Free Boy, A True Story of Slave and Master, tells the story of a thirteen-year-old boy who escaped from Washington Territory to freedom in 1860 on the West Coast’s underground railroad. Charles Mitchell was the property of James Tilton, Surveyor General of Washington Territory, and this book is a twined biography of the two.
Charles Mitchell’s story continues to resonate with those who read it. Rob Smith, podcaster at Welcome to Olympia, is the latest person to dig a little deeper and add a richer context to Mitchell’s life in 1850s Olympia, Washington Territory, and in the black community of Victoria, British Columbia. Smith tells Mitchell’s story anew in “A Righteous Decision.”
The Newport High School orchestra, Bellevue, Washington, has performed orchestral pieces by composer Tim Huling based on Free Boy.
The Fifth Avenue Theatre’s Adventure Musical Theater Company performed a musical based on Free Boy during the spring of 2017.
Visit www.blackpast.org for primary source materials for Free Boy. Blackpast is a source for African-American history created by Dr. Quintard Taylor at the University of Washington. Read “Slave Master or Benefactor? James Tilton in Antebellum Washington Territory,” in Columbia, The Magazine of Northwest History, Summer 2014.