Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Newbury Correspondence

The Marietta Register, August 22, 1872

Mr. Editor:

An incident, related at the Newbury Harvest Home Picnic, by Mr. A. L. Curtis, ought to be preserved from oblivion.  As near as I can remember, these are his words:

"Some fifty years ago, when slaves were owned on the other side of the river, an energetic colored man named Harry, purchased his freedom from his master, and came over here to work for my father, in order to obtain the balance of the purchase money.  Harry left a wife in bondage, and, as he was still in debt, there was little prospect of obtaining freedom for his wife.  They concluded, as have many since that time, that there was a shorter road to liberty; so one night Harry quietly paddled his canoe across the river, and brought his wife to this side, and made a camp among the rocks just on the other bank of that ravine, not a stone's throw from where we are now standing, hoping to get her to a place of greater security during the coming night.  the owner of the chattel, very naturally supposing that Harry had been instrumental in getting her away, came over to get her if possible.

"The woman had built a fire to keep herself warm, and the smoke betrayed her hiding place.  Stealthily creeping through the forest, they came upon the camp, and made a rush to catch her.  She saw them coming, and with a terrible scream for help, tried to escape, but was soon overtaken, and with her hands tied, was started as fast as she could run for the river.  Harry, driving a team to the plow, just on the other side of that strip of timber, heard the scream, and, divining at once that his wife was captured, seized a long hickory club, and ran to cut off their retreat to the river.  With the speed of a deer, he rushed across the field and halted the slave catchers.  With an open knife he cut the cord which bound his wife, and she fled to the woods.  One of the men raised a gun to shoot Harry.  At one bound, he caught the gun with his left hand, and with his right drew the club, at the same time telling the man that if he moved a muscle he would dash his brains out.  The club in the hands of a powerful man, drive to desperation, cowed the man, and he begged for his life.  Still keeping it drawn, he then told them that if they did not give their word not to pursue his wife again, he would slay them as he would a dog.  They gave the required promise, and the wife gained her freedom."

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