Dec. 16, 1937
THOMAS FOOTE'S STORY, A free Negro.
Reference: Personal interview with Thomas Foote,
at his home, Cockeysville, Md.
"My mother's name was Eliza Foote and my father's name was Thomas Foote.
Father and mother of a large family that was reared on a small farm
about a mile east of Cockeysville, a village situated on the Northern
Central Railroad 15 miles north of Baltimore City.
"My mother's maiden name was Myers, a daughter of a free man of
Baltimore County. In her younger days she was employed by Dr. Ensor, a
homeopathic medical doctor of Cockeysville who was a noted doctor in his
day. Mrs. Ensor, a very refined and cultured woman, taught her to read
and write. My mother's duty along with her other work was to assist Dr.
Ensor in the making of some of his medicine. In gaining practical
experience and knowledge of different herbs and roots that Dr. Ensor
used in the compounding of his medicine, used them for commercial
purposes for herself among the slaves and free colored people of
Baltimore County, especially of the Merrymans, Ridgelys, Roberts,
Cockeys and Mayfields. Her fame reached as far south as Baltimore City
and north of Baltimore as far as the Pennsylvania line and the
surrounding territory. She was styled and called the doctor woman both
by the slaves and the free people. She was suspected by the white people
but confided in by the colored people both for their ills and their
"My mother prescribed for her people and compounded medicine out of the
same leaves, herbs and roots that Dr. Ensor did. Naturally her success
along these lines was good. She also delivered many babies and acted as
a midwife for the poor whites and the slaves and free Negroes of which
there were a number in Baltimore County.
"The colored people have always been religiously inclined, believed in
the power of prayer and whenever she attended anyone she always
preceeded with a prayer. Mother told me and I have heard her tell others
hundreds of times, that one time a slave of old man Cockey was seen
coming from her home early in the morning. He had been there for
treatment of an ailment which Dr. Ensor had failed to cure. After being
treated by my mother for a time, he got well. When this slave was
searched, he had in his possession a small bag in which a stone of a
peculiar shape and several roots were found. He said that mother had
given it to him, and it had the power over all with whom it came in
"There were about this time a number of white people who had been going
through Cockeysville, some trying to find out if there was any concerted
move on the part of the slaves to run away, others contacting the free
people to find out to what extent they had 'grape-vine' news of the
action of the Negroes. The Negro who was seen coming from mother's home
ran away. She was immediately accused of Voodooism by the whites of
Cockeysville, she was taken to Towson jail, there confined and grilled
by the sheriff of Baltimore County--the Cockeys, and several other men,
all demanding that she tell where the escaped slave was. She knowing
that the only way he could have escaped was by the York Road, north or
south, the Northern Central Railroad or by the way of Deer Creek, a
small creek east of Cockeysville. Both the York Road and the railroad
were being watched, she logically thought that the only place was Deer
Creek, so she told the sheriff to search Deer Creek. By accident he was
found about eight miles up Deer Creek in a swamp with several other
colored men who had run away.
"Mother was ordered to leave Baltimore County or to be sold into
slavery. She went to York, Pennsylvania, where she stayed until 1865,
when she returned to her home in Cockeysville; where a great many of her
descendants live, now, on a hill that slopes west to Cockeysville
Station, and is known as Foote's Hill by both white and colored people
of Baltimore County today.
"I was born in Cockeysville in 1867, where I have lived since; reared a
family of five children, three boys and two girls. I am a member of the
A.M.E. Church at Cockeysville. I am a member of the Masonic Lodge and
belong to Odd Fellows at Towson, Maryland. The Foote's descendants still
own five or more homes at Cockeysville, and we are known from one end of
the county to the other."
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