Rachel Parker and Joseph Miller


On May 20th, 2012 the West Nottingham Township, PA Historical Commission will be holding a ceremony honoring Rachel Parker and Joseph Miller.

In 1851, Rachel Parker, a 16 year old, free black woman was kidnapped from the home of Joseph Miller, a farmer in Chester County, Pennsylvania. As Parker was being taken to Baltimore by train, one of Miller’s friends, Eli Haines saw Parker and recognized the man she was with, Thomas McCreary, a slave catcher from Elkton, Maryland. Seeing how distressed Parker was, Haines and a companion followed them to Baltimore.

After Miller arrived in Baltimore, he and his friends managed to have McCreary arrested for kidnapping. Parker was transferred to the city prison for her “safe keeping”. Unable to secure her release, Miller and his friends decided to return to Pennsylvania, rather than remain in a hostile city.

On the train ride home, Miller disappeared. His body was found two days later, hanging from a tree in Stemmer’s Run, Maryland. An autopsy conducted in Pennsylvania found evidence of torture and arsenic in his stomach. While his death was ruled a suicide by Maryland authorities, most consider Miller to have been murdered.

Rachel Parker was eventually released, after spending more than a year in jail. She died in 1918 in Oxford, Pennsylvania.

Joseph Miller was my great-great grandfather.

Additional information can be found at Underground Railroad in Central Pennsylvania and Window on Cecil County’s Past.

An article about the dedication ceremony was published in the Chester County Press.