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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 village, 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 burying-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 procured, John Hatfield's wife and daughter, and other colored women of the neighborhood, busied themselves in preparing provisions to be sent to the fugitives. 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 Hatfield, 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 children, whom we knew must be chilled by their exposure 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 breakfast the carriages and buggies drove up and halted in the road, and the fugitives were quickly conducted to them and placed inside. The women in the tight carriages wrapped themselves in the
blankets, and the woman who had a young babe muffled 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. . . .
When it was known by some of the prominent ladies of the village that a large company of fugitives 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 Society had their depository there. I went with him to purchase the shoes that were needed, and my wife selected all the clothing we had that was suitable 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 Hamilton, West Elkton, Eaton, Paris and Newport, Indiana. West Elkton, twenty-five or thirty miles from College Hill, was the first Underground Railroad depot. That line always had plenty of locomotives and cars in readiness. I agreed to send information to that point, and accordingly wrote to one of my particular friends at West Elkton, informing him that I had some valuable stock on hand which I wished to forward to Newport, and requested him to send three two-horse wagons - covered - to College Hill, where the stock was resting, in charge of Jonathan Cable. . . .
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 station 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 shore.
Levi Coffin, Reminiscences (Cincinnati, ), 304-311 passim.
My Property I will Have” (1851)
BY WILLIAM PARKER
Parker was an escaped slave who had married another fugitive and settled at Christiana, in the southern part of Pennsylvania. The neighborhood was a favorite one for escaped slaves, and Parker was at the head of an organization for mutual protection against slaveholders and kidnappers. After the event here described he escaped to Canada. The affair caused much excitement, and there was an unsuccessful attempt to convict Hanway, mentioned in the text, of treason. The piece has apparently received a literary dress from a more practised hand than that of a fugitive slave. - Bibliography: McDougall, Fugitive Slaves, p. 127, No. 49.
HUS matters stood in Philadelphia on the 9th of September, 1851, when Mr. Gorsuch and his gang of Maryland kidnappers arrived there. Their presence was soon known to the little band of true men who were called "The Special Secret Committee."
The trusty agent of this Special Committee, Mr. Samuel Williams, of Philadelphia, a man true and faithful to his race, and courageous in the highest degree, came to Christiana, travelling most of the way in company with the very men whom Gorsuch had employed to drag into slavery four as good men as ever trod the earth. . .
The information brought by Mr. Williams spread through the vicinity like a fire in the prairies; and when I went home from my work in the evening, I found Pinckney (whom I should have said before was my brother-in-law), Abraham Johnson, Samuel Thompson, and Joshua Kite at my house, all of them excited about the rumor. I laughed at them, and said it was all talk. This was the 10th of September, 1851. They stopped for the night with us, and we went to bed as usual. Before day-light, Joshua Kite rose, and started for his home. Directly, he ran back to the house, burst open the door, crying, "O William! kidnappers! kidnappers!"
He said that, when he was just beyond the yard, two men crossed before him, as if to stop him, and others came up on either side. As he said this, they had reached the door. Joshua ran up stairs, (we slept up stairs,) and they followed him; but I met them at the landing, and asked, "Who are you?"
The leader, Kline, replied, "I am the United States Marshal.”
I then told him to take another step, and I would break his neck.
He again said, "I am the United States Marshal."
I told him I did not care for him nor the United States. At that he turned and went down stairs. . . .
He then read the warrant, and said, "Now, you see, we are commanded to take you, dead or alive; so you may as well give up at once."
"Go up, Mr. Kline," then said Gorsuch, “you are the Marshal."
But he was too cowardly to show his face.
"You had better give up," said old Mr. Gorsuch, after another while, "and come down, for I have come a long way this morning, and want my breakfast; for my property I will have, or I'll breakfast in hell. I will go up and get it."
He then started up stairs, and came far enough to see us all plainly. We were just about to fire upon him, when Dickinson Gorsuch, who was standing on the old oven, before the door, and could see into the upstairs room through the window, jumped down and caught his father, saying, —“O father, do come down! do come down! They have guns, swords, and all kinds of weapons! They'll kill you! Do come down!" The old man turned and left. . . .
The whites, at this time, were coming from all quarters, and Kline was enrolling them as fast as they came. . . .
.. Elijah Lewis, a Quaker, also came along about this time; I beckoned to him . . . but he came straight on, and was met by Kline, who ordered him to assist him. Lewis asked for his authority, and Kline handed him the warrant. While Lewis was reading, Castner Hanway came up, and Lewis handed the warrant to him. Lewis asked Kline what Parker said.
Kline replied, "He won't give up."
Then Lewis and Hanway both said to the Marshal, "If Parker says they will not give up, you had better let them alone, for he will kill some of you. We are not going to risk our lives; "- and they turned to go
While they were talking, I came down and stood in the doorway, my men following behind. . . .
Kline now came running up, and entreated Gorsuch to come away. "No," said the latter, "I will have my property, or go to hell." "What do you intend to do?" said Kline to me.
"I intend to fight," said I. "I intend to try your strength."
"If you will withdraw your men," he replied, "I will withdraw mine."
I told him it was too late. the chance, you shall not now."
Kline then went back to Hanway and Lewis. Gorsuch made a signal to his men, and they all fell into line. I followed his example as well as I could; but as we were not more than ten paces apart, it was difficult to do so. At this time we numbered but ten, while there were between thirty and forty of the white men.
While I was talking to Gorsuch, his son said, "Father, will you take all this from a nigger?"
"You would not withdraw when you had
I answered him by saying that I respected old age; but that, if he would repeat that, I should knock his teeth down his throat. At this he fired upon me, and I ran up to him and knocked the pistol out of his hand, when he let the other one fall and ran in the field.
My brother-in-law, who was standing near, then said, "I can stop him ;"— and with his double-barrel gun he fired.
Young Gorsuch fell, but rose and ran on again. Pinckney fired a second time, and again Gorsuch fell, but was soon up again, and, running into the cornfield, lay down in the fence corner.
I returned to my men, and found Samuel Thompson talking to old Mr. Gorsuch, his master. They were both angry.
“Old man, you had better go home to Maryland," said Samuel. "You had better give up, and come home with me," said the old
Thompson took Pinckney's gun from him, struck Gorsuch, and brought him to his knees. Gorsuch rose and signalled to his men. Thompson then knocked him down again, and he again rose. At this time all the white men opened fire, and we rushed upon them; when they turned, threw down their guns, and ran away. We, being closely engaged, clubbed our rifles. We were too closely pressed to fire, but we found a good deal could be done with empty guns.
Old Mr. Gorsuch was the bravest of his party; he held on to his pistols until the last, while all the others threw away their weapons. I saw as many as three at a time fighting with him. Sometimes he was on his knees, then on his back, and again his feet would be where his head should be. He was a fine soldier and a brave man. Whenever he saw the least opportunity, he would take aim.
Having driven the slavocrats off in every direction, our party now turned towards their several homes. Some of us, however, went back to my house, where we found several of the neighbors.