Peter Mosley of Broadkiln Hundred, Sussex County, Delaware

Kidnapped by Patty Cannon's gang




William H. Davis of Millsboro said 23 Mar 2001:

"Patty Cannon owned a tavern, hired a gang of Irishmen to kidnap colored people for transport to slave states. Peter Mosley, despite being very fair in coloration, was captured by Patty Cannon's gang in Delaware and sold into slavery in Georgia. Peter gained the confidence of his owners over time and slipped away. He hid by day and walked by night, without change of clothing, north thru Baltimore and down Delaware to his home. Peter married Eliza, daughter of Tilghman Ridgeway."


About Patty Cannon:

Two communications from Dick Carter via the Lower Delmarva Rootsweb mailing list follow. Dick was first appointed to the Delaware Heritage Commission board by Governor Carper in 1994. Dick is an avid First State historian and is the author of Clearing New Ground: The Life of John G. Townsend Jr. and The History of Sussex County.

21 Jul 2003:
"If the "History Detectives" television show (note-link below following messages) is looking for Patty Cannon's house in Federalsburg, I'm afraid they're doomed to failure. It was--and, I believe, still is--in the village of Reliance on the Maryland-Delaware state line west of Seaford, Delaware, which is seven or eight miles away. It was still standing the last time I was through there. Some twenty-five years ago when I was in charge of historic preservation for Sussex County, Delaware, a rather unconventional gentleman came into my office one day and introduced himself as the owner of the Patty Cannon house. During the course of the conversation he claimed that, being sensitive to such things, he had witnessed various ghostly manifestations of Patty and some of her victims in and around the house. I seem to recall that the basement was a particular hot spot. This was about the time that "The Amityville Horror," the book about a very haunted house in Amityville, Long Island, was making the rounds and I somehow got the impression that this guy was hopeful of using the infamous Patty Cannon to cash in on the public interest in haunted houses.

"Some months thereafter a local newspaper did a feature article on the man and the Patty Cannon House in which he stated that Patty communicated with him from time to time by sending him messages in Morse Code, which I gathered was meant to be a kind of modern refinement on spiritualist rappings. I composed a nice letter to the editor in which I said that the man's comments about Patty communicating in Morse Code gave me hope that the educational process could continue in the afterlife. Patty committed suicide by taking poison in the Sussex County prison at Georgetown in 1829, and Samuel F. B. Morse didn't get around to inventing Morse Code until the early 1840s. If the man who owned her house was correct, Patty had to have learned the skill in Hell or wherever it was that she went to after her untimely departure from this mortal coil. One could perhaps look forward to posthumous instruction in all the arcane and esoteric subjects one never had time to properly pursue in this life, even, it would seem, if one was condemned to eternal damnation, as Patty must indeed have been, given the number and severity of her transgressions. I regret to confess that, fearful that the man in question might be several bricks short of a load, I chickened out from sending the letter.

"If you're interested in pursuing the subject of Patty Cannon in greater depth, she is featured in a number of books, some of which might be available through the used book sites on the internet. One, published in the early 1960s, is "Patty Cannon-Woman of Mystery" by Ted Giles. My own favorite account of her doings is the fictional treatment of her in George Alfred ("GATH") Townsend's wonderful novel of antebellum Delmarva, "The Entailed Hat." This book also has great scenes of Princess Anne, Snow Hill and the Nassawongo Furnace, the lower Nanticoke River, Woodburn at Dover (now the Delaware governor's mansion) and other sites of local interest. It was first published in the 1880s, but a number of later editions have been published over the years and one often encounters it in used book stores for a reasonable sum. Townsend, one of the premier reporters and journalists of the mid-19th century, was the son of an itinerant Methodist minister and grew up all over Delmarva in the same time period in which the novel takes place. I've always had the feeling that, aside from the rather sensational aspects of the book, it presented a fairly realistic picture of the Delmarva of that period.

"And last but not least, Patty Cannon's skull is reputed to be housed in the Dover, Delaware, public library. I go there all the time but have never seen isn't the sort of artifact public libraries ordinarily display. So I can't say with certainty that they do have it."

29 Jul 2005:
"...While numerous booklets and pamphlets have been written about her, so far as I am aware, no one has ever written what could be considered a scholarly account of her life, the details of which are sketchy, to say the least. Cannon, Delaware, is not named for her....

"The proverbial woods of western Sussex County and adjoining sections of Eastern Shore Maryland are full of Cannons, the vast majority of whom have no connection to the infamous Patty. As I recall the basic story, "Cannon" was her married name and both her origins and her genealogical connections are obscure, though her husband was reported to have been one "Jesse Cannon." He was also a criminal and died during the 1820s, after which she is said to have continued her criminal activities, apparently achieving considerable notoriety on Delmarva. She wasn't exactly the kind of relative most people were eager to claim. One of the early accounts says that her full name was "Lucretia P. Cannon" but this might well be wrong. The basic facts, i.e., that she and her gang kidnapped free blacks and sold them into slavery in the south, that they murdered numerous people, and that her house and the tavern from which she operated (said to have been owned by her son-in-law, "Joe Johnson") were on or near the Delaware-Maryland state line, are apparently true.

"She was arrested jointly by Maryland and Delaware authorities in 1829 and placed in the old Sussex County jail at Georgetown. Accordng to one report I have read, the person who actually made the arrest was Thomas Holliday Hicks, then Sheriff of Dorchester County, Maryland (and later a Civil War governor of Maryland), who turned her over to Sussex County, Delaware, authorities. I believe she actually lived on the Delaware side of the line. Another historical figure, John M. Clayton, a future Delaware supreme court justice, U.S. Senator and U.S. Secretary of State, then serving as attorney general of Delaware, was said to have been involved in efforts to prosecute her for her crimes.

"According to most accounts, after confessing to a variety of murders and other crimes, she took poison and committed suicide in her jail cell before she could be tried and executed for her crimes, cheating the hangman as it were. Unfortunately, this prevented a fuller account ofher crimes from becoming a part of the historical record as would have been the case if she had gone to trial. Patty was buried in Sussex County's potter's field and through some sequence of events what is alleged to be her skull found its way into the collection of the Dover Public Library in the early 1900s where, according to a newspaper article I read several years ago, it still remains. I have not seen this gruesome object myself."

Ned Heite noted in 2001:

Yes, the Cannons are well known. At one time the governors of Delaware and South Carolina, first cousins, were Cannons. The South Carolina bunch included the towel family. For the fictionalized life of Patty Cannon, the more infamous of the clan (a Canadian by birth, I believe), see George Alfred Townsend's book, The Entailed Hat. It begins with the true story of Jacob and Isaac Cannon, infamous skinflints at Cannon's Ferry, selling out a widow at constable sale. They were dead in a few days, and the widow's son was arrested for killing one of them. On the other side was Dr. Annie Jump Cannon, famed astronomer. Her birthplace house, one of the showplaces of Dover, was bought by a couple of wealthy artistic gentlemen who installed a huge pipe organ in a wing, but they have flown away and the house will become a bed, breakfast, and organ loft.

Read the PBS Article regarding Patty Cannon's house in DE/MD


"Patty Cannon-Woman of Mystery" by Ted Giles
"The Entailed Hat" by George Alfred Townsend
"Freedom at Risk: The Kidnapping of Free Blacks in America 1780-1865" by Carol Wilson



Peter Mosley later raised a large family in Sussex County, Delaware.

They were listed in the 1880 & 1900 Broadkiln, Sussex, Delaware Federal census enumerations:


Name Relation Sex Color Age Married? Occupation Born Fa Born Mo Born
Peter MOSELEY head m Mu 35 Married laborer DE DE DE
Eliza J. MOSELEY wife f Mu 28 Married Keep House DE DE DE
Henery MOSELEY son m Mu 8 Single At home DE DE DE
James MOSELEY son m Mu 4 Single At home DE DE DE
Rufus MOSELEY son m Mu 3 Single At home DE DE DE
Burton MOSELEY son m Mu 2 Single At home DE DE DE
George Edwin MOSELEY son m Mu 2 Single At home DE DE DE



Name Relation Sex Color Birth Age M Status How Long Born Fa. Born Mo. Born
Peter MOSELY head m Mu Mar 1841 59 Married 28 years DE DE DE
Eliza J. wife f Mu Jun 1851 49 Married 28 years DE DE DE
William son m Mu Sep 1881 18 Single   DE DE DE
Ella son f Mu 13 Apr 1887 13 Single   DE DE DE
Minnie son f Mu 11 Apr 1889 11 Single   DE DE DE
Charles son m Mu 4 Oct 1895 4 Single   DE DE DE










"The History and Genealogy of the
Native American Isolate Communities
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Surrounding Areas on the Delmarva Peninsula
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