This story has slipped by historians.
Lear Green lived at 153 South Broadway, Baltimore, MD. In 1857 she had friends pack her in a crate and carry her to the nearby Light & Pratt streets, loaded on a ship, and shipped to Philadelphia. She was escaping slavery, and there would soon be a $150 reward for her return.
She had a companion help make the trip safely, a free Black woman who was soon to be her mother in law. She was escaping to join William Adams and “fulfill the role of wife and mother.” Her companion, being Black, was forced to ride on the main, open deck, which gave her easy access to the shipping crates. As planned, she opened the crate through the night to make the trip easier for Lear.
After traveling for 15 hours, they arrived at Pier 3 in Philadelphia, where Lear was delivered to Barley Street. Lear and her companion traveled to Elmira, NY.
Elmira had a rather large Black enclave. It was a stopover for the Underground Railroad between destinations from the South and Canada, but many travelers would choose to stay in Elmira. Either for the community or to work on the Underground Railroad.
Lear and William did marry but choose to stay and live their lives in Elmira. The Black part of town was called Slabtown because of how the homes were built, and this became their home. The Black part of town was not poor, quite the opposite. It would be considered middle class by today’s standards with several Black shops and businesses.
Sadly, Lear only had a few summers with her husband. She died of unknown causes at the dawn of the Civil War. There is no further information about her husband.
Just one story from the Underground Railroad.
Today, the home she escaped from is 504 South Broadway in Baltimore. She was carried to present day Inner Harbor, a popular tourist destination.
In Elmira, NY, a camp was created for Confederate soldiers. It was notoriously called Hellmira. A local gravedigger made a small fortune burying the Confederate soldiers. His name was John W Jones and was, himself, an escaped slave from Leesburg, Virginia. (Just down the road from our home!). Lear and William would have known John because he was the conductor for Elmira’s Underground Railroad. He’s credited with helping over 800 people.