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Rambles of a Runaway From Southern Slavery

(By Henry Goings.)
Book; Online
Stratford (Market Square) : Printed by J.M. Robb, Herald Office, 1869.
Henry Goings, the son of slave parents Abraham and Catharine Turner, was born in Virginia on the estate of James Walker, "within three miles of a place called Window Shades," (possibly the Windsor Shades plantation in New Kent County). His birth name was Elijah Turner. When Walker died, the slave family was broken up, and Elijah and one of his sisters were sold to the master's son-in-law, Pearson Pricket. Soon thereafter, the Prickets moved to Halifax, North Carolina, where Elijah was sold again, eventually becoming the property of Joseph Smith who renamed him Elijah Smith.
When Elijah was approximately 16 years old, the Smiths relocated to Tennessee, and later to Florence, Alabama. Elijah's duties were confined to the house and stables, and as a groom and valet he frequently accompanied his master on extended journeys to Georgia, Louisiana and elsewhere. In Alabama, Elijah married Maria White the property of neighboring plantation owner James Jackson.
Six years after Elijah's marriage, Joseph Smith died leaving his estate to his young widow. Two years later, when it appeared Mrs. Smith was going to move to Mississippi, Elijah decided to run away. He assumed the name of "Henry Goings," whose "free paper" he had purchased previously for $15, and fled North, leaving his wife behind.
"Henry Goings" lived in various places in Ohio, Illinois and Michigan, before settling in Canada, where he was still living at the time the book was published. The narrative mentions his homestead of a one acre lot and house in Chatham which he sold to pay legal bills. A newspaper advertisement announcing the sale of a farm belonging to Henry Goings appeared in the "Voice of the Fugitive," (Canada's first black abolitionist newspaper) on Dec. 16, 1852.
In 1855 Goings was interviewed by Boston journalist Benjamin Drew, who published the interview under the name "Henry Gowens" on pages 138-143 of "A North-side view of slavery" (Boston : J.P. Jewett, 1856). "Gowens" states that he was born in Virginia and lived on a Lauderdale County, Alabama plantation and tells a story of a cruel overseer named Kimball and a slaved named Donnison. A variant of the story appears in Goings' 1869 narrative.
  • Chapter I. My birth ... Death of my last master
  • Chap. II. My change of name and escape ...
  • Chap. III. Landed in Canada ... Marriage of second wife
  • Chap. IV. Observations on slavery, the present war, the church, the Irish orator, Shiells
  • Chap. V. Remarks on some of the Southern States, and emigration to them. [Reaction to the news of the death of Abraham Lincoln]
  • Appendix: [Additional personal observations and accounts]. Addresses delivered by Bvt. Colonel Ben. P. Runkle, U.S.A., Chief Supt. of the Freedmen's Affairs, State of Kentucky, and Bvt. Lieut.-Col. I.S. Catlin, U.S.A., to the Freedmen of Louisville, Oct. 1868. A sermon to servants, delivered by a clergyman in Tennessee.
iv, [5]-72 p. ; 22 cm. (8vo)
  • Preface is signed and dated, in print: A Runaway from Slavery, Stratford, C.W., July, 1864.
  • Narrative of the life of Henry Goings, born Elijah Turner, with the original narrative written before 1864.
  • A previously unrecorded fugitive slave narrative. Not found in OCLC; RLIN; NUC; NLC; COPAC; American Book Prices Current; R.C. Brignano's Black Americans in autobiography; M.N. Work's Bibliography of the Negro in Africa and America; Catalogue of the Blockson Collection; D.L. Dumond's A bibliography of anti-slavery in America; C.H. Nichols' Many thousand gone.
Local Notes
SPECIAL COLLECTIONS: Contemporary (possibly original) marbled boards with red leather backstrip and corners. Housed in a blue cloth drop-spine box. Penciled signature of Nellie Makyes, Onondaga New York, inside back cover. Associates Endowment Fund and Robert and Virginia Tunstall Trust Fund, 2006/2007. Copies of the description of the book provided by Tom Congalton of Between the Covers, the research report submitted by Ervin Jordan, and an email message from William LaMoy of Syracuse University providing information about the Makyes/Mackeyes family of Onondaga, N.Y. have been placed in the INSERT FILE.
Technical Details
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E450 .G65 1869