The young mother gave Carter a very bad character, affirming, that it was a “common practice with him to flog the slaves, stripped entirely naked”—that she had herself been so flogged, since she had been a married woman. How the husband was treated, the record book is silent. He was about thirty-two—the wife about twenty-seven. Especial pains were taken to provide aid and sympathy to this family in their destitution, fleeing under such peculiarly trying circumstances and from such loathsome brutality. They were from Aldie P.O., London County, Virginia, and passed through the hands of the Committee about the 11th of June. What has been their fate since is not known.
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The steamship Pennsylvania, on one of her regular trips from Richmond, brought one passenger, of whom the Captain had no knowledge; no permission had been asked of any officer of the boat. Nevertheless, Verenea Mercer managed, by the most extraordinary strategy, to secrete herself on the steamer, and thus succeeded in reaching Philadelphia. She was following her husband, who escaped about nine months before her.
Verenea was about forty-one years of age, of a dark chestnut color, prepossessing in manners, intelligent and refined. She belonged to the slave population of Richmond, and was owned by Thomas W. Quales. According to her testimony, she had not received severe treatment during the eight and a half years that she had been in his hands. Previous to his becoming the owner of Verenea, it might have been otherwise, although nothing is recorded in proof of this inference, except that she had the misfortune to lose her first husband by a sale. Of course she was left a widow, in which state she remained nine years, at the expiration of which period, she married a man by the name of James Mercer, whose narrative may be found on p. 54.
How James got off, and where he went, Verenea knew quite well; consequently, in planning to reach him, she resorted to the same means by which he achieved success. The Committee rendered her the usual aid, and sent her on direct to her husband in Canada. Without difficulty of any kind she reached there safely, and found James with arms wide open to embrace her. Frequent tidings reached the Committee, that they were getting along quite well in Toronto.
On the same day (January 1st), PETER DERRICKSON and CHARLES PURNELL arrived from Berlin, Worcester county, Maryland. Both were able-bodied young men, twenty-four and twenty-six years of age, just the kind that a trader, or an experienced slave-holder in the farming business, would be most likely to select for doing full days’ work in the field, or for bringing high prices in the market.