Still, The Underground Railroad, 559-565.
In the summer of 1856, fifteen freedom seekers boarded the schooner of Captain Baylis at Norfolk. William Still identified them: Isaac Foreman, Henry Williams, William Seymour, Harriet Taylor, Mary Bird, Rebecca Lewey, Sarah Saunders, Sophia Gray, Henry Gray, Mary Grey, Winfield Scott, and three children. After 15 hours they approached a canal lock. This timing and the presence of a lock places them at the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. This was the only canal with locks in a direct voyage from Norfolk to Philadelphia. Still noted that “at the lock not unexpectedly three officers came onboard and stopped her,” indicating that searches at the canal were not unusual. In this case a telegram from Norfolk prompted the search, and the officers informed the captain “that his boat was suspected of having slaves secreted thereon.” After questioning Captain Baylis, the mate, and the captain’s son, the only information of importance that they learned from them was that “the yellow fever had been raging very bad in Norfolk.” This had the desired psychological effect on the searchers, as the malodorous air below decks hinted of yellow fever and curtailed the search. Had the schooner rounded Cape Charles and entered the Atlantic Ocean, the captain would have avoided canal locks and the risk of a search. But the captain choose the canal route as the wiser option. Still presents one of the reasons the canal route was the wiser option in his next narrative on Captain Baylis, which I will post next week.
 Still, The Underground Railroad, 559-565.
Freedom Seekers and Freedom Stealers along the Mason - Dixon Line
Milt Diggins, M. ed., an independent scholar, author, public historian, and public speaker.