Washington’s Runaway Slave, Ona Judge

From the Granite Freeman


There is now living, in the borders of the town of Greenland, N.H. a runaway slave of Gen. Washington, at present  supported by the County of Rockingham.  Her name at the time of her elopement was Ona Maria Judge.  She is not able to give the year of her escape, but says that she came from Philadelphia, just after the close of Washington’s second term of the Presidency, which must fix it somewhere in the first part of the year 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, that she understood that after the decease of her master and 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.

She came on board a ship commanded by Capt. John Bolles, and bound to Portsmouth, N.H.  In relating it, she added, ‘I never told his name till after he died, a few years since, lest they should punish him for bringing me away.’  Had she disclosed it, he might have shared the fate of Jonathan Walker in our own day…………………

                                                                 (Liberator, August 22, 1845, pg 1)