Brad Asher

Your Subtitle text
"I often think of you Cecelia; ... you were the companion of my childhood, I can never forget you, and far from reproaching you for leaving me, I think and always thought, it is a very natural desire for the slave to be free."
--Fanny to Cecelia, August 1855

Cecelia was a fifteen-year-old slave when she accompanied her mistress, Frances “Fanny” Thruston Ballard, on a trip to Niagara Falls in 1846. Minutes from Canada, Cecelia faced a fateful decision. Flee in a rowboat across the Niagara River to freedom? Or return with her mistress to Kentucky, to the only life she had ever known, where her mother and brother remained enslaved? Cecelia made the bold decision to escape, to endure separation from her family in order to begin life anew as a free woman in Canada.

Yet the separation gnawed at her. So in the 1850s she opened a correspondence with Fanny.  Fanny’s return letters, preserved in Louisville archives for a century, document the extraordinary link between two urban families over several decades. Cecelia and Fanny is a fascinating look at race relations in mid-nineteenth-century Louisville, Kentucky, focusing on the experiences of these two women during the seismic social upheaval wrought by the emancipation of four million African Americans.

Website Builder