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William Still
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,197 pages of information about The Underground Railroad.

ARRIVAL FROM VIRGINIA, 1858.

PETER NELSON. (RESEMBLED AN IRISHMAN.)

The coming of this strange-looking individual caused much surprise, representing, as he did, if not a full-blooded Irishman, a man of Irish descent.  He was sufficiently fair to pass for white anywhere, with his hat on—­with it off, his hair would have betrayed him; it was light, but quite woolly.  Nor was he likely to be called handsome; he was interesting, nevertheless.  It was evident, that the “white man’s party” had damaged him seriously.  He represented that he had been in the bonds of one James Ford, of Stafford county, Virginia, and that this “Ford was a right tough old fellow, who owned about two dozen head.”  “How does he treat them?” he was asked.  “He don’t treat them well no way,” replied the passenger.  “Why did you leave?” was the next question.  “Because of his fighting, knocking and carrying on so,” was the prompt answer.  The Committee fully interviewed him, and perceived that he had really worn the fetters of Slavery, and that he was justified in breaking his bonds and fleeing for refuge to Canada, and was entitled to aid and sympathy.  Peter was about twenty-four years of age.  He left nine brothers and sisters in bondage.

* * * * *

ARRIVAL FROM WASHINGTON, 1858.

MARY JONES AND SUSAN BELL.

These “weaker vessels” came from the seat of government.  Mary confessed that she had been held to service as the property of Mrs. Henry Harding, who resided at Rockville, some miles out of Washington.  Both Mr. and Mrs Harding she considered “bad enough,” but added, “if it had not been for the young set I could get along with them; they can’t be pleased.”  Yet Mary had not fared half so hard under the Hardings as many slaves had under their claimants.  Intellectually, she was quite above the average; she was tall, and her appearance was such as to awaken sympathy.  Through the permission of her claimant she had been in the habit of hiring her time for three dollars per month and find herself; she was also allowed to live in Washington.  Such privileges, with wages at so low a rate, were thought to be extra, and could only be obtained in exceptional cases.

“In nine years,” said Mary, “I have not even as much as received an apron from them,” (her owners).  The meanness of the system under which she had been required to live, hourly appeared clearer and clearer to her, as she was brought into contact with sympathizing spirits such as she had never known before.

Susan, who was in Mary’s charge, was an invalid child of four years of age, who never walked, and whose mother had escaped to Canada about three years before under circumstances which obliged her to leave this child, then only a year old.

Susan had been a great sufferer, and so had her mother, who had been a long time anxiously looking and praying for her coming, as she had left her in charge of friends who were to take care of her until the way might open for her safe delivery to her mother.  Many letters, fitted to awaken very deep feelings came from the mother about this child.  It was a satisfaction to the Committee to feel that they could be the medium in aiding in the reunion of mother and child.

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