North Carolina is honoring Lunsford Lane, a former Raleigh slave with a historical marker that will be located across the street from the Capitol where he sold pipes for 10 cents each.
As reported by The News & Observer, Lane bought his freedom after saving money he earned from working odd jobs such as selling peaches, marbles, chopping extra wood at night and selling flavored tobacco and handmade pipes to members of the North Carolina state legislature in Raleigh. In 1835, he bought his freedom for $1,000.
“I cannot describe it,” Lane wrote in his 1842 book “Narrative,” “only it seemed as though I was in heaven. I used to lie awake whole nights thinking of it. And oh, the strange thoughts that passed through my soul, like so many rivers of light; deep and rich were their waves as they rolled; — these were more to me than sleep … But I cannot describe my feelings to those who have never been slaves.”
In “Narrative,” he describes his luck at being a house servant in Raleigh rather than a plantation slave, the report states.
But Freedom alluded Lane even after he paid the price. State law didn’t allow for freed slaves to stay longer than 20 days. According to the marker program’s research, Lane paid to free one of his daughters and they fled north. When he tried to relocate a second time to Raleigh in 1842, a mob tarred and feathered him or giving abolitionist speeches up north. He and his family eventually escaped to Massachusetts.
“The thought that I was now in my loved, though recently acquired home, that my family were with me where the stern, cruel, hated hand of slavery could never reach us more … almost overwhelmed me with emotion, and I had a deep and strange communion with my own soul,” Lane wrote in “Narrative.”
This week, the state approved the sixth historical sign in Raleigh to honor a former slave. Come June 2019, Ansley Wegner of N.C. Highway Historical Marker Program said Lane, the man born property of Sherwood Haywood, will be recognized with signage on Edenton Street.
Raleigh’s marker collection reportedly includes five others with connections to slavery: Anna Julia Cooper, Charles Hunter, Edward Johnson, James Harris and James Young.
Lunsford Lane bought his freedom for $1,000 — money he earned from chopping extra wood and selling flavored tobacco and handmade pipes to members of the state legislature in Raleigh. https://t.co/HcU5iIzJnt
— The News & Observer (@newsobserver) December 24, 2018