top of page
FREE TO STAY by Nan Hayden Agle

FREE TO STAY - by Nan Hayden Agle


The true story of ELiza Benson, a Maryland Slave, and the family she stood by for three generations. As a tribute to her life’s importance, Eliza Benson’s portrait is on permanent exhibit in the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African-American History and Culture, Inner Harbor, Baltimore. A screenplay is being written based on this book. In 1841, slaveholder Marse Bradford Harrison, a citizen of Maryland, gave four-year-old Eliza Ann Benson to his daughter Braddie. Eliza would be a friend and a slave to her infant owner in Harrison’s way of thinking; but a friendship began and a promise was made.


Paperback – Copyright 2000 – 160 pages – 25 priceless images chronicle Eliza’s valuable life, including portraits from the Maryland Historical Society and The Baltimore Museum of Art


ISBN: 0-9703802-0-8 Price: $18.00

FREE TO STAY by Nan Hayden Agle

Excluding Sales Tax
  • Book Review

    “Eliza was all good things rolled into one package…and she was smart, too.  She could size up a situation and straighten it out ‘before you could say boo to a goose.’  She was warm when warmth was needed, strong when strength was needed, and brave when only bravery could lift sorrow above heartbreak.  That Eliza was born a slave is beside the point.  Small in body and monumental in character, she was a ‘Worthy of Maryland’ for three generations.”

    “I had to write Eliza’s story.  If I hadn’t it might have been lost, and that would never do. ‘No-sir-ree Bob, horsefly in a buggy,’ as Eliza would say.”   


    ……. Nan Hayden Agle, Author and Granddaughter of Braddie

  • Book Review

    “A story of black and white which moves far beyond color associations to humane treatment and human lives well-lived, both in times of plenty and in poverty.  Definitely not a politically correct story in terms of today’s standards, this story intones family, uprightness, steadfastness and virtue.  It extols harmony and togetherness in a family who had little else in post-war Maryland.”


    ……G. Ray THompson, PhD., Retired,  History Department, Salisbury University; Co-founder, former Director - Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History & Culture

  • Book Review

    “It is a beautiful story that we feel is especially needful in these days of racial tension.  We would encourage everyone to read, enjoy, and promote this timely book.”


    ….Carol Connell, Book Buyer, The Gospel Shop

  • Book Review

    “I found your book charming and sensitive.  It’s wonderful to see how love conquered the racial barrier.  I felt you let us really know ELiza.  What a beautiful spirit, compassion, loyalty, honesty and devotion she had.  I’m thankful for your efforts to write this wonderful book and letting us meet your family through your words.  It is a delightful story.”


    …..Mary Ellen Petersen, Florida

  • Book Review

    “Free to Stay is a story that should be read and remembered for generations to come.  This book is a timeless treasure and rarity of one’s life in another family.  Eliza Benson, a woman of trust worthiness and faithfulness in caring for those she loved and worked for; a lady in hard times but relentless to show happiness, faith, love, and simplicity in her everyday life.  Always giving to others of herself.”


     …..An online review

  • Book Review

    “Free to Stay is the true story of an extraordinary love that runs so deep and fierce it spans three generations.  Benson was born into slavery and given as a gift to her master’s daughter.  She grew up alongside Miss Braddie, the girl she served with love, admiration and pride.  It was this tenacious love that kept the family together against all odds during some excruciatingly difficult times.”


    …… Bonnie Evans, Eastern Shore

  • Book Review

    “It was great to meet you at the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Conference and thanks for sharing this special story with me..”                                                                             


     … Yomi Goodall, Director – Ancient African, Enslavement and Civil War Museum, Selma, Alabama

  • Book Review

    “Agle has embroidered authentic dialect and assumptive dialogue to produce a very readable and touching story.”


    ….John Goodspeed, Book Critic, Star Democrat

bottom of page