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.