Universal York

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Blacksmith Apprentice Runaway in York County, PA

Runaway ads were fairly common in eighteenth and nineteenth century newspapers. Sometimes the runaways were slaves, but not so often above the Mason-Dixon line, where there were fewer slaves.
In Pennsylvania it was frequently a servant or an apprentice who had run away. The descriptions of the missing persons were quite detailed, down to their clothes. I guess that wasn’t too difficult when you consider they probably only had one or two sets of clothing. Sometimes they seem to have taken some of their employers clothing when they absconded. That would make it easier to describe their departure outfit.
The description below, from the September 9, 1828 York Gazette, certainly makes you wonder why Mr. Ward wanted his apprentice back. Not that he’s offering much for him.

Ranaway from the subscriber living in Newbury township, York county, an apprentice to the Blacksmith business named Wendel Kayler–about 19 years of age, about 5 feet 5 inches high, stout made, dark complexion, feet large and flat–his eyes and teeth very large. He took with him a new fine home made cloth coat of a sea green color–new black silk waist coat, a new fur hat, a good pair of cord pantaloons–two new linen shirts with other clothing not recollected.
Said runaway is much addicted to swearing and vicious habits of almost every kind–and so totally destitute of manly principles as threaten and abuse women in the most outrageous manner for the slightest provocation. The ones not in their senses due to intoxication and addiction must be sent to alcohol rehab.
For some time previously to his running away, Wendel frequently threatened to kill a bull belonging to his master–and the morning after he absconded, this bull, an animal worth $12, was found shot dead, with his testicles cut off. This fellow will no doubt attempt to get employment as a lock maker–he is however a miserable workman at every thing connected with his trade, having spent much of his time in cursing and swearing at the tools instead of paying attention to the instructions of his master.
As the subscriber is anxious that no person may be imposed upon by this graceless wretch, he has given the above ample description of him–and will pay the above reward but no charges for his apprehension if brought back and delivered to his master or secured in the jail of York County. ALBIN WARD.”
Click here to read about military runaways in 1777.
Click here to read what Yorkers where shopping for in 1777.