The Underground Railroad eBook

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

    To WILLIAM STILL.  ANNA H. RICHARDSON.

WOMAN ESCAPING IN A BOX, 1857.

SHE WAS SPEECHLESS.

In the winter of 1857 a young woman, who had just turned her majority, was boxed up in Baltimore by one who stood to her in the relation of a companion, a young man, who had the box conveyed as freight to the depot in Baltimore, consigned to Philadelphia.  Nearly all one night it remained at the depot with the living agony in it, and after being turned upside down more than once, the next day about ten o’clock it reached Philadelphia.  Her companion coming on in advance of the box, arranged with a hackman, George Custus, to attend to having it brought from the depot to a designated house, Mrs. Myers’, 412 S. 7th street, where the resurrection was to take place.

Custus, without knowing exactly what the box contained, but suspecting from the apparent anxiety and instructions of the young man who engaged him to go after it, that it was of great importance, while the freight car still remained on the street, demanded it of the freight agent, not willing to wait the usual time for the delivery of freight.  At first the freight agent declined delivering under such circumstances.  The hackman insisted by saying that he wished to despatch it in great haste, said it is all right, you know me, I have been coming here for many years every day, and will be responsible for it.  The freight-master told him to “take it and go ahead with it.”  No sooner said than done.  It was placed in a one horse wagon at the instance of Custus, and driven to Seventh and Minster streets.

The secret had been intrusted to Mrs. M. by the young companion of the woman.  A feeling of horror came over the aged woman, who had been thus suddenly entrusted with such responsibility.  A few doors from her lived an old friend of the same religious faith with herself, well known as a brave woman, and a friend of the slave, Mrs. Ash, the undertaker or shrouder, whom every body knew among the colored people.  Mrs. Myers felt that it would not be wise to move in the matter of this resurrection without the presence of the undertaker.  Accordingly, she called Mrs. Ash in.  Even her own family was excluded from witnessing the scene.  The two aged women chose to be alone in that fearful moment, shuddering at the thought that a corpse might meet their gaze instead of a living creature.  However, they mustered courage and pried off the lid.  A woman was discovered in the straw but no sign of life was perceptible.  Their fears seemed fulfilled.  “Surely she is dead,” thought the witnesses.

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The Underground Railroad from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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