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Leonard Grimes (1815-1874) was an independent hackman who owned horses and carriages for hire and became known for assisting freedom seekers to escape from Virginia to Washington and then to points to the north. Born to free parents in Leesburg, Virginia, Grimes moved to Washington as a young boy. Here he married Washingtonian Octavia Janet Cols(t)on in 1833.

In late 1839 Grimes drove 30 miles into Loudoun County, Virginia, to rescue an enslaved woman named Patty and her six children. He was successful, but three months later he was arrested in Washington and sent to Richmond, where he faced trial. In 1840 he was sentenced to two years at hard labor in the penitentiary in Richmond and fined $100. Soon after his release, he and his family moved to Boston, where he became the first pastor of Twelfth Baptist Church, known as The Fugitives Church. There he continued his abolitionist work and open defiance of the Fugitive Slave Act. He was credited with helping hundreds of freedom seekers make their way to Canada.


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