Mapping Runaways of 1852

Viewing the data layers over a map was very exciting – the experience was very different from just viewing spreadsheets. This is the point of research that I have most been looking forward to, and for good reason.

Thanks to the pin dots placed by Google Maps, the data sets come to life showing where each slave ran away from, where they were potentially heading and where they were captured and committed to jail. Viewing the data in this way and seeing the actual travel path of each slave helped to understand the individual goal of each slave. Seeing their footsteps gives us a little glimpse into their life.

The largest data set, the Texas State Gazette, provided enough individual runaways for patterns to be shown. The Map for 1852 can be seen here:

The trend amongst all the Runaways that were captured was to head either south or in a westerly direction to Indian Territory – indicating our original prediction that they may have intended to run to Mexico. The slave named Brown was reported as a runaway in Louisiana and was captured over 400 miles to the west in Gillespie County, Texas. Joe, his wife Henna, and their child Doc Anderson ran away from Harrison County, TX near Marshall, only to be caught in Ellis County just south of Dallas. That many were heading to unpopulated areas, mostly inhabited by Indians, shows that many of the young men who were running away were doing so to gain their own freedom. A few headed east, but not many.

Seeing a visual of their paths also allows for examination of other contexts – like the time of year they are running. Brown was captured October 3, 1852. He covered a distance greater than 400 miles, indicating he must have left Louisiana in the warmer months – escaping before the harvest season. Joe, Henna, and Doc Anderson were captured on November 22, 1852 and managed a distance around 150-200 miles. Considering that they were running with a child, they may have moved slower.