Annotated Bibliography for The Murder of Joseph C. Miller

Baltimore City Register of Wills (Wills), John Campbell, 1853-1855, Book NH 26, Folio 196, MSA CM 219-3, CR 136.

John Campbell died in 1854 and left all of his possessions to his wife Marian.  His gave very little information, but cross referenced with the 1850s census information we can at least identify that it is the same John Campbell.


Baltimore City Register of Wills (Administration Accounts), John Campbell, 1854, Book NH 61, MSA CM 193, CR 9548.

The administration of John Campbell’s estate after his death shows his economic profile.  He owned a country estate in Baltimore County on York Road sold for $3,300.  He was owed small amounts by other men that were paid to his widow Marian after his death.  Judging from his assets, Campbell was in the lower elite-landowning class.


Campbell, John. “$10 Reward.” Baltimore Sun. June 19, 1846. (accessed November 3, 2014).

In this Runaway ad, John Campbell offers a $10 reward for a slave named Caroline.  He lists his address of residence for Caroline to be returned to.  This address is at Pratt and High Street near what is now Little Italy.  On the 1850 census there were several foreign born lodgers living at Campbell’s address, it is likely that Campbell rented room in his home to lodgers because of his adjacency to Baltimore’s harbor.  His house was a convenient location for travellers to stay upon their arrival, or as a stop along their voyage.


Independent Whig. “Bigler and the Honor of the State.” The Raftman’s Journal, October 4, 1854, image 2. (accessed November 3, 2014).

Two years after the kidnapping of Rachel and Elizabeth Parker, the conflict between Maryland and Pennsylvania continued.  This inflamed article in The Raftman’s Journal expresses anger at Governor Bigler of Pennsylvania for allowing Governor Lowe of Maryland to “trample on our constitutional rights.”  This article clearly shows the political implications of the Joseph Miller killing and the kidnapping of the Parker girls.  By 1854, the matter was one of state honor and was a reflection of the struggle across the border of freedom and slavery.


Lowe, Enoch. Message of the Executive to the General Assembly, January 1852. Annapolis: 1852. (accessed November 17th, 2014).

This public address from Governor Enoch Lowe of Maryland contains the Governor’s response to the Christiana Riot that occurred the earlier Fall.  I use his address to summarize a general response of landed white Marylanders.  The Maryland reaction to the Christiana Riot is relevant when compared to the Pennsylvania reaction to the kidnapping of the Parker sisters and the murder of Joseph Miller.  I also use Lowe’s response to explain his refusal to deliver Thomas McCreary to Pennsylvania authorities.


Masser, H.B. “The Recent Kidnapping Case.” Sunbury American and Shamokin Journal, January 17, 1852, image 2. (accessed Novemver 3, 2014).

This article describes the growing tension between Pennsylvania as a free state and Maryland as a slave state.  It places the murder of Joseph Miller and the kidnapping of Rachel and Elizabeth Parker into a larger struggle between free and slave states.  The article references the Christiana riots and Edward Gorsuch, comparing the murder of Joseph Miller as similar and inevitable violence along the Pennsylvania Maryland border.


“Mysterious Death.” Jeffersonian Republican, January 15, 1852, Image 2. (accessed November 3, 2014).

This is the first known account of both the Rachel Parker kidnapping and the murder of Joseph Miller.  It does not yet explicitly implicate Thomas McCreary as Miller’s murder, but a connection between the events is drawn.  The article expresses righteous indignation against Maryland kidnappers enslaving free Pennsylvanians.


Still, William. The Underground Railroad.  1871. Reprint, Project Gutenburg, 2005.

William Still’s book The Underground Railroad has a story about the kidnap of Rachel and Elizabeth Parker from Chester County Pennsylvania, and the subsequent murder of Joseph C. Miller.  The story includes the characters: Rachel and Elizabeth Parker, Joseph C. Miller, Thomas McCreary, and John B. Campbell.  The Parker girls were kidnapped in Pennsylvania by McCreary and taken to John Campbell’s slave pen in Baltimore.  From there Elizabeth Campbell was sold to New Orleans, and Rachel was kept in the pen.  Joseph Miller and other Pennsylvanians pursued McCreary to Baltimore in order to recover Rachel and Elizabeth.  It is this base story that my research surrounds; I will present primary sources to better understand the characters, movement, and events of the story presented by Still.


“United States Census, 1850,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 03 Nov 2014), John Campbell, Baltimore county, part of, Baltimore, Maryland, United States; citing family 2387, NARA microfilm publication M432, NARA microfilm publication M432, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.’

This John Campbell, who is the same John Campbell as the one from the will and administrative account, is likely the John B. Campbell referenced in William Still’s story in The Underground Railroad.  John Campbell and his wife Marian were born in Ireland.  Campbell had lodgers from Ireland and Germany, who probably stayed with him due to his closeness to the harbor at Pratt and High streets.  If, alternatively, Campbell lived in Baltimore County and was a farmer, as the census suggests, these tenants could have been servants.  I doubt this however, because the other tenants were families, Harvey and Perry (I read the name as Perry but the handwriting is difficult to decipher; it could easily be another name).  Also, the Baltimore County estate on York road that was sold upon Campbell’s death was being rented out, so it was not the Campbells’ primary residence.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *