Finding freedom in a harsh wilderness
December 30, 2014 4:23 AM   Subscribe

The Underground Railroad was the route that allowed Southern slaves to escape North, but some slaves found freedom by hiding closer to home, in the vast wilderness area of North Carolina and Virginia known as the Great Dismal Swamp. Research suggests that thousands of maroons, as the escaped or freed slaves were called, lived there between 1700 and the 1860s.

NOTE: The audio in the first link, from NPR, and the second link, from WVTF, is the same. The two articles, however, contain different information.
posted by flapjax at midnite (8 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Thanks for the post. The account of Moses Grandy which is linked in the first article is harrowing. It doesn't mention his living in the Swamp as much as his account of life as a slave in general, but it is really worth reading.
posted by billiebee at 5:45 AM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

I heard this on NPR this weekend and am glad to learn some more about it. Based on my experience spending time in the southeastern wilderness, the snakes, bobcats, and bears are manageable problems. The first two would just as soon have nothing to do with humans, and the black bears that live here are more interested in your food than they are in you (in contrast to Grizzlies and Brown Bears who consider you to be part of the food).

The insects, on the other hand, are relentless. Mosquitos, various biting flies, No-see-ums, and more. And the diseases they carry. Those folks probably looked forward to winter when the bugs are inactive.
posted by TedW at 6:08 AM on December 30, 2014

Wow, I somehow had never heard about this. Thank you for posting.
posted by Librarypt at 7:13 AM on December 30, 2014

Finally I understand William Gibson's Twitter username.
posted by FrauMaschine at 7:36 AM on December 30, 2014

Covered thoroughly in this book.
posted by 3.2.3 at 7:44 AM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Research suggests that thousands of maroons, as the escaped or freed slaves were called

I never, ever knew this. Now makes me wonder whether 'ya big maroon' is a corruption of 'moron' or if something else is going on there.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:00 AM on December 30, 2014 [3 favorites]

You beat me to it, FFFM. Came here to say, did Termite Terrace know about this when they wrote for Bugs Bunny?
posted by Melismata at 8:21 AM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

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