U.S. Senator James A. Pearce. Feature Image: Tarring and Feathering of Ambrose L. Kimball, Haverhill, Massachusetts, southern leaning newspaper editor from Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, August 31, 1861. Source: dickinson.edu.

This Week’s Kent County History Question: What did about two dozen local slave owners do, on a night in June 1858, when they went to the home of James L. Bowers near Lynch?

A. Offered to buy slaves that he had acquired from Dorchester County.

B. Invited him to dinner at an inn in Middletown, Delaware.

C. Asked him to give a sermon about abolition at the Methodist Church in Chestertown.

D. Tarred and feathered him for allegedly helping slaves escape to freedom.

This Week’s Answer: Tarred and Feather.

Congressman James B. Ricaud.

Judge Ezekiel Chambers.

Quaker James L. Bowers was an ardent abolitionist, reflecting the implicit position of his church. When local slave owners suspected that he had helped slaves escape on Kent’s Underground Railroad, the men, most armed and masked, went to his house on June 22, 1858, enticed him out, and then hauled him to a clearing nearby. There, they stripped him and tarred and feathered him. The mob then went to Galena and did the same to Harriett Tillison, an African American abolitionist who allegedly helped Bowers. The mob action was condoned by a U.S. Sen. James A. Pearce, Congressman James B. Ricaud, and Judge Ezekiel Chambers.

The Kent Pilot welcomes Kevin Hemstock, well-known Kent County historical writer and newsman, as our History Quiz Master. We look forward to more of his thought-provoking challenges. Kevin has studied and published on African American History in Kent County. 

The Kent County History Quiz is a weekly local brainteaser sponsored by The Peoples Bank. Kent County historian and author Joan Horsey and columnist Kate Meehan contribute to the quiz’s development. Our goal is to create an opportunity for local learning and discussion.

Do you have a Kent County history question? Send it to steve@kentpilot.org.