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"Aaron L. Benedict."
"Aaron L. Benedict.
(c1804-1867) Aaron L. Benedict was a minister of the Gospel in the Quaker community of Alum Creek Friends' Settlement in Morrow County, Ohio. It was here that Benedict owned and operated a station on the Underground Railroad and managed the local branch of operators. It is reported that in a single month Benedict's house was refuge for 60 fugitive slaves. Many Quakers in the North and South were sympathetic to the enslaved and they acted as the principle operators on the Underground Railroad. As early as 1786, George Washington is said to have complained that a society of Quakers helped one of his male slaves run away.
"Jason Bull and Family."
"Aunt Polly Jackson."
"Udney Hyde Home."
"Frances Ellen Watkins Harper." (1825-1911)
John Brown Cabin & Maryland Headquarters
John Brown's Cabin
(1800--1859) came to Osawatomie from his farm in upstate New York in October 1855 after three of his sons, who had arrived earlier in the year, appealed to him for help against proslavery forces in the area. While in Kansas, Brown was involved in a number of skirmishes in the so-called Bleeding Kansas" era, including the "battle" of Osawatomie on August 30, 1856.
The John Brown Cabin was built in 1855 by Samuel Glenn, who sold it to Samuel Adair, Brown's brother-in-law. Brown frequented the cabin and occasionally used it as a headquarters for his abolitionist activities. Built about a mile west of Osawatomie, the log cabin was dismantled and reassembled in its present location, John Brown Park, in 1912. A stone pavilion was constructed around the cabin in 1928, however the interior of the cabin remains much as it was when Brown was a frequent visitor and contains much of the original furniture. John Brown only lived in Kansas for about 20 months, but his abolitionist activities leading up to his infamous raid on Harper's Ferry have been closely associated with the state.
The Adair-John Brown Cabin is located at the Adair Cabin State Historic Site in Osawatomie, Kansas. It is open to the public Wednesday through Saturday, 10 am to 5:00 pm and Sunday, 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm.
John Brown's Headquarters
This building, also known as the Kennedy Farmhouse, was the headquarters from which John Brown (1800-1859) planned and executed his raid on the Federal armory at Harpers Ferry in October 1859.
Along with a small band of followers, he rented the two-story Kennedy farmhouse, located approximately seven miles from Harpers Ferry, from the heirs of William Booth Kennedy. During the three months leading up to the raid, Brown divided his time between Chambersbur, Pennsylvania and this farm, living under the alias of Isaac Smith. The Kennedy Farmhouse served as the center of operations where Brown stockpiled weapons and tools and pondered maps and vital statistics. Other than the engine house at Harper's Ferry where Brown staged his final defense, the Kennedy Farmhouse, a National Historic Landmark, is the building most closely associated with the raid.
John Brown's Headquarters is located at 2406 Chestnut Road in Samples Manor, Maryland. Privately owned, it is open to the public by appointment.
The Tabor, Iowa, Home of Congregational Minister John Todd
The Home of Reverend George B. Hitchcock
The George B. Hitchcock House is located 1and 1/2 miles west of Lewis, Iowa, on Nishna Valley Road, south of U.S. Hwy. 6. It is open for tours from May-September, from 1:00pm-5:00pm, closed Mondays. Call 712-769-2323 for further information.
The Henderson Lewelling House
Lewelling is also known for promoting the fruit industry in Iowa and later in Oregon and California. He and his brother were the first people to plant fruit trees in Iowa. In 1837 they planted 35 varieties of apples, pears, cherries, peaches, plums, and small fruits. Ten years after arriving in Salem, Lewelling moved to Oregon and established a new nursery with 350 plants that had survived the long journey--the first grafted nursery stock planted on the Pacific Coast. Lewelling's brother later joined him and was responsible for propagating the Bing cherry. In 1853, taking advantage of the Gold Rush, Lewelling moved to California, established a nursery and founded the community of Fruitvale. Today, Lewelling is known as the Father of the Pacific Fruit Industry. His activities in Salem, Iowa, also make him an important figure in the Underground Railroad movement.
The Henderson Lewelling House is located on West Main Street in Salem, Iowa. It is open to the public May through September on Sundays only from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm. During the rest of the year, tours are given by appointment by calling the Henry County Welcome Center at 1-800-421-4282.
The Jordan House
Jordan's house was a known stop on the Underground Railroad. He was a staunch aboltionist, and has been called the "Chief Conductor" of the Underground Railroad for Polk County. Jordan's pastor eulogized him by stating "In the troublous days of slavery this great heart reached out and helped the oppressed, seeking the north star of freedom." Jordan assisted John Brown on his famous last trip from Kansas before the raid at Harper's Ferry, when Brown and his party of escaping slaves camped at Jordan's farm in February 1858.
The Jordan House is located a 2001 Fuller Rd., in West Des Moines, Iowa. Today the Jordan House serves both as a museum for West Des Moines and as the office of the West Des Moines Historical Society. It is open for tours May-September on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons from 1:00pm to 4:00pm and Sunday afternoon from 2:00pm to 5:00pm. There is a fee for admission; call 515-225-1286 for further information.
The Milton House, a National Historic Landmark
Evidence of the Goodrich family's involvement in the Underground Railroad is substantiated by oral testimony, letters, and published biographical material. An early statement of Joseph Goodrich's involvement in the movement is in The United States Biographical Dictionary and Portrait Gallery of Eminent and Self-Made Men: Wisconsin Volume, published in 1877 which states, "His home was a refuge for the fugitive slave." According to oral tradition, fugitive slaves would enter the log cabin located approximately 40 feet south of the Milton House Hotel, in order to avoid guests. They would then enter a trap door and walk through a tunnel that lead to the basement of the inn where Goodrich and his family provided shelter and food. The tunnel, originally an earthen structure about three to five feet high, is believed to have been constructed around 1845 when the house was completed. In 1954, the property was remodeled to accommodate visitors and the tunnel was enlarged and lined with stone. The Wisconsin State Journal wrote of Goodrich after his death in 1867, "He was an uncompromising friend and advocate of the cause of temperance, and of human rights. The poor and oppressed were received by him as a legacy of the Lord..."
The Milton House is located at 18 South Janesville Street in Milton, Wisconsin. From June until Labor Day, the museum is open from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. During the rest of the year, tours are given by appointment only by calling 608/868-7772.
The John Hossack House
Dr. Richard Ells House
The Underground Railroad in Southwestern Indiana
Southwestern Indiana often marked a beginning of the Underground Railroad. The Fugitive Slave Act made Canada the desired final destination. Canada had passed an antislavery law in the year 1793. Indiana had three significant passages that ran south to north. Vanderburgh and Warrick counties were the initial stops of the most western route. The next stop would be Gibson county and on to Vincennes, Terre Haute, Lafayette, and most likely Chicago or Michigan.
The common escape from Kentucky to Indiana was crossing the Ohio River. The body of water was not dammed at the time, therefore it was possible to swim or walk across it if frozen in the winter. Their arrival point would have been Diamond Island, just below Henderson, Kentucky. At this point, local fisherman would have aided them to the point where the coachman of Willard Carpenter would pick them up. He would transport the slaves to the home of Willard Carpenter or to Liberty Baptist Church located in Evansville's black community consisting of 95 residents. All of this activity took place in the dark of night to ensure not being seen. When it was safe, the escaping slaves would move on to various other stations farther north. Once a fugitive reached Vanderburgh and Warrick counties they were most likely aided by the conductors Charles McJohnston, Judge A.I. Robinson, Samuel McCutchan, or Willard Carpenter. Another possible station could have been the farm of Levi Hooker near the intersection of Oakhill and Whetstone roads. One individual that was particularly active in the movement was the first mayor of Evansville, James G. Jones. He was elected to office in 1847, and then to the position of Indiana Attorney General in 1860.
During the Civil War, Jones also served as a colonel in the Union Army. Jones worked closely with other significant local businessmen: Willard Carpenter, Robert Barnes, and attorney Andrew L. Robinson. Carpenter amassed his fortune as a dry goods and notions dealer, a canal and railroad promoter, and a real estate speculator. Robert Barnes was one of the first board members of the Evansville National Bank (the city's 1st bank). It is rumored that Barnes used his mansion located on the bank of the Ohio River to shelter escapees. Robinson participated by defending 10 fishermen accused of transporting slaves.
The mouth of Little Pigeon Creek marked another significant starting point in Southern Indiana. This would place the escaping slaves in Warrick County. The most active stop in the county was the farm of Ira Caswell, an Antislavery League activist.
The next station was the farm of John Cockrum in Oakland city. Most likely the following stop would have been the coal mine of Dr. Posey, which helped nearly 1,000 slaves escape to freedom. From this point the escaping slaves could go to Lyles Station outside of Princeton, Indiana or on to other stops along their chosen path.
History of the Underground Railroad in Rochester NY.
The city of Rochester and the surrounding areas helped to play a leading role in the Underground Railroad movement. Rochester, which was conveniently located close to the Canadian border, served as one of the last stops in the Underground Railroad. Rochester was one of the last stops before fugitive slaves could for the first time in their lives be considered free men, upon their arrival in Canada.
In the pamphlet entitled A Path to Freedom, which is currently on display in the Rush Rhees Rare Books Collection at the University of Rochester or in The Monroe County History Office, it is clear that the outpouring of support was immense in the Rochester area.
In addition to the many citizens that actively participated in harboring fugitive slaves, there were many instances where Rochesterians indirectly aided the fugitive slaves. This assistance consisted of donating money, participating in bazaars, eating suppers, donating clothing and other materials or attending lectures where the fees charged would go towards helping the cause of the Underground Railroad.
Instances often occurred in which common citizens did not have direct contact with the fugitive slaves, but were nonetheless equally vital in attaining their eventual freedom. These common citizens included informants who had knowledge about police activity and who would pass this information on to the 'conductors'. One instance occurred when a telegram operator learned of an imminent raid on a 'station' or safe-house. The operator immediately sent word to the appropriate people and the escaped slaves were bustled off to safety just prior to their capture and subsequent return to slavery with the same owner that they had escaped from.
There are numerous locations in the Rochester area that were used as safe-houses to safely shelter the slaves before they were placed on board boats (often on the Genesee river). The most common route used the 'lines' that led from Henrietta through Monroe County and into Rochester. Some of the better known 'stations' included:
The Henry Quinby farm by Mendon Ponds Park, which today is by the Fieldstone Smokehouse.
David H. Richardson's farm on East Henrietta Road near Castle Road. Mr. Richardson was rumored to have "never turned away an escaped slave".
The Warrant farm in Brighton, now 1956 West Henrietta Road (approximately one mile from the University of Rochester campus).
The old Frederick Douglass home near Highland Park.
A cluster of houses where numerous Quakers lived. That is now the area where the War Memorial building is.
Harvey Humphrey, Esp. house at 669 Genesee Street.
Other 'stations' were located in all of the areas surrounding Rochester, including Brighton, Pittsford, Mendon and Webster. Were it not for the compassion and generosity of the citizens of Rochester and of countless other communities throughout the United States, it is likely that many of the escaped slaves that eventually made their way to freedom would not have.
Saved Sites in Ohio
The following Underground Railroad sites in Ohio, which were previously endangered, have been saved:
Margaret Agler House
Columbus, Ohio, Franklin County Central Region
Alliance, Ohio, Stark County East Region
Home of one of the foremost Abolitionists in the Alliance area and one of Stark County's best-known Underground Railroad stations.
The Alliance Area Preservation Society continues to restore the Haines House as a symbol of our community's heritage and it's role in making Alliance a better place today. Five years after purchasing the home, our dedicated corp of volunteers is completing the first phase of renovations. In 2006, the focus was on renovating the attic room where fugitive slaves once hid, and construciton of the handicapped ramp, parking lot and restroom.
Trinway, Ohio, Muskingum County Salt Fork Region
Prospect Place is the 29 room mansion built by abolitionist George Willison Adams at Dresden, Ohio, in 1856. It is the home of the non profit G. W. Adams Educational Center, Inc.
"Prospect Place" was the home of the George Willison Adams family of Dresden, Ohio, in the 19th & 20th centuries. This structure is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is currently in the process of being restored. In the 1850s and 1860s the house was a station on the "Underground Railroad". Although a few fine homes remain in Dresden from this era, Prospect Place is the last remaining Dresden area mansion (There were five: Prospect Place; River Dale; Mulberry Grove; Maple Hollow and Elm Grove), the others have met the fate of time and neglect and are no more. These were the homes of the "Lords of the Valley", men of great influence and wealth who helped tame a new land and create a community. We are restoring this home as a memorial to times gone by and to give the Dresden area back a piece of an ever-vanishing history.
The house was purchased from the Longaberger Company of Newark, Ohio. We would like to express our gratitude and thanks for all of their help in obtaining this property and especially to Tami and Rachel Longaberger, also Bob Ziegler and his assistant Joyce. Special gratitude is expressed to the late Dave Longaberger who had a vision like ours for the house and who saved it by placing a new roof on the house in the late 1980s.
Endangered Underground Railroad Sites in Ohio
Fitchville, Ohio, Huron County North Central Region
Sylvania, Ohio, Lucas County Northwest Region
Nelson T. Gant House
Zanesville, Ohio Muskingum County
Salt Fork Region
Rev. Joseph Markey House
Monroe County, Salt Fork Region, Operated during the 1840's and 50's
Stafford, Ohio, Monroe County Salt Fork Region
John T. Wilson House
Tranquility, Ohio, Adams County, South Region
C.H. & D Railroad Tunnel
Gallia County South Region
Ironton, Ohio, South Region
J. Schumaker House
Chillicothe, Ohio, Ross County South Region
James Steel Farm
Chillicothe, Ohio, Ross County, South Region
Chillicothe, Ohio, Ross County, South Region
Reverend George Carpenter
Concord Township, Ross County, South Region
James B. Mahan Tavern
Sardinia, Ohio, Brown County, Southwest Region
Augustus West House
Greenfield, Ohio, Fayette County, Southwest Region
James Walker House, Kennett Square
Soon after, the slave was taken to the home of James Walker, a black man who lived at 303 South Union Street in Kennett Square. (The house is now demolished.) James Walker called Dr. Isaac D. Johnson, a well-known Kennett doctor.
The slave was hidden for many weeks over the small kitchen in the rear of the house, taken care of by the Walker family, and nursed by Esther Hayes. Dr. Johnson visited him every night. Eventually his foot healed and he was able to proceed northward.
Several years later a well-dressed black man walked into Dr. Johnson’s office, asked the doctor if he knew him, and introduced himself as the slave that the doctor had visited so many times in the dark attic, years before. He said his name was Johnson Hayes Walker, in honor of his three benefactors.
Lewis Hayden (1815-1859)
(1815-1859), an escaped Kentucky slave, settled in Boston with his wife Harriet in 1849 and became active in the abolition movement. Their home is the most documented of Boston's Underground Railroad stations, having sheltered many fugitive slaves.
The Hayden House is located in the Boston African American National Historic Site which includes 15 pre-Civil War buildings relating to the history of Boston's 19th century African American community, including the African Meeting House, the Abiel Smith School, and Augustus Saint-Gaudens' memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and the black Massachusetts 54th Regiment.
The African Meetinghouse, built in 1806 and the oldest known extant black church in the United States, was a place of discussion for many of the nation's most prominent abolitionists, such as Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, and Charles Sumner. Established in 1834, the Abiel Smith School was the first primary and grammar school established for black children in Boston. All of the sites in the National Historic Site are linked by the 1.6 mile Black Heritage Trail. The Boston African American National Historic Site was authorized by Congress October 10, 1980 and is coordinated by the National Park Service.
William Lloyd Garrison House
This National Historic Landmark was the home of William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879), one of the most articulate and influential advocates of the abolitionist movement in the United States, from 1864 until his death.
Through public lectures and editorials in the Liberator, the newspaper which he founded in 1830, Garrison argued unequivocally for immediate emancipation of slaves. Born in Newburyport, Massachusetts, Garrison gained experience in publishing while an apprentice and in 1826 purchased a local paper which he named The Free Press. After this newspaper failed, he moved to Boston and became joint editor of the National Philanthropist, a newspaper devoted to the temperance movement. During this period, Garrison met Benjamin Lundy, who was already active in the temperance movement, and decided to start speaking publicly against slavery. On July 4, 1829, Garrison delivered the first of many public addresses against the evils of slavery.
In the fall of 1830, Garrison founded the Liberator. Although the paper seldom met its expenses and never had more than 3,000 subscribers, it aroused the Nation as few newspapers had in the past. The Liberator was published until the ratification of the 13th Amendment with the final issue being printed on December 29, 1865. Besides publishing his newspaper, Garrison also organized the New England Anti-Slavery Society in 1832 and helped to establish the American Anti-Slavery Society in Philadelphia a year later. After the Civil War, Garrison went into semi-retirement but continued his campaigns for prohibition, women's rights, and justice for Native Americans. After Garrison's death, his house was owned for a time by the Rockledge Association, an organization of African Americans formed to preserve the building. In 1904, the house was acquired by the Episcopal Sisters of the Society of St. Margaret who own the property today. Though not directly associated with the Underground Railroad, the William Lloyd Garrison House stands as a monument to the man who established the moral nature of the conflict that led to the Civil War.
The William Lloyd Garrison House is located at 125 Highland Street in the Roxbury section of Boston, Massachusetts. Privately owned, it is not open to the public.
William Ingersoll Bowditch House
An important stop on the Underground Railroad outside Boston, Massachusetts was the William Ingersoll Bowditch House.
The Bowditch House is a modest example of mid-19th century wooden cottages, L-shaped with Gothic Revival elements. Built in the planned suburban community of Brookline in 1844, the house was purchased shortly thereafter by Bowditch. Bowditch, a conveyancer with an office in Boston, owned the house from 1845 to 1867 during the height of Underground Railroad activity. He was extremely active in local Brookline politics, serving as a selectman and moderator of Town Meetings for a number of years. Before the Civil War, he was an avid abolitionist, active in Brookline and Boston efforts. Besides trying to sway public opinion through meetings, lectures and membership in the Boston Vigilance Committee, Bowditch used his house to shelter fugitive slaves.
The most well-known slaves to find shelter at the Bowditch house were William and Ellen Craft. In December 1848, the Crafts began a dramatic escape from their different masters in Macon, Georgia. Ellen, the daughter of her master and enslaved mother, was light-skinned and posed as an ailing white man, traveling to Philadelphia for medical treatment with her attending servant, William. Throughout the tense journey, which led to Savannah by train, Baltimore by steamer, and by train again to Philadelphia, the Crafts were in constant danger of being discovered. From a suspecting free black man on the train, William received the name of a Philadelphia Quaker who sheltered the couple upon their arrival. Their journey ended in Boston, where they arrived in early 1849, and after speaking at the Brookline Town Hall, stayed at the Bowditch House and other Brookline Underground Railroad stops. The Crafts fled once again to England after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, but eventually returned to Georgia after the Civil War and converted a plantation to a freedman's school.
Another well-known guest at the Bowditch House during this tumultuous time was the son of abolitionist John Brown. The young man was hidden by Bowditch after Brown's execution for his involvement in the Harper's Ferry raid. Bowditch is also known to have driven a slave, who arrived on the brig Cameo, from Boston to Concord.
The William Ingersoll Bowditch House is located at 9 Toxteth St. In Brookline, Massachusetts.
Nathan & Mary Johnson Properties
Nathan and Mary Johnson were free blacks living in New Bedford, Massachusetts, who owned a block of properties including their longtime home and the neighboring old Friends meetinghouse.
Nathan Johnson was an active abolitionist who assisted numerous fugitive slaves, including famous abolitionist Frederick Douglass. The Johnson home was Douglass's first residence after his escape from slavery in 1838--the only one of Douglass's three homes in New Bedford that remains today. These properties have been recognized as National Historic Landmarks. At the end of 1853, the population of New Bedford was comprised of a higher percentage of African Americans than any other city in the Northeast, and almost 30% of those residents claimed they were born in the South. New Bedford was attractive to fugitive slaves and free blacks in part because of its major industries, the whaling and maritime trades, which have historically been the most welcoming occupations to people of all races. New Bedford also demonstrated a certain tolerance of diversity, and black leaders of the time were impressed with the political activity and degree of social organization among the city's people of color, coupled with some access to capital and integration in schools and some neighborhoods and workplaces. This black community was composed of vehement abolitionists and abolitionist supporters who were the audience of every principal antislavery lecturer in the United States. The city was appealing to fugitive slaves, and their population in New Bedford ranged at any time from 300 to 700. Nathan and Mary Johnson married in New Bedford in 1819 and by the 1840s had well established economic means. They owned a confectioner's shop and other businesses, were well read in the political and social conditions of the nation and willing to help the abolitionist cause in many ways. Nathan Johnson was a steadfast delegate to the annual convention of free people of color from 1832-1835 and was elected the president of the 1847 National Convention of Colored People in Troy, New York. He and his wife also supported the movement by harboring fugitive slaves in their home. William C. Taber and Joseph Ricketson, two New Bedford Quakers, brought Frederick Douglass and his family to the Johnson home in September 1838. They resided there until 1839. The fact that Taber and Ricketson brought the Douglass family to the Johnsons suggests that the Johnson household was a common safe house for slaves in search of their freedom. Douglass himself attests to Nathan Johnson's regular practice of assisting fugitive slaves in all three of his well-known narratives. It is believed that the old Friends meetinghouse was a safe house for runaway slaves as well, however this has not been confirmed. The meetinghoue was not only the first house of public worship in New Bedford, but also the site of Benjamin Lundy's 1828 antislavery address.
The Nathan and Mary Johnson Properties are located at 17-19 and 21 Seventh St., in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Both buildings are privately owned, and are not open to the public.
The Jackson Homestead
The Jackson Homestead is a well-preserved Federal-style house in Newton, Massachusetts. Corroborating written reminiscences and oral tradition provide evidence that the house served as a station on the Underground Railroad.
Timothy Jackson (1756-1814) built the family homestead in 1809 after serving in the Revolutionary War and returning to Newton to farm his family's land. His son William Jackson (1783-1855) moved to the house in 1820, and established a soap and candle factory on the property while also engaging in an impressive public career.
William was a member of the Massachusetts General Court from 1832 to 1833, a member of the 22nd and 23rd United States Congress and, as a general agent for the Boston and Worcester Railroad, was largely responsible for routing the line through Newton. Locally, he headed the Temperance Society, was founder of the Newton Savings Bank, the Eliot Church and the Newton Female Academy.
Like his brother Francis Jackson, Treasurer of the Vigilance Committee in Boston, William was an abolitionist and offered his home as a safehaven on the Underground Railroad. William's role in the Underground Railroad was recounted by his daughter Ellen, who recalled a night when William Bowditch of Brookline brought a runaway slave to the Homestead, where he stayed until he could be taken to freedom.
Ellen wrote that "the Homestead's doors stood ever open with a welcome to any of the workers against slavery for as often and as long as suited their convenience or pleasure. The Homestead was one of the Stations of the "Under Ground Rail Road" which was continually helping runaway Slaves from the South to Canada.
One night between 12 and one o'clock, I well remember father was awakened by pebbles thrown against his window. He rose asked what was wanted? Bowditch replied it was he, with a runaway slave whom he wished father to hide till morning, and then help him on his way to Canada, for his master was in Boston looking for him. Father took him in and next morning carried him 15 miles to a Station where he could take a car for Canada. He could not have safely left by any Boston Station."
After William Jackson's death in 1855, his widow Mary Bennett Jackson and three unmarried daughters were left in reduced circumstances, but continued to play a role in the life of the community. In 1865, Ellen helped to found the Freedman's Aid Society in Newton and served as its President until her death in 1902. Contributions of bedding, clothing and books sent to the black universities of Hampton and Tuskeege Institutes are recorded in the Society's minute book. In 1906, after the death of the last daughter Caroline, the house was refurbished and subsequently occupied by William's descendants until 1932, when it was rented. Further record of the oral tradition of fugitives being harbored at the Homestead was based on an interview with William Jackson's granddaughter, Louise Jackson Keith, who was one of the last Jackson descendants to live at the Jackson Homestead before it was given to the City of Newton in 1949. The Netwon History Musuem was established here in 1950, and offers a wide range of public programs and exhibitions including interpretive ongoing and annual programs on the Underground Railroad and abolition.
The Austin F. Williams House
The Austin F. Williams House and Carriagehouse are significant for their association with the Underground Railroad and the celebrated Amistad affair of 1839-1841.
Oral tradition indicates that Austin F. Williams (1805-1885), a leading abolitionist of the day who devoted much of his life to the cause, was an Underground Railroad conductor and, along with other citizens, made the Farmington community a major Underground Railroad stop. After the Civil War, Williams was appointed director of the Freedman's Bureau of New England and New York and found housing and job opportunities for freed African Americans. However, it was the Amistad affair that brought national attention to Williams' abolitionist activities.
In June of 1839, 53 members of the Mende tribe from present-day Sierra Leone who had been illegally captured and transported to Cuba, were sold to two Spanish planters in Havana. The slaves were loaded onto the ship Amistad which set sail for Puerto Principe, another Cuban port. Four days out of Havana, the Mende, led by Sengbe Pieh (renamed Joseph Cinque by his Spanish captors), took control of the vessel and ordered the ship to sail to America. During the siege the Mende killed the ship's captain and cook, and by the time Amistad anchored off the tip of Long Island on August 24, 1839, 10 of the Mende had died from disease or wounds sustained in the takeover. Brought into custody by the United States Navy, the Mende were imprisoned in New Haven, Connecticut, and charged with piracy and murder.
A defense committee, including Austin Williams and headed by Lewis Tappan of the American Missionary Society, was formed and hired the Honorable Roger Sherman Baldwin and former President of the United States John Quincy Adams to represent the Mende. The Supreme Court ruled that the Mende had been held illegally by force and that the siege and murder of the captain and cook had happened in self-defense. The Mende were ordered free on March 9, 1841. Upon their release, the Mende were taken in by members of their defense committee, including Austin Williams. Williams constructed a building on his property in which the male members of the group lived.
This building is today the east section of the carriagehouse--the west section was added on after the Mende had returned to their homeland. The men worked in local agricultural fields and the women worked as domestics in the private Farmington homes in which they lived. Required by the defense committee to attend the First Congregational Church, the Mende also were taken to different parts of New England and asked to perform at various fundraising events. With the money raised at these events, the defense committee hoped to establish a Christian missionary in Africa and pay for the Mende's transportation back to their homeland. Within a few months, it became clear that the Mende were eager to return home and felt somewhat exploited by these fundraising events.
On November 27, 1841, they set sail for West Africa along with several missionaries and arrived in Freetown, Sierra Leone in January of 1842.
The Austin F. Williams House is located in Farmington, Connecticut. A private residence, it is not open to the public.
Peter Mott House
Peter Mott (c. 1807-1881), an African American farmer, constructed this house around 1844 and resided there until 1879.
According to persuasive oral testimonies, Mott and his wife, Elizabeth Ann Thomas Mott, provided refuge to escaping slaves during the years leading up to the Civil War. 1870 census records show that Peter Mott was born in Delaware, and Elizabeth Ann Thomas in Virginia, but do not indicate if they were born into slavery. Their names do not appear in New Jersey records until their 1833 marriage which is possible evidence that one or both of the Motts may have escaped slavery and fled to New Jersey.
The Motts settled in a free black community known as Snow Hill which later merged with a neighboring settlement called Free Haven. Snow Hill, founded in the early 19th century, may have take its name from Snow Hill, Maryland, reputed to be the place of origin for many of its founding residents.
Free Haven was developed in 1840 by Ralph Smith, a white abolitionist who was the first Secretary of the Philadelphia Vigilance Committee, an antislavery organization founded in 1838. Smith named his development Free Haven to signify its role as a refuge from slavery and sold lots at low prices to free African Americans for homesites. In 1907, Snow Hill and Free Haven were renamed Lawnside which became the only ante-bellum, black community to become an incorporated municipality in the state of New Jersey. Peter Mott bought the first of three parcels of land on which his house was constructed from Jacob C. White, Sr., a wealthy African American dentist and active participant in the Underground Railroad. Mott became an influential local leader and served as a minister to Snow Hill Church, today named Mount Pisgah AME Church, and founded its Sunday School in 1847. Peter Mott's legacy as an Underground Railroad conductor survives because of his prominence in a free black settlement, his ties to other known Underground Railroad participants, and the strong oral history traditions of the remarkable community of Lawnside.
The Peter Mott House is located at the corner of Moore and Gloucester aves. in Lawnside, New Jersey. It was saved from demolition by the Lawnside Historical Society.
Bethel AME Church
The original congregation of Bethel AME Church had previously been members of various Methodist Episcopal churches in southern New Jersey. Until the early 1800s, white and black Methodist Episcopals worshipped together at these churches, as the members were all vehemently opposed to slavery. But as membership grew, Methodist slaveholders joined these churches and pressured church leaders to soften their anti-slavery position. Eventually, black members found themselves unwelcome, and in Greenwich they formed the African Society of Methodists, which by 1810 had purchased a small parcel of land and a cabin or house. By 1817, the congregation joined the newly chartered African Methodist Episcopal Church, which was formed in Philadelphia. When their first church was destroyed by fire in the 1830s, the present Bethel AME Church was built one mile away form the original site in Greenwich Townshipand between 1838 and 1841. The new building was located next door to the home of Algy Stanford, a church member and Underground Railroad operator.
Greenwich was originally settled by Quakers in 1685. After the Manumission Act of 1786, which enabled Quakers to free their slaves without financial hardship, the village of Springtown gradually developed as Quakers starting selling small tracts of land to free blacks. By the time of the Civil War, Springtown had developed into a large group of free land-holding blacks which made the area ideal for abolitionist activity. For many fugitive slaves, Springtown was a temporary destination before moving on, for others it became the end of their running. Their presence swelled the size of Springtown and strengthened it as a force for abolition
The Bethel AME Church is located on Sheppards Mill Rd. in Greenwich Township, New Jersey.
Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church
By the end of the Revolutionary War, many Quakers and anti-slavery sympathizers had set aside land for freed slaves.
African-American hamlets were established in secluded areas on portions of Quaker land throughout western New Jersey. Small Gloucester, also known as Dutchtown, emerged in the early 19th century as one of these African-American settlements. One well-known Underground Railroad route was the Greenwich Line that began in the hamlet of Springtown, led 25 miles north to Small Gloucester, and continued north to Mount Holly, Burlington and Jersey City, New Jersey.
The communities along this route were ideal stations on the Underground Railroad as they were situated about 20 miles apart, surrounded by Quaker land which was often swampy or dense woods, and inhabited by many free African-Americans. For more than 10 years, Harriet Tubman helped operate this line.
The Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, a small one-story frame church built in 1834, was one of the important Underground Railroad stations in Small Gloucester from the time of its construction until the beginning of the Civil War. Members of the Mt. Zion AME church supported the Underground Railroad and actively provided protection, supplies and shelter for runaway slaves. The church was always a safe haven, and several original members of the congregation, including Pompey Lewis and Jubilee Sharper, directed conductors, engineers and slaves north after taking care of their personal needs. A secret, three foot by four foot trap door in the floor of the church's vestibule provided access to a hiding place in the crawlspace under the floor. The AME Church was organized nationally in 1816 under the leadership of Richard Allen, a very successful African-American circuit preacher. Allen and all AME circuit preachers played an important role in the protection and movement of runaway slaves as they moved through counties and conveyed directions, relayed messages and provided shelter.
Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church and Mount Zion Cemetery is located at 172 Garwin Rd. in Woolwich Township, New Jersey.
Appoquinimink Friends Meetings
The Appoquinimink Friends Meetings House, erected in 1783, is located in a community where a strong Quaker antislavery movement existed.
The Meeting House is associated with John Hunn (1818-1894) and John Alston (1794-1874), two Underground Railroad "station masters" who were members of the congregation. Referenced in William Still's 1872 book
The Underground Railroad, John Hunn gained notoriety by helping the Hawkins family and several other fugitive slaves, in the care of freedman and famous "conductor" Samuel Burris, escape through Delaware and into Pennsylvania to freedom in 1844. Turned in to local law officials by neighbors who lived near Hunn, the two men were sued by the owners of the fugitive slaves for loss of property under the Fugitive Slave Law of 1793; Hunn was fined $2,500, which forced him to sell his farm, and Burris was sentenced back into slavery, but was later purchased from the auction block by a Philadelphia antislavery activist. John Alston, another member of Appoquinimink involved in the Underground Railroad, worked with his cousin, John Hunn, in helping fugitive slaves escape to freedom. An 1841 entry in Alston's diary closes with: "O Lord...enable me to keep my heart and house open to receive thy servants that they may rest in their travels that this house that thou has enabled me to build may be holy dictates unto thee of the pilgrim's rest." Alston was the treasurer of the Appoquinimink Meeting and was the weekly caretaker of the building until his death in 1874.
Appoquinimink Friends Meeting House is located on SR 299, west of US 13 in Odessa, Delaware.
Friend's Meeting House
The Friends Meeting House in Wilmington was erected between 1815 and 1817. Like many Quaker congregations, members of the Wilmington Meeting House were active in the Underground Railroad. In 1787, Delaware passed a law prohibiting the importation and exportation of slaves. The following year, Delaware Quakers formed the Delaware Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, an organziation that was active throughout the first half of the 19th century. Delaware bordered the free state of Pennsylvania and thus Wilmington was the last stop before freedom for many escaping with the assistance of the Underground Railroad.
Thomas Garrett, one of the most famous abolitionists, lived in Wilmington and worshipped at the Friends Meeting House. Garrett was responsible for assisting nearly 2,700 escaping slaves by means of the Underground Railroad. Found guilty of violating the Fugitive Slave Law in 1848, he was fined heavily and lost all of his property. He is buried in the burial grounds adjacent to the building. Isaac Flint, another member of this congregation, purchased the freedom of Samuel D. Burris, a conductor on the Underground Railroad and free African American, when he was sentenced to servitude for assisting a freedom seeker in Kent County.
The Friends Meeting House is located at 4th and West sts. in Wilmington, Delaware.
Frederick Douglass NHS
Douglass was born a slave on Maryland's Eastern Shore and was given the name Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey. At an early age, he learned to read and write, and escaped to freedom in the North, changing his name to Douglass to avoid recapture. Eventually he settled in Rochester, New York, and was active in the abolitionist cause. He was a leader of Rochester's Underground Railroad movement and became the editor and publisher of the North Star, an abolitionist newspaper. After the Civil War, Douglass came to Washington, DC, and served as the marshall of the District of Columbia and was appointed recorder of deeds for the city. In 1889, President Harrison appointed him minister-resident and consul general of the Republic of Haiti and charge d'affaires for the Dominican Republic. During all of this activity, Douglass remained an outspoken advocate for the rights of African Americans. Though not directly associated with Douglass' involvement in the Underground Railroad, this National Historic Site helps us to better understand the life of the man who is recognized as "the father of the civil rights movement."
Mary Ann Shadd Cary House
In 1850 with the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law, Mary Shadd and her brother Isaac emigrated from the United States to Canada along with scores of other African Americans who believed Canada offered better and greater opportunities. While there, Mary published a pamphlet titled "Notes on Canada West" that was widely circulated in the United States, in which she extolled the values, benefits and opportunities favorable to blacks in the region. In 1853, Mary founded Canada's first-antislavery newspaper, the Provincial Freeman. This weekly publication encouraged blacks to emigrate to Canada. Cary lectured widely in Canada and the United States to increase subscription and to publicly solicit aid for runaway slaves, at great risk to her own personal welfare. The dynamic young female editor was known as "The Rebel" to her family and friends.
In 1856, Mary Shadd married a Toronto barber, Thomas F. Cary, who was involved with the paper. Little is known of her married years, however, she continued to befriend fugitive slaves and edit the Provincial Freeman. In 1858, John Brown held a secret "convention" at the home of Mary's brother Issac, a meeting that elevated Mary's concern for the anti-slavery cause. In 1861, she published Voice from Harper's Ferry, a tribute to Brown's unsuccessful raid. During the Civil War, Mary Shadd Cary was appointed a Recruiting Officer for the Union Army. Widowed sometime during the war, Mary later moved to Washington, DC, with her daughter Elizabeth where she taught for 15 years both at public schools and Howard University. She continued to lecture, now focusing on women's rights and the women's suffrage movement. She studied law at Howard University and graduated in June 1883. Little is known of her legal practice, but she is recognized as one of the first black female lawyers in the country. Mary Ann Shadd Cary died in 1893. Though not directly associated with Cary's involvement in the Underground Railroad, her home helps us to better understand her participation in the movement and her lifelong advocacy for the equality of all people.
The Mary Ann Shadd Cary House is located at 1421 W Street, NW in Washington, DC.
Bruin's Slave Jail
Joseph Bruin, a slave dealer in Alexandria, Virginia, used this brick Federal-style dwellling as his holding facility, or "slave jail" for slaves awaiting sale to individuals and other dealers. Bruin purchased the large house in 1844.
Bruin had been a slave dealer in the Alexandria area since 1840, and with the purchase of the Duke Street house and its adjacent two acres (used as an exercise area), he had sufficient space in which to conduct his trade. In December 1845, he and partner Henry Hill advertised in the Alexandria Gazette: "NEGROES WANTED: All persons having Negroes to sell will find ready sale and liberal prices for them by calling at the new estalishment of BRUIN & HILL."
Harriet Beecher Stowe, in The Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin (1854), described how she employed her knowlege of Bruin's slave jail as background for her explosive 1852 novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin. In The Key, she described the escape of a number of slaves from Washington, DC, on April 15, 1848, in the ship Pearl, who were later captured and returned for eventual sale in New Orleans. Bruin & Hill purchased a slave family known as the Edmondsons, and brought them to the slave jail.
According to Stowe, Bruin's daughter begged that Mary and Emily Edmondson be excluded from the group that was eventually sent to New Orleans for sale there, a group that included other Edmondson siblings. Their father, Paul Edmondson, traveled north to try and raise funds for the purchase of two of his daughters. He eventually met Reverand Lyman Beecher, Stowe's father, who raised the sum overnigt. Bruin and his "large slave warehouse" are mentioned approximately 20 times in the The Key. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Bruin fled Alexandria but was captured and then confined in the Old Captiol Prison in Washington, DC, until the end of the war. In his absense, his slave jail was used as the Fairfax County courthouse until July of 1865.
Bruin's Slave Jail is located at 1707 Duke St., in Alexandria, Virginia.
British Fort, a National Historic Landmark, like Fort Mose in St. John's County, Florida, is a precursor site to the Underground Railroad, demonstrating that resistance to slavery arose decades before abolitionism became organized and influential.
Located in northwest Florida's Franklin County, approximately 15 miles from the mouth of the Apalachicola River, British Fort is a symbol of the strong relationship between runaway slaves and the Seminole Indians. During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, slaves from the Carolinas and Georgia escaped to northern Florida, at that time under Spanish control, and sought and received refuge from the Seminole Indians. In return, the runaway slaves would cultivate crops, paying one-third of their produce to the Indians. Seminoles welcomed the development of black communities alongside their villages. Knowledgeable in the white man's languages of English, French, and Spanish, the fugitive slaves often acted as interpreters and intelligence agents for the Seminole community.
In the summer and fall of 1814, near the conclusion of the War of 1812, British Major Edward Nicholls led an expedition to recruit Seminoles and blacks to assist the British fight against America. British soldiers and the black and Indian recruits constructed a fort 500 feet from the river bank on Prospect Bluff, which they called British Post. Consisting of an octagonal earthwork holding the principal magazine and surrounded by an extensive rectangular enclosure covering about seven acres with bastions on the eastern corners having parapets 15 feet high and 18 feet thick, the fort was used as the British headquarters for negotiations between the black and Indian communities.
In 1815 when the British withdrew from the area, the fort, including its artillery and military supplies, were given to the many blacks and a few Indians that had moved into it, seeking the protection it offered and cultivating successful and profitable plantations around it. The fort became known as "Negro Fort" and it served as a "beacon of light to restless and rebellious slaves." In 1816, the American army, under the command of Major General Andrew Jackson, constructed Fort Scott on the Flint River a few miles from Florida to protect the American border between Georgia and Florida and to destroy Negro Fort, which was perceived as a threat to white slaveholders in Georgia. In July of that year, Jackson gave the order to destroy Negro fort and to return the blacks to their white owners. In the insuing warfare, an American shell hit an open magazine within the fort, killing approximately 300 men, women, and children. The few survivors were taken prisoner and turned over to Georgia slaveholders who justified their title to them by saying that their ancestors had owned the ancestors of the prisoners. This "savage and negro war," as Andrew Jackson himself called it, was devised to destroy black towns in Florida, depriving slaves of bordering states of a refuge, while at the same time bringing the entire Florida province under American rule. In 1818, Jackson ordered Lieutenant James Gadsden to build a new fort (which became known as Fort Gadsden) upon the site of the old Negro Fort, due to its strategic location on Apalachicola River. American forces were garrisoned their until Florida ceded to the United States.
British Fort, or Fort Gadsden, is located in the Apalachicola National Forest and is a short distance from State Road 65, near Sumatra, Florida.