“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.