New York Herald, "A Mishap on the Underground Railroad," April 21, 1860

    Source citation
    "A Mishap on the Underground Railroad," New York Herald, April 21, 1860, p. 10: 6.
    Original source
    Nashville (TN) Patriot
    Newspaper: Publication
    New York Herald
    Newspaper: Headline
    A Mishap on the Underground Railroad
    Newspaper: Page(s)
    Newspaper: Column
    Date Certainty
    Zak Rosenberg
    Transcription date

    The following text is presented here in complete form, as it originally appeared in print. Spelling and typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.

    A Mishap on the Underground Railroad.


    (From the Nashville (Tenn.) Patriot, April 17.)

    Saturday morning last a dray was driven to the office of Adams' Express Company, Cherry street, and a large dry goods box rolled out upon the pavement. The box was addressed, "Mrs. Margaret M. Thompson, care of Levin Coffin, Cincinnati, Ohio." The driver stated that he was ordered to deliver it to the agent of the company, and request him to have it forwarded as addressed without delay. He then collected the drayage, and informed the agent that the person sending it would call round, pay carriage and get a receipt. The weight of the box was 266 pounds. The driver of the dray-or of the horse attached to the dray-then very innocently remarked, "Master, dats de curiosest box I ever saw; for every time I roll it over, the heavy side come down." The agent thought it a curious box too; but time was pressing, and he sent it down to the depot of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, whence it departed on the first train. What could it contain? What had Mrs. Thompson been getting in Nashville? Who could she be? And who was Mr. Coffin? The swift winged express did not wait to ask these questions. It bore the curious box along towards its destination, and in due time landed it at Louisville. Here it was hastened over to Jeffersonville and hurried on to Seymour. At Seymour another change of cars was necessary, and as the box was hastily rolled from the Jeffersonville to the Cincinnati and St. Louis train, the top accidentally came off and popped-what? For the life of you you couldn't guess. A startled crowd gathered around to see, and to their surprise, it turned up to be a full grown negro man! Here was a discovery in which there was something of the serious and a little more of the ludicrous. The negro perspired hugely-his eyed rolled up and down like one nearing the gate of the hereafter-but the fresh air soon revived him. In changing the box from the Louisville to the Jeffersonville cars it had been turned up so that he was head downward, and thus he made the trip from Jeffersonville to Seymour, nearly fifty miles. But for the mishap at Seymour in a few hours he might have been delivered in Cincinnati, probably to be buried-probably to take a further trip on underground railroad Canadaward.

    The negro was taken back to Louisville. He belongs to Mr. Newton McClure, of this city, and was shipped by a free negro named Nathan James. Whether James had any accomplices or not we are not informed. The matter will be thoroughly sifted; and we suspect some agent of the negro stealers will be found to have had a hand in it.


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