“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Cambridge in Dorchester County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

Finding Freedom

Finding Freedom Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By F. Robby, November 4, 2007
1. Finding Freedom Marker
The Call of Freedom
Dorchester County occupies a central place in the story of the Underground Railroad, the secret network of "stations" and "conductors" that sheltered and shepherded hundreds of enslave African Americans to freedom in the mid-1800s. This county courthouse was the site of two famous Underground Railroad trials. An earlier courthouse her was the site of a dramatic escape engineered by the famed Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman, a Dorchester native.

Kessiah's Flight
In December 1850, Kessiah Bowley and her two young children went up on the slave auction block at this site. John Bowley, a free black ship carpenter, outbid everyone for the right to buy his wife and children. By the time the auctioneer called for payment, John, Kessiah, and the children were nowhere to be found.

That night, the Bowleys made their way out of hiding to a waiting boat and sailed up the Chesapeake Bay to Baltimore. Kessiah's aunt, Harriet Tubman, anticipated their arrival. She had helped John plan this escape by communicating through the Underground Railroad. She then took them farther
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north to freedom.

Justice in Slavery Times
In April 1857, the county sheriff raided the East New Market home of Reverend Samuel Green, a free black man and a Methodist minister suspected of Underground Railroad activity, and found a copy of the novel Uncle Tom's Cabin. Green was convicted at this courthouse and sentenced to 10 years in prison under a law that made it a felony to own antislavery publications. He was pardoned in 1862.

In 1858, a group of slaves fleeing Dorchester County with "conductor" Hugh Hazlett was arrested in neighboring Caroline County. Hazlett, a 27-year-old immigrant laborer from Ireland, made a dramatic escape from the county jail, only to be recaptured. He was tried here and sentenced to a prison term of 44 years, six months, and nine days. He was pardoned in 1864, after Maryland freed its slaves.
Erected by Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Abolition & Underground RRAfrican Americans. In addition, it is included in the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway, and the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom series lists. A significant historical month for this entry is April 1857.
Location. 38° 34.32′ N, 76° 4.586′ W. Marker is in Cambridge
Dorchester County Courthouse image. Click for full size.
Photographed By F. Robby, November 4, 2007
2. Dorchester County Courthouse
, Maryland, in Dorchester County. Marker is at the intersection of High Street and Spring Street, on the right when traveling north on High Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Cambridge MD 21613, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Christ P. E. Church (a few steps from this marker); Revolutionary Statesman Robert Goldsborough (within shouting distance of this marker); Revolutionary Statesman Henry Steele (within shouting distance of this marker); Patriot Col. Robert Harrison (within shouting distance of this marker); Patriot Nathan Griffin (within shouting distance of this marker); Governor John Henry (within shouting distance of this marker); Patriot Maj. Francis Turpin (within shouting distance of this marker); Patriot Richard Pattison (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Cambridge.
Samuel Green image. Click for full size.
Internet Archive
3. Samuel Green
Samuel Green was a well respected free black farmer and preacher who was suspected of being involved in the Underground Railroad. He was arrested in 1857 for owning a copy of Uncle Tom's Cabin. [Illustration from The Underground Rail Road, William Still, 1872]

I will sell… a negro woman named Kizziah image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Allen C. Browne, January 23, 2018
4. I will sell… a negro woman named Kizziah
I Will sell at public sale to the highest bidder for cash, at Court house door in the town of Cambridge, on Monday the 10th day of September next a negro woman named Kizziah, aged about 25 years. She will be sold for life, and a good title will be given. Attendance given by
                                                                         John Mills
                                                                Agent for Elizabeth Brodess.
August 29th 1849
Close-up of image on marker
Escaping by boat image. Click for full size.
Internet Archive
5. Escaping by boat
John Bowley secreted his family away from Cambridge to Baltimore on a small boat.

This illustration of William Thomas Cope, John Boice Grey, Henry Boice and Isaac White crossing the bay in a skiff, from The Underground Rail Road by William Still 1872, is used here to illustrate the escape of John Bowley and his family.
Credits. This page was last revised on November 22, 2019. It was originally submitted on December 4, 2007, by F. Robby of Baltimore, Maryland. This page has been viewed 2,095 times since then and 98 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on December 4, 2007, by F. Robby of Baltimore, Maryland.   3, 4, 5. submitted on January 29, 2018, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland.

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Dec. 8, 2023