Mary and Phillip Younger

MAry Younger quote

Wall poster in the Chatham-Kent Black Historical Society Heritage Room

Phillip and Mary Younger and their daughter Rebecca were born in Virginia into slavery.  Phillip obtained a Certificate of Freedom:

Philip, born about 1799, obtained a certificate of freedom in Frederick County on 8 March 1815: a dark mulatto boy, aged about sixteen years and seven month sold, about five feet two inches high … is free born as appears by an affidavit of Mary Wandle [Certificates of Freedom 1806-27, 36, 48].

Three other children were born in Tennessee and the Younger family  found its way to College Hill where, in the 1850 census, Phillip  and Mary and their children are living in College Hill and he was employed as a “Sexton.”  He must have worked at the Farmers’ College Chapel since it was the only church in Pleasant Hill in 1850.   From the census, the Youngers were next to the Farmers’ College professor Rev. Dr. Robert Bishop who preached regularly in the chapel.  Phillip’s work would have brought him into contact with the many sons of  abolitionists who studied at the Cary Academy and Farmers’ College such as James G. Birney, William Beard, John Van Zandt and many from the Indiana Yearly Meeting of Anti-Slavery Friends. That means that he would also have had contact with the sons of slaveholders who were also students at Farmers’ College.

Harriet Wilson’s letter reveals that the “janitor’s wife” (Mary Younger, the wife of the Farmers’ College Sexton) had no Certificate of Freedom and after the 1850 Fugitive Slave act, no longer felt safe in College Hill.

1850 Millcreek Township Census, Hamilton Co., Ohio (August  12, 1850)

Phillip Younger born Va., age 60, occupation: Sexton

Mary Younger, born Va., age 50.

Rebecca, age 24, born Va.

Mary, age 8, born Tn,

Thomas, age 5, born Tn.

William, age 7, born Tn.

The Youngers decided to set off for a new life in Canada. By 1851, the Youngers appear in a local Chatham, Kent Co., Canada Directory where Philip Younger is listed as “grocer.”

1861 Canadian Census in Chatham, Kent Co.

Phillip Younger, age 78, born US, gardener, Church of Scotland

Mary, age 56

Mary A., age 18

Thomas, age 16

Isaiah, age 3.

We can read the personal accounts of both Phillip Younger and Mary Younger because they were included in Benjamin Drew’s “A North-side View of Slavery.  The Refugee or The Narrative of Fugitive slaves in Canada” (1856).  In their narratives, they recount their lives in slavery and Philip wrote:  “I would rather starve to death here (in Canada) being a free man, than to have plenty in slavery.”

They were very involved in the work of the Underground Railroad in College Hill and then used the railroad themselves to find their way to Ontario where they started a new life in Chatham with their neighbor from College Hill, Henry Blue.


Diana Porter, updated August 25, 2015


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