All four men had experienced hardships under bondage, but Samuel’s story revealed the most brutality. “Sam had just arrived at his maturity (twenty-one), when he was invited to join in the plot to escape. At first, it might be thought strange, why one so young should seek to escape. A few brief words from Sam soon explained the mystery. It was this: his master, as he said, had been in the habit of tying him up by the hands and flogging him unmercifully; besides, in the allowance of food and clothing, he always ‘stinted the slaves yet worked them very hard.’”
Still clearly indicated in his detailed report that the four men had plotted and escaped together. But when the party arrived in New York City, Sydney Gay slightly blurred the event in his record. Gay listed all four men together, noted they fled from Sassafras Neck, and that he sent all of them to the next stop in Syracuse. He stated that the two brothers were first helped by “2 colored men” and then assisted by Isaac Flint, a Wilmington abolitionist. But he said nothing about the other two men receiving any help before arriving in Philadelphia. Did Gay omit the detail as unnecessarily redundant, that what applied to the two older men applied to the two younger men as well?
ADDING LOCAL INFORMATION:
Still and Gay used variant spellings of the Reybold family name. The Reybold family was a prosperous family in Delaware with land holdings in Delaware and Maryland. The map below shows the location of the properties of Anthony Reybold and an additional property simply labeled Reybold, suggesting several family members used the land at that site. William Reybold was Anthony’s brother, and apparently shared property with Anthony, which would explain how Henry Chambers would have had contact with Samuel Fall and Jonathan Fisher. The Reybold properties are located on Grove Neck, an isolated area of Sassafras Neck, and enslaved workers would have had limited contact with workers from other farms. As for the fourth member of the party, John Chambers, Still stated he was hired out at the time of his escape, but did not say by whom. Considering the remoteness of the Reybold properties, it is reasonable to assume that John was hired by someone on Grove Neck, possibly even one of the Reybolds, and this gave him the opportunity to plot an escape with his brother and the other two men. The distance to Wilmington, their first stop on the Underground Railroad was close to forty miles.
Note: William Still identified Samuel’s “owner” as Anthony Reybold in his journal, dated on the day of arrival, but when he transcribed to his book he accidently changed the name to William Reybold. Sydney Gay confirmed that Samuel identified Anthony Reybold as the “owner.”
Still, Underground Railroad, 338; Still, Journal C, January 30, 1856.
Sydney Gay’s record, January 31, 1856.