Still occasionally incorrectly recorded names he was unfamiliar with. One of the reasons for comparing Still’s narrative’s with local data is the opportunity to edit the record. In this case, the Cecil County Slave Registry identified the name of the enslaver. The other benefit from examining Still’s narrative locally is the chance that the location fled from will appear on a map. The location Fields fled from does appear on a map, and it is revealing. The name appears on the Cecil County Martinet map of 1858, in the eighth district, north of Port Deposit. Gillespie resided about two miles from the Mason-Dixon Line. Fields could have literally jogged into Pennsylvania in less than an hour.
Although Fields could have escaped on his own, as many freedom seekers did, the map reveals another piece of information that may have been relevant to the escape. Less than half a mile away was a Friend’s meetinghouse. Like the north side of this stretch of the Mason-Dixon Line, this part of Cecil County had a large percentage of Quakers. Before the boundary was surveyed to settle a border dispute between Lord Baltimore and William Penn, Penn had encouraged Quakers to settle in the dispute area. A Quaker opposed to slavery could have provided Fields direct assistance, like concealing him in the back of his wagon for a trip into Pennsylvania. Or a sympathetic Quaker could have given indirect aid, like mentioning where Fields could find help on the other side of the line. Whether Fields headed into Pennsylvania on his own or with some degree of help, it appears that he likely made an early entry into the Underground Railroad.
Unfortunately, one of the frustrations of researching the Underground Railroad on the south side of the Mason-Dixon Line is the lack of documentation. After the war stories of Underground Railroad activity on the north side of the line were openly shared. But for people actively engaged in assisting freedom seekers on the Maryland side the risk of being exposed was too great to keep records, and after the war it was still too risky to talk about. Revealing your role was a good way to have your barn burn in the middle of the night, before or after the war.