Rambles of a Runaway from Southern Slavery

Henry Goings was a slave born ca. 1810 on a plantation on the James River between Richmond, VA and Williamsburg, VA.  His interesting history of travel with his owners, escape, and eventual settlement in Canada were chronicled in an until recently unknown book.

The UVa Library acquired the book in 2007.  Researches Calvin Schermerhord of Arizona State University, Michael Plunkett, and Edward Gaynor both from UVa Small Special Collections Library were able to find other source material about/from Mr. Goings.  Their research is published in a newly edited version of Mr. Goings’s Rambles of a Runaway from Southern Slavery.

The Scholars’ Lab was asked to contribute maps showing the general movement of Mr. Goings and places mentioned in the text.  We gladly obliged and through an iterative process came up with the four following maps.

Map 1 - Shows Goings's General Movement

Map 2 - Shows Southern Locations with James River Plantations Inset

Map 3 - Shows Places From Tennessee to Canada

Map 4 - Shows Great Lakes Locations

The UVa Press did make some minor changes to the maps (mostly legends and scalebars) for the book.  However, the extents and all the data in the maps are the same as those shown here.

I have read the preface and and first chapter.  It is a fascinating story and the footnotes are incredibly informative.  Kudos to the editors!

GIS Specialist with the University of Virginia Library where he builds spatial data collections, teaches GIS courses, and provides GIS user support. His research work includes various demographic, neighborhood indicator, and funding analysis projects in and around Richmond and various environmental science and humanities GIS projects. Chris is a certified GIS professional (GISP).


  1. I moved to the United States from London, Ontario. We left on a Greyhound Bus in 10/1959 from Chatham, Ontario that is marked on one of your maps. This is a excellent website. Thank you.