Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Phoebe Myers (b. circa 1803 - d. ?)
MSA SC 5496-003380
Accomplice to slave fight, Queen Anne's County, Maryland, 1855


Phoebe Myers, a free African American, lived in the first election district of Queen Anne's County, Maryland. On December 5, 1855, Phoebe Myers was found guilty of harboring seven runaway slaves. Lucy Johnson, William Johnson, and Maria Johnson had fled with Robert Tilden, Charles Tilden, Hester Tilden, and Hester's infant from Richard Bennett Carmichael's farm in the Wye District.1 Myers was sentenced to six years and six months on the first charge, and six years for each of the other charges, a total of forty-two years and six months.2 A newspaper account that appeared in the Cecil Democrat claimed that "Phoeby Myers" had aided in the escape of her own children and grandchildren.3

On December 20, 1855, Myers arrived at the Maryland Penitentiary in Baltimore, where she was assigned the job of "Spinner." Her sentence would have ended on June 15, 1898.4 However, on May 6, 1856, Governor Thomas Watkins Ligon pardoned Myers in response to a petition from prominent members of the community.5 Petitioners included Clinton Cook, Judge Philemon B. Hopper, Philemon B. Hopper Jr., Ezekial Forman Chambers, Thomas James Keating, and, perhaps most surprisingly, Richard B. Carmichael, the owner of the runaway slaves.6

The 1850 census showed "Phebe Myers" as the head of her household, with the only other resident being an eight-year-old girl named Ellenora.7 In 1860, she appeared as "Feba Myres," living in the same Queen Anne's County community with seventeen-year-old Ellen (the same as the Ellenora in the last census), and a two-year-old named William Myres. A fifty-year-old laborer named Charles Dorsey also lived in the Myres household.8

1.     Miscellaneous Court Papers,  Queen Anne's Circuit Court  1855-1856 MSA #T3273

2.     (Criminal Docket) Queen Anne's County 1855 November Term 1855 MSA C-1385-69 Acc. #20,095-69 Loc. 2/1/4/19

3.    "Pardoned." Cecil Democrat, 17 May 1856, p.2.

4.     MD Penitentiary (Prison Records) 1811 - 1869   Acc. #5656   MSA #S275-2   Loc. 1/30/4/38

5.     Secretary of State (Pardon Records) 1845 - 1865   Acc. # 7931    MSA # S 1108-2   Location: 2/26/5/30   Page 213

6.     Historical List House of Delegates, Queen Anne's County (1790 - 1974) Historical List Senate, Queen Anne's County (1838 - 1966)

7.     Census 1850 Queen Anne's County and Somerset County Schedule I Free Inhabitants 1st Election District 6th September 1850. Acc. #M 1500-1   MSA #SM 61-143

8.    Census 1860 Queen Anne's County 1st Election District SCM 7224-1 MSA #SM 61-215

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