Washington’s Runaway Slave, New Hampshire

August 22, 1845

From the Granite Freeman;   Tells of Washington’s slave, Ona Marie Judge, living in Greenland, N.H. and supported by the town of Rockingham.  The writer is not sure of date of her “elopement”, but thinks it was  probably the first of 1797.  Being a waiting-maid of Mrs.Washington, she was not exposed to any peculiar hardships.  If asked why she did not remain in his service, she gives two reasons, first, she wanted to be free, secondly,  she understood that after the decease of her master and his mistress, she was to become the property of a grand-daughter of theirs, by the name of Custis, and that she was determined never to be her slave.  After arriving in Portsmouth, she married a colored sailor by the name of Staines, and had a family of several children, but they have all been dead several years. She tells of her running away, of Mr. Bassett, whom Washington sent twice to persuade her to return. She recounts her escape, is not sure of her age, but it is probably about eighty; she is light mulatto, could easily pass for white, has been disabled by successive attacks of palsy.  Of Washington, she says she never heard him pray, and does not believe he was accustomed to it.  Mrs. Washington used to read prayers.  She is probably connected to a church in Portsmouth.  “When asked if she was not sorry she left Washington, as she has labored so much harder since than before, her reply is, ‘No, I am free, and have, I trust, been made a child of God by the means.'”

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