Unlike their African forebears, most American maroons in the antebellum period did not look for freedom in remote hinterland locations. Instead, they settled in the borderlands of farms or plantations—and they went to the woods to stay. If not caught by men or dogs, and depending on their health, survival skills, and their families’ and friends’ level of involvement, runaway slaves could live there for years. These “borderland maroons” have become the most invisible refugees from slavery, although their (white and black) contemporaries were well aware of their existence. As is true for most American maroons, their lives have remained partially unknown, but several individuals who later got out of the South, or had loved ones who went to the woods, described that experience in slave narratives such as autobiographies and memoirs. In addition, detailed and intimate information about their existence can be found in the recollections of the formerly enslaved men and women gathered by the Works Progress Administration. This chapter builds upon the previous two contributions by exploring the lives of “borderland maroons” in the antebellum South with a particular emphasis on the (slave family) networks that sustained them indefinitely as refugees from slavery.
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