History Day- The Life of Ona Judge

Timeline created by 23lebersole@olsd.us
In History
  • Ona was Born

    Ona was Born
    Ona was born in 1773. Her mother, Betty, was a dower slave, belonging to Martha Washington. Her father was a white, indentured servant, who had recently arrived from England. Because her mother was enslaved, Ona had to remain in bondage.
  • Moves into Mansion

    Moves into Mansion
    When she was 9 years old, Ona moved into the mansion. Like her mother, she became a very talented seamstress. Later, she became Martha's personal maid, because she was so valued.
  • George Washington's Inauguration

    George Washington's Inauguration
    In 1789, Washington traveled to New York to be inaugurated as president. He only took a handful of slaves with him and Ona was one of them. This shows how valued she was but it meant that it would be even harder to escape slavery.
  • The Washington Household Moves to Philadelphia

    The Washington Household Moves to Philadelphia
    A year later, the capital moves to Philadelphia and the whole household moves too. This was a life changing moment for Ona because the city had become filled with abolitionists. This is were she sees former slaves that have escaped and people that want to help slaves find their way to freedom.
  • Ona Escapes

    Ona Escapes
    When she was 22, Ona had been thinking about escaping because of so much exposure to free blacks and abolitionists. When she learned that she was supposed to be given as a wedding gift, she knew she had to escape and so she snuck out while the Washingtons were eating dinner. A free black community helped her on to a ship that would to Portsmouth.
  • Ona Marries John Staines

    Ona Marries John Staines
    As Ona starts building her life, she marries a free, black man. His name was John Staines and he was a sailor. They had three children together, two daughters and one son. The marriage gave her some additional legal protection but she still had to look over her shoulder at all times.
  • Washington Asks Bassett to Capture Ona

    Washington Asks Bassett to Capture Ona
    Because Washington's nephew, Bassett, was going on a business trip to New Hampshire, Washington told him that he wanted Bassett to try to capture Ona and any of her children. Washington could do this because Ona and children were still considered his property. Luckily, Ona got the word by one of Senator Langdon servants, and she quickly went into hiding.
  • Staines Dies

    Staines Dies
    No one knows how Ona's loving husband, John Staines, dies. This was a heartbreaking event for Ona. She had raised a family with him and he was the one person that had truly made her feel free.
  • Ona's Daughter's Die

    Ona's Daughter's Die
    In 1832 and 1833, both Eliza and Nancy pass away most likely from the harsh conditions they worked in. Her son, William, never returned to Portsmouth and when Ona was too old to work, she lived in poverty. Although she may have been better off with the Washingtons, Ona still stated, "I am free, and have, I trust been made a child of God by the means.”
  • Period: to

    Her Children Leave

    In the 1820's Ona's her three children leave. Wanting to follow in ke his father's footsteps, William leaves Portsmouth to become an apprentice sailor. Soon after that, both of her daughters were forced into indentured servitude because Ona could not support them without her husbands income.