Receipt from bounty hunter, Bernard Lynch to Henry Shaw itemizing costs incurred boarding captive enslaved persons, Sarah and Esther. Costs incurred arresting Esther and her subsequent sale to John D. Fondren of Vicksburg for $350. Dated July 30th, 1855. Back of record. See PHO2020-043.
Mary Meachum, wife of John Berry Meachum. She and her husband were both freed persons engaged in the efforts of the Underground Railroad through their church, home, and school. On the early morning of May, 21st of 1855 nine enslaved persons including four owned by Henry Shaw; Esther, her two children, and one unnamed male made their break for freedom utilizing the Underground Railroad with the assistance of Mary Meachum. They attempted crossing the Mississippi River to the free state of Illinois. Unfortunately bounty hunters awaited them and they were soon captured and Mary Meachum would be jailed for the attempt. The location of this historic event on the banks of Mississippi River north of downtown St. Louis is today memorialized as the Mary Meachum Freedom Crossing.
While a merchant in St. Louis Shaw began buying enslaved people in the 1820s with the earliest existing record being that of Peach in 1828. 1850 census records indicate Shaw owned nine enslaved people and by 1853 that number had grown to eleven, 1860 census records show him with eight enslaved people. Their names were not listed in either the 1850 or 1860 U.S. Census. Please see the historical timeline section for more information on this subject. Image is for reference.