Baltimore City Jail's Runaway Slave Docket from the year 1851.  Accessed at the  Maryland State Archives 10/25/2014.

Baltimore City Jail’s Runaway Slave Docket
from the year 1851. Accessed at the
Maryland State Archives 10/25/2014.

Primary source documents regarding the history of the enslaved person Daniel Hawkins have proved to be limited, but the ability to trace his story through these documents appears to be promising.  Each of these sources requires further research and at this moment this bibliography is a mere introduction into the possibilities that each source offers to contribute to the narrative of Hawkins.  Initially, the only information concerning Hawkins was provided in the list of primary case studies from the Maryland State Archives (MSA).  The background of Hawkins reads “Daniel Hawkins (claimed by William M. Risteau of Baltimore County, Hawkins was sent back to Baltimore).”

Runaway Slave Docket 1851:  I began my research into Daniel Hawkins through the use of the Maryland State Archive’s Legacy of Slavery in Maryland database.  In this database I found the transcription of the entry of Daniel Hawkins into Baltimore City Jail’s Runaway Slave Docket from July 22, 1851.  Although on the list of primary case studies from the MSA it states that Hawkins was claimed by William M. Risteau, from viewing the actual Runaway Slave Docket in the archives it appears that Hawkins was owned by an Ann D, Risteau, who may have been William M. Risteau’s sister-in-law.  The Runaway Slave Docket also lists an enslaved woman by the name of Louisa Tilman, who was the only other runaway slave placed in the Baltimore City Jail on the same day as Hawkins.  Could this entry indicate that Tilman and Hawkins were running together?  The notion of Tilman’s release from the prison states is not recorded until August 13th and marks the release of “the body of Louisa.” Does this indicate that Tilman died during her imprisonment? Or was this a standard way to list the release of a slave? The other statements of release are not worded in this manner.

Daniel Hawkins' statement of release,  Baltimore City Jail Runaway  Slave Docket, 1851

Daniel Hawkins’ statement of release,
Baltimore City Jail Runaway
Slave Docket, 1851

Hawkins’ statement of release reads “Recorded July 25/51 from W. H. Counselman Warden/Daniel Hawkins/Charles Willisman agent for B. M. Campbell.”  The fact that Hawkins was released to B. M. Campbell and not his owner may prove to be of great significance.

The Baltimore Weekly Sun 1850-1851:  Following my research using the Runaway Slave Docket from 1851, I began to read through the scanned copies of the The Baltimore Weekly Sun from 1850-1851 in the hopes of finding a runaway slave advertisement for Daniel Hawkins.  I noticed that there was a dramatic decrease in runaway slave advertisements following the passing of the Fugitive Slave Act on September 18, 1850.  In fact,  it was the lack of runaway slave ads that I noticed first compared to the number present in the The Baltimore Weekly Sun the previous months and that realization prompted me to verify the date that the Fugitive Slave Act was passed in order to make a connection between the two.  This puts the escape of Hawkins from his owner in the context of the Fugitive Slave Act.  Unfortunately, the The Baltimore Weekly Sun was unavailable in the database in which I was searching from January 1851 – August 1851, the months in which Hawkins most likely escaped and his owners would have run advertisements for his capture.

“Wants Negroes,” advertisement  from B.M. and W.J. Campbell,  The Baltimore Weekly Sun,  Nov. 2, 1850

“Wants Negroes,” advertisement
from B.M. and W.J. Campbell,
The Baltimore Weekly Sun,
Nov. 2, 1850

However, beneath the section reserved for runaway slave advertisements in each weekly edition of the The Baltimore Weekly Sun were the advertisements of B. M. Campbell seeking to purchase slaves.  Is it possible that following his escape, Hawkins’ owner sold him to B. M. Campbell?  This would be an important connection to make in the narrative of Hawkins.  Further research into B. M. Campbell may be useful in providing insight into how Campbell participated in the buying and selling of slaves and to which locations Campbell sold the enslaved people whom he purchased.

1850 Census Record:  The 1850 census record, available on, provides information on both William M. Risteau and his brother Thomas Risteau (whose wife Ann is listed as the owner of Hawkins on the Baltimore City Jail Runaway Slave Docket).  Information gathered from the census includes family members of both the Baltimore County Risteau brothers, their occupations (farmers), and their real estate holdings.  Information concerning their sibling relationship was gathered through further searching on the website for their family tree.  This information is useful in determining the type of work that Hawkins may have been required to perform on the farm of his owners and the census records may be helpful if further research into the Risteau land holdings is required.

Slave Assessment Records:  The Slave Assessment Records available in the Legacy of Slavery database are useful in assessing how many slaves the Risteau family owned and are available for the year 1840.  The Slave Assessment Record lists the ages and genders of the slaves held.  This might also provide a minuscule amount of information regarding the lifestyle that Hawkins may have led while enslaved by the Risteaus.

FedCases Fugitive Slave Record:  When the name “Risteau” is searched in the Legacy of Slavery database, document information concerning a petition and court case filed by William M. Risteau from June to September 1850 in regard to a fugitive slave named Daniel Hawkins.  Could Hawkins have been on the run for over a year before he was captured? If he had escaped for such a great length of time, how far from Baltimore County was he able to travel?  Hopefully, exploring this document at the archives will help to answer these questions.

The Fugitive Slave Law and Its Victims:  An internet search for “Daniel Hawkins” returned a document from The Project Gutenberg titled, Anti-Slavery Tracts No. 18: The Fugitive Slave Law and Its Victims, published in 1856.  This document was published to denounce the Fugitive Slave Act and record accounts of the victims of the law.  In this document a Daniel Hawkins is listed as one of the victims of the Fugitive Slave Law: “DANIEL HAWKINS, of Lancaster County, Penn., (July, 1851,) was brought before Commissioner Ingraham, Philadelphia, and by him delivered to his claimant, and he was taken into slavery.”  The Daniel Hawkins listed in this tract was found in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in July of 1851, the same month that the Baltimore Hawkins was entered into Baltimore City Jail.  Did Hawkins escape to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania before he was found and returned to Baltimore?

Summary:  It is my hope that these primary sources will lead to a more complete profile of Daniel Hawkins, his enslavement, and his escape from slavery.  If these primary sources are actually connected as they appear to be so far, we may be able to follow Hawkins from his enslavement in Baltimore County, to Pennsylvania as a freedom seeker, and back to Baltimore City as a captured victim of the Fugitive Slave Act.  Perhaps more research into B. M. Campbell and his dealings in slavery will provide more information on Hawkins’ experiences after his release from Baltimore City Jail into Campbell’s custody.