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Underground Railroad in Operation, 1849

- from The Daily Wheeling Gazette, April 4, 1849




— An excitement was produced in our city on Sunday evening and Monday morning, by the escape of seven or eight slaves belonging to Messrs. Achibald Paull, Thos. Paull, and Sam'l Mitchell. Appearances left no room to doubt that they had secretly fled into Ohio. Pursuit was made by officer Shallcross who ascertained that they had crossed at Martin's Ferry on Sunday evening, and had probably proceeded beyond the reach of legal arrest. Nothing further is yet heard of them. Two of the ferrymen were, on Monday, brought before a County Magistrate's Court for examination, charged with a violation of the 25th section of the revised Criminal code of this State, which prohibits the keeper of a bridge or ferry from allowing slaves to pass, as follows.

"Any owner or keeper of a ferry or bridge across a water course separating this State from another state, who shall knowingly permit a slave to pass at such ferry or bridge, without the consent of his master, shall pay to the party injured, twenty-five dollars for every such offence, and all damages occasioned thereby; and if the slave by so passing at such ferry or bridge escape from the service of his master, such owner or keeper shall be moreover punished by confinement in the penitentiary for not less than one nor more than five years."

After a portion of the evidence had been heard, the prisoners were released on $1000 bail, to appear again yesterday morning, when after a slight examination the owners of the slaves, not wishing to urge the prosecution, the supposed offenders were discharged upon the ground that they must have known that the persons crossing were slaves before they, (the prisoners) could be deemed guilty.

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