Ohio’s Role in the Underground Railroad By: Shannon Meyers, Colin Fugger, Calvin VordemEsche, Abby Baker, and Carly Kutschbach
Background on Underground Railroad • Network of conductors, people who help runaway slaves escape to freedom. • Went from the South to Canada • About 100,000 slaves left the south between 1810 and 1850 • Conductors used vases of roses to show how many slaves were staying on the property, one rose per slave • Conductors along the rivers often used lanterns to signal if the river was safe to cross • The Fugitive Slave Act stated that people had to help return runaway slaves, therefore, the Underground Railroad was illegal.
Underground Railroad in Ohio • Ohio was a northern, antislavery state • It’s estimated more that 40,000 slaves traveled through Ohio to Canada in the Underground Railroad • In Ohio, it started from the Ohio River and went through Chillicothe, Circleville, Columbus, Worthington, and Westerville, to Lake Erie and Canada
Otterbein University • Before the Civil War in 1861, the President of Otterbein University, Lewis Davis, was involved in the Underground Railroad efforts. • By the time Otterbein was an official university, Westerville was well known as an antislavery town with many Underground Railroad stops.
Hanby House • 160 W Main St. Westerville, Ohio • Owned by William Hanby, who helped many runaway slaves on their journey to freedom by sheltering and transporting them • Operated a saddle and harness shop behind his house, where it is believed that he sheltered slaves. • Slaves were lucky if they stayed with the Hanby’s. They ate dinner with the runaways every night, concealed them infalse bottom carriages and treated them as equal human beings, not lesser people. • The Hanby’swere so good at protecting the runaways that none were ever caught.
Sharp Family • 825 Africa Road Westerville, Ohio • Garritt Sharp was another famous abolitionist in Westerville who assisted Hanby, Davis, and Stoner. • Helped more runaways North toward what is now known as Africa Road, getting its name by how many runaways stayed along the road • Runaway slaves stayed in cabins on the Sharp’s property • The Sharp’s donated the land Otterbein is on today
John Rankin • Presbitarian minister and conductor on the Underground Railroad in Ohio • Lived in Riley, Ohio, a townon the Ohio River • Helped signal to runaways when it was safe to cross the river • Gave shelter and food to over 2,000 runaway slaves
Kelton Family • 586 East Town St. Columbus, Ohio • Fernando and Sophia Kelton believed slavery was wrong • Had a 300-gallon cistern in their yard, where it is believed runaways hid • The Kelton’s helped 2 female slaves, one of which was too ill to go on; they kept her and cared for her, and educated her. She later married a free black carpenter who worked for Mr. Kelton
Oberlin Rescue Case • On September 13, 1858, a federal marshal arrested a runaway slave named John Price. • The Fugitive Slave Act stated that the federal government had to help slave holders in getting back slaves • The marshal took Price to Wellington • Oberlin abolitionist were so upset they went to Wellington to free Price. They got him, and hid him, then helped him to Canada. Soon after, he died • The marshal was arrested, along with a few guilty people; many were let go. • 2 men filed Habeas Corpus but lost • This angered many people