History of Some Stations of Underground Railroad
Appoquinimink Friends Meeting House (Odessa, Delaware)
The Appoquinimink Friends Meeting House in Odessa, Delaware was a station on the Underground Railroad. It was built in 1783, and a church of many quakers in the town. Two members of the church, John Hunn and John Alston were conductors on the railroad. In 1844 Hunn helped hide several slaves who were escaping with famous conductor Samuel Burris. He hid them in the church. But some neighbors reported him. He went to jail, and was released on a $2500 (which financially ruined him). Burris was sent back to his master. The Appoquinimink Fiends Meeting Place still stands today much as it once was in the days of the Underground Railroad.
Oakley House (Brookeville, Maryland)
The Oakley Cabin is named after the historic Oakley mansion which once sat on the piece of land known as "Addition to Brooke Grove." The colonial manor house (now gone) was home to Colonel Richard Brooke, the "fighting Quaker" of the Revolutionary War. The Oakley mansion farm did well in the late 1700's with the growth of Brookeville, the village named after the famous Quaker family. The manor house and land was inherited by Col. Brooke's daughter Ann who, with her husband William Hammond Dorsey of Georgetown, remained there until his death in 1818.
It was during the early 1800's that their son Robert struggled to maintain the house, during an agricultural depression which struck much of the region. The cabin was believed to have been constructed during this period. Fashioned from hand hewn of oak and chestnut trees, the cabin was likely the home of free black families or even slaves from the Dorsey farm. Solid and sturdy, this 1 1/2 story house reflects a folk tradition of 19th century architecture.
Though it is a mystery exactly who
lived at the cabin before the 20th century, records reveal that names such Ducker, Diggs,
Wallace, and Hackett represent the African American families who lived on or near the
present site. Their jobs varied from laborers, farmers and blacksmiths, to nurses,
laundresses and midwives. The cabin was likely used as a multi-family home, doctor's
office, as well as a miller's quarters for the nearby Newlin's Mill. Oakley Cabin stands
today as a living monument to people who lived there representing the varied classes and
cultures which make up the American folk experience.
St. James AME Zion (Ithaca, New York)
Built in 1836, St. James AME Zion is thought to be the
oldest church in Ithaca and one of the first of the AME Zion churches
in the country. An Underground Railroad station, the church is located in a community that
was an important transfer point for slaves fleeing to Canada. Many of these slaves,
impressed by the support of the locals, decided to stay in sentiments through the writings
and preaching of its pastors such as Thomas James Ithaca and constructed homes in the area
surrounding St. James. The congregation officially expressed it's abolitionist views
through their African American preacher. He was also known to have provided help to
fugitive slaves. Famous leaders in the Underground Railroad are associated with St. James.
Harriet Tubman, who played an large role in AME Zion church affairs in central and west
New York, often visited St. James, and Frederick Douglas is reported as visiting the
church in 1852.
St. James AME Zion Church continued to be a focal point in the black community of Ithaca into the 20th century. In 1906, in the basement of St. James, seven African American Cornell University students, angered by the discriminatory all-white fraternities, formed Alpha Phi Alpha, the nation's oldest official black fraternity. Today, St. James plays an active role in the community as a religious and social center of the southside section of the city.
F. Julius LeMoyne House (Washington, Pennsylvania)
The LeMoyne House was built in 1812 and was a center of antislavery activity in southwestern Pennsylvania from the 1830s through 1865, the end of slavery. Dr. F. Julius LeMoyne, the son of a doctor who immigrated to the United States, was born in Washington, PA. and studied medicine at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. In 1834, Dr. LeMoyne joined the Washington Anti-Slavery Society. He became the organization's president in 1835 and served until 1837. After that he was commissioned by the American Anti-Slavery Society to be its regional agent. Dr. LeMoyne, along with his children and wife Madelaine, were active in the Underground Railroad.
The tightly knit free black communities in southwest Pennsylvania
helped slaves escape and developed a large network that white antislavery activists
joined. LeMoyne's correspondence from the 1840s includes letters from individuals
asking for aid, and thanking him for his assistance in getting them and their friends and
relatives out of the South. In his activism and, LeMoyne represents the mainstream of
antislavery activity in the United States before 1850, and is typical of the middle-class
Americans. In the anti-war period Americans of the 1850's, needless to say, got caught up
in the antislavery debate.
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