Jeannie Regan-Dinius of the DNR presented the program on the underground railroad. She stated that it was not underground and was not a railroad but people helping people. It was a widespread network of people in the nineteenth century who aided slaves escaping to freedom. She stated that the original slaves came from the Ivory Coast of Africa to all parts of the United States that were developed then not just the south as many think. Life was harsh for these people, however, they were valuable and were mortgaged. Bounty hunters hunted them. Many slaves traveled as far north as Canada.
One of the groups formed during this time was the Abolitionists who wanted to end slavery legally. This movement was, of course, not acceptable to slave owners. The Colonizationists wanted to end slavery and send the blacks back to Africa. Eventually the question of slavery led to the Civil War and after the war was over, there was no need for these groups.
If there was a Free-Black Settlement, there was an underground railroad. The slaves did not always move north. There was one tunnel in the United States but it was not in Indiana. Lots of bad things happened to those that helped the underground railroad. Those that helped did not tell anyone, not even their family. She told one story about the wife crying each time her husband left home. The children did not know or understand that she was crying because those helping the slaves were in grave danger. The underground railroad was not free, some paid to work. The average number of slaves that a family had was seven. The Emancipation Proclamation declared that any slave in rebellion was free.
Much research is needed to determine underground railroad activity in every county in Indiana. There has been no research done in Fayette County. Anyone who wants to do research should contact Jeannie at the DNR.
Following the program the business meeting was held with Pat Cudworth presiding. There were four guests for the program. The minutes of the September meeting were approved after a couple of corrections. Sue Frank gave the treasurer’s report.
Ron Wood announced that the time capsule would be buried on October 26 on the Canal House property. There is still room for more bicentennial material and this can be given to Donna Schroeder, Rick Lemen, Bob Martin, or Ron.
WVGA will be at the library during Heritage Days on October 26 from 9:00 to 5:00. There will not be a structured workshop but members will be available to help anyone that comes in. Help is still needed as Sandy Brown cannot help and Pat Cudworth and Pat Summan may not be able to help.
The group will be sharing Louanna Booth’s space at the Holly Fair on November 13 to sell booklets that were printed recently.
Karen Creamer had 3 heart by-passes and is doing well.
Pat Summan announced that the bicentennial celebration book has gone to the printer.
The next meeting will be the annual Thanksgiving gathering. Sue Frank will fix the turkey and members will bring covered dishes. Also members are to bring an item of interest to share in a show and tell.
Pam Wood provided refreshments.
Those present were Roy Cudworth, Linda Mahan, Ron and Pam Wood, Jim Wicker, Tina Havlicek, Doug and Sandy Brown, Sue Frank, Pat Cudworth, John Johnson and Pat Summan.
Roy Cudworth will be having hip surgery on November 4 at New Castle.
Pat Summan, Secretary