Henry Bibb was enslaved in Wm. Gatewood's plantation along with his wife Malinda, and infant daughter, Mary Frances. While his daughter did not have to adhere to the laborious activities given such a young age, she was to be tended by an old mistress while Henry Bibb and Malinda had to toil. In the care of an old mistress, Frances was abused. Seeing his daughter so hurt and mistreated gave Bibb a deep understanding of the realization that enslaved parents didn't hold consent and had to live this powerless life.
Leaving the Enslaved Life
Bibb had resolved that his life could not follow these depressed conditions so he made the decision of escaping to Canada. He had gathered money, and a suit which no one would recognize him in, in preparation of his trip.
Going towards Freedom
As the day of December 25th 1837 had come, Bibb knew that it was time to escape. Leaving his family to bondage left him with great sorrow and lament. His wife and daughter stood at the doorway, looking into his eyes with sad "good-byes" and hopeful wishes to be welcomed into a free state.
The Ohio River
As Bibb said "good-bye" to his daughter, he went out of the cabin to bid farewell to the rest of his neighbors and friends. In doing so, he remarked, "My strong attachments to friends and relatives, with all the love of home and birthplace which is so natural among the human family, were hard to break away from..."
Bibb kept walking to the edge of the quarters and looked into the dark and menacing woods. He said, "...the fear of being pursued with guns and bloodhounds, and of being killed, or captured and taken to the extreme South, to live out my days in hopeless bondage on some cotton or sugar plantation, all combined to discourage me." Looking back to his daughter, he knew that leaving her would be one of the hardest things to do. Bibb mustered, "But I had counted the cost, and was fully prepared to make the sacrifice. I must forsake friends and neighbors, wife and child, or consent to live and die a slave."
Through trekking endlessly day and night, Bibb had finally reached the Ohio River. As he waited crouched down, he heard the distant but comforting sound of a steamboat. He knew that this would finally pull him out of captivity.