Emancipation Looms .... We’re almost there....

It was William Still, a successful merchant and a leader in the fight against slavery, who once said to his charges, ‘Don’t get too giddy. You may have reached the free state of Pennsylvania, but there are still bounty hunters ready and waiting to take you back.’

William Still was a free black man and he was one of many that assisted the fugitive slaves in one of the last legs of their journey to freedom. William Still helped as many as 60 slaves a month escape to freedom, interviewing each person and keeping careful records.. During one interview of an escapee, he discovered that the man, Peter Still, was his brother.

Back in the 1600's, the whaling boats of New England, as well as fishing and trading vessels took Africans aboard to work. These black sailors gained valuable knowledge of the geography, languages and customs of many free ports. This information became important as these sailors became members of the Underground Railroad.

A few words from the book ‘The Life of Josiah Henson’. ‘I brought my family out of the bush and watched the vessel in the distance lower a boat which made for the shore. In a few minutes, a black friend and two sailors assisted myself and my family into the vessel and then onto the awaiting ship. On the morning of the 28th of October, 1830 we arrived on the Canadian side.'

 
 

Our block for the month of October, and our second to last block is the ‘Sail Boat’. It was a symbol of safe passage as all the slaves knew that the only way to freedom would be across the great lakes and rivers into Canada. By 1851 some 300,000 slaves had fled north to Canada.

So, once again, each participant must find a block pattern with the name ‘Sail Boat’. The size of your finished block is completely up to you. If you have any trouble drafting a block to your required size, email Katy with your original block diagram, and the finished size that you want, and she will redraft it for you. When you have finished your block, post a picture on the forum for everyone to enjoy or email a photo to: katy.purvis@myhobbystore.com
 
Underground Railroad Sampler quilts grew from the belief that quilts made with specific block patterns were used as signals to communicate a message to the African American people escaping from slavery in the US by travelling in secret to Canada. In recent years quilt historians and academics have debated over whether quilts really did feature as a widespread method of communication, and you can read about this in Xenia Cord's article, The Underground Railroad