Robert P. Flenniken (1804-1879)






Brook Case (1853) – 1 returned

  • An enslaved man named Brook escaped from Culpeper county, Virginia in July 1852. His slaveholder, Dr. Peter B. Bowen, intercepted a letter Brook had written to a free African American woman, Judy Murray, who lived in Jeffersonton, Virginia. Learning Brook’s whereabouts, Bowen executed a power of attorney to his son, George M. Bowen, who journeyed north to Uniontown, Pennsylvania “alone, an entire stranger.” The younger Bowen later extolled the treatment he received at the hands of two Uniontown lawyers, James Veech and A.S. Fuller, who directed him to the office of the similarly complaisant Commissioner Robert P. Flenniken. Bowen fondly recalled Flenniken’s “courteous treatment, both in his official capacity and as a private citizen,” as the commissioner appointed a deputy “who, with his assistant, proceeded a distance of 12 miles, in bitter cold weather, making search ins several villages, until they affected the arrest of the fugitive in Connelsville, and brought him to jail in Uniontown, 24 hours after his appointment as Deputy Marshal.” The following day, after a prompt hearing in which Brook was remanded by Commissioner Flenniken, the alleged freedom seeker was placed in the custody of “the Deputy Marshal and Mr. C. P. Austin to deliver to my father in Culpeper County, Va.,” recalled Bowen. During the hearing, it was revealed that a local man named Robert Hunter wrote the letter on Brook’s behalf, and that “he went by the name of Thomas Slaughter, and was working at Charles King’s shop.” Commissioner Flenniken overruled the objections of anti-slavery attorneys, that Bowen’s power of attorney was faulty, and that he should have produced a bill of sale to prove ownership. [1853-02-11 Alexandria VA Gazette]