Underground Railroad Stations
in Washington County, Ohio.
Research by Henry Robert
Washington county was
the first county in the Northwest Territory to be settled by the the United
States Government. Slavery was illegal in the Northwest Territory, and
in 1803, when Ohio became the first state carved from the Northwest Territory,
it too made slavery illegal. Washington County was situated right across
the Ohio River from the slave state of Virginia. It did not take long for
slaves located on plantations along the Ohio River to start running away
to the Ohio side of the river. Here is an explinaton of how I think Ohio's
Underground Railrod began.
Facts about Washington
County, Ohio's Underground Railroad System.
Washington County located
in the non-slave holding state of Ohio, had over sixty-five
miles of border across
the Ohio River with the slaveholding state of Virginia. During the
Slavery Era of
Untied States, the Ohio River was the Mason-Dixon Line! There were at
least six places where
fugitive slaves from Virginia, crosed the Ohio River and boarded
Ohio's Underground Railroad!
In all there were sixteen Underground Railroad
Stations and scores of
Differences over the slave
issue between the North and South began after the American
Northern States set up Emancipation Plans to free their slaves,
but the Southern States
held onto slavery. So the fledgling United States was divided into
two factions, pro-slavery
(South) and anti-slavery (North) from the start. This division
was the central issue
of United States History for eighty years, until after the American
Three important events
occurred in 1993 that influenced the course of events the United States
for over six decades.
Fugitive Slave Law of 1793.
Slave owners got the U.S. Congress to pass the Fugitive Salve Law of 1793.
This legislation allowed slave owners, or their agents to extradite fugitive
that took refuge in free states or territories of the United States. This
angered the anti-slavery forces who contended that once slaves reached
soil" they were free.
Cotton Gin Invented in 1793.
Interest in owning slaves seemed to have diminished during the 1780s, and
seemed possible that even the Southern States might abolish slavery. However
1793, Eli Whitney invented the Cotton Gin, a machine that could remove
seeds from cotton fifty times faster than human hands. This allowed for
increase in the cotton market and a huge increase in the dependence on
labor in the Southern States that produced cotton.
Canadian Providence of Ontario Abolished Slavery in 1793.
Prompted by British Loyalist who left the United States after the American
Revolutionary War, and settled in Ontario, Canada, the Upper Providence
Canada abolished slavery in 1793. This created the International border
United States, that allowed Canada to become a sanctuary for fugitive slaves
the United States.
African Slave Trade Banned
There is one more very
important event that added fuel to an already explosive situation.
In 1808, the United States
Congress pass the law banning the importing Africans as slave
into the United States
or its Terrritories. This abruptly stopped the South's primary source
of new laborers. At that
time slave owners in the Upper South, where slavery was
declining, saw a market
opportunity for selling their slaves. So instead of manumitting
their slaves, many slave
owners sold their slaves to the Cotton and Sugar Cane Belt; at a
great profit I might
add! The was the start of the Domestic Slave trade in the United
Slaves had always runaway,
but slaves in the Upper South started to runaway from their
plantations in increasing
numbers after 1808. Slaves in the Upper South "definately" did
not want to be sold "down
the river" because they knew that slaves in the "Deep South"
were literally worked
to death in the cotton and sugar cane fields. Around 1810, young
male fugitive slaves
from Virginia began showing up in Ohio on the North bank of the
Ohio River. At first,
only slaves with skills or resources had the daring to attempt escape,
however it wasn't long
before some slaves were reaching the North side of the Ohio
without the slightest
notion of where they were at or what direction was North to Canada.
Some starved, others
were overcome by the elements and some were caught.
Judge Ephriam Cutler
Judge Ephriam Cutler,
an abolitionists who settled along the Ohio River at Constitution,
Ohio in 1806, is as responsible
as any person for getting the Underground Railroad in Ohio started. He
enlisted some free blacks and sympathetic white neighbors in Washington
County, Ohio and around 1810, began helping fugitive slaves from Virginia
get across the Ohio River, and on their way to Lake Erie and Canada. This
was the beginning of the Ohio Underground Railroad! By 1830 there was an
elaborate network of Underground Railroad safehouses and stations all across
Ohio. Through planning and coordination, thousands of fugitive slaves after
crossing the Ohio River, were safely carrried to Canada on Ohio's Underground
Washington County's Underground
1. Little Hocking Station
Curtis - Sawyer
House , [National Register of Historic Homes, (built in 1798)].
is in the extreme southeast corner of Washington County.
This is the "oldest"
Underground Railroad Station standing in the Northwest
Curtis carried on Underground Railroad activities from that
house after 1820.
2. Belpre Station
John Stone House,
[National Register of Historic Places, (built in 1798)].
110 Stone Road.
This station was run by Capt. John Stone, a contemporary and
friend of Judge
Ephriam Cutler, was a very avid abolitionists.
3. Cutler Station
William Smith Farm
-Underground Railroad Marker located on west side of Ohio
State Route 555,
2 miles south of Cutler, Ohio, in the extreme western part of
William Smith and his family operated this station from
around 1825 until
4. Constitution Station
Founded in 1806
by Judge Ephriam Cutler, Constitution was the only community
with a zip code
registered under that name by the U.S. Postal Service until the
post office was
closed in 1978. Judge Cutler settled in Washington County in
1795, was appointed
a Territorial Judge by governor St. Clair. Later he was a
delegate from Washington
County, to the Ohio Statehood convention in 1802.
got up from a sickbed and cast his vote against legalizing slavery
in Ohio. The measure
to allow slavery in Ohio was defeated by one vote! The
started operating on the Underground Railroad sometime before
1810, which was
the first coordinated effort of the Underground Railroad north of
the Ohio River.
Other notable Underground
Railroad workers in Constitution were Jules Deming
and Dyar Burgesses.
5. Barlow Station
James Lawton Sr.
an Abolitionists, built his house at Barlow around 1819, and
working with the Underground Railroad. Barlow is located
in the west/central
part of Washington County on Ohio State Route 339, about 12
miles north of
the Ohio River and 12 miles west of Marietta. Church Tuttle from
Ohio joined James Lawton Sr. and the other abolitionists at
during the 1850s.
6. The Bartlett Station
Located in the
western part of Washington County north of Cutler, the Bartlett
Station operated by Uriah Bailey, and a number of "free
lived in the area, took in passengers coming from the south, the
east, and the west.
The next Station 10 miles north was the Quaker Community at
Chester Hill, in
Morgan County, Ohio.
7. The Tunnel Station
A "free" black
man by the name of Logan, operated a station at the top of "4 Mile
Hill" located west
of Marietta on present day Ohio State Route #550. Only in
fugitive slaves were rushed to the Tunnel Station.
tried to get the fugitive slave as far from the Ohio River
as possible before
they hid them for the day. But sometimes when things didn't go
as planned, quick
action had to be taken and the fastest solution was the best
8. Marietta Station
The county seat
of Washington County, Ohio, Marietta is located at the conflux of
the Ohio and Muskingum
Rivers. Marietta probably the best understood part of
Railroad in Washington County because it was the county seat,
and a fairly well
organized newspaper was always present in Marietta.
There were a number
of known abolitionists in and close to Marietta.
The most prominent
Abolitionists in Marietta was David Putnam Jr. Others
Americans Daniel Strawther, Jerry Jones and Tom Jerry. Of course
many members of
The Washington County (Ohio) Anti-Slavery Society lived in
Marietta, and many
of them occasionally assisted fugitive slave when the need
arose. Many Anti-Slavery
Society members were prominent business and
who used subtle ways to help fugitive slaves.
Across the Ohio
River from Marietta, in Williamstown, Wood County,
Virginia since 1863 ), there was a slave - code named -"Josephus".
It is reported,
that for many years Josephus delivered two or three fugitive slaves
to the mouth of
Duck Creek each month! Duck Creek is near where the Inter-
State 77 Highway
bridge crosses the Ohio River. In fact the most used route of the
from Marietta to Cleveland, was what later became Inter-
State Highway #77.
9. Hoyt Station
The Hoyt Family
owned a big farm along the Little Muskingum River,( not to be
confused with the
"big" Muskingum River which runs through Marietta), about
4 miles northeast
of the Ohio River. From 1835 on, fugitive slaves came from the
Ohio River to the
Hoyt Station and were forwarded on to the Jewett Palmer
Station in Liberty
10. The Rainbow Station
The nest station
along the Muskingum River north of Marietta. The Rainbow
Station was located
10 miles north Marietta were Rainbow Creek flows into the
Muskingum. A staunch
Abolitionists named Thomas Ridgeway helped nearly
100 fugitive slaves
escape to freedom. Tragically many of Mr. Ridgeway's
children and wives
died young. Two sons were killed in the American Civil War!
11. The Gould Station
Like the Hoyts,
the Goulds took in fugitive slaves from Hoyts, and forwarded
them on up the
line to Palmer Station or on to Hovey's Station to the west.
12. Waterford Station
Waterford is located
on the Muskingum River, about 12 miles north of Barlow
and about 24 miles
north of the Ohio River. There is an interesting story about the
of the Underground Railroad. The story starts with the
Burr/Harman Blennerhasset Conspiracy to invade Spanish
Territory in the
southwest. The plot was foiled and Blennerhasset Island
burned to the ground in 1806. Micah Cujoe Phillips was a slave on
When Harman Blennerhassett was arrested and taken to
Blennerhassett fled the plantation. Cujoe also elected to take
his leave, and
he bought a small farm at Waterford, and the Underground
Railroad soon began
to pass that way. Cujoe lived to be 120 years old according
to his tombstone!
13. Palmer Station
The Jewett Palmer
Station was in Liberty Township, located at the extreme north
end of Washington
County, bordering on both Noble and Monroe counties. Jewett
was a very well
respected Veteran of the War of 1812. He was an outspoken
opponent to slavery
and a cousin of William Lloyd Garrison! At an advanced
age, he tried to
join the Union Army during the Civil War, but was tactfully
slaves from the Palmer Station were sent over to Stafford, 12
miles away in Monroe
County, or to Middleburg in Noble County.
14. Hovey Station
The Hovey Station
was located on Duck Creek in Salem Township. Fugitive
slaves most often
arrived from Marietta or from Rainbow, and were passed on to
the Crooked Tree
Station or on over to Middleburg.
15. Newport Station
by Frank Newport was located 17 miles north east of Marietta
on Ohio Route #7,
and across the Ohio River from St. Marys and Vaucluse in
Virginia. Fugitive slaves that crossed he Ohio River into
Newport were sent
north to the Palmer Station.
16. Vincent Station
There was an active
Underground Railroad Station at Vincent, located in Decatur
slaves from Belpre, Porterfield, Little Hocking and Portland
sent to Vincent, the forwarded on to Bartlett. The McVicker
family was particularly
active with the Underground Railroad.