William Pitt Angel: Helping Free Slaves, Ellicottville, NY

Individual helping with Freeing Slaves - William Pitt Angel – Ellicottville, NY

Information By Douglas H. Shepard from http://orbitist.com/2014/07/07/anti-slavery-activists-in-the-1800s/

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William Pitt Angel (1813 – 1869) appears twice in the Anti-Slavery Collection of the Foote papers as part of a campaign to raise $300 to buy the freedom of Mary and  James Norton, wife and  son of  Jo (Joseph) Norton. Angel and four others wrote on 6 February 1845 from Ellicottville (Cattaraugus County NY) to Judge E.T. Foote, pledging to raise their share of the  total. On 8 February 1845, Foote and A. N. Lowry wrote from Jamestown (Chautauqua County NY) to Angel and the four others, agreeing to raise their share. By all accounts, the campaign was ultimately successful.

Angel was born on 2 February 1813 in Cooperstown to William G. Angel and Emily P. (English) Angel. He studied law in Cuba NY and was admitted to the bar. He married Mary Anne Metcalfe (1816 – 1855) on 1 October 1834 in Bath NY. He was married for the second time to Laura Eliza Bigelow(1826 – 1872) on 20 February 1851, although Mary Anne was still alive, so there may have been a divorce in the interim. The 1855 census lists him with his children but without a wife. His new sister-in-law, Ellen Metcalfe, 23, was apparently recruited to serve as housekeeper.

He moved to Cattaraugus County around 1841 and was elected District Attorney as of 7 February 1844, serving until December 1850. This means that he was serving as D. A. at the time of the above mentioned letter to Foote. In 1848, he ran for Inspector of State Prisons on the Barnburner/Free Soil Ticket. He lost that election, but later, having switched to the Democratic party, he won the Inspector position at the next election.

In 1856, he became a Republican and acted as such until at least 1866. He was a member of the N.Y. State Assembly in 1865, after which he moved to Morrisania in Westchester County NY, where he practiced law. His home may be seen on the 1856  map of Cattaraugus County in the Village of Ellicottville. William Pitt Angel died on 9 February 1869 in the Bronx NY.

Source: the Foote papers

Note from Sue Cross, Town of Mansfield Historian, Cattaraugus County

Joseph (Jo) Norton was a slave who left with a group heading north to freedom. His wife and son were to follow a different route that was supposed to be easier, however the wife Mary was discovered trying to flee from her master and he put her in prison. Jo left the group he was traveling with and Pettit relays some of the encounters Jo faces as he tries to reunite with his family.  Eventually Jo discovers his wife and  son are once again living with her former master who has had an offer of  $800 for her. Showing a bit of compassion the master stated he had never sold a slave but if the husband wished to redeem her the price would be $350 payable by March 4th. The price and date of payment were adjusted and Petitt describes the effort Jo made to raise the money. Finally he sought the assistance of the group from Ellicottville, NY to accumulate enough money when needed.  Jo did reunite with his family and all the money was paid back to the investors.  The entire sketch can be found in  Pettit, Eber M., Sketches in the History of the Underground Railroad, Willard McKinstry, Fredonia, New York, 1879.

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