Who made you free, young Alexander?
Your enslaved father?
Your freed mother?
How were you free, Alexander?
Free to sit beside the Tuckahoe,
read holy books and
toss pebbles into the water,
listen to Aunt Hester’s screams on the other side?
Free to walk away from the Tuckahoe and never return?
But you did return.
It’s 1821. Here.
The Legacy of A.M.E Bishop A.W. Wayman
of Tuckahoe Neck, Caroline County, Maryland
It is remarkable that so little — and so much — separated them.
Frederick Bailey was born on the west bank of the Tuckahoe. Alexander Walker Wayman was born on the east bank. Separated by few years in age and one mile in distance. One enslaved, one free.
Abolitionist Frederick Douglass declared freedom from physical bondage. A.M.E. Bishop Alexander W. Wayman declared freedom from sin.
Wayman’s father was a slave in Caroline County. But his mother was freed sometime before Alexander’s birth in 1821. So Wayman was born free. He left his home in Tuckahoe for Baltimore in 1840 to follow a path of the spirit.
Bishop Wayman recollects:
On the 19th day of March, 1837, I united with the M. E. Church [in Denton], and remained in it until May 1st, 1840, when I left home for Baltimore city. It was a beautiful May morning. The birds were singing very sweetly, and nature appeared to rejoice at the return of another spring. I felt rather sad, for it was the first time in my life that I had ever left home to stay any length of time. When the time came for morning prayer, my father knelt down and gave out the hymn, commencing
“Once more before we part,
We’ll bless the Saviour’s name,”
and then offered prayer, in which he asked the Lord to go with his son that was about leaving home.
After breakfast my mother packed up what few pieces of clothing I had, and then I bade adieu to home, singing as I went through the woods and across the fields. Many were the tears I shed that day as friends and home were left behind. I went past the little log-house where I was born; but before reaching there I called to say farewell to an aged mother in Zion by the name of Murray*. She knew my object for leaving home, and she gave me words of cheer. I reached the place of my birth; my oldest sister was living there, and was very ill; she died before I reached the end of that day’s journey.
Late in the afternoon of that day I reached Easton, where I expected to rest that night; but meeting a gentleman, whose father-in-law I once lived with, I was invited to go a mile in the country and spend the night.
Next morning I started for the steamboat “Maryland,” that ran from Easton to Baltimore; but just as I got within a few feet of the wharf the steamer moved off. … Sunday morning I took the packet for Baltimore, and reached there a little after sundown.
I was anxious to go to church that night, for I had learned there was a Conference to commence in the city on Monday morning, and I wanted to see some of the A. M. E. Church ministers. As no one offered to accompany me I had to remain on board of the packet all night.
Monday morning, May 2, 1840, was a great day in Baltimore. The Whig Convention that nominated Gen. Harrison for the Presidency met that day. They had log-cabins and barrels of hard cider; the procession was very large, attracting a great deal of attention; but I wanted to see the ministers of the General Conference of the A. M. E. Church.
Elder Wayman didn’t return home to Tuckahoe until 1848.
[ * Probably the mother of Anna Murray, Douglass’s first wife. ]