My Beginning of the Underground Railroad Research

One of the documents belonging to Suffield Library

One of the documents belonging to Suffield Historical Society

For the beginning of the class, we were introduced to the topic related to Underground Railroad, which we will explore throughout winter and spring terms. The general information is that in the 1790s, Hanchett, a Revolutionary army veteran, tried to kidnap Flora, who was a free African American, and her two daughters. Fortunately, Exeter, her husband, was able to fight off Hanchett. Nonetheless, one day, Exeter came home and found out that Flora and their two daughters disappeared. He assumed that Hanchett kidnapped them, but he remained on the Massachusetts side of the border. To search Flora and two daughters, Exeter took two long journeys but could not figure out anything about them and died not knowing their fate. In 1845, Revered Hemingway of West Suffield wrote a letter to John Hooker to free Flora’s descendants in Virginia, and Hemingway and Hooker sued Southern slave owners in Virginia. We will examine this whole issue.

First, each of us had to research each character, related movement, and laws in this issue, and I searched for Flora. I have found much information about her, which was helpful for our understanding on the issue. She was a free African American, who is from Connecticut, but after Hanchett kidnapped her she and her daughter illegally became slaves and were sent to Virginia. Although Flora tried to attain freedom, people around her neglected her effort. Even after Flora’s death, Flora’s descendants struggled for their freedom.

During the research on Flora, I found a good source that we should share and communicate with each other. We can attempt to commute with the Library of Virginia because it provided enough information about the story of Flora and have some primary sources; we can later ask questions to the library about Flora’s life in Virginia. Also, if we find new information on her, we can send it to the Library of Virginia where we discovered. All the knowledge I have found about Flora in the Library of Virginia was really specific that they had most of the people’s names and the years. It also included the picture of documents. Moreover, we can discover other sources by asking the Library of Virginia where and how it got these primary sources. We can also inform documents in Suffield to the Library of Virginia. Even though some people cast doubt that Flora was kidnapped, I think that Flora actually became a slave because there was a case for the freedom of Flora’s descendants, which means that Flora and her daughters were actually captured in Virginia. If Flora was not kidnapped, there would be no lawsuit, and Exeter would not take two journeys (although we need to be certain where exactly he went to).

For the future, first we have to create a solid outline for the presentation to know which direction we need to figure out for this group project. For example, we can present the general information of Underground Railroad, slavery laws and temperance movement, and Flora issue. After we make an outline, we can assign each person a different task (using their own sources). Also, we can frequently go to field trip to figure out the the background of this issues and find out more clues.


“Flora’s Plight: A Montgomery County Freedom Suit:”

“The Long Wait of Freedom: A Montgomery County Freedom Suit:”


5 thoughts on “My Beginning of the Underground Railroad Research

  1. hykshannon

    Very clear reasonings on this whole project and the role of Flora in this whole investigation. What do you think we, as a class, should do to further persuade the Library of Virginia to join our research? I think you can also write more in what we did generally throughout the past two weeks.


  2. cxcoco

    You have good thoughts on communicating with the Library of Virginia. What’s a more specific direction of the research you want to focus on instead of giving a general idea? You can add more information about the Flora’s descendent’s case and extract some crucial depositions from the library resources.


  3. frankwxxxx

    It sounds great that you have found relative source that relate Flora to Library of Virginia. it was already a difficult thing to find relative source already. You have explained great on what content your source have, but can you give a clearer idea of how you want to investigate more into Flora and dig more information about her story probably in the Library of Virginia? You should go find more relative stories or cases in the Library of Virginia to seek any connections between them.


  4. suhchoi4

    Good reasoning and how it leads to your main argument.
    How would you research about her story in the Virginia Library?
    I think overall, it is excellent and a very good stepping stone for us.



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