HAMILTON, Oct. 16, 1858.
WILLIAM STILL—My Dear Friend:—I saw Carter and his friend a few days ago, and they told me, that you was well. On the seventh of October my wife came to Hamilton. Mr. A. Hurberd, who came from Virginia with me, is going to get married the 20th of November, next. I wish you would write to me how many of my friends you have seen since October, 1857. Montgomery Green keeps a barber shop in Cayuga, in the State of New York. I have not heard of Oscar Ball but once since I came here, and then he was well and doing well. George Carroll is in Hamilton. The times are very dull at present, and have been ever since I came here. Please write soon. Nothing more at present, only I still remain in Hamilton, C.W.
John is nineteen years of age, mulatto, spare made, but not lacking in courage, mother wit or perseverance. He was born in Fauquier county, Va., and, after experiencing Slavery for a number of years there—being sold two or three times to the “highest bidder”—he was finally purchased by a cotton planter named Hezekiah Thompson, residing at Huntsville, Alabama. Immediately after the sale Hezekiah bundled his new “purchase” off to Alabama, where he succeeded in keeping him only about two years, for at the end of that time John determined to strike a blow for liberty. The incentive to this step was the inhuman treatment he was subjected to. Cruel indeed did he find it there. His master was a young man, “fond of drinking and carousing, and always ready for a fight or a knock-down.” A short time before John left his master whipped him so severely with the “bull whip” that he could not use his arm for three or four days. Seeing but one way of escape (and that more perilous than the way William and Ellen Craft, or Henry Box Brown traveled), he resolved to try it. It was to get on the top of the car, instead of inside of it, and thus ride of nights, till nearly daylight, when, at a stopping-place on the road, he would slip off the car, and conceal himself in the woods until under cover of the next night he could manage to get on the top of another car. By this most hazardous mode of travel he reached Virginia.
It may be best not to attempt to describe how he suffered at the hands of his owners in Alabama; or how severely he was pinched with hunger in traveling; or how, when he reached his old neighborhood in Virginia, he could not venture to inquire for his mother, brothers or sisters, to receive from them an affectionate word, an encouraging smile, a crust of bread, or a drink of water.