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Jim Taylor

From: Maryland


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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