Skip navigation

1828 Hudnall

Hudnell was a slave catcher from Kentucky who caught Daniel and Ben, two alleged run-away slaves , in Detroit. The capture caused great excitement and according to Thomas Sheldon, Wayne County sheriff, "a large number of runaway slaves had collected & armed themselves for the purpose of boarding the vessel & rescuing the slaves of said Hudnell....Under all the existing circumstances, it was thought remove said slaves fifteen miles below town, & there put them on board the vessel....the consequence was that both slaves made their escape from the possession of said Hudnell; whether through the inattention of said Hudnell, or by the assistance of any person I have never been able to satisfy myself." (Territorial Papers, vol. 12, p. 129)

[January 6, 1829]

Commonwealth of Kentucky Harrisons County Sct

The Affidavit of Ezekiel K. Hudnell

This Affiant States that about the middle of December 1828 he overtook in Detroit two Slaves named Daniel and Ben who had fled from Service in Kentucky That on or about the 14th day of December he caused Said Slaves to be arrested and taken before John McDonel a Justice of the Peace inn Detroit in the Teritory of Michigan and according to an Act of Congress in Such case made and provided proved his claim to them And obtained a certificate from Said John McDonel Esq of the claim to SD Slaves

And after the trial before the Justice of the Peace as afsd The Said Slaves by a writ of Habeas Corpus were taken out the possession of this Affiant and Carried before the Judges of the Supreme Court before which the right of this Affiant to Said Slaves was again investigated & established & they restored to his possession since After the Slaves were thus restored to the possession of this Affiant, he was advised by his Attorney Mr Cole that it would be necessary to have the Certificate of the Magistrate Countersigned or authenticated by the Secretary Jas Witheril (The Governor being absent) This Affiant then applied to Mr. Swan the Deputy Sheriff and enquired what would be the Secretary's fee for countersigning or Authenticating the certificate, and being informed that it would be one dollar and fifty cents, he placed the certificate and money in his hands and requested him to procure the certificate of the Secretary: and whilst in company With Mr. Swan, the Clerk of the Secretary Joined them, to whom Mr. Swan gave the money and the certificate & requested him as he was going to the Secretary's to take them with him

Next morning this Affiant Sent for the Certificate, and was informed that the Secretary had not Signed it, & probably would not - Nor would he redeliver the fee or certificate of the Magistrate This Affiant then gave a written order for the Certificate, and being in danger of loosing a passage down the lake Set off with the Slaves and in the night on the adjacent Island the Slaves made their escape, as this Affiant believes, in consequence of the delay occasioned by the neglect of the Secretary James Witherel to Sign the Certificate



From: THE TERRITORIAL PAPERS OF THE UNITED STATES Compiled and edited by Clarence Edwin Carter. Volume XI The Territory of Michigan 1820-1829. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1943: 1241-1242.

See Also:

Hamil, Fred. Fugitive Slaves in Western Canada Prior to 1850. Bulletin of The Detroit Historical Society 1945 2 (1): 1-4.

McRae, Norman. Crossing the Detroit River to Find Freedom. Michigan History 1983 67 (2): 35-39.