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Narrative of Samuel Scomp

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Date: 30 Jun 1826 [unknown]
Location: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United Statesmap
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Deposition of Samuel Scomp

as published in

The African Observer. United States: I. Ashmead, printer, 1827.


City of Philadelphia, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Mayor's Office,
June 30, 1826.

Samuel Scomp, deposeth that he is about sixteen years of age; that he is the bound servant of David Hill of New Jersey, was to serve Mr. Hill until he was 25 years old, ran away from his said master and came to Philadelphia in the summer of the last year 1825, was at Market street wharf, in water melon and peach time; a small mulatto man named J. Smith, spoke to deponent to help him bring a load of water melons from the Navy Yard up to Market street wharf, for which Smith was to pay him a quarter dollar; they walked down town, below the Navy Yard and the Rope Walks, clear of all the houses when a little boat came ashore from a small sloop[1] at anchor near the middle of the river; Smith asked the white man in the boat if he had water melons to sell, said he had plenty; when they got on board, a white man by the name of Joseph Johnson, asked them to go into the cabin to take a drink; they did so, no persons but themselves were in the cabin; Joe Johnson came down in a few minutes, crossed deponent’s hands and tied them with rope yam, at the same time he tied Smith’s hands in the same way, (this was about 8 o'clock in the morning) Johnson said to deponent, that deponent's father and himself were slaves and had run away from him in Maryland, that this was the first time he had seen him since; had a large Spanish knife, with which he threatened to cut his throat if he resisted or made a noise. John Smith sat still in the mean time, Joe Johnson then untied Smith and told him to be off, and not let him catch him there again; there was no peaches, or melons, or corn, or other cargo on board the sloop, she was ballasted with stone; saw Smith in the boat going ashore, a white man lifted the hatch of the sloop and put him below and came down and put a round horse lock on his legs; thinks this man's name was Collins, for he heard Joe Johnson as they went afterwards through a corn field call him by that name. When deponent was put into the hold of the sloop, he found Enos Tilghman and Alexander Manlove already there, Enos was in irons, Alexander was not; these boys told deponent they had been caught the night before, by the same John Smith. The same day a boy, who called himself Joe Johnson, a sweep, about 16 years old, was also brought on board by John Smith, and was also immediately put in leg irons. Cornelius Sinclair, (who was sold at Tuscaloosa) was the last one brought on board the sloop by John Smith, about an hour after the boy Joe Johnson; he also had leg irons put on him; Collins came down, and said to them, Now boys, be still make no noise or I’ll cut your throats. On the same night they got up the anchor and went down the river, and were on the water about a week, when they were landed, he don't know whether in Delaware or Maryland, about twenty miles from Joe Johnson's house, don't think the sloop was at sea on this occasion, they landed in a kind of pond about two hours after sun down, the irons were taken off their legs, and ropes tied round their necks, they were then marched through marshes, corn fields, and brushwood, until they were taken up by a carriage driven by Joe Johnson, and carried to his house; they were confined in a garret there in irons 24 hours, then carried to Jesse Cannon's on a Sunday night, by him (Cannon) and by Ebenezer F. Johnson; this was the first time the boys ever saw Ebenezer, they were kept at Jesse Cannon's about a week in irons in a garret. On a Saturday night they were put into a wagon with Mary Fisher, (and another woman, who said she was a slave named Maria Neal.) Mary Fisher declared she was a free woman, had been kidnapped, and carried to Patty Cannon's; they rode about three miles in the wagon, which was drove by John Smith the mulatto; Ebenezer Johnson and his wife, were behind in a gig; they were put into a boat and rowed on board of a larger sloop than the one they were first in on the Delaware; they were put into the hold in irons and kept so, the vessel went to sea for about a week, when they again landed, he don't know where; he don’t know either of the sloops' names, the last sloop was commanded by Robert Dunn, an old man who also cooked on board; Ebenezer Johnson and his wife and Jesse Cannon, were passengers on board, and helped to work the vessel. Deponent and fellow prisoners were then marched through Alabama, with the irons off in the day time, and put on always when they stopt; Cornelius Sinclair was parted from them, and said to be sold in Tuscaloosa, for 400 dollars, as he heard Ebenezer Johnson tell his wife; they had a one horse wagon with some provision and baggage, it was generally drove by the little boys Enos Tilghman and Alexander Manlove; the wagon was followed by Ebenezer and his wife in the gig ; the older and bigger prisoners walked as he believes 600 miles, until they arrived at Rocky Spring; believes they walked 30 miles a day, without shoes; when they complained of sore feet and being unable to travel they were most cruelly flogged; that deponent has received more than fifty lashes at one time; that himself, Joe and Cornelius, were most frequently flogged; their feet became frosted in Alabama; that on one occasion this deponent attempted to escape while in the Choctaw nation, but was caught by an Indian, and returned to Ebenezer Johnson, who flogged him with a hand saw and with hickories in a most dreadful manner; (the back of this deponent and his head, were dreadfully scarred by the repeated beatings be had received, (the party of prisoners except Cornelius, remained near a month and a half, near a small town called Ashville, within 16 miles of the Cherokee nation, low down in Alabama; Ebenezer Johnson owned a log house and some land there; they then proceeded to Rocky Spring; and when within 7 miles of Rocky Spring, Joe Johnson, one of the boys, died in the wagon in consequence of the frequent and cruel beatings he received from Ebenezer Johnson: deponent once heard Johnson’s wife declare that it did her good to see him beat the boys; Joe was lame and frosted in the feet, was very weak, and for near three weeks fell frequently as he walked; the weather was very cold in Alabama; about one day before he died he was severely flogged with a cart whip, he died in the wagon; Mrs. Johnson was in the wagon when he died; Ebenezer had previously sold his horse and gig and one horse wagon, and traded for a four horse wagon; they were all except the slave woman, taken from Ebenezer Johnson by Mr. John W. Hamilton, a planter, about seven miles east of Rocky Spring, who kept them and provided well for them, and took care of them for four or five months, until he took them to Natchez, put them on board of a steam boat and sent them to Benjamin Morgan at New Orleans, who procured them a passage to this port, where they arrived on the 29th inst [29 May 1826]. Mary Fisher, the woman, declined coming by sea, and preferred remaining with Mr. Hamilton, where she enjoyed the rights of a free woman; and further deponent sayeth not.

Samuel X Scomp
Witness present,
Adam Taquair

Sworn and subscribed before me,

the day and year aforesaid,

Joseph Watson, Mayor


  1. this would be the "Little John"

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