PETER STILL, "The, Kidnapped and Ransomed," died in Burlington, N. J., January 10th, 1868, in the sixty seventh year of his age, after a brief illness, of pneumonia, of twelve days.
Scarcely twelve years have elapsed since the thrilling narrative of Peter Still was published and widely read by thousands of Abolitionists in different parts of the country. It may not, therefore, be amiss now, after the final termination of his eventful career, to briefly recall a few of the sad phases in his history which rendered his narrative so surpassingly interesting. How, when a little boy, only six years of age, he was torn away from his mother and his home by a tyrant's hands, and thus, separated from them for forty-one years, was compelled to wear the yoke of bondage; the unceasing throbbing of his heart for freedom; the varied methods he resorted to to regain his lost liberty. Although unable to read, how he marked, with exceeding minuteness, yearly, the changes which seemed to darken his prospects or encourage his hopes for the future; and, towards the close of forty years, slavery maneuvered to enlist the sympathies of a few to purchase him; the diligence with which he summoned his energies while accumulating the final hundred dollars to pay for himself; also the zeal he further evinced in laboring to earn money to enable him to start on an expedition in search of his relatives; the success and joy he realized in finding his mother, etc. Yet his joy here was only to last for a brief time. His wife and children, whom he was compelled to leave behind in bondage in Alabama, dear as they had been to him in slavery, seemed now to demand a far greater share of his affection than ever before. Forty years of suffering having failed to conquer his determination to be free, he of all others was the very last man to feel that he could be comforted while his companion and children were still in bonds. Hence, when the efforts of Seth Conklin to rescue his family failed, and he was murdered for his Christ-like love in the cause, and when the owner could not be prevailed on to take a farthing less than Five Thousand Dollars for them (wife and three children), and sixteen hundred miles intervened between him and them, notwithstanding all these apparently insurmountable difficulties, his faith and affection demanded that he should make an undying effort to rescue them at all hazards. And with characteristic singleness of purpose he applied himself to the task of raising the required Five Thousand Dollars. And, to the astonishment of all his friends, at the expiration of four years' labor, he raised the entire purchase money, and, with his family again reunited to him, immediately settled in Burlington, N. J.
Being fully inured to toil, and withal possessed of rare qualities as a good manager, he was not long in finding a lot of ground which contained some ten acres, well adapted for raising track of all description, and likewise inviting as a home. This piece of ground he purchased, and on it built himself a comfortable cottage, barn, etc., which gave evidence of taste, industry, and prosperity. But this property could not he paid for and his home made comfortable without the most untiring exertions.
However, for his own benefit he was now to labor. Therefore with commendable industry very early in the morning he would be up and hard at work, eating no idle bread all the day long. His little farm, though made to produce under his culture full double its usual quantities, was much improved, as was generally observed, and the town people all being acquainted with "Uncle Peter," it was not hard work for him to induce them to buy his fine crops of early vegetables, poultry, etc.
During the past fall, feeling that he had about finished paying for his place, he remarked
to "Vivia" his wife that he might not be with her long, and as the house needed some repairs, he concluded that for her comfort he should attend to the matter immediately. Hence he engaged workmen and had the desired improvements made. But barely had the work been completed ere he was suddenly taken ill and died, leaving his faithful companion, ill in her room at the time, and a son and daughter, besides brothers and sisters, to mourn his loss. Nor were these relatives the only mourners. For in addition to the sympathies which his sufferings had naturally awakened, his unparalleled perseverance, integrity, sobriety and Christian deportment, absolutely commanded the admiration of the community generally.
He was connected with the Colored Baptist Church of Burlington, and was looked upon as one of the leading men in it. But seeing that the accommodations of his church would in all
probability prove too limited on the funeral service occasion, the First Baptist Church (white) magnanimously volunteered their commodious chapel, and the pastor thereof, in a truly Christian spirit, extended the utmost kindness throughout; and among others who spoke on the occasion, he made an impressive address bearing on the life and character of the departed. The concourse at the funeral was very large, consisting of white and colored persons indiscriminately. W.S.