Do you still see white horses over in those dark woods?

They said, Rev. Noah C.W. Cannon is a dangerous man.

He preached at Denton on Sunday.
And would preach at my father’s
out in the country that week.
He was admired by all who heard him.

But that night came the constable with other men from town
and arrested him for the murder of women and children.
Rev. Cannon told the Justice, Look at me. I am not that mulatto.
(For he was a very dark man.)
And the Justice released him.
But he did not sleep well that night, thinking
it was time to get out of that place.

Next morning he rode some miles and stopped, and thought,
The neighing of my mare is a sign that something will befall me.
He saw horses hitched in the dark woods.
He prayed the Lord would drive his pursuers away,
He rode through the swamp
then urged his beautiful mare to leap the mill race,
while hunting dogs chased them.

The dogs were carried down by the stream.

Bishop Wayman,
Do you still see Reverend Noah Cannon
and those white horses
in the dark woods?

It’s 1830.


Bishop Wayman at Tuscola ILThe Legacy of A.M.E Bishop A.W. Wayman
of Tuckahoe Neck, Caroline County, Maryland

Bishop Wayman recollects:

The next minister that came on our Circuit was Rev. Noah C. W. Cannon. I think he came from Baltimore to Easton, for my father went to Easton in his carriage and brought his trunk to our house. On his way home, someone asked him whose trunk that was he had, and my father answered, “It is Rev. N. C. W. Cannon’s.” They said, “He is rather a dangerous man.”

Brother Cannon came on the Circuit and commenced work, and was admired by all who heard him. He preached at Denton on Sunday, and was to preach at my father’s out in the country during the ensuing week.

After preaching on Sunday night he retired to his stopping-place. There soon was a knock at the door, and when it was opened there was the constable of the town and several others who had come to arrest him. They inquired for Mr. Cannon, who answered, “I am he.” They said, “Come and go with us.” He got up and dressed, and went with them on their way to the Justice of the Peace. …

On reaching the office of the Justice of the Peace, Rev. Cannon inquired what was the charge against him. One man stated that “a few days ago there were several women and children assassinated at Cambridge, Md. The man who committed the deed was a bright mulatto, and he rode upon a bald-face horse, and that he (Cannon) must be the man.”

… Cannon said to the Justice, “Look at me, sir. You will see I am no mulatto (for he was a very dark man), and the beast I ride is not a bald-face horse, for it is a mare.” The Justice then dismissed him, and he returned to his lodging. But he did not rest well that night.

The next morning he thought it was about time for him to get out of that place (Denton, Md). He saddled his beautiful animal and mounted her. After riding a few miles he saw before him in the woods several horses hitched to the trees, which made Cannon suspect that the riders were waiting for him.

He was overtaken by a white man riding in the same direction. Cannon halted his horse and asked the man if he saw a red silk handkerchief lying in the road.  His answer was “No.” Then said Cannon, “I must go back and look for it.” He turned his horse around and rode back.

On coming to a swamp, he plunged in and took the saddle from his horse. Then taking his saddle-bags for a pillow he laid down to await future events. He let his horse eat grass. After she had gone some distance from him, she held up her head and neighed, and then came up to where her master was lying down and smelled him. He patted her on the side of the head and called her by name. She then left him and went to grazing.

Then said he to himself, “This is the last of Noah C. W. Cannon, for the neighing of my horse is a sign that something is to befall me.” He began to pray that the Lord would send rain to drive his pursuers into the house. Late in the afternoon it began to thunder, and soon the rain commenced to fall. He caught his horse, and putting the saddle on her, he mounted. Then hoisting his umbrella there, he sat until the rain was over, when he would move on.

By this time the sun was down, and it was getting dark. He rode out of the swamp into the road and started on his journey. He had to cross over a mill-dam, where he feared they might meet him. He rode along slowly, and when he came in sight of the house, he saw through the windows a large number of men moving around. They knew there was no other way for him but by that mill.

A thought struck him to take down the fence, go behind the mill, and cross over the race, which he accordingly did. Just as he was about mounting his beast, the dogs heard him and started out. He spoke to his horse, when she jumped into the water and soon bore her rider across. The dogs attempted to follow, but were carried down by the stream.

By the time the sun rose next morning he was at Rev. Moses Robinson’s, in Georgetown, Delaware, feeling that the God whom he served had delivered him out of the hands of his enemies.

After Rev. Noah C. W. Cannon was gone, the officers came to my father’s house and broke open Cannon’s trunk, thinking that as they failed to get him, they might find something in it that would throw some light on the movements they supposed were going on among the colored people. They found nothing but some Masonic books and papers, which they could hardly read. They went away … they had not found as much as they expected. My father sent the trunk to Rev. Noah C. W. Cannon at Philadelphia.

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