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The public OCR text of a Baltimore Sun article from Saturday, December 3, 1842 is not a primary source document, however it did serve as a starting point for the research my partner and I began to do on Samuel Meads. This article identified Samuel Meads as a “colored man” who had been arrested for “aiding and abetting in the escape of four slaves” from the city of Baltimore. This text enabled us to find out the names of the arresting officers, the judge, the attorneys, and two witnesses. The text also told us that Meads took the slaves “just beyond Bel Air” in a carriage from Baltimore and that his bail had been increased from $300 to $1,000.
Baltimore Sun Collection, Ledger: May, 1842-Dec. 1842, Saturday December 3, 1842, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, AOK, Special Collections.
My partner was able to locate the original Baltimore Sun article from the Baltimore Sun Newspaper collection housed in the Albin O. Kuhn Library, Special Collections at UMBC. The original arrest report appeared on December 3, 1842.
Baltimore City Jail (City Criminal Docket) 1842-1844, C2057, December 1842, 1104, MSA C2057-6, MdHR#: 6662.
The Baltimore Sun sources led us to the Baltimore City Jail Criminal Docket for 1842-1844 where we hoped to find out more about the outcome of Meads’ trial. The criminal docket for “Samuel Meeds, col’d,” reiterated some of the information from the Baltimore Sun and indicated that the trial was scheduled for Dec 16, 1842. The inclusion of the trial date was important for enabling us to track the aper trail of Meads’ arrest. It was also helpful to see that his name was spelled differently than it had been in the Baltimore Sun article, because that let us know we might have to consider different spellings as we continued our search for Samuel Meads.
Baltimore Sun Collection, Ledger: May, 1842-Dec. 1842, Saturday December 17, 1842, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, AOK, Special Collections.
Identifying the trial date in the Baltimore City Jail Criminal Docket allowed for further research into the Albin O. Kuhn Library, Special Collections at UMBC. My partner was able to locate an article from the Baltimore Sun dated Saturday, December 17, 1842 that re-examined Meads’ arrest. This article provided us with the names of the people who owned the enslaved people Meads had helped. They were Mr. Uriah Carpenter, Mrs. McSweeny, Mr. W. Whitman, and Mr. William Reese. Identifying the slave owners helped us plan the next course of our research: looking for any information relating to the owners. It is often better to start researching the slave owners as they would have more of a paper trail. For example, their names might be attached to runaway ads or property records.
Baltimore Sun Collection, “Runaway Advertisements, Mary Turner”, Ledger: May, 1842-Dec. 1842, Tuesday December 8, and Wednesday December 9, 1842, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, AOK, Special Collections.
We used the database at the Maryland State Archives Legacy of Slavery in Maryland website to search for these owners’ names. We were able to find a runaway ad placed by Uriah Carpenter and my partner was able to locate the original document at the Albin O. Kuhn Library, Special Collections. The ad described a “One Hundred Dollars Reward” for the return of one “Mary Turner” who apparently was also known as “Mary Small.” The ad included a physical description of Mary, including her age, approximate height, skin color, figure, and scar. The ad also indicated Mary was “rather surly when spoken to.” The ad also helped us locate Uriah Carpenter’s residence at the “corner of Sharp and Hill streets, Baltimore.”
Baltimore Sun Collection, Ledger: Jan, 1843-April 1843, Monday March 6, 1843, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, AOK, Special Collections.
This article detailing the outcome of State vs. Samuel Meads provided us with important information about Meads and helped us confirm the identities of the slaves he had assisted. Of course, it also gave us the result of his trial. Samuel Meads was, according to this document, a “free mulato.” This is important because it suggests that, as a free man, he was able to move more freely than an enslaved person. This accounts for his ability to aid in the escape of slaves.
The document connected the names of the slaves with that of their owners, helping us to find the full names of slave owners as well as an alternative spelling for Caroline McCeny (Mrs. McSweeny) and two more aliases for Mary Turner: Mary Smallwood and Maria Turner.
The case “occupied nearly two days in the development” and that two of the slaves whom Meads’ helped were present to testify against him and to confirm that they knew him before their escape. Meads’ acquaintances provided him with an alibi and the somewhat surprising outcome of the trial, based on this evidence, was that Samuel Meads was found not guilty.
Adapted from Annotated Bibliography for Samuel Meads by Kymberly Peters and Robin Martin