One of the many Underground Railroad routes in western Pennsylvania came in through Uniontown in Fayette County, then traveled through Blairsville in Indiana County before continuing into Mercer, Venango and Erie Counties.
Did the Underground Railroad go through Pennsylvania?
- Pennsylvania is rich with history. In fact, it was the first free state that escaped slaves would come to when fleeing the south. The Underground Railroad, unlike its name might suggest, was not a railway that slaves used to flee to the north.
Was there an Underground Railroad in Pennsylvania?
As the first free state north of the Mason-Dixon line, Pennsylvania provided numerous entry points to freedom and stops along the Underground Railroad. The Underground Railroad operated from around 1831 until enslaved people were freed after the Civil War.
Where did Harriet Tubman live in Pennsylvania?
Tubman’s efforts during the Civil War 29, 1854, Harriet brought three of her brothers and three other freedom seekers to the home of Allen and Maria Agnew in Kennett Square before escorting them northward. Three years later, she brought her aged parents to safety in St.
Where are the Underground Railroad tunnels?
Most went to major cities in the North, but some went on to Canada, or traveled to the western United States, Mexico, the Caribbean Islands, and South America. There is a common misconception that the Underground Railroad was a series of underground tunnels or discrete railroads.
Did the Underground Railroad go through Philadelphia?
Two tours of antislavery sites. It’s more than just Harriet Tubman: Philadelphia was an important stop on the Underground Railroad, and in the fight against slavery. And Philadelphia abolitionists, Black and white, were major figures in the movement. You can learn this part of Philadelphia history by walking the city.
Where did Harriet Tubman live in Philly?
From the outside, 625 South Delhi Street looks like an average Philadelphia rowhouse. But in the 1850s, it was home to Underground Railroad leaders William and Letitia Still. Within the house’s narrow confines, they hid hundreds of escapees and gave well-known figures like Harriet Tubman shelter.
Did Harriet Tubman live in Philadelphia?
In 1820, Harriet Tubman was born in Dorchester Country, Maryland. Born a slave, she later married a free man but left him and fled to Philadelphia and freedom. She is remembered as an important conductoron the Underground Railroad. She helped many slaves escape to the North where they could be free.
Why did slaves escape to Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania, along with most of the other northern states, had passed emancipation laws, while those south of the line remained slave states. Philadelphia’s proximity to this border and its strong abolitionist movement made the area a popular destination for slaves attempting to flee their captivity.
What state did the Underground Railroad start?
In the early 1800s, Quaker abolitionist Isaac T. Hopper set up a network in Philadelphia that helped enslaved people on the run. At the same time, Quakers in North Carolina established abolitionist groups that laid the groundwork for routes and shelters for escapees.
Did the Underground Railroad really exist?
( Actual underground railroads did not exist until 1863.) According to John Rankin, “It was so called because they who took passage on it disappeared from public view as really as if they had gone into the ground. After the fugitive slaves entered a depot on that road no trace of them could be found.
Why was Philadelphia an important stop on the Underground Railroad?
Since Philadelphia was the home of the William Still, who was known as the Father of the Underground Railroad, Philadelphia would play a very important role in the Underground Railroad for escaped slaves seeking their secure and safe passage to freedom.
Celebrate Harriet Tubman Day by Exploring Philly’s Underground Railroad Sites
The inscription on the Liberty Bell, a notoriously shattered symbol of the abolitionist cause, says, “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the people thereof,” according to the Bible. In this exhibition, you can see how the bell became a worldwide symbol of freedom through exhibits and movies. As in February 2021, the Liberty Bell will be open everyday, with capacity restrictions in place to provide a safe tourist experience. Visit Philadelphia used this photograph by M.
In 1796, one of them, Ona Judge, was able to escape bondage with the assistance of the Philadelphia community of free Blacks.
Visit Philadelphia used this photograph by P.
- Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church is located on the oldest plot of property continuously held by African Americans and serves as its “mother” church.
- Harriet Tubman, Lucretia Mott, Frederick Douglass, and William Still all addressed the congregation from the pulpit of Mother Bethel.
- Tours of the museum are only available by appointment.
- During a self-guided tour of the site’s Underground Railroad Museum, visitors can explore historical items and hear tales about the site’s history, including the story of Cornelia Wells, a free African American woman who resided there during the Civil War.
Meyer for the City of Philadelphia African Americans in Philadelphia 1776-1876, a permanent exhibit at the country’s first institution sponsored and established by a major municipality to preserve, interpret, and show the legacy of African Americans, is on display at the Audacious Freedom: African Americans in Philadelphia Museum of Art.
In addition, the museum features rotating art exhibitions that explore the contemporary Black experience.
After becoming the first licensed African American Methodist preachers in 1784, Reverends Richard Allen and Absalom Jones staged a walk-out when the authorities of St.
George’s Methodist Church refused to allow Black members to sit in the church’s sanctuary.
This Quakerburial site, established in 1703, is the ultimate resting place of abolitionists such as Lucretia Mott, Robert Purvis, and others.
It also serves as a center for environmental education.
Photo courtesy of R.
Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia of the Johnson House This house in Germantown, built in 1768, belonged to pious Quakers Samuel and Jennett Johnson, who, in the early 1800s, took in fugitive slaves from the South.
It is said that William Still and Harriet Tubman paid a visit to the residence, according to family history.
Volunteers at theKennett Underground Railroad Centergive tours of important places in this charming hamlet, which is located about an hour southwest of Philadelphia’s downtown core.
- While a timetable for guided bus tours is still being finalized for 2021, interested visitors can contact out through email to get a PDF for a self-guided tour in exchange for a $20 gift to the museum.
- Johnson The community of Bristol in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, is home to a monument dedicated to Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman, which stands along the Delaware River shoreline.
- More information may be found here.
- Enslaved persons were assisted in their trek north by churches, farms, pubs and other establishments in towns such as Yardley, Bristol, New Hope, and Doylestown, among others.
- The trip will include a stop to Collingdale’s Historic Eden Cemetery, which is the final resting place for some of the most famous people on the Underground Railroad, including William Still, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, James Forten, and many more.
- It includes a stop at Arlington Cemetery, formerly known as Riverview and Fernland Farms, both of which are located on National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom land and are managed by the National Park Service (National Park Service National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom).
- click here to find out more
The Underground Railroad
It was far-reaching in scope, covering the whole United States and beyond, and profound in significance for a nation whose very existence was intertwined with the sale of human life. However, because of its secrecy, that history has proven to be a tough one to uncover.
What was the Underground Railroad?
For enslaved persons seeking freedom, Western Pennsylvania served as a key corridor via which they might travel. They traveled largely on foot, with the odd trip in secret compartments of wagons and other modes of conveyance. They followed paths that had been sculpted by nature through rivers, streams, and mountains, and they did it mostly on foot. It is impossible to know how many there were because no formal records were kept and just a few informal ones have survived. Some writings written by people who aided in this subterranean process—sometimes referred to as “conductors”—have survived, providing some indication of the hardships suffered by those going on the railroad.
- Affected by the Fugitive Slave Laws were also free individuals of African descent who resided in the region.
- Even more were transformed into the voice of social transformation and self-empowerment for all Blacks of the time period and beyond.
- From Slavery to Freedom, an exhibition at the Senator John Heinz History Center, will take you on a journey through more than 250 years of African-American history.
- One of the several Underground Railroad routes in western Pennsylvania entered through Uniontown in Fayette County, proceeded through Blairsville in Indiana County, and then continued on into Mercer, Venango, and Erie Counties before coming to an end in the city of Pittsburgh.
Western Pennsylvania Underground Railroad Sites
Mt. Washington, PA 15211 Chatham Village Olympia Road Mt. Washington, PA 15211 Building constructed in 1849 that served as a station on the Underground Railroad inside the boundaries of Chatham Village T. James Bigham was an abolitionist barrister and the editor of The Commercial Journal Anti-Slavery Newspaper, which was published in London in 1848. Lucinda Bigham, the Black family nurse of Bigham, is said to have kept a vigilant eye out from the Bigham home’s tower for escaped slaves or professional slave hunters.
More information may be found in this wesa.fm story.
Third Street between Market and Ferry Streets in downtown Pittsburgh is home to a barbershop and safehouse that serves the community. Slaves were given a fresh appearance as well as a head start on their escape to the United States. Using lists of famous hotel visitors and advertisements made by persons seeking for escaped slaves, historians have confirmed the hotel’s role in the abolitionist movement.
Daytime: A economic, social, and political club for the city’s white elites; nighttime: a station on the Underground Railroad for slaves fleeing to the United States.
Freedom Road Cemetery
Mercer County Historical Society 119 South Pitt St. Mercer, PA 16137 (724.662.3490) Mercer County Historical Society The Stoneboro Fairgrounds Cemetery is located on the right side of the road, directly across from the entrance gate. Liberia was a runaway slave settlement founded by the Travis family, who were themselves free Blacks. All that is left of Liberia is a cemetery. For many years, this town served as a haven for tired travelers on their journey. A popular target of slave catchers, it was also a frequent target of their raids.
Only a handful of people remained in the region, including one entrepreneur who sold cigars and alcohol to his neighbors.
Gibson House (Mark Twain Manor)
The Jamestown Future Foundation is located at 210 Liberty St. in Jamestown, Pennsylvania 16134 and can be reached at 724.932.5455. Dr. William Gibson, a well-known Jamestown physician, accompanied Samuel Clemens on his journey to Russia. Clemens authored a book on their adventures, titled Innocents Abroad, which is available on Amazon. It has been speculated that the home served as a halt on the Underground Railroad. There is evidence of a tiny chamber that was utilized as a station on the Underground Railroad in the basement.
The Gibson House is a historic structure that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
John C. Peck Oyster House
Fourth Street between Wood and Market Streets in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania A station halt on the Underground Railroad.
Plaque Honoring Jane Gray Swisshelm
600 Grant St., in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh In downtown Pittsburgh, on Sixth Avenue, at the Heinz headquarters is the Heinz Museum. Jane Grey Swisshelm had direct experience with slavery and became committed to the abolitionist fight for the Underground Railroad as a result. She started publishing an abolitionist weekly in Pittsburgh in 1848, called the Pittsburgh Saturday Visitor.
Private homes in Arthurville and Hayti
Pittsburgh’s Lower Hill neighborhood It is believed that the fugitives were hiding out in private homes in the predominantly African-American neighborhoods of Arthurville and Hayti, where they were assisted by agents and conductors such as the Rev. Lewis Woodson, Samuel Bruce, George Gardner and Bishop Benjamin Tanner, the father of the noted black artist Henry Ossawa Tanner, who is depicted on a United States postage stamp.
St. Matthew’s A.M.E. Church in Sewickley
Sewickley is located at 345 Thorn St. Built in Sewickley, Pennsylvania, in 1857, they functioned as Underground Railroad operators. One common technique of providing food to escaped slaves in the Pittsburgh region was for conductors to disguise as hunters at night and carry a game bag full with foodstuffs to their destination.
Wylie A.M.E. Church
Hill District, 2200 Wylie Avenue, 2200 Wylie Avenue On July 11, 1850, a group of African American residents gathered at the church and passed resolutions criticizing the recently proposed Fugitive Slave Bill, which had been sponsored by the United States Congress.
A request was made at this assembly for the complete amalgamation of their organizations in order to secure protection against slave hunters who come into Pittsburgh in search of fugitives.
Avery Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church, at the corner of Nash and Avery Streets, was afterwards known as Avery College and then as Avery Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church. In 1812, Charles Avery moved to Pittsburgh from New York. His interest in the cotton industry led him on purchasing excursions to the southern United States, where he became interested in the situation of the Negro slaves. He became a member of the abolitionist movement and assisted slaves in their escape from the South to Canada via the underground railroad.
- Avery’s riches enabled him to build the Allegheny Institute and Mission Church, which became known as Avery College.
- The basement, which was only accessible by concealed trap doors, was most likely a “station” (hiding spot) on the Underground Railroad’s secret underground network.
- During the night, a rowboat was employed to transport them up the canal to the tunnel entrance in secrecy.
- When Avery passed away, his net worth was estimated to be $800,000.
- Workmen dismantled the red brick structure of Avery College in Old Allegheny’s Dutchtown to make room for the East Street Valley Expressway, which has been a source of contention for years.
- Old-timers, on the other hand, believed that demolition of the structure signaled the end of a notable Pittsburgher’s dream.
In the Hill District, this was a hub of Black social life where performers such as Art Blakey, Mary Lou Williams, and John Coltrane drew a racially diverse and international audience. Founded by William “Gus” Greenlee, a major person in Pittsburgh’s Black community who was also the owner of the Pittsburgh Crawfords, the city’s Negro League baseball club, the Pittsburgh Crawfords was founded in 1903.
Formerly located at the junction of Water and Smithfield Streets, this hotel has been demolished. One of the city’s most luxurious hotels, as well as a hotbed of anti-slavery activities. It had a staff of 300 free Blacks who were in regular touch with a steady stream of affluent Southern merchants who arrived from the north and east.
Point View Hotel
On Brownsville Road in Brentwood, there is a family-owned historic pub and restaurant that was originally used as a stopping point on the Underground Railroad. Slaves who had escaped were housed in the basement.
On The Way To Freedom: 7 Stops Along Pennsylvania’s Underground Railroad
We take pleasure in a sense of liberation. We have complete freedom to come and go as we like and travel by any methods we choose. What if you had to leave the only home you’ve ever known in order to go to a foreign country, fearing for your safety on every leg of the journey? This is exactly what enslaved people did when they were able to flee the southern states and travel north. It was one step closer to freedom with every station stop on the subterranean railroad that ran throughout the state of Pennsylvania.
- As a result of my conversation with the innkeeper, I discovered that New Hope was a frequent stop on the underground railroad.
- I was astonished by what I discovered.
- Once enslaved persons crossed the boundaries into Pennsylvania from Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia (now West Virginia), there were a large number of abolitionists who were eager to assist them.
- As the first free state north of the Mason-Dixon line, Pennsylvania served as a hub for the Underground Railroad, providing multiple points of entry and resting places for those seeking freedom.
- Every safety stop along the journey was referred to as a station or depot by the crew.
- The “conductors,” persons who aided enslaved people seeking freedom, put their own lives at danger as part of the covert efforts to free themselves.
- The Underground Railroad was in operation from roughly 1831 until enslaved people were emancipated during the Civil War, when it was decommissioned.
- They primarily went on foot, with the odd journey in carts, boats, or railroad carriages with concealed compartments for convenience.
The most of them aspired to travel to Canada, where they would be able to live their lives as they pleased. Let’s take a look at some of the important stations along the Underground Railroad’s route across Pennsylvania’s countryside.
Philadelphia, being the epicenter of the Quaker abolitionist movement and the city where Harriet Tubman was released, played a crucial part in the Underground Railroad’s success or failure. The following are some of the most important places associated with the Underground Railroad that you will not want to miss when you are in the area. According to how many sites you see and other activities you participate in, you might make Philadelphia your home base for a few days or even a couple of weeks.
- He was also rumored to have purchased enslaved persons with the intention of releasing them.
- After that, have a look at the Johnson House Historic Siteattic to see the hidden hiding places, including a trap door.
- The Kennett Underground Railroad Center will assist you in visualizing the journey traveled by those seeking freedom.
- Here’s a guide (in PDF format) to all of the connected historical markers, libraries, monuments, and archives in the surrounding area.
2. New Hope And Bucks County
Bucks County, Pennsylvania, is home to churches, farms, taverns, and other places that were formerly part of the Underground Railroad. These locations are located just outside of Philadelphia. Underground Railroad locations may be found in towns including Bristol, Doylestown, Yardley, and New Hope, and they are all available to the public for tours. When visiting this area, you have the option of staying in Philadelphia or in one of the beautiful communities around. When we visited New Hope, we slept at the Wedgwood Inn Bed & Breakfast, which was built in 1870.
- At one end of the property’s side-yard, there’s a gazebo with a hatch door going down into the tunnel system, which was utilized to access to the canal and continue over the Delaware River on their trek north.
- It is included on our list of lovely eastern Pennsylvania communities that you must see while in the area.
- It functioned as a safe haven for members of the Underground Railroad.
- It is estimated that he assisted over 9,000 individuals in their escape from slavery.
- It was discovered in their cellar that an entry to the tunnel system existed.
- The section of the film that discusses the basement chamber begins at 4:38 into the video.
- While you’re there, treat yourself to a delicious lunch or dinner.
- Harriet lived in the region and was a conductor for the Underground Railroad, dedicated her life to the abolition of slavery.
- During the years leading up to the Civil War, she risked her life on multiple occasions to aid approximately 70 freedom seekers on their journey north.
Additionally, there are several other locations in the Bucks County region, and you may use these driving instructions for places in the Upper and Central Bucks County areas. To go around Lower Bucks County, use these driving directions. Photograph courtesy of George Sheldon/Shutterstock
This is the location where it all began. Consider yourself a witness to what remains of the Christiana Resistance, a slave uprising that sparked a national debate about slavery that continues to this day. A self-guided tour is available at the Christiana Underground Railroad Center, located in the historic Zercher’s Hotel. You may retrace the stages of history using maps, tales, and images that are both educational and easy to follow. Photograph courtesy of lcm1863/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
There is plenty of Civil War history to be found at Gettysburg, and one landmark you won’t want to miss is the Dobbin House Tavern, which served as an Underground Railroad safe house. In its current state, it provides beautiful meals in the restaurant and pub, with the opportunity to stay overnight in the bed and breakfast. This unique monument allows visitors to witness the hiding places of freedom seekers, and one of the rooms has a view of the spot where President Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address.
Robin O’Neal Smith is an American actress and singer.
5. Allegheny Portage Railroad
The Pennsylvania Main Line Canal and the Allegheny Portage Railroad both played important roles in the history of the Underground Railroad. The Allegheny Portage Railroad served as a link between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, connecting the two cities by canal. It was made out of inclined planes that transported the boats up and down the mountain that connected Hollidaysburg with Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Photograph courtesy of Zack Frank/Shutterstock The arrangement allowed freedom seekers to continue their journey even if the canals and railways traveled east to west, rather than in the intended south-to-north path that they would have preferred.
Secret chambers on boats and train cars have been discovered, according to historical records.
The Allegheny Portage Railroad Park has been recognized as a location of the Underground Railroad Network to Freedom by the National Park Service.
Make a half-day trip out of it.
6. Blairsville And Indiana County
The Blairsville Underground Railroad History Center acts as an educational resource for the public to learn about the Underground Railroad. The Underground Railroad Museum, which is housed in the Second Baptist Church building, offers tours of several places associated with the Underground Railroad. From there, you may embark on a three-hour self-guided tour of Indiana County, which will take you down freedom’s journey. Several notable sights, such as the McCune Store, which had a “safe chamber” in the store’s basement that was used to protect people seeking freedom until they could move again, are included on the Indiana County Underground Railroad Driving Tour.
Another visit is the Myers’ House, which served as a refuge and feeding station for freedom seekers. Ruhrfisch courtesy of Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Pittsburgh will be our final destination, and it is home to a number of sites associated with the Underground Railroad that we will explore. Pittsburgh is a bustling city with a diverse range of activities and sights to see; you could easily spend a day or a week here depending on your schedule. Visitors should begin their journey at the Heinz History Center, where they may take in theFrom Slavery to Freedomexhibition, which examines the anti-slavery campaign, the Underground Railroad, and more than 250 years of African American history.
- At the Stoneboro Fairgrounds, you’ll find the Freedom Road Cemetery, which lies across the street from the main entrance.
- This settlement provided a safe haven for exhausted former slaves on their path to freedom in the United States.
- The St.
- Church in Sewickley, Pennsylvania, was built in 1857 and was a stop on the Underground Railroad.
- The bag was stuffed with food for those seeking political asylum.
- With at least one Underground Railroad stopover in every county, Pennsylvania is known as the “Keystone State.” In Pennsylvania, no matter where you go, you’ll be able to locate landmarks, historical sites, and relics from the many travels undertaken in the cause of freedom for all people.
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Tour the Underground Railroad in Bucks County
A new life was symbolized by the Underground Railroad for thousands of escaped slaves in the 18th and 19th centuries, and it continues to do so today. Runaways depended on abolitionists and generous towns to assist them on their trek northward through this covert network of hidden, secure sites. From bars and churches to privately held farms, Bucks County was home to a slew of notable train stations, many of which are still open to the public today. Follow the steps on this list to follow the path that many people travelled in their quest for freedom.
1870 Wedgwood Inn
In the cellar of this Victorian bed and breakfast’s original construction, munitions were kept safe throughout the American Revolutionary War. However, during the time of the Underground Railroad, it was utilized to conceal persons as they made their way northwards across the United States.
People used to utilize the subterranean tunnel system to travel to the canal and then on to Lumberville, which is accessible through a hatch in the Gazebo on the property’s grounds. As an overnight visitor, you may be fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of the event.
African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church
The African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME Church) is the oldest African American church in Bensalem and a former Underground Railroad safe post, having been built over 200 years ago. Hundreds of slaves were rowed up the Delaware River by Robert Purvis, an abolitionist and one of the founders of the American Anti-Slavery Society, from Philadelphia to the church and their farm in Bensalem, Pennsylvania. It is estimated that he assisted around 9,000 fugitives in fleeing, making him one of the most influential men in Bucks County who was linked with abolitionism at the time.
Leroy Allen, an escaped slave from Roanoke, Virginia, sought refuge here before joining the Union Army to fight for his freedom in the war against slavery.
The Archambault House
The Archambault House, which is most notable for the exquisite iron grillwork on its porch, was a station on the Underground Railroad during the American Civil War and is now a museum. Joseph O. Archambault, a dentist, innkeeper, postmaster, and previous proprietor of the Brick Hotel, assisted slaves in their efforts to continue their journey north. Please keep in mind that this is a private property, so please keep your distance.
Bristol was one of many stations on the route to liberation, and it served as a haven for fugitive slaves on their path to freedom. The citizens of Bristol even went so far as to purchase the freedom of fugitive Dick Shad, who had sought safety in Bristol after being a slave in Virginia for twenty years. Bristol now has a plethora of ancient buildings and destinations that are just waiting to be explored by visitors.
Buckingham Friends Meeting House
In 1776, members of the Buckingham Meeting House (also known as the Solebury Friends Meeting House) voted to abolish the practice of slave ownership. Following the kidnapping of Benjamin “Big Ben” Jones, a local slave and well-known personality, abolitionists presented a series of anti-slavery lectures in this area and in Lambertville, Pennsylvania. Today, the meetinghouse serves as a venue for community gatherings.
Additionally, the Continental Tavern (which served as the Continental Hotel in its heyday), the Yardley Grist Mill (a former mill that supplied sorghum and meal to Union soldiers), and Lakeside (one of the area’s earliest homes) were believed to have been stops on the Railroad that were connected by an underground tunnel system. Today, the Continental Tavernis well-known for its happy hour and delectable supper menus. You should try one of their signature dishes, such as the Continental Bacon Burger or the Striped Bass, which goes nicely with one of their bottled craft beers.
Samuel Aaron lived at 105 East State Street for a period of time in the early 1830s, when he served as pastor of the New Britain Baptist Church.
He was also a manager for the American Anti-Slavery Society, and it is believed that he was responsible for the concealment of fleeing slaves at his residence in the Borough of Manhattan. (Please keep in mind that this is a private property, so please keep your distance.)
Harriet Tubman Memorial Statue
While strolling down the shoreline, be sure to stop at the Harriet Tubman Memorial Statue, which is one of the most important Underground Railroad landmarks in Bucks County. Tubman devoted her life to the cause of liberation and is considered to be one of the most well-known conductors on the Underground Railroad, according to historians. Before the Civil War, she put her life in danger a number of times in order to assist approximately 70 slaves northward.
As a stop on the Underground Railroad during the Civil War, Langhorne (then known as the village of Attleboro) served as a link between Princeton, New Jersey, and New York City. Bucks County’s first free black settlements were established in Attleboro, and the American Methodist Episcopal church, founded in 1809, is the oldest congregation of its kind to have been established in the county. There are African-American Union Army veterans buried in several of Bucks County’s different cemeteries, including the Langhorne Cemetery.
Mount Gilead Church
The Underground Railroad passed through Bucks County, and the first all-African-American church to operate in the county was a significant stop on the journey. It grew from 70 to 162 members between 1830 and 1840, according to church records. These fugitive slaves from Maryland, Delaware, and the Carolinas took advantage of the protection provided by Buckingham Mountain to start new lives and live independently. When their most famous churchgoer, Benjamin “Big Ben” Jones, was apprehended after being sold out by a white resident in the area, it became one of the major rallying cries for the congregation, giving them even more motivation to continue their church and ensure that it was stronger than it had ever been.
Today, visitors and residents alike can attend a regular church service at the location in question.
In the early 1850s, the Newtown Theatre, which is the world’s oldest continuously functioning movie theater, was known as Newtown Hall. It is currently known as the Newtown Theatre. It was a favorite gathering place for town meetings and anti-slavery demonstrations. Several notable abolitionists, including Lucretia Mott and Frederick Douglass, are recorded as having spoken at this event.
The town of New Hope served as the terminus of the Underground Railroad in the county of Bucks. In this location, slaves would cross the Delaware River into New Jersey, where they would continue their trek north. Are you a history buff who enjoys learning new things?
While in town, pay a visit to the Parry Mansion Museum for a guided tour of the building’s history. The home, which was built in 1784 by one of New Hope’s founders, Benjamin Parry, contains furniture in 11 rooms that illustrate the estate’s 125-year history of décor.
Begin your journey back in time at the Bucks County Visitor Center in Quakertown, which is conveniently located. The Visitor Center, which is located just off Rt. 309 in the historic downtown district, shares space with the Quakertown Historical Society and the Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce in a beautiful 19th century barn. In addition, the building contains a glass-enclosed exhibit showcasing historic objects that illustrate the 150-year history of manufacturing and trade in the Upper Bucks County area.
Richard Moore House
The distance between stops, which might be up to 10 miles, led to Richard Moore’s stone home being one of the most significant sites on the Underground Railroad for slaves going through Bucks County during the abolitionist movement. Moore, a potter from the area, became well-known for his friendliness, and many people were sent to his house. Henry Franklin, a former slave, was the driver of the wagon that delivered pottery, coal, and the secret slaves hidden beneath the goods for Moore. Robert L.
Moore’s generosity is now available for purchase.
Several locations in Yardley, including a white-columned mansion on South Main Street, a shop on Afton Avenue, a house on South Canal Street, the Old Library, the borough Baptist and American Methodist Episcopal churches, and a stone house on River Road, were likely hiding places for fugitive slaves. For those who are interested in the genuine narrative of fugitive slave Big Ben seeking freedom from Maryland in Bucks County, we recommend seeing the film The North Star, which was shot in Bucks County and depicts the true story of runaway slave Big Ben seeking freedom from Maryland.
Visit the African American Museum of Bucks County’s events calendar for more information!
Explore Bucks County’s TownsMain Streets
A journey through the pathways of Pennsylvania’s Underground Railroad satisfies the need for adventure as well as the desire to learn more about the past. It emphasizes Pennsylvania’s significant role in assisting slaves to freedom, as well as the state’s participation in the national civil rights struggle, by fusing the modern with the history. The Underground Railroad was not a railroad in the traditional sense; rather, it was a sophisticated network of hidden passageways, churches, organizations, and privately-owned residences that assisted fugitive slaves on their perilous voyage north.
- The Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Philadelphia is the oldest African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church in the United States.
- Mother Bethel was an important station on the Underground Railroad, and it was also the starting point for numerous African American groups.
- What takes a few minutes in a car today took escapees more than a day to do on foot in the past.
- TheKennedy-Square Underground Railroad Center is a great place to learn about the nearly 16 places in and around town where slaves could be sheltered by stationmasters until they were able to find their way to freedom.
- Across the Way Bed & Breakfast is located in the middle section of Pennsylvania, near Harrisburg, and is a renovated Victorian estate that was originally used as an Underground Railroad safe house.
- John Julius LeMoyne, a practicing physician at the time, was an active conductor on the illustrious expedition.
- At the Underground Railroad History Center in Blairsville, which includes a downloadable map of a three-hour driving trip around locations in western Pennsylvania, visitors may learn about the history of the underground railroad.
- Take US Route 19 north on your way out of town.
- A halt on the Underground Railroad may be found in every county in the state of Pennsylvania, demonstrating the state’s important connection to this painful chapter in American history.
Allow the freedom bell to ring. Read the personal accounts of some of the people who contributed to the development of our country as a land of liberty and equality. paquestforfreedom.com Learn more about Pennsylvania’s subterranean railways by visiting their website.
The Underground Railroad in Chester County, Pennsylvania
Dr. Edwin Fussell contributed to this article. In Robert C. Smedley’s History of the Underground Railroad in Chester and the Neighboring Counties of Pennsylvania (Lancaster, Pennsylvania: Printed at the Office of the Journal, 1883): 182-6, the following letter is reproduced. Among the founding members of the Women’s Medical College in Philadelphia was Dr. Edward Fussell, who lived from 6 Month 14, 1813 to 3 Month 10, 1882. Smedley was born in Williston, Chester County, and died in West Chester.
- Robert Purvis and Marianna Gibbons were entrusted with the care of the manuscript of his unfinished History after he died.
- Media, the 26th of the second month of 1880.
- Despite the fact that I was born in center county, I only resided in that county for a few years during the period when the Underground Railroad was in full operation.
- No signs, grips, signals, or passes were known to exist by which fugitives could be identified, or by which they might safely reach the different friends of freedom and agents along the Underground Railroad’s route, according to my understanding.
Most of the trains that ran along this incredible route did so at night, thanks to the darkness, the North Star’s guidance, and the earnest souls of the men and women who believed in the rights of every man to be free, as well as the duty of every person “to remember those in bonds as bound with them,” all of which contributed to its success.
However, even though we were surrounded by enemies, contumely and persecution were our lot, and danger awaited us at every turn in the night, there were few who bore the despised name of abolitionist who did not take up the work bravely, counting it as gain that they were able to “open the prison doors to those who are bound” at any risk, danger, or sacrifice.
- Most of the moves occurred at night, and the fugitives were transported from one place to another by wagon and occasionally on foot; they included elderly and young men, women, children, and nursing newborns, among other people.
- During the middle of the night, a low knock on the door was answered quietly by the raising of a softly lifted window-“Who is there?” a low, well known voice responded-“How many?” The situation is quickly resolved.
- Clothing is changed where feasible, fetters are removed where required, wounds are healed, hungry people fed, weary limbs are rested, fainting hearts are strengthened, and then it’s up and out of here for Canada.
- A few were pursued and traced before being moved on; some, however, were captured and sent back to Chester County in chains!
- It took place at the home of Esther Lewis, who happens to be my wife’s mother.
- Several seams on his back, running from his neck to his legs, were the result of a recent whippeding with an untreated raw-hide whip, the horrible weapon of torture biting deeply into his skin with each stroke.
Aside from that, his back was covered in seams and protuberances, which were the result of previous whippings at various times, and from which one could deduce the history of his life of suffering, just as we can deduce the history of the Earth from its convoluted strata, burnt out craters, and scars on mountains of upheaval.
- This individual was successful in his escape to freedom.
- Because the prongs of this trinket were fastened around the man’s neck, he was unable to lie down anywhere other than on a block of wood or other hard surface.
- These were so heavy that they wore through the live flesh of the men who wore them, yet they set off on their trip to the North Star of freedom anyway.
- She was not regarded as an abolitionist since she was the daughter of rich parents who lived in one of the most elegant homes on Arch Street at the time of her death.
- She thought of the slave’s qualities, his tremendous worth, and her enormous loss, but she was comforted by the fact that evil does not exist in this world because she had just recently learned of his whereabouts in West Chester and intended to apprehend him within a few days.
- The little girl’s heart was stirred; she knew no one in West Chester except for my wife and myself, and she knew we were abolitionists from Chester County.
- So as soon as she was able to leave the parlor, she returned to her own room and jotted down the names of people and locations before rushing over to our house, her face beaming with pleasure as she told us her story.
- A letter was delivered to him the following day, and everything had been discovered as described.
- It is worth noting that the newborns in these fleeing groups never cried, which was a notable characteristic.
- Or did the fearful mothers teach their children to tremble and remain still in horrible fear, as do the mother partridges who instill a fear of the hawk in their young as soon as they come out of the egg?
Eastern Illinois University : Teaching with Primary Sources
However, many of the intriguing and lesser known elements of the Underground Railroad are not included in many textbooks, despite the fact that it is an essential part of our nation’s history. It is intended that this booklet will serve as a window into the past by presenting a number of original documents pertaining to the Underground Railroad. Broadsides, prize posters, newspaper clippings, historical records, sheet music, pictures, and memoirs connected to the Underground Railroad are among the primary sources included in this collection.
- The Underground Railroad was a covert structure established to assist fugitive slaves on their journey to freedom in the United States.
- As a result, secret codes were developed to aid in the protection of themselves and their purpose.
- Runaway slaves were referred to as cargo, and the free persons who assisted them on their journey to freedom were referred to as conductors.
- These stations would be identified by a lantern that was lighted and hung outside.
A Dangerous Path to Freedom
Traveling through the Underground Railroad to seek their freedom was a lengthy and risky trek for escaped slaves. Runaway slaves were forced to travel long distances, sometimes on foot, in a short amount of time in order to escape. They accomplished this while surviving on little or no food and with little protection from the slave hunters who were rushing after them in the night. Slave owners were not the only ones who sought for and apprehended fleeing slaves. For the purpose of encouraging people to aid in the capture of these slaves, their owners would post reward posters offering monetary compensation for assisting in the capture of their property.
- Numerous arrested fugitive slaves were beaten, branded, imprisoned, sold back into slavery, or sometimes killed once they were apprehended.
- They would have to fend off creatures that wanted to kill and devour them while trekking for lengthy periods of time in the wilderness, as well as cross dangerous terrain and endure extreme temperatures.
- The Fleeing Slave Law of 1850 permitted and promoted the arrest of fugitive slaves since they were regarded as stolen property rather than mistreated human beings under the law at the time.
- They would not be able to achieve safety and freedom until they crossed the border into Canada.
- Aside from that, there were Underground Railroad routes that ran south, on their way to Mexico and the Caribbean.
- He was kidnapped from his northern abode, arrested, and prosecuted in Boston, Massachusetts, under the provisions of this legislation.
- After the trial, Burns was returned to the harshness of the southern states, from which he had thought he had fled.
American Memory and America’s Library are two names for the Library of Congress’ American Memory and America’s Library collections.
He did not escape via the Underground Railroad, but rather on a regular railroad.
Since he was a fugitive slave who did not have any “free papers,” he had to borrow a seaman’s protection certificate, which indicated that a seaman was a citizen of the United States, in order to prove that he was free.
Unfortunately, not all fugitive slaves were successful in their quest for freedom.
Harriet Tubman, Henry Bibb, Anthony Burns, Addison White, Josiah Henson, and John Parker were just a few of the people who managed to escape slavery using the Underground Railroad system.
He shipped himself from Richmond, Virginia, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in a box that measured three feet long, two and a half feet deep, and two feet in diameter. When he was finally let out of the crate, he burst out singing.
Train conductors on the Underground Railroad were free persons who provided assistance to escaped slaves moving via the Underground Railroad system. Runaway slaves were assisted by conductors, who provided them with safe transportation to and from train stations. They were able to accomplish this under the cover of darkness, with slave hunters on their tails. Many of these stations would be in the comfort of their own homes or places of work, which was convenient. They were in severe danger as a result of their actions in hiding fleeing slaves; nonetheless, they continued because they believed in a cause bigger than themselves, which was the liberation thousands of oppressed human beings.
- They represented a diverse range of ethnicities, vocations, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
- Due to the widespread belief that slaves were considered property, the freeing of slaves was perceived as a theft of slave owners’ personal belongings.
- Captain Jonathan Walker was apprehended off the coast of Florida while attempting to convey slaves from the United States to freedom in the Bahamas.
- With the following words from one of his songs, abolitionist poet John Whittier paid respect to Walker’s valiant actions: “Take a step forward with your muscular right hand, brave ploughman of the sea!
- She never lost sight of any of them during the journey.
- He went on to write a novel.
- John Parker is yet another former slave who escaped and returned to slave states in order to aid in the emancipation of others.
Rankin’s neighbor and fellow conductor, Reverend John Rankin, was a collaborator in the Underground Railroad project.
The Underground Railroad’s conductors were unquestionably anti-slavery, and they were not alone in their views.
Individuals such as William Lloyd Garrison and Arthur and Lewis Tappan founded the American Anti-Slavery Society, which marked the beginning of the abolitionist movement.
The group published an annual almanac that featured poetry, paintings, essays, and other abolitionist material.
Frederick Douglass was an escaped slave who rose to prominence as an abolitionist after escaping from slavery.
His other abolitionist publications included the Frederick Douglass Paper, which he produced in addition to delivering public addresses on themes that were important to abolitionists.
Anthony was another well-known abolitionist who advocated for the abolition of slavery via her speeches and writings.
For the most part, she based her novel on the adventures of escaped slave Josiah Henson.
Efforts of Abolitionists Telling Their Story:Fugitive Slave Narratives
Henry Bibb was born into slavery in Kentucky in the year 1815, and he was the son of a slave owner. After several failed efforts to emancipate himself from slavery, he maintained the strength and persistence to continue his struggle for freedom despite being captured and imprisoned numerous times. His determination paid off when he was able to successfully escape to the northern states and then on to Canada with the assistance of the Underground Railroad, which had been highly anticipated. The following is an excerpt from his tale, in which he detailed one of his numerous escapes and the difficulties he faced as a result of his efforts.
- I began making preparations for the potentially lethal experiment of breading the shackles that tied me as a slave as soon as the clock struck twelve.
- On the twenty-fifth of December, 1837, the long-awaited day had finally arrived when I would put into effect my previous determination, which was to flee for Liberty or accept death as a slave, as I had previously stated.
- It took every ounce of moral strength I have to keep my emotions under control as I said goodbye to my small family.
- Despite the fact that every incentive was extended to me in order to flee if I want to be free, and the call of liberty was booming in my own spirit, ‘Be free, oh, man!
- I was up against a slew of hurdles that had gathered around my mind, attempting to bind my wounded soul, which was still imprisoned in the dark prison of mental degeneration.
- Furthermore, the danger of being killed or arrested and deported to the far South, where I would be forced to spend the rest of my days in hopeless bondage on a cotton or sugar plantation, all conspired to discourage me.
- The moment has come for me to follow through on my commitment.
- This marked the beginning of the construction of what was known as the underground rail route to Canada.
For nearly forty-eight hours, I pushed myself to complete my journey without food or rest, battling against external difficulties that no one who has never experienced them can comprehend: “not knowing when I might be captured while traveling among strangers, through cold and fear, braving the north winds while wearing only a thin layer of clothing, pelted by snow storms through the dark hours of the night, and not a single house in which I could enter to protect me from the storm.” This is merely one of several accounts penned by runaway slaves who were on the run from their masters.
Sojourner Truth was another former slave who became well-known for her efforts to bring slavery to an end.
Green and many others, including Josiah Henson, authored autobiographies in which they described their own personal experiences.
Perhaps a large number of escaped slaves opted to write down their experiences in order to assist people better comprehend their struggles and tribulations; or perhaps they did so in order to help folks learn from the mistakes of the past in order to create a better future for themselves.