A Hot Day in July and a Man Running from Slavery
Kossuth county, Iowa
Ambrose A. Call told a story of a sultry day in July, perhaps 1855, when a shoeless, haggard man, exhausted by heat and hunger, appeared at this cabin door. He had escaped slavery in Missouri and made it all the way to Kossuth County. Among the group of men around Call was a Quaker named Smock, committed to the resistance of slavery. The desperate man was fed for a week, clothed and guided a half-day along Union Slough toward Mankato, Minnesota. With rest, clothing, and provisions, he was better able to withstand the heat of July. The Kossuth County men later learned that the man they had assisted had arrived at Mankato.
Because this event occurred after the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act that legally sanctioned the pursuit and capture of enslaved people into free territory like Kossuth County, Call’s story includes the appearance of what he described as “two long-haired men loaded down with revolvers, on lank, jaded horses” who were pursuing the man who Smock, Call, and others had assisted. Ten or fifteen men in the settlement with rifles sent the two long-haired, confrontational men away, but they later heard that these men told stories of having seen their “property” in Call’s settlement, protected there by men with guns. They claimed they were lucky to escape with their lives.