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William Still
William Still William Still


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William Still was born in either November of 1819 or on October 7, 1821 He was an Black-American abolitionist, a 'conductor' on the Underground Railroad, a writer, historian and civil rights activist The date of Still's birth is given as October 7, 1821, by most sources, but Still gave the date of November 1819 in the 1900 Census according to some reports He was born in Burlington County, NJ, to Charity and Levin Still His parents came to New Jersey from the eastern shore of Maryland as ex-slaves He was the youngest of 18 siblings, and he ended up moving to Philadelphia when he was old enough Some of his brothers and sisters included: James, known as 'the Doctor of the Pines,' Peter, Mary and Kitturah Still, who also moved to Philadelphia Still’s father was the first of the family to move to New Jersey, when he purchased his own freedom.

Levin settled in Springtown near Medford, NJ, and later Charity joined the family with their four children, when she escaped But Charity was recaptured and returned to slavery, but she escaped a second time and, with her two daughters, found her way to Burlington County The two sons she left behind were sold to slave owners in Alabama, in the Deep South In 1847, Still married Letitia George and had four children with her who survived infancy Their eldest was Caroline Matilda, a pioneer female medical doctor His daughter Caroline attended Oberlin College and the Women's Medical College of Philadelphia, much later known as the Medical College of Pennsylvania; She had an extensive private medical practice on Philadelphia and was also a community activist, teacher and leader Still and Letitia’s son, William Wilberforce, graduated from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, and subsequently practiced law in Philadelphia; the youngest child of theirs, Robert George, grew up to be a journalist who owned a print shop on in central Philadelphia Their second daughter, Frances Ellen, named after poet Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, became a kindergarten teacher.

In 1844, Still moved to Philadelphia, where he began working as a clerk for the Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition of Slavery When Philadelphia abolitionists organized a committee to aid runaway slaves that made it to Philadelphia, Still became its chair By the 1850s, Still was a leader of Philadelphia's Black community In 1859, he attempted to desegregate the city's public transit system He opened a stove store during the American Civil War, and later started a coal delivery business Often called 'The Father of the Underground Railroad,' Still helped as many as 60 slaves per month escape to freedom Interviewed each person and kept careful records, including a brief biography and the destination of each person, along with any alias that they had adopted He kept these records carefully hidden During one interview of an escapee, he discovered that the man, Peter, was his own brother They had been separated since childhood, and his brother knew little about the rest of his family.

Still later published, The Underground Rail Road Records, which chronicles the stories and methods of the 649 slaves who escaped to freedom via the Underground Railroad Peter later collaborated on a book detailing his experiences The three prominent Still brothers, William, James, and Peter, settled in Lawnside, NJ To this day, their descendants have an annual family reunion every August Notable members of the Still family include the composer William Grant Still and former WNBA player and coach Valerie Still Still died on July 14, 1902.



 
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