I wanted to share this family photo of Sarah Ann Pownall with the community. Location: Christiana, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania Date: Around 1851.
Sarah and her family were Quakers which meant they were very much anti-slavery. In 1851, William Parker, a free slave who was living on Sarah's farm in Lancaster County, and hiding other slaves fleeing from the southern states, got into a battle with slave owners from Maryland (just a few miles to the south)
One slave owner was shot and killed, and his son was injured. Several Quakers and former slaves in the area were arrested and tried for treason against the US government. They all had to be released because there was insufficient evidence of their involvement. The fact that the US government were unable to win trials against the freed slaves was a major embarrassment.
The reason for these trials was thanks to the very nasty Slave Fugitive Act, passed in 1850, that allowed slave owners to come north of the Mason Dixon Line and recapture their slaves to return them to the south.
The act also REQUIRED locals from the northern states to turn over any runaway slaves they knew about. But sometimes even freed african-americans were captured and sent into slavery. (Such as Solomon Northrup for example - see the movie 12 Years a Slave).
The Quakers of Pennsylvania were vehemently anti-slavery and refuse to help the slave owners. Instead they helped the Underground Railroad to hide and help slaves obtain their freedom either elsewhere in the northern states or in Canada.
There is a plaque in Christiana (See Sarah's profile) that mentions William Parker, the slave who stood up to the slave owners. Sarah and her family hellped William get to freedom in Canada. Sadly, Sarah died the following year in 1852. This information came from the WDYTYA TV episode for Zooey Deschanel - who is the 4x great granddaughter of Sarah Henderson Pownall.
Click here for the image details page or here for the full-sized version (1143 x 957).