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I Have Walked One Mile After Dark in a Hard Rain is the first book that amplifies the experience of Wisconsin’s Shepard family and falsehoods about the Horner family who enslaves them. In this work, Midwest History Project adds to existing research about Charles and Caroline Shepard and upends the myth that their enslaver, William Horner, was a benevolent Southern abolitionist. Charles and Caroline are young adults in 1848 when they cross the American wilderness in covered wagons and assume their sovereignty. While Wisconsin historians preserve the story that the Shepards received freedom from an abolitionist sympathizer, Midwest History Project reveals first-hand accounts that prove William Horner is an enthusiastic slaver who serves as a quartermaster in the Confederate Army. Remarkably, a collection of Shepard family letters have been preserved by a Wisconsin university. Transcribed in this book, these letters anchor the Shepards’ experience within a confluence of American experience – migration, ethnocide, slavery, American settlement and war.
Whoever listens to a witness, becomes a witness
― Elie Wiesel, 2002