These records cover more than 300 recorded escapes from Missouri --including more than two dozen newspaper-identified stampedes-- during the period between 1840 and 1865. The total number of freedom seekers documented here exceeds 1,500 people, with more than half from the wartime period. Newspaper articles and runaway advertisements provide the sources for these escape episodes. In all cases, we have indicated the proper source citation and in any case involving stampedes, we have also provided the full-text transcription of the actual newspaper coverage.

View All Escapes // 1840s // 1850s // 1860s

Displaying 51 - 100 of 474

During the summer of 1851, an enslaved woman named Missouri, around 24-25 years old, was granted permission to visit her sister in St. Louis, but she "violated the confidence reposed in her and left, and is now at large," slave master Robert Caldwell declared much later.

Start Date:
Tuesday, July 1, 1851
Numbers:
1
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Freedom

Three freedom seekers, and a man named B. Thompson who had been sentenced to 10 years in the state penitentiary for "negro stealing," escaped from the Lauderdale county jail in what contemporaries called a "stampede." Along with them was a man named Thomas Boyd, imprisoned for assault and battery. 

Start Date:
Saturday, March 27, 1852
Numbers:
3
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

On Tuesday, April 27, 1852, an enslaved man named Harrison escaped from Bridgeton in St. Louis county. His enslaver, a man named Edwards, advertised a $100 reward for Harrison's recapture. 

Start Date:
Tuesday, April 27, 1852
Numbers:
1
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

Reports that a U.S. deputy marshal was in Rochester with warrants under the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act prompted the flight of at least three individuals fearing recapture. According to contemporary accounts, it was believed that these three individuals--and possibly more--had previously escaped from slavery and taken refuge in New York. 

Start Date:
Thursday, May 13, 1852
Numbers:
3
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

A 14-year-old enslaved child named Harris escaped from his enslaver in St. Louis. His slaveholder, P.D. Papin, promised that anyone who recaptured Harris would be "liberally rewarded."

Start Date:
Saturday, May 15, 1852
Numbers:
1
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

An enslaved person was captured aboard a steamboat en route to Alton, Illinois. 

Start Date:
Saturday, May 15, 1852
Numbers:
1
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Recapture/Death

On Monday, May 24, 1852, an enslaved man named Jerry, around 23-24 years old, escaped from Elk Grove in Lafayette county, Missouri. His enslaver, James Backley, advertised a $200 reward for Jerry's recapture. 

Start Date:
Monday, May 24, 1852
Numbers:
1
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

On June 27, 1852, a roughly 19-year-old enslaved man, who was not named, escaped from Portland in Callaway county, Missouri. His enslaver suspected "there is another Negro man in company with him, who may have free papers," and advertised a $100 reward for the man's recapture. 

Start Date:
Sunday, June 27, 1852
Numbers:
1
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

A 26-year-old enslaved man named George escaped from the small village of Ohio in St. Clair County, Missouri. His enslaver, John Means, offered a $150 reward for George's recapture. 

Start Date:
Thursday, July 1, 1852
Numbers:
1
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

Sometime during the early summer of 1852, four enslaved people escaped from Palmyra, Missouri. Two were recaptured by an Illinois sheriff near Quincy.

Start Date:
Thursday, July 1, 1852
Numbers:
4
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Mixed

On Monday, July 5, 1852, a 22-year-old enslaved man named Bill escaped from Howard county, Missouri. His enslaver, G.W. Walker, Sr., advertised a $100 reward for Bill's recapture. 

Start Date:
Monday, July 5, 1852
Numbers:
1
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

On Tuesday, July 13, 1852, four enslaved people escaped from St. Louis: 23-year-old George (or William Johnson), who had a free wife in St. Louis, 36-year-old John, 20-year-old Henry, and 16-year-old Isaac. Their enslaver, John Mattingly, advertised a $400 reward for their recapture.

Start Date:
Tuesday, July 13, 1852
Numbers:
7
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

On Thursday, July 15, 1852, a roughly 20-year-old enslaved man named Henry escaped from Beaufort in Franklin county, Missouri. His enslaver, Pierce N. Butler, advertised a $100 reward for Henry's recapture. 

Start Date:
Thursday, July 15, 1852
Numbers:
1
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

Two enslaved people, Barry, held by slaveholder William Spratt, and an unnamed enslaved person held by John J. Reese, were dressed as Indians and helped to escape by two New England-born white emigrants, Samuel and Miriam Clements. The group was overtaken, the freedom seekers re-enslaved and the Clements convicted to two years in the Missouri penitentiary 

Start Date:
Thursday, July 15, 1852
Numbers:
2
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Recapture/Death

On Wednesday night, July 28, 1852, six enslaved people, who were not identified by name, escaped from Pendleton county, Virginia. Three were held by a local attorney and slaveholder named Z. Dyer, two by another attorney, Cyrus Hopkins, and another claimed by Elijah Stonestreet. Their ultimate fate remains unknown. 

Start Date:
Wednesday, July 28, 1852
Numbers:
6
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

In the summer of 1852, an enslaved man named Abner, around 24 years old, escaped from Jonesboro (modern-day Napton) in Saline county, Missouri. His enslaver, C.E. Smith, advertised a $150 reward for his recapture. 

Start Date:
Sunday, August 1, 1852
Numbers:
1
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

On Saturday night, August 7, 1852, some 14 enslaved people, both men and women, escaped from Washington county, Maryland. All were claimed by a slaveholder identified as Mrs. Pendleton of Hagerstown, Maryland, who had hired out (or rented) the enslaved people to work throughout surrounding Washington county. Pendleton offered a sizable $1,400 reward for their recapture. Days later, the freedom seekers were captured at Harrisburg.

Start Date:
Saturday, August 7, 1852
Numbers:
14
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Recapture/Death

On Tuesday night, August 24, 1852, seven heavily-manacled men escaped from the infamous Arterburn slave pen in Louisville, Kentucky. The Louisville Courier described it as a "stampede," and suspected the seven freedom seekers were "lying out" in cornfields near the city, a common resistance tactic adopted by enslaved southerners. Their ultimate fate is unknown. 

Start Date:
Tuesday, August 24, 1852
Numbers:
7
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

On Saturday night, September 4, 1852, eight enslaved workers from the Valle mines coordinated a stampede through Ste. Genevieve.  Three of the enslaved men --Isaac, Joseph and Bill-- escaped from Valle Lead Mines in Jefferson county, some 30 miles west. Their escape was coordinated with five other freedom seekers from the town of Ste. Genevieve where the Valle family lived.  These young men (all named in a runaway advertisement) included Bernard, Edmund, Henry, Joseph and Theodore.

Start Date:
Saturday, September 4, 1852
Numbers:
8
Outcome:
Recapture/Death

On Tuesday night, September 7, 1852, eight enslaved people--five men, a woman, and two children--escaped from Mason county, Kentucky apparently "in concert," in what the Maysville Eagle termed a "stampede." Although the fate of the eight freedom seekers is unknown, the group escape prompted calls for slaveholders to ramp up their patrols. 

Start Date:
Tuesday, September 7, 1852
Numbers:
8
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

On Saturday, September 25, 1852, an enslaved man named Anderson, aged about 25 years old, escaped from Rocheport in Boone county, Missouri. His enslaver, Moses U. Payne, advertised a $150 reward for Anderson's recapture. 

Start Date:
Saturday, September 25, 1852
Numbers:
1
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

On Saturday night, September 25, 1852, seven enslaved people, who were not identified by name, escaped from Wood county, Virginia for "parts unknown." Six of the freedom seekers were claimed by slaveholding lawyer William Spencer, while the seventh escapee was held by the estate of the deceased enslaver George W. Kincheloe. The freedom seekers' ultimate fate remains unknown, though the Baltimore Sun commented that "stampedes have been very frequent this season in that vicinity."

Start Date:
Saturday, September 25, 1852
Numbers:
7
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

On Sunday night, September 26, 1852, a group of 31 freedom seekers escaped from Augusta and Dover, Kentucky. Slaveholders pursued the freedom seekers to Ripley, Ohio, where they found some of the escapees' belongings and managed to recapture three. But African American residents of Ripley threatened to resist the slaveholders' efforts with violence if necessary, and local authorities refused to cooperate with the white Kentuckians.

Start Date:
Sunday, September 26, 1852
Numbers:
31
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Violence, Recapture/Death, Freedom, Mixed

On Saturday, October 16, 1852, a group of 16 enslaved people escaped from near Hagerstown, Maryland. Fifteen of the freedom seekers were claimed by slaveholding lawyer Elias Cheney, and another person held by lawyer Alexander Mitchell. A $1000 reward was offered for their recapture. Their ultimate fate remains unknown. 

Start Date:
Saturday, October 16, 1852
Numbers:
16
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

On Sunday, October 31, 1852, approximately 25 enslaved people escaped from Bourbon county, Kentucky on horseback. Some of the freedom seekers were recaptured near Blue Licks, Kentucky, while others were believed to have crossed the Ohio river. Several Kentucky slave catchers visited Cincinnati days later, but apparently without success. The fate of the remainder of the freedom seekers is unknown. 

Start Date:
Sunday, October 31, 1852
Numbers:
25
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Recapture/Death, Mixed, Unknown

Two enslaved men and a woman board a train and escaped from south of West Liberty, Kentucky. But on the train a former local judge, Don Piatt, recognized the three freedom seekers, who belonged to a relative. Piatt persuaded the three freedom seekers to disembark with him at West Liberty, with promises that he would pay them for their labor. Antislavery activists, however, doubted the sincerity of Piatt's motives and freed the three freedom seekers through a writ of habeas corpus.

Start Date:
Monday, November 15, 1852
Numbers:
3
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Freedom

An enslaved man named Johnson escaped from St. Louis and made his way to Alton, Illinois, where he was recaptured by two St. Louis policemen. 

Start Date:
Monday, November 15, 1852
Numbers:
1
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Recapture/Death

Sometime in early 1853, a slaveholder recaptured a freedom seeker at a black settlement in Illinois called Wood River.

Start Date:
Saturday, January 1, 1853
Numbers:
1
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Recapture/Death

On Saturday night, January 15, 1853, nine freedom seekers escaped from Cumberland, Maryland in a "stampede." Eight of the escapees were claimed by J.G. Lynn, a slaveholding attorney, and the ninth person by another attorney, Joseph Dilley. The nine freedom seekers charted a course some 25 miles into Bedford county, Pennsylvania, where they were overtaken by slave catchers. The eight freedom seekers claimed by Lynn were all recaptured.

Start Date:
Saturday, January 15, 1853
Numbers:
9
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Recapture/Death, Mixed, Unknown

An unidentified enslaved man escaped from a St. Louis jail and traversed the Mississippi by steamboat, but his location was given up by a free African American, and Missouri slave catchers recaptured him. 

Start Date:
Tuesday, February 1, 1853
Numbers:
1
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Recapture/Death

On Saturday night, April 2, 1853, 25 enslaved people escaped from Boone county, Kentucky. Reports suggest they may have travelled north, through Cincinnati to Preble county, Ohio, where Underground Railroad activists reported that "twenty-four Fugitives passed through." This account may have been referencing the same group of freedom seekers.

Start Date:
Saturday, April 2, 1853
Numbers:
29
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Freedom

On Sunday, April 17, 1853, a 23-year-old enslaved man named Jack escaped from Farmington in St. Francois county, Missouri. His enslaver, D. McKenzie, advertised a $100 reward for Jack's recapture.  

Start Date:
Sunday, April 17, 1853
Numbers:
1
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

On Saturday, April 23, 1853, an enslaved man named Lewis, about 25 years old, escaped from St. Louis. His enslaver, Henry L. Tevis, advertised a $100 reward for his recapture. 

Start Date:
Saturday, April 23, 1853
Numbers:
1
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

In mid-May 1853, a group of 15 enslaved people escaped in a "stampede" from Ray county, Missouri, bound for Iowa. "Several" were recaptured in Grundy county, but "the larger number" successfully escaped. 

Start Date:
Wednesday, May 11, 1853
Numbers:
15
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Mixed

Three enslaved people escaped from slaveholder R. Meek in Weston, Missouri. A report noted that the freedom seekers were "making for the Plains." However, two were later recaptured. Contemporary reports described the escape of these three bond people as part of a wave of recent "slave stampedes" unsettling the institution throughout western Missouri. 

Start Date:
Wednesday, May 18, 1853
Numbers:
3
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Mixed

In Cape Girardeau, Missouri, an altercation between two enslaved men, Adam and Edmund, resulted in Adam stabbing Edmund "several times with a knife." Edmund's wounds were believed to be fatal, while Adam escaped the custody of the local authorities. 

Start Date:
Sunday, May 29, 1853
Numbers:
1
Outcome:
Violence, Unknown

On June 26, a young enslaved woman named Maria, between 18 and 20 years old, escaped from central township outside of St. Louis. Her enslaver, Margaret Boswell, advertised a $100 reward for Maria's recapture.

Start Date:
Sunday, June 26, 1853
Numbers:
1
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

On Saturday night, July 16, 1853, a roughly 28-29-year-old enslaved man named Jerry escaped from the steamboat George Collier. The captain of the vessel, James W. Goslee, advertised a $200 reward for Jerry's recapture. 

Start Date:
Saturday, July 16, 1853
Numbers:
1
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown
On Sunday, August 7, 1853, an enslaved man named John or Louis, around 33-34 years old, escaped from Lafayette county, Missouri. Louis was raised in Mason county, Kentucky, where according to his master, "he was a notorious runaway," a practice he had kept up in Missouri. Since being sold to western Missouri, slaveholder M.W. Flournoy groused, John "has twice eloped and gone west out of Missouri to the Indian country, where he spent some months among the Shawnee and Pottowattomie Indians, having changed his name to John." Flournoy advertised a $100 reward for John's re-enslavement. 
Start Date:
Sunday, August 7, 1853
Numbers:
1
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

On Sunday night, August 14, 1853, four enslaved people escaped from the Henderson, Kentucky residence of slaveholder Jackson McClain. Weeks earlier, an enslaved woman had attempted to set fire to McClain's house, and now the other enslaved people he claimed were openly resisting through what local papers called a "stampede." Then on Monday night, August 15, reports circulated that "five or six more" enslaved people had escaped from McClain.

Start Date:
Sunday, August 14, 1853
Numbers:
10
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown
On Monday, August 15, 1853, an enslaved man named Sam escaped from Fayette in Howard county, Missouri. Sam had been hired out to W.W. Mitchell in Fayette, where he had worked along the Missouri river, and his enslaver, J.F. Riggs, suspected that Sam "will probably endeavor to secret himself on board of some steamboat and make his way to St. Charles or St. Louis." Riggs advertised a $200 reward for his recapture. 
Start Date:
Monday, August 15, 1853
Numbers:
1
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

On Sunday, August 28, 1853, an enslaved man named Thomas Jefferson escaped from Hancock Bottom in Warren county. His enslaver, A.H. Kunzel, advertised a $100 reward for Jefferson's recapture. 

Start Date:
Sunday, August 28, 1853
Numbers:
1
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

On Wednesday night, September 14, 1853, five enslaved people--including three young women--escaped from near Maysville, Kentucky. They crossed the Ohio river near Ripley, Ohio, and managed to elude slave catchers. 

Start Date:
Wednesday, September 14, 1853
Numbers:
5
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Freedom

Sometime in October 1853, eight enslaved people escaped from Mason county, Virginia. They were claimed by slaveholders named Beale, Bateman, Capehart, and Mrs. Lewis. The freedom seekers' ultimate fate remains unknown. 

Start Date:
Saturday, October 15, 1853
Numbers:
8
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

On October 29, 1853, around 11 enslaved people escaped in what was described as a "stampede" from Palmyra, Missouri. Later in February 1854, a local paper reported that over $15,000 in human "property" had been lost as a result of the enslaved Missourians' mass flight from bondage.

Start Date:
Saturday, October 29, 1853
Numbers:
11
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Freedom

Three enslaved people, Charles, Phillis and Jesse, were helped to escape from Boonville, Missouri by a Canadian man named Francis Moss. They were recaptured, and Moss sentenced to five years in prison. 

Start Date:
Tuesday, November 15, 1853
Numbers:
3
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Recapture/Death
Two enslaved people held by wealthy St. Louis citizen Pierre Chouteau, jr. procured a horse and buggy, crossed the Mississippi via a ferry, and then purchased tickets aboard the Chicago & Alton Railroad, riding the cars to Chicago and freedom. Later two black men from near Alton were charged with assisting the runaways, but neither was convicted.
Start Date:
Sunday, December 4, 1853
Numbers:
2
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Freedom

On Monday night, December 12, 1853, nine enslaved people escaped from Covington, Kentucky. Five of the freedom seekers were claimed by Covington mayor Bushrod W. Foley. They apparently traveled near Cincinnati, passing through Cumminsville, Ohio on their way north, reportedly continuing on to Canada.

Start Date:
Monday, December 12, 1853
Numbers:
9
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Freedom

Around 30 years old, an enslaved blacksmith named Charles escaped from his enslaver in St. Louis during the winter of 1853-1854. His slaveholder, R. Bartlett, advertised a $400 reward for his return. 

Start Date:
Sunday, January 1, 1854
Numbers:
1
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown
An enslaved man named William Turner escaped with two other enslaved Missourians, who were not identified by name, reaching Chicago. Their slaveholders, St. Louis residents George Taylor and John H. Fellows, dispatched three slave catchers, George and John Buchanan, and William Grant, journeyed to Chicago in September 1854 in pursuit. The slave catchers were jailed by local authorities, and returned to Missouri empty-handed. 
Start Date:
Sunday, January 1, 1854
Numbers:
3
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Freedom