|George Conrad was an enslaved person on a 900 acre farm in Kentucky. In this excerpt he begins by describing “patrollers” whose job was to be monitor the movement of enslaved peoples, to be sure if they were off their property they had the proper paperwork. He goes on to describe tales he’d heard of John Brown and the Underground Railroad.
I heard a lot of talk ’bout the patrollers. In those days if you went away from home and didn’t have a pass they’d whip you. Sometimes they’d whip you with a long black cow whip, and then sometimes they’d roast elm switches in the fire. This was called “cat-o-nine-tails”, and they’d whip you with that. We never had any jails; only punishment was just to whip you.
Now, the way the slaves travel. If a slave had been good sometimes old Master would let him ride his horse ; then, sometime they’d steal a horse out and ride them and slip him back before old Master ever found it out.
There was a man in those days by the name of John Brown. We called him an underground railroad man, ’cause he’d steal the slaves and carry them across the river in a boat. When you got on the other side you were free, ’cause you were in a free State, Ohio. We used to sing, and I guess young folks today do too: “John Brown’s Body Lies a’Molding In the Clay.” and “They Hung John Brown On a Sour Apple Tree.”
Formerly enslaved person
|Birth Year (Age)
|George Conrad, Jr.
|Oklahoma City, OK
|Harrison County, Kentucky
|Themes & Keywords
|Underground Railroad, Emancipation
|First person, slave patrols, John Brown, Underground Railroad