in Central Pennsylvania
Capture of McCreary, 1853
Excerpt from a
letter from David G. Smith
I recently finished reviewing your excellent piece on
the Rachel Parker case, a
true tragedy. In my research in Adams County, I noticed that one of the
newspapers printed a piece on McCreary almost being mobbed and arrested a week
before the Parker case broke. I wonder if it was a mistake - if it happened
afterwards (although I doubt McCreary left Balto.). If true, McCreary may have
just missed his just desserts right before the Parker kidnapping.
Here's a short summary of the piece. It undoubtedly was taken from somewhere
else, probably a Lancaster paper, as Lancaster and Gettysburg were linked
through Thaddeus Stevens.
“Attempt to Arrest a Marylander” – Thomas McCreary, of Elkton, Md., who is the
mail contractor between that place and Chestnut Level, Pa., having made himself
obnoxious to some Pennsylvanians, in consequence of his efforts to help arrest
fugitive slaves, a possee [sic] of them, a few nights ago, made an attempt to
arrest him in a house near Lancaster. He, however, successfully defended
himself…” Star and Republican Banner, January 2, 1853, p. 2 c.3.
Do you know anything about this incident? This seems to hint at a lot of
activity with McCreary right before the Parker case - perhaps the capture of
Elizabeth? Or do you think this incident happened after Rachel was captured -
perhaps when McCreary tried to deliver the mail?
posted March 12, 2005
note: This particular incident was previously unknown to us,
and adds a dramatic sidelight to the story of the Parker
kidnapping. It appears to have occurred just as the Parker case
was approaching a resolution. In the final stages of the case,
reported January 4, 1853, Rachel and Elizabeth Parker were released from
their Maryland imprisonment in exchange for Pennsylvania's vow not to
pursue charges against either McCreary of his accomplice John
Merritt. It is possible that McCreary was feeling relatively safe
from legal consequences, having anticipated the deal.
We have recently found more news articles that mention
McCreary, mostly in regard to additional kidnappings and captures of
fugitive slaves. It is clear why the local newspapers of the time
often referred to "the infamous McCreary." We will be
running additional details of McCreary's exploits in a future article.
See also the
letter from Milt Diggins, of Maryland, who is actively researching
Thomas McCreary and other slave catchers/kidnappers along the
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This page was updated June 25, 2006.