29. William Still Interpretive Center

Tragedy and Triumph on the Road to Freedom

William Still’s mother Sidney and four of her children lived in a house similar to this on Alexander “Saunders” Griffith’s plantation. Her husband, Levin Still, had been set free in 1798 by his young enslaver and resettled in New Jersey, hoping to bring his family there. Around 1806, Sidney escaped with her four children, but was soon recaptured.

After being locked away for three months, she was released and promptly fled again. In a heartbreaking decision, she was forced to leave behind two sons, Peter and Levin. Enraged by her actions, Griffith sold the two boys to slave traders from Kentucky. After joining her husband in New Jersey, Sidney renamed herself Charity, and the Stills raised a large family there. William, born in 1821, was the youngest of 18 siblings.

William Still became educated and moved to Philadelphia where he became Chairman of the Philadelphia Vigilance Committee of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society, assisting in the escapes of an estimated 1,500 freedom seekers. Harriet Tubman frequently passed through Still’s office, seeking protection and support for her rescues.

In 1850, Still realized that one of the men he was assisting was his own lost brother Peter, who had been sent to Alabama by his Kentucky enslavers years earlier. Peter’s later memoir, The Kidnapped and the Ransomed, raised enough funds to purchase his enslaved family. William Still’s documentation of more than 1,000 freedom seekers was published in 1871 as The Underground Railroad, one of the most important and authentic records of the operations of the Underground Railroad in history.

The Interpretive Center celebrates the Still family’s own daring and heart-wrenching struggle for freedom from bondage through escape, resettlement, and later, Underground Railroad activity. The center, housed in a historic one room “cottage” from 1820, features a period “slave cabin” interior, exhibits and a “garden patch” highlighting foodstuffs common in gardens cultivated by Eastern Shore enslaved people.

Information

Address

4-H Park, Detour Road
Denton, MD 21629

GPS Coordinates: 38.833305,-75.833382

Practical info
  • 4-H Park
  • Picnic pavillions
  • Restrooms
  • Conference Center
  • Exhibits

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