The first day in the woods he passed in prayer incessantly, all alone. In this particular place of seclusion he remained “four days and nights,” “two days suffered severely from hunger, cold and thirst.” However, one who was a “friend” to him, and knew of his whereabouts, managed to get some food to him and consoling words; but at the end of the four days this friend got into some difficulty and thus Sheridan was left to “wade through deep waters and head winds” in an almost hopeless state. There he could not consent to stay and starve to death. Accordingly he left and found another place of seclusion—with a friend in the town—for a pecuniary consideration. A secret passage was procured for him on one of the steamers running between Philadelphia and Richmond, Va. When he left his poor wife, Julia, she was then “lying in prison to be sold,” on the simple charge of having been suspected of conniving at her husband’s escape. As a woman she had known something of the “barbarism of slavery”, from every-day experience, which the large scars about her head indicated—according to Sheridan’s testimony. She was the mother of two children, but had never been allowed to have the care of either of them. The husband, utterly powerless to offer her the least sympathy in word or deed, left this dark habitation of cruelty, as above referred to, with no hope of ever seeing wife or child again in this world.
The Committee afforded him the usual aid and comfort, and passed him on to the next station, with his face set towards Boston. He had heard the slaveholders “curse” Boston so much, that he concluded it must be a pretty safe place for the fugitive.
* * * * *
Joseph Kneeland arrived November 25, 1853. He was a prepossessing man of twenty-six, dark complexion, and intelligent. At the time of Joseph’s escape, he was owned by Jacob Kneeland, who had fallen heir to him as a part of his father’s estate. Joseph spoke of his old master as having treated him “pretty well,” but he had an idea that his young master had a very “malignant spirit;” for even before the death of his old master, the heir wanted him, “Joe,” sold, and after the old man died, matters appeared to be coming to a crisis very fast. Even as early as November, the young despot had distinctly given “Joe” to understand, that he was not to be hired out another year, intimating that he was to “go somewhere,” but as to particulars, it was time enough for Joe to know them.
Of course “Joe” looked at his master “right good” and saw right through him, and at the same time, saw the U.G.R.R., “darkly.” Daily slavery grew awfully mean, but on the other hand, Canada was looked upon as a very desirable country to emigrate to, and he concluded to make his way there, as speedily as the U.G.R.R. could safely convey him. Accordingly he soon carried his design into practice, and on his arrival, the Committee regarded him as a very good subject for her British Majesty’s possessions in Canada.