Caroline Quarlls - First Underground Railroad "Passenger" in Wisconsin



As Told by Her "Conductor," Lyman Goodnow

Caroline Quarlls, a 16-year-old fugitive slave from St. Louis, Missouri, was the first passenger on Wisconsin's "Underground Railroad" in 1842. While it is not clear that she ever "stepped foot" in Burlington, she was hidden on farms just outside Burlington in Spring Prairie township and was met and helped by several Spring Prairie and Burlington citizens, including Solomon Dwinnell, Josiah O. Puffer, George and Moses Arms, and Richard Chenery, of Spring Prairie, and Dr. Edward G. Dyer, of Burlington. Palmer Gardner, a resident of the Spring Prairie area adjacent to Burlington known as Gardner's Prairie, who later moved to Burlington, is also reported to have sheltered Quarlls in his home.

The following account of Quarlls' 1842 Underground Railroad journey appeared in The History of Waukesha County, Wisconsin. (Chicago: Western Historical Company, 1880, pages 458 - 466). It was written by her "conductor," Lyman Goodnow, of Waukesha (earlier known as Prairieville).

With bounty hunters closing in, Goodnow and Quarlls traveled by horse and wagon from the Prairieville area into the Spring Prairie area near Burlington, where she was hidden for several days, before they resumed their journey, by horse and buggy, through Illinois and Indiana, and into Michigan, where Caroline was taken across the Detroit River to Sandwich, Ontario, Canada, where she lived the rest of her life..

Similar accounts of Quarlls' journey -- each a version of Goodnow's account -- have appeared in other sources, including The Olin Album, 1893, by Chauncey C. Olin (Indianapolis: Baker Randolph Co., 1893, pages XXIII - XLI).


Caroline's last name has been spelled various ways in different sources. Quarlls is the spelling Caroline used in an April 23, 1880, letter she wrote to Lyman Goodnow (which appears later in this article). It is also the spelling used in her death certificate.

In the 1880 letter, Caroline states that her father's name was Robert Prior Quarlls. Other sources, including censuses from 1810 and 1820, show Robert Quarles. The copies of those censuses available on the internet did not include any "Quarlls," "Quarrels," or "Quarrells."

"Quarlls" is also the spelling used by the Quarlls-Watkins Heritage Project , a family history organization started by Kimberly Simmons, a great great great granddaughter of Caroline Quarlls Watkins. The Project is a National Program Partner with the U.S. National Park Service's Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.



By far the larger portion of the people of the present day have no correct idea of what meaning was intended to be conveyed by the term "underground railroad," as it was used in the early days of active Abolitionism. Very many think it was literally a railway for the passage of locomotives and cars beneath the surface of the earth, and have inquired where the ruins of one could be seen. For the purpose of properly explaining a term familiar to all Waukesha from thirty-five to thirty-seven years ago, if for no other reason, an extended account of how passengers traveled by that famous line might properly be given in this work; but there are still more weighty reasons for historically preserving such an account, as the first underground railroad established in Wisconsin had Waukesha for its northern terminus; was established by Lyman Goodnow, its first conductor, a Waukesha man, with some help from his neighbors, and the first passenger was Caroline Quarlls, whom he safely conducted by this line from Waukesha to Canada. Mr. Goodnow, still a resident of Waukesha, and whose mind and body are strong and active, tells the story substantially as follows:

"There probably was never more excitement in old Prairieville than during the search for, and escape of Caroline, a fugitive slave girl from St. Louis. In fact the whole county—then Milwaukee, was in a fermentation, and the leading citizens of the day, many of whom afterward became prominent in the State and nation, were the chief actors in that long-to-be-remembered drama of reality.

"A man by the name of Quarlls left Connecticut many years ago, emigrated to Virginia when the country was new, and was married to a squaw. His son's son was the father of our heroine; so that probably her great-grandmother was a squaw. Mrs. Hall, her mistress, was her father's sister, and her own aunt. Caroline came into the hands of this aunt on the death of her father. Caroline was an octoroon, probably. She had a straight nose, thin lips, skin not very dark, and a slender form of medium height. Although quite intelligent, she could not read or write. She was fifteen or sixteen years of age when in Waukesha. Her master was Charles R. Hall, a merchant at St. Louis, who formerly lived in Kentucky. Caroline was probably never badly abused while in bondage, though occasionally whipped in addition to being deprived of her freedom. She was brought up to do fine sewing, embroidery, and probably to wait upon her mistress. She was not allowed to attend church on the Sabbath, but was locked in the house to "scrub paints," as she called it.

"Although her mother was dead, Caroline had a stepfather, who never had been a slave, and who made quite a pet of her. The jewelry she had while here probably came from him, for he was well off, with a good trade, that of a blacksmith.

"Caroline wished to be free. She meditated on the subject for a long time, listened to all the talk about the North for a year or more, and conversed with her stepfather on the subject, though no one suspected her intention. Her mistress became angry at her one day, and cut off her hair, which was long and beautiful. That decided her to run away as soon as possible. She was some time in perfecting her plans. She managed in some way to possess herself of $100, and when the opportunity came for her to go, threw a bundle of clothes out of the window, after obtaining permission of her mistress to go and see a sick girl of her acquaintance. She kissed the sick girl, bade her good-bye, went back, picked up her clothes, and walked down to the ferry. The boat was just ready to start, it being about 5 o'clock P. M. Caroline must have had some experience in traveling, for she went up with unsuspicious naturalness and bought a ticket to Alton, Ill., where there was a school for young ladies. She wore a quantity of rich jewelry, stayed on deck in the daytime, with other young ladies, and when there was dancing she danced. She thus excited no suspicion, being no darker skinned than many other of the young ladies who attended the seminary. I suppose she acted a little strange at Alton, for a colored man, who was at the wharf, asked her if she was a slave escaping, and she said "no;" but he watched her, and making up his mind differently, told her if she was, not to stay in Alton. So after staying a day, the darkey put her on the stage for Milwaukee. She rode night and day till she reached that city. As she left the stage at the Milwaukee House, she saw a colored man by the name of Titball, who was a barber, and went to him, supposing that he would be a friend to her—a correct conclusion, as he had himself been a slave. He took her to his home, where she remained a week or more.

"The first that people in Milwaukee knew about the affair, lawyers came, about a week after her arrival, from her master to take her back. They came upon Titball and asked him if he knew anything about Caroline. He told them that she was at his house. He then managed to send a boy who was working with him, with orders to take Caroline to a certain place. He intended to get some money out of the lawyers, but the boy (who had also been a slave), did not take her to the place designated by Titball.

"The St. Louis lawyer, Spencer, desired to proceed according to law, and therefore consulted H. N. Wells, an Anti-slavery Democrat, who afterward became a Judge. Although Abolitionism had not then entered into politics and Mr. Wells was a Democrat, he would have nothing to do with Spencer and the other St. Louis lawyers, but visited the office of Finch & Lynde, and laughed about the affair with them, who, being thus set upon the track, hid the girl away in the grubs and brush until night. I am not sure whether Mr. Lynde (the ex-Congressman, William Pitt Lynde), aided his partner, Asahel Finch, or not.

"Spencer not getting help from Wells, went to another lawyer, Jonathan E. Arnold (who had run for Congress on a Whig ticket the year before), who turned right in with them. They then went to Titball, and he took them to his house, but, of course, did not find the girl. The lawyers were afraid they would lose Caroline, and offered the barber $100 to produce her. So he took them to where he supposed she was hidden, but, not finding her, the lawyers thought the darkey was fooling them, and were going to kick him. He convinced them, however, of his honesty of purpose to help them, and saved himself a kicking, which he no doubt richly deserved—but he lost his $100.

"At night, Asahel Finch took her across the river, and the story was she was headed up in a barrel, but it was a sugar hogshead or crockery cask, which stood between the road and sidewalk, between what is now Grand avenue and Kilbourn Town. The cask stood in front of a darkey's one-story house, which was raised up from the ground so that a person could see under it from the street. The house was so small one could look all through it from the sidewalk, the doors standing open, for it was the month of August. The people would slip something to eat under the cask when no one saw them, which enabled Caroline to remain hidden under the cask until night, when she fell into the hands of Samuel Brown, father of the present Mayor of Milwaukee, who then lived on a farm a mile or more from the city, but whose farm is now part of the city. He took her home, and kept her there one night. The next night, he started to Pewaukee with her, in an old rickety wagon, which he was afraid would break down before he reached his destination.

"Just before he struck the main road, Mr. Brown heard voices and stopped till some men on horseback, passed. The party proved to be Jonathan E. Arnold, Alexander F. Pratt, the lawyer Spencer, and one or two others. They had been to Prairieville (now Waukesha), 'that Abolition hole,' as it was then called, to find Caroline, having lost track of her in Milwaukee. Mr. Brown's wagon did break down before he reached Pewaukee, and he placed the saddle, which he had taken the precaution to put in his wagon, on the horse and took the girl on with him. He took her to Father Dougherty's, who lived between two and three miles north of Pewaukee Village, where she was kept concealed two or three weeks.

"In the mean time, the parties who wanted her were searching all over the country, offering rewards for her capture. They made their headquarters at Peter Jones' tavern, the 'Prairieville House,' thinking she must be in Prairieville or near there, it was so strongly impregnated with Abolitionism. They did not leave a stone unturned to find her, keeping watchers out at night on all the bridges and roads leading to the place. A young lady while going to watch with a sick girl (who afterward died), at Rev. O. F. Curtis', was followed and house watched to find out if she was not Caroline.

"Two men, who afterward held the highest position in the State (that of Governor), were found employed watching an opportunity to deliver a poor slave girl to her master. They did not watch boldly and openly, but on the sly. One of the wealthy citizens of Prairieville went to a new house just outside the village, pretending to want the plan, but really to see if he could get some trace of Caroline, the $300 reward offered for her capture being a great temptation. Although there was so much excitement among the pro-slavery people at this time, who were all stirred up and rushing from one place to another, trying to stir up the people and find Caroline, the Abolitionists were as quiet as might be, seeming to take no interest whatever in the matter, and the pro-slaveryites could gain nothing from them. The St. Louis lawyers and their friends, among whom were several of the prominent citizens of Milwaukee and Prairieville, defied the Abolitionists to keep Caroline away from them, saying, the law was being violated by so doing, and vengeance would soon be visited on their heads. But Caroline's friends could not be provoked into any conversation or argument. The hangers-on at the Prairieville House were watching the every movement of every Abolitionist. The gang went to Deacon Mendall's, threatening him with some sort of violence, as he was a stanch anti-slaveryite, and supposed to know something of Caroline's whereabouts. They found him in the field engaged at hilling potatoes. The lawyers demanded to know the Deacon's opinion of his crime of law-breaking 'Why,' replied the Deacon, 'I didn't know as hilling potatoes was breaking the law.' 'You are harboring that slave-girl, which is against the law.'

"'Well, a bad law is sometimes better broken than obeyed,' said the Deacon, glancing at his rifle which lay near by in the grass.

"The Deacon's glance at his rifle cooled the slavehunters somewhat, who finally summoned courage to beg permission to search the house.

"'No, sir, you don't search my house for any slave,' said Deacon Mendall sternly, and the crowd, afraid of the rifle, marched back to Prairieville. A man over sixty years of age had frightened them away, single-handed.

"By some hook or crook, some one got sight of Caroline at the Doughertys', and brought the news straight to the lawyers. They made a rush one Saturday afternoon to effect the capture. One or two roads turned off before reaching the house, and this Saturday Caroline sat by the window looking up the road from which she had an unobstructed view of a mile or more. She saw several men on horseback coming in that direction; as they kept straight on toward the house, she knew they were after her and slipped through the cellar, which was at the back of the house, and out toward a cornfield, to which she crawled on her hands and knees, and hid in the back of it till her pursuers went away. The men went into the house bold enough, and inquired of Mrs. Dougherty if a colored girl was there, and getting no satisfaction from the old lady, asked to search the premises. She consented, and it did not take long to long to look through the house, which was a large claim shanty; not much chamber nor cellar. They left very reluctantly, after searching everywhere on the premises, as they supposed. They came to what is now Pewaukee Village, and passing by Elder Wheelock's, A. F. Pratt told them that 'whatever the Elder said would be true. He might not tell all, but what he did say could be depended upon.' They therefore began to talk with him; asked him if he knew if there was a slave girl around. He said he had heard there was. They told a plausible story—said they had talked with Deacon Clinton; that they understood she wanted to go back, and she could go with them if she wanted to. If not, they would give her free papers; and the Deacon said if that was a fact, and she wanted to go back, it was his duty to give her up if he knew where she was; thought that was honorable. Then they said to the Elder:

"'Do you know where she is?'


"'Can you find her?'

"'I think I can. I have a great deal of confidence in the Deacon's judgment. I am going down to Prairieville to preach to-morrow, and I'll talk it up with the Deacon. Wait till I get my horse.'

The men thought that very favorable to their prospects, though had they known as much as they found out afterward, they would have come to a different conclusion. As they came into Prairieville, the Elder left them and said he would go up to Deacon Clinton's, who lived on his farm just out of the village, and have a talk with him, and would meet them at night at Jones' tavern (the Prairieville House), by 10 o'clock, with the Deacon. He meant to keep them away from Pewaukee neighborhood as long as possible. He then went to Deacon Clinton's and told them to send a boy for Deacon Mendall. Deacon Mendall came. The Elder told him to take a man with him, get the girl away from Pewaukee, and keep out of the roads as much as possible, for these men might be prowling around, but to lose no time in getting her away. The Elder and Deacon Clinton went as agreed to the Prairieville House at 10 o'clock that night, and talked and gassed with the men till about 12 o'clock, and finally came to the conclusion that they would have nothing to do with the matter in any way. Deacon Mendall was a man of whom the people stood in awe. He had been something of a fighting character in younger days, but at this time was a good Christian man and a member of the church. He took a man by the name of Jewett with him, and went to Mr. Dougherty's and brought the girl to Prairieville to Deacon Allen Clinton's (brother to Deacon Edmund Clinton, who also lived on his farm two miles from the village). That Sunday all of Allen Clinton's folks went to church except his wife, who stayed with Caroline. That morning a man came to me at church and tried to tell me about the girl; but I did not want to hear. I told him that the fewer people there were who knew about it the better; but in the afternoon Daniel Chandler came to me after church and told me to have my team ready that night at a place designated a mile west of the village in oak openings. I did not dare to take my own horses out, for I was watched; but I told him I would be at the place with horses. So I went to Daniel Chandler and said: 'Mr. Chandler, I want your horses to-night, and I don't want you should ask me a question.' He let me have his team, a splendid one, of which he thought everything. I took the horses after dark, and went to the woods according to promise. After awhile I heard a whistle and answered it. By-and-by I heard it again in another direction, and I answered as before. Deacon Allen Clinton then made his appearance on horseback, Caroline riding with him. Two or three others came also—Chandler and Deacon Mendall. Caroline was given into my hands. I chose Deacon Mendall as company and we started with Caroline curled down in the straw in the bottom of the wagon for—we had no idea where, but any place of safety. On the way we stopped and got James Rossman to accompany us. I drove down through Mukwonago and toward Spring Prairie, thirty miles from Prairieville. We reached Spring Prairie about daylight, and stopped at Charles Thompson's. He said he would have thrashers that day and it would not be safe to have the girl there, but he took us to another place in the vicinity, where we left her and turned toward home as quickly as possible. On the way home in moving my feet around in the straw, I hit something hard; on picking it up it proved to be the longest butcher knife I ever saw (Deacon Mendall, in his earlier days, had been a famous butcher.) I says, 'Deacon, what's this?'

"'O, it's something I brought along to pick my teeth with,' said the Deacon.

"You can guess what he intended to do if any one had attempted to capture us. We came home by a different route from that on which we went, and found everything serene. We had not been missed from Prairieville. Those fellows were satisfied she had left the place, and for two or three days a few friends of us talked of the affair, and concluded that though the people the girl was with were stanch Abolitionists, we did not know how good managers they were. The more we talked, the more fearful we were she would be found. Finally, we decided that one of us should go and take the girl through to some station on the underground railroad, and they pitched upon me, being an old bachelor with no family to keep me from going, as the proper one to do the job. At this time, money was not plenty in Prairieville, as every one was paying for his land. I had to start away with very little money. I rode my horse up to Deacon Edmund Clinton's, as I always did when I wanted to get him shod, with a rope halter on, so as not to look suspicious. It was about dark. I told the Deacon I wanted his saddle, bridle, and all the money he had. 'I am going on a skeerup, and I may be obliged to pay the Queen a visit before I get back.' He handed me $5, all the money he had by him. That made $8 with what I had, to start with. I mounted my horse, and started for the oak openings. Went through North Prairie, Eagle, and through to West Troy. Before reaching the last place it began to rain, and it was the darkest night I had ever seen. Lost my way two or three times, and did not reach my destination till 7 or 8 o'clock in the morning. Had scarcely a dry thread on me. I had breakfast, baited my horse and dried my clothes till noon. I was startled to find Caroline gone. I was more easy, however, when I found they had moved her Tuesday night to Gardner's Prairie (two miles from Burlington), where she was left; but they didn't know at whose house. I started for Gardner's Prairie to hunt her up, and on the way stopped at Elder Manning's. He had brothers living at Prairieville, and I knew he was a good Abolitionist. He had not heard there was such a girl as Caroline, and knew nothing about the excitement connected with her case, having been confined to the house by illness. He declared his intention of going with me to the Prairie to find the girl, in spite of the pleadings of his wife, who thought it too great a risk to his health, this being his first day out of bed. The weather had cleared, and we started, the Elder going straight from his bed to his horse. We rode to Mr. Peffer's, who, knowing the Elder, upon being questioned, said the girl was there. I was acquainted with the brothers Arms, Abolitionists, and went to them. They called in two or three other friends to consult what to do, and, while talking, Dr. Dyer, father of Judge Charles E. Dyer, and still a resident of Racine County, came along. He proved to be the Commander-in-chief—a strong Abolitionist, the greatest and best friend to humanity. We could not keep the Doctor from seeing the girl; so we all went down to where she was, and held another consultation, when it was decided I should take Mr. Chenery's buggy and harness, and continue the journey to safety and freedom. Dr. Dyer went home and made preparations. He came back with a pillow-case full of cakes, pies and cheese, to be used in case of an emergency. He inquired into my finances. I told him what I had. He commanded the friends to draw their wallets, and he took up enough to make $20 with what I had. The Doctor gave me a recommendation, the best I ever read, and an appeal to friends of humanity to assist me without question to the extent of my asking. I believe there never was an appeal like that written by mortal man before or since. It would almost stir the heart of a stone.

"While at this place, just before night, who should we see coming up the hill but Arnold and Spencer, still wearily but doggedly pursuing the fugitive girl. Caroline and myself, as well as the balance, were unfortunately out in the yard, and the road was in plain sight, but we were not seen.

"When night came on, we started from Dr. Dyer's, Caroline on the buffalo [robe] in the bottom of the buggy, which covered her so no one would know but that I had a sheep or a quarter of veal.  (See NOTE at right.)

"Mr. Chenery accompanied us to the house of Mr. Perkins (who has a brother now living—a great sheep farmer—in Mukwonago). We could not stop there, as he was to thrash that day; so he took us to Elder Fitch, of the Christian denomination, who secreted us and our horse and buggy till night, when I started on again. The Elder started with us. It commenced to rain when we were but a few miles away, and, as we could not go through to Dundee as we wanted to, a prairie a few miles from McHenry was crossed, though it was so dark we could not see, on the road to a Christian Methodist named Russell, not an Abolitionist; but we had to stop somewhere. Mr. Russell was perfectly willing to assist a slave to freedom. If that was being an Abolitionist, he was one. He never knew before what Abolitionism was. I made him a station-keeper on the underground railroad, which I established along the route.

"In the morning, Elder Fitch went back home, and Russell went with us, through Dundee, to Dr. Root's. That was the first that we traveled by day. He was a double Abolitionist, like Dr. Dyer. His brother was a minister, and he sent for him and several friends, who came to see us while we dried out clothes, which were still wet. Started from there at about 2 o'clock, and went to Naperville, fifteen or twenty miles distant. Did not reach there till after dark. We went to Deacon Fowler's, as the Doctor had told us. There were some young ladies present of about Caroline's size, and they gave her some clothes, her dress having been badly torn. They gave her gloves and a thick veil, and also a small reticule into which to put her jewelry; so we started from there pretty well stocked. Caroline, being well dressed, after that sat in the seat.

"As I said, we traveled in the daytime now. I fell in with a Mr. Freeman, who directed me toward the underground railroad. We went through Lockport, a few miles from Joliet, while the people were eating dinner, and of course so occupied that they did not notice us. Drove eight miles, to Deacon Beach's, which was on the original underground railroad. Mr. Beach had gone to a church-meeting, it being Saturday afternoon, and the women were very suspicious, thinking I might be trying to break up the line; but they gave us dinner and fed my horse. I went to the place at Hickory Grove they designated, and found myself on the right road.

"The next day was Sunday, but I thought we had better travel and get away from Chicago vicinity as soon as possible, as Hickory Grove was only about forty miles southeast of that place. We then made for Beebe's Grove. The people we went to were just starting for church, so we went to Mr. Beebe's. He made us welcome. He was a very intelligent man, and had just returned from Chicago, where he saw an advertisement on the docks, '$300 reward for a colored girl,' but did not pay much attention to the description, though it was no doubt offered for Caroline. The clerk of the steamboat on which Caroline left St. Louis was visiting all the lake ports to advertise her, for the company would be compelled to pay $800 to her master in case she was not found. This sum they were finally obliged to pay.

While this version of Goodnow's account reads "from Dr. Dyer's," the version in the Olin family history reads "for Dr. Dyer's," which probably refers to Dr. Charles Volney Dyer of Chicago.

In his history of the John Olin family, Chauncey C. Olin included a sketch of Dr. Charles Volney Dyer, one of the leading abolitionists of the Chicago, Illinois, area. The similarity in Dr. Charles V. Dyer's last name and profession with those of Dr. Edward Galusha Dyer, of Burlington, one of the leading abolitionists in southeastern Wisconsin, can be somewhat confusing, especially when reading the account of Caroline Quarlls' escape to Canada.

In two sources that include Lyman Goodnow's account of taking Quarlls to Canada, a portion of the sentence that immediately follows Goodnow's story of an incident at Spring Prairie reads: "When night came on, we started from Dr. Dyer's, . . ."; in the Olin family history, the sentence reads: "When night came on, we started for Dr. Dyer's, . . ." (emphasis added). Taking the sentence by itself, one could interpret either rendition to mean Dr. Edward G. Dyer of Burlington. Since Goodnow and Quarlls were heading toward Illinois, however, the latter rendition could be interpreted also to mean Dr. Charles V. Dyer. In the context of Goodnow's account, the latter rendition "we started for Dr. Dyer's" and the inference that "Dr. Dyer" was Charles V. Dyer appear to be appropriate for three reasons.

First, Goodnow, who went into some detail about Dr. Edward G. Dyer's involvement in the Quarlls incident while Quarlls was in the Spring Prairie area just outside Burlington, never says directly that Quarlls was taken to Dr. Dyer's residence in Burlington. Second, immediately preceding the sentence containing the phrase in question, Goodnow tells about an incident while Quarlls, Goodnow, Dr. Dyer, the Arms brothers, and others are still at a farm (either the Arms brothers' farm or Josiah O. Puffer's farm) in the Spring Prairie area. And third, stopping and spending time at Dr. Edward G. Dyer's in Burlington just after Goodnow and Quarlls left the Spring Prairie area heading toward Illinois on the way to Canada does not seem likely since the distance is so short and Dr. Dyer had already given Goodnow and Quarlls the provisions and money he had collected.


"After dinner, we started on our journey, Mr. Beebe accompanying us as far as the schoolhouse, where their meetings were held. Sunday-school was just out. Beebe said they were all Abolitionists at the schoolhouse, and he wanted the people to see Caroline. So we stopped and he told the people her history. Several young ladies, Sunday-school teachers, came out after church to see Caroline and talk with her. Near by stood one of the 'liberty poles,' so called, which are common to Northern villages. Turning toward it, she asked them what it was. They replied properly. 'What is it for?' 'To commemorate the birth of liberty in America,' they answered. 'What do you do with it?' 'Oh, look at it,' was the reply. 'Who may look at it?' 'Everybody,' said the girls. 'But you said it was a liberty pole; can a slave look at it? How can it commemorate liberty in a country where there are slaves? Have you repealed the law [the Fugitive Slave Act], and raised this pole to mark the event? Do those who have their liberty have their names written on the pole or in some book? If not, how do you know who the pole is for?'

"These and similar searching questions so confused the young ladies that no replies could be made to Caroline, and their Pastor attempted to reply for them but was not fully equal to the occasion. She had thoroughly befuddled her visitors, who were glad enough to call her attention to something besides liberty poles, and their connection with liberty and the Fugitive Slave Act. (Note: Olin's version of Goodnow's account does not mention the Fugitive Slave Act, but says "their connection with liberty and slavery.")

"The next night, a terrific storm brought darkness unusually early, and made it impossible to reach the next station. I had been told that, in cases of emergency, the Germans were the next best to Quakers for protection, and we stopped at a big claim shanty occupied by a German and his wife, begging shelter from the roaring storm that was almost upon us. 'We have no bed for you, no fires, no wood, and no candles,' said the German, 'but will do what we can for you.' The horse, which had been half a day without water, was hitched to the fence as quickly as possible, and when we went in Caroline had already gone to bed with the German's wife. He and I slept on the floor, or rather I reposed there, not being able to sleep much on account of my poor horse. As the German had no water, I arose early, hitched up, called Caroline and started on our journey before daylight, and to this day that kind German woman does not know she slept with a colored girl who was fleeing from bondage, nor does her husband.

"From La Porte we traveled three days, I think, wholly among Quakers. The men were all absent from home, attending a Quaker meeting in Ohio. The women refused everywhere to say anything about any underground railroad, though they usually said: 'Thee can have what thee wants.' Their homes were, of course, stations on the road, but, fearing I might be an impostor, they would not let me into any secrets. They would, however, tell me where the next Quaker's house was to be found at a convenient distance. After leaving the Quaker settlement, I was compelled to stop over night about five miles from Climax Prairie, in Michigan, with a man who did not treat us well. Caroline was given a room in which was an old-fashioned loom. On this she hung her reticule, in which were her jewels and the few dollars in money I had given her for the future. In the hurry of next morning the reticule was forgotten, and the loss not discovered until we were twenty miles on the journey. The horse was then too tired, and my destination yet too distant to think of turning back, making forty miles more of travel. I determined, therefore, to go on, secure the jewels on my return, and forward them to Caroline. So we pushed on. At Ann Arbor, we were entertained by the editor of the Abolitionist paper published in that place. Before reaching Detroit, we came across a fleshy colored woman, who said she had been a slave, but for some time refused to say where she had been in bondage. Finally, on being shown Caroline's face, she acknowledged being from St. Louis, from which place she and her husband had escaped in a most romantic and miraculous manner. It was soon discovered she and Caroline were old acquaintances.

"I also met a gang of thirty-two escaped slaves, on the underground railroad, near Marshall and Battle Creek. They were led by three stout fellows, who went several miles in advance, engaging work and searching out and marking stations. One of the women weighed over four hundred pounds, and could not walk. She traveled only in the night. As large as this gang was, every one was perfectly safe anywhere in the Quaker settlement. Whatever may be said against the Quakers by those who do not like them, I must say I never saw or heard of one who was not an Anti-slaveryite. The same may be said of the Germans, except of some of them who had become Yankeefied.

"We passed through Detroit at 6 o'clock on Tuesday night—about three weeks from home—while the streets were filled with workmen on their way home. We were not discovered, and arrived safely at Ambler's, who kept the last station this side of the Detroit River, his house being only separated from that stream by a narrow street. He was absent, but we were well cared for, and his wife sent two men—one of whom I had known in the East—to take us over the river. To him I paid twelve shillings, the first money I had paid out in the whole journey, which, on account of the circuitous route followed by the underground railroad, had extended over a distance of between five and six hundred miles. After crossing the Detroit River, Caroline began crying, and clutched me by the arm, asking if it was possible that she was being taken back to St. Louis. I talked and explained, but it took some time to clear her mind, that side of the river appearing to her like the country across from St. Louis. I left Caroline with Rev. Haskell, or at his house. He was a missionary at Sandwich, Canada.

"The clerk of the steamboat, whose owners were afterward compelled to pay $800 for transporting Caroline from St. Louis to Alton, was in Detroit when we got there, and had been watching every ferryboat that crossed the river for a fortnight. How long he remained on watch I do not know, but he never found Caroline.

"On the road home, I stopped at the place near Climax Prairie where Caroline left the jewelry. [At this prairie is a junction of the underground railroad from the Ohio River.] The man refused to give up the reticule. His excuse was, that probably Caroline would return for it, and then there would be trouble. I argued every way with him that I could think of, but all to no purpose. He was not only stubborn, but mean and stingy. Finally I asked him if he would take ample security, to which, after an unaccountable amount of squirming, he consented, promising to receive Dr. Thayer's bond for the jewelry and money. The Doctor, who was another Dr. Dyer—a double Abolitionist—lived at Climax Prairie, five miles distant, to whose place I started on foot, my horse being very tired, at 9 o'clock Saturday evening. The Doctor was away attending patients, and I started after him. Not knowing the roads, I got lost, and, after a long delay, reached the place where he had been, just a few moments too late. I then returned to the Doctor's house, reaching it late, or rather early in the morning, where I was given a bed for an hour before breakfast, the Doctor being still absent. He returned Sunday, and, when I told him my errand, he spared no invectives or profanity in attempting to satisfactorily express his indignation. He sat down at once and wrote one of the strongest obligations I ever saw, with which I returned for the reticule. Even after all my trouble, and after promising to take Dr. Thayer's bond, this mean-souled individual delayed a long time before he would give up the valuables. I was terribly exasperated, but talked as coolly and politely as I could until the reticule was recovered, when I gave him as much deserved abuse as I could command, and I wish I could recall his name now, that the world might know what kind of men inscrutable Providence has from time to time permitted to live in it. I returned to Milwaukee, and to Father Dougherty's, in the town of Pewaukee, in both of which places Caroline had left whatever she possessed. I immediately gathered everything together, and with the money and jewels, forwarded them to her at Sandwich, Canada, through Dr. Porter, at Detroit, who wrote me afterward that they reached their destination.

"On the road home—I was from home five weeks—I was repeatedly bantered, friends inquiring if I did not expect old Tenny [Chief Justice Taney, who afterward delivered the notorious Dred Scott decision,] would soon have my hide on the collar-beam.

"Caroline had $80 when she reached Milwaukee, which she placed in the hands of Titball, the ex-slave barber, before mentioned, who at first befriended her, and then attempted to sell her to the slave-hunters. When I went to him for it, he said he never had but $40 of Caroline's money, and even this he refused to pay. I sued him and got a judgment, which I called paid when Titball died, about thirty-five years ago. He had his shop in the Milwaukee House, and it was the finest barber-shop in Milwaukee.

"When Caroline was on the road to Canada, she was asked if she could read or write. 'I can't write,' said she, 'but I can read; I know as much as half my letters.' Since then, she seems to have learned the use of a pen, for I received the following, which contained more errors, however, in punctuation and spelling, than here appear:

Sandwich, Apr. 18, 1880

"'Dearest Friend: Pen and ink could hardly express my joy when I heard from you once more. I am living and have to work very hard, but I have never forgotten you nor your kindness. I am still in Sandwich—the same place where you left me. Just as soon as the Postmaster read the name to me—your name—my heart filled with joy and gladness and I should like to see you once more before I die, to return thanks for your kindness toward me. I would like for you to send me one of the books you were speaking about.

"'Dearest friend you don't know how rejoiced I feel since I heard from you. Answer this as soon as you get it, and let me know how you are, and your address.

"'Direct your letter to Caroline Watkins, Sandwich, Ontario.

"'Caroline Watkins'

"The envelope was quaintly directed in this manner: 'mr lymun Goodnow Warekesha Wis in haste U S'

"After receiving this letter, I sent a series of questions to Caroline, to which she sent me promptly an answer, dated April 23, 1880, at Sandwich, and which is verbatim et literatim, as follows (click on image below for a larger, more readable version):

                            (click on document for enlargement)

The letter is published without correction, as its errors are the proof of its genuineness.

Thus ends the story, every detail of which is known to be true, of the first escape of a slave not only from Waukesha County, but from the Territory of Wisconsin, the closing incident being the receipt of the above letters thirty-seven years after Caroline was hidden in Prairieville, or in its vicinity. Connected with incidents like this, the name of Lyman Goodnow will never be erased from the richest pages of American history.