10 Fugitive Children

Henry Cousby, pronounced ‘Kosby’, was born in Virginia or Georgia in 1797 and is my oldest documented ancestor, not even two hundred years older. That’s how it goes when investigating your slave ancestors’ history. There is secrecy. Older leads are there to follow but speculation is all too easy. Again, I would like to thank my Aunt Carolyn Isobel Tompkins [b. 1944 in Owen Sound] for initiating this genealogy research. Mary Ann Allen was Henry Cousby’s wife, 20 years his junior, from Philadelphia, PA, and born in 1817.

In those days Philadelphia was the second largest city in the United States after New York with approximately 60,000 people. Philadelphia had recently been both largest city and financial capital.

The Cousbys arrived in Owen Sound, in Britain’s Upper Canada colony, in 1851, three decades after the first major wave of fugitive slaves arrived between 1817 and 1822.[1]

Grey County had been opened for non-Indigenous settlement in the 1830s. The Cousbys had reached Owen Sound, the most northerly terminal of the Underground Railroad (UGR), following passage of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act by the United States Congress, a compromise between the Southern slave societies and the Northern abolitionists, which reinforced Article IV of the United States Constitution’s stated right of slavers to seek a person in another state to be “delivered up” had he/she fled from authority. North of Philadelphia the Cousbys benefitted from the network of safe houses and guides that comprised the UGR.

In Owen Sound, in their new free lives, the Cousbys had 10 children.

  • John Henry Taylor Cousby
  • Jeremiah Huckster Cousby
  • James Samuel Cousby
  • Rebecca Ann (Jane) Cousby
  • Mary Jane Cousby
  • William Dorsey Ambush (J) Cousby
  • Nicholas Allen Cousby
  • Edward Thomas Storment Cousby
  • Richard Ellis Cousby
  • Mary Emma Cousby

  1. Hill, D.G. (1981). The Freedom Seekers. Agincourt: The Book Society of Canada.