"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Monday, February 20, 2023

William Still

This woodcut is the frontispiece of William Still' s 1878 book The Underground Rail Road


Some editions use this higher resolution wood engraving of Still:

William Still

Kashatus, 2012, dates this image to 1865.

Appleton's Encyclop√¶dia, 1900,  give this present tense biography of Still.

STILL, William,  philanthropist,  b.  in Shamony,  Burlington  co.,  N.  J., 7 Oct., 1821.  He  is  of African  descent,  and  was  brought  up  on  a  farm. Coming to Philadelphia  in 1844,  he  obtained  a clerkship  in  1847  in  the  office  of  the  Pennsylvania Anti-slavery  society.  He  was  chairman  and corresponding  secretary  of  the  Philadelphia  branch of  the  “underground  railroad”  in  1851-'61,  and busied  himself  in  writing  out  the  narratives  of fugitive  slaves.  His  writings  constitute  the  only full  account  of  the  organization  with  which  he  was connected.  Mr.  Still  sheltered  the  wife,  daughter, and  sons  of  John  Brown  while  he  was  awaiting execution  in  Charlestown,  Va.  During  the  civil war  he  was  commissioned  post-sutler  at  Camp William  Penn  for  colored  troops,  and  was  a member  of  the  Freedmen's  aid  union  and  commission. He  is  vice-president  and  chairman  of  the board  of  managers  of  the  Home  for  aged  and  infirm colored  persons,  a  member  of  the  board  of  trustees of  the  Soldiers'  and  sailors'  orphans'  home,  and of  other  charitable  institutions.  In  1885  he  was sent  by  the  presbytery  of  Philadelphia  as  a  commissioner to  the  general  assembly  at  Cincinnati. He  was  one  of  the  original  stockholders  of  “The Nation,”  and  a  member  of  the  Board  of  trade  of Philadelphia.  His writings include “The Under- ground Rail-Road” (Philadelphia.  1878):  “Voting and  Laboring”;  and  “Struggle  for  the  Rights  of the  Colored  People  of  Philadelphia. ”

This image of Still appeared in Men of Mark, in 1887, where he is described as “William Still, Philanthropist Coal Dealer, and Twenty Years Owner of the Largest Public Hall Owned by a Colored Man.”

William Still.

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