"The Underground Railroad is powerful. Many people do not believe in slavery. Many are willing to help people like me and my family find their way to freedom. I did not know until the meeting tonight that the law punishes people who help."
—Corey Birdsong[2]

Corey Birdsong (born August 8, 1848) was the son of Roland and Angel Birdsong. He and his family were slaves on the Hart plantation until they escaped. The family settled in Canada in 1858.


Early life

Corey was born to Roland and Angel on August 8, 1848.[1] Him and his family were owned by Bob Hart, who put them to work on his plantation in Kentucky.

Roland taught Corey how to read and write, and later gave him a book to practice in. Corey also learned a number of bird calls from his father.

Underground Railroad

The Birdsong family was visited by a freeman preacher, who spoke about the Underground Railroad in late August 1857. Roland wished to escape, but Angel was hesitant to leave. A few days later, Roland was forced to leave on his own after hearing about Mr. Hart's plans to sell him. Mr. Hart was extremely angry at Roland's escape and even put up an award for his return. Corey wrote less and less in his journal over the following months.

In March 1858, an abolitionist named Mr. Renfield visited the Hart farm, pretending to be interested in birds. Mr. Hart naturally introduced him to Corey, who had a special talent for birds. A few days later, Mr. Renfield his intentions to help Corey and his mother escape. Corey eventually convinced his mother to take Mr. Renfield's offer. Their first stop on the Underground Railroad was at a schoolhouse near Maysville.

Corey and his mother were taken across the Ohio River by John Parker. He brought them to Reverend Rankin's house in Ripley, Ohio. They reached Owl Creek, where Angel stayed behind to give birth to Star. Corey headed toward Oberlin to try to find his father. The trip took nearly a month after Corey got lost along the way. In Oberlin, Corey stayed with Dodd for a few days, before finding his father. They then went to retrieve Angel in Owl Creek. Together the family headed to their ultimate destination, Canada.

Life in Canada

Personality and traits

Corey had an affinity with birds and could recognize several different types of birds. He also was able to imitate bird calls, earning him his last name "Birdsong".

Family tree

The Birdsong Family Tree
Roland Birdsong
Angel Birdsong
Corey Birdsong
(b. 1848)
Star Birdsong

Behind the scenes