Posts Tagged ‘runaway slave ad’

Back to the Newspapers: Runaway Slave Ads

November 7, 2017

While looking for references to George Mosse in the early Savannah newspapers, many advertisements for runaway slaves can be found. The ironic part of these ads is that they are helpful in identifying people who wouldn’t have been identified. These ads list the slave name, physical description, and contact person, in addition to the amount of the reward. The higher the reward, the more valuable the person.

From the Savannah Republican, December 24, 1808:

75 Dollars Reward.

Absented themselvessome months ago, the following NEGROES—

Sampson, 5 feet 9 or 10 inches high; well made, though rather slender; has an impediment in his speech; about 28 years of age.

Caesar, about 5 feet 6 inches high; between 35 and 40 years old.

Tom, about 5 feet 6 or 7 inches high; about 30years of age.

Adam, about 5 feet 4 or 5 inches high; extremely slender; 17 years of age.

Beaufort, 5 feet 3 or 4 inches high; muscular form; face very ugly , and countenance surly; about 18 years of age.

The above reward will be paid to any person who will seize said negroes and lodge them in any gaol in the state of Georgia, or deliver them to Mr. Kesterson, on Kilkenny-Neck, adjoining Mr. John Morel’s, or to the subscriber, on Skidaway island.

R.B. Wylly

N. B. If taken separately, the reward will be given in the following proportions–For Sampson, 25 dollars; for Tom, 2 dollars; for Beaufort, 10 dollars; for Adam, 10 dollars; and for Caesar, 5 dollars.

October 18—124

Then this one…

125 Dollars Reward.

Seventy-five Dollars will be paid to any person delivering to the subscriber, or lodging in Savannah gaol, a NEGRO WOMAN, named BELLA, who has been absent near three years, during which time she has been lurking about the plantations on Ogechee, and in the neighborhood of Thunderbolt; but latterly, it is said she has been harbored about or near Mr. Polock’s brick-yard, and that she has a ticket. —

She is about five feet four inches high; full face; strait and well made; has lost one or two of her fore teeth; hollow foot, high instep; her complexion rather yellow. She formerly belonged to Mr. Charles Harden, deceased, and may probably say she belongs to col. Edward Harden, who has a woman of the same name. A reward of Fifty Dollars will be paid for convicting a white person of harboring her.

Philip Ihly.

If Bella returns of her own accord, she will be forgiven.

October 18.–24.

Another…

Twenty Dollars Reward.

Ranaway from the subscriber, on Saturday evening last, his mulatto girl, POLLY, late the property of Mr. John Waters, of this city. As she is well known in Savannah, a particular description of her person is unnecessary. All persons are forbid harboring her, as they may depend on being dealt with according to law.–

A reward of Twenty Dollars will be paid to any person that will give information of her being harbored by a white person, and Ten Dollars if by a negro.

Levi Sheftall.

October 23 –127.

And at the end of the column (keep in mind that this is just ONE column in ONE newspaper in ONE day in ONE city)…

10 Dollars Reward

Will be paid to any person who will apprehend and secure in Savannah goal, my fellow BEN. He has been runaway since April last, and is supposed to be with Mr. Richard B. Wylly’s negroes, which are advertised in this paper.

G. W. Allen.

December 1–143

*****

10 Dollars Reward.

Ran away this morning, my Negro Fellow ISAAC, who is well known in this city. If brought home to me, I will give the above reward; and if he should be apprehended in S. Carolina, and lodged in any gaol of that state, or brought to me, I will pay a reward of 30 dollars and all expences.

Thomas U. P. Charlton.

December 3 –144

These ads were everywhere. Here’s one from May 1769 from the Virginia Gazette in Williamsburg. Tom Salter has run away from Henry Lee.


What is most astounding to me is that, even as dangerous as running away must have been, there were so many people who risked the dangers for freedom, men and women alike.

I suspect that this post will become an ongoing project.

Rest well, travelers. We can learn from your bravery.