Hampton National Historic Site:
Runaway Slave Advertisements

Introduction
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Runaway advertisements and Notices of Committal are some of the most rewarding sources for ascertaining the movement, motivation, and destination of enslaved persons have have taken flight. Runaway ads were placed by slave owners or their representatives in newspapers. These selection of the press in which to post such ads was aimed at recapture of the fugitive, so often ads were placed in papers outside of the slave's farm or plantation site. Out-of-State owners, especially Virginians, advertised in Maryland's press for the state represented the last obstacle to the "free" North. Committal Notices were announcements of capture and detainment of persons suspected of being fugitives from slavery. Not being able to prove their free status, persons so detained faced return to their masters (if they were fugitives), or sale into slavery at the benefit of the county (if no owner claimed the detainee). Only those able to prove their free status, by document or corroboration of status from white persons, were released. Owners seeking fugitives knew that is was to their advantage to give as complete a description of the person being sought as possible. Names and aliases, gender, age, physical features, and distinguishing marks, clothing and apparel are the most basic components. Often a biographical sketch was included. This gave highlights about the fugitive's friends and familial connections in other parts of the state or region. The picture that emerges is one of a slave community that was not necessarily bounded by the farm or plantation property lines. Many times, advertisers would give hints as to why the enslaved person may have taken flight. While such insights reflected masters' perceptions of the enslaved's world, and are frequently biased, the descriptive quality nonetheless provides researchers with valuable tools for understanding slave psychology as well as the give-and-take relationship between members of Maryland's slave society.

From: Beneath the Underground: The Flight to Freedom and Communities in Antebellum Maryland

National History Standards
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Materials compiled in this document can be used by educators to fulfill the following National History Standards for Grades K-4:

Topic 1: Living and Working Together in Families and Communities, Now and Long Ago 

STANDARD 1: Family life now and in the recent past; family life in various places long ago. 

Standard 1A: The student understands family life now and in the recent past; family life in various places long ago. 

K-4: For various cultures represented in the classroom, compare and contrast family life now with family life over time and between various cultures and consider such things as communication, technology, homes, transportation, recreation, school and cultural traditions. [Distinguish between past and present] 

Standard 1B: The student understands the different ways people of diverse racial, religious, and ethnic groups, and of various national origins have transmitted their beliefs and values. 

K-4: Explain the ways that families long ago expressed and transmitted their beliefs and values through oral traditions, literature, songs, art, religion, community celebrations, mementos, food, and language. [Obtain historical data] 
3-4: Compare the dreams and ideals that people from various groups have sought, some of the problems they encountered in realizing their dreams, and the sources of strength and determination that families drew upon and shared. [Compare and contrast]

STANDARD 2: The history of students’ own local community and how communities in North America varied long ago.

Standard 2A: The student understands the history of his or her local community.

3-4: Identify a problem in the community’s past, analyzing the different perspectives of those involved, and evaluate choices people had and the solution they chose. [Identify issues and problems in the past] 

Standard 2B The student understands how communities in North America varied long ago.

K-4: Draw upon written and visual sources and describe the historical development and daily life of a colonial community such as Plymouth, Williamsburg, St. Augustine, San Antonio, and Fort Vincennes, in order to create a historical narrative, mural, or dramatization of daily life in that place long ago. [Construct a historical narrative] 
3-4: Describe and compare daily life in ethnically diverse urban communities long ago, such as a free African American community in Philadelphia, an Italian community in New York, or a Chinese community in San Francisco. [Draw upon visual data and read historical narratives imaginatively] 

Primary Resources
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See below for password access to materials.
1. DESCRIPTION: Fugitive slave advertisement for Ben Casis, Phil Gabriel and Santee placed by Charles S. W. Dorsey
DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: September 21, 1829 - October 17, 1829
SOURCE: Published in Baltimore Gazette and Daily Advertiser (Baltimore). See Beneath the Underground Railroad: Flight to Freedom.

SEVENTY-FIVE DOLLARS REWARD.--Absconded from Ridgely's Forges, negroes BEN CASIN, PHIL GABRIEL and SANTEE. Ben Casis is black, rather slender made, five feet six or seven inches high, and about twenty-four years of age. Phil Gabriel is also black, round face, strongly made, five feet five or six inches high, and about twenty-three years of age. Santee is black, with narrow face and of slender make, five feet seven or eight inches high, and about twenty-four years of age. The above reward will be paid for the apprehension of said negroes and their delivery at Ridgely's Forges, or upon lodging them in jail and notifyng the Subscriber thereof, or at the same rate for any one of them.

CHAS. S. W. DORSEY, Admr.
with the will annexed of C. Ridgely of Hampton

     
2. DESCRIPTION: Fugitive slave advertisement for Gabriel placed by Charles S. W. Dorsey
DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: October 16, 1829 - October 31, 1829
SOURCE: Published in Baltimore Gazette and Daily Advertiser (Baltimore). See Beneath the Underground Railroad: Flight to Freedom.

TWENTY FIVE DOLLARS REWARD.--Ran away from Hampton, Negro GRABRIEL, a black man, about five feet nine or ten inches high, and about twenty-four years of age. Whoever apprehends said nego and lodges him in jail, or carries him back to Hampton, will receive the above reward by applying to

CHAS. S. W. DORSEY, Admr.
With the Will annexed of C. Ridgely of Hampton

     
3.

DESCRIPTION: Committal notice for George Williams by William Brown
DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: December 5, 1829 - December 16, 1829
SOURCE: Published in Baltimore Gazette and Daily Advertiser (Baltimore). See Beneath the Underground Railroad: Flight to Freedom.

WAS committed to the Jail of Baltimore county, on the 7th of December, instant, by Lewis Beltzell, Esq. a Justice of the Peace in and for the city of Baltimore, as a runaway, a Mulatto man who calls himself GEORGE WILLIAMS, and says he belongs to the estate of Gen. Charles Ridgely, of Hampton, desceased. Said negro is five feet three inches high, and about nineteen or twenty years of age, had on when committed a blue cloth coat and pantaloons of the same, stripped valencia vest and fur hat half worn, and coarse monroe boots.

The owner of the above described negro is requested to come forward, prove property, pay charges and take him away, otherwise he will be discharged according to law.

WILLIAM BROWN, Warden,
of the Jail of Baltimore county

     
4. DESCRIPTION: Committal notice for Sam Howard by David W. Hudson
DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: March 30, 1830
SOURCE: Published in Baltimore Gazette and Daily Advertiser (Baltimore). See Beneath the Underground Railroad: Flight to Freedom.

WAS COMMITTEED to the Jail of Baltimore County on the 27th day of March 1830, by Lewis Baltzell, Esq., a Justice of the Peace for the City of Baltimore, as a runaway, a negro man who calls himself SAM HOWARD, and says he belongs to the estate of Gen. Charles Ridgely of Hampton, desceased. Said negro is five feet eleven inches high, and about twenty-six years of age. Had on when committeed, a blue cloth frock coat, blue cassinet pantaloons, half worn white fur hat, and coarse shoes and stockings.

The owner of the above described negro man is requested to come forward, prove property, pay charges and take him away; otherwise, he will be discharged according to law.

DAVID W. HUDSON, Warden
of the Jail of Baltimore County

     
5. DESCRIPTION: Committal notice for Lloyd Russell by David W. Hudson
DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: March 27, 1830 - April 22, 1830
SOURCE: Published in Baltimore Gazette and Daily Advertiser (Baltimore). See Beneath the Underground Railroad: Flight to Freedom.

WAS COMMITTED to the Jail of Baltimore County on the 24th of March, 1830, by Nicholas Brewer, Esq. a Justice of the Peace in and for the City of Baltimore, as a runaway negro man, who calls himself LLOYD RUSSELL, and says he belongs to the estate of Charles Ridgely of Hampton, deceased. Said negro is five feet nine inches high, and about twenty-five years of age. Had on when committeed a corderoy roundabout jacket and pantaloons, striped vest and domestic cotton shirt, half worn white fur hat, and coarse shoes and stockings.

The owner of the above described negro man is requested to come forward, prove property, pay charges and take him away, otherwise he will be discharged according to law.

DAVID W. HUDSON, Warden
of the Jail of Baltimore County

     
6. DESCRIPTION: Fugitive slave advertisement for Jerry Moore by Elisha Parks
DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: July 4, 1834 - Jul. 20, 1834
SOURCE: Published in the American and Commerical Daily Advertiser (Baltimore). See Beneath the Underground Railroad: Flight to Freedom.

$150 REWARD.-- Ranaway from Hampton on the 2d inst. negro JERRY or JERRY MOORE. He is about 5 feet 7 or 8 inches high, about 30 years old, well made, of dark complexion and sour or grum look. No particular marks recollected. His clothing consisted of cotton shirts and twilled cotton trowsers, hat and hoes. 50 dollars will be paid for securing said negro within the States, and the above reward of $150 if taken out of the State, on his delivery at Hampton, or at the Jail of Baltimore county by

ELISHA PARKS, Manager
for Jno. Ridgely

     
7. DESCRIPTION: Fugitive slave advertisement for Sarah by Elisha Parks
DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: December 1, 1835 - December 23, 1835
SOURCE: Published in the American and Commerical Daily Advertiser (Baltimore). See Beneath the Underground Railroad: Flight to Freedom.

$100 REWARD.--Ranaway from Hampton Farm, about nine miles from Baltimore, on the York Road, on Sunday 29th November, negro SARAH, a mulatto woman, about 40 years old, about 5 feet 6 or 8 inches high. She took with her a variety of clothing. The above reward will be paid for her apprehension and recovery, if taken out of the State, or $50 if within the State, with reasonable expenses, by

ELISHA PARKS, Manager

     
8. DESCRIPTION: Fugitive slave advertisement for Isaac by Ishmael Day
DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: July 22, 1841 - August 6, 1841
SOURCE: Published in the American and Commerical Daily Advertiser (Baltimore). See Beneath the Underground Railroad: Flight to Freedom.

$100 REWARD.--Ranaway from Hampton Farm on Saturday night, the 17th inst., Negro ISAAC, a stout, well made fellow, about 23 or 24 years old, 5 feet 6 or 7 inches high, very dark complexion. Isaac was lately purchased from the Frederick Co. Estate of Mr. J. L. Hawkins, and has a wife living with Mr. Tilghman Hilleary, of that Co., in whose neighborhood he will probably be lurking. The above reward will be paid for delivering him to me or securing him in any Jail so that I get him again.

ISHMAEL DAY,
Manager

     
9. DESCRIPTION: Fugitive slave advertisement for Augustus by John Ridgely
DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:1842/09/01 -1842/09/05
SOURCE: Published in the American and Commerical Daily Advertiser (Baltimore). See Beneath the Underground Railroad: Flight to Freedom.

$100 REWARD.-- Ranaway from the residence of the subscriber in Balto. Co., on the 25th inst., a small black boy named AUGUSTUS, 13 or 14 years old, and easily known by a curious excrescence on the lower side of his face. He had a green jacket, corduroy pantaloons and shoes but no hat. He was frightened off by the threats of a fellow servant, and it was supposed had only hid himself for a time, as he was not however yet made his appearance, am induced to think he may have been taken off by some of the persons attending the colored camp meeting in the neighborhood which broke up the day after. Fifty dollars will be paid if taken within the State, or one hundred if taken out of it and delivered to me.

JNO. RIDGELY, of Hampton

     
10. DESCRIPTION: Fugitive slave advertisement for John Kyle and Davy Jones by Nelson Cooper
DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: March 31, 1846 - April 14, 1846
SOURCE: Published in the American and Commerical Daily Advertiser (Baltimore). See Beneath the Underground Railroad: Flight to Freedom.

ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS REWARD. Ran away from Hampton, 8 miles from Baltimore, on the York road, on Saturday 28th instant, NEGRO JOHN KYLE, aged 19 or 20 years; nearly black; his right eye sore from scrofula, and legs very long. Also NEGRO DAVY JONES, about 15 or 16 years old; very good looking, and quite black. Their clothing was a drab roandabout and pataloons, discolored with [?], and coarse shoes, half soled.

The above reward will be paid for bringing them home, or securing them in any jail so that I get them again, or $50 for either.

NELSON COOPER.
Manager at Hampton.

     
11. DESCRIPTION: Fugitive slave advertisement for Henry Jones by C. Ridgely
DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: March 26, 1853
SOURCE: Published in the Sun (Baltimore). See Beneath the Underground Railroad: Flight to Freedom.

ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS REWARD.--Ran away from Hampton Farm, on Thursday, 24th instant, a light colored negro, called HENRY JONES, about 5 feet 8 or 9 inches in height, and about 25 years of age, with very thick lips and lean face. The above reward will be paid on the apprehension and delivery of the said negro, or upon his being lodged in jail so that I can get him.

C. RIDGELY, of Hampton

     
12. DESCRIPTION: Fugitive slave advertisement
DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: May 3, 1858
SOURCE: Published in the Sun (Baltimore). See Beneath the Underground Railroad: Flight to Freedom.

$200 REWARD.--Ran away from Hampton, Baltimore county, on Saturday, the 1st inst., a negro Boy called ELICK. He is black, about 5 feet 6 inches high, has a down look when spoken to and is about 19 or 20 years old. I will give the above reward to any one who will bring him back to me or put him in jail so that I can get him.

JOHN R. GENT,
Manager for John Ridgely of Hampton

     
 

Document Packets:

See also:

  • Case studies for Baltimore County slaves compiled by the Maryland State Archive
  • Hampton Mansion, 535 Hampton Lane, Towson, Baltimore County, MD. From Built in America, Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record, 1933-Present
  • Hampton, Overseer's House, 537 1/2 Saint Francis Road, Towson, Baltimore County, MD. From Built in America, Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record, 1933-Present

Additional Media Resources
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Maryland State Archives. The Study of the Legacy of Slavery in Maryland

Beneath the Underground Railroad: Flight to Freedom.

Historic Hampton

Additional Instructional Resources
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For Teachers. From Hampton National Historic Site.

The Untold Story: The Black Struggle for Freedom during the Revolutionary War in Maryland From the UMBC Center for History Education.

Freedom for All? The Contradictions of Slavery and Freedom in the Maryland Constitution From the UMBC Center for History Education.

Runaway Slaves: From the Revolution to the New Republic From the UMBC Center for History Education.

Secondary Resources
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Lancaster, R. Kent.  "Chattel Slavery at Hampton/Northampton, Baltimore County," Maryland Historical Magazine 95 (Winter 2000): 409 - 427.

Lancaster, Kent and Jenny Masur. Interpreting Slavery at Hampton NPS.

Maryland State Archives. A Guide to the History of Slavery in Maryland

Terry, David Taft, "Ridgely Compound of Hampton Towson, Baltimore County, Maryland"

Associated Heritage and Preservation Organizations
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Hampton National Historic Site
535 Hampton Lane
Towson, MD 21286

 

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Creditsdivider

Teaching American History in Maryland is a collaborative partnership of the Maryland State Archives and the Center for History Education (CHE), University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), and the following sponsoring school systems: Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Baltimore City Public School System, Baltimore County Public Schools, and Howard County Public Schools.

Other program partners include the Martha Ross Center for Oral History, Maryland Historical Society, State Library Resource Center/Enoch Pratt Free Library, with assistance from the National Archives and Records Administration and the Library of Congress. The program is funded through grants from the U.S. Department of Education.

This document packet was compiled by Nancy Bramucci.

 

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