One of the methods, which used to succeed very well, in skillful and brave hands, was this: In order to avoid suspicion, the woman intending to be secreted, approached the boat with a clean ironed shirt on her arm, bare headed and in her usual working dress, looking good-natured of course, and as if she were simply conveying the shirt to one of the men on the boat. The attention of the officer on the watch would not for a moment be attracted by a custom so common as this. Thus safely on the boat, the man whose business it was to put this piece of property in the most safe Underground Rail Road place, if he saw that every thing looked favorable, would quickly arrange matters without being missed from his duties. In numerous instances, officers were outwitted in this way.
As to what Susan had seen in the way of hardships, whether in relation to herself or others, her story was most interesting; but it may here be passed in order to make room for others. She left one sister, named Mary Ann Tharagood, who was wanting to come away very much. Susan was a woman of dark color, round built, medium height, and about forty years of age when she escaped in 1854.
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WILLIAM HENRY ATKINS.
William Henry was also a fellow-passenger on the same boat with William B. White and Susan Cooke. These might be set down, as first-class Underground Rail Road travelers.
Henry was a very likely-looking article. He was quite smart, about six feet high, a dark mulatto, and was owned by a Baptist minister.
For some cause not stated on the books, not long before leaving, Henry had received a notice from his owner, (the Baptist Minister) that he might hunt himself a new master as soon as possible. This was a business that Henry had no relish for. The owner he already had, he concluded bad enough in all conscience, and it did not occur to him that hunting another would mend the matter much. So in thinking over the situation, he was “taken sick.” He felt the need of a little time to reflect upon matters of very weighty moment involving his freedom. So when he was called upon one day to go to his regular toil, the answer was, “I am sick, I am not able to budge hardly.” The excuse took and Henry attended faithfully to his “sick business,” for the time being, while on the other hand, the Baptist Minister waited patiently all the while for William to get well enough for hunting a new master. What had to be done, needed to be done quickly, before his master’s patience was exhausted. William soon had matters arranged for traveling North. He had a wife, Eliza, for whom he felt the greatest affection; but as he viewed matters at that time, he concluded that he could really do more for her in Canada than he could in Norfolk. He saw no chance, either under the Baptist minister, or under a new master. His wife was owned by Susan Langely. When the hour arrived to start, as brave men usually do, Henry, having counted all the cost, was in his place on the boat with his face towards Canada.