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Imagine being arrested for rescuing your family

Posted: 4:05 AM, Feb 18, 2015
Updated: 2016-02-11 12:46:46Z

The story of Juliet Miles is worthy of a Hollywood movie. Enslaved in Kentucky in the 1800s, she was freed, then ended up dying in prison after being recaptured trying to save her children from slavery.

It's one of 19 stories WCPO.com explored in our multimedia report "Freedom's Divide: Stories of the Underground Railroad."

Here's the story of Juliet Miles:   

In 1847, Juliet Miles was bought, then emancipated four years later by the Rev. John Gregg Fee. But freedom didn't end her misery.

She fled from Kentucky across the Ohio River to Felicity, Ohio, where she met up with her husband, Addison.

In October 1858, she traveled on a small skiff four miles west of Augusta, Ky., then traveled 17 miles inland in Kentucky, and secured her 10 children and grandchildren from the Fee farm and a farm in Mason County.

They were captured before they made it back to freedom in Ohio. Mother and children were thrown into the Bracken County jail.

"In this dungeon, they cried and they wailed and they screamed, and the children were just miserable," Caroline Miller, author and Bracken County historian, said. Juliet was imprisoned for the next four months until February 1859, when she was tried and found guilty of "enticing," or trying to steal, her own family.

She was sentenced to the Kentucky State Penitentiary in Frankfort. That's where she died.

"She died of a broken heart," Miller said.

She lasted about a year in prison before dying in her late 40s. She is buried in a prisoner gravesite.

CLICK HERE to read 18 more stories of the Underground Railroad, watch video and read documents from the era at WCPO.com.