Jim Taylor





Reference: Personal interview with Jim Taylor,

at his home, 424 E. 23rd St., Baltimore.

"I was born in Talbot County, Eastern Shore, Maryland, near St. Michaels

about 1847. Mr. Mason Shehan's father knew me well as I worked for him

for more than 30 years after the emancipation. My mother and father both

were owned by a Mr. Davis of St. Michaels who had several tugs and small

boats. In the summer, the small boats were used to haul produce while

the tugs were used for towing coal and lumber on the Chesapeake Bay and

the small rivers on the Eastern Shore. Mr. Davis bought able-bodied

colored men for service on the boats. They were sail boats. I would say

about 50 or 60 feet long. On each boat, besides the Captain, there were

from 6 to 10 men used. On the tugs there were more men, besides the mess

boy, than on the sail boats.

"I think a man by the name of Robinson who was in the coal business at

Havre de Grace engaged Mr. Davis to tow several barges of soft coal to

St. Michaels. It was on July 4th when we arrived at Havre de Grace.

Being a holiday, we had to wait until the 5th, before we could start

towards St. Michaels.

"Mr. Tuttle, the captain of the tug, did not sleep on the boat that

night, but went to a cock fight. The colored men decided to escape and

go to Pennsylvania. (I was a small boy). They ran the tug across the bay

to Elk Creek, and upon arriving there they beached the tug on the north

side, followed a stream that Harriett Tubman had told them about. After

traveling about seven miles, they approached a house situated on a large

farm which was occupied by one of the deputy sheriffs of the county. The

sheriff told them they were under arrest. One of the escaping man seized

the sheriff from the rear, after he was thrown they tied him, then they

continued on a road towards Pennsylvania. They reached Pennsylvania

about dawn. After they had gone some distance in Pennsylvania three men

with guns overtook them; but five men and one woman of Pennsylvania with

guns and clubs stopped them. In the meantime the sheriff and two of his

deputies come up. The sheriff said he had to hold them for the

authorities of the county. They were taken by the sheriff from the three

men, carried about 15 miles further in Pennsylvania and then were told

to go to Chester where they would be safe.

"Mr. Davis came to Chester with Mr. Tuttle to claim the escaping slaves.

They were badly beaten, Mr. Tuttle receiving a fractured skull. There

were several white men in Chester who were very much interested in

colored people, they gave us money to go to Philadelphia. After arriving

in Philadelphia, we went to Allen's mission, a colored church that

helped escaping slaves. I stayed in Philadelphia until I was about 19

years old, then all the colored people were free. I returned to Talbot,

there remained until 1904, came to Baltimore where I secured a job with

James Hitchens, a colored man, who had six furniture vans drawn by two

horses each and sometimes by three and four horses. Mr. Hitchens' office

and warehouse were on North Street near Pleasant. I stayed there with

Mr. Hitchens until he sold his business to Mr. O. Farror after he had

taken sick.

"In March I will be 90 years old. I have been sick three times in my

life. I am, and have been a member of North Street Baptist Church for

thirty-three years. I am the father of nine children, have been married

twice and a grandfather of twenty-three granddaughters and grandsons and

forty-five great grand-children.

"While in Philadelphia I attended free school for colored children

conducted at Allen's Mission; when I returned to Talbot county I was in

the sixth grade or the sixth reader. Since then I have always been fond

of reading. My favored books are the Bible, Bunyan's Pilgrim's

Progress, Uncle Tom's Cabin, the lives of Napoleon, Frederick

Douglass and Booker T. Washington, and church magazines and the


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