The Underground Railroad eBook

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

William Hardcastle now advanced, and said that he knew the man to be free; but that he was accused of running away with his wife and children who were slaves.  He also said, that this man had two boys with him, who belonged to a neighbor of his, named Charles Wesley Glanding, and that the four other children and mother belonged to Catharine Turner, of Queen Ann’s county, Maryland.  Hardcastle further expressed his belief, that this man knew where his wife and children were at that time, and insisted that he should go before a magistrate in Middletown, and be examined in regard thereto.  He also expressed doubts as to the genuineness of this pass, and wished the man to go to Middletown on that account also.  As there was no other course to pursue under the circumstances, I had my sleigh brought out, and we all went to Middletown, before my friend, William Streets, who was then in commission as a magistrate.  It was now after dark of this short winter’s day.  Soon after our arrival at the office of William Streets, Hardcastle put his arm very lovingly around the neck of the colored man, Samuel Hawkins, and drew him into another room.  In a short time, Samuel came out, and told me that Hardcastle had agreed, that if he, Hawkins, would give up his two older boys, who belonged to Charles Wesley Glanding; then he might pursue his journey with his wife and four children.  I asked him if he believed Hardcastle would keep his promise?  He replied:  “Yes!  I do not think master William would cheat me.”  I assured him that he would cheat him, and that the offer was made for the purpose of not only getting the two older boys (fourteen and sixteen years of age), but his wife and other children to the office, when all of them would be taken together to the jail, in New Castle.  Samuel thought differently, and at his request, I wrote to my wife for the delivery of the family of Samuel Hawkins to the constable.  They were soon forthcoming, and on their arrival at the office, a commitment was made out for the whole party.  Samuel and his two older sons were hand-cuffed, amidst many tears and lamentations, and they all went off under charge of the man-hunters, to New Castle jail, a distance of eighteen miles.

William Streets committed the whole party as fugitives from Slavery, while the husband (Samuel), was a free man.  This was done on account of the detestation of the wicked business, as much as on account of his friendship for me.

On their arrival at the jail, about midnight, the sheriff was aroused, and the commitment shown to him; after reading it, he asked Samuel if he was a slave?  He said no, and showed his pass (which had been pronounced genuine by the magistrate).  The sheriff hereupon told them, that the commitment was not legal, and would not hold them lawfully.  It was now first day (Sunday), and the man-hunters were in a quandary.

The constable finally agreed to go back and get another commitment, if the sheriff would take the party into the jail until his return; Hardcastle also urged the sheriff to adopt this plan.  Accordingly they were taken into the jail.

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The Underground Railroad from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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