Julia King

Julia King lived with her entire family on the same plantation.  When she was very young, her father, mother and sister all ran away and escaped via the Underground Railroad.  Here, she tells the tale, as she knows it, of her mother’s escape.
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Mamma was keeping house. Papa paid the white people who owned them, for her time. He left before Mamma did. He ran away to Canada on the Underground Railroad.

My mother’s mistress—I don’t remember her name—used to come and take Mary with her to market every day. The morning my mother ran away, her mistress decided she wouldn’t take Mary with her to market. Mamma was glad, because she had almost made up her mind to go, even without Mary.

Mamma went down to the boat. A man on the boat told Mamma not to answer the door for anybody, until he gave her the signal. The man was a Quaker, one of those people who says ‘Thee’ and ‘Thou’. Mary kept on calling out the mistress’s name and Mamma couldn’t keep her still.

When the boat docked, the man told Mamma he thought her master was about. He told Mamma to put a veil over her face, in case the master was coming. He told Mamma he would cut the master’s heart out and give it to her, before he would ever let her be taken.

She left the boat before reaching Canada, somewhere on the Underground Railroad—Detroit, I think—and a woman who took her in said: ‘Come in, my child, you’re safe now.’ Then Mamma met my father in Windsor. I think they were taken to Canada free.

Formerly enslaved person
Birth Year (Age)Interviewer
WPA Volunteer
Enslaver’s Name
Julia King1857 (80)K. OsthimerUnknown
Interview LocationResidence StateBirth Location
Toledo, OHOhioLouisville, KY
Themes & KeywordsAdditional Tags:
Gender/gender roles, familyFirst person, escape, Underground railroad