After McCreary and his accomplices kidnapped Rachel Parker in West Nottingham Township, they rushed into Maryland and headed for the train station at Perryville. The railroad was a tremendous innovation in land transportation, and its speed and convenience appealed as much to slave catchers and kidnappers as it would to any businessman in a hurry to get his merchandise to market. Only in McCreary case the merchandise was Rachel Parker and the market was a Baltimore slave pen owned by slave dealer James Campbell. While McCreary waited for the afternoon train to arrive at Perryville, two men at the station realized Rachel was a kidnap victim, not a captured fugitive slave. When McCreary and his accomplice, John Merritt, boarded the train with Rachel, the two bystanders decided to quietly follow them to Baltimore, and would later help the rescuers locate Rachel. After McCreary left Perryville, eight men from West Nottingham, hoping to rescue Rachel, arrived in town and confirmed that the kidnappers went there to catch the train. They would have to wait for a later train, around two o’clock in the morning, and would reach Baltimore by dawn’s early light.
In majority of McCreary’s known kidnapping and questionable slave catching episodes, the PW&B RR played a notable role. I did not include them in the report because they occurred at other stations on the PW&B line, except for one incident on the steam ferry at Perryville. That one was left out of the report because I overlooked it.
That case was either a kidnapping or a slave arrest using tactics that qualified it as a kidnapping. The gang busted into a home near Unionville, Pennsylvania around midnight without a warrant, dragged the victim out of bed, and crossed into Maryland without first taking the man before a judge in Pennsylvania to rule on the claim. The rescuers followed more closely than they realized. They discovered they were on the same train as the adductors and their neighbor Tom Mitchell, or Albert Ambrose, if you could believe John and Elizabeth Hayes of Elkton when they said he escaped from them twelve years earlier. It was not until the train reached Perryville and the passengers boarded the railroad ferry that the rescuers had the opportunity to approach Mitchell and talk to him, but McCreary rebuffed the effort.
Another incident involved a kidnapping in Philadelphia. Two of McCreary’s co-conspirators convinced Henry Brown, young black man, that a job awaited him in Wilmington. After boarding the train, Brown apparently had second thoughts and balked at the idea of going into a slave state. They were still in Philadelphia when they exited the train at the next station. McCreary and another man made an appearance to help convince the young man to make the trip to Wilmington. When words proved inadequate, McCreary resorted to his firearm and coerced Brown to board the train. When the party reached Wilmington, the trip was not over. They continued to Baltimore and McCreary pretended Brown was an escaped slave and sold him to a slave dealer.
Delaware kidnappers conspired with McCreary in an incident that ended near the Elkton station. They had kidnapped a man and an unrelated women, both limited-term slaves illegally removed from Delaware. The abductors traveled to Elkton, and planned on catching the train to Baltimore. Arriving too late, they imprisoned the two captives overnight at McCreary’s home near the station. In the morning the man refused to allow his captors to handcuff him, struggled over to the window as his captors tried to subdue him, and yelled out the window, creating a ruckus that drew a crowd and exposed the kidnapping plot.
When McCreary seized Elizabeth Parker a few weeks before kidnapping Rachel, he took her from to Baltimore by train. During the trip to Baltimore, the twelve year old was ordered to say she was an escaped slave. The man issuing the order, either McCreary or an accomplice, displayed a gun to augment his threats.
Kidnappers in southeast Pennsylvania and in Delaware wanted to take their victims to the nearest slave market. Pennsylvania obviously did not have a slave market. Delaware, although a slave state, did not allow the exporting of slaves and therefore did not have a slave market. Baltimore was the closest thriving slave market in the region. McCreary lived near the railroad depot in Elkton, the first station in Maryland that travelers from southeastern Pennsylvania and Delaware would arrive at. Considering McCreary’s location, his knowledge of Baltimore slave markets, and his ties to kidnappers and slave catchers operating in neighboring states, it is possible McCreary was serving as an intermediary for out-of-staters wanting to sell their victims in Baltimore.