Rebecca Jones was about twenty-eight years of age; mulatto, good-looking, considerably above medium size, very intelligent, and a true-born heroine.
The following reward, offered by the notorious negro-trader, Hall, proved that Rebecca and her children were not to be allowed to go free, if slave-hunters could be induced by a heavy pecuniary consideration to recapture them:
$300 REWARD is offered for the apprehension of negro woman, REBECCA JONES and her three children, and man ISAIAH, belonging to W.W. Davidson, who have disappeared since the 20th inst. The above reward will be paid for the apprehension and delivery of the said Negroes to my Jail, by the attorney in fact of the owner, or the sum of $250 for the man alone, or $150 for the woman and three children alone.
WM. W. HALL, for the Attorney, feb. 1.
Years before her escape, her mistress died in England; and as Rebecca had always understood, long before this event, that all the slaves were to be freed at the death of her mistress, she was not prepared to believe any other report. It turned out, however, as in thousands of other instances, that no will could be found, and, of course, the administrators retained the slave property, regardless of any verbal expressions respecting freeing, etc. Rebecca closely watched the course of the administrators, and in the meanwhile firmly resolved, that neither she nor her children should ever serve another master. Rather than submit, she declared that she would take the lives of her children and then her own. Notwithstanding her bold and decided stand, the report went out that she was to be sold, and that all the slaves were still to be held in bondage. Rebecca’s sympathizers and friends advised her, as they thought for the best, to get a friend or gentleman to purchase her for herself. To this she replied: “Not three cents would I give, nor do I want any of my friends to buy me, not if they could get me for three cents. It would be of no use,” she contended, “as she was fully bent on dying, rather than remain a slave.” The slave-holders evidently understood her, and were in no hurry about bringing her case to an issue—they rather gave her time to become calm. But Rebecca was inflexible.
Six years before her arrival, her husband had escaped, in company with the noted fugitive, “Shadrach.” For a time after he fled, she frequently received letters from him, but for a long while he had ceased to write, and of late she had heard nothing from him.
In escaping stowed away in the boat, she suffered terribly, but faithfully endured to the end, and was only too happy when the agony was over. After resting and getting thoroughly refreshed in Philadelphia, she, with others, was forwarded to Boston, for her heart was there. Several letters were received from her, respecting her prospects, etc., from which it appears that she had gained some knowledge of her husband, although not of a satisfactory nature. At any rate she decided that she could not receive him back again. The following letter has reference to her prospects, going to California, her husband, etc.: