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1812 York Recorder newspaper ad


The York County History Center has a treasure trove of newspapers going back over two centuries. Most have been microfilmed, making these outstanding historical sources easily accessible. I often use them as sources for blog posts and my York Sunday News columns. (Some, but not nearly all of the local papers are available and searchable on newspapers.com. YCHC Library/Archives does subscribe to this service, and it is available for researchers to use.)

With our proximity to the Mason-Dixon Line, the local papers carried many ads for runaway slaves. I have shared some before, but I just recently came across the one below, which is quite descriptive. No matter how many I read, I am always jolted anew by the realization that people could actually own other human beings, and not all that long ago.

The York County History Center recently published The Ground Swallowed Them Up: Slavery and the Underground Railroad in York County, Pa. by well-known author, Scott Mingus. On March 31-April 1, YCHC is sponsoring a symposium on the Underground Railroad featuring Scott Mingus and other respected speakers. See below for detailed information on the program and registration information. In the meantime, here is the runaway ad from the October 24, 1812 York Recorder.  It had been running since July, so we can hope that George made it to freedom, perhaps with assistance from Adams and York County persons.

Twenty Dollars Reward

RAN AWAY from the subscriber, near Emmetsburg, Frederick County, Maryland, A Negro Man, named GEORGE. He is about 5 feet 4 or 5 inches high; inclines a little to the mulatto; an active, well set fellow, about 23 years of age; has a small scar over one of his eyes; is fond or liquor and, when intoxicated, is very impudent; plays on the violin. He had on, when he left home, a lead colored, country cloth coat, a black and white striped waistcoat, tow linen trowsers and shirt, the sleeves of which later are striped; a rorurn hat, much worn, But it is probable he may change his dress. He has been accustomed to tending masons. It is probable he had gone to Pennsylvania, and will attempt to pass as a free man. Ten Dollars will be paid for securing him in any gaol within thirty miles; if at a greater distance, the above reward, and reasonable charges if brought home, by William Long

Friends Creek, July 14, 1812.

Click here for the symposium brochure and full schedule.

Click here to register for Paths to Freedom: A Regional Underground Railroad Symposium.