The Underground Railroad eBook

William Still
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,446 pages of information about The Underground Railroad.

At this time Henry was about twenty-four years of age, but a man of more substantial parts physically was rarely to be seen.  Courage was one of his prominent traits.  This threat only served to arouse him completely.  He had no friends save such as were in the same condition with himself, nevertheless he determined not to be sold.  How he should escape this fate did not at first present itself.  Every thing looked very gloomy; Slavery he considered as death to him; and since his master had threatened him, he looked upon him as his greatest enemy, and rather than continue a slave he preferred living in the swamps with wild animals.  Just one year prior to the time that he made his way North, determined not to be a slave any longer, he fled to a swamp and made his way to the most secluded spot that he could find,—­to places that were almost impenetrable so dense were the trees and undergrowth.  This was all the better for Henry, he wanted to get safety; he did not wish company.  He made known his plans to a dear brother, who engaged to furnish him occasionally with food.  Henry passed twelve months in this way, beholding no human soul save his brother.  His brother faithfully took him food from time to time.  The winter weather of 1859 was very hard, but it was not so hard to bear as his master Nathaniel Dixon.  The will of Henry’s old master entitled him to his freedom, but the heirs had rendered said will null and void; this act in addition to the talk of selling had its effect in driving him to the woods.  For a time he hid in the hollow of a tree, which went very hard with him, yet he was willing to suffer anything rather than go back to his so-called master.  He managed finally to make good his escape and came to the Committee for aid and sympathy, which he received.

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But few passengers expressed themselves in stronger terms in regard to their so-called masters, than William Pierce, from Long Green.  “I fled,” said he, “from John Hickol, a farmer, about fifty years old, grey-headed and drinks whiskey very hard—­was always a big devil—­ill-grained.  He owned fifteen head; he owns three of my brothers.  He has a wife, a big devil, red head; her servants, she wouldn’t feed ’em none, except on corn bread; she would fight and swear too, when she got ready.  She and her husband would quarrel too.  A slave man, a deceitful fellow, who had been put up to watch on one occasion, when the rest of the slaves had helped themselves to a chicken, and cooked and ate it about midnight, though he was allowed to share a portion of the feast, was ready enough to betray them by times next morning.  This made master and mistress ‘cuss’ all hands at a great rate, and master beat all hands except the one that told.  I was caned so badly that it laid me up for several weeks.  I am a little lame yet from the beating.”

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The Underground Railroad from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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