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Follow the Drinking Gourd:
A Cultural History



Children's Books  Notes (Partial)

(1) Family Groups

"Attempting to escape with a spouse was nearly as hazardous as running away with children." p. 62.

"...the great majority of runaways were young men in their teens and twenties...(M)ales constituted 81 percent of those who were advertised as runaways..." p. 210.

Runaway Slaves, Rebels on the Plantation, John Hope Franklin and Loren Schweninger, Oxford University Press, USA, 1999

(2) Quail at Night

Quail do not call at night, since it would reveal their roosting position to predators.

"I've lived around quail my entire life, I have coveys on my farm that roost within a couple hundred yards of the house and have never heard a peep out of them after they go to roost. They will call just prior to settling down for the night and then call again at 25 minutes before sunrise, but I've never heard anything after dark." Roger Wells, National Habitat Director, Quail Unlimited, Inc., personal communication.

"Because bobwhite quail...roost, feed, nest, etc. on the ground, it is not in their best interest (i.e. to survive) to make vocal sounds at night when so many predators are active. To make sounds at night, would indeed, attract predators to their location." Claude L. Jenkins, Certified Wildlife Biologist, Alabama Wildlife Federation, personal communication. 

(3) Kind Deed

"Runaway slaves used frequently to conceal themselves in the woods and thickets in the vicinity of New Garden, waiting opportunities to make their escape to the North, and I generally learned their places of concealment and rendered them all the service in my power. My father, in common with other farmers in that part of the country, allowed his hogs to run in the woods, and I often went out to feed them. My sack of corn generally contained supplies of bacon and corn bread for the slaves, and many a time I sat in the thickets with them as they hungrily devoured my bounty..."

Reminiscences of Levi Coffin, Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & Co., 1880, Second Edition

(4) Hoot Owl

See Wilbur H. Siebert, The Underground Railroad:  from Slavery to Freedom, 1898, p. 56. Also, David Putnam, an Underground Railroad agent based at Point Harmar near, Marietta, "and his friends used the call of a hoot owl to signal arrivals." Fergus M. Bordewich, Bound for Canaan, Amistad, an imprint of HarperCollins, 2005, p. 231.

(5) Five More Souls are Safe

Sarah H. Bradford, in Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman, quotes Harriet Tubman in turn quoting another slave upon their safe arrival in Canada:

"Then Joe's head went up, he raised his hands on high, and his face, streaming with tears, to heaven, and broke out in loud and thrilling tones:

'Glory to God and Jesus too,
One more soul is safe!
Oh, go and carry the news,
One more soul got safe.'"

Auburn [N.Y.] W.J. Moses, printer, 1869, p. 34

(6) Peppery Pooches

I am not an expert on using pepper to throw off pooches, but a quick web search led me to wonder if this was a "rural legend." See here:

Despite Hollywood images, it's not easy to distract a bloodhound, handlers say. "That whole thing about running through the creek and throwing the scent off?" Bunk, said Sharon Allen, 40, a Seattle search and rescuer who came to the seminar with her hound, Scout. Bloodhounds are often aided by water, which, even if it's moving, can retain a person's skin flakes and oil, she said.

And that bit about sprinkling pepper on the trail to throw them off? (Loudoun County Sheriff's Deputy Terry) Davis tried it once. "The dog...ate it all and kept tracking," he said.

And also here:

Using distracting or irritating odors (for example, CS powder or pepper) only bothers the dog for a short time (3 to 5 minutes). After the odor is discharged by the dog, he can pickup a cold trail even quicker.

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