"Jess" - runaway slave
$50 REWARD RAN AWAY from the subscriber, living in Petersburg, Hardy county, Va. On Saturday the 3d inst. a bright mulatto man called
about 45 years old, tolerably well made, five feet 10 or 11 inches high, with high cheek bones. The only particular mark that is recollected, is that of very high sharp wrist bones and is of great strength in those joints — he has a full suit (?) of hair and keeps it pretty well combed up. He took with him a fur Hat, nearly new, two Coats, one a drab frock and the other a snuff colored close coat—a vest of white ground and dark spots — two pair of pantaloons, one pair of green and one pair of white Chord — a pair of calf skin shoes of his own make, and will probably seek employment in that line of business. He may have changed his clothing.
THE ABOVE REWARD of $50 will be given if taken out of the State of Virginia, S20 if taken in the State, and $10 if caught in Hardy County, Va. and all reasonable expenses paid if brought home. The reward to be paid on the delivery of said slave.
N. B. On his apprehension and confinement, a note informing the subscriber of the same will he received at Looney's creek Post Office, Hardy co. Va. and attended to immediately. J. G.
This runaway slave notice for "Jess" appeared in The Advocate, Cumberland, Maryland, Tuesday, November 20, 1832. The slave notices appeared in the back of The Advocate in a section called "The Allegany Advertiser" which featured all types of ads for things to buy and sell.
Maryland emancipated its slaves on November 1, 1864. On September 17, 1870, the census of Cumberland was released. Of this, the total population was 10,640. Cumberland's black population was 690, while 1,166 free blacks lived in the entire Allegany County.
Prior to the Civil War, Maryland had a law which stated that if a freed black came into slave territory from elsewhere he could be fined $20. A second offense warranted a fine of $500. If the fine could not be paid, the person could be auctioned off as a slave to raise the money. The Maryland Advocate, printed in Cumberland in the late 1820's and 1830's often listed runaway slave notices. The Alleganian newspaper, well into the late 1840's, also printed notices of rewards for runaway slaves, editorials blasting abolitionists, and advertisements for public sales of "Land and Negroes".
From the collection of Albert and Angela Feldstein
Allegany County, Maryland
African Americans, History; Allegany County (Md.), History.
Allegany County (Md.), 1890-2008