Oliver Pernell was born into slavery in the United States on March 20th, 1842. He was owned by Mose Pernell and he laboured on his farm near Berlin, Maryland. In the fall of 1855, Pernell left his parents, brothers and sisters and set off along the Underground Railroad in search of freedom. Pernell stated that his master was tolerable, but he wanted to be free.
He first made his way to Philadelphia, to the home of William Still, and was then sent to the banks of the Niagara River where it is believed he swam to freedom. Once in Canada, Pernell made his way to the village of Drummondville, part of present-day Niagara Falls, and settled there. During this period, there were many refugee slaves living in Drummondville along Peer, Stanley, Ross, Grey and Robinson Streets and Allendale Avenue.
Taken in 1905 - with 4 year old Margaret Cadham, whose great uncle, John Orchard once employed Pernell. They were friends.