Underground Railroad

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The Underground Railroad[edit | edit source]

The Underground Railroad was active in Wayne County, Ohio. Some places include Fredericksburg, Shreve, Millbrook, Wooster, Marshallville, Orrville, Smithville, and East Union. In an article written by E. H. Hauenstein, there were two main routes along the Underground Railroad. From the south, slaves seeking freedom came north through Millersburg. They went through Holmesville, Fredericksburg, Apple Creek, East Union, Smithville, and further north to Seville and Medina. The route turned eastward toward Akron and from Akron, there were several alternative routes to Cleveland. From the west, slaves seeking freedom came by way of Nashville, Shreve, Lakeville, or Loudonville. In Loudonville, one branch went north to Ashland and into Sandusky. The other branch from Loudonville came through Wooster and continued north to Golden Corners into Lodi and further north toward Oberlin and various points along the lake. It is estimated that through Ohio, there were at least twenty main routes heading north. Also, it is believed that more than 1,000 slaves a year were successful in gaining freedom through the assistance of Ohioans.

Several well-known names are affiliated with the Underground Railroad. These include the following individuals:

Those most often affiliated with the Underground Railroad include the Quakers, Covenanters, Wesleyan, Methodist, and other Abolitionists. Most were highly respected citizens of the community. Those violators assisting runaway slaves were subject to fines up to $1,000. In addition, slave groups offered rewards for the assassination of those active in helping slaves find freedom. For additional discussion on the Underground Railroad, refer to the department’s lateral files and the notebook on African-Americans in Wayne County, Ohio.

Reading through early Wayne County, OH newspapers, it is common to see articles pertaining to anti-slavery organizations. The first anniversary of the Wayne County Anti-slavery Society was held on January 25, 1837. It was reported in the Wooster Journal and Democratic Times on 15 Feb 1837. A hard copy of the article may be found in the “Afro-American in Wayne County: Second Baptist Church” binder.

Available Digital Files Related to the Underground Railroad in Wayne County, Ohio[edit | edit source]