William Still (1821-1902)

William Still was an African-American abolitionist who took part in the Underground Railroad as a ‘conductor’ and documenter of the Abolitionist Movement and, in particular, the hardships of the railroad “passengers.”

He was born in 1821 to former slaves in Burlington County, New Jersey. His father, Levin Steel, settled in a N.J. farm after purchasing his own freedom. Mr. Steel changed his name to Still to protect his wife, Sidney, who had permanently joined him when she succeeded in her second attempt to escape from slavery in Maryland. The first time, she fled with her four children but was recaptured. The second time, to secure their freedom, she escaped with only her two daughters. She was forced to leave two sons behind, who were sold to slave owners in Alabama. She later changed her name to Charity.

Still was the youngest of 18 children. He had little formal schooling, but studied grammar on his own and read what was available. In 1844, he moved to Philadelphia, where he did various jobs, including handyman in several households.

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Posted by Libergirl


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