1794 Freedom seeking: Cato


1794 Freedom seeking: Cato
Runaway ad for Cato
William M'Kissick, "THREE POUNDS REWARD," Arnett's New-Jersey Federalist, July 3, 1794. Loose Newspaper Collection (Ac. 3193). Box 27, Folder 4. Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University Libraries.
Event Description
Cato, aged 33, ran away from enslaver William M'Kissick of Pluckemin, Somerset County, NJ, in 1794. William M'Kissick published a notice offering a reward of 3 pounds for Cato's capture and mentioning that Cato formerly belonged to Col. Philip Van Horne of Middle-Brook.

The runaway ad is found in the July 3, 1794, issue of the Arnett's New-Jersey Federalist, a newspaper published in New Brunswick. However, the ad probably ran in the paper for several months prior to this issue. Unlike other runaway ads published in this time period, the ad did not list the date when William M'Kissick first issued his notice. The ad mentioned that Cato ran away on "Friday the 18th ult." meaning the 18th of the previous month. The most recent "Friday the 18th" before this newspaper issue occurred in April of 1794. Thus, it is reasonable to infer that Cato ran away on April 18, 1794, and that M'Kissick first published his ad in May, then continued to pay for the ad for months while he searched for Cato.

The following is the complete transcript of the runaway ad published on June 3, 1794, in Arnett's New-Jersey Federalist:


RAN-AWAY, on Friday the 18th ult. from the subscriber living near Pluckemin, Somerset county, New-Jersey, a NEGRO MAN named CATO, 33 years of age, about 5 feet 10 or 11 inches high, squints much and is very near sighted; had on a light coloured coatee, waistcoat and overalls of the same, but he may change his dress, having taken with him a variety of cloathing. He formerly belonged to the late Col. Philip Van-Horne, near Middle-Brook. Whoever secures said Negro, that his master may have him again, shall receive the above reward and all reasonable charges paid, by

Event Type
Resistance: Freedom seeking
18 April 1794
Date Certainty
Pluckemin, NJ
Primary Participant
Cato (b. 1761)
Additional Participant
Philip Van Horne (1719-1786)
Participant Details

*** Cato (b. 1761) ***
Role: Runaway
Age: 33
Status: Enslaved
Enslaver(s) of this participant:
- William M'Kissick
Verbatim description from source:
"NEGRO MAN named CATO, 33 years of age, about 5 feet 10 or 11 inches high, squints much and is very near sighted"



Philip Van Horne (1719-1786)
Role: Former Enslaver Mentioned

William M'Kissick
Role: Enslaver - Advertiser
Record Contributor
Jesse Bayker

Linked resources

Items with "Event: 1794 Freedom seeking: Cato"
Title Class
Participant Details: Cato as Runaway in 1794 Freedom seeking event NJS-EVE-00493 Event Participation