Past is Prologue

Clint Schemmer writes about history, heritage preservation and the American Civil War.  On Facebook: Past is Prologue  On Twitter: @prologuepast  ContactEmail Clint or call 540/374-5424.

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Stafford and fugitive slaves

George Mason University professor Spencer Crew spoke this morning on how pre-war slave escapes, sometimes with help the Underground Railroad, helped inflame whites’ fears and prompt a harsher clampdown on African Americans.

As examples of how the secret network and fugitive slaves stirred feelings North and South, he cited the cases–among others–of Georgia slaves William and Ellen craft and Richmond slave Henry Brown.

What he didn’t say is that the Crafts and Brown — who became internationally famous as Henry “Box” Brown — escaped to freedom through Stafford County long before the secession crisis loomed.

Their stories are utterly fascinating.

Stafford County and local historians have recently begin telling their stories — are are adding those of more slaves as they come to light — through ongoing research, wayside markers, maps, literature and a terrific website,