note: not an actual image of Georgianna
One of the Pry’s servants, Georgianna Rollins was an African American woman who worked in the house. She was free woman, not a slave.
The Pry’s home in Keedysville sat very close to Virginia: slave country. Working so close to Virginia, Rollins was in danger of being kidnapped and sold into slavery. However, Rollins was able to maintain her freedom. She would go on to marry, have 8 children, and live out a full life.
Slavery and indentured servitude can vary by regions and needs of their owners. Many enslaved people worked in canning factories, on small plantations, and in iron furnaces. For example, Thomas Johnson, Maryland’s first Governor, purchased and owned enslaved people to work in the Catoctin Furnace and later worked on Rose Hill Manor (near Thomas Johnson High School). Canning factories were set up closer to the City of Frederick. Around 1860 there were 794 slave owners and 3,000 enslaved people living in Frederick County. Women that were enslaved and indentured most often helped with the children, in the kitchen and in gardens.
Free and enslaved labor played a crucial role in Maryland and the nation’s economy. It was so important that in 1850 congress passed the Fugitive Slave Law. In 1854, Maryland’s legislature prohibited free blacks from leaving their employers before the completion of their contracts. African Americans were subject to being arrested, imprisoned, and fined for abandoning their contracts. Because Maryland relied so heavily on free labor, it was imperative that laws support those needs and demands. Georgianna would have been confined to those same laws. The Pry family had the right to be able to apprehend Rollins had she tried to leave the property prior to the end of her contract.
Emancipation did not mean that Rollins was released from her contract. Emancipation did not free one slave who lived in the border states, or any of those confined to contracts.