“Thomas Cole was born in Jackson Co,. Alabama on the 8th of August, 1845….
“When the meat supply runs low, Mr. Sandson sends some slaves to kill a deer or wild hog or just any kind of game. He never sends me in any them bunches but I hoped he would and one day he calls me to go and says not to go off the plantation too far, but be sure bring home some meat. This the chance I been wanting, so when we gets to the hunting ground the leader says to scatter out, and I tells him me and another man goes north and make the circle round the river and meet about sundown. I crosses the river and goes north. I is going to the free country, where there ain’t no slaves. I travels all that day and night up the river and follows the north star. Several times I think the blood hounds am trailing me and I gets in the big hurry. I is so tired I couldn’t hardly move, but I gets in a trot.
“I is hoping and praying all the time I meets up with that Harriet Tubman woman. She the colored woman what takes slaves to Canada. She always travels the underground railroad, they calls it, travels at night and hides out in the day. She show sneaks them out the South and I thinks she’s the brave woman.
“I eats all the nuts and kills a few swamp rabbits and catches a few fish. I builds the fire and goes off ’bout half a mile and hides in the thicket till it burns down to the coals, then bakes me some fish and rabbit. I is shaking all the time, afraid I’d get caught, but I is nearly starve to death. I puts the rest the fish in my cap and travels on that night by the north star and hides in a big thicket the next day and along evening I hears guns shooting. I sure am scared this time, sure enough. I is scared to come in and scared to go out, and while I is standing there, I hears two men say, ‘Stick you hands up, boy. What you doing?’ I says, ‘Uh-uh-uh. I dunno. You ain’t going take me back to the plantation, is you?’ They says, ‘No. Does you want to fight for the North?’ I says I will, ’cause they talk like northern men…