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Oney Judge Burial Site?

Oney Judge Greenland Grave Site/


Could this broken tombstone under a tree in Greenland, NH be the final restingplace of Oney (Ona) Judge Staines? Enslaved by George and Martha Washington, Oney escaped the opulent Mount Vernon in Virginia to a life of quiet poverty in rural New Hampshire in 1796.




Oney Judge: Black History as Poetry

JUMP TO: Greenland Gravesite 
READ ABOUT: Ona Judge Staines  
READ ABOUT: G. Washington in Portsmouth 

The following verses are from M. O. Hall's "Rambles About Greenland in Rhyme" (Boston: Alfred Mudge & Sons, Printers, 1900), an anecdotal history of the town of Greenland, NH. In these stanzas, the author takes poetic license with the story of Ona (Oney) Judge Staines, distorting and embellishing many facts. For example, she was older than age fifteen at the time of her escape, gave birth to several children, and Eliza died many years before her mother -- just to name a few distortions. However, Hall's account is biographically inspired, captures the excitement of Ona's escape, and shows how this former bondswoman became a local legend. (Notes by Evelyn Gerson)

Ona, Washington's Runaway Slave 
By M. O. Halls (1900)

But what I have to tell, is, how a slave was hid,
A maid of Martha Washington, a little kid,
And almost white; she had some help and found a way
To make escape upon a schooner down the bay.
The vessel came with wood; behind a pile she hid
Until, just as the vessel sailed, she thought and did

Just what occasion prompted, slipped on board and hid
Again, and there she stayed in fear until they bid
Her to come on deck, and have no fear, for she was safe;
And all were drawn in pity to the little waif
Of fifteen years. The vessel, bound for Portsmouth, kept
Right on until she reached her port, and then she wept
For joy. Liberty is sweet (bear this in mind)
To all-to bird and beast, as well to all mankind.

A man by name of Staines took her to wife. By her
He had two daughters. 'Liza lived, and many were
The presents made to pave the way to see a slave
Of Washington. Now, when 't was known he wished to save
This chattel, she was warned and fled to this retreat.

The course pursued was very wise; he was discreet.
His letter showed the noble man he always was.
"His wife would like her back, but would not be the cause
Of any strife, take any action, give offence,"
He said, "if public feeling had become intense."
Charles Sumner, senator and statesman (this maintains,)
Was written the collector of the port 'bout Mrs. Staines.
And when the story spread, that she was wanted back,

She sought and found a shelter in the house of Jack.
The Jacks were very jealous of attentions paid
To this lone widow woman, and, when some were made
In common, took the lion's share, scoop in the whole
And treated little Staines as though she had no soul.

The ground where once the cottage stood, there by the brook,
To-day is all smoothed down, and in this garden nook,
Where once sweetwilliams, daffodils, and beds of rue,
Old fashioned flowers, perfumes mixed and drank the dew.

There's nothing left to tell the tale of daily strife,
Of constant struggle, ending only with the life.
They are all buried in a lonely, far-off spot,
Away from human kind-a lonely pasture lot.
Now let us leave this lovely, lonely, sacred dell.
Written 1900 about an 1796 event


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Thursday, February 22, 2018 
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