Story of Former Cecil County Slave Who Escaped on Underground Railroad Told in New Program in Salem County, NJ

Edward Richardson (wearing part of his Civil War uniform) and his wife Fanny Sturges on the occasion of their marrigage.  Photo courtesy of Susan Richardson-Sanabria and The Salem County Cultural & Heritage Commission Blog, 7 Steps to Freedom.

Edward Richardson (wearing part of his Civil War uniform) and his wife Fanny Sturges on the occasion of their marrigage. Photo courtesy of Susan Richardson-Sanabria and The Salem County Cultural & Heritage Commission Blog, 7 Steps to Freedom.

The Salem County Cultural & Heritage Commission recently launched” 7 Steps to Freedom,” an interpretive program using cell phones, mobile technology and the internet to explore African-American History and the Underground Railroad in Salem County, NJ.  The commission also has a blog to share information and there is a post that readers of Window on Cecil County’s Past will find of interest.

Edward Richardson, a former slave from a Cecilton plantation, was born Oct. 15, 1841.  After escaping on the Underground Railroad to Salem County, he settled in Woodstown.  There, aided by Quakers, he established a new life and served as a member of the United States Colored Troops in the Civil War. .

A relative researching the soldier’s life in 2011 told Today’s Sunbeam: “I am humbled by the faith and perseverance that my great-grandfather demonstrated in orchestrating an escape from a Maryland plantation where he had been born to make his way in unfamiliar territory as a fugitive, find work, become a soldier and return to marry, support and raise a family.  According to oral history he was a very hard worker and somewhat of an entrepreneur who managed to purchase a thrasher so that he could make extra money using the machine o thrash other farmer’s crops as well he his own.”

Last Christmas we were on a holiday house tour in Woodstown and while the host showed us through one of the properties I noticed this old piece of framed school board correspondence on a wall.  A closer examination showed that it was signed by Edward Richardson.

Check out the blog post from the Cultural & Heritage Commission and the newspaper article for additional details.  The photo is courtesy of the Heritage Commission.

By-the-way, we have listened to the commission’s new tour and it is excellent, giving us an informative introduction to the African-American Heritage in Salem County, NJ.

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