December 29th, 1854—John is twenty years of age, chestnut color, of spare build and smart. He fled from a farmer, by the name of John Campbell Henry, who resided at Cambridge, Dorchester Co., Maryland. On being interrogated relative to the character of his master, John gave no very amiable account of him. He testified that he was a “hard man” and that he “owned about one hundred and forty slaves and sometimes he would sell,” etc. John was one of the slaves who were “hired out.” He “desired to have the privilege of hunting his own master.” His desire was not granted. Instead of meekly submitting, John felt wronged, and made this his reason for running away. This looked pretty spirited on the part of one so young as John. The Committee’s respect for him was not a little increased, when they heard him express himself.
Benjamin was twenty-eight years of age, chestnut color, medium size, and shrewd. He was the so-called property of Eliza Ann Brodins, who lived near Buckstown, in Maryland. Ben did not hesitate to say, in unqualified terms, that his mistress was “very devilish.” He considered his charges, proved by the fact that three slaves (himself one of them) were required to work hard and fare meagerly, to support his mistress’ family in idleness and luxury. The Committee paid due attention to his ex parte statement, and was obliged to conclude that his argument, clothed in common and homely language, was forcible, if not eloquent, and that he was well worthy of aid. Benjamin left his parents besides one sister, Mary Ann Williamson, who wanted to come away on the Underground Rail Road.
Henry left his wife, Harriet Ann, to be known in future by the name of “Sophia Brown.” He was a fellow-servant of Ben’s, and one of the supports of Eliza A. Brodins.
Henry was only twenty-two, but had quite an insight into matters and things going on among slaves and slave-holders generally, in country life. He was the father of two small children, whom he had to leave behind.
Peter was owned by George Wenthrop, a farmer, living near Cambridge, Md. In answer to the question, how he had been used, he said “hard.” Not a pleasant thought did he entertain respecting his master, save that he was no longer to demand the sweat of Peter’s brow. Peter left parents, who were free; he was born before they were emancipated, consequently, he was retained in bondage.
Jane, aged twenty-two, instead of regretting that she had unadvisedly left a kind mistress and indulgent master, who had afforded her necessary comforts, affirmed that her master, “Rash Jones, was the worst man in the country.” The Committee were at first disposed to doubt her sweeping statement, but when they heard particularly how she had been treated, they thought Catharine had good ground for all that she said. Personal abuse and hard usage, were the common lot of poor slave girls.