John fled from under the yoke of Dr. Joshua R. Nelson. Until within two years of “Jack’s” flight, the doctor “had been a very fine man,” with whom Jack found no fault. But suddenly his mode of treatment changed; he became very severe. Nothing that Jack could do, met the approval of the doctor. Jack was constantly looked upon with suspicion.
The very day that Jack fled, four men approached him (the doctor one of them), with line in hand; that sign was well understood, and Jack resolved that they should not get within tying distance of him. “I dodged them,” said Jack. Never afterwards was Jack seen in that part of the country, at least as long as a fetter remained.
The day that he “dodged” he also took the Underground Rail Road, and although ignorant of letters, he battled his way out of Maryland, and succeeded in reaching Pennsylvania and the Committee. He was obliged to leave four children behind—John, Abraham, Jane and Ellen.
Jack’s wife had been freed and had come to Philadelphia two years in advance of him. His master evidently supposed that Jack would be mean enough to wish to see his wife, even in a free State, and that no slave, with such an unnatural desire, could be tolerated or trusted, that the sooner such “articles” were turned into cash the better. This in substance, was the way Jack accounted for the sudden change which had come over his master. In defense of his course, Jack referred to the treatment which he had received while in servitude under his old master, in something like the following words: “I served under my young master’s father, thirty-five years, and from him received kind treatment. I was his head man on the place, and had everything to look after.”
* * * * *
WILLIAM LEE, SUSAN JANE BOILE AND AMARIAN LUCRETIA RISTER.
Although these three passengers arrived in Philadelphia at the same time, they did not come from Maryland together.
William Lee found himself under the yoke on a farm in the possession of Zechariah Merica, who, Wm. said, was a “low ignorant man, not above a common wood-chopper, and owned no other slave property than William.” Against him, however, William brought no accusation of any very severe treatment; on the contrary, his master talked sometimes “as though he wanted to be good and get religion, but said he could not while he was trying to be rich.” Everything looked hopeless in William’s eyes, so far as the master’s riches and his own freedom were concerned. He concluded that he would leave him the “bag to hold alone.” William therefore laid down “the shovel and the hoe,” and, without saying a word to his master, he took his departure, under the privacy of the night, for Canada. William represented the white and colored races about equally; he was about twenty-seven years of age, and looked well fitted for a full day’s work on a farm.