The Wilmington Underground Railroad network included residents with vastly different backgrounds, living in all neighborhoods of the city. The Black agents clustered between the city core and west to Quaker Hill, as well as the East Side of the city.
Severn Johnson lived on the East Side at Taylor and Buttonwood Streets, a dense, working-class neighborhood close to the industrial banks of the Brandywine. He has been variously identified as a laborer and an oysterman, and his home was only about a block from fellow operative, George Wilmer. From Thomas Garrett’s letters, Johnson was involved in the Underground Railroad by at least 1857. Garrett referred to Johnson as a “true man” and often sent him with vital correspondence and messages to William Still in Philadelphia.
Johnson’s home is no longer standing.
- James McGowan, Stationmaster on the Underground Railroad, The Life and Letters of Thomas Garrett (Moylan, PA:, Whimsie Press, 1977)
- William J. Switala, The Underground Railroad in Delaware, Maryland and West Virginia (Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2004)