Thursday, January 15, 2015

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 36: Thomas Garrett (1789-1871)

Thomas Garrett - husband of my 4th cousin, 8x removed (x2!!)

Born: 21 Aug 1789 Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania

Parents: Thomas Garrett (1748-1839) & 
               Sarah Price (1759-1839)

Best known for: Being an abolitionist prior to the Civil War and a Station Master on the Underground Railroad- freed hundreds of slaves.


Thomas married 2 times and both women were my 4th cousin, 8x removed!!!!

1. Margaret "Mary" Sharpless (1793-1827) on 14 Oct 1813. They had 5 Children:

1. Ellwood Garrett (1815-1910)
2. Sarah Sharpless Garrett (1819-1853)
3. Anna Garrett (1822-1853)
4. Henry Garrett (1824-1903)
5. Margaret Malin Garrett (1827-1863)

2. Rachel Mendenhall (1792-1868) on 08 Jan 1830.
They had 1 son: 

1. Eli Garrett (1830-1886)


Thomas grew up in Drexel Hill, PA- A Quaker community. Quakers didn't believe in slavery- they believed all persons- despite race or gender- were equal.

Home where Thomas grew up

In 1813, when Thomas was married to Margaret, one of their free black servants was kidnapped and taken to Maryland to be sold. Thomas went after her, rescued her and brought her home. In 1820, he joined the Pennsylvania Abolitionist Society to promote abolition of slavery. 

Before the American Civil War, Thomas helped and freed many black slaves. He was a conductor on the Underground Railroad and was open about everything. He never had any secret rooms in his home. The authorities knew, but it wasn't until 1848 that he and John Hunn were found guilty of helping escaped slaves. Thomas was fined $4500. A lien was put on his house until the fine was paid, but Thomas was so beloved by so many friends that they helped him pay the fine and he continued to help slaves. 

It was about 1857 when Thomas helped Harriett Tubman rescue her parents from slavery- her parents who weren't slaves at all, but free people.

In Jan 1860, a resolution was offered in the Maryland Legislature proposing a reward for the arrest of Thomas Garrett, of Wilmington, for "Stealing" slaves but he was never arrested. 

In 1870, when black Americans were givne the right to vote, Garrett was carried on the shoulders of his supporters through the streets of Wilmington. 

Thomas Garrett died on 25 Jan 1871, at the age of 81 years old .He was buried in the Friends Meeting House Burial Ground in Wilmington, New Castle, Delaware. 

On January 25, 2002, Mayor Raymond Shay of Upper Darby Township proclaimed this day as Thomas Garrett Jr. Day.


  1. What a terrific guy! And a great story!

    1. He was definitely a terrific person! Thank you Dana! :)

  2. Carrie,
    What an interesting piece of history. Thank you for sharing his story.