
was no such thing as constitutional slavery in the United States. 
The one fact that the slave act of 1850 denies the right of trial by 
jury made it unconstitutional. 

"Mr. Birney, the other counsel for the fugitive, deferred his 
argument until the next morning and the court adjourned. On 
the return of the prisoner to the jail, strongly guarded by the 
police, some demonstrations were made by the crowd of colored, 
people, but they were checked by the police. 

" The next morning Mr. Birney made an able argument in behalf 
of the fugitive. He was followed by Mr. Ware for the claimant, 
after which the judge gave his decision. After reviewing the 
evidence, he referred to the law bearing on such cases and said, 



ere be governed by sympathy; I have to look to the 
law and be governed by the law, and to guard myself with more 
than usual caution in such a case, when judgment might be 
warped by sympathy. * * * * This is not a case 
for sympathy ; the evidence certainly is complete, that the fugi- 
tive had a kind master ; of this matter we on the north bank of 
the Ohio River have no concern. The law has been enacted by 
the highest power that none is higher is acknowledged by all 
men. Sooner or later a disregard for the law would bring chaos, 
anarchy and widespread ruin ; the law must be enforced. Let 
those who think differently go to the people who make the laws. 
I can not turn aside from the sacred duties of my office to regard 
aught but the law. By the force of all the testimony and the law 
I am bound to remand the fugitive to his master.' 

"After this decision, Mr. Jolliffe moved for a writ of certiorari 
to the Supreme Court. The Court said that there could be no 
appeal from the decision of a judge of the Supreme Court of the 
United States made at chambers. The point had, he was quite 
certain, been decided by the Supreme Court. He was willing, 
however, to give any reasonable time for counsel to investigate 
the question. At the suggestion of the Court it was finally 
arranged that the claimant, Mr. Miller, should enter into a 
bond for two thousand dollars, conditioned upon his returning 
McQuerry to this State in case it should be decided that the case 
could be taken to the Supreme Court. 

"At the conclusion of his argument, Mr. Ware stated that Mr. 
Miller would emancipate his slave for the sum of one thousand 
two hundred dollars, and donate fifty dollars himself toward that 
purpose, or he was willing to take the appraisement of disinter- 
ested parties in Lexington. 

"Wash. McQuerry was then delivered up to his claimant by the 
United States Deputy Marshal, and was at once taken across to 
Covington on his way back to slavery. 

Those of us who were deeply interested in the 
fugitive's case made zealous efforts to raise the sum 
required by his master and to buy his freedom. 
Money was sent in by various individuals, and a 


number of subscriptions were obtained, but we did 
not succeed in raising the amount required. 


In connection with the cases tried under the Fugi- 
tive Slave law in this city, that noble anti-slavery 
lawyer John Jolliffe was especially prominent. 
He has gone to his reward, but the record he left is 
imperishable. His heart was quick to respond to 
the needs of the fugitives, and no sacrifice of time, 
strength, talent, or business reputation was too 
great to be willingly and cheerfully rendered in 
behalf of the oppressed. He pleaded the cause of 
the fugitive slaves with all his skill as a lawyer and 
all his eloquence as an orator. In those days when 
to be an abolitionist or in sympathy with the hap- 
less victims of bondage was to be shunned and to 
lose one's reputation and chances of success in one's 
business or profession, it required a heart true to 
the principles of right, a self-forgetful devotion to 
the cause of humanity, to pursue the course fol- 
lowed by John Jolliffe. The talents and the knowl- 
edge of law that might have won for him a wide and 
richly remunerative practice, he devoted to an un- 
popular cause, receiving for his services no reward 
but the plaudits of his own conscience, and the 
highest respect and esteem of all who were not 
blinded by prejudice. 


A slave man, named Louis, escaped from the in- 
terior of Kentucky, and came to Cincinnati, where 


he found employment, and remained for some time, 
but finally made his way to the neighborhood of 
Columbus. After he had lived there several years, 
his master learned of his whereabouts and went in 
pursuit of him. A writ was obtained and placed in 
the hands of the marshal of Columbus, who arrested 
Louis and brought him to Cincinnati, on his way 
back to slavery. In the meantime friends of Louis 
at Columbus telegraphed to Lawyer Jolliffe, notify- 
ing him of the case. He at once came to see me, 
and we immediately got out a writ to arrest the 
master for kidnapping. The sheriff of Cincinnati 
awaited the party from Columbus at the Little 
Miami Railroad depot, and when the train arrived, 
he took the slaveholder in custody. 

Lawyer Hays united with Jolliffe in defending the 
fugitive. They endeavored to prove that Louis had 
formerly accompanied his"*master to this State to aid 
him in driving a drove of horses back to Kentucky, 
and that under the law of Ohio, which liberated 
every slave who came into the State by his master's 
consent, Louis was free. The slaveholder was al- 
lowed to go home to get evidence and secure wit- 
nesses that Louis was his property, and the negro 
was placed in jail to await his trial. The case was 
tried before Commissioner Carpenter, and as it was 
among the first in this district that came under the 
Fugitive Slave law of 1850, it attracted much atten- 
tion. The trial lasted several days, and after all the 
evidence had been given and the lawyers closed 
their arguments, the Commissioner deferred judg- 
ment until next day at two o'clock, wishing to 


deliberate on the case. When the time set for the 
decision arrived, the court-room was crowded with 
interested listeners, white and black. It was during 
the building of the new Court-House, and the court 
was held in the second story of Wilson's building 
on Court Street. The room was long and had a 
table or cotfffter through the center. On the west 
side of this there was a crowd of colored people, 
standing;, the judge and lawyers were sitting at the 
table. Opposite them sat the slave, between his 
master and the marshal of Columbus, and just be- 
hind him stood a crowd of white people, composed 
of friends of the slave, and others who had been 
drawn to the spot by matters of curiosity. The 
judge was slow and tedidus in reviewing the evi- 
dence, and as he spoke in a low tone, and the audi- 
tors were anxious to hear they leaned forward much 
absorbed, -trying to catch every word, as they ex- 
pected every moment to hear the negro consigned 
to slavery. 

Louis was crowded, and to gain more room, slip- 
ped his chair back a little way. Neither his master 
nor the marshal noticed the movement, as they 
were intently listening to the judge, and he slipped 
his chair again, until he was back of them. I was 
standing close behind him and saw every movement. 
Next he rose quietly to his feet and took a step 
backward. Some abolitionist, friendly to his cause, 
gave him an encouraging touch on the foot, and he 
stepped farther back. Then a good hat was placed 
on his head by some one behind, and he quietly and 
cautiously made his way around the south end of 


the room, into the crowd of colored people on the 
west side, and, through it, toward the door. I and 
several other abolitionists had our eyes on him, and 
our hearts throbbed with suppressed excitement 
and anxiety lest he should be discovered. The 
door and passage were crowded with Germans, 
through whom Louis made his way, and passing 
down stairs gained the street. He was well ac- 
quainted with the different streets, and made his 
way quickly, though with not enough haste to at- 
tract attention, through an alley, across the canal, 
through the German settlement, and by an indirect 
route to Avondale, where he knew the sexton of 
the colored burying ground. About five minutes 
after he left the court-room his absence was discov- 
ered, and created a great sensation. The marshal 
cried, "Louis is gone!" and made a rush for the 
door and down stairs, followed by his supporters to 
search for the fugitive who had slipped through 
their fingers. Louis' friends were all delighted, of 
course, and there was an extensive display of grin- 
ning ivories among the crowd of colored people. 
The Commissioner adjourned court till the following 
Tuesday (but it has never been convened from that 
day to this), and the crowd dispersed, some jubilant 
over the unexpected course things had taken, some 
equally chagrined. A vigorous search was made for 
Louis by the marshal and the pro-slavery party, but 
he could not be found. 

I, and other abolitionists, learning of his where- 
abouts, decided that he was not safe on the out- 
skirts of the city, and the following night we dis- 



guised him in woman's apparel, brought him into 
the city, and took him to the house of one of his 
colored friends, on Broadway, near Sixth Street. 
He was placed in an upper room and the door 
locked, and here he remained about a week. Only 
two or three persons knew of his hiding-place, but 
as several policemen were seen frequently in the 
vicinity, we feared that he was in danger, and for 
greater safety decided to remove him. 

I had an interview with the trustees of a popular 
church known to be friends to the slave, and ar- 
rangements were made for Louis' removal. He was 
again dressed in woman's apparel, and, obeying 
directions previously given him, he walked down 
Broadway, one Sabbath evening, to the corner of 
Eighth Street, when he saw me. I passed on to 
Vine Street and joined the throng of people going 
to evening service. Louis followed, at a short dis- 
tance, and was conducted to the church previously 
mentioned. I passed in at a side gate and went into 
the basement of the church. Louis followed me 
and was soon safely secreted in one of the com- 
mittee rooms, where he remained for several weeks. 
The officers of the law made vigorous efforts to find 
him, but gained no clue to his hiding-place. It was 
said that the Columbus marshal disguised himself as 
a Friend, and went among the Friends' settlements 
in Ohio, under a fictitious name, inquiring for Louis. 
He professed to feel great anxiety and concern for 
Louis' safety, as there was so much search for him, 
but he gained no intelligence of the fugitive. 

To mislead his pursuers, a telegram was sent to 


Cincinnati from Columbus, and published in the 
Gazette, saying that Louis had passed there on the 
train bound for Cleveland, and another dispatch 
from Cleveland, saying he had arrived there and 
taken the boat for Detroit. All this time, Louis 
remained in his comfortable quarters in the com- 
mittee room, where he heard the preaching every 
Sabbath, in the room above. Finally, a Presby- 
terian minister and his wife, who were in Cincinnati 
for a short time, with their horse and carriage, 
offered to convey him out of the city. Arrange- 
ments were accordingly made, and they drove to 
the church door one morning about nine o'clock. 
Louis, disguised as a woman with a vail over his 
face, entered the carriage and sat on the back seat 
by the lady. They took him about thirty miles out 
of the city, that day, to a noted depot of the Un- 
derground Railroad, and he was duly shipped to 
Sandusky, where he arrived in safety and took the 
boat for Canada. 

There afterward appeared an ironical article in a 
Cincinnati paper, giving the intelligence that all the 
time Louis' pursuers were searching for him, he was 
comfortably ensconced in the committee rooms of a 
popular church, and inquiring "What is to become 
of the rights of slaveholders, and the divinely ap- 
pointed institution, if ministers will connive at such 
plans to defraud owners of their property?" 

Louis' master claimed his full value one thou- 
sand dollars from the marshal of Columbus, who 
had him in charge at the time of his escape, and 
who was responsible for his safe-keeping, but it was 


reported that the marshal effected a compromise 
with him, and closed the case satisfactorily to the 
claimant, by paying eight hundred dollars. 

The whole occurrence excited much attention and 
was widely commented upon at the time. It is 
probably the only instance on record of a prisoner 
escaping from a court-room in broad daylight, and 
eluding the grasp of a watchful marshal, and the sur- 
veillance of the officers of the court. As soon as 
court adjourned several persons came into my store, 
which was in the adjoining building, laughing and 
appearing much pleased with what had happened, 
and asked me if I had a trap-door by which I could 
let fugitives down to the ^ Underground Railroad. I 
replied, "Yes," and showed them the hatch-way 
into the cellar. 

I afterward asked Commissioner Carpenter what 
his decision in the case would have been. He said 
that he had decided that the Fugitive Slave Act 
conferred, or purported to confer, powers of a judi- 
cial character on him as Commissioner, which, in his 
opinion, he could not constitutionally exercise. The 
case of Louis occurred in October, 1853. In the 
following June, Carpenter resigned his office as 
Commissioner, giving his reasons for doing so in an 
able and lengthy article that appeared in the Cincin- 
nati Gazette. 


The Rosetta case, or the trial of the slave girl 
Rosetta Armstead, created much excitement in this 
city at the time, on account of sympathy with the 



girl, and attracted much attention on account of the 
principles involved. It occurred in March, 1855. 
The outlines of the case are as follows : 

"Rosetta, a light mulatto girl of sixteen, was the property of 
Rev. Henry Dennison, of Louisville, Kentucky, who had owned 
her all her life. The family had formerly lived in Wheeling, Vir- 
ginia, and had removed to Louisville about three years before the 
opening of our story. Dennison placed Rosetta in the care of one 
Miller, one of his friends, to take her back to Wheeling. Miller 
started by river, but on account of heavy ice running could pro- 
ceed no farther than Cincinnati. Here he left the river, intend- 
ing to go straight through by rail, but finally decided to pay a 
visit to some friends in Columbus. He went to that city, taking 
Rosetta with him. By this act of Miller's acting as agent for 
the master Rosetta was made free, but she did not know the law 
governing such cases, and probably would not have taken advant- 
age of the facts in the case, had not the colored people of Colum- 
bus interested themselves in her behalf and informed her that she 
was now free. She was taken from the custody of Miller by a 
writ of habeas corpus, and brought before the Probate Court of 
Columbus for a hearing. She was declared free, and being a 
minor, a guardian was appointed to look after her rights, Louis 
Van Slyke, Esq., of Columbus. A paper of that city says : ' The 
Rev. Mr. Dennison, of Louisville, the owner of the girl Rosetta 
Armstead, arrived in this city yesterday, and held an interview 
with her at the house of Mr. Van Slyke, to whose care she was 
committed by the court. Mr. Dennison told the girl that he had 
come for the purpose of taking her home with him if she wished 
to return, but as she was in a free State, she had the liberty of 
going or remaining at her option. The girl, after deliberating 
about a minute, said she should prefer remaining in a free State, 
rather than return to slavery. Mr. Dennison bade her good-by, 
shook hands with her and parted, evidently much grieved at the 
loss of a favorite servant. The girl is now in the employ of Dr. 
Coulter, at whose house she will doubtless meet with the kindest 

"Dennison, the master, was not satisfied, and thinking that he 
still might obtain possession of the girl, got a warrant for her 
arrest and placed it in the hand of the United States Marshal, for 


the Southern District of Ohio, who brought Rosetta t& Cincin- 
nati, intending to have her tried before Commissioner Pendery, 
under the Fugitive Slave law. Van Slyke accompanied her to 
look after her rights. Before she could be brought before Com- 
missioner Pendery, a writ of habeas corpus was sued out by her 
friends, and she was brought before Judge Parker to show cause 
for detention. The judge decided that she was free, that the war- 
rant for her arrest was defective, and that the marshal had no 
right to hold her in custody. 

"In the meantime Dennison had made an affidavit before Com- 
missioner Pendery, that Rosetta was a fugitive from labor and 
service, and the case was set to be tried before the Commissioner. 
S. P. Chase, who was counsel for Rosetta's guardian, before 
Judge Parker, feared that she would be rearrested to go before 
Pendery, and asked that she might be protected to a place of 
sr/ety; he wished the Court to grant an order authorizing the 
sheriff to conduct her to a plac of safety before delivering her 
out of his hands. The sheriff asked her guardian where he 
wished Rosetta delivered to him, and Van Slyke said : At the 
Woodruff House.' 

"This was accordingly done, but as soon as she was released 
from the custody of the sheriff, Robinson, the United States Mar- 
shal, who brought her from Columbus, stepped in and presented 
a warrant for rearrest. Van Slyke complained to the Court before 
which the case had just been decided, and Judge Parker issued 
a summons to United States Marshal Robinson, to answer for 
contempt, for rearresting Rosetta after the Court had pronounced 
her free, and the warrant defective. 

" We will not follow this side issue, as it involved only technical 
points of law, but turn to Rosetta again. 

" F. Ball appeared for Rosetta, and after the testimony had 
proved that she had been placed in Miller's charge by Dennison, 
and that Miller, acting as his agent, had brought her into a free 
State, he plead that she was entitled to her freedom that such an 
act made her free that Dennison's offering her her choice to stay 
or return (when in Columbus),, amounted to tacit manumission, 
and that she had already been pronounced free by two courts of 
law. The claimants refused to recognize the jurisdiction of those 
courts in the premises, and claimed the right to take her as a 
fugitive from service and labor, under the Fugitive Slave law. 


" Rosetta's counsel claimed that she could not be returned 
under the Fugitive Slave law, for that only provided for the escape 
of a slave from a slave State to a free State, and Rosetta had clone 
nothing of the kind, she had been brought here. After argument 
ny opposing counsel, the Commissioner deferred decision until the 
following Tuesday this was on Saturday. The marshal took 
Rosetta to the county jail for safe keeping during the interval. 
A large concourse of people who were interested in the case fol- 
lowed them along the street to the jail. 

"On the following Tuesday, the Commissioner decided that the 
claimant, Dennison, was bound by the act of his agent Miller ; 
that there was no escape on Rosetta's part ; that bringing her to 
Columbus and there offering her her freedom was equivalent to 
emancipating her. He then declared Rosetta free. 

" Hearty demonstrations of applause followed this announce- 
ment. Van Slyke received many congratulations on the issue of 
the trkl, then, with Rosetta in his charge, he took carriage for 
the railroad depot, and returned to Columbus. A deep interest 
there had been felt in the trial, and a concourse of five hundred 
people met them at the depot. 


Perhaps no case that came under my notice, while 
engaged in aiding fugitive slaves, attracted more 
attention and aroused deeper interest and sympathy 
than the case of Margaret Garner, the slave mother, 
who killed her child rather than see it taken back to 
slavery. This happened in the latter part of Janu- 
ary, 1856. The Ohio River was frozen over at the 
time, and the opportunity thus offered for escaping 
to a free State was embraced by a number of slaves 
living in Kentucky, several miles back from the 
river. A party of seventeen, belonging to different 
masters in the same neighborhood, made arrange- 
ments to escape together. There was snow on the 
ground and the roads were smooth, so the plan of 


going to the river on a sled naturally suggested 
itself. The time fixed for their flight was Sabbath 
night, and having managed to get a large sled and 
two good horses, belonging to one of their masters, 
the party of seventeen crowded into the sled and 
started on their hazardous journey in the latter part 
of the night. They drove the horses at full speed, 
and at daylight reached the river below Covington, 
opposite Western Row. They left the sled and 
horses here, and as quickly as possible crossed the 
river on foot. It was now broad daylight, and peo- 
ple were beginning to pass about the streets, and 
the fugitives divided their company that they might 
not attract so much notice. 

An old slave man named Simon, and his wife 
Mary, together with their son Robert and his wife 
Margaret Garner and four children, made their way 
to the house of a colored man named Kite, who had 
formerly lived in their neighborhood and had been 
purchased from slavery by his father, Joe Kite. 
They had to make several inquiries in order to find 
Kite's house, which was below Mill Creek, in the 
lower part of the city. This afterward led to their 
discovery ; they had been seen by a number of per- 
sons on their way to Kite's, and were easily traced 
by pursuers. The other nine fugitives were more 
fortunate. They made their way up town and found 
friends who conducted them to safe hiding-places, 
where they remained until night. They were then 
put on the Underground Railroad, and went safely 
through to Canada. 

Kite felt alarmed for the safety of the party that 


had arrived at his house, and as soon as breakfast 
was over, he came to my store, at the corner of 
Sixth and Elm Streets, to ask counsel regarding 
them. I told him that they were in a very unsafe 
place and must be removed at once. I directed him 
how to conduct them from his house to the outskirts 
of the city, up Mill Creek, to a settlement of col- 
ored people in the western part of the city, where 
fugitives were often harbored. I would make ar- 
rangements to forward them northward, that night, 
on the Underground Railroad. Kite returned to 
his house at once, according to my directions, but 
he was too late ; in a few minutes after his return, 
the house was surrounded by pursuers the masters 
of the fugitives, with officers and a posse of men. 
The door and windows were barred, and those inside 
refused to give admittance? The fugitives were de- 
termined to fight, and to die, rather than to be taken 
back to slavery. Margaret, the mother of the four 
children, declared that she would kill herself and 
her children before she would return to bondage. 
The slave men were armed and fought bravely. 
The window was first battered down with a stick of 
wood, and one of the deputy marshals attempted to 
enter, but a pistol shot from within made a flesh 
wound on his arm and caused him to abandon the 
attempt. The pursuers then battered down the 
door with some timber and rushed in. The husband 
of Margaret fired several shots, and wounded one 
of the officers, but was soon overpowered and drag- 
ged out of the house. At this moment, Margaret 
Garner, seeing that their hopes of freedom were 


vain, seized a. butcher knife that lay on the table, 
and with one stroke cut the throat of her little 
daughter, whom she probably loved the best. She 
then attempted to take the life of the other children 
and to kill herself, but she was overpowered and 
hampered before she could complete her desperate 
work. The whole party was then arrested and 
lodged in jail. 

The trial lasted two weeks, drawing crowds to the 
court-room every day. Colonel Chambers, of this 
city, and two lawyers from Covington Wall and 
Tinnell appeared for the claimants, and Messrs. 
Jolliffe and Getchell for the slaves. The counsel for 
the defense brought witnesses to prove that the 
fugitives had been permitted to visit the city at 
various times previously. It was claimed that Mar- 
garet Garner had been brought here by her owners 
a number of years before, to act as nurse girl, and 
according to the law which liberated slaves who 
were brought into free States by the consent of their 
masters, she had been free from that time, and her 
children, all of whom had been born since then 
following the condition of the mother were like- 
wise free. 

The Commissioner decided that a voluntary return 
to slavery, after a visit to a free State, re-attached 
the conditions of slavery, and that the fugitives 
were legally slaves at the time of their escape. 

Early in the course of the trial, Lawyer Jol- 
liffe announced that warrants had been issued by 
the State authorities to arrest the fugitives on a 
criminal charge Margaret Garner for murder, and 


the others for complicity in murder and moved that 
the papers should be served on them immediately. 
Commissioner Pendery wished that to be deferred 
until he had given his decision, and the fugitives 
were out of the jurisdiction of his court, but Jolliffe 
pressed the motion to have the warrants served 
"For," said he, "the fugitives have all assured me 
that they will go singing to the gallows rather than 
be returned to slavery." He further said that it 
might appear strange for him to be urging that his 
clients should be indicted for murder, but he was 
anxious that this charge should be brought against 
them before they passed from the jurisdiction of the 
Commissioner's Court, for the infamous law of 1850 
provided that no warrant in any event should be 
served upon the fugitives in case they were re- 
manded to the custody of their owners. Not even 
a warrant for murder could prevent their being 
returned to bondage. 

Jolliffe said that in the final argument of the case 
he intended not only to allege, but to demonstrate, 
conclusively, to the Court, that the Fugitive Slave 
law was unconstitutional, and as part and .parcel of 
that argument he wished to show the effects of carry- 
ing it out. It had driven a frantic mother to murder 
her own child rather than see it carried back to the 
seething hell of American slavery. This law was of 
such an order that its execution required human 
hearts to be wrung and human blood to be spilt. 

"The Constitution," said he, " expressly declared 
that Congress should pass no law prescribing any 
form of religion or preventing the free exercise 


thereof. If Congress could not pass any law re- 
quiring you to worship God, still less could they 
pass one requiring you to carry fuel to hell." These 
ringing words called forth applause from all parts of 
the court-room. Jolliffe said: " It is for the Court 
to decide whether the Fugitive Slave law overrides 
the law of Ohio to such an extent that it can not 
arrest a fugitive slave even for a crime of murder." 

The fugitives were finally indicted for murder, but 
we will see that this amounted to nothing. 

Margaret Garner, the chief actor in the tragedy 
which had occurred, naturally excited much atten- 
tion. She was a mulatto, about five feet high, show- 
ing one-fourth or one-third white blood. She had 
a high forehead, her eyebrows were finely arched 
and her eyes bright and intelligent, but the African 
appeared in the lower part of her face, in her broad 
nose and thick lips. On the left side of her fore- 
head was an old scar, and on the cheek-bone, on the 
same side, another one. When asked what caused 
them, she said: "White man struck me." That 
was all, but it betrays a story of cruelty and degra- 
dation, and, perhaps, gives the key-note to Mar- 
garet's hate of slavery, her revolt against its thrall- 
dom, and her resolve to die rather than go back 
to it. 

She appeared to be twenty-two or twenty-three 
years old. While in the court-room she was dressed 
in dark calico, with a white handkerchief pinned 
around her neck, and a yellow cotton handkerchief, 
arranged as a turban, around her head. The babe 
she held in her arms was a little girl, about nine 


months old, and was much lighter in color than her- 
self, light enough to show a red tinge in its cheeks. 
During the trial she would look up occasionally, for 
an instant, with a timid, apprehensive glance at the 
strange faces around her, but her eyes were gener- 
ally cast down. The babe was continually fondling 
her face with its little hands, but she rarely noticed 
it, and her general expression was one of extreme 
sadness. The little boys, four and six years old, 
respectively, were bright-eyed, woolly-headed little 
fellows, with fat dimpled cheeks. During the trial 
they sat on the floor near their mother, playing to- 
gether in happy innocence, all unconscious of the 
gloom that shrouded their mother, and of the fact 
that their own future liberty was at stake. The 
murdered child was almost white, a little girl of 
rare beauty. 

The case seemed to stir every heart that was alive 
to the emotions of humanity. The interest mani- 
fested by all classes was not so much for the legal 
principles involved, as for the mute instincts that 
mold every human heart the undying love of free- 
dom that is planted in every breast the resolve to 
die rather than submit to a life of degradation and 

A number of people, who were deeply interested 
in the fugitives, visited them in prison and con- 
versed with them. Old Simon, his wife Mary, and 
their son Robert, while expressing their longing for 
freedom, said that they should not attempt to kill 
themselves if they were returned to slavery. Their 
trust in God seemed to have survived all the wrong 


and cruelty inflicted upon them by man, and though 
they felt often like crying bitterly, ' ' How long, O 
Lord, how long?" they still trusted and endured. 
But Margaret seemed to have a different nature; 
she could see nothing but woe for herself and her 
children. Who can fathom the depths of her heart 
as she brooded over the wrongs and insults that had 
been heaped upon her all her life ? Who can won- 
der if her faith staggered when she saw her efforts 
to gain freedom frustrated, when she saw the gloom 
of her old life close around her again, without any 
hope of deliverance? Those who came to speak 
words of comfort and cheer felt them die upon 
their lips, when they looked into her face, and 
marked its expression of settled despair. Her sor- 
row was beyond the reach of any words of encour- 
agement and consolation, and can be realized in all 
its fullness only by those who have tasted of a cup 
equally bitter. 

Among those who visited Margaret in prison was 
Lucy Stone, the well-known eloquent public speaker. 
It was reported that she gave Margaret a knife, and 
told her to kill herself and her children rather than 
be taken back to slavery. Colonel Chambers, the 
counsel for the claimants, referred to this rumor in 
court, and Lucy Stone, coming in shortly afterward, 
was informed of it. She requested to say a few 
words in reply, and when the court had adjourned, 
the greater part of the crowd remained to hear her. 
She said : "I am only sorry that I was not in when 
Colonel Chambers said what he did about me, and 
my giving a knife to Margaret. When I saw that 


poor fugitive, took her toil-hardened hand in mine, 
and read in her face deep suffering and an ardent 
longing for freedom, I could not help bid her be of 
good cheer. I told her that a thousand hearts were 
aching for her, and that they were glad one child of 
hers was safe with the angels. Her only reply was 
a look of deep despair, of anguish such as no words 
can speak. I thought the spirit she manifested was 
the same with that of our ancestors to whom we 
had erected the monument at Bunker Hill the 
spirit that would rather let us all go back to God 
than back to slavery. The faded faces of the negro 
children tell too plainly to what degradation female 
slaves must submit. Rather than give her little 
daughter to that life, she killed it. If in her deep 
maternal love she felt the* impulse to send her child 
back to God, to save it from coming woe, who shall 
say she had no right to do so ? That desire had its 
root in the deepest and holiest feelings of our na- 
ture implanted alike in black and white by our 
common Father. With my own teeth I would tear 
open my veins and let the earth drink my blood, 
rather than to wear the chains of slavery. How then 
could I blame her for wishing her child to find free- 
dom with God and the angels, where no chains are ? 
I know not whether this Commissioner has children, 
else I would appeal to him to know how he would 
feel to have them torn from him, but I feel that he 
will not disregard the Book which says: 'Thou shalt 
not deliver unto his master the servant which is 
escaped from his master unto thee: he shall dwell 
with thee, even among you, in that place which he 


shall choose in one of thy gates, where it liketh him 

But in spite of touching appeals, of eloquent 
pleadings, the Commissioner remanded the fugitives 
back to slavery. He said that it was not a question 
of feeling to be decided by the chance current of 
his sympathies; the law of Kentucky and of the 
United States made it a question of property. 

In regard to the claim, plainly established by the 
evidence, that the fugitives had previously been 
brought to this State by the consent of their mas- 
ters, he said: "Had the slaves asserted their free- 
dom, they would have been practically free, but 
they voluntarily returned to slavery. In allowing 
them to come to Ohio, the master voluntarily aban- 
doned his claim upon them, and they, in returning, 
abandoned their claim to freedom." 

By a provision of the law, previously referred to, 
they could not be tried on the warrant for murder, 
and their indictment on that charge was practically 
ignored. Jolliffe said, indignantly, that even a sav- 
age tribe reserved to itself the right to investigate 
a charge for murder committed within its border, 
but the sovereign State of Ohio allowed itself and 
its laws to be overruled by the -infamous Fugitive 
Slave law, made, in the interests of slaveholders. 
The question of bringing the case before a superior 
court, and trying the slaves for murder was agitated, 
and Gaines, the master of Margaret, promised to 
have her in safe-keeping on the opposite side of tue 
river, to be delivered up to the authorities of the 
State of Ohio, if a requisition for her was made. 


The fugitives were then delivered to their owners, 
who conveyed them in an omnibus to the wharf of 
the Covington ferry-boat. A crowd followed them 
to the river, but there was no demonstration. The 
masters were surrounded by large numbers of their 
Kentucky friends, who had stood by them and' 
guarded their interests during the trial, and there 
was great rejoicing among them, on account of 
their victory. 

The masters kept their slaves in jail in Covington, 
a few days, then took them away. When the requi- 
sition was made for Margaret, Gaines said that he 
had kept her in Covington for some time according 
to the agreement, then, as the writ was not served, 
he had sent her down the river. This was a viola- 
tion of the spirit of the agreement, and much indig- 
nation was manifested by Margaret's friends in 
Ohio, but nothing further was done. Margaret was 
lost, in what Jolliffe called, "the seething hell of 
American slavery." It was reported that on her 
way down the river she sprang from the boat into 
the water with her babe in her arms; that when she 
rose she was seized by some of the boat hands and 
rescued, but that her child was drowned. 

After the trial of the fugitives, a committee of 
citizens presented a purse to Jolliffe, accompanied 
by an address, in token of their appreciation of his 
services. He returned thanks in an eloquent letter, 
setting forth his views on the unconstitutionality of 
the Fugitive Slave law. 



During the time of the Margaret Garner trial, 
the popular vocalists and anti-slavery singers, the 
Hutchinson family, of New England, were in Cin- 
cinnati. They had given several concerts here 
which had attracted large audiences, as their anti- 
slavery concerts generally did. They felt a deep 
interest in the trial and offered to give a concert for 
the benefit of the fugitives. A meeting of the 
friends of the fugitives was held, and a committee, 
of which I was a member, was appointed to secure 
a suitable hall and make an the necessary arrange- 
ments for the concert. Smith and Nixon's hall, on 
Fourth Street, the best public hall in the city at 
that time, was kindly offered by the proprietors for 
the occasion. A part of the committee met next 
morning, but as not all the members were present, 
it was agreed to hold a meeting at three o'clock 
that afternoon to complete all the arrangements, 
and in the meantime to notify the absentees of the 
hour agreed upon. It was laid upon me to notify 
Samuel Alley, who was absent. About two o'clock 
in the afternoon, while looking for him, I was in- 
formed that he was in the court-room listening to 
the proceedings in the fugitive case. The trial had 
then been going on for several days, and a large 
number of special marshals had been summoned as 
guards to fend off the abolitionists a few unarmed, 
inoffensive men, who felt it right to plead the cause 
of the oppressed, and to endeavor, by moral suasion, 
to convince the people of the evils of slavery. 


These special marshals were mostly brought from 
the Kentucky side of the river all at the expense 
of the United States to see that the infamous 
slave law of 1850 was executed. These Kentuck- 
ians, invested with a little brief authority, were sta- 
tioned in and around the Court-House, and often 
assumed authority to prevent colored people and 
the particular friends of the slaves from entering 
the court-room. One of these marshals was sta- 
tioned at the door. When I was about to pass in, 
he inquired, abruptly : 

"What are you going in for? Are you a wit- 

I replied: "That is my business, not thine we 
live in a free State on this side of the river," and 
passed by him into the court-room. It was a long 
room where the Commissioner's Court was held 
and was densely crowded. The seats had all been 
moved behind the bar, in order to give standing 

The weather was extremely cold, and the only 
provision for warming the apartment was a stove at 
each end. The southern part of the room was 
occupied by the Commissioner and his Court; in 
the northern part every foot of standing space was 
occupied by spectators. I saw Samuel Alley stand- 
ing near the stove in the end of the room, and made 
my way through the crowd to him, but neglected 
to take off my hat. 

The Kentucky marshal at the door, noticing this, 
spoke in a loud commanding tone, and said : "Take 
off your hat!" several times. I paid no attention 


to him. He then made his way through the crowd 
to me, and said, loudly and angrily : " I command 
you to take off you hat, sir ! " 

I spoke in a low tone, and asked : ' ' What is the 
matter with my hat ? I suppose that it will not 
hurt anybody." 

He spoke as before, and said: "Why, sir, you 
are in the United States Court. I have authority ; 
I command you to pull off your hat." 

I replied : " I shall not pull off my hat to accom- 
modate thee. It is not my habit nor the habit of 
my people to make obeisance to men." 

He repeated, angrily, -"You are in the United 
States Court, sir, and I command you to pull off 
your hat." 

I replied, mildly, " It is not the first time that I 
have been in the United States Court. I have 
served on juries in different courts, and in various 
States, and was never commanded to pull off my 
hat; and I am not aware that a Commissioner's 
Court, trying a fugitive slave case, is a more sacred 
place than other courts." 

The attention of the crowd seemed to be drawn 
to us ; they turned their eyes in our direction to 
watch the marshal's movements, and listened to the 
words that passed between us. 

The marshal, seeing that I was not disposed to 
obey his commands, seized my hat rudely and jerked 
it off my head. He then offered it to me, but I did 
not take it, or pay any attention to it further than 
to say, " I thought thou wanted my hat." 

Turning quietly toward my friend Alley, I re- 



sumed conversation with him, in a low tone, regaij 1- 
ing the business of our committee meeting thc.t 
afternoon. The marshal stood a short time holding 
my hat, and looking quite foolish (others said) ; then 
seeing that I paid no attention to him, and was not 
disposed to relieve him of the care of my hat, he 
began to look around for some place on which to 
lay it. 

He espied a table or bench in one corner of the 
room, and kindly laid my hat upon it, then made his 
way back to his station at the door. A member 
of our city police who knew me came to me and 
said, "You had better go and get your hat; it 
might get lost." I replied: "I did not put it there 
and I shall not go after it." The policeman then 
went after it and brought it to "me. I thanked him, 
and put it on my head. The marshal at the door 
soon discovered it, and began to cry out, as before, 
"Pull off your hat!" Seeing that I. paid no 
attention to him, he made his way through the 
crowd toward me, and again commanded me to 
take off my hat, saying that he had authority; that 
I was in the United States Court, etc. I replied 
again that I had often been in courts before, and 
had never been commanded to pull off my hat. 
"I have been in the Queen's Court," I said, "and 
was allowed to wear my hat there without molesta- 
tion. Friends have been permitted to approach 
kings and emperors with their hats on ; I told thee 
before that we did not make obeisance to men ; 
I generally take off my hat, for my own comfort, 
when seated in a house ; but I do not wish to take 



it off now; it is not uncomfortable this cold day." 

Again he seized my hat and pulled it off in a rude 
manner. He offered it to me, as before ; but I 
appeared not to notice it, and went on talking with 
Alley as though nothing had occurred to interrupt 
our quiet conversation. The marshal started across 
the room to lay my hat where he had laid it before, 
but on the way he met our city officer, who took 
hold of it and said, "Let the gentleman's hat 
alone." I could not hear the marshal's reply, as 
he spoke in a low tone on that occasion, but I 
heard the city officer say, sharply, "I have as much 
authority as you have, sir." He then took my hat 
from the marshal, brought it to me and kindly 
placed it on my head. 

The Kentucky marshal went back to his place at 
the door, and did not trouble me further about my 
hat, although I remained for some time with it on 
my head. 

When the marshal took off my hat the second 
time, his action seemed to arouse a feeling of indig- 
nation among the people standing near me. When 
he started away with it, some of them manifested a 
spirit of fight ; one said : " Let him try that again ; " 
another said: "I can't stand that;" and a third 
exclaimed, with an oath: "I won't stand that." I 
did not turn my head to see who these men were, 
nor pay any attention to what they said, but con- 
tinued my conversation with Samuel Alley. 

A Gazette reporter was present when this oc- 
curred, and next morning an article appeared in 
that paper giving an account of the marshal's rude- 


ness in reference to my hat, and remarking that it 
did not appear to throw me off of my usual equa- 
nimity. One error occurred in this account; the 
reporter said that the marshal knocked my hat off 
he pulled it off with his hand. 

The committee met according to agreement, and 
completed the arrangement for the concert. I then 
returned home, arid finding there Jonathan Cable, a 
stanch abolitionist and Presbyterian minister, from 
College Hill, I related to him my adventure with 
the marshal in the court-room. Cable immediately 
picked up his hat and said: "I will try him.'" He 
hastily made his way to the court-room, and passed 
in, by the marshal at the door, keeping his hat on 
his head. 

The marshal cried out several times: "Pull off 
your hat ! " but seeing that his order was not 
obeyed, he pressed through the crowd to the place 
where Cable stood, and in an authoritative manrfer 
commanded him to take off his hat. Cable made 
no reply nor paid any attention to him, and the 
marshal jerked his hat from his head, as he had 
done mine. He then offered it to him, but Cable 
declined to take it and said to him : 

"Are you a United States officer?" 

"Yes, sir," replied the marshal. 

"Well, then," rejoined Cable, "you are a ser- 
vant of ours; you may hold my hat;" adding, in a 
sharp, commanding tone, "don't carry it off." 

The officer seemed perplexed and stood for a 
short time, holding the hat. Court adjourned, at 
that juncture, and Cable, taking his hat, returned 


to my house in a very good humor, and related his 

The story of my adventure with the marshal, 
respecting my hat, soon became extensively known. 
The accounts given of it in the Cincinnati papers 
were copied by other papers in various parts of the 
country. The editor of the Gazette told me that he 
had seen it in sixteen of his Southern exchanges. 

For several days I could not walk the streets 
without being accosted by some one who would 
assert that I had whipped the marshal. My general 
reply was: "I didn't hurt a hair of his head." 





IN the year 1856 I sold out my store, but con- 
tinued to do more or less commission business, 
receiving consignments of country produce, etc., 
until a few years later, when I engaged in the 
work for the Freedmen. After disposing of my 
store, I leased a large, convenient house on the 
southwest corner of Franklin Street and Broadway, 
near Woodward College. It had been built for a 
boarding-house by William Woodward who estab- 
lished the school and donated a large amount of 
property to sustain it and was well adapted for 
such a purpose. It was in a quiet location, and de- 
tached from other buildings, having a large open lot 
on the south, with shade trees, and the college lot 
on the west. The building contained over thirty 
rooms, most of them large and well ventilated. 
Here we opened a private boarding-house, receiving 
only such as we thought would be agreeable com- 
pany, for regular boarders, and in a short time had 


a large and pleasant circle around our table. The 
members were mostly professors of religion, of dif- 
ferent evangelical denominations, and the majority 
were strongly anti-slavery in sentiment. Several of 
the principals and teachers of the public schools 
boarded with us, as well as those of the Woodward 
High School, and we also had ministers of different 


denominations in our family. In addition to all 
these, we had many transient boarders. Our house 
was a resort for Friends who came to the city on 
business, and other of our acquaintances from the 
country, so that for a number of years it was simi- 
lar to Friends' Institute in London, where members 
of the Society from different parts of the kingdom 
lodge and dine together when in that city on busi- 
ness or other errands. 

The building and locality on the corner of Frank- 
lin and Broadway made a very suitable depot of the 
Underground Railroad, and rarely a week passed 
without bringing us passengers for that mysterious 
road. There was no pecuniary income from that 
class of boarders, but a constant outlay for them. 
I kept a horse and wagon always on hand to convey 
fugitives to the next depot. My wagon was made 
to order for this express purpose ; it was a strong 
spring-wagon, neatly curtained so that it could be 
tightly closed, having a curtain in front, just behind 
the driver, and had seats for six passengers. On 
one occasion eight grown persons were crowded in, 
besides the driver; this was a heavy load for my 
horse, but when out of the city and beyond Walnut 
Hills, the men got out and walked, which they 


could safely do, as it was in the night. Some of 
my friends called my wagon the Underground Rail- 
road car, and my horse the locomotive. 


In addition to this work I was often called upon 
to aid persons who had obtained their liberty, to 
buy their wife or husband or children out of slavery. 
Many such cases were brought before me where 
there appeared to be little probability of success. 
I discouraged the effort, but in other cases I did 
what I could to aid in accomplishing the desired 
object. When the matter was presented in some 
tangible form and the money contributed passed 
into the hands of some responsible person who had 
agreed to transact the business, I felt like I could 
take hold of the case, and recommend it to others. 
There were some very touching stories of distress, 
of a wife, a husband or a child to be sold to a trader 
and taken to the far South, perhaps to be forever 
separated from all they loved. In such instances 
when some near relative started out to solicit money 
to buy the person from bondage, it was hard to 
refuse, almost impossible if one brought the case 
home to himself. 


Besides aiding fugitives, I often assisted the poor 
and destitute among the free colored people of our 
city, visiting the sick and afflicted among them who 
seemed to be neglected by the white people, and 
was often accused by those who were prejudiced 



against colored people, of thinking more of the col- 
ored race than I did of the white. To such accusa- 
tions I generally replied that I was no respecter of 
color or race, that the negroes had souls equally as 
precious as ours, that Christ had died for them as 
well as for us, and that we were all alike in the 
divine sight. The poor and destitute among them 
were not looked after as such classes were among 
the whites, and on that account I felt it my duty to 
seek them out and help them. I often gave them 
employment in preference to whites, not that I felt 
any greater attachment 4ro them on account of their 
color, but because I knew that they were often 
unjustly refused and neglected. 

Sometimes I heard people say that they would 
not have a negro about them ; they had never hired 
one that did them any good, etc. I replied that 
my experience had been different ; the best servants 
I had ever employed belonged to that despised race. 
"But," I added, "it is quite natural that they 
should not work with much zeal for those who dis- 
like and hate them." 

In addition to these attentions to the colored 
people in our city, I was frequently called upon to 
look after the welfare and proper settlement of fami- 
lies that had been set free, and brought here, be- 
cause the laws of the slave States would not allow 
them to remain there and be free. 

Such charges and cares seemed to accumulate on 
my hands for several years preceding the war. I 
was burdened with them because others could not 
be found to take them, and because, out of compas- 


sion, I could not refuse. I devoted much time to 
looking after the interests of negroes who were 
brought here and liberated, without receiving any 
pecuniary compensation for my time and services. 
At one time a company of slaves, consisting of 
several families, were willed free by their master 
living in the interior of Kentucky and brought to 
Cincinnati by an agent, and left to shift for them- 
selves. They had difficulty in getting houses to live 
in, and several families finally huddled into an old 
tenement, which was so uncomfortable that some 
of them soon became sick from exposure. Not 
being used to city life they were unable to find 
work, and soon became dissatisfied and discouraged. 
They wished to go into the country but knew not 
where to go. I was informed of their case and went 
to visit them. Finding them situated so uncom- 
fortably, and learning that the money which had 
been given them was nearly gone, I advised them to 
go into the country at once. The father of one of 
the families was quite an intelligent man, and ap- 
peared to be the leading spirit among them ; he had 
been the manager of his old master's plantation. I 
agreed to accompany him to hunt homes for the 
company in the country, and we started next morn- 
ing to Springfield, Ohio, taking several of the young 
men with us. Arriving at Springfield, I called on 
several of my friends there and roused their interest 
in behalf of these people. Next day the young 
men found good situations among the farmers it 
being the spring of the year and the old man 
found a comfortable house for his family and em- 


ployment on a farm, at good wages. We returned 
to Cincinnati rejoicing at our success, and the whole 
company removed at once to Springfield, where they 
did well. 

I was not allowed much rest from such demands 
upon my services and sympathy, though the cases 
differed in some respects. I think that it was in the 
fall of the same year, that I was called upon by an 
old gentleman from the State of Tennessee, named 
McKnight, who told me that he had brought a 
large family of slaves to Cincinnati, whom he wished 
to liberate and locate in a settlement of Friends, 
where they would be properly cared for. He said 
he could recommend them as being honest, indus- 
trious, and trustworthy. The family consisted of 
the father, mother, and eight or nine children, 
among whom were several boys nearly grown. 
McKnight said that the children had all been born 
in his house and brought up as part of his family, 
and had never known what it was to be treated as 
slaves. He and his wife had not been blessed with 
children of their own, and they had reared these 
children carefully, and were quite fond of them ; it 
was a trial to part with them. The man had had the 
entire charge of the farm and was a good manager, 
and the woman was an excellent housekeeper, and 
looked after all the affairs of household work. 

McKnight and his wife were old and feeble, and 
felt that they must make some provision for their 
faithful servants. They intended that their slaves 
should never belong to any one else, and as the law 
did not allow them to be set free and remain in the 


State, they concluded to locate them in a free State. 
He had accordingly brought them to Ohio, and, 
having been advised to consult me, had called on 
me for advice. After hearing the old man's story, 
I felt deeply interested in his case, and began to 
think over the places that would be suitable for the 
purpose. In weighing the matter my mind seemed 
to settle on Harveysburg, Warren County, knowing 
it to be a good anti-slavery neighborhood, and I 
advised him to go there. 

The old man insisted on my going with him, as 
he was a stranger to that part of the country, and I 
finally agreed to accompany him. Next afternoon 
we took the train to Corwin-j-the nearest station to 
Harveysburg taking with us the slave family and 
all their freight, consisting of household furniture, 
cooking utensils, etc. They seemed to be well sup- 
plied with clothing and betiding. At , Corwin we 
obtained a comfortable room at the depot for them 
to lodge in, using their own bedding, and having an 
opportunity to prepare their food there. McKnight 
and I procured conveyance to Harveysburg, four 
miles distant. We arrived there after dark, and 
were kindly received and entertained by my friends 
Jonathan and Jane Clark. Next morning several 
Friends, both men and women, were called in to 
counsel with us in regard to the slave family ; among 
the women were Martha Antrim and several others, 
who were noted sympathizera with the oppressed. 
All present appeared to listen with deep interest to 
McKnight's story about his family of slaves and his 
desire to settle them among Friends. 



Jonathan Clark kindly offered a house for their 
present use. Teams were sent to Corwin for them, 
and they were soon located in their new quarters. 
I then returned home, but the old man remained a 
few days longer, to see them comfortably settled. 
They manifested great regard for their old master, 
and appeared very loth to part with him. He pet- 
ted the little children, and they evidently loved him. 

McKnight stopped at my house on his return 
home, and seemed happy and thankful that he had 
been spared to get this great burden off his mind 
and to see his slaves free. He spoke of his kind 
treatment at Harveysburg, and of the council held 
at J. Clark's the morning after we arrived there. 
Alluding to the Quaker women that were present, 
he said: "I never felt so much like I was sur- 
rounded by a company of angels," and burst into 
tears. Some of those dear Friends he spoke of with 
so much tenderness have since gone to their reward. 

The slave family proved to be equal to the old 
man's recommendation. They soon reated a large 
farm, which the father and sons managed well, and 
as the whole family were industrious and frugal, 
they accumulated in a few years sufficient means to 
buy a farm of their own. Here they lived, when 
last I heard from them, comfortably situated and 
respected by all their neighbors. 

The following occurrence took place not long be- 
fore the breaking out of the war : 

Two slaves, man and wife, belonging to a man 
who lived in Covington, Kentucky, escaped to Cin- 
cinnati, and went to the office of James Connelly, at 


that time engaged on the local staff of the Commer- 
cial. Having anti-slavery sympathies, he received 
the fugitives and promised to aid them. I was ab- 
sent from the city at that time, and while waiting 
my return, to ship the two fugitives on the Under- 
ground Railroad, Connelly put them in a room back 
of his office, where he kept them several days, and 
fed them. At night, when he left the office, he 
locked them in. The search for them was so vigor- 
ous that it was not considered safe for them to move, 
and they remained in this place for more than a 
week. By some means their master learned of their 
whereabouts, and came with a posse of officers and 
men to take them. 

Connelly was absent at the time, and the door 
was locked. The pursuers succeeded in making 
their way into the office, and demanded entrance at 
the inside door. The negro man, declaring he 
would not be taken, refused to open it. They broke 
the transom over the door, and he attempted to 
shoot them. They fired at him, inflicting a mortal 
wound, then, breaking in the door, they secured 
him and his wife. Notwithstanding his wound he 
fought desperately, but was soon overpowered and 
bound. The fugitives were then taken across the 
river to Covington, where the man died shortly 

The master got out a writ to arrest Connelly for 
harboring fugitive slaves, but Connelly heard of it, 
and immediately fled from the city. He went to 
New York, where he obtained a position on the 
staff of the Sun, and remained several months. 


Learning of his whereabouts, the Cincinnati mar- 
shal went East, and arrested him, brought him back 
to Cincinnati and placed him in jail. As soon as I 
heard of this I went to see Connelly, and it was ar- 
ranged that he should be released on bail till court 
convened. I went to work, and interested a num- 
ber of prominent men, who agreed to sign the bond. 
The sum required was large, but such business firms 
and persons as Harwood and Marsh, Allen and Co., 
Dr. W. H. Mussey, and others, soon subscribed it. 
Connelly was brought before Judge Leavitt, of the 
United States Court, to have the bond executed. 

In the court-room, S. M , prosecuting attorney, 

came to me, and said: "Levi, you have rallied a 
set of good-looking men to sign Connelly's bond." 

''Yes," I replied; "first-class men." 

"Well," continued the attorney, "how is the 
Underground Railroad prospering?" 

"Oh, finely, finely, we have a great many pas- 
sengers ; scarcely a week without more or less. But 
you seem to get hold of very few cases. How is it, 
Friend M., that I see thee engaged in this case? 
Thou used to be on our side." 

" I must see that the law is executed. But how 
was it about this case ? It seems to have been badly 

" I was away from home," I replied, to which he 
rejoined, "Ah! that explains the whole matter;" 
then I went on: "Now, if I were to get "into a 
scrape of this kind, I would not dodge as Connelly 
did. I would submit myself and abide the conse- 
quences ; and I know thou wouldst dislike to prose- 


cute me for doing what thou knowest to be right, 
and according to the dictates of humanity. Thou 
wouldst not like to face me in court in such a case 
as this." 

He patted me on the shoulder and said: "I 
guess there is no danger of your getting into 
-trouble, Mr. Coffin." 

I continued: "How is it that you do not get 
hold of cases at my house? We often have rich 
cases there that would be worth considerable to 
you. Only last week we had one of this kind. A 
young woman as white as any of our wives or 
daughters, who was held as a slave in Kentucky, 
made her escape and came to this city. She fouad 
a position as a servant girl a'mong white people, and 
no one suspected that she belonged to the colored 
race. When she had been here a month or two 
her master learned of her whereabouts and came in 
pursuit of her. With two other men whom he had 
called to his assistance, he undertook to capture her 
one evening as she was returning from church with 
several ladies, but she showed fight, and her com- 
panions did also. Some policemen saw the struggle 
and interfered, and while the master was trying to 
explain that the person he sought was his slave, the 
girl slipped away and came to my house. We kept 
her several days and prepared her for traveling, 
then I bought her a ticket to Detroit and took her 
in my carriage, in broad daylight, to Cumminsville, 
where I put her on the train." 

With a few more remarks, the conversation closed 
and would soon have been forgotten, but a reporter 


was present listening with professional ear, and 
next morning there appeared a lengthy article in a 
morning paper, giving an account of it, with much 
added and the whole embellished. 

Connelly resumed his place on the Commercial 
staff, and came to board at our house, where he was 
joined by his family, who had removed to Pittsburgh 
during his absence. 

At this time there was a large anti-slavery 
element in Ohio. Abhorrence of the Fugitive 
Slave law and its penalties was rapidly increasing 
among the better class of citizens, and the feeling 
had become very strong against making Ohio a 
hunting ground for Southern slaveholders ; conse- 
quently the public sentiment was largely in favor 
of Connelly. Ex-Governor Corwin, Judge Stallo, 
and other prominent lawyers volunteered to defend 

When the United States Court convened and his 
trial came on, the court-room was crowded. The 
trial lasted several days and was the subject of 
unabated interest. After able arguments by the 
prominent lawyers who had volunteered to defend 
Connelly, and a lengthy charge by the judge, the 
jury retired to deliberate and finally brought in a 
verdict of guilty. The penalty was as light as the 
law allowed imprisonment for twenty days and a 
fine of ten dollars. 

Connelly was immediately taken to jail, by the 
deputy sheriff, to serve out his sentence. As they 
passed me where I was standing on the sidewalk, I 


said: "Friend Connelly, I hope thou wilt have a 
pleasant time in jail." 

"Shut your mouth," said the officer; "you are 
not allowed to speak to the prisoner." 

"Stop, my good fellow," said I, "thou art a ser- 
vant of ours, not a master, and not clothed with so 
much authority." 

" It will not be long before I will have you in jail, 

"Perhaps that would be a difficult and costly 

I and others of Connelly's friends made arrange- 
ments with the jailer to give him a good room and 
allow us to furnish it with a bedstead, bedding, a 
table, chairs, writing utensils, and other articles 
of comfort and convenience. We also stipulated 
that he should have good fare, and agreed to pay 
his board. 

A number of people visited Connelly every day 
during his imprisonment. Ladies carried him straw- 
berries, pastry and other dainties ; the teachers of 
the public schools formed a procession and visited 
him, and ministers of the different churches called 
to see him. The Methodist Conference was in ses- 
sion in this city when he was imprisoned, and the 
members of it visited him in a body. 

The next week the Unitarian Conference met 
here, and the members composing it formed a pro- 
cession, headed by Horace Mann, and went to the 
prison to see Connelly. All these demonstrations 
showed sympathy with Connelly and made the time 
of his imprisonment pass quickly and pleasantly. 


The jailer grew tired of locking and unlocking the 
door of his room so often, and finally left it open, 
that visitors might pass in and out as they pleased. 
The fine of ten dollars, which was a part of the 
penalty, was never exacted. 

Connelly's term of imprisonment expired at noon, 
but as the Turners and other societies wished to 
form a torchlight procession, and escort him from 
jail, the jailer allowed him to remain till night. 
The arrangements were all made, and at the ap- 
pointed hour, the procession, headed by a band of 
music and several carriages, containing Judge Stallo 
and other prominent citizens, proceeded to the jail. 
A committee appointed conducted Connelly from 
the jail to the carriage reserved for him, then the 
procession paraded through the principal streets, 
and went to Turner Hall, where Connelly delivered 
a speech. 

A short time afterward a large public hall was 
engaged, and Connelly was advertised to deliver a 
lecture on the Underground Railroad, the proceeds, 
after deducting expenses, to be applied for the 
benefit of the road mentioned. 

A large and interested audience filled the hall at 
the time appointed, and listened attentively to the 
address, in which Connelly took the ground that the 
Underground Railroad was a Southern institution, 
and explained the different principles on which it 
was conducted. 

This story may be related in letters. The follow- 


ing appeared in the Nashville (Tennessee) Union 
and Anterican, in April, 1860: 


The Cincinnati Commercial, of April 18, contains 
the following : 


" EDITORS COMMERCIAL, In this morning's issue of your paper I 
find under the above head a caution administered to me to be care- 
ful, after informing the public that a box was forwarded from Nash- 
ville, Tennessee, by Adams Express, to my care, and all went 
well until the train reached Seymour, Indiana, when the box 
burst open, and out dropped a nigger, etc. You go on to state 
that yesterday morning Mr. Coffin called for the box, and the 
clerk questioned him closely as^ to its contents, but he 'didn't 
know a thing ; couldn't guess what was in it.' Then you say : 
' Be careful, Friend Levi ; thee [thou] musn't tell fibs.' Your 
caution is fully appreciated, and in return permit me to suggest 
to you to be careful to make no improper insinuations to lead the 
public to believe a fib in regard to my complicity in the matter. 

" About twelve o'clock on Seventh day, the I4th inst., ^ 
received through the post-office a letter, post-marked Nashville, 
Tennessee, dated Nashville, April 11, signed Hannah M. Johnson, 
stating that a box would be forwarded by Adams Express to my 
care, and wishing me to go to the express office and take charge 
of it, stating that the express would arrive at half past ten 
o'clock, Saturday night, but did not say what the box contained. 
I learned that the express would not arrive till First day morning, 
nine o'clock. I went to the office at that time and handed the 
letter to the clerk or agent. He informed me that they had 
just got a dispatch informing them that a box marked Hannah 
M. Johnson, care of Levi Coffin, Cincinnati, ha-1 burst open at 
Seymour, Indiana, and a nigger rolled out. I informed them that 
I did not know Hannah M. Johnson ; never heard of her before; 
had no knowledge of any box or anything else being shipped to 
my care from that direction, until I received that letter which 
was before them. 

" No questions were asked me. My statements were voluntary, 


They requested the letter to copy. I gave it to them with the 
promise that it be returned to me. They have the letter. The 
public is welcome to its contents. Previous to receiving this letter 
I have had no correspondence with any one in Tennessee for 
more than a year past ; did not know of any person, male or 
female, traveling in that direction ; knew nothing of the matter 
'in any shape. 

" My name and address are well known in the South. It is no 
new thing for me to receive consignments of slaves from the 
South, generally gentlemen's children to be educated ; but this is 
the first case in a tight box, and no instructions whether they 
wished him sent to school or not. I am sorry that Sambo did not 
get through safely after suffering so long in a tight box. I would 
have received him kindly, though I would object to that mode of 
traveling as dangerous and decidedly uncomfortable. 


" Cincinnati, April 16, 1860." 

After copying the above from the Cincinnati 
Commercial, the editor of the Nashville Union and 
American made the following scurrilous comment, 
trying to use Quaker language : 

"Friend Levi, thee ought to have studied thy subject a little 
better, and then perhaps thee would not have involved thyself in 
such palpable contradictions. Thee never heard of Hannah M. 
Johnson, yet thou wert quick to ' run after the strange woman," 
to pay the express charges upon her box, the contents of which 
thee knew nothing about unless thy instinct told thee. Verily 
hath it been said that the man given to prevarication ought to 
have a good memory, and be aljle at least to tell a straight story. 

"Thee ought to have conned this lesson over well, Friend Levi, 
before thee did pen thy communication to the editor who gave 
thee such good advice. Thy worst enemy could not desire thee 
to write a book after reading thy communication. Thee knew 
too much about that strange woman and her mission among thy 
Southern friends, and never did criminal more surely betray his 
guilt. Thee knew that the box shipped thee by the strange 
woman contained a chattel, which the law, both human and 


divine, declared to be stolen, and which could not be received by 
thee without making thyself a party to the crime. 

"We fear from thy avowal of sorrow that 'Sambo did not get 
through safe,' that thou art a most hardened reprobate, and that 
a lecture upon the evil tendency of thy practice would accomplish 
about as much as a moonbeam falling upon an iceberg. But there 
is one thing, Friend Levi, to which we wish to call thy especial 
attention. It is clear from thy confession that thou didst have an 
intrigue with this Hannah M. Johnson, and as that ' kind-hearted 
individual ' charged and received from Sambo, seventy dollars in 
cash and a double-case silver watch, according to his statement, 
we put it to thee whether it is not thy duty to make Sambo whole 
again in his purse ? The sincerity of thy compassion for the 
nigger is now put to the test." 

To which I wrote the following reply : 
find in your paper of 2Oth ult., after publishing my card or state- 
ment of facts as published in the Cincinnati ' Commercial," a scur- 
rilous comment in which you make some very grave charges. Ab- 
sence from home has prevented me from noticing them sooner, but 
your Southern honor can not deny me the right to be heard in reply. 
It seems that thou hast found it in thy heart to call in question 
my plain statement of facts, and to accuse me of contradictions, 
prevarications, etc. Then thou proceeds to make positive asser- 
tions without the slightest foundation to build upon, unless thy 
instincts told thee, and they are not apt to dictate untruth. I am 
not aware of my veracity being questioned by those who are 
acquainted with me ; hence thy comment will have about as much 
effect as a moonbeam falling upon an iceberg, as thou supposed. 
And thou hast blundered into another truth, perhaps not inten- 
tionally. Thou sayest : ' Thy worst enemy could not desire thee 
to write a book.' True; thou didst not desire Helper, of North 
Carolina, to write a book, and I should not suppose for a moment 
that thou wouldst desire me to write a book. I am a Southern 
man, born and raised in the State of North Carolina] have 
traveled in most of the Southern States, and have connections 
and acquaintances in several of them ; and, if I were to write a 
book, I might expose some of the abominations of slavery, that 
would not be pleasant to thy ear. The extent of the evils of 

59 2 


slavery, and its demoralizing effects upon the white population of 
the South, can not be written even by a Southerner. I am 
opposed to the whole system of slavery, in all its heinous forms, 
and conscientiously believe it to be a sin against God and a crime 
against man to chatelize a human being, and reduce God's image 
to the level of a brute, to be bought and sold in the market as 
cattle or swine. I am also opposed to amalgamation, and the 
whole system of concubinage, which are the legitimate fruits of 
slavery, and prominent evils growing out of it. It is also well 
known in the South, as well as in the North, by all who are 
acquainted with me, that I am opposed to any interference with 
slavery, or the institutions of slave States, except by moral suasion. 
I am a firm believer in the doctrines and precepts of the gospel, 
which teaches us to do unto others as we would that they should 
do unto us ; and to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, etc. ; but 
does not make any distinction of color. Now, if the editor of the 
Nashville ' Union and American ' should be so unfortunate as to 
be reduced to slavery (for color is no protection in the South), 
and should he employ Hannah M. Johnson, or somebody else, to 
put him in a tight box and consign him to me, he may be assured 
that I will receive him kindly, and feed him if he should be 
hungry ; for it is not in my nature to be unkind to the least or 
the poorest of the human family. But I would advise some other 
mode of conveyance as more safe, and that Hannah should pay 
express charges, as I suppose she did in the case of Sambo ; for 
I heard no account of express charges until I saw thy false asser- 
tion, that I was quick to run after the strange woman to pay 
express charges, etc. 

"Thou hast said that Hannah received of Sambo seventy dollars 
in cash, and a double-cased silver watch, for her services ; and 
thou hast no doubt relieved thy mind of a burden by suggesting 
that I should make Sambo whole again in his purse. But, as I 
presume that Hannah M. Johnson is a citizen of Nashville, or was 
a delegate to the Charleston Convention, and entirely unknown 
to me, it does not strike me very forcibly that I should be 
accountable for her misconduct, for if her motives had been 
purely benevolent, she would not have charged Sambo anything. 
But there is one thing, my dear friend, to which I wish to call thy 
especial attention. I am very often called upon by slaveholders 
from the South, who come to Ohio, to liberate a portion of their 



slaves, generally their own children and sometimes their slave 
mothers, for assistance and advice in regard to locating them, 
etc., all of which 1 have given cheerfully without charge, and in 
addition to this, there have been quite a number of slave children 
from several different Southern States placed under my care to be 
educated, generally by their white fathers or their agents, and in 
some instances by j udges and lawyers men of honor and high stand- 
ing in their own country ; and as I am left minus in several cases, 
and in one case from Tennessee where the bill is not paid, does it 
not strike thy mind very forcibly that it would be just as fair and 
right for thee to make me whole in my purse for money that I 
have paid out of my pocket for some of your own citizens, as for 
me to make Sambo whole in his purse ? Thy generosity is now 
put to the test. LEVI COFFIN. 

Cincinnati, $th mo. 12, 1860." 







BUSINESS on the Underground Railroad con- 
tinued brisk up to the time of the breaking 
out of the war, and for a year afterward before 
slaves were received and protected inside our mili- 
tary lines. The friends of the fugitives had increased 
in number, and though my time and attention were 
still heavily taxed, I had less difficulty in raising 
means to pay their passage, or in finding safe shel- 
ter for them among the white people when it was 
necessary to divide the companies, as was frequently 
the case. I often raised money, bought tickets, and 
forwarded the fugitives by rail to Detroit, Sandusky, 
or some other point on the lakes, when it was not 
likely that hunters were ahead of them. I gener- 
ally started them on the evening' train, that they 
might make the greater part of their journey in the 
night, and in every instance they arrived safely at 
their destination. I had friends at the other end of 


the line who generally notified me of the safe arrival 
of passengers by way of the Underground or Upper- 
ground Railways. 


It will be remembered that when the Prince of 
Wales was in America he visited a number of our 
principal cities, after he had been to Canada. When 
in Cincinnati, he was escorted about the city to see 
the most important and interesting places, and in 
his progress through the streets, he and his suite 
were conducted up Broadway to Franklin Street, 
and west along Franklin, fn front of Woodward 
College, to Main Street. This course gave them 
two front views of my house, which stood on the 
southwest corner of Broadway and Franklin. The 
piazzas fronting on Broadway, and all the windows 
in both fronts of* that large house, were filled with 
our boarders and the neighbors who had come to 
get a good view of the Prince. My wife and I 
stood in front, on the piazza, The Prince, who was 
riding in an open carriage, took off his hat and 
made a graceful bow as he passed our house. 
Some of our company wondered why he should be 
brought through our quiet locality, for it was quite 
unusual for public guests .to be conducted through 
that neighborhood of family dwelling-houses. 

Others replied: "It is not at all strange; the 
Prince has been to Canada and seen the terminus 
of the Underground Railroad, and of course he 
wished to see this end of it, and as this house is 
the principal depot, he wished to take a fair view 


of the premises so that he could make a correct 
report to the Queen." 

This explanation seemed satisfactory to the com- 
pany, and caused a hearty laugh among us. 


With the excitement that attended the breaking 
out of the rebellion in the spring of 1861, there 
came a new feeling, in the free States, in regard to 
slavery. The odium that had been attached to 
abolitionism began to die away; there was -no 
longer such disgrace in professing its sentiments or 
danger in aiding the fugitives. Much of my work 
for them was now done boldly and above board 
or, I might say, above ground. 

When the first news of the war reached me, I 
said : "This war will never end while slavery lasts," 
but I was told that the rebellion would soon be put 
down, leaving slavery untouched. The popular 
religious denominations were still under the influ- 
ence of that pro-slavery power which had so long 
had the ascendency. Prayer-meetings were held in 
all the churches to pray that the rebellion might be 
put down and the awful calamities of war averted. 
Acknowledgments were made of our sins, such as 
intemperance and Sabbath-breaking, and the for- 
giveness of God was implored, and He was asked 
to restore peace and brotherly love to our land ; but 
the sin of slavery was not mentioned, not a prayer 
for the poor suffering slaves was heard in these 
meetings in Cincinnati. The exciting subject of 
slavery must not be touched. 


A union prayer-meeting for business men was es- 
tablished in a central church on Fourth Street. The 
sessions were held from eight o'clock to nine every 
morning, and, besides prayers, there were brief ex- 
hortations. These meetings were largely attended. 
They were led, in turn, by prominent religionists 
who acted each in his appointed time as presiding 
officer, and with the tap of his mallet timed the 
speaker or stopped him if he touched upon any con- 
troverted point or exciting question. The subject 
of slavery must not be alluded to ; it might hurt 
the feelings of some good brother in the meeting. 

About this time that noble friend to the slave, 
John G. Fee, of Berea, Kentucky, came to the city 
on business and stopped at our house, as he gener- 
ally did when in Cincinnati. He asked me if I had 
attended those morning prayer-meetings. I said, 
"I have attended but one; I have very little faith 
in those meetings. The real cause of the war is not 
alluded to ; the poor slaves are not remembered in 
their prayers, and the sin of slavery is not men- 
tioned. The same pro-slavery spirit that has ruled 
the church so long still exists. This war has been 
permitted by the Almighty to come upon us as a 
judgment and the North must suffer as well as the 
South, for we are partners in the national sin. I 
believe that this war will not end until the great sin 
of slavery is removed from our land." 

Friend Fee heartily united with me in these sen- 
timents. He had preached and prayed and labored 
for many years in Kentucky, in behalf of the poor 
slave, and had suffered mob violence and persecu- 


tion of every kind, for doing what he believed he 
had been appointed by his Divine Master to do. 

The next morning we went together to the 
business men's prayer-meeting. It was largely 
attended ; many prayers and short speeches were 
made, and every sin but that of slavery was men- 
tioned. Toward the close of the meeting John G. 
Fee rose and spoke of the real cause of the war 
slavery, that great and crying sin of the nation, 
to which no one had alluded. The chairman of the 
meeting at once brougjit down his mallet, as a 
signal for him to stop, but Fee continued to speak, 
for a few moments, with great earnestness and 
power. His words seemed to create a stir and 
uneasiness with many in the meeting. When a few 
more sharp taps of the mallet had been given, he 
took his seat, but immediately kneeled in prayer, 
and prayed with such earnestness and power that he 
was not interrupted, although he brought before the 
Lord the great sin of slavery and alluded to it as 
the cause of the terrible judgment that was hang- 
ing over us. At the close of the meeting, Horace 
Bushnell, a minister and a warm friend to the slave, 
came up and taking Fee by the hand said : "Brother 
Fee, you drove in the nail and then you clinched it, 
and they can't get it out." 

The war excitement still grew stronger, and party 
feuds and distinctions were for awhile forgotten 
in the all-absorbing subject. The rebellion in the 
South increased, one State after another seceded, 
except Kentucky, which professed to occupy neu- 
tral ground, and all loyal or Union men were united 


on the same platform. By the South, all Northern 
men were termed Yankees or abolitionists, and 
among us much of the odium formerly attached to 
abolitionism died out. It was now "Union" or 
"Rebel," but there was still a class of men in the 
North who were connected in business with the 
South, or had interests in slaves, who sympathized 
with that section and threw the weight of their influ- 
ence with the rebellion. This troublesome element 
in the North doubtless served to prolong the war. 


The war excitement was greatly increased when 
the news came that the rebel General Kirby Smith 
had approached near Cincinnati with a large army, 
and great preparations were at once made for 
defense ; the city was at once put under martial law. 
The wires flashed the news all over the country and 
special trains were bringing in soldiers from all parts 
of the State. The Mayor of the city issued a proc- 
lamation requiring every man, without distinction 
of age, color, or country, to report at the voting 
places in the various wards, to be organized into 
military companies for the protection of the city. 
The Governor of the State had also issued a procla- 
mation requiring all volunteer military companies to 
rally at once to our assistance. Arms and ammuni- 
tion were ordered here from other points. Cannon 
were placed on Mount Adams, and the high hills 
above and below the city, in position to rake the 
river if the rebel army attempted to cross. It was 
feared that they would shell the city, and that a 


general conflagration would be the result. The 
excitement pervaded all classes of society. A num- 
ber of women and children were sent out of the 
city for safety, and money from the vaults of the 
banks was transferred to banks at other points. 
General Wallace, of Indianapolis, arrived in the 
city, with a number of Indiana soldiers, and took 
command. Companies of volunteers were arriving 
almost every hour. Wherever the telegraph had 
spread the alarm, men of all classes dropped their 
business and rallied to fhe defense of their State. 
Judges, lawyers, preachers, professors, and students 
of colleges, were in these companies, as well as 
farmers armed with their squirrel-guns and other 
weapons that were at command. We soon had an 
army of over one hundred thousand men in Cincin- 
nati many of them raw, untrained soldiers, without 
any preparation for camping or supplies of pro- 
visions. These were called "Squirrel Hunters," 
but they were fully in earnest, and determined to 
protect the city against the rebel army that 
threatened our destruction. Preparations were at 
once made to feed our protectors, and the ladies 
of each ward did their duty nobly. Tables were 
spread in the market-houses and parks, and (in 
some wards) on the public side-walks, and bounti- 
fully furnished with provisions by the ladies many 
of whom attended as waiters. Public halls and 
other places were used as headquarters and lodg- 
ing places for the soldiers. In our ward a table was 
spread on the side-walk of Franklin Street, from 
Broadway to Sycamore in front of our house and 


Woodward College where five hundred could be 
fed at one time. It was supplied with provisions 
for several days by the ladies of the ninth ward. 
Our basement kitchen was made the depository for 
the victuals between meals ; and our large cooking- 
stove was used to furnish hot coffee and tea. At 
that table were fed the Oberlin students, and other 
abolitionists from the northern part of Ohio, many 
of whom we knew. After meals, they frequently 
formed in line in front of our house and sang 
"John Brown," and other anti-slavery songs the 
whole company joining in the chorus. Nearly every 
night, while this great excitement lasted, we had 
sick soldiers to care for. Many of our acquaintances 
from the country were among the new volunteers, 
or "Squirrel Hunters," and not being used to sol- 
dier life, a number of them became sick. We took 
them in and cared for them ; although we did not 
believe in war and fighting, we always considered it 
right to take care of the sick and feed the hungry, 
and in this way we did our full share by the soldiers. 
To some of the young men who had none, my wife 
gave blankets for use in camp. 

One morning one of our city officers, with a posse 
of men, came to my house and demanded to know 
why I had not reported for service at the place des- ^ 
ignated by the Mayor in his proclamation. He 
said he was instructed to visit all in that ward who 
had not reported, and if they refused to comply to 
compel them to report. I told him that I should 
not comply, and he said: "Then I shall be obliged 
to compel you to do so." 


I replied: "Thou might find that to be a difficult 
job. I am a non-resistant, and thou would have to 
carry me to the place, and that would look ugly." 

The officer laughed, and said he guessed I would 
go without carrying. 

I said: "If thou wast to get me there it might be 
very difficult to compel me to report for service in 
the army. I could not take a gun and go out to 
shoot anybody; that is contrary to the spirit and 
doctrines of the gospel. Christ instructed us to 
love our enemies and to do good to them that hate 
us, and I am a full believer in his teachings. I can 
not comply with the Mayor's proclamation. General 
Wallace is now in command in the city, and he will 
not require such service of me, for he knows my 

The officer left me, and I was not again troubled. 
Soon after this a certain boundary was set in the 
city that none were allowed to pass, without per- 
mission, for some time. Pickets were stationed 
along the line to enforce the restriction. I happened 
to have business across the line, and was permitted 
to pass and repass when I wished to do so. 

When the alarm first came that the rebel army 
was advancing toward Cincinnati, and a number of 
frightened women went, with their children, to the 
country, a few of our lady boarders partook of the 
panic, and packed their trunks and left the city. 
They, together with others of our friends, seemed 
anxious for us to close our house and go out of the 
city for safety. Some of them said that our house 
would be the first one destroyed, for many of the 


Kentuckians knew where it was, and that it was a 
depot of the Underground Railroad. I laughed at 
their fears, and told them that I felt no alarm ; I had 
never run from danger, and if our friends and neigh- 
bors were to suffer I would stay and suffer with 
them. "Besides," I said, "we may be needed 
here to help care for the sick and wounded ; though 
I do not believe the rebel army will cross the river. 
There is a large army gathered here, and they will 
not run into the lion's mouth." 

It proved to be not very long till the rebels, hav- 
ing discovered the formidable force here, and the 
great preparations for defense, fell back some dis- 
tance from the river. Neither was it long till our 
services were needed in caring for sick and wounded 
soldiers brought here from various Southern battle- 
fields, for whom sufficient hospital room could not 
be provided. 

During the excitement our house was more like 
a military post than a depot of the Underground 
Railroad. We had a number of boarders, and all 
the men armed themselves and reported for service, 
in obedience to the Mayor's proclamation. They 
placed their guns by their bedsides, and when an 
alarm was sounded on the fire-bells in the night, 
they sprang up, seized their weapons and hurried to 
their posts. These signals were to be given when 
the rebel army attempted to cross the river, and the 
city was kept in a state of constant excitement, 
though the alarms proved false. They were sounded, 
no doubt, to call the people together quickly, and 
to try their metal. 


The German element was strong in our city. 
Many of the men were veteran soldiers who had 
seen service in their own country, and well under- 
stood military tactics. 

The negro element, on the contrary, was utterly 
ignorant of all kinds of drill. Many of the colored 
men did not understand why they should be called 
upon, having never before been recognized as citi- 
zens, and neglected to report; some of them were 
alarmed and hid themselves. The police hunted 
them out and forced them into the ranks. One day 
a posse of men came to our house and asked if there 
were any colored people about the place who had 
not reported for service. I said, "Yes, there are 
several colored persons about our house," and in- 
vited the captain to. come in. He followed me 
through the hall into the kitchen, where we had two 
or three colored women employed. I introduced 
them to the officer, saying, ' ' These are all the col- 
ored people we have at present." He laughed and 
said he did not want women, and asked if these were 
Underground Railroad passengers. I said: "No, 
but if they were you would not let the rebels have 
them, would you?" 

He replied: "No, sir," and left the house. 

My wife reproved me for being mischievous. 

Judge Dickson, who was the colored people's 
friend and in whom they had entire confidence, 
organized a separate company of colored men. 
They rallied willingly to him. A pontoon bridge 
was made across the Ohio River, between Cincin- 
nati and Covington, and a large army marched over 


into Kentucky. A few miles back. of Covington 
they went into camp and made great preparations 
for defense, throwing up breastworks and extending 
their lines so as to prevent the approach of the 
enemy to the city. Colonel Dickson's colored regi- 
ment was marched over to aid in making the forti- 
fications, and was said to be the most orderly and 
faithful regiment that crossed. After they were 
released and marched back to the city, the men 
contributed money to buy a fine sword, which they 
presented to Colonel Dickson as a testimonial of 
their regard for him, accompanied by an able speech 
from one of their company seFected for the occasion. 
The rebel army had retreated southward, and the 
excitement that had been so high in this city seemed 
to die away, but we were constantly reminded that 
war was going on. Regiments of volunteers, regu- 
larly organized and equipped, from Indiana and 
other Northwestern States, passed through this city 
on their way to the South and East. Among the 
Indiana companies were many noble young men of 
our acquaintance some of them our relatives and 
our feelings were continually harassed with the 
thought that they might never return. It was not 
long till the terrible battles of Fort Donelson, on 
the Cumberland River, and Pittsburg Landing, on 
the Tennessee River, were fought. Steamboats 
from this place, with doctors and surgeons on board, 
hastened to the scenes of carnage to aid in caring 
for and removing the wounded. They were brought 
to Cincinnati, but sufficient hospital room had not 
been provided for them. A meeting was held by 


the citizens, and a committee appointed to call oil 
families and ascertain how many would be received 
in private houses. We were called upon and agreed 
to take eight of the wounded soldiers in our house 
and care for them. Many others volunteered to 
take a greater or less number, and next morning the 
names of those who thus volunteered, and the num- 
ber they agreed to receive, were published in the 
morning papers. The committee succeeded, how- 
ever, in renting a large house for a hospital, and 
only two soldiers were brought to our house. We 
nursed them carefully until they were able to go to 
their homes. At various times we took in sick sol- 
diers and cared for them until they were able to 
travel, feeling that it was our duty to do so. 


Among the regiments that collected at Cincinnati, 
during the time of Kirby Smith's threatened raid 
into Ohio, was one from Racine, Wisconsin, which, 
from the well-known anti-slavery sentiments of the 
commander, Colonel Utley, and the men composing 
it, had received the name of the Abolition regiment. 
While they were in camp near Nicholasville, Ken- 
tucky, a young mulatto slave girl, about eighteen 
years old, of fine personal appearance, was sold by 
her master, for the sum of seventeen hundred dol- 
lars, to a man who designed placing her in a house 
of ill-fame at Lexington, Kentucky. As soon as 
the poor girl learned of the fate in store for her, she 
fled from her master, and making her way to the 
camp of the Twenty-Second Wisconsin volunteers 


the regiment referred to told her story, and asked 
protection. The true-hearted men, to whom she 
applied for help, resolved to aid her, though the law 
did not then allow Northern troops to protect fugi- 
tive slaves who came within their lines. 

Her master soon came to the camp in pursuit of 
her, but the men secreted her, and he did not find 
her. The colonel now wished to send her to a place 
of safety, and two soldiers volunteered to conduct 
her to Cincinnati. One of their officers told them 
that he knew me personally, and recommended 
them to bring the fugitive to my house. She was 
dressed in soldier's clothes nd hidden in a sutler's 
wagon, under some hay. The two men dressed 
themselves in citizen's clothing, and having learned 
the password that would open a way for them 
through the picket lines, took their seats in the 
wagon, and drove out of camp about one o'clock at 
night. They traveled almost without stopping until 
the distance more than a hundred miles was trav- 
ersed, and they reached Cincinnati in safety. 

They came immediately to my house, and were 
ushered into the sitting-room, accompanied by their 
charge, who presented the appearance of a mulatto 
soldier boy. As there was other company present, 
they called me to one side and related their story. 
The " soldier boy" was given into my wife's care, 
and was conducted up-stairs to her room. Next 
morning he came down transformed into a young- 
lady of modest manners and pleasing appearance, 
who won the interest of all by her intelligence and 
amiable character. 


The party remained a day or two, to recover from 
the fatigue of their journey, and during the inter- 
val visited a daguerrean gallery, where they had 
their pictures taken, the lady sitting, the soldiers 
standing, one on either side, with their revolvers 
drawn, showing their readiness thus to protect her, 
even at the cost of their own lives. Not content 
with escorting her to a free State, these brave young 
men telegraphed to Racine, Wisconsin, and made 
arrangements for their friends there to receive her, 
and I took her one evening in my carriage to the 
depot, accompanied by her protectors, and put her 
on board the train with a through ticket for Racine, 
via Chicago. She was nicely dressed, and wore a 
vail, presenting the appearance of a white lady. I 
conducted her to a seat in a first-class car, her sol- 
dier friends having previously taken leave of her in 
the carriage. As the train moved off they lifted 
their hats to her, aud she waved her handkerchief 
in good-by. They afterward remarked to me, that 
it seemed one of the happiest moments of their 
lives when they saw her safely on her way to a place 
beyond the reach of pursuers. They had done a 
noble unselfish deed, and were rewarded by that 
approval of conscience which contains the most 
unalloyed joy of life. 

After their return to camp, I received the follow- 
ing letter from one of them : 

"November 17, 1862. j 

"FRIEND L. COFFIN: As the Lord prospered us on our mis- 
sion to the land of freedom, so has He prospered us in our 


return to our regiment. At five o'clock on Friday evening, after 
a ride of three days, we arrived at our camp near Nicholasville ; 
and you would have rejoiced to hear the loud cheering and hearty 
welcome that greeted us on our arrival. Our long delay had 
occasioned many fears as to our welfare ; but when they saw us 
approach, the burden of their anxiety was gone, and they wel- 
comed us by one hearty outburst of cheers. The colonel was full 
of delight, and when he heard of the Friend L. Coffin, who had 
so warmly welcomed us to the land of freedom, he showered a 
thousand blessings on your head. The way was opened, and we 
were directed to you by an unseen but ever-present Hand. The 
Lord was truly with us upon that journey. 

" Your humble friend, 


The name of the other soldier was Frank M. 
Rockwell. Both were young men of true principles 
and high character, and, as representatives of the 
solid worth of Wisconsin's noble sons, were men 
that their State could regard with pride. 

I received a letter from Jesse L. Berch, a few 
months ago, making inquiries in regard to a book 
which he had heard I had published. When I re- 
plied, stating that my book was not yet published, 
I asked for news of the slave girl whom he had aided 
to rescue. He responded, giving information of her 
safe arrival in Racine, and of her residence there for 
a few months, concluding by saying, "Afterward 
she married a young barber and moved into Illinois, 
and I have never been able to ascertain her where- 
abouts since I came from the army, though Mr. 
Rockwell and myself have tried repeatedly. 

This young man has kindly loaned me a book 
entitled "The Star Corps," by G. S. Bradley, chap- 
lain of the Twenty-Second Wisconsin Volunteers, 


and folly of such a course, let me say I shall refuse to comply in 
the same positive manner.' 

''The morning came, but the order was not received. Instead 
of an arrest, the colonel was put in command of the brigade, 
with orders to protect the supply train to march to Georgetown. 

" The colonel afterward call on the general, and was informed 
that the act of Congress and the proclamation of the .President 
had been more carefully examined since the affair at Camp Jones, 
and that a different policy would be instituted. No more con- 
trabands would be returned, and those coming into our lines 
would be organized into a brigade by themselves for appropriate 

" Regiments from Ohio and Michigan, in camp near the same 
place, sustained Colonel Utley in the position which he took. 
The affair created considerable excitement, occasioned much dis- 
cussion, and proved a triumph of principle." 

The following account of Colonel Utley's conflict 
with a slaveholder, I take from the book referred to : 

"When we left Lexington, we comforted ourselves with the 
hope that the slavery question, which had proved a constant and 
grievous annoyance from the time we entered the State, would 
trouble us no more, but in this we have been sadly disappointed. 
The slave catchers follow us day and night, and seem determined 
to crush us, if in their power to do so. It is not, however, so 
much the desire for the ' nigger ' himself, which drives them to 
desperation, as the necessity of breaking down the principle upon 
which we stand. The negro is a personal and comparatively tri- 
fling matter, and probably we have a smaller number of them 
than any other regiment in Kentucky, but the principle involves 
the position of the State. 

"On the very day after arriving at this place Nicholasville 
the colonel was informed that a gentleman, outside the lines, 
wished to see him. 

"The colonel remarked: 'Another negro catcher, I presume.' 

" On approaching the lines, a large portly old gentleman 
appeared, lying back in an elegant carriage, with a negro servant 
for driver in front. He informed the colonel that he was in pur- 
suit of a boy, who was in his regiment, at the same time present- 


ing an order from General Gillmore, directing that he be per* 
mitted to enter the lines and get the boy. 

" The colonel coolly informed him that such orders were not cur- 
rent in his regiment. The old gentleman then went on to say that 
he, too, was opposed to slavery ; that he was the only survivor 
among the ' honorables ' who voted for the famous Missouri Com- 
promise, and that he had written an essay against slavery and in 
favor of emancipation, which was eagerly sought after by the 
President at the present time. Said the colonel : ' If you had done 
these things honestly, and from principle, it would certainly have 
been very commendable ; but, sir, your mission here to-day gives 
the lie to all of these professions. I do not permit nigger-hunters 
to ransack my regiment. If you will drive back into town, and 
return at three o'clock P. M., I will look through the regiment, 
and if I find such a boy and he is willing to go with you, I pledge 
you my honor that you shall have him.' He reluctantly con- 
sented, and turned his horse toward the village. 

" After he left, the colonel found the boy, who frankly acknowl- 
edged that he belonged to the old gentleman. 

" The little fellow then gave us a tale of sorrow, and that with 
such an air of truthfulness and intelligence as astonished those 
that listened to it. And when at last, he drew up his diminutive 
little figure, called upon us to see what beating and starving had 
done for him, and cried: 'See me ; I am almost nineteen years 
old what am I ? and now they beat me because I am no larger, 
and can do no more ; ' moisture was seen to gather in the col- 
onel's eyes, and he left the tent with a significant determination 
on his brow. Before reaching his lent, he met the old slave- 
hunter returning long before the appointed time, so eager was he 
for his prey. 

" ' Have you found the boy ? ' were the first words to tremble on 
the old man's anxious lip. 

" 'Sir,' sait' the colonel, fixing his 'wicked look' upon him, 'I 
have found a little yellow boy who says he belongs to a man in 
Lexington, who hired him out to a brutal Irishman for fifty dol- 
lars per year. The Irishman, never having seen him, was dissatis- 
fied, he being so much smaller than ho anticipated fur a boy of 
nineteen, and as his master would not take him back, he declared, 
with an oath, that he would lick it out of him that the man 
beat him for anything and for nothing that he had been to his 


master many times, and told him he could not stand it. His 
master would say: "Go back, you dog." 

" ' He also says he showed his master his neck, with the skin 
torn off, where the Irishman had tied a rope around it, and 
dragged him about. And yet his master would give him no pro- 
tectionhad commenced hiring him out when only five years of 
age, and had left him there ever since, taking all his wages. He 
says that he has been beaten and worked and starved till there was 
nothing left of him, and that he was then beaten for not being 
bigger. He also says that he endured it till he could no longer, 
and fled. He lived on black walnuts till the snow came, and he 
was obliged to seek shelter somewhere. He sought protection 
from several regiments, but could gain no admission till he came 
to this. Now, sir, is that your boy? Are you the fiend of a mas- 
ter of whom he speaks ? You, who came to me boasting of your 
wonderful works in the cause of the oppressed ? I say, sir, is that 
your boy ? Are you that master ? ' 

" These declarations fell with terrible force upon the old gentle- 
man's trembling nerves. It was some time before he could 
answer, but finally faintly replied : ' It is my nigger, but niggers 
will lie.' 

" The colonel then told him that they would go and see the 
boy. When we arrived at the quarters, the little fellow, instead 
of shrinking away from his presence, walked out with a firm step, 
and meekly but boldly said : 

" ' How do you do, massa ? ' 

"The colonel said to him : 'This man claims you as his prop- 
erty, and says you ran away and left him.' 

"'Yes, sah,' said the lijtle fellow, and then he proceeded to 
rehearse the whole story in a calm, respectful, but decided man- 
ner. The master struggled in vain to resist the force of the 
simple tale. The following questions and answers passed between 
the master and the slave : 

" 'Have I not always treated you well?' 

" 'No, massa, you have not.' 

" ' How so, sir? ' 

" ' When I went to you for protection from those who beat me, 
you refused to give it, and drove me back like a dog.' 

" ' But did I not tell you that I would take you away ? ' 

" ' Yes, massa, but you never did it.' 


" Ah ! it wag a beautiful sight to see that little abused slave con- 
front so nobly that proud, bloated, aristocratic slaveholder. The 
Lord was with the weak, and gave him power to confound the 

" The colonel then asked the boy if he was willing to go home 
with his master. lie replied: 'No, sir,' and that 'no, sir,' went 
to the heart of every loyal man who heard it. There he stood, 
that boy who came into our lines cold, barefooted, ragged and 
hungry, amidst a dreary snow-storm, asking food and shelter and 
raiment, after having spent days and nights in the woods, living 
upon black walnuts. Was he to be returned to slavery ? 

" Turning to Judge Robertson, the colonel said : ' I don't think 
you can get that boy. If you think you can, there he is, try it. 
I shall have nothing to do with it.' 

"This gentleman slave-hunter was no less a person than the 
Chief Justice of the State, said tojse the most learned jurist in 
Kentucky. He will be likely to remember the scathing which he 
received from a Wisconsin colonel for some time. I regret that 
the whole North could not have heard it. 

"The colonel was threatened with Kentucky laws, but he 
thought it might be profitable to his country, and the cause in 
which he was engaged, were he even sacrificed, did that rend the 
delusive vail and permit the nation to look in upon Kentucky as 
she is. 

"The colonel intimated to the judge that he preferred that he 
should leave the camp, lesi an excitement should be created 
among the 'boys.' The idea of leaving without his nigger was 
evidently a painful one, and he was inclined to argue the case. 
State subjects were dropped, and the conversation became at once 
rich and animating. To an intimation from the judge that we 
were a set of 'nigger stealers,' the colonel replied: ' You talk 
about negro stealing ! You, who riot in idleness, and who live 
on the sweat and blood of such little creatures as that ! ) 
whose costly mansions, and churches even, are built out of the 
earnings of women and children, beaten out of them by brutal 
overseers! You, who hire out little children to brutes who beat 
and starve them, stealing from their backs and mouths their small 
earnings! You, who clothe them in rags, and when, at last, they 
can stand it no longer, and flee from that protection which you 
denied them, you hunt them down like a ravenous beast, to drag 


them back to their chains, toils and sufferings, that you may eke 
out a few more pennies from this last life drop ! You talk about 
our stealing, when all the crime which we have committed was to 
feed, clothe and shelter that poor, half-starved suffering little boy ! 
Sir, I would rather stand in the place of that slave to-day than in 
that of his proud oppressor. It will be more tolerable for him in 
the day of judgment than for you.' 

"Said the judge: 'If that is the way you talk and feel, the 
Union can never be saved. You must give up our property.' 

"The colonel replied: 'If the perpetuity or restoration of the 
Union depends upon my delivering to you, with my own hands, 
that poor little over-worked creature, dwarfed by your own 
avarice, the Union may be castfinto hell, with all the nations that 
forget God.' 

" He then told him, in his own peculiar scathing style, what 
kind of ' Union men ' he had found in Kentucky. Said he : 'I 
have not seen half a dozen who did not damn the President. You 
may put all the pure Unionism in Kentucky into one scale, and a 
ten-pound nigger baby in the other, and the Unionism will kick 
the beam.' 

"Before leaving, the old jurist condemned the President's proc- 
lamation ; declared that it had no bearing upon Kentucky, and 
that it was the policy of generals commanding our armies to 
ignore both the action of Congress and the proclamation. 

" From our lines the old gentleman drew a very straight line to 
the 'general's headquarters' and to this place the colonel was 
soon summoned, where he enjoyed another interview with the 
persevering judge, and several other Kentucky gentlemen. 

" Colonel Coburn, now in command of this brigade, arose and 
stated in a very gentlemanly manner the policy of comanding 
generals in Kentucky, which is simply this : ' To look at a slave 
in an encampment as in the same condition precisely that he 
would be were there no regiment there that any person has a 
right to enter the encampment and take out a fugitive at his 

"The judge corroborated the statement, and added: 'The 
proclamation of the President is to have no consideration in Ken- 

" Colonel Utley commenced by saying that he regretted to be 
under the necessity of differing from his commanding officer. 



Said he : I reverse the Kentucky policy, and hold that the regi- 
ment stands precisely as though there was no slavery in Kentucky. 
We came here as freemen from a free State, to defend and sup- 
port a free government. We have nothing to do with slavery, 
and we will never be made nigger-catchers. Wecame at the call 
of the President, and still recogniw his authority.' 

" It is useless to think of stating all that was said, but you may 
be assured that the old slave-catching Felix trembled as he list- 
ened to such bold declarations upon the Union-neutral soil. of 

" But he could not leave without making one more effort to 
obtain the dwarfed human property now in danger of being 
transformed into a man. Turning to the colonel he said: 'Are 
you willing that I should go and get my boy ? ' 

" 'Yes, sir,' said the colonel, 'you may go, and I will remain 

" ' Do you think I shall be permitted to take him ? ' 
" ' I think not, but I can not tell.' 
" ' Will you send him into some other regiment?' 
" ' No, sir! ' said the colonel ; ' I would see you in hell first.' 
"The colonel has since been indicted by a Kentucky court at 
Lexington for - man-stealing ; but he has not yet been arrested. 
It will be remembered that there is now a little spot from Wiscon- 
sin down here in the center of Kentucky. How long a more 
serious collision with the insulting and heaven-daring slave power 
can be avoided, it is difficult to calculate. It is my clear convic- 
tion that Judge Robertson's principles correctly and fairly repre- 
sent the Unionism of the State." 

The following, which I copy from a letter written 
to me by my worthy Wisconsin friend, J. L. Berch, 
when he sent the book from which this extract is 
taken, will inform the reader how this affair ter- 
minated : 

The sequel of the whole matter was, that while Colonel Utley 
was in the front, beating back the rebel from off the soil of Ken- 
tucky, this negro-cripple's owner, Judge Robertson, sued him 
(Colonel Utley) in the United States Court for Kentucky, and 



obtained an exparte judgment against him for one thousand five 
hundred dollars and costs, which judgment being duly certified 
to the United States Court for Wisconsin, stood against the col- 
onel's property as a lien thereon, which he would some day have 
been compelled to pay, had not Congress, in 1873, passed a bill 
appropriating money enough *o pay the principal of the judg- 
ment, leaving Colonel Utley still the costs to pay some seven I 
hundred dollars which he has paid." 






IN the fall of 1862 the terrible civil war had fully 
opened west of the mountains. Two large 
armies had gathered in Kentucky and Tennessee ; 
many bloody battles were fought. A different pol- 
icy in regard to the slaves was adopted. They 
flocked within the Union lines, as the armies ad- 
vanced through Tennessee to Memphis, and other 
points in the southwest, and were protected. Many 
of the slaveholders fled farther South, taking their 
able-bodied slaves with them, and leaving the 
women and children, aged and sick ones, to take 
care of themselves. In many cases there was noth- 
ing for this helpless class to live upon. The two 
vast armies that had swept over the country had 
consumed all the provisions, and the poor slaves 
were left in a suffering condition. Thousands gath- 
ered within the Union lines, and were sent to vari- 
ous points up the river. Some were brought on 


boats to Cincinnati, and left on the wharf without 
food and shelter, or means of obtaining them. I 
was frequently called upon for aid and assistance. 
The colored people here acted nobly, taking as 
many as they could and caring for them. Several 
thousand contrabands, as the slaves were then 
called, were sent to Cairo, Illinois, and placed un- 
der charge of J. B. Rogers, chaplain of the Four- 
teenth Wisconsin Volunteers. Hearing of the great 
destitution and suffering at that place and other 
points, I resolved to visit the quarters of the con- 
trabands, and learn what their real condition and 
wants were. 

Cairo is at the mouth of the Ohio, five hundred 
miles from Cincinnati. To shorten the distance and 
make greater speed, I took the Ohio and Mississippi 
Railroad, by way of Vincennes, Indiana. I left 
home on the fifth of the twelfth month December. 
At Odin, Illinois, the next morning, I met with my 
friends, Job Hadley and his wife, from Hendricks 
County, Indiana, who were on their way to Cairo, 
on a similar mission. We were greatly rejoiced to 
meet, and proceeded on our way together. We 
arrived at Cairo that evening, and took quarters at 
the Commercial Hotel. Job Hadley and his wife 
had left home with the intention of opening a school 
among the colored people, if privilege could be ob- 
tained, and remaining with them through the win- 
ter. No schools had yet been opened among the 
contrabands; they were not yet called Freedmen, 
as it was before the emancipation proclamation of 
President Lincoln. We called that evening on Gen- 


eral Tuttle, who had command at that military post. 
He received us cordially, and, when he understood 
our mission, seemed to be pleased and offered us 
any privilege we might wish. In regard to opening 
a school, he referred us to J. B. Rogers, the super- 
intendent, who had charge of the contrabands' 
camp. On the morning of the next day, which was 
the Sabbath, we visited the old military barracks 
where the contrabands were located. We first went 
to the office of J. B. Rogers, the chaplain and gen- 
eral superintendent, who gave us a very cordial 
reception. Although an entire stranger, he ap- 
peared much rejoiced to meet us, and gave us a 
general account of the conditions and wants of the 
contrabands under his care. He went with us to 
visit some of them in their crowded huts and sick 
rooms. We found their condition to be even worse 
than it had been represented to us before leaving 
home. The deepest emotions of pity and sympathy 
were called forth as we witnessed their extreme des- 
titution and suffering. Many were sick from expo- 
sure and for want of sufficient clothing ; they had 
no bedding nor cooking utensils, none of the com- 
forts and few of the necessaries of life. The scanty 
rations issued by Government were their only sub- 
sistence. The weather being quite chilly, many of 
them were suffering with coughs and colds; that 
dreadful scourge small-pox was quite prevalent 
among them, and added to the horrors of their situ- 
ation. A large part of the contrabands collected at 
this point were women, children, and old people. 
Superintendent Rogers a noble Christian worker 


was doing all in his power to make them as com- 
fortable as the scanty means at his command would 

To give them better shelter than their poor huts 
afforded he was fitting up the old barracks stop- 
ping the cracks to keep out the cold wind, and 
making other repairs. 

We believed friend Rogers to be the right man 
in the right place, and felt much sympathy with him 
in his arduous work. lie evinced a deep interest in 
the welfare of the contrabands, in every sense, and 
was fitting up a large room in which to hold relig- 
ious meetings. This apartment was also to be used 
as a school-room, but the school had not yet been 
organized. It seemed to be a great relief to friend 
Rogers when Job Hadley and wife offered to take 
charge of the school. The assistance of Job Had- 
ley in other work would also be of great service to 
him. We visited Dr. Reynolds, the physician in 
charge of the contrabands, at his office, and received 
a hearty welcome. He told us there were about 
one hundred and fifty cases of small-pox among the 
colored people in camp. 

At two o'clock in the afternoon I attended their 
religious meeting, which was held in the large shel- 
ter prepared for that purpose. The weather being 
fair and the sun shining brightly, a large multitude 
of the poor ragged slaves crowded together for de- 
votional service. All the rough seats and every 
foot of standing room were occupied, and the doors 
and windows were crowded with anxious listeners. 

J. B. Rogers opened the meeting with prayer and 


singing. He was a Baptist minister and had, I be- 
lieve, not only been baptized with water but with 
the Holy Ghost. He seemed to speak with the 
power of the Holy Ghost. The singing of the col- 
ored people was characterized by fervor and whole- 
souled abandonment, such as I never before heard. 
I thought of the day of Pentecost, when the disci- 
ples being all of one accord in one place, there came 
a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind 
that filled the house where they were sitting, and 
filling them with the Holy Ghost so that they spoke 
as the Spirit gave them utterance. Their hearts 
seemed filled to overflowing wath praise to God for 
their deliverance from slavery. J. B. Rogers deliv- 
ered a short gospel sermon, well adapted to their 
understanding, after which a Presbyterian minister, 
who was present, delivered a few remarks. Friend 
Rogers then informed the colored people of my 
presence and mission among them. His introduc- 
tion was somewhat embarrassing to me, but I felt 
fully prepared to talk to them and encourage them. 
After I closed my remarks, singing and prayer were 
continued by the colored people for some time, 
many of the old men and women giving utterances 
to expressions of praise and thanksgiving. Friend 
.Rogers gave them full privilege to take part in the 
meeting, which they seemed to enjoy greatly. 

After the meeting was concluded, friend Rogers 
and I spent some time visiting the sick and afflicted, 
and making notes of the articles of bedding and 
clothing most needed. The next morning I started 
home, leaving my friends, Job Hadley and wife, to 


open a school among the colored people. It was 
continued successfully during the winter. I will 
here introduce an extract from J. B. Rogers' book, 
"War Pictures:" 

" On one beautiful Sunday morning of December, 1862, there 
came into our office (at Cairo) three unpretending strangers 
whom I recognized at once as Friends or Quakers. The name 

of one of them, Mr. C , was familiar to me as I had often 

heard of him as one of the truest and most active philanthropists 
of the day. He was accompanied by two friends, a gentleman 
and a lady. The three had "fallen in company on their way to 
Cairo to look after the wants and conditions of the colored people 
there in that place under my charge. I soon found that though 
called by a different name than my own, they were none the less 
devoted Christians, disciples of Jesus. They spent the whole 
of the Lord's day with me. 

" This visit, while affording me great encouragement in my 
work, left with me some thoughts on the subject of Christian 
association, which I found sweet and profitable after my friends 
had left, lit had never fallen in my way to make many acquaint- 
ances among that class to which they belonged ; but I am pre- 
pared now to recognize the distinctive traits of the genuine 
Christian spirit in some, at least, if not all, of that interesting 
people whose unpretending name is significant of the gentleness 
and kindness and wide benevolence for which they have always 
been remarkable. These Friends, of whom I speak, seemed to me 
divested of everything like denominational or sectarian prejudice. 
I saw the difference, too, between talking Christianity and acting 
it; between devotion to creeds and formularies and love for 
Christ and for souls. 

"And this 'godly simplicity' what an engaging trait of Chris- 
tian character ! It is the transparent medium through which we 
look in upon the heart and discover there the spirit of the dear 
Lord himself. Nor does a Christian need any kind of ostentation 
to commend him either to God or his fellow-men. When such 
Christians meet, they soon know each other. 'Christ in them the 
hope of glory,' becomes a means of mutual recognition; for, 'as in 
water, face answereth to face, so the heart of man. 1 " 


After my return I wrote to friend Rogers, and 
will here insert his reply, as it gives some account 
of the freedmen's school: 

"CAIRO, ILLINOIS, December 21, 1862. 


" DEAR BROTHER Your very kind favor I received in due time, 
for which I am under very strong obligations to you. I have 
thought very much of the precious visit I enjoyed with you 
while here, and hope it was not without profit to myself. These 
social interviews, if rightly enjoyed, can but be a source of great 
usefulness to us in producing greater spirituality of mind, and 
leading us closer to the man Christ Jesus. The school under the 
charge of our good friends Hadley and wife more than answers 
our highest hope. It has been in progress five days and a half, 
and I think I may be safe in asserting fliat over fifty have learned 
the alphabet entire, and most of them are in the a b ab, and 
perhaps half, if not more, can spell words of three letters. Those 
who visit the school are greatly astonished at their progress. 
Where is there a parallel case among the whites ? Talk as much 
as you may about their dull and blunt parts, we can not find an 
equal number of whites that will excel them in the avidity with 
which they try to learn. Old and young come together the 
majority, however, are children. They are seen all about after 
school hours, with books in hand, learning their lessons. May 
we hope, my dear brother, that from this small beginning there 
may he great and important results growing to bless the colored 
race ? Brother Hadley and lady are excellent folks ; I have begun 
to appreciate their services very highly, and think their influence 
to be very salutary indeed. May they not go unrewarded for 
their self-sacrificing labors to benefit the despised of our country. 
As our school advances I will keep you informed from time to ^ 
time, and hope I may hear from thee, true yoke-fellow. 

"Your most humble and obedient servant, and brother in 
Christ, J. B. ROGERS." 

After my return from Cairo I devoted my whole 
time and energy to the work for the freed slaves. I 
wrote many letters to my friends in the country 


in Ohio and Indiana and they began at once to col- 
lect bedding, clothing, and money, and forward them 
to me. We had no facilities for sending them to 
the various camps of the freedmen, or for properly 
distributing them. It seemed necessary to have 
some regular and responsible organization here on 
the border, to receive and forward the supplies. 

A meeting was called, and the Western Freed- 
men's Aid Commission was organized, comprising 
many prominent meirjbers of the different religious 
denominations of our city. I was appointed general 
agent of this commission. We went to work at 
once and opened an office and wareroom where the 
supplies sent for the freedmen could be received, 
and stored until forwarded to their destination. 

The members of the Society of Friends in various 
parts of the country had become deeply interested 
in the subject, and were actively at work. Miami 
Quarterly Meeting had appointed a committee, the 
members of,which had issued a printed circular, to 
Friends, on the subject of the sufferings and wants 
of the freedmen. The response to this appeal came 
in the shape of supplies from various parts of Ohio 
and Indiana. 

The Aid Commission was organized in January, 
1863. It will be remembered that President Lin- 
coln's emancipation proclamation took effect the 
first day of that year. 

General Grant, who at that time had command of 
the Southern division of the army, gave us free 
transportation for all supplies for the freedmen and 
for our agents and teachers. We sent efficient 


agents to attend to the proper and judicious distri- 
bution of the clothing and other articles, and a 
number of teachers, well supplied with books, to 
open schools among the colored people. Notwith- 
standing the hardships and dangers to be encoun- 
tered in going into the enemy's land, several noble 
young men volunteered their services. Among the 
first that accompanied the supplies were Isaac 
Thorne, John L. Roberts, and Franklin Coggeshall. 
Boats passing down the river were often fired into 
by guerrillas concealed in the trees and shrubbery 
along the bank, and the trip was a hazardous one 
on other accounts. 

To Nashville and other points in Tennessee, then 
in possession of the Union forces, the freedmen 
had gathered by thousands, in great destitution and 
suffering. The work constantly increased, and the 
demands upon us far exceeded our supplies. Dur- 
ing the winter and spring I frequently took hasty 
trips into the country to endeavor to arouse a 
deeper interest on this subject arriong the people, 
and attended many of the Quarterly Meetings of 
Friends in Ohi6 and Indiana, to encourage increased 
action in behalf of the freedmen. These efforts 
were blessed with succe