Yesterday afternoon I stopped by a quiet small town cemetery in Woodstown, NJ to visit the grave of a freedom seeker and a member of the United States Colored Troops from Cecilton, MD. His story first circulated when Today’s Sunbeam published a piece about Susan Richardson-Sanabria, his great-granddaughter, honoring the Civil War sergeant with a proper headstone at his final resting place, the Spencer UA.M.E. Church on Bailey Street.
Richardson-Sanabria, who lives in New York, told the newspaper she used to listen to account of Richardson’s life. He had been born on a plantation in Cecilton, MD on October 15, 1841. Escaping on the Underground Railroad, he made his way to Woodstown, where the freedom-seeker eventually prospered. But the Civil War interrupted life and the young-man went off to fight for freedom. A soldier in Co. A., 22nd USCT, he mustered out as a sergeant and the recipient of the Butler Medal.
Richardson-Sanabria, told the reporter: “I am humbled by the faith and perseverance that my great-grandfather demonstrated in orchestrating an escape from a Maryland plantation where he had been born to make his way in unfamiliar territory as a fugitive, find work, become a soldier and return to marry, support and raise a family. According to oral history he was a very hard worker and somewhat of an entrepreneur who managed to purchase a thrasher so that he could make extra money using the machine to thrash other farmer’s crops as well he his own.”
Last Christmas we were on a holiday house tour in Woodstown and while the host showed us through one of the fine properties I noticed this old piece of framed school board correspondence on a wall. A closer examination showed that it was signed by Edward Richardson.
Earlier this summer, Salem County launched a new interactive cell phone tour of the county, and Edward Richardson is one of the stops on a tour called 7 Steps to Freedom. Check out the blog post from the Salem County Cultural & Heritage Commission and the newspaper article for additional details.
So after hearing the story of this Cecil County freedom seeker I decided I would visit his grave the next time I was in Woodstown, NJ. Spencer U.A.M.E. Church was erected in 1842 and remodeled in 1907, and 1923, according to the cornerstone.