Sullivan Street looking South to One World Trade Center. A woman named Harriet and her child were sheltered in a building which was once on the right side of the street just before the hi-rise.
On Sunday, March 20, 2016, a presentation by Don Papson on Secret Lives of the Underground Railroad in New York City: Sydney Howard Gay, Louis Napoleon and the Record of Fugitives aired  on CSPAN 3 American History TV. Mr. Papson spoke about the “Record of Fugitives,” a previously unpublished text from the 1850s kept by abolitionist Sydney Howard Gay, in which he reveals his close collaboration with Louis Napoleon, a free black who helped scores of runaway slaves escape to freedom. Mr. Papson co-wrote the book with Tom Calarco. 

Post broadcast, the program is  available on CSPAN’s website: http://www.c-span.org/series/?ahtv.

Don was introduced by Sydney Howard Gay’s great-granddaughter, Otis Kidwell Burger. Since Secret Lives was published in March of 2015, Otis  and Don have become good friends. Otis is 92 years old, feisty, and so passionate about Secret Lives, she has become the book’s “New York City agent!”  

This  presentation, which took place on February 24, 2016, at the Jefferson Market Library in Greenwich Village, inspired Don to conduct an in-depth investigation of a  case he and Tom Calarco alluded to in Secret Lives, the story of a woman who escaped from Virginia on the steamship Jamestown. A black family on Sullivan Street sheltered and protected Harriet and her child.

Don speaks about Secret Lives and Gay and Napoleon’s unlikely UGRR alliance.  Because of his friendship with Otis and her cousin, Bess Fuchs, we know so much more than we did a year ago. You see, Bess inherited an important letter…

Watch C-SPAN American History TV to find out why the letter is so significant.


The building where Harriet and her child were sheltered was a brick building across the street from this historic building and may have looked like it.
 
 
 Phoenix Reading Series in addition to its usual poetry readings

Presents

DON PAPSON

to speak about his new Book


Secret Lives of the Underground Railroad in New York City: Sydney Howard Gay, Louis Napoleon and the Record of Fugitives

by Donald Papson and Tom Calarco

September 20, 2015

6:30PM

Left Bank Bookstore ($5 suggested Donation)

17 8th Avenue, near 12th Street, new York NY 10014

212-924-5618
  for more information contact: Michael Graves @ 718-787-7720



 
 
Solomon Northup descendants (from left to right), Rebecca Bicksler, Fatima Matthews-Abdallah, Melissa Howell, Congeressman Paul Tonko, Rita Matthews, Irene Zahos  and John Northup. Photo taken by Solomon Northup Day Founder, Renee Moore.

HATE WON’T WIN

Excerpts from Don Papson’s Closing Remarks for Solomon Northup Day,
Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, July 18, 2015

In my closing remarks for this wonderful day of celebration for Solomon Northup, I will share my thoughts on fear, hate, love, and change. I would like to  begin with a statement on justice by one of our country’s greatest poets, Langston Hughes,

“That Justice is a blind goddess is a thing to which we blacks are wise.  Her bandage hides two festering sores.  That once perhaps were eyes."

Two days before last year’s Solomon Northup Day celebration of freedom, Eric Garner died on Staten Island after a police officer put him in a chokehold.

* * *

….on June 18th,  21 year old white supremacist Dylann Storm Roof murdered nine members of Charleston, South Carolina’s Mother Emanuel AME church while they were studying the Bible.

To everyone’s astonishment, the survivor’s of the victims forgave the assassin. Rev. Daniel Simmons granddaughter told Roof, “hate won’t win…”

* * *

My wife, Vivian, and I watched the unfolding Charleston story on CNN while we were in Los Angeles visiting her 92 year old brother, Dr. Ralph Gardner-Chavis….

One day during our visit to Los Angeles, I was driving somewhere. I don’t  remember where we were going now,  but  I do remember what I saw— the words  “HATE WON’T WIN” attached to a cyclone metal fence. They were large, irregularly shaped letters of many colors.  When I see things while I am driving, I create imaginary stories about them. This time I envisioned an emotionally overwhelmed artist spontaneously expressing love for strangers who had died three thousand miles away in Charleston.

 “Hate Won’t Win” is a profound truth. Hate is a dark force. But light and love dispel it.

After the admitted assassin of the Emmanuel 9 was arrested, the dark forces fought back. In a matter of days, six black churches were burned to the ground. Investigators immediately set to work to determine if they were accidents or hate crimes.

Hate kills people and destroys  property, but it can not conquer the human spirit. Hate is self destructive; the human spirit is eternal and deeply creative.

Yet the hurt hate causes is not easy to overcome. It challenges us to change ourselves and to seek the balance we need to envision a better future. And to hold on to the faith that we can create it.

* * *

I believe each generation must reach higher than the previous one. I believe change waits for the right time, and that its time has come. The positive reaction of people to  the events in Charleston signifies to me  that South Carolina accepted change because it had to.

* * *

Children today are coming into and creating a different world. Vivian and I  know a woman who has two young grandchildren in  Charleston. After the massacre, they confronted their father, “Why are white people killing black people? Why are they still talking about slavery? That happened long time ago.” The children are 5 and 7 years old.

* * *

I cried when the Confederate flag was ceremonially lowered and removed in Charleston. It means that the Civil War is symbolically over. One hundred and fifty-four years after Confederate soldiers fired the first shots of the war at Charleston’s Fort Sumter.

* * *

…sometimes change comes when we don’t expect it ever will, as it has in Charleston. The changes there are the result of the  astonishing restraint of the survivors of the victims of the massacre.

Restraint was one Solomon Northup’s greatest strengths. If he hadn’t restrained himself, he wouldn’t have survived his enslavement.

In 12 Years a Slave, Northup describes his fear during a fight with John Tibeats:

 

         Not able to unloose his hand, once more I seized him by the throat, and this time, with a vice-like grip that soon relaxed his hold…

         There was a ‘lurking devil’ in my heart that prompted me to kill the human blood-hound on the spot—to retain the grip on his accursed throat till the breath of life was gone! I dared not murder him, and I dared not let him live. If I killed him, my life must pay the forfeit—if he lived, my life only would satisfy his vengeance. A voice within whispered me to fly. To be a wanderer among the swamps, a fugitive and a vagabond on the face of the earth, was preferable to the life that I was leading.”

Solomon tossed Tibeats aside, ran  across the plantation, and prayed to God,

         “Have pity on the poor slave­—let me not perish. If thou dost not protect me, I am lost­—lost! Such supplications, silently and unuttered, ascended from my inmost heart to Heaven. But there was no answering voice—no sweet, low tone, coming down from on high, whispering to my soul, “It is I, be not afraid.” I was forsaken of God, it seemed—the despised and hated of men!”

He fled into the swamps and made his way to William Ford, who he knew would help him. Tibeats  sold Solomon to the psychotic Edwin Epps. But he never stopped believing that he could be free again, and he endured Epps oppression until he  persuaded Canadian carpenter Samuel Bass to help him.

Eric Garner’s death a year ago brought grief and anger, but it also brought change. The officer who put him into a chokehold denies that he did and has not been charged, but Governor Cuomo has put the state’s attorney general in charge of investigations of such  deaths.

And Garner’s mother believes that black lives now matter to more than black people. She believes,

“Before when something happened, it was basically people of color because that’s who they were targeting, but now everybody, people of color, different races, they all stand up. Because they see this as wrong. It’s not about black or white, it’s wrong or right.”

People of different colors have united for change in this country before. We worked together and helped thousands of fugitives from slavery escape to freedom on the Underground Railroad. We fought and died together during the Civil War. We marched hand in hand during the Civil Rights Era. We elected and relected the first black president of the United States.

In the 400 year struggle against white supremacy, we have united for change again and again—during slavery, reconstruction, Jim Crow, industrial re-enslavement, the Civil Rights Era, and in support of Barack Obama who called for change because the time had come for it again.

We knew he was right.

Now, across the country, we hear different words, see different actions, observe different faces…we are changing.




















 
 
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.



 
 

   

Barnes & Noble now provides Same Day Delivery for  Secret Lives in Manhattan and 24 hour delivery. Paperback edition and Nook Book format are both available. For details, see http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/secret-lives-of-the-underground-railroad-in-new-york-city-don-papson/1119473182?ean=9780786466658&itm=1&usri=9780786466658

 
 


The John Allen Story

The turnout was great and sales of Secret Lives terrific during Staten Island’s Sandy Ground Historical Society’s May 22nd book signing in the Unitarian Universalist Church. Tom  Calarco passionately proclaimed that Secret Lives proves that the Underground Railroad was well organized. He appealed to everyone to emulate the abolitionists and oppose today’s controlling forces.

On Staten Island it is widely believed that the West Brighton homes of Sydney Howard Gay and his Unitarian friends, Francis George and Sarah B. Shaw and their  son-in-law, George William Curtis, were  stops on the Underground Railroad. Local historians and reporters have repeated this oral history so many times, it is accepted as an indisputable fact.

As Don Papson was carrying copies of Secret Lives into the Church and arranging them on a display table, a member of the congregation asked him if the Staten Island’s Unitarian abolitionists are in Secret Lives. The gentleman picked up a copy of the book and started searching for their names. When Don replied that Secret Lives is not about Staten Island, he immediately set the book down in disappointment.  Not wanting to lose the man before the event had even started, ” Don quickly added, “But I will be talking about the Unitarian abolitionists tonight.”

Sandy Ground Historical Society’s Executive Director, Sylvia Dallesandro, had asked that the  presentation include information about the Underground Railroad on Staten Island.

These are Don’s findings.

Sydney Howard Gay and his wife, Elizabeth Neall Gay,  moved to Staten Island in 1847. Francis George Shaw and  his wife, Sarah Blake Shaw, and her sister, Susan, and her husband, the Rev. John Parkman, came a few years later from Boston.

The Shaws were pillars of the Church of the Redeemer, the precursor of today’s  Unitarian Universalist Church of Staten Island. Rev. Parkman became  minister of the Church in the early 1850s. In 1856, he performed a wedding ceremony for the abolitionist author and lecturer, George William Curtis, and his bride, the  Shaw’s daughter, Anna. It was said  that from that moment on,  “the anti-slavery conflict became more engrossing”  to Curtis’s “mind and heart” and that it “entered more largely into his public utterance.”[i] Anna Curtis’s brother, Robert Gould Shaw, was the first Colonel to command a Colored regiment in the Civil War. When he died in July of 1863 leading  the Massachusetts 54th  in its  assault on Ft. Wagner, South Carolina, he was buried with his men. The Shaws, the Parkman’s and the Curtis’s were a tightly knit family, and Sydney Howard and Elizabeth Gay were two of their closest friends. On Sunday afternoons, Mr. Gay and Mr. Curtis took afternoon walks together.

In 1845, Rev. Parkman was one of 170 Unitarian ministers who signed a protest imploring their northern brethren who might go to slave holding regions, “to go determined to make every sacrifice of profit or convenience rather than become “abettors” of the “inhuman institution” of slavery.[ii]

It was also in 1845 that Gay moved to New York City to become editor of the American Anti-Slavery Society’s newspaper, the National Anti-Slavery Standard. Large numbers of slaves were self emancipating themselves and being forwarded through Philadelphia to New York City, and in the ensuing years, Gay’s office on Nassau Street would be one of  the city’s busiest Underground Railroad depots.

A Baltimore correspondent of the New York Tribune reported in December of 1849 that two hundred slaves valued at $100,000 had “absconded” from their Maryland masters. “None but a blind man could fail to see” that this was proof that there was “a systematic effort… to ruin slave property.[iii]

On June  13, 1850, Gay reported that the “emigration” of slaves  to ‘free soil’ was multiplying “thickly.” In the same issue of the Standard, he announced that Sarah B. Shaw had donated $50 to the American Anti-Slavery Society.[iv] On June 20th, he reported that a correspondent from another newspaper had visited Baltimore and concluded that if  antislavery people remained active and determined,  “victory” would “crown their efforts.[v] He was certainly doing his part; he had just forwarded a Baltimore fugitive to Francis “Frank” George Shaw,  a wealthy businessman who lived with his wife, Sarah, and their children in Boston’s West Roxbury neighborhood.

On June 21st, Shaw notified Gay that Sarah, who, had just visited the Gays on Staten Island, had arrived home safely with “her entourage.” Shaw added,

John Allen has been staying with us since he came, making himself useful. He has now gone to town for a few hours, in hopes of finding some place. We shall do what we can to help him.

Sarah may have taken Allen back to Boston with her as part of her “enourage.” In a separate note, she informed Sydney,

John as Frank told you, is to go tomorrow to Smith who is head waiter in Boston­ & if capable he can earn a good living. I do not know one person dear Sydney to apply for assistance for his sister—As to yr feeling about giving me trouble about him, haven’t I sworn myself to be active in the cause at any cost to myself?—Bridget & Gretchen have become more quite & reconciled, so in fact, I have had no trouble I shall let him report himself to Garrison with yr note, in case he should get into trouble.[vi]

Mr. Shaw added a postscript.

John tells me that in the trunk  he lost were two letters from Mrs. Catherine Fox at Barnum’s Hotel Balt  Perhaps he told you­—If not, would it not be better to advise her in some sure way lest trouble should come in case the trunk were found? He will have employment after Monday with J.B. Smith who will do all he can to find a permanent place for him.[vii]

Shaw believed that Gay knew how to contact Mrs. Fox, but there are no letters from her among Gay’s papers at Columbia University, so her identity is a mystery.

However, the Shaws made a number of significant researchable references. Baltimore’s  Barnum’s Hotel at Calvert and Fayette Streets was owned by David Barnum. It was one of the finest hotels in the United States,  and it was popular among both Southerners and Northerners. More than a dozen slave traders operated from Baltimore’s harbor side storefronts. Some of them regularly advertised in the Sun and other newspapers, and out of town dealers routinely stayed up to a week at Barnum’s and other downtown hotels.[viii]

It was a different world in Boston. There,  black and white men and women collaborated to aid men, women and children who escaped from their southern oppressors. William Lloyd Garrison, Rev. John Parkman, Francis George Shaw and Joshua Bowen Smith were members of the Boston Vigilance Committee. In fact,  Smith was on its Executive Committee.[ix]  On Saturday, April 24, 1847, the Vigilance Committee appointed Smith to be “their relief Agent” and decided that “thereafter all cases of relief of fugitives needing board &c, & employment” in Boston would be  “attended to by him.”[x]

Sarah Shaw’s note is especially interesting because she discloses that Smith was the “head waiter” in Boston. And it was true: J.B. Smith owned a very successful catering business and was one of the most prosperous black men in Boston.  Gay had apparently appealed to Mrs. Shaw to find someone who could help Allen’s sister, but she says she does not know anyone who can. Most importantly, Sarah tells Sydney that there is no need for him to apologize for inconveniencing her with John and reminds him that she has sworn to be active in the cause “at any cost.”  She also discloses that although “Bridget & Gretchen” have opposed her benevolent work, they  have become “more quiet & reconciled” and are no longer giving her “trouble.” Twenty-two year old Bridget Devine was one of her three Irish female servants. The others were Marianne Durnham, Honora OCarroll and Peter OCarroll. Gretchen’s identity is not known; she  was not listed in the 1850 census.[xi] The Shaws counted on Joshua B. Smith to give John Allen a job, and if he “should get in trouble”, they would send him with Sydney’s note to the President of the American Anti-Slavery Society, William Lloyd Garrison.

The July 12th  issue of the Liberator reported that Allen had been with Garrison at a July 4th celebration in Abington.

At the close of his speech, Mr. Garrison introduced to the meeting a noble stalwart representative of our colored brethren who gave his name as JOHN ALLEN, (not his real name,) very recently from the South, by the underground railway. This fugitive from bondage gave an interesting account of the mode of the escape, and the particular act of oppression which led him to make the attempt. His chief object, at present, he stated to be, to raise money enough to purchase his sister, who had been sold to the slavedealer, and sent to New Orleans, for the very heinous crime of praying with her fellow-slaves, and reading the Bible for their religious edification!

In the July 19th issue of the Liberator, Garrison announced that “Loring Moody and JOHN ALLEN, recently from Maryland,” would be lecturing against slavery in nine Massachusetts cities between July 19th and July 30th.[xii] The next week, the paper only mentioned Moody.[xiii] Where was Allen? Had he gone to Canada?

After Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Law on September 18, 1850, Underground Railroad traffic to the Queen's Dominions increased dramatically.  A North Carolina newspaper reported that “Upwards” of 110 fugitive slaves left Pittsburgh and Allegheny, Pennsylvania, and that they were “armed to the teeth” and “determined to die” before they surrendered. Several Southerners  suspected of being slave hunters were in Pittsburgh, and major hotels were “left without servants.”[xiv]

In the October 31st issue of the Standard, Gay reported that a colored impostor by the name of Charles W. Swift had deceived people in Worcester, Massachusetts. Swift  had raised “the steam of excitement” by “telling a long story of his escape, his pursuit by his master, his knocking down an officer in New York who tried to arrest him, &c, &c.” Although money had been raised to get him to Canada, he had returned. In fact, he had previously spoken at Antislavery meetings in Worcester “under the name of John Allen.”[xv]

This sounds like a very different John Allen,  but destitute and unscrupulous free blacks occasionally took advantage of the generosity of abolitionists.

The next year, Gay informed his readers that they could forward donations to the Treasurer of American Anti-Slavery Society in Boston or to him in New York City.[xvi] On November 1, 1851, Francis George Shaw sent him the following note: “I enclose 25Dls for the cause, also two dollars for my subscription to the Standard, the other 25 Dls we have paid over to the vigilance committee in Boston.”[xvii]

Francis Jackson was the treasurer of the national society as well as the Boston Vigilance Committee.  On November 1, 1850, he noted that  Shaw had made a donation. On the 13th, the Rev. John Parkman  brought in a donation from a friend.[xviii] On March 24,1851, Rev. Parkman and his mother, “Mrs. Susan Parkman” each donated $5. (This was  error, unless the Reverend’s mother and his wife had the same name.)[xix] J.B. Smith’s name appears in Jackson’s records each of the several times he was reimbursed for fares he  paid to send fugitives to Canada.[xx]

On April 1, 1851, Rev. Parkman informed Gay,

            …We have had exciting meetings of our vigilance committee during the last few days. I hear very much the same talk about slavery, & ‘the niggers’ & the ‘[damned abolitionists,’ that I heard in 1832, & I find I can’t stand it quite as well as I did then—therefore, give my pro slavery relatives & friends a wide birth, as much as possible.[xxi] The Vigilance Committee’s records confirm Parkman’s statement. On March 31st , they paid for the passage of John Thomas and his wife to Toronto,  for William C. Nell’s expenses in aiding 18 fugitives, and for Mrs. Charles Williams’s expenses in  assisting “destitute” fugitives.[xxii]

On June 5, 1855, the name John Allen was recorded in the Vigilance Committee’s records when Samuel May Jr. was given $26 for rescuing a man with that name from Boston Harbor.[xxiii]

Was this still a different John Allen?

Staten Island’s abolitionists were involved in the antislavery cause for many years, and they contributed in a number of ways. While they aided fugitives from slavery, they also petitioned, lectured, and donated money to the cause. And the women sewed. On November 6, 1851, Sydney Howard Gay listed his wife, Elizabeth, and Sarah B. Shaw as contributors to the Eighteenth National Anti-Slavery Bazaar scheduled for Christmas week.[xxiv] The ladies sewed quilts and created household items. In a determined effort to raise $1,000 for her husband’s Fugitive Fund, Elizabeth Gay helped organize New York City’s 1857 Fair.  Their dear friend, Sarah B. Shaw, was also on the committee.[xxv]

Because the Gays, the Shaws, and the Parkmans were Underground Railroad associates before the Parkman’s and Shaws moved to Staten Island, we can logically assume that they sheltered fugitive slaves on Staten Island. But written proof that they did may never be found. They no longer needed to correspond with one another.  They were neighbors now and could meet to decide how they would help someone.

Rev. Parkman resigned from the Church of the Redeemer in December of 1858. When Francis George Curtis died in 1881, it was said that he was one of the “most prominent contributors to and ardent workers in the ‘underground railroad’ by which slaves were forwarded from the South into Canada.”[xxvi] When Sarah Blake Shaw died in Boston in 1902, the New York Times eulogized her for having been “one of the noted abolitionists who had lived in and “about Boston.”[xxvii] Staten Island was mentioned in Mr. Shaw’s obituary, but not in Mrs. Shaw’s.

                                                                                                D.P.

Addendum

In 1856, Gay recorded this account of another man who escaped from Barnum’s Hotel:

Nathl West, belonged to W.D. Bowie of near Washington, was servant at Barnum’s Hotel at Baltimore. A light mulatto, & evidently a gentle servant. Had been advised by friends here of the practicability of escape, so bought a ticket at the depot, & came off in the cars like a gentleman. Sent to Albany.
Expenses of all except B. Dickerson $11[xxviii]


[i] “Mrs. George William Curtis,” The Morning Call (San Francisco, CA), September 11, 1892.

[ii] “Religious Protest Against American Slavery, By One Hundred and Seenty Uniarian Ministers,” Emancipator and Repulican (Boston, MA), October 22, 1845.

[iii] “Fugitive Slaves,” Tarboro’ Press (Tarborough, North Carolina),  December 8, 1849.

[iv] “A Baltimore correspondent of The Tribune relates an interesting incident;” “Donations to A.A.S. Society,” National Anti-Slavery Standard, June 13, 1850.

[v] “Domestic Correspondence,” National Anti-Slavery Standard, June 20, 1850.

[vi] Sarah Shaw to Sydney Howard Gay, June [n.d.]1850, Sydney Howard Gay Papers, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University.

[vii] Francis George Shaw to Sydney Howard Gay, June 21, 1850, Sydney Howard Gay Papers, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University. J.B. Smith’s complete name was Joshua Bowen Smith. He was a friend of the Shaws and William Lloyd Garrison and an agent of the Boston Vigilance Committee. In Adams Boston Directory 1847-1848, he is listed as one of the city’s “colored residents” and as a caterer living at 16 Brattle Street. (See Irving H. Bartlett, “Memoranda and Documents, Abolitionists, Fugitives, and Imposters in Boston, 1846-1847,”  The New England Quarterly Vol. 55, No. 1 (Mar., 1982), 98; Black Past.org Remembered & Reclaimed, Smith, Joshua Bowen (1813-1879) http://www.blackpast.org/aah/smith-joshua-bowen-1813-1879.

[viii] U S Slave, Baltimore Slave Trade, http://usslave.blogspot.com/2011/08/baltimore-city-slave-trade.html.

[ix] Austin Bearse, Reminiscences of Fugitive Slave Days (Boston: Warren Richardson, 1880), 6-7. http://dlxs.library.cornell.edu/cgi/t/text/pageviewer-idx?c=mayantislavery;idno=12851220;view=image;seq=11;cc=mayantislavery;page=root;size=100

[x] John W. Browne, Committee of Vigilance Agents’ Record, 23, Crawford Blagden Papers, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.

[xi] 1850; Census Place: Roxbury, Norfolk, Massachusetts; Roll: M432_330; Page: 180A; Image: 365

[xii] “Anti-Slavery Lectures,” The Liberator, July 19, 1850

[xiii] “Anti-Slavery Lectures,” The Liberator, July 26, 1850.

[xiv] “Fugitives Slaves,” Tarboro’ Press, October 5, 1850.

[xv] “A Colored Impostor,” National Anti-Slavery Standard, October 31, 1850.

[xvi] “National Anti-Slavery Standard,” National Anti-Slavery Standard, October 30, 1851.

[xvii] Francis George Shaw to Sydney Howard Gay, November 1, 1850, Sydney Howard Gay Papers, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University.

[xviii] Francis Jackson, The Boston Vigilance Committee 7.

[xix] Francis Jackson, The Boston Vigilance Committee, 15.

[xx] Francis Jackson, The Boston Vigilance Committee, 24.

[xxi] John Parkman to Sydney Howard Gay, April 10, 1851, , Sydney Howard Gay Papers, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University.

[xxii] Francis Jackson, The Boston Vigilance Committee, 4

[xxiii] Francis Jackson, The Boston Vigilance Committee, 24

[xxiv] “The Eighteenth National Anti-Slavery Bazaar,” National Anti-Slavery Standard, November 1851.

[xxv] “New York Anti-Slavery Fair,” National Anti-Slavery Standard, November 28, 1857.

[xxvi] “Obituary,” New York Herald, November 9, 1882.

[xxvii] “Death List of the Day. Mrs. Sarah Blake Shaw,” The New York Times, December 31, 1902.

[xxviii]Don Papson and Tom Calarco, Secret Lives of the Underground Railroad in New York City: Sydney Howard Gay, Louis Napoleon and the Record of Fugitives (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2015), 169.

 
 
Listen to Andy Flynn's interview of Don about the leg iron on display at the North Star Underground Railroad Museum at Ausable Chasm, New York. The museum is now open for its fifth season.
http://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/story/28242/20150505/leg-iron-underground-railroad-artifact-in-the-adirondack-attic

 
 
Sunday, May 17, 2015, Ferrisburg, Vermont--
Rokeby Museum's  Opening Day  and Secret Lives of the Underground Railroad


Don Papson opened Rokeby Museum's season on Sunday, May 17th. He spoke about the amazing work of   Sydney Howard Gay and  Louis Napoleon and Gay's Record of Fugitives. Don gave special attention to Vermont native Oliver Johnson, who was assistant editor of the National Anti-Slavery Standard when Gay wrote his Record. Don suggested that Johnson may  have relieved Gay of enough of his duties so that he could  take the time he needed to write down the stories of the fugitives from slavery who were coming to the office for help.

When Gay resigned from the Standard in 1857, Johnson became editor. On May 2, 1860, Johnson wrote a  letter to Philadelphis forwarding agent, James Miller Mckim, in 
reaction to the rendition of fugitives Allen Graff and Josiah Hay. Johnson  said defensively,

"It is indeed a shame that fugitives here are carried off without causing as ripple in public opinion. If there were anybody here to take charge of such business, we might might make as good a “moral row” here as you do in Phil. But I am compelled to shirk the whole business of fugitives. I do not, twice in the year, stop to talk with those that come to the office. William & Napoleon  do all that is done. My editorial cares,and the incidetal (sic) business and correspondence that I cannot escape, use up every iota of my strength. " (Oliver Johnson to James Miller McKim, May 2, 1860, S.J. May Collection, Cornell University.)

Johnson was referring to Louis Napoleon and William H. Leonard, the black man who printed the Standard, and
who had accepted responsibility for the office's UGRR operation upon Gay's resignation three years earlier. (See page 196 of  Secret Lives).

Rokeby'sExecutive Director, Jane Williamson, granted permission for  their image of Oliver Johnson to appear in Secret Lives



Rokeby is a National Historic Landmark which connects visitors with the human experience of the underground railroad and with the lives of Quaker abolitionists  Rowland T. and Rachel G. Robinson, and their descendants, who lived on and farmed the land for nearly 200 years. To learn more, www.rokeby.org