Dating from its origin, the Negro press printed the names of black informants,Freedom's Journal listing those of Moses Smith, formerly of Baltimore, and Nathan Gooms of New York, in its issue of November 7, 1828. The mere appearance of these names in the columns of the weekly was a sufficient deterrent to die other informers whose identity the editors threatened to reveal. When Martin R, Delany was editor of The Black Underground Dr. Martin R. Delaney, founder of the Pittsburgh Mystery in 1842 and later was co-editor of the North Star.
In August 1858 two runaways were betrayed by John Brodie, who had promised to assist them in returning to Covington, Kentucky, to effect the liberation of relatives. Brodie's treachery nearly cost him his life. He was seized by a group of Negroes, who proceeded to give him three hundred blows with a paddle, a stroke for each dollar he was supposed to have received from the slave-catchers. Only the presence of the influential Henry Highland Garnet saved Brodie from further punishment. The badly mauled informer delivered himself to the police authorities, to be placed in jail for safe-keeping