Harriet Burton Parnell was born in 1806, in North Carolina. She was of mixed black and white heritage, identified as a mulatto. It is unknown whether she was born free or a slave. Her family migrated to Delaware.
Harriet and her husband Abraham, were free African-Americans. In 1823 their first of thirteen children was born. They were abolitionists, and their home was a station on the Underground Railroad.
In 1850, the United States Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Act which caused the Shadd family to flee to Canada.
U.S. Census, 1850 (August 21, 1850)
West Chester, Chester County, Pennsylvania
Abram D Shadd M 49 Delaware
Harriet Shadd F 44 North Carolina
Isaac Shadd M 20 Delaware
Amelia Shadd F 18 Delaware
Joseph Shadd M 16 Pennsylvania
Emeline Shadd F 15 Pennsylvania
Garrison Shadd M 13 Pennsylvania
Sarah Shadd F 10 Pennsylvania
Ada Shadd F 9 Pennsylvania
Abraham Shadd M 6 Pennsylvania
Eunice Shadd M 4 Pennsylvania
Jerrah Shadd M 1 Pennsylvania
Mary Burton F 70 North Carolina
House Number: 349 --Line Number: 20