A Batch of Runaway Negroes--Excitement in Randolph County, Ill.

   Recently, ten or fifteen slaves have been abducted from the neighborhood of Fredericksburg, Madison county, and the event has stirred up considerable feeling in that part of this State. On Saturday, the 17th ult., three negroes belonging to D.M. Fox, and two belonging to JOHN M. GHOLSON, escaped and made tracks for Illinois. A large reward was offered for the recovery of the slaves, and a party was organized to go in pursuit of them. Believing the fugitives would proceed towards the town of Sparta, Randolph county, Ill., where there is a nest of Abolitionists and underground agents, the pursuing party went in that direction. On Monday night, the 19th, it being anticipated that the runaways would attempt to cross Gravel Creek bridge, between Chester and Sparta, eleven men, duly armed, were stationed there to intercept them. The negroes, who had joined some of those who had previously escaped from Fredericksburg, did make their appearance at the bridge, as had been expected. When they came up the white men rushed upon them, in order to surprise and secure them; but the fugitives were furnished with fire-arms, which they immediately began to use. A general melee ensued, in which one of Mr. GHOLSON's negroes was so badly wounded that he died in thirty-six hours, and it is supposed that two of Mr. FOX's slaves were slightly wounded. 

   One of the party stationed at the bridge, named WEATHERINGILL, was arrested for the killing of of GHOLSON's negro and conveyed to the jail at Chester, where he was locked up to await trial. The news of his arrest greatly exasperated the citizens of Madison and adjoining counties, and a band of fifty or sixty persons was organized with the avowed design of releasing WEATHERINGILL from the Chester jail. They crossed over on Monday last, and their appearance in Chester excited the liveliest apprehensions. The Mayor of the city issued a proclamation and called upon the inhabitants to assist in repelling any attack that might be made upon the jail for the rescue of the prisoner alluded to. A large number assembled, in which there were from thirty to forty armed with muskets and other weapons, but their appearance did not seem to deter the Missourians from their purpose. Everything indicated a scene of confusion, havoc and bloodshed, until Mr. FOX personally called upon the mob to disperse, and made a speech to them begging them to desist and return peacefully to their homes, leaving WEATHERINGILL in the hands of the law. The appeals of Mr. F. had the desired effect and the meditated assault upon the county prison was abandoned. 

   Mr. Fox was in this city yesterday. He thinks the negroes have made their way to Chicago, and believes he has laid a train which will lead to their capture. He also reports that two persons, residents of Fredericksburg, have been arrested for running the slaves off, and have confessed to having done so. They are incarcerated in close quarters, and will be tried in Madison county at the Fall term of the Circuit Court. 


"A Batch of Runaway Negroes," St. Louis (MO) Republican, October 8, 1859

Related Escape / Stampede
Location of Stampede
Coverage Type
Location of Coverage- City
St. Louis
Location of Coverage- State
Contains Stampede Term