My brother ran away from his enslaver. He was 13 years old, and he didn’t want to wait until he was in his 40s or older (like our father) before he MIGHT be given what he didn’t think his enslaver had the power to give or take from another human: freedom. So he tried to give it to himself. You likely know the story of someone who ran away the month before he did, because he was successful in freeing himself and got to talk about it: Frederick Douglass. You don’t know about my brother Sam, because he was caught and stories like his aren’t as widely told.

My parents lived long enough to tell me some of the things the men of power and influence in Maryland were doing to make it hard for us to stay here. Prospering here was a different story entirely. We lived through efforts to make us leave the state to live in Maryland, Liberia, laws that restricted our ability to assemble or visit places, and laws designed to make us NOT have the rights that free citizens were supposed to have. While I was alive, and before Maryland was forcibly made to end slavery by making a new Constitution for itself in 1864, there was no proof of freedom that was ironclad with the exception of being white. My story exemplifies this completely, because…

I was born free.

You wouldn’t think so with what I went through. Mine is a David vs Goliath type of story of what happened to me when I was what you now call a pre-teen that became a young adult during the events. It started before the Civil War, and I question whether it really ever ended.

I knew the family names of many of the men that any visitor or resident of Columbia, MD or Howard County, Maryland will have a familiarity with, due to riding on streets or entering buildings named for them. Some of them will be written about on this website, because they were important in terms of my family’s experience with them, but not important enough to be extensively written about in the upcoming book. There are enough books written about them. Some of the names are reserved for the book only, because some surprises shouldn’t be spoiled. Some places will also be written about on this website, to provide advance information for future readers (supplemental when the book comes out!). Columbia, MD, on “Top —- Best Places To Live” list, was built on top of a place that had a significant slavery past that is largely unknown to many. My story is going to help change that!

Some of the people you’re going to read about (list will grow with time):

John S. Tyson, because he was one of the attorneys that were hired to try to help keep me in forced enslavement as a child. You should always know who your opponent in battle is.

Judge Thomas B. Dorsey, Chief Judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals, and a few of his sons (2 who ended up being state’s attorneys), because they were involved in my family’s court case.

Charles Carroll V (grandson of the last living signer of the Declaration of Independence), for actions done while he was an Orphan’s Court judge. Those judges did more to impact our lives than most people are aware.

His grandfather, Charles Carroll of Carrollton, for different reasons that you’ll have to wait for via the book.

Many of the Warfields. They enslaved many of my ancestors, so you’ll meet them when you necessarily read about my parents. I am who I am largely because of who they were. I’ll just say now that many in that family would proudly say that no one had owned their land except for “God, the Indians and the Warfield’s”. My family’s story intersects with that pride of theirs, because it’s a story of them enslaving me in order to avoid selling their land to creditors.

Make that, THEY TRIED but my parents were not having it!!!

And then, there are many enslaved and free men, women and children that are coming along for the ride in the book, because it was time that their names see the light of day along with mine (where it made reasonable sense to do so). That’s what written history often times is for everyone looking back at it… the product of a decision made by someone or some institution to uplift stories of who lived somewhere (and what they did that is known at the time of writing) that we should pay attention to and maybe try to emulate.

I wasn’t surprised when ONE person in Howard County voted for Abraham Lincoln to be President!

You’ve heard the other stories. MY TURN.

2.1.10, The Central Maryland News — Know your County Series, 1964-1966, Box: 1, Folder: 10.0. Celia M. Holland papers, 0031-MDHC. Special Collections and University Archives, University of Maryland Libraries.