East New Market

Notable People and Families

Thomas Henry, Nathan & Mary Ellen Collins

From "The Underground Railroad, A Record of Facts, Authentic Narrative, Letters &C, Narrating the Hardships, Hairbreadth Escapes and Death Struggles of the Slaves in their efforts of Freedom, as related by themselves and others, or witnessed by the author; together with sketches of some of the largest stockholders, and most liberal aiders and advisors of the road.  By William Still - 1872.


Thomas is about twenty-six, quite dark, rather of a raw-boned make, indicating that times with him had been other than smooth.  A certain Josiah Wilson owned Thomas.  He was a cross, rugged man, allowing not half enough to eat, and worked his slaves late and early. Especially within the last two or three months previous to the escape, he had been intensely savage, in con-sequence of having lost, not long before, two of his servants. Ever since that misfortune, he had frequently talked of "putting the rest in his pocket." This distressing threat made the rest love him none the more; but, to make assurances doubly sure, after giving them their supper every evening, which consisted of delicious "skimmed milk, corn cake and a herring each," he would very carefully send them up in the loft over the kitchen, and there "lock them up," to remain until called the next morning at three or four o'clock to go to work again. Destitute of money, clothing, and a knowledge of the way, situated as they were they concluded to make an effort for Canada.

NATHAN was also a fellow-servant with Thomas, and of course owned by Wilson.  Nathan's wife, however, was owned by Wilson's son, Abram. Nathan was about twenty-five years of age, not very dark. He had a remarkably large head on his shoulders and was the picture of determination, and apparently was exactly the kind of a subject that might be desirable in the British possessions, in the forest or on the farm.

His wife, Mary Ellen, is a brown-skinned, country-looking young woman, about twenty years of age. In escaping, they had to break jail, in the dead of night, while all were asleep in the big house; and thus they succeeded. What Mr. Wilson did, said or thought about these "shiftless" creatures we are not prepared to say; we may, notwithstanding, reasonably infer that the Underground has come in for a liberal share of his indignation and wrath. The above travelers came from near New Market, Md. The few rags they were clad in were not really worth the price that a woman would ask for washing them, yet they brought with them about all they had. Thus they had to be newly rigged at the expense of the Vigilance Committee.

The Cambridge Democrat, of Nov. 4, 1857, from which the advertisements were cut, said-

"At a meeting of the people of this county, held in Cambridge, on the 2d of November, to take into consideration the better protection of the interests of the slave-owners; among other things that were done, it was resolved to enforce the various acts of Assembly ** ** relating to servants and slaves."