Search billions of records on

Washington County PAGenWeb


Submitted by Lorraine Perry


Austin Bryant is employed at the Fulton Hotel, Washington. Rumor ascribes to Austin a knowledge of matters and things he disclaims. Unwittingly he completed the story begun by Old George Walls, and pieced out by Ermin Cain from the place it should open until it fairly met Walls’ story.

“I don’t know as much about these matters as plenty of other people. I think Henry Bolden could tell you more – I know he could. You want to know the incident that impressed me most. Well, that happened, let me see, it was the year of the big frost. I think it was 1859. I was working at the Monongahela House, when somebody woke me up and told me a man wanted to see me. It was about two o’clock in the morning. I went down and out on First Street and saw a man named Tower Adams. Adams? Why he was a gunsmith – very active – took mighty active part in them days. He was a colored man and true as steel. He told me he had a party of nine at Jones’ Ferry. He wanted me to help take them up as far as the Hand Street Bridge. (presently the 9th Street Bridge, crossing the Allegheny River) He had to get back to Washington as soon as possible. I went down to the river and took them up to Hand Street. It was dark up there, and I don’t know who was about. Somebody was waiting for us. I didn’t stay to talk none, but got back to the Monongahela House just as soon as I could and went to bed again. It’s been a good while ago and has kind of faded out of my mind, but I’m purely sure it was the year of the great frost.”

Facts gleaned before these stories were related by the actors warrant the opinion that John Peck, Samuel Bruce and James McMasters, citizens of Pittsburgh, forwarded Ross’ slaves to Canada via Perrysville, Butler, Meadville, Mercer and Erie. This was one of the safest and speediest of the routes relied upon by the managers of the Underground railroad; indeed as will be seen in further articles it may be termed a trunk line. Pittsburgh was regarded as one of the hotbeds of abolitionism; once here, refugees were deemed comparatively safe. John Peck, wigmaker and hairdresser, who enjoyed the esteem of all who knew him, rarely failed to extricate members of his race from the most perilous positions, and in cases requiring extraordinary exertion he had in Mr. James McMasters a shield that might be termed a rock of defense.

Read Introduction to the Observer-Reporter Newspaper Articles


READ Part 2:  A SLY MASTER OUTWITTED : Old George’s Story continues




Blue mottled Spacer Line

Return to Home Page

This is the Washington County PAGenWeb Genealogy Project

Site Map

Submission Guidelines and Privacy Rights


Website updated by current webmaster from 2005 continuously through current year ; See Site History

To submit material for the website or to report a broken link, start your subject line with "WCPA" followed by specific subject and email me at:  Washington.Co.Pa.Webmaster AT     ( "AT" ).   I spend most of my time adding new material so please allow at least 14 days for a reply.

Notice: Links the webmaster gives to outside websites are provided to enhance your research and understanding of history and genealogy. However, The USGenWeb Project does not offer any endorsement of any outside sites or their contents.  This notice applies to all pages within the "Washington County PAGenWeb".

© 2006 to 2012 ;  2013 Judith Ann Florian, all rights reserved.  Website is updated weekly or monthly, as I receive submissions or when I complete a transcribing project. The materials (files) located on this website are the property of the webmaster and the contributors. Material is for personal research and may NOT  be included in any for-fee collection or publication.

History of this website - The first PAGenWeb Washington County coordinator was Jean Suplick Matuson [who developed She was followed by Georgeann Malowney [who took over], then Peggy Tebbetts, and lastly, Christina Hunt who each held prior copyrights over this website.  Each coordinator has contributed much to the preservation of Washington County genealogical information/history.

This Washington County PA website is a current member of PAGenWeb and the USGenWeb.

This page last updated Thursday, February 04, 2016