On the night she started she went to the bed where they were sleeping, kissed them, and, consigning them into the hands of God, bade her mother good-bye, and with her two little girls wended her way again to Burlington County, New Jersey, but to a different neighborhood from that where she had been seized. She changed her name to Charity, and succeeded in again joining her husband, but, alas, with the heart-breaking thought that she had been compelled to leave her two little boys in slavery and one of the little girls on the road for the father to go back after. Thus she began life in freedom anew.
Levin and Peter, eight and six years of age respectively, were now left at the mercy of the enraged owner, and were soon hurried off to a Southern market and sold, while their mother, for whom they were daily weeping, was they knew not where. They were too young to know that they were slaves, or to understand the nature of the afflicting separation. Sixteen years before Peter’s return, his older brother (Levin) died a slave in the State of Alabama, and was buried by his surviving brother, Peter.
No idea other than that they had been “kidnapped” from their mother ever entered their minds; nor had they any knowledge of the State from whence they supposed they had been taken, the last names of their mother and father, or where they were born. On the other hand, the mother was aware that the safety of herself and her rescued children depended on keeping the whole transaction a strict family secret. During the forty years of separation, except two or three Quaker friends, including the devoted friend of the slave, Benjamin Lundy, it is doubtful whether any other individuals were let into the secret of her slave life. And when the account given of Peter’s return, etc., was published in 1850, it led some of the family to apprehend serious danger from the partial revelation of the early condition of the mother, especially as it was about the time that the Fugitive Slave law was passed.
Hence, the author of “The Kidnapped and the Ransomed” was compelled to omit these dangerous facts, and had to confine herself strictly to the “personal recollections of Peter Still” with regard to his being “kidnapped.” Likewise, in the sketch of Seth Concklin’s eventful life, written by Dr. W.H. Furness, for similar reasons he felt obliged to make but bare reference to his wonderful agency in relation to Peter’s family, although he was fully aware of all the facts in the case.
Here are introduced a few out of a very large number of interesting letters, designed for other parts of the book as occasion may require. All letters will be given precisely as they were written by their respective authors, so that there may be no apparent room for charging the writer with partial colorings in any instance. Indeed, the originals, however ungrammatically written or erroneously spelt, in their native simplicity possess such beauty and force as corrections and additions could not possibly enhance—