Slave Ads from1855
Here are two “Sun” Newspaper articles on a runaway slaves. These articles appeared in the “Baltimore Sun” on July 7, 1855 and July 27, 1855, that pertains to one slave that appears not to have been caught:

July 7, 1855: ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS REWARD. I will pay fifty dollars for the recovery of a Negro Boy, TOBY McLEAN. He is 12 years of age, of bright complexion, and slow to answer when spoken to. He had on a ;linen coat and white pants. He was at Catonsville during the evening of the fourth, and is supposed to have been enticed away.

WM. T. SOMERVILLE, Balt. co.

July 27, 1855: ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS REWARD for my negro boy TOBY McLEAN. He is 12 years of age; has a light complexion,. high forehead and fine hair; large eyes, good teeth and separated in front; stands straight, and is apt to hesitate when spoken to. He was carried off from Catonsville on the 4th of July. I will pay one hundred dollars for the return of the boy, and fifty dollars for the conviction of the person or persons who carried him off, and a liberal reward for any information in the premines (not sure about this last word - can’t make it out!).

W. T. SOMERVILLE, Catonsville

NOTE: For once I have run across a slave article that is of interest to me. I live in Catonsville, and wrote a book about the history of the Black community of Catonsville. In the book I wrote about a Black man whose name was Ebb. Mr. Ebb was a slave on the Somerville estate here in Catonsville; the estate was sold to a Mr. Lurman (German immigrant who did not like slavery), who freed Mr. Ebb. Mr. Ebb eventually joined the service in the Civil War. His grandson, Arnold Ebb, just died last year in his nineties, was born here in Catonsville. I had a nice story on Mr. Ebb in my book. Also, since the publication of the first book, I have since discovered that the Underground Railroad possibly ran through Catonsville. I have some truly wonderful stories about the Underground Railroads that was uncovered. I am part of a group that is now attempting to trace the Underground Railroad through Baltimore County, which is why this particular article is of interest to me.

I have to check some sources in Canada to see if by chance this young man made it to freedom up there.

Here is another “Sun” Newspaper article on a runaway slave. The article appeared in the “Baltimore Sun” on July 7, 1855:

ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS REWARD - Ran away from the subscriber, on Sunday last May 27th, my Negro Man ANDREW, about 22 or 24 years old. five feet, four or five inches high, rather stout built, dark color, or rather black. Had on when he left Brown linen pants, and a silk and worsted coat, brown and purple striped vest, and a white wool hat, and has a sore between the knees and ankle. The above reward will be paid if taken within the State of Maryland, and if taken elsewheres, one-half what he will bring.

Monkton Post office, Baltimore county

Question: In the slave posting yesterday (two Negro boys, Jef and
Zack), the article noted that Zack has marks on his neck from Poll-evil.
Does anyone know what “Poll-evil” is?

Here is another “Sun” Newspaper article on a runaway slave. The article appeared in the “Baltimore Sun” on March 9, 1855:

FIFTY DOLLARS REWARD - Ranaway from the subscriber on the 17th of October last, a Negro Boy named PERRY HENRY WILSON, a dark Mulatto, five feet two inches high. He was purchased (can’t make this word out - possibly “from”) Samuel Ridgeway, of Baltimore. The above reward will be paid for his apprehension and delivery to me.

11 miles from Baltimore, on the York Turnpike

Here is another “Sun” Newspaper article on a runaway slave. The article appeared in the “Baltimore Sun” on September 13, 1855:

FOUR HUNDRED DOLLARS REWARD - RAN AWAY from the subscriber, near Pikesvilele Post-office, Baltimore county, Md, a NEGRO MAN and WOMAN, with their CHILD. The man, THOS. LEWIS, is about five feet ten inches high, dark copper color, eyes a good deal sunk in his head, speaks well, and is (can’t make this word out) and respectful in his manner. The woman, CAROLINE LEWIS, is of medium size, light brown color, of good address, and very likely. I will give One Hundred Dollars for each or either of the above named Negroe, if taken in Maryland and delivered to me or TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS for each of the above grown Negroes, if taken out of the State and safely delivered to me.


To me, this appears to be a classic situation of Blacks being helped on the Underground Railroad - Husband, Wife and Child, breaking the yokes of slavery. I hope they made it to Canada, and Canada is where they would have had to go with the Fugitive Slave Act in effect, Pennsylvania, New York, etc, no longer provided a safe haven for human beings seeking the freedom that their masters fled from in Europe to Americe. I hope there is someone in the Canada area that can verify if this couple made it to freedom.

Posting this article brings to mind a story I received from a White couple in the Catonsville area who approached me after a local newspaper article featured a story on me when I was researching in the Reisterstown and Boring area for the book I just finished writing (on 2 historic Black communities). The family mentioned that they had purchased a house from an elderly White gentlement who had gone to Florida and left no descendants. His house was originally a stopever for slaves moving through the Catonsville area by the underground railroad. When the little Methodist church could hold no more slaves as the railroad slowed down, they were directed to several Quaker homes in the area - this lady’s house was one of those homes. The slaves were directed to go to the rear of the house, open two very large doors that led to the cellar - the slaves were told to slide their hands along the
wall until they felt a particular protruding brick - when they felt this certain brick, then they knew they were in safe haven. Just a wonderful heart warming story.

The house is in the process of being torn down because it was seriously infected with pesdicide and I was unable to see the brick in question. But this very nice White couple promised that they would dig out this brick whenever the house is demolished. It is in litigation in the courts.

When the woman told me the story, she was in tears because she kept imagine a family, very similar to Thos. Lewis and his wife, Caroline and their child trudging through the darkness, not knowing what they would encounter, the mother continually cooing the child so that it would make no noise because back in those days there were very few houses, so sounds would carry long distances, and when they finally reached a safe haven, like in the cold darkness of the cellar - no lights, no food, no cover - nothing, with the mother constantly trying to keep her frightened baby from crying out. Man, that was a heart wrenching story. But, I have the interview, the pictures, and all I am waiting for is the brick (the White lady said the brick had a design on it like a Peace Symbol, that was raised).

I appologize for getting carried away with myself this morning in putting this post on the forum, but the article just made me think of the experience that I am sharing with you.

Louis S. Diggs

Here is another “Sun” Newspaper article on a runaway slave. The article appeared in the “Baltimore Sun” on September 2, 1855:

TEN DOLLARS REWARD - Ran away from the subscriber’s residence near Catonsville, my NEGRO BOY, George Johnson, about 15 years old, stout for his age; copper color; dress blue runabout, drab pants and blue cloth cap. I will give the above reward for any information that may lead to his arrest. Any person harboring said boy will be proscuted according to law.

Catonsville, Baltimore county, Md.

Here is another “Sun” Newspaper article on a runaway slave. The article appeared in the “Baltimore Sun” on September 4, 1855:

$150 REWARD - Ran away from the residence of the subscriber, in Baltimore County, on Saturday night, September 1st, a NEGRO GIRL named “Betty.” She is a fine-looking, well-proportioned girl, about 18 years of age, rather dark complexioned, and about 5 feet, 4 inches high. She took with her a bundle of clother, containing a variety of (can’t make this word out) and muslin dresses, a green sun bonnet, and a purple and white gauze bonnet. It is believed that she has gone off in the company of a free negro person, Sam Ruff, who is about five feet eight inches high, black complexion, and an exceedingly shrewd and affable negro. He was driving a black covered carryall and an old dappled grey mare. I will give to anyone capturing said Negro Girl $100 if caught within the limits of the State, and $150 if in another State. She must be delivered to the subscriber at her residence or in Baltimore county jail.

Upper Falls P.O.., Baltimore Co.

Book Links:
It All Started on Winters Lane
The first published history of one the forty historically Black settlements in Baltimore County, MD

The Oblate Sisters of Providence

The Buffalo Soldiers
African-Americans have fought in military conflicts since colonial days.

Holding On To Their Heritage
A comprehensive book which documents the history of the historic black communities.

In Our Voices
In Our Voices chronicles the stories of many families that founded the African American settlements.

Run away Slave Ads
These Ads were extract from Baltimore Sun Newspapers.
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