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Peter Pennington

Prior to his arrival in Lambton, an ad was placed in the Baltimore Sun on December 2, 1856 offering a reward for the return of formerly enslaved persons Josiah Bailey, William Bailey, and Peter Pennington. Peter was described as about 25 years of age, dark chestnut colour, 5 feet 7 inches tall. Peter was part of a group brought out of Maryland by Harriet Tubman via the underground railroad. When he arrived at the home of William Still in Philadelphia, William wrote of Peter and Eliza Nokey who were also part of the travelling party. He wrote “in struggling through their journey, their spirits never flagged and they had determined not to stop short of Canada. They had a very high appreciation of freedom, but a very poor opinion of Maryland.”

Peter almost got caught up in the ill fated raid on Harpers Ferry, planned and lead by John Brown the abolitionist. The raid was postponed and Peter did not take part when it did go forward on the evening of October 16, 1859. Many of the raiders were captured and killed however a few did escape.

Peter was enumerated in Sarnia in the 1861 Census. He was recorded as a labourer, no religion, age 40, single, negro, and unable to read or write. By the 1871 census, Peter was listed as a fish dealer. Peter died on September 18, 1884. His will stated that after his debts were paid, the local churches were to get a share of the remaining cash while Mrs. Worthington of Strathroy received his personal effects. At the time of his death, there were seven churches in Sarnia. To date, Peter’s headstone in Lakeview Cemetery is the only one to list an individual as a person of colour.

Buried In Section I Plot 297

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