“No, I never got anything from a single one of the people I carried over     the river to freedom. I didn’t want anything; after I had made a few trips     I got to like it, and even though I could have been free any night myself,     I figgered I wasn’t gettin’ along so bad so I would stay on Mr. Tabb’s place     and help the others get free. I did it for four years.

“I think Mr. Tabb used to talk a lot to Mr. John Fee; Mr. Fee was a man who     lived in Kentucky, but Lord! How that man hated slavery! He used to always     tell us (we never let our owners see us listenin’ to him, though) that God     didn’t intend for some men to be free and some men to be in slavery. He used     to talk to the owners, too, when they would listen to him, but mostly they     hated the sight of John Fee.

“In the night, though, he was a different man, for every slave who came through     is place going across the river he had a good word, something to eat and some     kind of rags, too, if it was cold. He always knew just what to tell you to     do if anything went wrong, and sometimes I think he kept slaves there on his     place ’till they could be rowed across the river. Helped us a lot.

“I almost ran the business in the ground after I had been carrying the slaves     across for nearly four years. It was in 1863, and one night I carried across     about twelve on the same night. Somebody must have seen us, because they set     out after me as soon as I sterred out of the boat back on the Kentucky side;     from that time on they were after me. Sometimes they would almost catch me;     I had to run away from Mr. Tabb’s plantation and live in the fields and in     the woods. I didn’t know what a bed was from one week to another. I would     sleep in a cornfield tonight, up in the branches of a tree tomorrow night,     and buried in a hay pile the next night; the River, where I had carried so     many across myself, was no good to me; it was watched too close.

“Finally, I saw that I could never do any more good in Mason County, so I     decided to take my freedom, too. I had a wife by this time, and one night     we quietly slipped across and headed for Mr. Rankin’s bell and light. It looked     like we had to go almost to China to get across that river; I could hear the     bell and see the light on Mr. Rankin’s place, but the harder I rowed, the     farther away it got, and I knew if I didn’t make it I’d get killed. But finally,     I pulled up by the lighthouse, and went on to my freedom—just a few months     before all of the slaves got theirs. I went on to Detroit and still live there     with most of 10 children and 31 grandchildren.



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