STANFORD, June 1st, 1855, Niagara districk.
DEAR SIR:—I set down to inform you that I take the liberty to rite for a frend to inform you that he is injoying good health and hopes that this will finde you the same he got to this cuntry very well except that in Albany he was vary neig taking back to his oald home but escaped and when he came to the suspention bridg he was so glad that he run for freadums shore and when he arived it was the last of October and must look for sum wourk for the winter he choped wood until Feruary times are good but money is scarce he thinks a great deal of the girl he left behind him he thinks that there is non like her here non so hansom as his Rachel right and let him hear from you as soon as convaniant no more at presant but remain yours,
“PETE MATTHEWS,” ALIAS SAMUEL SPARROWS.
“I MIGHT AS WELL BE IN THE PENITENTIARY, &C.”
Up to the age of thirty-five “Pete” had worn the yoke steadily, if not patiently under William S. Matthews, of Oak Hall, near Temperanceville, in the State of Virginia. Pete said that his “master was not a hard man,” but the man to whom he “was hired, George Matthews, was a very cruel man.” “I might as well be in the penitentiary as in his hands,” was his declaration.
One day, a short while before Pete “took out,” an ox broke into the truck patch, and helped himself to choice delicacies, to the full extent of his capacious stomach, making sad havoc with the vegetables generally. Peter’s attention being directed to the ox, he turned him out, and gave him what he considered proper chastisement, according to the mischief he had done. At this liberty taken by Pete, the master became furious. “He got his gun and threatened to shoot him,” “Open your mouth if you dare, and I will pat the whole load into you,” said the enraged master. “He took out a large dirk-knife, and attempted to stab me, but I kept out of his way,” said Pete. Nevertheless the violence of the master did not abate until he had beaten Pete over the head and body till he was weary, inflicting severe injuries. A great change was at once wrought in Pete’s mind. He was now ready to adopt any plan that might hold out the least encouragement to escape. Having capital to the amount of four dollars only, he felt that he could not do much towards employing a conductor, but he had a good pair of legs, and a heart stout enough to whip two or three slave-catchers, with the help of a pistol. Happening to know a man who had a pistol for sale, he went to him and told him that he wished to purchase it. For one dollar the pistol became Pete’s property. He had but three dollars left, but he was determined to make that amount answer his purposes under the circumstances. The last cruel beating maddened him almost to desperation, especially when he remembered how he had been compelled to work hard night and day, under Matthews. Then, too, Peter had a wife, whom his master prevented him from visiting; this was not among the least offences with which Pete charged his master. Fully bent on leaving, the following Sunday was fixed by him on which to commence his journey.