Lewis Burrell and his brother Peter arrived safely from Alexandria, Virginia, April 21, 1856. Lewis had been owned by Edward M. Clark, Peter by Benjamin Johnson Hall. These passengers seemed to be well posted in regard to Slavery, and understood full well their responsibilities in fleeing from “kind-hearted” masters. All they feared was that they might not reach Canada safely, although they were pretty hopeful and quite resolute. Lewis left a wife, Winna Ann, and two children, Joseph and Mary, who were owned by Pembroke Thomas, at Culpepper, Va., nearly a hundred miles distant from him. Once or twice in the year, was the privilege allowed him to visit his wife and little ones at this long distance. This separation constituted his daily grief and was the cause of his escape. Lewis and Peter left their father and mother in bondage, also one brother (Reuben), and three sisters, two of whom had been sold far South.
After a sojourn in freedom of nearly three years, Lewis wrote on behalf of his wife as follows:
TORONTO, C.W., Feb. 2, 1859.
MR. WM. STILL:
DEAR SIR:—It have bin two years since I war at your house, at that time I war on my way to cannadia, and I tould you that I had a wife and had to leave her behind, and you promiest me that you would healp me to gait hir if I ever heaird from hir, and I think my dear frend, that the time is come for me to strick the blow, will you healp me, according to your promis. I recived a letter from a frend in Washington last night and he says that my wife is in the city of Baltimore, and she will come away if she can find a frend to healp hir, so I thought I would writ to you as you are acquanted with foulks theare to howm you can trust with such matthas. I could write to Mr Noah davis in Baltimore, who is well acquanted with my wife, but I do not think that he is a trew frend, and I could writ to Mr Samual Maden in the same city, but I am afread that a letter coming from cannada might be dedteced, but if you will writ to soume one that you know, and gait them to see Mr Samual Maden he will give all the information that you want, as he is acquanted with my wife, he is a preacher and belongs to the Baptis church. My wifes name is Winne Ann Berrell, and she is oned by one Dr. Tarns who is on a viset to Baltimore, now Mr Still will you attend to this thing for me, fourthwith, if you will I will pay you four your truble, if we can dow any thing it must be don now, as she will leave theare in the spring, and if you will take the matter in hand, you mous writ me on to reseption of this letter, whether you will or not.
No. 49 Victoria St., Toronto, C.W.
As in the case of many others, the way was so completely blocked that nothing could be done for the wife’s deliverance. Until the day when the millions of fetters were broken, nothing gave so much pain to husbands and wives as these heart-breaking separations.