Auxiliary to the influences already mentioned, was a very early recollection of seeing a colored man, Henry, bound with ropes and carried off to slavery. Grace Anna, not more than four or five years old at the time, declared that the man’s face of agony is before her now; nor is it likely that her sisters were impressed less deeply. Of natures keenly sensitive, they hated slavery, from that hour, as only children of such natures can; and—as yet too young and immature for that charity to have been developed in them, which can see a brother even in the evil-doer, and pity while condemning him,—they even more intensely hated, while they feared, the actors in the outrage, and despised the girl who had betrayed the victim. Ever after, any one of them could be trusted to be faithful to the hunted fugitive, though an army of kidnappers might surround her.
Another of their early recollections was of a white handkerchief which was to be waved from a back window, as a signal of danger, to a colored man at work in a wood near by. And, all the while, the feelings aroused by such events were kept alive by little Anti-slavery poems, which they were wont to learn by heart and recite in the evenings. Grace Anna, on her first visit to Philadelphia, when nine years old, bought a copy of one of these, entitled “Zambo’s Story,” pleased to recognize in it a favorite of her still earlier childhood.
By means like these they were unconsciously preparing themselves for the predestined tasks of their after-life; and if there were danger that such a strain upon their sympathies, as they often underwent, might prove unhealthful, it was fully counteracted by ball-playing, and all kinds of active out-door amusements of childhood, so that it was never known to result in harm.
As time passed on, their home, always open to fugitives, became an important centre of Underground Rail Road operations for the region extending from Wilmington, Del., into Adams county, Pa.; and they, grown to womanhood, had glided into the management of its very considerable business. They received passengers from Thomas Garrett, and sometimes others, perhaps, of Wilmington, when it was thought unsafe to send them thence directly through Philadelphia; from Wm. and Phebe Wright, in Adams county, and from friends, more than we have room to name, in York, Columbia, and the southern parts of Lancaster and Chester counties; the several lines, from Adams county to Wilmington, converging upon the house of John Vickers, of Lionville, whose wagon, laden apparently with innocent-looking earthen ware from his pottery, sometimes conveyed, unseen beneath the visible load, a precious burden of Southern chattels, on their way to manhood.
[At a later period, the trains from Adams county generally took another course, going to Harrisburg, and on to Canada, by way of the Susquehanna Valley; though still, when pursuit that way was apprehended, the former course was taken.]