Casino Celestiale – Chapter 3 – On the Scent

  Casino Celestiale – Chapter 3 – On the Scent

     Peter van Gorder


At midnight Levi reached the Dan River that he would have to cross. During daylight the way would have been much easier as there were rock markers showing where to cross safely through the swift current, but now it was so dark the markers were impossible to see.
Isaiah 43:2). They made it safely to the other side, where Levi wrung out his clothes, dried off Melissa, and continued with greater speed on his journey. At daybreak he reached a tavern.
“Greetings, friend!” Levi called to the man inside.
“What can I be doin for you, young man?”
“Could you be telling me where I am exactly? Is this the right road to Patrick Court House?”
“It is the very one. You are forty-seven miles from the river.”
“I have just come from there,” Levi explained.
“Well, you have come a long way. Why don’t you rest up for an hour or two now? You will have some company. A gentleman stopped here last night.”
“Oh, do you know where he is going?” asked Levi.
“He is in pursuit of his runaway slave.”
It dawned on Levi that Osborne was inside at that very moment!
“Unfortunately, I must push on,” he told the man.
      I am ahead of Osborne now, but can I keep the lead? I have traveled all night and Melissa is tired, while Osborne is getting a fresh start on the day with a fresh horse. It doesn’t seem possible to reach Bethuel before he does.
      Levi’s mind was filled with these anxious thoughts. Finally he took his burden to the Lord and asked for His wisdom and help.
Stop at the next tavern—it’s just a few miles ahead. Rest and eat some food. Osborne will overtake you, and then after you are rested you can catch up with him. Make this enemy a friend. Ride with him and find out his plans. I will then show you what to do next.
The plan seemed strange, but Levi couldn’t think of a better idea.

It was half-past eight in the morning when Levi stopped at the next tavern. He ordered breakfast for himself and feed for Melissa. Half an hour later, Osborne rode up and stopped at the same tavern for breakfast. It was the custom for travelers to get an early start on the day and stop for breakfast at nine.
“Barkeep, get me a whiskey!” shouted Osborne as he strode up to the bar.
Levi recognized Osborne, as he had seen him do business with his father before, but Osborne did not recognize him. Levi had been much younger the last time they’d met.
Osborne called over to Levi, “Quaker man, let me buy you a drink to start your day out right.”
“No, thank you, sir.”
“Well … let me buy you a meal.”
Levi reluctantly accepted, thinking that perhaps it was a way he could befriend Osborne and find out his plans.
“Which way are you traveling?” Osborne asked.
“I’m going west. I’m planning to cross the mountain at Mayberry’s Gap and take the left road to Burk’s Fork. My uncle, Samuel Stanley, has a cattle farm there where he keeps a large herd. He most likely will need my help.” Levi was now thankful for the alibi he had contrived before leaving home.”
“Ever heard of old Bethuel Coffin?”
“He is my uncle, sir.”
“Well, now! I meet the nephew of the man I’m in pursuit of!” Osborne guffawed loudly.
Calming himself, Osborne continued. “Your uncle has one of my slaves with him, taking him to Indiana, I suppose.”
Levi mustered a surprised look.
“Oh, I don’t think your uncle is involved in any shady dealings,” said Osborne. “I imagine my Sam tricked your uncle into helping him.”
Osborne downed several shots of whiskey and slapped Levi on the back. “As we are going the same road, why don’t we travel together? It’s mighty lonesome traveling through this rough country with too few taverns—besides, it’s good protection to travel together.—Never know when you might get attacked by bandits or when your horse might break a leg.”
     This is part of My plan.
Levi consented to traveling with Osborne. Osborne paid the bill and filled his pocket flask with whiskey. Their horses were taken to the door and they rode off together—an abolitionist* and a slave catcher brought together by a mysterious force. [*abolitionist: member of a movement who sought to put an end to slavery and the worldwide slave trade]
As they rode, Osborne was full of jokes and stories, most of which consisted of bragging about himself and denigrating his slaves. He paused only long enough from his tirade to take a swig from his whiskey flask.
Levi heard little of this patter. Instead, his mind and heart were full of plans, anxious thoughts, and prayers for wisdom. From Levi’s pensive silence, Osborne could tell that he had no interest in his boastings.
“Here, Coffin, take a healthy swig!” said Osborne, hoping to win Levi’s attention by passing him his flask of whisky.
Levi was desperate. If things continued, Osborne would reach Bethuel’s camp before he could warn Jack of the danger. To save Jack, he would have to keep his own head clear. Levi realized that the effects of Osborne’s drinking could work for him. Putting the flask up to his lips, he pretended to drink, but made sure that he swallowed nothing.
“How do you plan to catch your slave?” Levi asked Osborne.
“I’ll find them first and then camp near them at night. Then I’ll gather some armed men, surround the camp and take my Sam back!” answered Osborne.
“And what if he tries to run?”
“I’ll shoot him down. No black man ever gets the better of me!”
“Pardon my wondering, but what if you find out that it isn’t your Sam after all? Is there a chance it could be someone else?”
“If it is not my Sam, then I may know who it could be. There was a black man who was willed free by a crazy master. The courts ruled in favor of the man’s heirs. Now the slave is missing, and the family has offered a reward of a hundred dollars to anyone who will find him. The Negro’s name is Jack Barnes, and by the drawing of him on the flier I think I’d recognize him. If it is not my slave, then it must be this Jack Barnes fellow. We could go fifty-fifty with the reward, and you’d get paid for your trouble.”
Levi heard God again instructing him to travel with Osborne, so he reluctantly agreed to aid Osborne in his endeavor.
Whenever they met others traveling in the opposite direction, Osborne would ask them if they had seen a family of Quakers in a wagon with a black man. If they had, he would ask what the slave looked like, and every physical description they gave led Osborne to believe it was his slave, Sam. However, both Sam and Jack were tall and lanky, and both very likely wore rough and torn clothes.
It appeared that they were nearing their quarry at a fast pace. Osborne seemed more determined than ever. His countenance loomed as heavy as a storm cloud about to break. Levi feared what Osborne might do to Uncle Bethuel, and prepared himself mentally to do what he could to protect his uncle. Many men had died mysteriously in these parts from unknown causes. Levi hoped that the influence of the liquor would slow Osborne and help Jack to escape his grasp.


Casino Celestiale – Chapter 2 – Wanted


Casino Celestiale – Chapter 2 – Wanted

Peter van Gorder

North Carolina, 1822
“I hereby rule that the State of North Carolina has deemed the will of T.C. Barnes null and void. It is clear to the court that anyone who would bequeath a large portion of his estate to his body servant, as well as give to that same servant his freedom, without due consideration to his immediate relatives, must be deemed mentally unstable. Therefore, the estate shall be divided up between the relatives of the Barnes family. The freedom of Jack Barnes is forfeit. He is now the property of the Barnes’ estate and is subject to the laws governing slaves in the State of North Carolina.”

Cheers went up from the Barnes family who were in attendance.
The judge continued, “The slave, Jack Barnes, will now approach the bench.”
The bailiff* cleared his throat and said nervously, “I regret to inform Your Honor that Jack Barnes has escaped.” [*bailiff: a court official whose tasks include supervising prisoners and keeping order in court during a trial]
“This court orders him to be found and presented!” proclaimed the judge.
* * *
Reward: $100*! To any person who will secure the escaped slave Jack Barnes, or give information that would lead to the discovery of his whereabouts.
—The State of North Carolina

*(The value of $100 in the early 1800s was worth ten times its current monetary value.)


Young Levi Coffin stuffed the leaflet into his coat pocket. With head bowed, he walked quickly out of town. He passed a notice board that had the same leaflet posted alongside a sketch of Jack Barnes, the runaway slave. Jack Barnes had been working at the Coffin estate all winter, and was a hard-working, honest man, and with the recent turn of events, was now hiding on the Coffin property. It was only a temporary solution until Jack could be moved to a free state*. [*free state: a state in the United States, prior to the American Civil War, where slavery was either prohibited or eliminated]

Levi knew that the risk loomed large. If Jack were found, anyone who was found sheltering him would be dealt with harshly, according to North Carolina laws.
That night the Coffin family met to consider all the options. After seeking God’s guidance and angelic protection, it was decided that Levi’s uncle, Bethuel, his son, Elisha, and daughter, Mary, would take Jack to Indiana. It would be a two-day trip over rivers and through the Blue Ridge Mountains. This route was thought to be safe as the area was thinly inhabited. All were in agreement that the risk was worth the venture for Jack Barnes’ freedom.
A few days after Bethuel had begun his wagon journey with Jack Barnes through the Blue Ridge Mountains, a friend of Levi’s, who was staying at an inn, overheard the following conversation between a local man, Jack Osborne, and a man who had just returned from a long journey.

“Where are you coming from, stranger?” inquired Osborne.
“I’m back from the Blue Ridge Mountains’ trail.”
“Haven’t seen any Negroes traveling with anyone that way, have you? My Sam has gone missing, and I’m hell-bent on getting him back.”
“Matter of fact, I did meet an old Quaker man and his family, driving a two-horse wagon. There was a Negro along with him.”
“Did he say where he was going?”
“He mentioned something about Indiana.”
“What did the Negro look like?”
“He was wearing a torn shirt, and was real tall and skinny.”
“That must be my slave, Sam, to be sure! He’s been hiding from me for several months,” said Osborne. “That Quaker must be Old Man Coffin. I know him well from business dealings. I suppose my Negro met him and made him believe he was a free man. I don’t think Old Man Coffin would have stolen my slave on purpose. Sam must have tricked them.”
“What do you intend to do about it?”
“I’ll follow them to Hell and back if I need to get that slave of mine! No slave gets the better of Jack Osborne! I’m going home, getting a fresh horse, and starting off after him!” said Osborne, slamming his fist on the table and spilling whiskey on the counter.

As soon as Osborne left, Levi’s friend hurried to the Coffin household to tell Levi what had happened. Jack Osborne was known as a man with a vile temper and a reputation for mistreating his slaves. Upon hearing the news, Levi called his family together to counsel on what the best course of action was.

“Osborne is thinking that Jack Barnes is his slave Sam. If Osborne catches up with Uncle Bethuel, and finds out that Jack Barnes is not his Sam, he will most likely capture Jack just the same. He will know who Jack is by the notices, and he will be eager for that reward money to make his trip worthwhile,” said Levi, explaining the situation to his fellow laborers in the cause for freedom.

Levi’s father asked Levi’s cousin, Vestal, “You are experienced in these matters of helping our brothers in bondage find freedom. What do you think we should do?”
“Someone must ride ahead of Osborne and warn Bethuel,” said Vestal.
“And who should go?” Levi asked.
“Why, I was thinking of you, Levi,” said Vestal.
“I don’t have a horse, which is a necessity for such a journey … or money or a warm overcoat. Surely another would be better prepared for traveling,” said Levi uncertainly.
“Take no thought to all the obstacles, Levi. Didn’t our Lord tell us that nothing would be impossible to us if we believed? We will give you a horse, and enough money and provisions. I believe you are God’s man for this mission!” said Elihu.
“Take a minute to pray about it, son,” said Levi’s father.

Levi went to an empty room and as soon as he sought the Lord’s guidance, he found it. Coming out of the room, Levi announced, “Alright, I’ll go. It’s time I put my faith into action. Besides, it will be an adventure.”

The Coffin family congratulated and embraced him. Vestal told his hired hand to bring out his favorite horse, Melissa, who had been freshly shod. ”

Levi thanked her profusely. It was dusk now and night was falling fast as he ventured out. The sky was low and clear, with stars that shone brightly to guide his way. Levi was scared yet also excited to be on an adventure that would rescue those he rode to warn.


Casino Celestiale – The Story of Levi Coffin – Chapter 1 – Casino Night

Casino CelestialePeter van Gorder

Information for portions of this story is based on Reminiscences of Levi Coffin, the Reputed President of the Underground Railroad, by Levi Coffin (1798-1877).
Chapter 1 – Casino Night
I am awaiting my wife as she readies herself for the costume ball we’ve been invited to. Perhaps I should explain.

You have heard about the robes of light we wear—well, for variety we sometimes clothe ourselves in the period dress of certain times on Earth. “Heritage Night” is similar to a costume ball where everyone dresses up to a certain theme. Tonight the theme will be the Underground Railroad* movement. Since I was known as being the “president” of the Underground Railroad while on Earth, there will be some special recognition for my work in helping around 3,000 slaves find freedom.

I don’t feel it necessary to make a fuss over me—I just did what had to be done. I figured it was always best to do the right thing. I know I wasn’t the only one who made a difference in the Underground Railroad, so I’m glad that others will get their time in the limelight too.

Here she comes now. “You look wonderful, darling!” I say.

“Do you think I should have worn the white bonnet with the black dress—or should they have been matching?” she asks.

I take in her white dress with black bows and matching bonnet. “You’re perfect, my dear. We do need to be off though, our ride is waiting.”

As part of the experience, we are being driven to the casino in a horse and buggy. No, it’s not our usual form of transport, but sometimes it’s nice to take our time instead of zooming about in a flying vehicle.

After a friendly exchange of salutations with the driver, we board the carriage. The smell and touch of the leather bring back many memories.

We pull up in front of the casino where a fountain is splashing with an amazing light and music show. People are streaming into the entranceway. We greet friends who are also dressed in period costume. A valet escorts us inside. People are lined up expecting our arrival. They cheer and applaud as we ascend the red-carpeted marble steps into the hall.


Inside, a speaker introduces me, and then I am directed to the podium for my “spotlight time,” as an orchestra plays a stirring rendition of “Beams of Heaven*.

“Greetings! Welcome, everyone, to Heritage Night, dedicated this evening to the brave souls of the Underground Railroad*. We thank the house for hosting our little gathering this evening.

“If you look around you’ll see many familiar faces—people you loved and some you may have even hated while on Earth. Perhaps you’ll even see some folks you chased or some folks you ran away from.”

There are a few laughs as former masters, slave catchers, and slaves remember their time on Earth. Several of them chuckle and slap each other on the back.

“But thanks to our Father and His plan of Universal Reconciliation*, we are now all brothers and sisters.—And since I was never fond of long speeches, let’s get on with the games!”

There is a tremendous cheer as we each take up positions at various gaming tables.
The first thing to do is to pick up our chips. I go to the counter and am handed a large pile of chips of various colors which represent different values.

You can’t really lose in this casino, and the house actually wants you to win! How contrary to how things work on Earth. As you may know, gambling was forbidden by our faith, and I never played on Earth. This casino, though, is as different from earthly gaming establishments as light is from darkness.

Waiters come around bringing some delightful viands*. [*viands: food that makes up a meal or feast]

There is a tangible excitement in the air as the games are about to begin. All my friends—and some of my former “enemies” who in this realm have become my friends—are gathered around our table.

The game I will play tonight is similar to the “Wheel of Fortune” that is played on Earth. A huge wheel is set in the middle of the green felted table. Instead of numbers, the faces and names of each of those who surround the table are pictured on separate slots of the wheel.

Roulette wheel

You place your bets on whoever’s story you think will be up next. The Wheel of Fortune can also be set on different modes. For example, you can set it on “funny situations,” “embarrassing moments,” or “love stories.” There are all kinds of possible combinations. Tonight it is set on “deliverance” mode.

The wheel is then spun, and a ball of light is thrown into the rotating wheel. The light ball goes around until it lands on a slot. The story of the person whose face is featured in that slot is then projected to be relived with all those taking part in the game. Each of us will experience a segment of that person’s story firsthand.

“Ladies and gentlemen, please place your bets,” says the croupier*. [*croupier: person in charge of a gaming table who collects and pays out the players’ money and chips, and deals the cards or spins the roulette wheel]
Everyone places their chips where they think the ball will land. “Les jeux sont faits!”     (French) “the bets have been placed”

The croupier spins the large wheel which picks up speed until it seems to disappear in a whirl. He shakes the ball in his hands and then throws it onto the spinning wheel—finally the wheel begins to slow down. The light ball first hits one slot then bounces to various slots until it finally lands on one main character.

Cheers go up as players collect their winnings. A bright light shines and engulfs the table. When it dims, we are in another place and time.

* * *

* The Underground Railroad, beginning in the early 19th century and continuing well up to the Civil War, was a secret and extensive network of people, places, and modes of transportation that led runaway slaves from the Southern United States to freedom in the North and Canada. Begun in the 1780s under Quaker auspices, the activity acquired legendary fame after the 1830s. It was once thought that more than 60,000 slaves gained their freedom in this way.

Few details of the Underground Railroad are known because of the extreme secrecy required in its operation, but there are reports of its existence as early as 1837. The exact number of slaves who were freed by the railroad is also not known because, in the interests of security, the conductors of the railroad could not keep records. Although this number was never high enough to threaten the institution of slavery itself, the legends and metaphor of the freedom train proved much more ominous to slaveholders. Tales that were often repeated throughout the nation included. (Microsoft ® Encarta ® Reference Library)

* Universal Reconciliation verses: (1Ti.2:4; 2Pe.3:9)

*.” Beams of Heaven: an old, African-American spiritual; “spirituals” is a term used to classify songs that were created by American slaves, and the unique style in which they were sung

Blind Spot vs. Sweet Spot

 by Peter van Gorder









That darned blind spot! I am not talking about the back of the retina where the optic nerve enters the eyeball; the place lacking cones or rods that causes us to lose vision at times. I am talking about those unguarded moments when I miss something right in front of me, whether it be a concept or a thing – whether spiritually or physically. The other day, our event company realized that we have lost over 1000 dollars worth of equipment over the years due to leaving a bag somewhere we shouldn’t have.

No matter how hard we try and keep reminding ourselves to check the area, it still happens – like yesterday. Arrrghhh! Last week, while coming home from the gym I forgot to heed my wife’s reminder to zip up the side pocket that the phone was in and…ooops, finders keepers and me, Mr. Looser was weeping. The song kept ringing in my head, “When will they ever learn?”

Well, I can at least milk a piece from my bitter experience. I started to wonder why I just don’t get it. I know it is not just my age, as when I was young I had plenty of blind spots. “Yeah, yeah, I know that already,” then bam…

The cure I imagine is going slower, praying, and double checking. As the sage said, “If you go slow, you get there quicker, at least you get there.” And how about: “If you are in a hurry you will lose things, forget things and wear out quickly. You live it up, but you may not be able to live it down. You marry in haste but repent at leisure,” ad infinitum. And of course there’s the famous story of the turtle and the rabbit race. We probably have more wise sayings about going slow than any other concept, which must be because it is such a common problem.

It’s also a lot about ‘living in the moment’. Life is made up of a lot of those individual choices at each moment, made up of about 2.4 billion seconds in the average lifetime (78 years). It is each of those decisions that determine what happens to us or for us. It’s a continual challenge to up our game and make the right decisions. Of course, we both know that’s not going to happen all the time. In baseball if a hitter hits the ball successfully over 1/3 of the time (.300) he is considered good. With Divine help, “We try harder!”

Which brings us to the opposite end of the spectrum – the ‘sweet spot’ –a term which is often used for the best place in a bat to hit the ball to make it zing out of the park. A sweet spot is often used in sports and the expressive arts, for when someone has entered ‘the zone’ and performs at optimum levels. Others call it when we are in Flow – “the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.”

I have had that feeling sometimes when playing squash and the position of the racket, my swing, the bounce, all work together in perfect harmony. I have also felt it at special times when writing, acting, or doing what I love click .

So the big question is: how do we find that sweet spot in our lives where it’s all humming and working together well oiled by the Spirit? I found one diagram that gave some insight into the process. We find it where our experiences meet our spiritual gifts and our core values.




Business gurus tell us it is where what we’re good at, what we’re paid to do, and what we want to do converge. From a Christian perspective it is where community, mission, and communion meet, or to put another way: It is the meeting of what we love, what we’re good at and what serves the world. It’s the perfect blending of passion, gifts, and needs.

It is something we all strive for. Though we may sometimes ‘strike out’ or miss the ball, we keep playing the game. Each time we come up to bat, we pray, “Your love for me endures forever, help me in this moment to fulfill my purpose and find the sweet spot to hit a home run!”

– End of piece

Relevant Verses

The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Psalms 138:8

1 Peter 4:10–11
10 God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. 11 Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.

Ephesians 2:10
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Run to Freedom – Reference and Research Notes

Run to Freedom – Reference and Research Notes


The Fugitive Slave Act – 1850

Fugitive Slave Law of 1850
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

An April 24, 1851 poster warning colored people in Boston about policemen acting as slave catchers.
The Fugitive Slave Law or Fugitive Slave Act was passed by the United States Congress on September 18, 1850, as part of the Compromise of 1850 between Southern slaveholding interests and Northern Free-Soilers and abolitionists.
One cause of conflict between the Southern slave states and the Northern free states was the lack of assistance given by northerners to southern slave-owners and their agents seeking to recapture escaped slaves. Southerners interpreted this as support for abolitionism and a refusal to respect southern states’ rights.
New law
In response to the weakening of this first fugitive slave act, the Fugitive Slave Bill of 1850 made any federal marshal or other official who did not arrest an alleged runaway slave liable to a fine of $1,000. Law-enforcement officials everywhere had a duty to arrest anyone suspected of being a runaway slave on no more evidence than a claimant’s sworn testimony of ownership. The suspected slave could not ask for a jury trial or testify on his or her own behalf. In addition, any person aiding a runaway slave by providing food or shelter was to be subject to six months’ imprisonment and a $1,000 fine. Officers capturing a fugitive slave were entitled to a fee for their work.
In fact the Fugitive Slave Law brought the issue home to anti-slavery citizens in the North, since it made them and their institutions responsible for enforcing slavery. Even moderate abolitionists were now faced with the immediate choice of defying what they believed an unjust law or breaking with their own conscience and belief. The case of Anthony Burns fell under this statute.
Many Methodists were highly active in the abolition movement, though the Methodist Episcopal Church was officially reluctant to touch the issue because it did not want to fan the flames of inter-sectional hatreds after the Southern wing split off in 1844. Two splinter groups of Methodism, the Wesleyan Church in 1843 and the Free Methodists in 1860, along with many like-minded Quakers, maintained some of the “stations” of the Underground Railroad. Most of the stations were maintained by African Americans.
The Fugitive Slave Act brought a defiant response from abolitionists. Reverend Luther Lee, pastor of the Wesleyan Methodist Church of Syracuse, New York wrote in 1855:
I never would obey it. I had assisted thirty slaves to escape to Canada during the last month. If the authorities wanted any thing of me my residence was at 39 Onondaga Street. I would admit that and they could take me and lock me up in the Penitentiary on the hill; but if they did such a foolish thing as that I had friends enough on Onondaga County to level it to the ground before the next morning.
Other opponents such as African American leader Harriet Tubman simply treated the law as just another complication in their activities. The most important reaction was making the neighboring country of Canada the main destination of choice for runaway slaves. Only a few hundred runaways made it to Canada in the 1850s.
With the outbreak of the American Civil War, General Benjamin Butler justified refusing to return runaway slaves in accordance to this law because the Union and the Confederacy were at war, the slaves could be confiscated and set free as contraband of war.
In March 1862, Congress forbade all Union army officers from returning fugitive slaves, with the passage of the Act Prohibiting the Return of Slaves, effectively annulling the Fugitive Slave Law.

The Compromise of 1850 was introduced to stave off conflict between the slave states and the free states upon the admission of California as a state. Under the Compromise, California was admitted as a free state, New Mexico and Utah were organized as slave territories, and Texas had its boundaries set. Another part of the Compromise was the Fugitive Slave Act, which federalized the return of escaped slaves to their owners.
It is an offensive piece of legislation to us today, even if one takes the issue of race out of it. Slaves, of course, had no rights – they were guilty by virtue of a slave-owner’s say-so, there was very little burden of proof, the federal government bore most of the costs of returning escaped slaves, and non-slaves who helped fugitive slaves were subject to harsh fines and prison.
Resistance to the law in the North grew a fever pitch, with President Fillmore calling out the army to quell some mobs and to return some former slaves caught in the North.
As defiance of the law in the North became more and more open and more and more fervent, the anger of the South grew and grew, adding to a general feeling of discontent.
Actual text of law:
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the persons who have been, or may hereafter be, appointed commissioners, in virtue of any act of Congress, by the Circuit Courts of the United States, and Who, in consequence of such appointment, are authorized to exercise the powers that any justice of the peace, or other magistrate of any of the United States, may exercise in respect to offenders for any crime or offense against the United States, by arresting, imprisoning, or bailing the same under and by the virtue of the thirty-third section of the act of the twenty-fourth of September seventeen hundred and eighty-nine, entitled “An Act to establish the judicial courts of the United States” shall be, and are hereby, authorized and required to exercise and discharge all the powers and duties conferred by this act.
§ 2. And be it further enacted, That the Superior Court of each organized Territory of the United States shall have the same power to appoint commissioners to take acknowledgments of bail and affidavits, and to take depositions of witnesses in civil causes, which is now possessed by the Circuit Court of the United States; and all commissioners who shall hereafter be appointed for such purposes by the Superior Court of any organized Territory of the United States, shall possess all the powers, and exercise all the duties, conferred by law upon the commissioners appointed by the Circuit Courts of the United States for similar purposes, and shall moreover exercise and discharge all the powers and duties conferred by this act.
§ 3. And be it further enacted, That the Circuit Courts of the United States shall from time to time enlarge the number of the commissioners, with a view to afford reasonable facilities to reclaim fugitives from labor, and to the prompt discharge of the duties imposed by this act.
§ 4. And be it further enacted, That the commissioners above named shall have concurrent jurisdiction with the judges of the Circuit and District Courts of the United States, in their respective circuits and districts within the several States, and the judges of the Superior Courts of the Territories, severally and collectively, in term-time and vacation; shall grant certificates to such claimants, upon satisfactory proof being made, with authority to take and remove such fugitives from service or labor, under the restrictions herein contained, to the State or Territory from which such persons may have escaped or fled.
§ 5. And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of all marshals and deputy marshals to obey and execute all warrants and precepts issued under the provisions of this act, when to them directed; and should any marshal or deputy marshal refuse to receive such warrant, or other process, when tendered, or to use all proper means diligently to execute the same, he shall, on conviction thereof, be fined in the sum of one thousand dollars, to the use of such claimant, on the motion of such claimant, by the Circuit or District Court for the district of such marshal; and after arrest of such fugitive, by such marshal or his deputy, or whilst at any time in his custody under the provisions of this act, should such fugitive escape, whether with or without the assent of such marshal or his deputy, such marshal shall be liable, on his official bond, to be prosecuted for the benefit of such claimant, for the full value of the service or labor of said fugitive in the State, Territory, or District whence he escaped: and the better to enable the said commissioners, when thus appointed, to execute their duties faithfully and efficiently, in conformity with the requirements of the Constitution of the United States and of this act, they are hereby authorized and empowered, within their counties respectively, to appoint, in writing under their hands, any one or more suitable persons, from time to time, to execute all such warrants and other process as may be issued by them in the lawful performance of their respective duties; with authority to such commissioners, or the persons to be appointed by them, to execute process as aforesaid, to summon and call to their aid the bystanders, or posse comitatus of the proper county, when necessary to ensure a faithful observance of the clause of the Constitution referred to, in conformity with the provisions of this act; and all good citizens are hereby commanded to aid and assist in the prompt and efficient execution of this law, whenever their services may be required, as aforesaid, for that purpose; and said warrants shall run, and be executed by said officers, any where in the State within which they are issued.
§ 6. And be it further enacted, That when a person held to service or labor in any State or Territory of the United States, has heretofore or shall hereafter escape into another State or Territory of the United States, the person or persons to whom such service or labor may be due, or his, her, or their agent or attorney, duly authorized, by power of attorney, in writing, acknowledged and certified under the seal of some legal officer or court of the State or Territory in which the same may be executed, may pursue and reclaim such fugitive person, either by procuring a warrant from some one of the courts, judges, or commissioners aforesaid, of the proper circuit, district, or county, for the apprehension of such fugitive from service or labor, or by seizing and arresting such fugitive, where the same can be done without process, and by taking, or causing such person to be taken, forthwith before such court, judge, or commissioner, whose duty it shall be to hear and determine the case of such claimant in a summary manner; and upon satisfactory proof being made, by deposition or affidavit, in writing, to be taken and certified by such court, judge, or commissioner, or by other satisfactory testimony, duly taken and certified by some court, magistrate, justice of the peace, or other legal officer authorized to administer an oath and take depositions under the laws of the State or Territory from which such person owing service or labor may have escaped, with a certificate of such magistracy or other authority, as aforesaid, with the seal of the proper court or officer thereto attached, which seal shall be sufficient to establish the competency of the proof, and with proof, also by affidavit, of the identity of the person whose service or labor is claimed to be due as aforesaid, that the person so arrested does in fact owe service or labor to the person or persons claiming him or her, in the State or Territory from which such fugitive may have escaped as aforesaid, and that said person escaped, to make out and deliver to such claimant, his or her agent or attorney, a certificate setting forth the substantial facts as to the service or labor due from such fugitive to the claimant, and of his or her escape from the State or Territory in which he or she was arrested, with authority to such claimant, or his or her agent or attorney, to use such reasonable force and restraint as may be necessary, under the circumstances of the case, to take and remove such fugitive person back to the State or Territory whence he or she may have escaped as aforesaid. In no trial or hearing under this act shall the testimony of such alleged fugitive be admitted in evidence; and the certificates in this and the first [fourth] section mentioned, shall be conclusive of the right of the person or persons in whose favor granted, to remove such fugitive to the State or Territory from which he escaped, and shall prevent all molestation of such person or persons by any process issued by any court, judge, magistrate, or other person whomsoever.
§ 7. And be it further enacted, That any person who shall knowingly and willingly obstruct, hinder, or prevent such claimant, his agent or attorney, or any person or persons lawfully assisting him, her, or them, from arresting such a fugitive from service or labor, either with or without process as aforesaid, or shall rescue, or attempt to rescue, such fugitive from service or labor, from the custody of such claimant, his or her agent or attorney, or other person or persons lawfully assisting as aforesaid, when so arrested, pursuant to the authority herein given and declared; or shall aid, abet, or assist such person so owing service or labor as aforesaid, directly or indirectly, to escape from such claimant, his agent or attorney, or other person or persons legally authorized as aforesaid; or shall harbor or conceal such fugitive, so as to prevent the discovery and arrest of such person, after notice or knowledge of the fact that such person was a fugitive from service or labor as aforesaid, shall, for either of said offences, be subject to a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars, and imprisonment not exceeding six months, by indictment and conviction before the District Court of the United States for the district in which such offence may have been committed, or before the proper court of criminal jurisdiction, if committed within any one of the organized Territories of the United States; and shall moreover forfeit and pay, by way of civil damages to the party injured by such illegal conduct, the sum of one thousand dollars for each fugitive so lost as aforesaid, to be recovered by action of debt, in any of the District or Territorial Courts aforesaid, within whose jurisdiction the said offence may have been committed.
§ 8. And be it further enacted, That the marshals, their deputies, and the clerks of the said District and Territorial Courts, shall be paid, for their services, the like fees as may be allowed for similar services in other cases; and where such services are rendered exclusively in the arrest, custody, and delivery of the fugitive to the claimant, his or her agent or attorney, or where such supposed fugitive may be discharged out of custody for the want of sufficient proof as aforesaid, then such fees are to be paid in whole by such claimant, his or her agent or attorney; and in all cases where the proceedings are before a commissioner, he shall be entitled to a fee of ten dollars in full for his services in each case, upon the delivery of the said certificate to the claimant, his agent or attorney; or a fee of five dollars in cases where the proof shall not, in the opinion of such commissioner, warrant such certificate and delivery, inclusive of all services incident to such arrest and examination, to be paid, in either case, by the claimant, his or her agent or attorney. The person or persons authorized to execute the process to be issued by such commissioner for the arrest and detention of fugitives from service or labor as aforesaid, shall also be entitled to a fee of five dollars each for each person he or they may arrest, and take before any commissioner as aforesaid, at the instance and request of such claimant, with such other fees as may be deemed reasonable by such commissioner for such other additional services as may be necessarily performed by him or them; such as attending at the examination, keeping the fugitive in custody, and providing him with food and lodging during his detention, and until the final determination of such commissioners; and, in general, for performing such other duties as may be required by such claimant, his or her attorney or agent, or commissioner in the premises, such fees to be made up in conformity with the fees usually charged by the officers of the courts of justice within the proper district or county, as near as may be practicable, and paid by such claimants, their agents or attorneys, whether such supposed fugitives from service or labor be ordered to be delivered to such claimant by the final determination of such commissioner or not.
§ 9. And be it further enacted, That, upon affidavit made by the claimant of such fugitive, his agent or attorney, after such certificate has been issued, that he has reason to apprehend that such fugitive will he rescued by force from his or their possession before he can be taken beyond the limits of the State in which the arrest is made, it shall be the duty of the officer making the arrest to retain such fugitive in his custody, and to remove him to the State whence he fled, and there to deliver him to said claimant, his agent, or attorney. And to this end, the officer aforesaid is hereby authorized and required to employ so many persons as he may deem necessary to overcome such force, and to retain them in his service so long as circumstances may require. The said officer and his assistants, while so employed, to receive the same compensation, and to be allowed the same expenses, as are now allowed by law for transportation of criminals, to be certified by the judge of the district within which the arrest is made, and paid out of the treasury of the United States.
§ 10. And be it further enacted, That when any person held to service or labor in any State or Territory, or in the District of Columbia, shall escape therefrom, the party to whom such service or labor shall be due, his, her, or their agent or attorney, may apply to any court of record therein, or judge thereof in vacation, and make satisfactory proof to such court, or judge in vacation, of the escape aforesaid, and that the person escaping owed service or labor to such party. Whereupon the court shall cause a record to be made of the matters so proved, and also a general description of the person so escaping, with such convenient certainty as may be; and a transcript of such record, authenticated by the attestation of the clerk and of the seal of the said court, being produced in any other State, Territory, or district in which the person so escaping may be found, and being exhibited to any judge, commissioner, or other office, authorized by the law of the United States to cause persons escaping from service or labor to be delivered up, shall be held and taken to be full and conclusive evidence of the fact of escape, and that the service or labor of the person escaping is due to the party in such record mentioned. And upon the production by the said party of other and further evidence if necessary, either oral or by affidavit, in addition to what is contained in the said record of the identity of the person escaping, he or she shall be delivered up to the claimant, And the said court, commissioner, judge, or other person authorized by this act to grant certificates to claimants or fugitives, shall, upon the production of the record and other evidences aforesaid, grant to such claimant a certificate of his right to take any such person identified and proved to be owing service or labor as aforesaid, which certificate shall authorize such claimant to seize or arrest and transport such person to the State or Territory from which he escaped: Provided, That nothing herein contained shall be construed as requiring the production of a transcript of such record as evidence as aforesaid. But in its absence the claim shall be heard and determined upon other satisfactory proofs, competent in law.
Approved, September 18, 1850.

* “Whosoever shall make use of language in any public discourse from the bar, the bench, the stage, the pulpit, or in any place whatsoever; or whoever shall make use of language in private discourses or conversations, or shall make use of signs or actions having a tendency to produce discontent among the free coloured population of this State, or to excite insubordination among the slaves; or whosoever shall knowingly be instrumental in bringing into this State any paper, pamphlet, or book, having such tendency as aforesaid, shall, on conviction thereof, before any court of competent jurisdiction, suffer imprisonment at hard labour not less than three years, nor more than twenty-one years; or death, at the discretion of the court.”–Revised Statutes of Louisiana.

They still had some prejudices to overcome in Canada. from Josiah Henson’s memoirs
We have a great amount of prejudice to contend with, in that part of Canada. So much so, that our children are not permitted to attend the common schools with the white children of that town; yet we are taxed for school purposes. My own children were turned out of the common school at Windsor. One of the trustees gave orders that the teacher should not allow them to recite their lessons. I continued to send them for several days, until my eldest daughter complained to me so bitterly that I told them both that they might cease going to the school-house. I called to see the trustee who had thus prevented the instruction of my children: he is a Scotchman, by the name of Bartlett. His excuse was that others complained: he was quite willing that my children should attend school with his. I told him what I thought of the whole matter. I suppose my manner of expression was harsh: if it was not, I confess I felt as if it ought to be harsh. It is not that I think, for one moment, that it would be an honour for my children to be associated with these Windsor children: I am not so badly off for honour as to be driven to seek it from that quarter


Rev 6:10 They cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?
Rev 6:11 And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.

Rev 8:3 And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.
Rev 8:4 And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.
Rev 8:5 And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.


Notes on the Commerce vessel

With the help of computerized vessel records and the clues given in the text it is most likely the vessel which brought Josiah Henson to Buffalo was the two-masted schooner “Commerce” of Buffalo, built at Sandusky, Ohio in 1825. The 72-foot-long vessel was enrolled at the Port of Buffalo in September 1830 with John Burnham as Captain. (Hiram Pratt of Buffalo was an owner.) In 1836, John Burnham was captain of the steamboat William Penn. He died in Buffalo in 1837.

“The sufferings of the past are now like a dream, and the enduring lessons left behind make me to praise God that my soul has been tempered by him in so fiery a furnace and under such heavy blows.”

Just as demand for slaves was increasing, supply was restricted. The United States Constitution, adopted in 1787, prevented Congress from banning the importation of slaves before 1808. On January 1, 1808, Congress acted to ban further imports. Any new slaves would have to be descendants of ones that were currently in the U.S. However, the internal U.S. slave trade, and the involvement in the international slave trade or the outfitting of ships for that trade by U.S. citizens, were not banned. Though there were certainly violations of this law, slavery in America became more or less self-sustaining; the overland ‘slave trade’ from Tidewater, Virginia, and the Carolinas to Georgia, Alabama, and Texas continued for another half-century.


How the term Underground Railroad came to be:
The “Railroad” had actually been operating for
years before it received its name. In 1831 a slave
named Tice Davids escaped from Kentucky. He came to the Ohio River, plunged in, and managed to swim across. His master was close on his heels, and finding a skiff, rowed after the bobbing head in the water. He was swiftly overtaking Tice when the slave touched bottom and waded ashore near the little town of Ripley. It seemed to the master only a matter of moments now until he would overtake him. But the slave disappeared, and though he was dripping  wet, there was no trace of him anywhere. His master searched the locality in vain, and said ruefully, “He
must have gotten away by an underground road.”
In those days the steam railroad was new, and to
many people mysterious. The supposition that per-
haps a “railroad” figured in some way in the escape
system was welcomed by the Quakers, whose activ-
ities must necessarily be veiled and secret. So the
friends of escaping slaves completed the phrase,
making it “The Underground Railroad,” under which
name the system operated until slaves were totally
freed by the Civil War.

Additional North Star notes
This type of axis movement is similar to that of a spinning top. As the top slows, the axis of rotation changes as the top draws out each rotation; that is to say that the stem of the top itself traces out a circular pattern rather than pointing at a single spot or staying mostly still. If you draw an imaginary line of the earth’s axis and continue it up to the sky, it will make a similar path. This type of axis rotation is called precession.
In the case of the earth, precession is caused by the gravitational pull of the sun and the moon. The earth’s axis makes one complete rotation over the course of approximately 26,000 years. If you trace the path of the axis in the sky, you will find that Polaris, Vega, Thuban, and Alpha Cephei all fall on or very close to it. So when the earth’s axis is at a point on the path near Vega, Vega becomes the North Star while Thuban is the North Star when the axis is near it on the path.
Five thousand years ago, Thuban was the North Star. Five thousand years from now, the North Star will be Alpha Cephei. Seven thousand years after that, it will be Vega. Nine thousand years after that, Thuban will be the North Star again. At these dates, the various stars will be at the closest to absolute north. For some time before, the relevant star will be approaching due north and it will be receding for some time after the time listed. In these interim times, the North Star is whichever star is closest to north.


L. B. Barnes was born in Palestine, Texas and was nine years old when emancipated.
“The slaves also would carry pepper with them to rub on the bottom of their feet at nights [sic] when they skipped off so that the dogs couldn’t scent them” (Baker Till Freedom 3-4). Taking off his shoes, the slave would put the pepper in his socks and leave a trail that left the dogs sneezing and teary-eyed (Silverthorne 45). John Barker was also a child when slavery ended. He recalled another trick used to throw tracking dogs off of the scent of a runaway.
In those days the horned toads ran over the world, and my grandpa would gather
them and lay them in the fireplace till they dried and roll them with bottles until
they were like ashes and then rub it on the shoe bottoms. You see, when they
wanted to run away, that stuff didn’t stick all on the shoes, it stuck to the track.
Then they carried some of that powder and threw it as far as they could and then
jumped over it and did that again till they used all that powder. That threw the
common hounds off the trail altogether. (Tyler Slave Narr. 66)
Barker went on to explain that while the common hounds were fooled by this trick, the bloodhounds, or “hell hounds” were not (Ibid). Another method used to foil the tracking dogs was to step repeatedly in fresh cow dung (Silverthorne 45). Vines were often tied across a road to trip the horse of a patroller in pursuit of a runaway slave (44).


The great jail-buster
As long as there’s hope, there’s life. I am hope. There’s nothing too dark‚ too bleak, or too hopeless for Me.
Sometimes life is like a long, dark tunnel with no light in sight. Sometimes life itself can seem like a prison–the big prison, the real prison–all walled in, small‚ locked in, no way out, no future, no help, no friends. And it’s true; life can be a prison that can choke out your very life. That’s why you have to escape the narrow confines of this life–bust out, crash the gates. And you can do that, but it won’t be in the physical. It will happen in the spirit.
As long as you’re on Earth and in this body, you’ll have to deal with the physical, but I can make a way of escape through the spirit where there are no walls, no limits, no restraints, no chains, no locked doors, no guards. The spirit is a whole other world.
Maybe you’ve seen sci-fi movies like “Superman” where people had supernatural powers. Though they lived in the physical world‚ they had powers that enabled them to escape the trap and death. That’s how it is in the spirit. My Spirit in you gives you power to break out of the despair and problems of life by bringing you happiness, hope, courage, and a power inside you that brings you new strength, that isn’t able to be squelched or put out or discouraged or condemned.
Call on Me! I’m a radical and a fugitive and I will help you to escape from this present world into a brand-new world of the spirit that has no limits, no locks, no darkness. Break out of the confines of your mind now! Call on Me, the great spiritual jail-buster.
– From Jesus with Love – Freedom Within

Run to Freedom – Conclusion

Run to Freedom – Conclusion

Run to Freedom – Conclusion
The tribulations and adventures of Josiah Henson


Peter van Gorder

To make a long story short, in 1841 we established a community of 1,500 acres called Dawn (now Chatham, or Dresden in Kent County, Canada near Ontario). We built a schoolhouse, a sawmill, trade school and other facilities. We received some help from friends in England who were sympathetic to our cause. It was important that we succeed in our endeavor. One argument of the pro-slavery advocates was that the black race was inferior and unable to manage their own affairs. We would prove them wrong with our actions. We grew until we had over five hundred members of our community.

587efa05-6da0-4290-9b9f-3768cbeead52Our struggles, which are to numerous to elaborate here, did not end when we reached Canada. We still had to overcome some prejudice there and the failings of many of my black brethren, but we did not give up and persevered.

I made several trips to England and met many important people, including Queen Victoria and the Archbishop of Canterbury, to whom I gladly told my story. I exhibited our fine black walnut lumber that we produced in our community at the Crystal Palace World Exhibition. I also spoke to many eager audiences of my adventures.

I returned to the South many times more to rescue more of my brethren. The Lord helped me to help one hundred and eighteen souls flee bondage and find a new life of freedom.

After laid to my earthly rest I began a new ministry in the Heavenlies. It is one perhaps you have heard of. It has been called by some, the ministry of “Universal Reconciliation”; which means that God’s plan will not be defeated. It is to right all wrongs and to heal the wounds of all injustices of all ages.

I have been very busy over the last hundred years doing just that by helping my former masters to see the light. It may surprise you to know that many former slave owners were very active in the spirit world to help the Civil Rights movement achieve progress for racial equality in America in the 1950’s and 60’s – almost exactly one hundred years after the terrible American Civil War.

I rest my pen now. My earthly course in my run for freedom has been run, may you take up my torch to bring liberty to the captives in your generation.

– The End


ISA.61:1 “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, Because the LORD has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;

ISA.61:2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn,

ISA.61:3 To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”

ISA.61:4 And they shall rebuild the old ruins, They shall raise up the former desolations, And they shall repair the ruined cities, The desolations of many generations.

ISA.61:5 Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, And the sons of the foreigner Shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.

ISA.61:6 But you shall be named the priests of the LORD, They shall call you the servants of our God. You shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, And in their glory you shall boast.

ISA.61:7 Instead of your shame you shall have double honor, And instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion. Therefore in their land they shall possess double; Everlasting joy shall be theirs.

ISA.61:8 “For I, the LORD, love justice; I hate robbery for burnt offering; I will direct their work in truth, And will make with them an everlasting covenant.

ISA.61:9 Their descendants shall be known among the Gentiles, And their offspring among the people. All who see them shall acknowledge them, That they are the posterity whom the LORD has blessed.”

ISA.61:10 I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

ISA.61:11 For as the earth brings forth its bud, As the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth, So the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.




Run to Freedom – Chapter 13 – Jack & Flapjacks

Run to Freedom – Chapter 13 – Jack & Flapjacks

The tribulations and adventures of Josiah Henson


Peter van Gorder

Walking down this road, we saw a single white man approaching on foot. We knew he could not be a slave catcher as he was traveling alone, so we struck up a conversation with him and he introduced himself simply as “Jack” and told us his story without much chance for interruption.

“I lived a while down South, mostly in Virginia as a hired worker and things was going along as expected until one day I saw one of the overseers whipping a slave real bad. I told him to stop and he just laughed at me and told me to shut up or he would whip me as well. He kept on laying on the lashes. The screams from the slave were too much for me to hear so I tried to grab the whip from him. A fight broke out and he was knocked down and hit a fence. I didn’t wait to see if he died or not, but I am escaping from jail time or probably the hangman’s noose. I can tell you all this, ‘cause I know you are running away as well. Since we are going the same way, I’ll walk with you. May come in handy to have a white friend on your side, what do you think?”JohnWJones

We agreed. Since we were about 40 miles (64.4 km) from Lake Erie we decided to walk all night so we could get there the next morning.

At dawn we reached a wayside tavern by the lake, and our white friend, Jack, ordered breakfast for six. While our breakfast was being cooked, we fell asleep, weary from our long journey all that night.

“Here you go,” the waiter said as he served us our flapjack feast.

We were half asleep and half awake and about to enjoy the food when I heard that still small voice again, “Danger is near, it is just down the road, and it is coming this way. You must leave the house at once.”

That was all I heard but it was enough.

I roused my companions, some of whom were still trying to wake up.

“Wake up, everyone. We have to leave now! And I mean now!”

One brother said groggily, “But they just served us breakfast! I’m starvin’. I’ll stay right here thank you.”

“You do, and before you finished your breakfast you will be captured, for sure. I heard a message from the Lord.”

Another brother said, “What? That’s crazy!”

Jefferson countered, “Maybe, but Josiah has lead us this far and he’s done a good job of it. I say if he’s the leader then it’s our job to follow.”

Another brother agreed, “Well, we promised to do what he says, so I’m going to keep that promise. Let’s go.”

Everyone reluctantly gulped down a few bites on our way out of the door. The waiter looked surprised.

We waited in the yard outside the house and washed ourselves in the snow, which was up to our knees.

The tramping of horses! We hid ourselves well by creeping underneath some thick bushes. We could still see the road from where we lay.

Horsemen wearing long black coats stopped at the tavern.

Jefferson whispered to me, “See that one over there with the white beard, that’s Jake Simmons, mean one he. And the one next to him is Wiley Simmons, just as mean. The other one, don’t remember his name, but he works with them as well in our county – slave catchers they are!”

I sensed from their heavy breathing they might do something foolish so motioned that they keep quiet and motionless. We were close enough to hear their enquirers to the landlord, “Good day, to you, sir. Seen any Negroes pass this way?”

“Yep, I think I have.”

“We’ve been riding all night trying to find them. Can you tell us how many of them you seen?”

“About six. Went off direction of Detroit, by now they are probably just a few miles down the road.”

They reined in their horses, which seemed to protest another fast ride, and were thankfully soon out of sight.

The proprietor called us, “It’s good to come out now and finish your breakfast.”

We hesitantly returned and devoured the hearty breakfast in an incredibly short time. We found out that while we were sleeping, Jack had told the landlord about our plight and had asked him to help.

The proprietor told us, “I have a boat. I’ll sail you across to Canada if you like. I could use some fresh air and excitement away from the tavern business.”

We happily accepted and boarded immediately. Soon the white sail of our little bark* was filling with wind, gliding our way to freedom.

*bark (bärk) n.
1 [Old Poet.] any boat, esp. a small sailing boat
2 a sailing vessel with its two forward masts square-rigged and its rear mast rigged fore-and-aft

As soon as it was possible, the brothers jumped from their seats and out of the bark and danced and wept for joy, just as I had on my first day in Canada.


After a few months, on one joyous Sabbath morning, I had the happiness of embracing Tom once more. He had fully recovered from his sickness thanks to the loving hands of the Quakers. I was amazed at how robust and healthy he looked.

Mr.Frank Taylor, the owner of the Lightfoots, fell very ill, shortly after the brothers escaped and had a fit of insanity. When he was recovered, his own convictions and that of his friends persuaded him to free the remainder of the Lightfoot family. Shortly thereafter, the entire Lightfoot family was happily reunited in their new home of Canada. It was a beautiful scene of a foretaste of heaven, as brothers, sisters and parents were now once again together in their new home.

With a few more strokes of my pen, I will end my story, so that others may tell theirs.