In March, 1857, Abram Harris fled from John Henry Suthern, who lived near Benedict, Charles county, Md., where he was engaged in the farming business, and was the owner of about seventy head of slaves. He kept an overseer, and usually had flogging administered daily, on males and females, old and young. Abram becoming very sick of this treatment, resolved, about the first of March, to seek out the Underground Rail Road. But for his strong attachment to his wife (who was owned by Samuel Adams, but was “pretty well treated"), he never would have consented to suffer as he did.
Here no hope of comfort for the future seemed to remain. So Abram consulted with a fellow-servant, by the name of Romulus Hall, alias George Weems, and being very warm friends, concluded to start together. Both had wives to “tear themselves from,” and each was equally ignorant of the distance they had to travel, and the dangers and sufferings to be endured. But they “trusted in God” and kept the North Star in view. For nine days and nights, without a guide, they traveled at a very exhausting rate, especially as they had to go fasting for three days, and to endure very cold weather. Abram’s companion, being about fifty years of age, felt obliged to succumb, both from hunger and cold, and had to be left on the way. Abram was a man of medium size, tall, dark chestnut color, and could read and write a little and was quite intelligent; “was a member of the Mount Zion Church,” and occasionally officiated as an “exhorter,” and really appeared to be a man of genuine faith in the Almighty, and equally as much in freedom.
In substance, Abram gave the following information concerning his knowledge of affairs on the farm under his master—
“Master and mistress very frequently visited the Protestant Church, but were not members. Mistress was very bad. About three weeks before I left, the overseer, in a violent fit of bad temper, shot and badly wounded a young slave man by the name of Henry Waters, but no sooner than he got well enough he escaped, and had not been heard of up to the time Abram left. About three years before this happened, an overseer of my master was found shot dead on the road. At once some of the slaves were suspected, and were all taken to the Court House, at Serentown, St. Mary’s county; but all came off clear. After this occurrence a new overseer, by the name of John Decket, was employed. Although his predecessor had been dead three years, Decket, nevertheless, concluded that it was not ‘too late’ to flog the secret out of some of the slaves. Accordingly, he selected a young slave man for his victim, and flogged him so cruelly that he could scarcely walk or stand, and to keep from being actually killed, the boy told an untruth, and confessed that he and his Uncle Henry killed Webster, the overseer; whereupon the poor fellow was sent to jail to be tried for his life.”