Page:Women of distinction.djvu/95

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49
WOMEN OF DISTINCTION.

of Ardinburgh, residing in Ulster county, N. Y. Isabella was one of many human chattels owned by this family; and although it seems that she was somewhat a favorate slave, yet she in after years vividly remembered the cold, wet, dark, sloppy cellar-room in which all the slaves of both sexes slept, having a little straw and, a poor excuse for a blanket as their entire bed outfit.

She also remembered the auction-block upon which she, at nine years of age, was sold to a John Nealy, of Ulster county, N. Y., for $100; the cruelty of her new owners; the frozen feet in winter with which she suffered, and, as Mrs. F. W. Titus puts it, "They gave her a plenty to eat and also a plenty of whippings." She had been taught by her mother to repeat the Lord's Prayer and to trust in God for all things and especially in times of trouble. This instruction she strictly adhered to and sought to be honest in all things.

However, she became the third lawful wife of a fellow-slave, Thomas, and was in after years the mother of five children. Often, when in the fields at work, she would place her babe in a basket suspended by a rope from the bough of a tree and let other little ones swing it to sleep. Sometime in 1817 the State made a law that all slaves forty years old and above should be free; others under were kept in slavery till 1827. Her master promised Isabella that if she would be real good and obedient he would give her free papers one year sooner, July 4, 1826.

When this long-looked-for day came he refused to keep his promise, and when the same date came in 1827 he also refused to comply with the law; so early one morning, as by "underground railroad," she left.