The Den of Villainy

The Den of Villainy


Fugitive Slave Case - Nine Negroes Arrested


Information having been given to United States Deputy Marshal Thayer, that a gang of Fugitive slaves were secreted in the woods on Lick Run, he procured the services of Deputy City Marshals Lee and Worley, and Sheriff Ward, of Covington, Kentucky, and on Wednesday night caught nine Negroes in a stable about a mile beyond the Asylum and brought them to the city. In the company were four men, two women and three children; they were all arrested under a warrant issued by the United States Commissioner John L. Pendery, upon the oath of William Walton, of Boone County, Kentucky, who claims four of them. The Negroes all carried bundles, and were apparently much travel worn and fatigued. They had been taken to the stable where they were found by a mulatto who afterwards gave information to the officers. On being brought to the city, they were locked upon in the watch house cells, during the night.

Yesterday morning they were taken out, placed in an omnibus belonging to the Covington and Lexington Railroad line, and conveyed under guard of a posse of our municipal police to an unoccupied room in the third story of the old Court House building in Court Street, near Main, where United States Commissioner Pendery proposed to try the case.

The Negroes were handcuffed but seemed as cheerful as could be expected.

They were Lewis, a young man about 24 years of age.
Susan, a woman 39 year of age.
Wesley, a boy 9 years of age.
John, a boy, 7 years of age.
Almeda, a woman 26 years of age, who carried Sarah Jane, a child three years old, in her arms.
Lee, a young man 21 years old.
Anderson, a young man, 23 years old.
Shadrach, a venerable Uncle Tom, 60 years of age.

At 2 ½ o'clock P. M., United States Commissioner Pendery opened his Court. There were few spectators in Court and these were generally colored

Shadrach, was shortly afterwards brought in by officers, Thayer and Worley. He is a good veritable "Uncle Tom", black, with a good expression of countenance. He was dressed in pants from the same piece of which his master's clothes were made. His owner, and old substantial farmer, gave him a high character, and expressed the opinion that he had been induced by white men to run away.
The same propositions to introduce the laws of Kentucky, as was made in the case of Shadrach, was made and ruled out by the Commissioner.

It being proposed to bring forward for trial the six Negroes claimed by Mr. Walton, the counsel for the Fugitives objected that the act of Congress contemplated the trial of each slave by himself.
The objection was then argued.

Mr. Joliffe for the plaintiffs, argued that that law did not forbid joint trials, and that the trial of the defendants individually would consume too much time. He did not believe the rights of the Fugitives would be imperiled by a joint trial. Prolongation of time can only be asked from some reason unknown to the Court. It may be to procure recruits from Boston. He did not believe a joint trial would work injustice.

Mr. Dudley, Esq., urged that as in joint indictments from crime there are joint trials, so in this case, by parity of reasoning there can only be a severance for just cause shown.

Mr. Gritchell - the statue does not provide for joint trials; it only contemplates the trials of individuals. By joint trial the testimony of the alleged slaves will be ruled out and this may be necessary to prevent injustice, when as the Martha Washington case, the crime must necessarily be done jointly, then three is a joint trial, but no otherwise. Such severance is always granted by the courts of this county, and its refusal would be an anomaly.

The Commissioner ruled that as this was a civil case, a severance should only be granted on an affidavit.

The Court the adjourned to meet at nine o'clock this morning.

It will then be seen that testimony has thus far only been adduced in reference to the "Uncle Tom" of the party, and to Anderson. The case of the others will come up to-day and an increase of excitement is to be anticipated. The claimants of the slaves are, however, so unassuming, and have so treated their slaves well, that there is not much ill feeling toward them as would be shown under other circumstances.

When the Negroes ran away, on Sunday night from the homes of their masters, they paced their bundles on the backs of three of their masters horses, and on arriving at the Ohio river, near Lawrenceburg, they turned the horses homeward again, and taking a skiff, rowed themselves across the Ohio shore about midnight. After travelling two or three miles the hid during Monday, in a clump of bushes. They had not proceeded far before they met a colored man, named John Gyser, who promised to assist them in making their way north. They accompanied I'm to a stable of Mr. Hume's farm on Lick run turnpike, about two and a half miles from the city, where they were to remain until evening, when he would return with assistance to aid them in reaching Canada. During the day Gyser visited Covington and hearing a reward of $1,000 was offered for their apprehension and arrest, he gave the information.

In the evening a number of Kentuckian surrounded the premises of Mr. Hume while the United States deputy marshal, George Thayer, assisted by three of our city officers went into the stable and arrested them on a warrant, issued by the United States Commissioner Pendery.

One of the Fugitives, who carries his violin with him, was playing upon it when the stable was entered by the officers,. They made very little resistance, and were easily secured and brought to the city.
An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of the Fugitives, is pending before Judge McLean.

While in Court yesterday, the master of Shadrach, reproaching him for running away when well taken care of, and pronouncing the story that the Negroes ran away because they supposed the were to be sold down the river, a fabrication, said he. (Shadrach) must not look to him for support now. Mr. Chisler also remarked that he did not wish to take the old man home. And would sell him for a trifle. He said Shadrach had always been an excellent slave, but he didn't want him.
The Fugitives the night previous to their arrest, in company with a true and trusty free colored man, traveled twenty miles, expecting to reach the city and find refuge among friends here before daylight. But, having the children to carry in their arms, and being jaded and worn out, daylight came upon them when they were within several miles from the city. Carriages had been sent from the city to meet them, but unfortunately missed them. The colored man tried to engage a market man to bring them in his wagon, but failed and they were soon discovered by the owner of the stable. He represented himself as a real friend of the slave; told them he had run away from Kentucky for aiding in the escape of slaves and assured them that they would be perfectly safe to lodge in his stable until night, when they could be removed with safety. The colored men came on to the city and made arrangements with conductors of the U. G. Railroad, to have them brought in at night. - but the owner of the stable repaired to Kentucky and informed the slave hunters where they were, and had arrangements made with officers to take them.

The colored people went out at night to bring in the Fugitives, but found them in the hands of officers. This man, who thus betrayed innocent and helpless women and children, endeavors to screen his own infamous conduct by pretending to ignorance and charging it on the colored man who conducted them. He deserves to be scorned and despised by every person who has a particle of humanity left in his breast.


P. S. - There is no such colored man in the city as John Gyser; the colored man who was with the slaves is well known. He could not be bribed. If anyone has got a reward it is the owner of the stable.


Frederick Douglass's Paper, June 30, 1854, reprinting from the Cincinnati ColumbianJune 16.