I'm working on a study of fugitive slave cases in western New York and have one with a Hardy County connection, and I hope someone will be able to provide additional details and/or point me to the proper records.
About January 12 or 13th, 1851, a slave known as "Harrison" about 19 years old escaped from a Dr. Nathaniel D. Parren (or Parron) of Hardy County, possibly with a group of other slaves. Harrison (or Harrison Williams) was living in Busti, Chautauqua County, New York, September 1851, when apparently Dr. Parren learned where he was.
Parren went to the County Court of Hardy County, and on 22nd Sept. 1851, obtained papers showing Harrison was a fugitive. He, accompanied by a neighbor, George S. Neff, went to Buffalo, New York, and obtained a warrant for the capture of Harrison and (apparently) four other fugitive slaves. With law enforcement officials from Buffalo and Chautauqua County, Parren and Neff went to Busti (about 70 miles south west) and captured Harrison at the home of a free black family. This was on or about Sept. 30, However, local abolitionists were alerted and the other fugitives excaped and later went to Canada. They were pursued part way back to Buffalo by armed local residents on Busti who intended to recapture Harrison, but gave up. Harrison was taken to Buffalo and after a hearing to determine his status, was returned to Hardy County under the terms of the 1851 fugitive slave law on or about October 3.
According to local histories, a resident of Busti (either Jabez or James Broadhead) encountered Harrison in Culpepper, Virginia, in 1864. According to this story, Harrison had been sold to Georgia, but by 1864 had been freed and was working for the Federal army.
Also, according to one local history, two of the slaves who weren't captured in Sept. 1851 "a few months after" went to Virginia to get their wives, with the aid of a local Busti man identified as "Elder Burrows" but were recaptured (though Burrows was not).
All of this makes a very interesting story, and I am trying to verify what was reported in the papers and local histories and see what else could be found out. I'm just begining to look for sources in Hardy County.
The other item was from the Liberator (Boston) that reproduces an item from the Hardy (Va) Whig of the 19th [of September, presumably] about "the capture of nine negroes who ran off from that country on the 7th instant. Two were taken on the Virginia side of the Potomac, and the other seven sixteen miles beyond the Pennsylvania line..."
According to the court records in Buffalo, as reported in the Buffalo papers, Neff and Parren brought court records from Hardy County attesting to Harrison being a slave dated Sept. 22nd. That matches pretty much the account in the Argus about two of the slaves being captured "about six weeks ago" (which would have been in mid September) in Virginia. It definately seems worth checking to see if those two had some involvement in the foiled escape attempt of September 7th. Very interesting.
Seems like there may have been a well travelled route for fugitive slaves going from Hardy County to Chautauqua County, New York.
Christopher Densmore, University Archivist
University at Buffalo
420 Capen Hall
Buffalo, New York 14260-2200