Anna Maria Weems

Maria Weems escaping in male attire.

Weems escaping in male attire

According to Underground Rail Road records, Anna Maria Weems disguised her gender and used several male aliases in order to escape her plight and acquire freedom. At the time of her escape, she was a “bright mulatto, well-grown, smart and good-looking” fifteen year old girl. Her family members, including her mother, have been sold before she turned thirteen. Because her owners feared that she would escape, they made her sleep in their chamber in order to prevent her from doing so. Finally she had the means to escape with the help of the Underground Railroad. William Still describes her escape in “The Underground Railroad” (1870): 

The only chance of procuring her freedom, depended upon getting her away on the Underground Rail Road. She was neatly attired in male habiliments, and in that manner came all the way from Washington. After passing two or three days with her new friends in Philadelphia, she was sent on (in male attire) to Lewis Tappan, of New York, who had likewise been deeply interested in her case from the beginning, and who held himself ready, as was understood, to cash a draft for three hundred dollars to compensate the man who might risk his own liberty in bringing her on from Washington. After having arrived safely in New York, she found a home and kind friends in the family of Rev. A. N. Freeman, and received quite an ovation characteristic of an Underground Rail Road. (185).
Still further points out that Weems later moved to Canada to be educated at the “Buxton Settlement” after staying in New York and Brooklyn. Her story is only one of the many which attests to the courage of the women who participated in this harrowing journey to freedom.