Exhibit 8

Burlington, John William Dunjee, and the Underground Railroad

BurlingtonVirginia Governor John Mumford Gregory was born in Charles City County, but lived for many years in Richmond. He acquired Burlington in 1860 when he moved back to the county to take up a new job as judge of the Circuit Court. John William Dunjee (1833-1903) was a New Kent slave who was hired out to Judge Gregory. Dunjee escaped and was conveyed by the Underground Rail Road to Canada. Years later he was profiled by abolitionist William Still in a book entitled The Underground Rail Road. Photo courtesy Nancy Phaup.


John William DunjeeAlthough Dungy was born in New Kent and was living with Gregory in Richmond when he made his escape, the story about his passage on the Underground Railroad is of particular interest, because so little is known about Charles City slaves who escaped to freedom and because Dunjee came to Charles City to visit the Gregorys at Burlington after the end of the Civil War. Photo courtesy Peggy Bartram.


Brown BoxSome slaves may have made their way to freedom traveling overland to Ohio with forged or stolen “free papers” or by traveling at night and hiding out during the day. A few also may have stowed away in railway cars headed north, like the celebrated Box Brown, pictured here. However, most slaves from this region who escaped did so as stowaways on steamships leaving from City Point and Norfolk. Image courtesy Library of Congress.


Old Dominion Steamship CompanyDunjee was owned by the Terrill family of Criss Cross Plantation in New Kent County. Five heirs of the estate had moved to Alabama, and Dunjee had been hired out to Judge Gregory who was then living in Richmond. In the winter of 1859 Dunjee learned that he was going to be sent to Alabama, and so began making plans to escape. Photo of Criss Cross Plantation courtesy Library of Congress.


Old Dominion Steamship Company

According to Dunjee, Judge and Mrs. Gregory were kind masters. When he told them that he wished to visit his mother in the country because she was ill, he was given permission to visit for a week and was given a written pass and $5 for his expenses. In addition to this money Dunjee had managed to save approximately $60 which he later contributed to the cost of his passage. Image courtesy Library of Congress.


John William Dunjee At City Point, Dunjee was stowed away on the steamship Pennsylvania. Initially, he was hidden in a cabin filled with old furniture and junk. But when an Irish family was consigned to that cabin he was moved to the kettle closet, a space so confined that he had difficulty standing and walking when the ship finally reached Philadelphia. Image courtesy Library of Congress.


mapIn Philadelphia, Dunjee met with conductors on the Rail Road who helped to convey him to Providence, Rhode Island, and then on to Canada. Dunjee wrote to Judge Gregory from Providence, telling him not to search for him because he had gone to Canada.

Dunjee had an acquaintance in Brantsford, Canada, and for that reason took a train west to that city. As an experienced dining room servant Dunjee was able to obtain employment in a hotel. While living in Canada he corresponded with William Still, giving particulars about employment conditions in Canada West.

Following the war Dunjee studied at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, and then at Oberlin College in Ohio. While living in Ohio he changed the spelling of his name from Dungey to Dunjee. He became a minister with the Baptist Home Missionary Society and traveled the east coast, south and Midwest preaching and starting churches in rural areas.


fenceDunjee returned to Richmond but ran into political trouble after the 1876 election, in which he offered his support to the Conservatives. The day after the election, his house was stoned, and delegates from Richmond and Manchester black Baptist churches voted to deny his Free-Will congregation admission into their association. Dunjee and family were subsequently forced to leave town. Presumably it was during this stay in Richmond that Dunjee visited Charles City and called upon Judge Gregory’s family at Burlington. Judge Gregory’s daughter told him that she had prayed for his safe escape, but chided him for writing the “naughty” letter from Providence, Rhode Island, evidently viewing it as a taunt. She also said that she thought he was “too good a Christian” to escape. Photo courtesy Nancy Phaup.


John Brown Fort Dunjee later served as Treasurer for Storer University, a Freewill Baptist College for African Americans in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. He founded the Harper’s Ferry Messenger, and his children Drucilla Dunjee Houston and Roscoe Dunjee later edited Oklahoma Black Dispatch. John William Dunjee died in Oklahoma City in 1903. Courtesy Historic Photo Collection, Harpers Ferry NHP.

next: Exhibit 9: Parrish Hill School — a “colored school” education