When Orlando escaped from Richmond the Underground Rail Road business was not very brisk. A disaster on the road, resulting in the capture of one or two captains, tended to damp the ardor of some who wanted to come, as well as that of sympathizers. The road was not idle, however. Orlando’s coming was hailed with great satisfaction. He was twenty-nine years of age, full black, possessed considerable intelligence, and was fluent in speech; fully qualified to give clear statements as to the condition of Slavery in Richmond, etc. While the Committee listened to his narrations with much interest, they only took note of how he had fared, and the character of the master he was compelled to serve. On these points the substance of his narrations may be found annexed:
“I was owned by High Holser, a hide sorter, a man said to be rich, a good Catholic, though very disagreeable; he was not cruel, but was very driving and abusive in his language towards colored people. I have been held in bondage about eighteen years by Holser, but have failed, so far, to find any good traits in his character. I purchased my mother for one hundred dollars, when she was old and past labor, too old to earn her hire and find herself; but she was taken away by death, before I had finished paying for her; twenty-five dollars only remained to be paid to finish the agreement. Owing to her unexpected death, I got rid of that much, which was of some consequence, as I was a slave myself, and had hard work to raise the money to purchase her.”
Thus, finding the usages of Slavery so cruel and outlandish, he resolved to leave “old Virginny” and “took out,” via the Underground Rail Road. He appeared to be of a religious turn of mind and felt that he had “a call to preach.”
After his arrival in Canada, the following letter was received from him:
ST. CATHARINES, C.W., May 6th, 1858.
MY DEAR FRIEND:—WM. STILL:—Mr. Orlando J. Hunt, who has just arrived here from Richmond, Va., desires me to address to you a line in his behalf. Mr. Hunt is expecting his clothing to come from Richmond to your care, and if you have received them, he desires you to forward them immediately to St. Catharines, in my care, in the safest and most expeditious way in your power. Mr. Hunt is much pleased with this land of freedom, and I hope he may do well for himself and much good to others. He preached here in the Baptist church, last evening.
He sends his kind regards
and sincere thanks to you and your
family, and such friends as have favored him on his way. Very
HIRAM WILSON, for ORLANDO HUNT.
* * * * *
William made no complaint against his master of a serious nature touching himself. True, he said his “master was a frolicker, and fond of drink,” but he was not particularly unkind to him. His name was Tunis; he was a military man, and young; consequently William had not been in his hands long. Prior to his being owned by the young master, he had lived with old mistress Tunis. Concerning her the following is one of William’s statements: