Tom, likewise, told the same story, and although they used the corn-field vernacular, they were in earnest and possessed an abundance of mother-wit, so that their testimony was not to be made light of.
The following letter from Thomas Garrett speaks for itself:
WILMINGTON, 5 mo. 11th, 1856.
ESTEEMED FRIENDS—McKim and Still:—I purpose sending to-morrow morning by the steamboat a woman and child, whose husband, I think, went some nine months previous to New Bedford. She was furnished with a free passage by the same line her husband came in. She has been away from the person claiming to be her master some five months; we, therefore, think there cannot be much risk at present. Those four I wrote thee about arrived safe up in the neighborhood of Longwood, and Harriet Tubman followed after in the stage yesterday. I shall expect five more from the same neighborhood next trip. Captain Lambdin is desirous of having sent him a book, or books, with the strongest arguments of the noted men of the South against the institution of slavery, as he wishes to prepare to defend himself, as he has little confidence in his attorney. Cannot you send to me something that will be of benefit to him, or send it direct to him? Would not W. Goodell’s book be of use? His friends here think there is no chance for him but to go to the penitentiary. They now refuse to let any one but his attorney see him.
As ever your friend,
The woman and child alluded to were received and noted on the record book as follows:
Winnie Patty, and her daughter, Elizabeth, arrived safely from Norfolk, Va. The mother is about twenty-two years of age, good-looking and of chestnut color, smart and brave. From the latter part of October, 1855, to the latter part of March, 1856, this young slave mother, with her child, was secreted under the floor of a house. The house was occupied by a slave family, friends of Winnie. During the cold winter weather she suffered severely from wet and cold, getting considerably frosted, but her faith failed not, even in the hour of greatest extremity. She chose rather to suffer thus than endure slavery any longer, especially as she was aware that the auction-block awaited her. She had already been sold three times; she knew therefore what it was to be sold.
Jacob Shuster was the name of the man whom she spoke of as her tormentor and master, and from whom she fled. He had been engaged in the farming business, and had owned quite a large number of slaves, but from time to time he had been selling off, until he had reduced his stock considerably.
Captain Lambdin, spoken of in Thomas Garrett’s letter, had, in the kindness of his heart, brought away in his schooner some Underground Rail Road passengers, but unfortunately he was arrested and thrust into prison in Norfolk, Va., to await trial. Having no confidence in his attorney there he found that he would have to defend himself as best he could, consequently he wanted books, etc. He was in the attitude of a drowning man catching at a straw. The Committee was powerless to aid him, except with some money; as the books that he desired had but little effect in the lions’ den, in which he was. He had his trial, and was sent to the penitentiary, of course.