Thursday, February 14, 2008

Runaway Slave-A case study

It is so sad and hard to believe that less than 150 years ago, most african american people in this country were held as slaves. They were treated as property of others and when lost(purposely because they often ran away), reward ads were put in the paper in an attempt to get them back.

Here is one such ad that I found regarding a young man named Adam.

TWENTY DOLLARS REWARD-Ranaway from the subscriber, on
the morning of the 1st December. the negro boy ADAM, aged about 14 years,of usual size for his age,a front tooth out,stutters when spoken to;a smooth black face,a scar on the right eye; had on a tweed coat,with plaid lining,with old striped shirt;don't walk straight.The above reward will be paid for his arrest and delivery to me.
New Levae
Source: The Daily Picayune, December 9, 1849

This poor young man was only 14 years old. By today's standard's, he would be in Middle school, possibly listening to R and B or rap music, playing video games or sports and flirting with the young girls his age or working hard in school to get grades so that he can someday become a doctor or a lawyer or maybe even president! The ad says that he was of usual size for his age, a front tooth out, stutters when talked to, a smooth black face except for a scar on his eye. These are tale-tell signs that this young man had been beaten and mistreated which may explain why his tooth was out and a scar was on his eye. Did this young man stutter because he was talked to so harshly his voiced trembled from fear to the point his words did not come out right? Plus, the article said he did not walk straight. Was this also due to a brutal beating? I can't say for sure but there was a definite reason the young man felt the need to run away in the dead of winter, December 1st. It had to have been cold outside.

The article ran in 1849. The owner of this young man was listed as a Leopold Dalshiemer. I looked him up on the 1850 census and discovered that he owned a Clothing Store and was from France.His net worth was $5,000. A lot in those days.
(I wonder if that is why Mr. Dalsheimer could describe so well what young Adam was wearing. Was it because his clothes came Dalsheimer's clothing store?)By 1860, Leopold Dalsheimer aged 53 (born 1807) and his wife Adel and their 6 children had relocated to Baton Rouge.

I also found Leopold Dalshiemer on the 1850 slave schedule from when he was still in in New Orleans with 2 black female slaves, one 30 year old and the other 8 years old. He also appears on the 1860 slave schedule with 2 slave slaves, a 17 yr old mulatto female and a 12 year old mulatto girl. None of these slaves appear to be young Adam which means either he was successful in his getaway, he was returned and sold, or he could have been murdered.

Unfortunately, I was not able to locate Adam on the census after slavery ended because I did not know his last name. I even tried looking under the Slaveowner's last name, Dalsheimer on the chance he could have been wearing his name but with no success. Even if he had worn it at one time, if he was able to escape safely, he probably would have changed his name.

Anyway, what I can say is that we are so fortunate that God delivered us as a people and a nation from this kind of life of brutality on mankind. We should be grateful that our own children today are not subjected to this kind of brutality. In reading this, it is my hope that this young made a successful getaway or lived to see freedom in 1865. If neither was the case, by now, he has passed on to glory and made his permanent escape to the freedom of heaven!


Anonymous said...

Your web site is great!

Here is the url of the blog from the Archives of the Sandusky Library, if you would like to take a look:

Dorene Paul, Reference Assistant

Anonymous said...

Leopold Dalsheimer was my great-great-great grandfather. I want you to know that I am appalled and saddened that anyone in my family was involved in the exploitation of others in such a brutal way. There is no excuse. I, like you, hope that young Adam escaped and made his way to a life of freedom.