The Research of Runaway Advertisements

During February in the year 1847, Charles G. Haslup near Savage Factory in what is today Howard County, Maryland made arrangements to place an advertisement in Baltimore’s The Sun newspaper. A few days before on Monday, David self-liberated from Charles’ enslavement. As can be seen in the advertisement, Charles was offering $20 to anyone who could find David and take him to a jail so that he could be returned to his position of servitude. But what was David’s position? The advertisement doesn’t provide any information about that, but does provide a description of David which can be read.

Baltimore Sun advertisement regarding David

David had been enslaved by Haslup, a name known by many in the local area due to him having been a Constable and Tax Collector. Imagine an eighteen year old, five foot tall “bright mulatto” with a velvet cap and striped vest on wearing an old pair of lace boots, and you’ll be meeting David when he decided to secure his freedom on his own. Charles Haslup was one of the people who placed his name onto the list of enslavers who wished to be financially compensated for his “losses” that were the result of slavery being ended for him by the state.

David’s name didn’t appear on Haslup’s list, but seven other people’s names were listed. Does that mean that David got away? No, it does not.

The reason that people shouldn’t make assumptions when viewing runaway advertisements is that it’s usually only a small part of the story. Was Haslup placing the ad because he was the enslaver, or was he just the agent for someone else? In David’s case, there was a fascinating story to be assembled about him that I will share here so that people know a bit more about what is involved when trying to get this right about the local Howard County story of this particular type of self liberation from enslavement.

First, David was captured by someone and put into jail to await Haslup. He was actually in the jail when Haslup placed the advertisement in The Sun. That probably resulted in a bunch of people scouring the area looking for someone that fit David’s description because Haslup or his agent paid to have the advertisement run seven times, though a $20 reward wasn’t much even for that time period. Was there a reason that it was so low? Maybe. It turns out that this wasn’t the first time that David had tried to self liberate from Haslup. Because of that, Haslup made a request to the court to be able to sell David out of the state of Maryland.

Courtesy of Maryland State Archives


Here’s where research patience and persistence come in handy. Haslup’s request wasn’t acted upon right away, and every day that David was in the jail meant the accumulation of jail fees that he’d be responsible for paying. So, David was released on February 12th, and back to Haslup he went. But there’s still more…

David didn’t get sold by Haslup. In 1848, Charles G. Haslup became the Sheriff of the Howard District and he’d remain the Sheriff until Howard became its own county in 1851.

While Sheriff, he made another request of the court regarding David in May of 1849. The Sheriff reported to have gotten possession of David’s mother through his father’s estate. David’s mother had been freed by this time, and she was recorded on the 1840 census as the free Black head of her household. Letty Daily had two boys under the age of ten living in her household with her, both born free.

1840 census with Letty

David was therefore still enslaved while he had younger siblings and a mother that were free. These were the circumstances that existed when David kept leaving Haslup’s. In 1849, Haslup’s legal request sought to sell him out of the state so that he could be compensated for the trouble and money he believed David’s actions had cost him. David was at the trial and heard it all. The court ruled to extend David’s enslavement period to a total of thirty two years, and authorized Haslup to sell him in or out of the state.

That’s not the end of the story though either.

By the time the 1850 census taker came around, he recorded the occupants of Sheriff Haslup’s household. His wife and children were recorded along with a sixteen year old girl he was enslaving.

Also in the household was Letty’s son David, recorded to be free.

Daily in Haslup 1850 household

What’s the likely conclusion as to how? Letty purchased her son David’s freedom from Sheriff Haslup, and then negotiated for his hire along with her son Wesley by the sheriff. Those two boys under ten recorded in her 1840 household? They may have been Plummer and Nathan who each asked that certificates of freedom be issued to them in 1860.

Plummer and Nathan’s certs courtesy of Maryland State Archives

Those connections are for another day and project. Our work will live online ultimately so that schools, etc can access and learn from these stories but we will also make them into a publication to achieve the same goal. We began our The Resistance Project some time ago by collecting data from multiple sources. Our event on September 1st is the public introduction of it. There are easily more than a hundred “runaway” situations involving the land that is now Howard County, and many were never advertised. Most had interesting stories like David’s, all were unique. The determination for where David may have been when he self liberated will lie from what property Haslup owned at that time. On the 1860 map, you’ll see that there are two for CG Haslup. Must be fully researched, and will be.


Sheriff Haslup died in 1876 and is buried in Savage at their family cemetery.

Courtesy of

Black History Event Feb 9th

For our nonprofit’s first event of many in the year that commemorates the anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation taking effect, an exciting presentation is being given about local Black history. The area that would eventually become Howard County was comprised of both free and enslaved Black and Mulatto people in the decades leading up to the Civil War. In this presentation, historian Marlena Jareaux will share some of her research that seeks to uplift the scholarship and collective understanding of free Black and Mulatto people who were living among white and enslaved people in the area. This event will be a hybrid one. Space in the Charles E. Miller branch of the Howard County Library has been reserved for Thursday, February 9th from 12:30 to 2pm, and masks are required to help protect the limited number of participants that will be permitted.

For more information and to register:

click HERE

Book Fundraiser

Hello friends…

As we all come to the end of another year, I am as usual reflecting upon the next year ahead. There is much to be excited about, and there is also much work to still do. Our nonprofit has only just begun (literally and figuratively) in our efforts to uncover and document the accurate local history of the county so that we can all better understand the climate and culture in which our county’s lynching (and near lynching) victims (and their descendants) lived. One of our biggest achievements in 2022 was our nonprofit’s sponsorship of the research effort that led to the discovery of a pre Civil War Black community in Ellicott City. A 200+ page book has been made with the findings, and those findings are the tip of the iceberg of additional material calculated to ensure that accurate local history is told and consumed by our visitors, residents and students.

It is my hope that those who enjoy our work will consider donating to our nonprofit by purchasing a book for themselves or others through our book fundraiser. The details of that fundraiser can be found be clicking the link below. It’s my hope that a new standard of research will be created in our county so that accurate history can be consumed by our visitors and residents. History evolves when new materials are discovered to augment it, but history also evolves when primary source documents are excavated to create products and presentations for consumption. Reconciliation for a community cannot happen until the truth is first known. Actually and to be honest, reconciliation can be done without the truth being known. It’s just not the way I wish to be involved in doing it for the place I love. Hopefully, a majority of the people feel the way I do. Marlena



On Tuesday, May 17, 2022, our organization will be hosting a hybrid event we are calling The Underground Railroad and a Log House in Ellicott’s Mills: The Findings. 

You can read more about it on Eventbrite, but here is a part of the writeup you will find there: is the expanded talk about the history of the log house (including who likely built it), and the nearby community of Black and Mulatto citizens who lived among the Ellicotts during the time when slavery was close to everyone. We will also discuss the two year period of 1861-1863 (during Civil War) in which there were about 30 enslaved and free Black and Mulatto people jailed in the Ellicott’s Mills district for activities surrounding slavery, and briefly touch upon our nonprofit’s submission of an application to the National Park Service’s Network to Freedom program, anchored by this research. This announcement is timely, since it is National Preservation Month!