DURING the autumn of 1836, a slaveholder by the name of Bacon Tate, from the State of Tennessee, came to the north in search of fugitives from slavery. On his arrival at Buffalo he heard of two of the most valuable of the slaves that he was in pursuit of. They were residing in St. Catharine’s, in Upper Canada, some twenty-five miles from Buffalo. After hearing that they were in Canada, one would have supposed that Tate would have given up all hope of getting them. But not so. Bacon Tate was a man who had long been engaged in the slave-trade, and previous to that had been employed as a negro-driver. In these two situations he had gained the name of being the most complete “negro-breaker” in that part of Tennessee where he resided. He was as unfeeling and as devoid of principle as a man could possibly be. This made him the person, above all others, to be selected to be put on the track of the fugitive slave. He had not only been [Page 110]commissioned to catch Stanford and his wife, the two valuable slaves already alluded to, but he had the names of some twenty others.
Many slaves had made their escape from the vicinity of Nashville, and the slaveholders were anxious to have some caught, that they might make an example of them. And Tate, anxious to sustain his high reputation as a negro-catcher, left no stone unturned to carry out his nefarious objects.
Stanford and his little family were as happily situated as fugitives can be, who make their escape to Canada in the cold season of the year. Tate, on his arrival at Buffalo, took lodgings at the Eagle Tavern, the best house at that time in the city. And here he began to lay his plans to catch and carry back into slavery those men and women who had undergone so much to get their freedom. He soon became acquainted with a profligate colored woman, who was a servant in the hotel, and who was as unprincipled as himself. This woman was sent to St. Catharine’s, to spy out the situation of