Washington County PAGenWeb
AUSTIN BRYANT’S STORY
Submitted by Lorraine
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 PART 1: THE RANDOLPH RUSE
Read Introduction to the
Observer-Reporter Newspaper Articles
READ Part 2: A SLY MASTER OUTWITTED : Old George’s Story continues
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