central pennsylvania african american history for everyone
              ten years on the web 1997 - 2007


to seek

the underground railroad
in central pennsylvania

Southern Freedom Seekers
in Lancaster County

A Sampling of Advertisements


Advertisements seeking the return of freedom seekers from Virginia, Maryland and other states often appeared in central Pennsylvania newspapers from colonial times until the start of the Civil War.  Southern slaveholders often placed ads in newspapers from several central Pennsylvania counties, generally those closest to the Maryland border, or those in which the slaveholder thought the fugitives would seek shelter and aid.  Many of these advertisements mentioned specific routes or towns that the freedom seekers were believed to have used.  Below are ads that mention Lancaster as a place through which freedom seekers traveled or stopped in their flight.

Advertisement for three fugitives, 19 July 1750, Pennsylvania Gazette
Editor's note:  This ad notes that the two white and one black fugitive traveled together at least as far as the road from Lancaster to Philadelphia.

Run away from the subscriber, on Elkridge, in Anne Arundel county, Maryland, two white servants, and a Negro; one of the servants named John Wright, a shoemaker by trade, has a red nose, and a crooked finger: Had on, an ozenbrigs shirt, and breeches of the same, and a dark colour'd coat, with a large cape. The other a Yorkshire man, named William Cherryhome, a short fellow, with yellow hair: Had on ozenbrigs shirt and trowsers, a white fustian coat; they both have hats and shirts. The Negro named Sam, is a lusty young fellow, with large scars on his breast and back. Whoever takes up up and secures the said servants and Negro, so that they may be had again, shall have NINE POUNDS reward, besides what the law allows, paid by JOHN HAMMOND.
N.B. They were seen coming from Lancaster to Philadelphia.

Advertisement for two fugitives, seen in Columbia, 1850
Republished in the North Star, 24 October 1850

One hundred dollars reward. Stop the thieves. Stolen, a large lot of clothing, $100 in cash, and a silver watch. Runaway from Edward W. Duval, living in Bladensburgh, Prince George's county, Maryland, two negro men, aged between 21 and 25 years - one about 5 feet 4 inches high, dark color, grim countenance, one a copper, color, 5 feet 4 or 6 inches high, likely in appearance. They were seen on the 28th of September, going over the Columbia Bridge, in Pennsylvania, in company with a mulatto supposed to be free.

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