Draft Timeline

*** Entries from main project area are headlined in red ***

July 1841 || Trio of Illinois abolitionists captured enticing groups of slaves

  • Locations: Hannibal, MO and Quincy, IL
  • Numbers:  Unknown (Abolitionists = James Burr, George Thompson, Alanson Work)
  • Owners: Unknown
  • Sources: Shelley Fisher Fishkin, Lighting Out for the Territory: Reflections on Mark Twain and American Culture (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 53-8; Terrell Dempsey, Searching for Jim: Slavery in Sam Clemens’s World (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2003).

October 1841 || 26 freedom suits at once –A legal mass escape

  • Locations:  St. Louis Circuit Court
  • Numbers:  26 (and then 27) freedom seekers, including Preston, Braxton (process begins after owner Milton Duty’s death in 1838, accelerates with successful injunction to stop threat of sale in October 1841 and continues throughout early 1850s with multiple freedom suit petitions)
  • Owners:  Milton Duty (Mississippi slaveholder); executors David and Mary Coons,  John F. Darby
  • Sources:  Kelly M. Kennington, In the Shadow of Dred Scott: St. Louis Freedom Suits and the Legal Culture; Lea VanderVelde, Redemption Songs; Dale Edwyna Smith,African American Lives in St. Louis, 1763-1865: Slavery, Freedom and the West

August 1842 || Richard Eells helps serial runaway; resulted in Moore v. Illinois

  • Locations:  Monticello, MO to Quincy, IL
  • Numbers: 1 freedom seeker (part of the Mission Institute series) (Charley)
  • Owners:  Chauncey Durkey
  • Sources:  Quincy Whig, “Once Upon a Time in Quincy,” September 9, 2011; Quincy Whig, Aug. 27, 1842, Quincy Whig, Feb. 8, 1843, Quincy Whig, April 26, 1843, Quincy Whig, May 3, 1843

February 1843 || Anti-Negro Stealing Society organized in Jacksonville

  • Locations:  St. Louis, MO and Louisiana to Jacksonville, IL
  • Numbers:  Incidents involving controversy over sojourning of visiting slaves (Bob and Emily Logan, late 1830s), “slave girl Lucinda” (owned by St. Louis visitor and then freed and hired out to attorney Murray McConnel), and finally (1843) young girl held by Mrs. Lisle of Louisiana helped in escape by Julius (father) and Samuel (son) Willard
  • Owners:  Mrs. Lisle of Louisiana // organizers of Anti-Negro Stealing Society include M. McCormick, W.B. Warren, A. Smith and O.M. Long
  • Sources:  “News-Extra, February 22, 1843 (ALPLM Broadside); Don H. Doyle, The Social Order of a Frontier Community: Jacksonville, Illinois, 1825-70, pp. 53-7; Samuel Willard, “My First Adventure with a Fugitive Slave,” Illinois Historical Journal,  89 (Winter 1996)

1844-45 || St. Genevieve County petitions Legislature for relief from escapes

  • Locations: St. Genevieve, MO
  • Numbers:  Unknown
  • Owners:  Unknown
  • Sources:  MO House Journal, 13th Assembly, 1st Session, p. 332

May 1845 || Runaways “battle” in Maryland during mass escape

  • Locations:  Smithsburg, MD
  • Numbers:  10 freedom seekers, 8 slave patrollers
  • Owners:  Unknown
  • Sources:   “Runaway Negroes–A Battle with the Whites,” Boston Daily Atlas, June 2, 1845 cited in Stanley Harrold, Border War: Fighting Over Slavery before the Civil War, (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010). See post.

July 1845 || Attempted mass escape in Maryland involving 70-80 black men

  • Locations:  Southeastern counties counties, via 2 groups thru Bladensburg, Rockville
  • Numbers:  70-80 freedom seekers (led by Bill Wheeler, free black), 330 “well armed” slave patrollers
  • Owners: Unknown
  • Sources: Stanley Harrold, Border War: Fighting Over Slavery before the Civil War, (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010), 129-31. See post.

May – July 1847 ||  First mentions of stampedes in antislavery press

  • Locations:  Maysville, KY
  • Numbers:  5 or 6 freedom seekers
  • Owners:  Unknown
  • Sources (with quotation):
    • GRAND STAMPEDE.  On Friday or Saturday last, says the Times, between twenty and twenty-five negroes, belonging to different plantations in Kenton Co., Ky., across the river, left for parts unknown via the state of Ohio. We learn that the aggregate amount of award offered for their apprehension is over four thousand dollars.  –Cincinnati Atlas”  (Danville (VT) North Star, “Grand Stampede,” May 17, 1847)
    • We learn that a stampede occurred among the negroes at and near Maysville, a few days ago. Five or six of the number belonged to a prominent and influential member of the Northern Methodist Church at Maysville. And we also understand that a distinguished preacher of that denomination was at the gentlemans’s house at the time his negroes left-Covington (Ky.) Register” (Boston (MA) Liberator, “Negro Stampede,” July 16, 1847)

April 1848 || Scholar calls Pearl  “most influential mass-escape attempt”

  • Locations:  Washington, DC
  • Numbers:  77 freedom seekers stowed aboard steamer Pearl (organized by Daniel Bell and William Chaplin with ship captain Edward Sayres; mostly unarmed house servants with women and children, all recaptured in the escape attempt, include most famously, the Edmonson sisters, Mary and Emily)
  • Owners:  Unknown
  • Sources:  “most influential” designation from Stanley Harrold, Border War: Fighting Over Slavery before the Civil War, (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010),131-33;Andrew Delbanco, The War Before the War: Fugitive Slaves and the Struggle for America’s Soul from the Revolution to the Civil War (New York: Penguin Press, 2018), 214-5 (see post); referred to as a stampede retrospectively when abolitionists pardoned, Macon (GA) Weekly Telegraph, “Reminiscences,” August 2, 1853

June 1848 || Daggs Farm escape becomes major fugitive Case

October 1849 || Stampede from St. Louis

November 1849 || Attempted “Stampede” from Missouri makes national headlines

January 1850 ||  Jameson Jenkins, Lincoln’s neighbor,  leads a stampede

October 1851 || Missouri runaway arrested, then liberated in “Jerry” rescue

  • Locations:  Syracuse, NY
  • Numbers: 1 freedom seeker (William “Jerry” McHenry)
  • Owners: Unknown
  • Sources:  Steven Lubet, Fugitive Justice: Runaways, Rescuers, and Slavery on Trial, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010), 86-90, 254, 305-307, 316, (see post)

July 1852 || Reports of a “regular stampede” from St. Louis

September 1852 || Stampede from Ste. Genevieve

May 1853 || “Battalion” of slaves escape in “stampede” towards Iowa

May 1853 || Another escape in wave of recent “slave stampedes”

October 1853 || Palmyra Stampede

March 1854 || Missourian Arrested in Wisconsin; Leads to Landmark Case

  • Locations:  St. Louis to Milwaukee
  • Numbers:  1 freedom seeker (Joshua Glover)
  • Owners:  Bennami Garland; rescue effort of Glover led by abolitionist Sherman Booth who appealed his conviction, eventually resulting in US Supreme Court case Ableman v. Booth (1859)
  • Sources:  Steven Lubet, Fugitive Justice: Runaways, Rescuers, and Slavery on Trial, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010), 305-307, (see post).

July 1854 || Escapes from Lewis County spark war of words with Illinois neighbors

October 1854 || Families, “some aged and crippled” stampede together

November 1854 || Another St. Louis Stampede; $1,000 reward

May 1855 || Mary Meachum and the St. Louis Stampede

July 1856 || Extended family stampede together from St. Louis

October 1856 || Two families escape from Hannibal

Late 1858 || Missouri Runaway Helps More Escape through Galesburg

  • Locations:  Missouri to Galesburg, IL to Canada
  • Numbers:  9 (colored man who returned, attempted to bring nine out but only 5 or 6 made it to Galesburg
  • Owners: Unknown
  • Sources:  Originally Chapman’s History of Knox County cited in Owen Muelder, The Underground Railroad in Western Illinois (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 2008), 110-1.

December 1858 ||  John Brown raids Missouri and frees a dozen in stampede

  • Locations: Vernon County, MO (then Iowa to Detroit)
  • Numbers: 11 freedom seekers (12 after the birth of John Brown Daniels)
  • Owners: Harvey G. Hicklan (also Hicklin)
  • Sources:  David S. Reynolds, John Brown, Abolitionist (2005), pp. 278-79; Kristen Epps, Slavery on the Periphery: The Kansas-Missouri Border in the Antebellum and Civil War Eras, (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2016),129-32 [see post]; Fergus M. Bordewich. Bound for Canaan: The Underground Railroad and the War for the Soul of America (New York: HaperCollins Publishers Inc, 2005), 419-20 [see post]

January 1859 || Dr. John Doy tries to copy Brown’ stampede

October 1859 || Stampede captured heading toward Chicago

  • Locations: Maline Township (Saline County), MO
  • Numbers: Unknown (Bob)
  • Owners: Richard E. Snelling
  • Sources: “Returned to Servitude,” Marshall Democrat (Saline County, MO), 15 August 1860

October 1859 || Over two dozen freedom seekers stampede toward Detroit

  • Locations: western Missouri (traveling through Nebraska, Iowa, Chicago, and Detroit)
  • Numbers: 26 freedom seekers
  • Owners: Unknown
  • Sources: “A Large Underground Arrival,” Douglass’ Monthly, November 1859; “Signs Not to be Mistaken,” St. Louis Democrat, 9 November 1859; “Arrival of Twenty-Six Fugitive Slaves at Detroit,” Delaware Gazette (Delaware, OH) 11 November 1859; “Twenty-Six Missouri Negroes Arrived in Canada,” Glasgow Weekly Times (Glasgow, MO), 17 November 1859; “A Large Underground Arrival, Cadiz Sentinel, 23 November 1859. Original article appeared in Detroit Advertiser.

November 1859 || Successive “Stampedes” from LaGrange

August 1860 || Mother organizes family stampede

April 1861 || Arrest of Harris family in Chicago sets off free black stampede

Summer 1861 || Northern magazines celebrate stampedes at Fort Monroe

November 1861  ||  Springfield Stampede

February 1862 || St. Joseph Stampede

November 1862 || Stampede from Loutre Island

November 1862 || Mounting stampedes from Ste. Genevieve

March 1863 || Stampede from Hannibal

April 1863 || Another St. Louis Stampede

April 1863 || Lafayette County Stampede

August 1863 || “Perfect Stampede” from Platte County

November 1863 || Black Missourians “Stampeding” to Recruitment Offices

December 1863 || Family of Archer Alexander (face of DC statue) freed

  • Locations: St. Charles to St. Louis
  • Numbers: 4 freedom seekers (Archer and Louisa Alexander with children Ellen and James)
  • Owners: James Naylor
  • Sources:  Miranda Rechtenwald, “The Life of Archer Alexander: A Story of Freedom,” The Confluence (Fall/Winter 2014); Dale Edwyna Smith, African American Lives in St. Louis, 1763-1865 (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2017), 165 (see post)