THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD IN SOUTHERN LANCASTER COUNTY


    The Underground Railroad originated in Lancaster County in 1726.  Charles Spotts said there were three routes leading into the County.  The fugitives from Frederick, Maryland and Winchester, Virginia came through Franklin, Adams, and York Counties entering Lancaster County at Columbia.  The second route was up the Susquehanna River.  Fugitives from Baltimore gathered at Peach Bottom where they were met by a Negro who rowed them across the river after sundown.   After crossing the river they were directed to the homes of John Russell and Joseph Smith.  The third route gathered at Octorara Creek in Maryland which fugitives entered into Chester County.  Spotts labled these routes as the 'Pilgrim's Pathway,' and they seemed to lead into Christiana and Chester Counties.

    Throughout Lancaster County many slaves found safety behind the closed doors of Lancaster Quakers and Lancaster free blacks.  Free blacks are the most forgotten group that helped during the abolition movement.  Elizabeth Logan, a Lancaster County historian, recalls the following as the most significant Quakers in Lancaster's abolition movement and help in the Underground Railroad.

        Thomas Whitson - He housed blacks from 1830-64.  He told his children not to speak of or to the blacks that lived in their home.  Whitson helped form the Declaration of Principles in 1833.  He also helped create the American Anti-Slavery Society.

        Lindley Coates - Thomas Whitson sent fugitives from his home to Coates'.  He housed a female slave whom was engaged to one of Gorsuch's slaves (Christiana Riot slaves). Coates was a leader in the Anti-Slavery Society.

        Jeremiah Moore - a farmer and undertaker, he hid slaves in his room and kept all the doors bolted.

        Thomas Pownall - He hid refugees in his barn.  During "fugitive house searches," Pownall hid the slaves in a trap door of a butchery across the street.

        John Neil Russell - His log house contained a secret chamber located in his closet next to the stairway.

        Jeremiah Brown - Communicated with Thaddeuas Stevens frequently about two escaped girls from Maryland.  Brown took these women to Canada.  His house contained the second biggest pine tree in the world.  It's known as the "Cannon-ball Tree" because it grew over top of a cannon-ball which was buried by a soldier of the Revolutionary War.  This house contained a secret passageway, originally built to hold Indians.

        Abigail Tent Society - Unknown to many Underground Railroad historians; this was a secret society operated by Quaker women.
 

 The Underground Railroad in Southern Lancaster County
    --  Quakers
    --  Pilgrims Pathway (17 Stations)
    --  The Lancaster Journal 1794-1810
    --  Census
 


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