After our presentation at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Staten Island on May 22, a gentleman asked, “ Was Amboy, New Jersey, a stop on the Underground Railroad?”

Wibur Seibert identified Perth Amboy as a stop in The Underground Railroad From Slavery to Freedom (1898).

But Siebert did not write about South Amboy, which is across the Raritan River from Perth Amboy.

Sometimes William Still sent fugitives from Philadelphia to the  New York City  on the Camden & Amboy Railroad. Its cars departed at the foot of Walnut Street and stopped at Burlington, Florence, Bordentown, and Spotswood, and South Amboy. There, passengers boarded a steam ferry which took them to the foot of Cortlandt Street in Manhattan.

At other times, Still  used the New Jersey Railroad which stopped at Trenton, Princeton, New Brunswick, Elizabeth and Newark. The final stop was at Jersey City where passengers boarded a steam ferry which disembarked at Pier No. 1 on the North River, at the foot of Battery Place.

When Sydney Howard Gay resigned from the National Anti-Slavery Standard in 1857, the paper’s black printer, William H. Leonard, assumed responsibility for Underground Railroad operations. On November 28, 1856, Leonard notified William Still that the arrival of recent passengers on the previous Thursday, which had been Thanksgiving, had been “inopportune.” Leonard told Still that it was “only by chance” that he was in the office., that he had
a job on another paper which required him to go in. There was no one to “pilot” the fugitives. Napoleon was not “on hand,” and Rev. Charles Bennett Ray, who had previously worked with Lewis Tappan’s UGRR operations, was “not at home.” On “all such days,” the office was closed.  Leonard added, “Napoleon has given up going to the wharf because the last two or three lots you sent came by the Amboy, when your dispatch directed us to Jersey City. How does it happen?”

Did Still send Leonard a letter of explanation? If he did, has it survived?

Source: William H. Leonard to William Still, November 18, 1856, American Negro Society Collection, Historical Society of Pennsylvania.


 
 
Capt. Frank Newton of Easton, Maryland, called us after reading Secret Lives to tell us how much he appreciated our book. Capt. Frank has been researching maritime history for many years. He promised to send a few suggestions.

To: Don Papson & Tom Calarco

From: Captain Frank Newton

Subject: Miscellaneous Text Notes

Ref: Secret Lives of the Underground Railroad in New York City

Date: 26 May ‘15


Per our conversations over past months:

1) Exceptional work! Very useful to have the substance of Gay’s material in this format,  especially the appendices.

2) Herewith a few notes for consideration in next edition/updates:

            a)) Pages 69 and 83: See­—Henry “Box” Brown sent in a box,” overland                     express from  the City of Richmond…to Philadelphia in March 1849

                        i)  In this context, the reference to the “City of Richmond” likely                             meant Richmond the City, not the vessel. The 20 miles cited as                                 spent upside down on the steamboat must have been on the rail                             ferry across the mouth of the Chesapeake  Bay from the Hampton                             railhead to the Cape Charles railhead.

                        ii)  The steamship City of Richmond made trips from Norfolk to                                     Philadelphia with  one to three fugitives secreted aboard on an                                 apparently quarterly planned escape  schedule. (See item 3 below.)

            b)  Page 124: See—schooner “Peter Demise” and Capt. Huey”

                        i) Although correctly transcribed from Gay’s written text, maritime                         records show the schooner “Peter Demill” and “Capt. Hoey” of the                             “New Line” (New York— Savannah) headed by Robert Demill.

            c) Page 144:See—steamer “Stay”

                        i) Last letter of steamer name likely mis-transcribed as “Y” vs. “G”;                         name probably “Stag.”

                        ii) Unable to identify any vessels as “Stay.”

                        ii) Although have not identified a steamer from Savannah as “Stag,”                         this was a  rather common vessel name in the 1800s.

            d) Page 147: See—schooner “Central” from Savannah

                        i) Likely the schooner “Central America” of the “Savannah                                         Merchants” line (Savannah-Philadelphia) active in the mid-1850s.

3) In addition to the quarterly schedule of the City of Richmond, note that Capt. Fountain had a once every four months schedule out of Norfolk carrying fugitives (1855-1856). Obviously there was a control faction in Norfolk (your page 169, second paragraph may relate?)

Best Regards,

            Fr

Frank,

Thank you for your praise and suggestions. T
he reference on page 83 to the City of Richmond and Nate Lobam,  it is based on this statement: "At one time he was stewaad of the steamer City of Richmond, which plied between New York and Richmond, Va."
"Reminiscences," Troy Daily Times (Troy, New York), May 6, 1874.
                                                                                            D.P.

 
 
On May 14, 1856, Sydney Howard Gay wrote the longest entry in his Record of Fugitives. It is a beautiful summary of Captain Harriet Tubman’s return trips to Maryland to rescue family and friends. The entry appears on pages 178-180 of Secret Lives

The much loved Eastern Shore researcher John Creighton was looking forward to Secret Lives. When our friend Robin Caudell took my wife, Vivian, and me to meet John last November, she  took us with him on a tour of Tubman sites. John  talked the entire day and never repeated a story. I thought I knew a lot until I met John. One thing he said about Sydney Howard Gay really impressed me. John wondered if Gay had been the first person to write “Captain” Harriet Tubman.

John is gone, now, so I can not ask him if he was able to find out if that was true or not. What we do know is that John was Kate Larson’s colleague and friend, and Secret Lives would have been  even better  than it is if we had not held our manuscript so close to our chests. Kate is the author of Bound For the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of an American Hero. (Ballantine, 2004). Soon after Secret Lives was released last February, Kate posted an enthusiastic review our book on  Amazon.com  John  had a copy, and we looked forward to talking with him about it at the 2015 Tubman Conference this coming weekend. (June 5-6). but John is gone now. Even though the conference is just days away,  Kate responded to our request, and sent not only her suggested corrections for Secret Lives, but a wealth of additional information.

With Kate’s permission, we share her messages. The first one arrived on the day John Creigton passed away.

                                                                        D.P.

May 26, 2015

Hi Don,

Here are some corrections and additional information for the entry in Gay's Journal about the fugitives who fled with her in May 1856.

On page 178 - Tubman lived in St. Catharines off and on from the winter of 1855 to the summer of 1859.  She had an apartment in Philadelphia until the summer of 1856, which she lost when her landlady moved to Harrisburg. She said that from that point forward she stayed with Still or other friends in Philly of the Eastern Shore of Maryland the few times she came through on rescue missions.  She purchased her home from William Henry Seward in May 1859, and her family moved there in the fall, but left after the John Brown raid, then moved back later.

Actually, Tubman was in St. Catharines from January 1855 through to sometime early that fall. She returned to Maryland by November the latest, possibly sooner.  She said that she kept an apartment in Philadelphia (she was working and trying to support her nephew James Alfred Bowley). She stayed there until May 1856 when she made several rescues. She went to Canada that June, was sick, and stayed there until September, and when she returned she discovered she had lost her apartment.  From that point forward, she stayed with various people on her return trips from Canada - it is likely she lived with her brothers.  She returned to rescue her parents in April,  1857 and it was then sthat he rented a house in St. Catharines on North Street. She purchased the home from Seward in May 1859, but did not move in until the  late winter/early spring of 1861.  Her parents tried to move into the house during the fall of 1859, but the John Brown Raid sent them back to Canada.  They were not in the house when the census taker came in June 1860, and we know that her nephew and others moved into the house in February/March 1861.  Ben and Rit and others may have already been there by that time, but in February, Rit had been visiting with the Smiths in Peterboro, so that makes me believe Ben and Rit had settled in Auburn by that time.

Kate Clifford Larson, Ph.D.
Winchester, MA 01890
781-756-1930
kcliflar@aol.com
kate.c.larson@gmail.com
Check out my new and updated website: www.harriettubmanbiography.com

Find Me on Twitter https://twitter.com/KCliffLarson

Author, Bound For the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of an American Hero. (Ballantine, 2004);  The Assassin's Accomplice: Mary Surratt and the Plot to Kill Abraham Lincoln. (Basic Books, 2008); and Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter. (Houghton Mifflin, mid-2015)



Consulting Historian, Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park and Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway. Eastern Shore, Maryland.

As for the very long and wonderful entry on Captain Harriett Tubman", here is my annotated version for clarification and accurate information for people trying to locate family members:

Transcription: [Page numbers are for Gay’s journal]

Interview with Harriet Tubman, Sydney Howard Gay Papers, Journal 1855-1856; Columbia University. My annotations in brackets […]

May 14th. [1856]  A party of four arrived from Phila  It was headed by Captain Harriett Tubman,  the subordinates being Ben.  Jackson & Jas. Coleman who belonged to Henry Wright [Isaac Henry Wright] of Dorchester Co. Md. Wm. A. Connoway [aka William Andrew Cook]. Laban Hudson [Levin Hodson], master, & Henry Hopkins, John Houston  master, of the same neighborhood. They are all young men, of an aggregate market value probably of $6000.

Harriett Tubman seven years ago was the slave of Edward  Brodhurst [Brodess] of Bucktown, Md. Her master dying, & the estate to be settled, & two of her sisters [three sisters had been sold away, but the first, Mariah Ritty, was sold when Tubman was a toddler and she was probably unaware of it] having been sold into a  chain-gang,’ she determined to run away.  She did so, & made her way to Canada. In a few  months, however, she concluded to return,  she went back, & sought concealment-in  [p.55.] the house of a friend who had first advised her escape[probably either Quakers Hannah Leverton or Hester Kelley who both lived on the Dorchester and Caroline County lines and within a mile and a half of Dr. Thompson’s plantation in Caroline Co. where Tubman had been hired out.]. She made her arrival known to her friends, & her purpose, which was "to lead them out- of Egypt." She had four brothers [Robert, Ben, Jr., Henry, and Moses], &  two sisters [actually one sister, Rachel, and a sister-in-law, Mary Manokey, and a niece, Kessiah Jolley Bowley who was just two years younger than Tubman, but whom Tubman called “sister”.] & their children, then slaves, to her old mistress [Eliza Brodess]. She could only accomplish the release of one child, who was seven years old [this is James Alfred Bowley], & whom she hired a man to carry.  She took this to Canada. After again earning money at service, the following year she returned a second time for this child’s  mother. This woman, from a dread of being sold, had run away from her mistress, & for eighteen months had been in concealment, occasionally with a friend, once anchored off in a boat, in the river, for a day or two, but nearly the whole time in the woods. Harriett got messages  to her, & hired a man, the necessary arrangements being made, to take her in a boat from Cambridge to Baltimore. There Harriett joined her, & they were obliged to remain there for several weeks, during the sister’s confinement & recovery. When the child was 5 weeks old [possibly baby Araminta], she induced a free coloured man to take her to Phila, as his brother’s wife, who was known to be free, a friendly white man who did not know that she was not the brother’s [p. 56.] wife having given the necessary bonds. Harriett went on the day before & took the sister & child to Canada to the child she had rescued before. There the husband & father, who was free [John Bowley], soon after joined them. [circa December 1850. The Bowley’s ended up in Chatham, Ontario, CA.  This story differs slightly from court records, testimony of James Alfred Bowley, and Sarah Bradford.]

The spring following she returned a third time. Her four brothers  had been fugitives all winter, in the woods, to escape the dreaded ‘chain gang’. The three eldest, however, had ‘come in’ at the solicitation of a lumber-man [probably Dr. Anthony C. Thompson in Caroline County, or John D. Parker or James or John T. Stewart of Madison, Dorchester County] to whom their services were important, & who had hired them before, & who had agreed to hire them again for one year, thus securing them from being sold before the next Christmas. The youngest [Moses], however, was not included in this arrangement, & remained in the woods, tho’ badly frost-bitten. Harriett, from her own place of concealment, entered into communication with him & brot. him off. [we do not know what happened to Moses.]

At ‘Camp Meeting time,’ the following summer, she again went back, & went, as before, into concealment. She had interviews with the three brothers [Robert, Ben, and Henry], but they all refused to leave the man who had been so kind to them, & at his own risk of loss by hiring their time put off the day [p. 57.] of sale. To leave him then would have been a loss to him of the wages of their unexpired service. She did not, however, come away empty - handed but brot. off a young man in the neighborhood, who hearing of her proposed to escape with her. [Winnebar Johnson, June 1854 from “Tobacco Stick” now Madison, Dorchester County, MD]

At Christmas she returned again for her brothers. Their term of service with the lumberman

had expired [by this time, it would have been John D. Parker or John or Stewart of Madison]. At Christmas they were to have been sold. On Christmas eve. 1854, she & they left

for Canada, where they soon after arrived safely.

here still remained behind one sister [Rachel] & her two children [Ben and Angerine], & the old father of the family, who, however, being free, can leave when he pleases, but will not so long as any of his children remain in bondage in Md. Harriett’s errand, at this time, was to bring off her sister & the two children [Rachel dies in 1859; fate of children unknown]. She found it, however, impracticable. But the attempt is only postponed, not abandoned. Still her mission this time is not without good fruit. The mother of the young man whom she took away (possibly Kitty Green and her son Sam Green Jr. of East New Market), in a former visit, when she was unsuccessful in getting her brothers, informed the four young  [p. 58.] men who are with her to-day, that she had come back. They made the necessary arrangements & a fortnight ago, on Saturday, the five started, Harriett leading the company. They traveled by night, & on foot to New Castle, Del. On the way or there, they learned that the hue & cry was after them. Along the Railway, at all the stations, & at rail-side taverns bills were posted, describing the four men, & offering a reward of $1200 for their capture. But for Harriett they would, without doubt, have been taken. She led them safely to New Castle. There she took them to the house of a colored woman, & for one week they lay concealed there in a potatoe-hole. Braving detection for herself, she went backward & forward between New Castle & Wilmington, on the cars to get friends to carry her company further. The risk was manifestly too great, & they had to remain quiet. When  she had no longer 20c to pay her passage she walked, & at last a friend consented to go for them. They were sent to Wilmington, at night, & then to Pa. at last here.

Harriett is, by profession, a cook, & when at service earns from $15 @ $16 pr. month. She has lived in N.Y. & Phila, & would have remained in one or  [p. 59.] the other place now, only that feeling bound to get her sister & her children ‘next Camp Meeting Time,’ & thinking it may cost a good deal, she wishes to be with her brothers to secure them pecuniary aid when the time comes for her to start again.

 Sent them all to Syracuse (food)        [$] 21 –

Kate was a resource for Secret Lives and for Eric Foner’s Gateway to Freedom.

  

Don –

Below are my notes on Manokey and Bailey that I sent to Foner, as well as some information on the escape of the four men from Cabin Creek:

“Notes on Eliza Manokey from Dorchester County, MD; additional notes on the four men from Cabin Creek who fled with Tubman in May 1856.

I have a little bit on Eliza Manoka’s [Manokey's] owner, Ann Grieves. Ann is actually Ann Martin Staplefort Staplefort Grieves. She married two Staplefort brothers (John and George) before marrying Dr. Horatio G. Grieves of Church Creek, Dorchester County.  Ann may have acquired Eliza through her father Daniel Martin, or through one of her dead Staplefort husbands.  In December 1828, Ann's husband John Staplefort and her mother-in-law Dorothy Staplefort advertised for runaway Bob Manoca.  They advertised for one year for his return.  I guess they really wanted him caught -  he was quite valuable as a skilled sawyer.  Anyway, Ann inherited another slave - Hercules (Harkless) Jolley. Jolley was married to Tubman’s sister Linah, and was the father of Kessiah Jolley Bowley, the young niece whom Tubman rescued and whose story Gay wrote about in his journal.

I believe Eliza's husband is William “Bill” Banks.  Bill Banks had been enslaved by Anthony Thompson, the man who also enslaved Tubman’s father, Ben Ross.  When Thompson died in 1836, his will outlined staggered manumission dates for his 43 slaves. According to additional estate papers filed in 1839, Bill had a “wife belonging to Mrs. Staplefort.” At that time Ann Martin Staplefort was married to the second Staplefort brother – George.  Bill was set free in 1844, per Thompson’s will. In the Grieves’ household in 1850, William Banks is listed there as a free black and is 50 years old.  [if you check the census, the transcriber misspells the name Grieves as “Greener.”]

It looks like Ann's son, John S. Staplefort, inherited Eliza and her daughter (Caroline, I believe) even though Eliza had already fled when he inherited her. He claimed her as one of his slaves circa 1867 when Maryland was contemplating compensating slave owners for the loss of their slaves through statewide emancipation in 1864. A good number, though not all, of Dorchester County slaveholders claimed slaves who had fled successfully during the 1850s.  Amazing how bold some of them were – even swearing affidavits as to their ownership of the slaves as of November 1864.  I still do not know what happened to Eliza, and I do not know the last name of her daughter Caroline and her 4 children.  The “Slave Statistics 1867-68” list all of John Stapleforts former slaves by name, but only lists “Caroline and 4 children.”  Seems strange to me.  Maybe Caroline escaped at some point and John Jr. really did not know her well enough to write down her full name and the names of her children.  Very odd.

The reason I mention all this is to show how closely linked these families are.  Tubman certainly knew Bill Banks because she would have lived with him on the Thompson plantation during the 1820s through the early 1840s.  Therefore, she would have known Eliza Manokey.  Thompson enslaved several Manokeys, too, and perhaps they are all related.  Tubman’s brother Robert Ross (nee John Stewart) married Mary Manokey, the daughter of Jerry and Polly Manokey. Thompson had set Jerry and Polly free at his death in 1836, though their children remained enslaved.

Ann Grieves’s nephew, who took Eliza's boy, was probably a Martin relative. There are several Martins who settled in Missouri - there was a migration of sorts from the Eastern Shore in the 1830s and 1840s to Missouri.  I can’t be sure, though, which one, or if I am on the right track at all.

As for the four men [William Conoway (nee William Andrew Cook), Ben Jackson, James Coleman, Henry Hopkins] who fled with Tubman in May 1856, here is some more information, including a transcription of Levin Hodson’s runaway advertisement:

From: American Eagle newspaper May 14, 1856

$300 Reward

Ranaway from subscribers on Saturday evening the 26th instant [April] Negro man William sometimes calling himself  William Andrew Cook. Said Negro is about 25 years of age about 5’7” high and broad shoulders, his face is thin and the cheekbones are more than usually prominent, his complexion bright while several of his teeth in front overlaps each other.  He also has a sort of stoop in his walk. Took with him a black petersham overcoat. This boy is supposed to be in company with those of Isaac H. Wright and John T. Houston who absconded the same day.  In any case, he must be delivered to me in the Cambridge jail. 

                        Levin Hodson

                        Big Mills Do. Co. [Salem, Dorchester County]

 Benjamin Jackson may have been related to Peter Jackson, who fled with Tubman’s brothers during Christmas 1854.  Ben may have been originally owned by John Houston, as he has listed in his tax assessment in 1852 a man named Henry, and a man named Ben. John Houston died and his estate was administered by Isaac H. Wright.  That may be how Wright came to claim Ben through an estate purchase. Peter had been enslaved by George Winthrop, who was a neighbor of Wright’s and Houston’s.  I believe Peter had tried to flee in 1850, but was captured and brought back.  Look in my book for the escape of Sam Green Jr. He fled to Canada in 1854 and sent a letter to his father, the Rev. Sam Green, telling him to tell Peter Jackson and Joe Bailey to flee and come to Canada.  Peter did immediately, Joe Baily would wait until Nov. 1856. The discovery of this letter got Green Sr. arrested.  No doubt all these young men labored together on the peach plantations and farms in this East New Market/Oyster Shell Point/Cabin Creek area over the years.

(January 12, 1835, Chattel Records ER Vol. 2 Page 88 - John T. Houston bringing in from Delaware list of slaves – Henry 12 years old)

There are a few other items I wanted to mention to you as well.  December 1855, (p. 152) is Daniel Johns, nee Joseph Cornish. Cornish knew Tubman, and she may have been a resource for him.  He landed in St. Catharines and became the minister at the BME Church.  He kept his name Cornish.  And on page 149 - Henry Cooper - I think he knew Tubman, too, and she likely helped him.  But speculation right now.

Looking forward to your presentation!

Best,

Kate

June 2, 2015

Kate,

 Do you have something that definitively tells us that Tubman lived in St. Catherines from the winter of 1855 to he summer of 1859? Did she move her parents into the house she purchased from Seward before she moved to Auburn?

Don

Hi Don,

Here are some corrections and additional information for the entry in Gay's Journal about the fugitives who fled with her in May 1856.

On page 178 - Tubman lived in St. Catharines off and on from the winter of 1855 to the summer of 1859.  She had an apartment in Philadelphia until the summer of 1856, which she lost when her landlady moved to Harrisburg. She said that from that point forward she stayed with Still or other friends in Philly of the Eastern Shore of Maryland the few times she came through on rescue missions.  She purchased her home from William Henry Seward in May 1859, and her family moved there in the fall, but left after the John Brown raid, then moved back later.

Actually, Tubman was in St. Catharines from January 1855 through to sometime early that fall. She returned to Maryland by November the latest, possibly sooner.  She said that she kept an apartment in Philadelphia (she was working and trying to support her nephew James Alfred Bowley). She stayed there until May 1856 when she made several rescues. She went to Canada that June, was sick, and stayed there until September, and when she returned she discovered she had lost her apartment.  From that point forward, she stayed with various people on her return trips from Canada - it is likely she lived with her brothers.  She returned to rescue her parents in April,  1857 and it was then sthat he rented a house in St. Catharines on North Street. She purchased the home from Seward in May 1859, but did not move in until the  late winter/early spring of 1861.  Her parents tried to move into the house during the fall of 1859, but the John Brown Raid sent them back to Canada.  They were not in the house when the census taker came in June 1860, and we know that her nephew and others moved into the house in February/March 1861.  Ben and Rit and others may have already been there by that time, but in February, Rit had been visiting with the Smiths in Peterboro, so that makes me believe Ben and Rit had settled in Auburn by that time.

Kate Clifford Larson, Ph.D.