Juliet Miles, “Fugitive Slave Mother”
A Mother In Prison for Attempting to Free Her children
Germantown, Bracken County, Ky. You readers, no doubt, remember the accounts given about the last of October of the arrest of a colored woman, Juliet, who some years hence was purchased by the Rev. John G. Fee of his father, John Fee Jr., for the purpose of liberating her, which he did from a sense of gratitude, she having been his nurse in infancy, and having often cradled him in her arms as a child.
About four years since, she removed to Ohio, sixteen miles from her old home. Her youngest children, 4 in number, born after her liberation, she took with her to Ohio, but she left ten children and grandchildren still in bondage. These she resolved to make a desperate effort to redeem, as she was daily expecting the youngest son of John Fee (who was visiting his father) to return to his home in New Orleans, and take some of the slave children with him.
The arrest was made on the 18th of last October, at which time a warrant was served on her, wherein she was charged with enticing or attempting to entice away 10 slaves, the property of John Fee, Jr. and others, and failing to furnish the requisite security ($500), she was thrown in jail.
At the end of three weeks, friends made effort and prepared to release her by giving the required bail bonds. Now it appears that 4 of the 10 slaves (a daughter and 3 grandchildren) were held by a man in Mason, an adjoining county. As soon the Judge pronounced her at liberty, the officer stepped up and read the new warrant, which was for 4 slaves claimed in Mason County.
Her council objected, on the ground that she had given bail for the whole 10, and also, as the warrant claimed, that the offense was committed in Mason County – that the court had no jurisdiction over the case. But the Judge, in the face of these new facts, and in defiance of the law, remanded her to jail under the 1st warrant, to await hearing.
On Monday, she was brought out again for examination. Meantime, another warrant still had been prepared, in which she was charged with enticing way 2 slaves (of the 10), Charles and Dim, property of John Fee, Jr., which was served on her, and she was required to give bail to the amount of $1,000.
Another warrant was then served, in which she was charged with being found on the bank of the Ohio river, at Rock Spring, in Bracken county, Ky., in possession of 4 slaves, the property of Elijah Currans of Mason Co., Ky. On this warrant, bail was required in the amount of $500. As it was impossible to find bail, she was again remanded to jail.
On that day she was brought before the Court – the Jury made short work of it – twenty minutes. Verdict of GUILTY, and she was sentenced to 3 years of imprisonment. And this expiation to the outraged law of Kentucky, she must make to endeavoring to free two of her own children from slavery.
- A Lover of Liberty
From the New York Daily Tribune, Monday, March 28, 1859. Information provided by the August tourism Office, at 606-756-2183, or on the web at www.augustakentucky.com