The Great Cincinnati Escape

During the dark time of slavery in the United States, there were many daring tales of slaves escaping to secure their freedom and livelihood, but no attempt was quite as audacious as the escape of Lewis Williams.

The Underground Railroad, by Charles T. Webber

The Underground Railroad, by Charles T. Webber

Williams was a man that had escaped slavery in Kentucky as a child and had ventured his way north to make a life in Cincinnati. By the time he was 20, Williams former master had tracked him down after he was turned in by a local psychic that he had confessed to. His former master sought Williams extradition back to Kentucky through the courts, which he could legally do so at the time. 

Once African-American preacher William Troy had learned of Williams extradition hearing he arranged for as many abolitionist's to pack the courthouse as possible, so much so that the courthouse was overflowing. With a spirited defense making for a hefty distraction for officials, Williams quickly switched places and hats with a similar looking man that Troy had arranged to be there. Williams then proceeded to crawl out of the courthouse on his hands and knees. After a short while the bailiff realised the man that was standing trial was no longer Williams, and let the man go.

Williams made his way to Troy's house where he was hiding out for a while, unfortunately for Williams the police suspected that he was there and surrounded the house. Troy proceeded to dress Williams up as a woman where Williams spent a bit of time practicing to walk like a woman.

Once ready, Williams wandered out the back door and past the gazing policemen (even waving to them), and eventually hopped on a train to Canada.