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 101 - 150 of 474

An 18-year-old enslaved woman named Mary fled slaveholder Sophia Chouteau in St. Louis on January 17, 1854. Chouteau advertised $100 reward for Mary, who was fluent in French. 

Start Date:
Tuesday, January 17, 1854
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

Sometime in early 1854, an enslaved family in Henry county, Kentucky attempted to escape.

Start Date:
Wednesday, February 1, 1854
Numbers:
5
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Recapture/Death
Around 35 years old, an enslaved woman named Martha Ann escaped from St. Louis with "a large quantity of good Clothing." Her enslaver, A.T. Bird, advertised a $100 reward for her recapture. Later, a Milwaukee paper ran a letter from an "agent" of the Underground Railroad, who sardonically informed Bird that "Martha Ann... reached us by last night's train" and was safely in Canada West. 
Start Date:
Sunday, February 19, 1854
Numbers:
1
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Freedom

An enslaved man named Israel, who also went as Ephraim, escaped from a steamboat near St. Louis on March 25, 1854. His enslaver, R. Bartlett, advertised a $100 reward for his recapture. 

Start Date:
Saturday, March 25, 1854
Numbers:
1
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

An enslaved woman named Emily, roughly 20 years in age, escaped from St. Louis wearing "a dark domestic gingham dress" on the evening of April 5, 1854. Her enslaver, Samuel Rodgers, offered a $25 reward for her recapture. 

Start Date:
Wednesday, April 5, 1854
Numbers:
1
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

Sometime in April 1854, a "stampede" of enslaved people occurred from Richmond, Virginia. The freedom seekers apparently escaped by water, prompting the Richmond Dispatch to propose a fleet of slave patrol ships, composed of "one or more fast-sailing vessels," to monitor for freedom seekers. 

Start Date:
Saturday, April 15, 1854
Numbers:
5
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Freedom

On Tuesday, April 18, 1854, an enslaved man, unnamed, escaped from St. Joseph, and was pursued and recaptured by a white Missourian some distance to the north at Savannah, Missouri. The escapee was reportedly in "an emigrants wagon," and the owner of the wagon claimed "that he took him up as a runaway and intended putting him in Andrew County Jail." 

Start Date:
Tuesday, April 18, 1854
Numbers:
1
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Recapture/Death

On Tuesday night, April 18, 1854, six enslaved people escaped from slaveholder H.B. Morris's residence, located some two miles north of St. Joseph. A St. Joseph paper suspected that the freedom seekers would attempt to cross the Missouri river, and seethed that "Abolitionists and Negro Stealers are about."

Start Date:
Tuesday, April 18, 1854
Numbers:
6
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

On Sunday April 23, 1854, a roughly 24-year-old enslaved woman named Mahale, or Mary Walker, fled carrying a bible with her name and date of birth inscribed in it. Her enslaver, H.B. Moreland, noted that he still had possession of her son, and advertised a $100 reward for her recapture. 

Start Date:
Sunday, April 23, 1854
Numbers:
1
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

An enslaved woman named Eliza, estimated to be 16-17 years old, escaped from St. Louis. Her enslaver, F.W. Stephenson, advertised a $50 reward for her recapture. 

Start Date:
Monday, May 1, 1854
Numbers:
1
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

On Saturday, May 6, 1854, a roughly 40-year-old enslaved man named Jefferson escaped from near Marthasville in Warren county, Missouri. His enslaver, A.D. Kunzell, advertised a $100 reward for Jefferson's recapture. 

Start Date:
Saturday, May 6, 1854
Numbers:
1
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

An enslaved man named Isaac escaped from Augusta in St. Charles county, Missouri. His enslaver, M.A. Clay, offerd a $50 reward for his recapture. 

Start Date:
Saturday, May 6, 1854
Numbers:
1
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

On either May 17 or 18, 1854, an enslaved woman named Sarah escaped from St. Louis with her nearly four-year-old son, whose name was not recorded. Her enslaver, prominent St. Louis resident Henry Shaw, offered a $400 reward for their joint recapture.

Start Date:
Wednesday, May 17, 1854
Numbers:
2
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

An enslaved woman named Ellen, aged around 36 years, fled slavery in St. Louis on Sunday evening, May 21, along with her children Martha and Esther, 8 and 6 years old respectively. Her enslaver, Charles Cornover, advertised a $300 reward for their return. 

Start Date:
Sunday, May 21, 1854
Numbers:
3
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

On May 26, 1854, a roughly 17-year-old enslaved woman named Cordelia fled St. Louis. Her enslaver, W.D. Holliday, advertised a $50 reward for her recapture.

Start Date:
Friday, May 26, 1854
Numbers:
1
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

On Saturday night, May 28, 1854, around 20 enslaved people escaped from near Falmouth, Kentucky. Ten were claimed by slaveholder A. Robins, another six held by enslaver Charles A. Aulick, and "several others" by other slaveholding Kentuckians. The freedom seekers were "immediately pursued," though their ultimate fate remains unknown.  

Start Date:
Sunday, May 28, 1854
Numbers:
20
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

On Monday, May 29, 1854, an enslaved man named James, roughly 18 years in age, ran away from slaveholder B.S. Garland's property four miles outside of St. Louis. Garland offered a $200 reward for his return. 

Start Date:
Monday, May 29, 1854
Numbers:
1
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

On Saturday night, June 10, 1854, three freedom seekers escaped from near Richmond in Madison county, Kentucky for "parts unknown." One was claimed by slaveholder Colonel D. Irvine, and two by enslaver Samuel Stone. Their ultimate fate remains unknown.

Start Date:
Saturday, June 10, 1854
Numbers:
3
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

Around Sunday, June 11, 1854, a group of nine freedom seekers escaped from Boone county, Kentucky to Ohio. Once on Ohio soil, however, they were recaptured, brought before U.S. Commissioner John Pendery in Cincinnati, and remanded to slavery. 

Start Date:
Sunday, June 11, 1854
Numbers:
9
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Legal Action, Recapture/Death

On Sunday, June 11, 1854, a group of 40 enslaved railroad workers escaped while constructing the Clarksville and Ridgeway Railroad, near Lynnesville, North Carolina. Their ultimate fate remains unknown. 

Start Date:
Sunday, June 11, 1854
Numbers:
40
Outcome:
Unknown

On Tuesday night, June 13, 1854, 23 freedom seekers escaped from "Grant and adjoining counties." Journeying to the Licking River, the freedom seekers "lashed together" a series of canoes, and rowed to the Ohio River, charting a "circuitous route" to northern Cincinnati. Reports suggested that the next day, they were "off on the route to Canada by the underground railroad."

Start Date:
Tuesday, June 13, 1854
Numbers:
23
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Freedom

On Thursday, June 15, 1854, an enslaved man named Jim or "Haskins" escaped from St. Louis. His enslaver, John W. Burd, offered a $100 reward for his recapture. 

Start Date:
Thursday, June 15, 1854
Numbers:
1
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

On Sunday, June 18, 1854, an enslaved man named Hezekiah, around 23 years in age, escaped from St. Louis. His enslaver, R. Bartlett, advertised a reward of $100 for his recapture. 

Start Date:
Sunday, June 18, 1854
Numbers:
1
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

An enslaved man named Charles escaped from Berlin, Missouri, near Lexington and Dover in Lafayette county, reportedly taking a skiff and using it to navigate to freedom. His enslavers, the firm of Gratz & Shelby, advertised a $100 reward for his recapture.

Start Date:
Friday, June 30, 1854
Numbers:
1
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

Sometime during the summer of 1854, a 35-year-old enslaved man named Wilson escaped from Missouri, and was captured in New Orleans. There, he informed the jailor that he was held by an enslaver named "Mr. Crane, of the State of Missouri, or to Mr. Talbot." 

Start Date:
Saturday, July 1, 1854
Numbers:
1
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Recapture/Death

Sometime in late June or early July 1854, a group of seven freedom seekers escaped from Maysville, Kentucky. Their fate remains unknown. 

Start Date:
Saturday, July 1, 1854
Numbers:
7
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

In the early summer of 1854, three enslaved people escaped from Palmyra, Missouri. The freedom seekers were recaptured in Illinois.

Start Date:
Saturday, July 1, 1854
Numbers:
3
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Recapture/Death
A report from the LaGrange, MO Bulletin noted that sometime in early July 1854, four enslaved people escaped from Howard county, and were recaptured near LaGrange. Slaveholders blamed this escape on abolitionists from Quincy. The newspaper in Quincy responded by commenting: "We are getting a little tired of this disposition of our Missouri friends to lose their equilibrium, and charge that every slave stampede that takes place originates in this city."
Start Date:
Saturday, July 1, 1854
Numbers:
4
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Recapture/Death

An enslaved man named Nelson escaped from near Florissant, Missouri in mid-July 1854. 

Start Date:
Saturday, July 15, 1854
Numbers:
1
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown
A report from the LaGrange, MO Bulletin detailed the escape of four enslaved people, who were not identified by name, and accused "the sympathetic Abolitionists of Quincy" of "enticing" the bond people away. The Quincy Whig responded by ruminating that their Missouri neighbors "charge that every slave stampede that takes place originates in this city." According to reports, the group's escape was successful. 
Start Date:
Saturday, July 15, 1854
Numbers:
4
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Freedom

On Saturday, August 19, 1854, two enslaved men, Frederick Ellis and George Johnson, both aged around 26 years old, escaped from St. Louis. Their enslaver, James Bissell, advertised a $600 reward for their recapture. 

Start Date:
Saturday, August 19, 1854
Numbers:
2
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

On Wednesday, August 30, 1854, an enslaved man named Andreds escaped from St. Louis. His enslaver, Rawin Fyrne, advertised a $200 reward for his recapture. 

Start Date:
Wednesday, August 30, 1854
Numbers:
1
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

Within the span of one week in early September 1854, nine enslaved people escaped from the vicinity of Lexington, Missouri.

Start Date:
Friday, September 1, 1854
Numbers:
9
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

At three o'clock on Friday afternoon, September 1, 1854, 32-year-old Elizabeth, 28-year-old Sophia, and Elizabeth's 11-year-old son Lewis escaped from slavery in St. Louis. Their enslaver, W.G. Pettus, suspected that they had "been seduced from my service by a thieving Abolitionist scoundrel." Pettus offered a $300 reward for the trio's recapture. 

Start Date:
Friday, September 1, 1854
Numbers:
3
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

On Sunday, September 3, 1854, nine freedom seekers escaped from Boone county, Kentucky. Reports suggested that they were taking refuge in Cincinnati, but their ultimate fate remains unknown. 

Start Date:
Sunday, September 3, 1854
Numbers:
9
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

On Monday, September 4, 1854, an enslaved man named Governor Scott,  about 31 years old, escaped from slavery in St. Louis County. His enslaver, Richard Graham, offered $200 for Governor's recapture. At the same time, Governor's brother Henry Scott and 16-year-old nephew Washington Anderson escaped. The three men reached Chicago. Anderson later moved to Indiana, where a jury found him guilty of grand larceny. Graham's son-in-law, D.M.

Start Date:
Monday, September 4, 1854
Numbers:
3
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Recapture/Death, Freedom, Mixed

Two enslaved men, Henry and Washington, escaped from near Florissant, Missouri on Sunday, September 10, 1854. 

Start Date:
Sunday, September 10, 1854
Numbers:
2
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

In late September 1854, the Lafayette, MO Express reported a "stampede" of enslaved African Americans from the town of Dover, Missouri. Suspicion immediately fell upon several Jewish men, who had allegedly "tampered with" local enslaved people. A meeting of local slaveholders ordered the Jewish men to leave town. Then around early October, a group of the freedom seekers, enslaved by S.W.

Start Date:
Sunday, September 24, 1854
Numbers:
10
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Recapture/Death, Unknown

On Saturday night, September 30, 1854, around six enslaved people escaped on horseback from Pendleton county, Virginia. Some were claimed by slaveholder and general James Boggs, a resident of Pendleton county. The freedom seekers' fate remains unknown. 

Start Date:
Saturday, September 30, 1854
Numbers:
6
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

On Saturday night, October 21, 1854, "another stampede" occurred from Bourbon county, Kentucky, in which around 15 enslaved people took flight. One freedom seeker was subsequently captured near Fairview, Kentucky, and two others were sighted, but not recaptured, days later near Mays Lick. The fate of the remaining freedom seekers remains unknown. 

Start Date:
Saturday, October 21, 1854
Numbers:
15
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Recapture/Death, Mixed, Unknown

On October 21, 1854, a 14-year-old enslaved child named Dangerfield escaped from slavery in St. Louis. His enslaver, Thomas Skinker, advertised a $100 reward and speculated that Dangerfield "may possibly be yet in the city."

Start Date:
Saturday, October 21, 1854
Numbers:
1
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

On Sunday night, October 22, 1854, a group of 15-20 enslaved Missourians escaped from St. Louis via boat and disembarked at Keokuk, Iowa, making their way across Wisconsin and reportedly to Canada.  A month later, another large group escaped from the city and also liberated themselves.  By December 1854, there was a sense of crisis among St. Louis slaveholders over "slave stampedes" and what they perceived as the escalating challenges to their tyranny over the enslaved.

Start Date:
Sunday, October 22, 1854
Numbers:
20
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Freedom

On Thursday morning, November 16, 1854, a 23-year-old enslaved man named Aaron escaped. His enslaver, Lucy B. Russell, offered a $150 reward for his recapture. 

Start Date:
Thursday, November 16, 1854
Numbers:
1
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

On Friday night, November 24, 1854, ten enslaved people escaped from St. Louis. Their names were Lunsford Johnson, 26 years old, Emily (or Adeline), aged roughly 20 years, and her three children, 4-year-old Ellen, 2-and-a-half-year-old Belle, and one-year-old Edmund. They were joined by a 26-year-old man named Spencer, a 27-year-old man named David and perhaps three others. They reached Chicago at the same time as four freedom seekers from St. Charles and three more from Ste.

Start Date:
Friday, November 24, 1854
Numbers:
17
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Freedom

On Saturday night, November 25, 1854, four enslaved people escaped from Central Township near St. Louis: 30-year-old Nathan, his wife Betsy "supposed" to be with him, Bill or Burl, aged 21 years, and Ned, around 24 years old. Their enslaver, Elizabeth Smith, advertised a $500 reward for their recapture. 

Start Date:
Saturday, November 25, 1854
Numbers:
4
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

Around Sunday, November 26, 1854, an enslaved woman named Betty, in her early 30s, escaped from St. Louis in company with her twenty-month old child, "which has a large head." Her enslaver, James C. Delancey, advertised a $100 reward for her recapture. 

Start Date:
Sunday, November 26, 1854
Numbers:
2
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

On Sunday evening, November 26, 1854, eight enslaved people--five men and three women--escaped from bondage in Bourbon county, Kentucky. Crossing the Ohio river aboard two skiffs, they reportedly passed through Cincinnati en route for Canada. Their enslaver, James Hatfield, pursued them to Cincinnati on Tuesday, November 28, but returned to Kentucky after learning that the freedom seekers were long since gone. 

Start Date:
Sunday, November 26, 1854
Numbers:
8
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Freedom

Around Sunday, November 26, 1854, four enslaved people escaped from St. Charles, apparently in coordination with two near-simultaneous group escapes from Ste. Genevieve and St. Louis (described as a second "stampede" from St. Louis in just over one month). They reached Chicago in early December, and gained their freedom following a botched rendition attempt under the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law. 

Start Date:
Sunday, November 26, 1854
Numbers:
4
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Freedom

Around Sunday, November 26, 1854, three enslaved people escaped from St. Genevieve and successfully made their way to Chicago. This group escape appears to have been coordinated with two near-simultaneous escapes from St. Louis and St. Charles that altogether constituted a second "stampede" from St. Louis in just over one month.

Start Date:
Sunday, November 26, 1854
Numbers:
3
Outcome:
Freedom

On Monday, December 4, 1854, a 20-year-old enslaved man named Moses escaped from St. Louis. His enslaver, W.G. Gibbs, advertised a $200 reward for Moses's recapture.

Start Date:
Monday, December 4, 1854
Numbers:
1
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown