Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Eliza Manokey (b. ? - d. ?)
MSA SC 5496-8254
Fled from Slavery, Talbot County, Maryland, 1856


    Eliza Manokey escaped from servitude in Talbot County, Maryland, in 1856. She joined fellow fugitives Peter Pennington, Joe Bailey, and William Bailey, whose accounts of events were much more complete.1 It is unknown whether Eliza was slave or free, and exactly where she labored in Talbot County. She may have been the "Eliza Manoka," recorded in the Baltimore Runaway Dockets, who unsuccessfully attempted to pass as a free woman in 1849. 2 Undoubtedly, she had heard about Harriet Tubman's bold strikes against slavery in the area, and she may have been related to the heroine's Manokey cousins.3 Eliza decided to join the party of fugitives after they enlisted Tubman's guidance in November, 1856. However, she was probably unaware that her companions were so highly valued by their owners, who posted a twenty six hundred dollar reward on November 22.4 Joe Bailey alone, had elicited a $1500 offer from William R. Hughlett, creating a particular degree of awareness at the group's flight.

    Considering their high profile, the runaways took great caution in making their way to Wilmington, Delaware, needing about 10 more days than it usually took Tubman to reach that destination.5 She and Thomas Garrett had already conducted several campaigns using that route, but had rarely faced such considerable attention. The three men's owners had beaten the group to Delaware, and Garrett was forced to concoct a deceptive ruse to get them past various patrols blocking the Christiana River. He employed a group of black bricklayers to hide the five individuals in their loaded wagon, "singing and shouting" as to ease the minds of suspicious whites.6 They were then forwarded to William Still in Philadelphia, where he recorded some details of their escape.7 While Eliza may ultimately reached Canada with the rest of her party, there is no record of her life there.

Footnotes - 

1. William Still. The Underground Railroad:  A Record of Facts, Authentic Narratives, Letters, etc.  (Philadelphia: Porter & Coates, 1872), pp. 272-274

2. BALTIMORE CITY AND COUNTY JAIL (Runaway Docket), 1836 - 1850, Docket #1307, "Eliza Manoka".

3. Kate Clifford Larson. Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of an American Hero. New York, NY: Ballantine Books, 2004.

4. "Two Thousand Six Hundred Dollars Reward," Baltimore Sun, 22 November 1856.

5. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Libaries: Documenting the American South.  "Harriet, the Moses of Her People, Bradford, Sarah H."

6. Ibid. 

7.Still, pp. 272-274.

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