Technically, Ona was owned by Martha Washington’s first husband so she would not have been qualified to receive liberation in George’s will, meaning her only hope was to take the risky running into her own hands. She walked out of the house and quickly rushed to safety. Describe Ona Judge's life as a slave in Never Caught.How did her experience differ in Virginia, New York, and Philadelphia? She quickly became suspicious, however, when Whipple began asking personal questions to verify her identity—the type of questions that would be unusual in a job interview. With an active and growing free black community of some 6,000 people, Philadelphia had become the nation’s leading hotbed of abolitionism. ONA, WV (WOWK) – If we’ve learned anything so far this holiday season, it is that the spirit of “community” runs deep in the tri-state. The History and Traditions of a Classic Dessert, Lindsay M. Chervinsky Martha also left one enslaved man, Elish (or Elijah), whom she could have legally freed, to her grandson in an addendum to her will. While she was likely grateful for the work, it was a change from the needlework and tending to Martha’s needs. Judge was secretly placed aboard the Nancy, a ship piloted by Captain John Bowles and bound for Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Members of the free black community helped her get aboard a ship commanded by Captain John Bowles, who sailed frequently between Philadelphia, New York and Portsmouth, New Hampshire. In November 1790, they moved into a new house in Philadelphia when the government relocated. First, while still in office, he sent a letter through Secretary of the Treasury Oliver Wolcott, Jr. to Joseph Whipple, Portsmouth’s collector of customs. Washington had given him “orders to take her by force, and carry her back” if necessary and he shared these plans with Langdon.24 Langdon’s family had a long history of slave ownership, so Bassett assumed the senator would support his mission. Published in The Liberator in 1846. Never Caught, the Story of Ona Judge CHAPTER ONE AMERICA’S DAUGHTER ONA’S STORY BEGINS IN VIRGINIA around 1773, when the United States is not yet the United States, and slavery is considered acceptable by many of the white people who live in what comprises the first thirteen colonies. Ona Maria Judge was born around 1774 at Mount Vernon. Vernon as a slave, when Martha accepted the hand of George Washington to marry him as her second husband in 1759. Ona took the opportunity to share her thoughts on the institution of slavery, proclaiming, “that she never received the least mental or moral instruction, of any kind, while she remained in Washington’s family.”30 She also criticized the Washingtons’ piety, saying she never saw or heard any indication of “piety and prayers” while she was enslaved. There are no records of how she was introduced to this community or who helped her, and Ona kept this information secret to protect everyone’s safety. Ona Judge Staines lived with her husband and their three children until Jack’s death in 1803. But as his reaction to Judge’s escape made clear, Washington was not ready to give up on the bound labor on which his Virginia plantation—and his life—was built. Her mother, Betty, was an enslaved seamstress; her father, Andrew Judge, was an English tailor working as an indentured servant at Mount Vernon. The 38-year old shared … Her mother, Betty, was recognized as the finest seamstress on the plantation and was a “dower slave,” technically still owned by the estate of Martha Washington’s first husband, Daniel Peake Custis. While the newspapers did not print the interviews verbatim, the quotes are rare examples of a formerly enslaved person describing their experiences in their own words. Ona Maria Judge Staines is the protagonist of Erica Armstrong Dunbar ’s Never Caught.Born into slavery at George and Martha Washington ’s Mount Vernon estate in 1773, Ona was, as a teenager, assigned to a position in the Washingtons’ home, where she worked as Martha’s seamstress and personal “go-to girl.” When George Washington ascended to the presidency, bringing Martha along … The shoe purchases are especially telling. Market Square in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in 1853. Ona’s father was an English indentured servant who had worked at Mount Vernon. Oney had three children with Staines, all of whom predeceased her, as did her husband. Dunbar tells the story in a new book, Never Caught: The Washingtons' Relentless Pursuit of their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge (Feb. 7, Atria, $26). Runaway advertisement requesting the return of Ona Judge. And Ona really becomes, and had already really become, Martha Washington’s top slave, for the lack of a better term or phrase. He told his friends that he was looking for a good maidservant to help his wife. At sixteen, Ona may have been growing still and she may have outgrown her earlier shoes. When Martha brought Ona to the President’s House, Ona left her family for the first time. Ona died on February 25, 1848, in Greenland, New Hampshire as a free woman.32. In April 1774, one of Martha Washington’s enslaved housemaids, Betty, gave birth at Mount Vernon to a daughter named Ona Judge. Yet, he remained in the area until at least 1784, when Washington loaned him £12. Thank you to Dr. Erica Armstrong Dunbar for her work on Ona Judge. Ona Judge was born as a slave into George and Martha Washington's household. She also secured work as a domestic servant. Yet freedom would not come without its costs. Ona’s father was an English indentured servant who had worked at Mount Vernon. George Washington to Joseph Whipple, 28 November 1796. Many slave mothers were less fortunate as the birth of their children added value property for their owners who could sell the child or the mother separately. The person shot Salas’ 20-year-old son, Daniel Anderl, when he answered the door and then shot her husband multiple times before fleeing. She has many changes of good clothes, of all sorts, but they are not sufficiently recollected to be described.11, The advertisement also listed a $10 reward for her capture and return, and conveyed the Washingtons’ shock and outrage that Ona would escape: “As there was no suspicion of her going off nor no provocation to do so, it is not easy to conjecture whither she has gone, or fully, what her design is.”12 Of course, it never occurred to the Washingtons that enslavement served as plenty of provocation for Ona to escape. Betty was lucky to be able to keep her son Austin with her with the move to Mt. Philadelphia's father is unknown, but in 1807 she was freed from slavery and married William Costin, an abolitionist and free man, who was the son of an enslaved woman, Ann Dandridge, and whose father was possibly John Parke Custis, Martha Washington's son. Despite all the hardships, Ona enjoyed the benefits of a life of freedom: She taught herself to read and write, embraced Christianity and worshiped regularly at a church of her choice. Ona’s calculations changed after March 21, 1796, when Eliza Custis, Martha’s granddaughter, married Thomas Law. When he was just 11 years old, George Washington inherited 10 slaves from his father’s estate. ED: [00:21:26] She opens the door and she sees a face that probably drained the blood from hers. Considered the last “Founding Father” president, James Monroe was born in 1758 into an affluent, slave owning family in Westmoreland County, Virg... Andrew Johnson’s close association with Abraham Lincoln, as both his vice president and his successor, often disguises Johnson’s own... Uncovering the lives of enslaved people poses many challenges. When Betty came to Mount Vernon with Martha, she brought her infant son, Austin. Philadelphia's father is unknown, but in 1807 she was freed from slavery and married William Costin, an abolitionist and free man, who was the son of an enslaved woman, Ann Dandridge, and whose father was possibly John Parke Custis, Martha Washington's son. Though Ona Judge lived a life of relative comfort, the few pleasantries she was afforded were nothing compared to freedom, a glimpse of which she encountered first-hand in Philadelphia. Never Caught: The Washingtons' Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge - Ebook written by Erica Armstrong Dunbar. (Credit: Martin Falbisoner/Creative Commons). After briefly holding a live-in position with the Bartlett family in Portsmouth, Ona left and moved with her children into the home of the Jacks family, where they remained. Ona Judge (c.1773—February 25, 1848), known as Ona Judge Staines after marriage, was a light-skinned, heavily freckled and slight of build slave on George Washington’s plantation, Mount Vernon, in Virginia.. Oney Judge was born into slavery several years before the American Revolution. TOPICS: George Washington, Martha Washington, Mount Vernon, Slavery, Washington or Custis Family by Kathryn Gehred, Research Editor July 6, 2018. HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate. Download for offline reading, highlight, bookmark or take notes while you read Never Caught: The Washingtons' Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge. She revealed that her life in Portsmouth had been difficult. Twice a week we compile our most fascinating features and deliver them straight to you. Eventually, Judge’s husband, a sailor, passed away. Over more than five years in Philadelphia—traveling in and out every six months—she met and became acquainted with members of the city’s free black community and former enslaved workers who had gained their freedom under the gradual abolition law. Governor John Langdon’s Home in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Whipple owed his position to the Washington administration, so he reluctantly agreed to help send Ona back to Mount Vernon. Ona Judge became Ona Staines and understood that her husband’s long absences at sea meant that she would have to defend herself if slave catchers … By the 1780s, Washington’s feelings about slavery had changed, and he expressed his uneasiness with the institution to close friends, including his Revolutionary War comrade the Marquis de Lafayette. Joseph Whipple to Oliver Wolcott, Jr., 4 October 1796, Dunbar. Betty, Ona Judge’s mother, came to Mt. Tobias Lear Account Books, June 6, 1792; April 1, 1793; June 24, 1793. by the Rev. Later, Ona Judge claimed that after Washington’s death, the family never bothered her again. Her mother, Betty, was recognized as the finest seamstress on the plantation and was a “dower slave,” technically still owned by the estate of Martha Washington’s first husband, Daniel Peake Custis. When Ona opened the door, perhaps with her one-year-old daughter, Eliza, in her arms, she may have recognized him from her time at Mount Vernon. But Ona certainly met her father and likely had some relationship with him given his extended stay, which was not always the case for enslaved children. This article was originally published She has written several books, including the award-winning middle grade novel Drizzle. When a reporter asked why she chose that moment to escape, Ona said “she was determined never to be her slave,” referring to Eliza Custis.8 Eliza had earned a reputation among the enslaved women for being highly volatile and erratic—dangerous qualities in a slave owner. The South Church is pictured, where Ona Judge was married in 1797 to Jack Staines. Ona Judge Staines lived with her husband and their three children until Jack’s death in 1803. Tobias Lear Account Books, Philadelphia Household Accounts, 1789-1797. A few years later, Ona gave birth to a second daughter, Nancy, and then a son. In 1773, Ona Judge … When he married the wealthy widow Martha Dandridge Custis in 1759, she brought more than 80 enslaved workers along with her, bringing the total number of enslaved men, women and children at Mount Vernon to more than 150 by the time the Revolutionary War began. Judge holds attorney husband of RHOBH star Erika Jayne and his law firm in contempt after he misappropriated $2M in funds meant for the families of victims of the 2018 Lion Air crash. Given Ona’s enslaved status, any white man could sexually assault her without punishment and she may have feared for her safety in a new household with a disreputable owner.9. Ona Judge was a slave of the Washington’s who escaped to freedom while George was President of the United States. Ona Judge was afforded more comforts than most slaves, however, she risked it all to escape the nation’s capital and reach freedom. This book is the story of her to run . Oney Judge, a light mulatto girl, much freckled, with very black eyes and bushy black hair, she is of middle stature, slender, and delicately, about 20 years of age. In 1803, Jack Staines died and Ona moved in with the Jack family to share household expenses. Now, at the current Ona Judge exhibition, we’ll finally get to hear more of Judge’s side of the story, as it were. Thousands of Images covering the History of the White House, Official White House Ornaments, Books & More, https://www.mountvernon.org/george-washington/slavery/slavery-database/, https://founders.archives.gov/?q=Correspondent%3A%22Washington%2C%20George%22%20Correspondent%3A%22Whipple%2C%20Joseph%22&s=1111311111&r=2. So said former slave Ona Judge during an interview in 1845, long after she had obtained her freedom, and long after her owners, George and Martha Washington, had tried to get her back. Vernon. One of the latest examples of this happened at St. Stephen’s Catholic Church in Ona, West Virginia. As Dunbar writes, “Martha Washington’s decision to turn Judge over to Eliza was a reminder to Judge and everyone enslaved at the Executive Mansion that they had absolutely no control over their lives, no matter how loyally they served.”. Benjamin Chase. Ona also accompanied Martha on her social visits and attended to the first lady’s needs at home. In fact, as Erica Armstrong Dunbar writes in her book, Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge, Oney would have been in the minority as a enslaved woman in Philadelphia; fewer than 100 slaves lived within city limits in 1796. Vernon as a slave, when Martha accepted the hand of George Washington to marry him as her second husband in 1759. After fulfilling his four-year work contract at Mount Vernon, Andrew Judge moved off the plantation to start his own farm. And Ona really becomes, and had already really become, Martha Washington’s top … In August 1799, Washington made one more attempt to find and recapture Ona Judge. So, when the opportunity presented itself, Judge left everything she knew to escape to New England. Many decades later, when all of her family members had died, Ona gave two interviews about her life and escape to freedom. The exhibition will furthermore profile 18 other former slaves. This book puts a face and a story to that of early enslaved people and makes it clear that enslaved people always desired the ability to make choices for themselves. The Massive, Overlooked Role of Female Slave Owners. Far from a passive bystander in the perpetuation of slavery, Washington at this point was actively engaged in returning Judge to his (or his wife’s) possession. ‘MasterChef Australia’ judge Melissa Leong has announced her separation from husband Joe Jones. Six years after Ona was born, Betty gave birth to another daughter, Delphy.3. Her father, Andrew Judge, was an English indentured tailor who served as a tailor. Though marriage gave her some additional legal protection, Ona remained vigilant–with good reason. At some point during the spring of 1796, Ona made contact with members of the free black community that would facilitate her escape. He did serve as the Governor of New Hampshire from 1810 to 1812, but was a Senator in 1797 when Bassett visited his home. What are some interesting facts about presidents and first ladies? Ona married John Staines, a seaman, on Jan. 14, 1797, and settled in Portsmouth. Ona Judge was born around 1773. Instead, “Card-playing and wine-drinking were the business at his parties; and he had more of such company Sundays than on any other day.”31 The newspapers included these arguments to criticize the institution of slavery and its many cruelties. To help make ends meet, Ona continued her domestic work and they took in a boarder in one of their extra rooms.17, Washington made two concerted attempts to re-enslave Ona. Erica Dunbar: [00:00:13] She found out that she was going to be given away as a wedding gift to her owner's granddaughter, that she would be returned to the South, a place that she had no interest in living. Which administration holds the record for the number of Christmas trees displayed at the White House? He subsequently wrote to Washington that she had agreed to return, on the condition that she be freed when Martha Washington died. Jack’s.”27 This attempt was the last time Ona heard from her former owners, as Washington died shortly thereafter and “they never troubled me any more after he was gone.”28. In the 1830s, both of Ona’s daughters also passed away and she became increasingly involved in her church community and perhaps the abolitionist movement.29 In late 1845 and early 1846, Ona gave two interviews to abolitionist newspapers in New Hampshire. Several years before her death in 1848, she granted two interviews to abolitionist newspapers recounting her journey from bondage. Ona probably attended this church to hear Reverend Samuel Haven's sermons. Oney "Ona" Judge (c.1773—February 25, 1848) – known as Oney Judge Staines after marriage, was an enslaved African-American servant on George Washington's plantation, Mount Vernon, in Virginia. Judge, who … Betsy Langdon recognized Oney, having encountered her before when calling on Martha Washington, a family friend, or her granddaughter Nelly Custis. © 2020 A&E Television Networks, LLC. Andrew Judge, Ona’s father, was also an expert at sewing. “A Slave of George Washington,” Benjamin Chase, Auburn, NH, December 1846. For example, in June 1792, she attended the theater; in April 1793, she saw “tumbling feats” (probably acrobats); and in June 1793 she went to the traveling circus.5 Click here to learn more about the enslaved households of President George Washington. Martha announced that she planned to give Ona to Eliza as a wedding present, separating Ona from her family and the life she knew in Philadelphia and at Mount Vernon. So, as the household prepared for the Washingtons’ return to Mount Vernon for the summer, Judge made plans for her escape. Ona Judge Plots Her Escape. Betty, Ona Judge’s mother, came to Mt. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and sons. But New York City, and then Philadelphia, offered new opportunities.4 Ona encountered a sizable free African-American community for the first time, saw interesting sights, tasted different foods, and met new people. Washington knew of Judge's whereabouts by September 1, when he wrote to Oliver Wolcott Jr., the Secretary of the Treasury, about having her captured and return… So, Ona Judge and six other enslaved people are taken to New York, where the nation’s first capital is. Moll, the enslaved nanny for Martha’s grandchildren, did not usually join them out of the house, so she likely needed fewer pairs of new shoes. She is also the author of Never Caught: The Washingtons' Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave Ona Judge. (Baton Rouge and London: Louisiana State University Press, 1977), pp. So Ona Judge passed the disease of slavery through her lineage to her children, making Ona and her children the property of Martha Washington. In the end, Washington and his fellow founders would push the hard decisions about slavery off onto future generations of Americans–with explosive consequences. Letter to the editor, The Liberator, January 1, 1847..As quoted in Slave Testimony, Two Centuries of Letters, Speeches, Interviews, and Autobiographies, John W. Blassingame, ed. And yet, she never … When Whipple tracked Judge down (by falsely advertising that he was seeking a female domestic for his home), he asked her about her reasons for fleeing bondage, and offered to negotiate on her behalf. A New house in New York, where Ona Judge would look over her shoulder for the next installment. Never arrived.18 a few years later, Ona gave birth to another daughter, Delphy.3 family... Van Cleve teaches creative writing and film at the white house … Oney Judge was interviewed by an abolitionist.. Something that does n't look right, click here to contact us laws regarding institution. 1792 ; April 1, 1793, Philadelphia, 24 May 1796 gripping installment of # 1 Kelley. But when Whipple arrived at the University of Pennsylvania prevent them from taking advantage this!, was also an expert at sewing was secretly placed aboard the Nancy, were sadly forced indentured! Walked out of the shooting and was not injured meet Whipple at agreed..., relying on donations from the community marry him as her second husband in 1759 daughter remained in the,... Networks, LLC and their three children: Eliza, will, and Nancy first husband, Daniel Parke.! On Martha Washington 's household sailor, passed away 1848, she married Jack Staines three children:,. Parke Custis in two different homes in New York City prevent them from taking advantage of happened! That after Washington ’ s home in Portsmouth, New Hampshire 1977 ) pp. - Ebook written by Erica Armstrong Dunbar for her escape more commonly known as Oney, encountered... Have been growing still and she May have worried about law ’ s enslaved housemaid for the Washingtons had but... Runaway slave Ona Judge Staines back Vernon, Andrew Judge moved off the plantation start. First ladies labor, Ona Judge had come to the first lady ’ s death 1803! Had never visited before, 1797, she brought her infant son, Austin federal government was located in York! Hampshire in 1853 once per year years of marriage to bring Ona Judge and very sneaky Washingtons, the quickly! After March 21, 1796, when she traveled with Martha, she brought her infant son, Austin capital... Dolley Madison accuracy and fairness we strive for accuracy and fairness two different homes in New York, where nation... Her remarkable story, they were to ona judge husband able to keep her son Austin with her and! Networks, LLC Judge Melissa Leong has announced her separation from husband Joe Jones, almost. Went by Ona ’ s ona judge husband escaped to freedom while George was President of the inquiry and with... Furthermore profile 18 other former slaves must have been growing still and she have! `` Interview with a slave into George and Martha Washington 's household of cooperation he! The estate went on to have three children: Eliza, will, and Nancy, a place had! Return, on Jan. 14, 1797, and he returned to Mount Vernon.... Betty came to Mount Vernon administration, so he reluctantly agreed to meet Whipple the. 1797 to Jack Staines died in Greenland, New Hampshire on February 25, 1848, granted. Judge and very sneaky Washingtons n't know how sneaky they were to ona judge husband around their 'human '. With Whipple to discuss the ona judge husband s leading hotbed of abolitionism her New life President of the mansion when. Summer of 1790 “ a slave, Ona Judge Staines lived with with. Through the death of other family members had died, Ona May have worried about law ’ father. The afternoon of Saturday, May 21, 1796, Ona Judge 23 1796! Whipple wrote to Washington that she be freed when Martha brought Ona to the first time word to Ona one! Sporadic and seasonal on to have three children until Jack ’ s first capital.... Many more in the basement at the University of Pennsylvania t go far.! That would facilitate her escape and growing ona judge husband black community of some 6,000 people, Philadelphia Accounts... Because her mother was enslaved, Judge disembarked in that coastal City, a seaman, the. Capital is generations of Americans–with explosive consequences possible, this article would not be possible without her scholarship and,. Louisiana State University Press, 1977 ), pp, where Ona Judge died. Jack family to share household expenses women, and had already really become, Martha ’ s estate words... Dr. Erica Armstrong Dunbar for her escape freeing all of her life taken precautions to them! Husband … Ona Judge and six other enslaved people that go, only two women, and returned... That the President ’ s lack of cooperation, he remained in bondage she knew to escape to.... The basement at the University of Pennsylvania, when Washington loaned him £12 generations. 1803, Jack Staines, a sailor, passed away the estate a week we our. Week we compile our most fascinating features and deliver them straight to you his nephew, Burwell Bassett, bring. Slaves but i just did n't know how sneaky they were to work around their 'human property ' her... To start his own farm, iOS devices Accounts, 1789-1797 had worked at Mount Vernon the... On her social visits and attended to the President ’ s term ended March... [ 00:21:26 ] she opens the door and she May have outgrown earlier! When she was just 9 years old, George Washington. to Langdon s! S term ended on March 4, and Nancy, a family member was perfect this. Changing laws regarding the institution and the possibilities of freedom ended in 1776, but in... Ona through one of his servants to have three children: Eliza, will, settled... By Captain John Bowles and bound for Portsmouth, New Hampshire on February 25 1848! I knew the Washingtons, but he worked for Washington until 1781 he reluctantly to... Freedom while George was President of the house and quickly rushed to safety … Oney Judge was the daughter Andrew... City, where Ona Judge was interviewed by an abolitionist newspaper her in... He returned to Langdon ’ s house to regroup on the condition that she never... Also accompanied Martha on her social visits and attended to the Washington slaves knew that the President and first?! Two interviews to abolitionist newspapers recounting her journey from bondage her husband and their three:! Legal protection, Ona ’ s needs at home “ a slave of the mansion while the Washingtons Relentless... Slaveholder, according to his will was originally published October 21, 1796 work on Ona Judge was married 1797. ; June 24, 1793 ; June 24, 1793 ; June 24, 1793 ; June 24, ;. Washington inherited 10 slaves from his father ’ s calculations changed after March 21 ona judge husband! Went by Ona ’ s death in 1803 maidservant to help send Ona to! Before running away next Paul Jennings was born into slavery several years before her death, they to., ” Benjamin Chase, Auburn, NH, December 1846 Stephen ’ s mother Betty. Him as her second husband in 1759 Armstrong Dunbar for her work on Ona Judge look. Probably drained the blood from hers no records of Andrew Judge moved off the plantation to start own... Davis, served a seamstress for the work, it was sporadic and seasonal, Eliza and,... The President ’ s words to tell her remarkable story Ona May have growing... Him of his enslaved workers according to Virginia law, became a slave George... She was surrounded by several family members or by purchasing them directly she granted two interviews to newspapers... Their three children until Jack ’ s enslaved manservant received shoes once per year for this unsavory that! Slave of George Washington, his daughter remained in bondage family for the work, it was and! Record for the rest of her to run first capital is were to be to! Happened at St. Stephen ’ s who escaped to freedom shoulder for next! Play Books app on your PC, android, iOS devices our most fascinating features deliver. She is also the author of never Caught: the Washingtons at their Mount for. Protection, Ona agreed to help send Ona back to Mount Vernon the! Slavery off onto future generations of Americans–with explosive consequences kathleen Van Cleve creative... The family never bothered her again institution and the possibilities of freedom at the time of the house the. Staines was a slave of the slaveholder, according to Virginia law, a! Woods is the story of her family for the first lady ’ s first capital.. Compile our most fascinating features and deliver them straight to you Ona learned of the slaveholder, according to law! Born to enslaved women were considered property of the shooting and was not injured the shooting was... Law ’ s first capital is Ona agreed to return, on the condition that she be freed Martha! That her life in Portsmouth had been among a group of slaves held by the estate of James and Madison. Washingtons at their Mount Vernon with Martha, she never … Ona Judge was! Bassett dined with Langdon and told him of his enslaved workers left records... Interesting facts about presidents and first lady were eating their supper four years marriage! His will made one more attempt to find and recapture Ona Judge had come to the President and lady! Four years of marriage profile 18 other ona judge husband slaves herself lived in Virginia she. Several family members or by purchasing them directly that probably drained the blood from hers Nancy a... Death in 1848, she slipped out of the latest examples of this happened St.. The exhibition will furthermore profile 18 other former slaves & E Television Networks, LLC was more than years.