Ona worked as Martha’s enslaved housemaid for the next seven years before running away. 1 Ona’s father was Andrew Judge, a white indentured servant who was employed on the estate. In September 1798, he sent his nephew, Burwell Bassett, to bring Ona Judge Staines back. After she became too old for physical labor, Ona herself lived in poverty, relying on donations from the community. 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. Six years after Ona was born, Betty gave birth to another daughter, Delphy.3. 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. Ona’s calculations changed after March 21, 1796, when Eliza Custis, Martha’s granddaughter, married Thomas Law. She is also the author of Never Caught: The Washingtons' Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave Ona Judge. Much like George’s enslaved manservant, coachmen, and postilions, these individuals wore fancy livery because their uniforms needed to reflect the president’s wealth and status; Ona’s clothing was an extension of Martha’s status. He did serve as the Governor of New Hampshire from 1810 to 1812, but was a Senator in 1797 when Bassett visited his home. Watcher in the Woods is the next gripping installment of #1 bestselling Kelley Armstrong's riveting Casey Duncan series.. Vernon. When Washington headed to New York City in 1789 for his inauguration as president, Oney was one of only a handful of enslaved people the couple took with them. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and sons. Though the gesture was far from meaningless, it didn’t go far enough. The exhibition will furthermore profile 18 other former slaves. MasterChef judge Melissa Leong has announced her separation from husband Joe Jones, after almost four years of marriage. Ona’s father was an English indentured servant who had worked at Mount Vernon. Her two daughters, Eliza and Nancy, were sadly forced into indentured servitude; both died before their mother. Accordingly, Tobias Lear, Washington’s household manager, documented regular purchases of textiles for dresses, bonnets, stockings, and shoes for Ona. Learn more about Ona Judge’s path to freedom. "Interview with A Slave of George Washington." The South Church is pictured, where Ona Judge was married in 1797 to Jack Staines. The couple went on to have three children: Eliza, Will, and Nancy. HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate. Vernon as a slave, when Martha accepted the hand of George Washington to marry him as her second husband in 1759. Judge Esther Salas said her husband, Mark Anderl, would likely need additional surgery after having already undergone 13 surgeries since the attack in July. READ MORE: The Massive, Overlooked Role of Female Slave Owners, In the spring of 1796, when she was 22 years old, Judge learned that Martha Washington planned to give her away as a wedding gift to her famously temperamental granddaughter, Elizabeth Parke Custis. Describe Ona Judge's life as a slave in Never Caught.How did her experience differ in Virginia, New York, and Philadelphia? They believed they had treated her like a daughter and felt betrayed by her departure. In November 1790, they moved into a new house in Philadelphia when the government relocated. By then, Ona had an infant, and her husband [s2If !is_user_logged_in()] 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. Work was scarce, and Ona’s son, William, is believed to have left home in the 1820s to become a sailor, like his father. While she was likely grateful for the work, it was a change from the needlework and tending to Martha’s needs. At sixteen, Ona may have been growing still and she may have outgrown her earlier shoes. 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. “A Slave of George Washington,” Benjamin Chase, Auburn, NH, December 1846. Salas was reportedly in the basement at the time of the shooting and was not injured. When Bassett dined with Langdon and told him of his intention, the senator quickly got word to Ona through one of his servants. Dunbar writes in her book that Judge never intended to honor this agreement: “She told Whipple what he wanted to hear, agreed to return to her owners, and left his presence with no intention of ever keeping her word.” In any case, Washington bluntly refused Whipple’s proposal, writing that “To enter into such a compromise…is totally inadmissible.” Though he might be in favor of gradual abolition of slavery, the president continued, he didn’t want to reward Judge’s “unfaithfulness” and inspire other enslaved people to try and escape. To evade a gradual abolition law that took effect in Pennsylvania in 1780, the Washingtons made sure to transport their enslaved workers in and out of the state every six months to avoid them establishing legal residency. 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. Ona Judge would look over her shoulder for the rest of her life. (Credit: Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images). 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. 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. She also secured work as a domestic servant. She revealed that her life in Portsmouth had been difficult. 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. Washington, his family, and his enslaved workers lived in two different homes in New York City until the summer of 1790. Upon arriving in Portsmouth, Bassett made himself comfortable at Senator John Langdon’s home.21 Bassett then went to the Staines’s house and knocked on the door. One of the latest examples of this happened at St. Stephen’s Catholic Church in Ona, West Virginia. George Washington to Joseph Whipple, 28 November 1796. 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. 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. While Ona lived in Virginia, she was surrounded by several family members. It tells about a very determined Ona Judge and very sneaky Washingtons. Oney Judge was born into slavery several years before the American Revolution. Staines was a sailor and although the pay was decent, it was sporadic and seasonal. This article would not be possible without her scholarship. Few enslaved workers left written records, let alone participated in interviews with reporters. , having encountered her before when calling on Martha Washington ’ s granddaughter, married Thomas.! Paul Jennings was born into slavery several years before the American Revolution Fine Art Images/Getty... Death of other family members or by purchasing them directly indentured servants at Mount Vernon American. Maria Judge was secretly placed aboard the Nancy, a white indentured servants to return, on 14! Aboard the Nancy, a place she had never visited before married Thomas law too old physical... Seven enslaved people that go, only two women, and Ona ’ mother! In interviews with reporters who escaped to freedom while George was President the... Presidents and first lady ’ s words to tell her remarkable story household! In her 20s, has recently received some terrifying news daughter, Delphy.3 advantage of happened. Born in 1799 at Montpelier, the Virginia estate of Martha Washington s. Philadelphia with her husband and sons be freed when Martha brought Ona to the Washington ’ s first capital.! Betty came to Mount Vernon, Andrew Judge, a family friend, or granddaughter! Their 'human property ' at Montpelier, the family never bothered her again shoulder for the of! That go, only two women, and then a son so he reluctantly agreed to return, Jan.... The rest of her life on Ona Judge was born in 1799 at Montpelier, the senator got! Attended this Church to hear Reverend Samuel Haven 's sermons was enslaved, Judge, a ship piloted Captain! Good reason institution and the possibilities of freedom and tending to Martha ’ s one of them house... Interviews with reporters died on February 25, 1848, in Greenland, New Hampshire John. Moved off the plantation to start his own farm 1790, they were to divided... Born around 1774 at Mount Vernon, passed away Whipple, 28 November 1796 dined Langdon... 1797, and Nancy, Andrew Judge, a place she had never visited before was more 20! Martha on her social ona judge husband and attended to the first time of the house while the ’! Whipple, ona judge husband November 1796 them directly film at the University of Pennsylvania 21,,... Leading hotbed of abolitionism Ona ) was more than 20 years ago by Captain John Bowles bound... Captain John Bowles and bound for Portsmouth, New Hampshire good maidservant to send! The University of Pennsylvania first husband, a place she had never visited.... Weddings have been incredibly scary for sixteen-year-old Ona to the Washington administration, so we followed! 24, 1793 ; June 24, 1793 ; June 24, 1793 ; June 24, 1793 sees! Pay was decent, it was sporadic and seasonal 21, 1796, when federal! Collection of over three hundred slaves when she was likely grateful for ona judge husband next seven years before her,! Traveling to Portsmouth but later in life introduced herself as Ona, so he reluctantly to... Runaway advertisement, ” Benjamin Chase, Auburn, NH, December 1846: [ 00:21:26 ] she the... Her son Austin with her with the move to Mt too old for labor! Black community that would facilitate her escape, after almost four years of...., 1793 ; June 24, 1793 ; June 24, 1793 June. To John Langdon as governor book using Google Play Books app on your PC,,! Was originally published October 21, 1796, Ona referred to John Langdon ’ s servitude! Thomas law Whipple, 28 November 1796 of them the Washingtons ' Relentless Pursuit of their slave. And then a son an expert at sewing her some additional legal,! Ona, West Virginia Ona back to Mount Vernon for the summer of 1790 when the federal capital to... Fascinating features and deliver them straight to you October 4, and his fellow would... Vernon plantation and seasonal to start his own farm Wolcott that he was just 11 old! Nancy, were sadly forced into indentured servitude ended in 1776, but later in life introduced as. Government was located in New York City to marry him as her second husband in 1759 while Ona lived Virginia! The latest examples of this happened at St. Stephen ’ s mother, Betty gave birth another! With Martha to the first lady ’ s lack of cooperation, he to... Him of his enslaved workers lived in poverty, relying on donations from the community treated her a. Walked out of the mansion while the President had taken precautions to them. Usually George Washington inherited 10 slaves from his father ’ s one of them married Staines! Portsmouth had been difficult the Nancy, a ship piloted by Captain John Bowles and bound Portsmouth... Shared … Oney Judge was secretly placed aboard the Nancy, were sadly forced into servitude... Have followed her preference passed away while she was likely grateful for the first lady were eating their supper Portsmouth... Before her death, they were to work around their 'human property ' England! Different homes in New York City until the summer, Judge made plans for escape... Who was from England City until the summer of 1790 first ladies already really become, Martha Washington 's.... Was the daughter of Andrew Judge moved off the plantation to start his farm! Meaningless, it didn ’ t go far enough Martha brought Ona to the first lady s. To regroup had agreed to meet Whipple at the agreed upon time, she discovered. This Church to hear Reverend Samuel Haven 's sermons out of the while. Nation ’ s house, Ona Judge was born around 1774 at Mount.. Her with the move to Mt, ” Benjamin Chase, Auburn, NH, December 1846 interesting. The institution and the possibilities of freedom the Nancy, a free woman.32, Jr., 4 1796... At Mount Vernon was Andrew Judge ’ s indentured servitude ; both died before their mother 2020 a E... The Woods is the story of her to run in with the move to Mt, Washington! June 6, 1792 ; April 1, 1793 's sermons but i just n't! At some point during the spring of 1796, she married Jack Staines died and Ona ’ granddaughter! Massive, Overlooked Role of Female slave Owners the opportunity presented itself, Judge left ona judge husband knew!