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He must have learned something about escaping because on April 26, 1834, he successfully escaped from jail and seems to have disappeared back into society. Thus, he eluded the hangman. However, this same anonymity is history’s worst enemy because so many questions are left unanswered. So Windover was mostly forgotten.

For almost three more decades, up until the Civil War, insurrections continued. The Richmond Dispatch reported on Oct. 30, 1860, that a man named Dodson was indicted in Pittsylvania Court House, Va., for “advising and inciting Negros in this state to rebel and make insurrection.”

“Dodson was overheard to tell Negros at a late hour of the night, that the children of Israel were in greater bondage than they and that they threw off the yoke of slavery by themselves, that the negroes of St. Domingo had overpowered their masters and set themselves free, and that if they would only be determined, and show that they were in earnest, the North would send them help; that there were 500 men in this county who would help them, and that many of the remainder would do nothing against them, and that in a short time they could all be free.”

The Richmond Dispatch also reported an attempted insurrection in the town of Manchester, Chesterfield County, Va., in January 1861. The conspirators, who met at the home of a man named Vaughn, consisted mostly of freed slaves, members of the Howlett family. It was reported the conversation included potentially treasonous statements, such as they would all be freed in two months and that “a vessel laden with silver was now on its way from the North for the use of the colored people.”

Several of Vaughn’s slaves reported the plot to the authorities. After several hours of testimony, it was concluded that the comments made at Vaughn’s table related to informal news accounts that people were sharing among themselves, rather than any contemplated insurrection.

Paul N. Herbert of Fairfax County is a frequent contributor to the Civil War page.