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Underground Railroad Research Center
Southeastern Ohio

Underground Railroad Stations in Washington County, Ohio.

Research by Henry Robert Burke.
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 Safe-Houses.

Differences over the slave issue between the North and South began after the American
Revolutionary concluded. 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
Civil War.

Three important events occurred in 1993 that influenced the course of events the United States for over six decades.

1.     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 slaves
     that took refuge in free states or territories of the United States. This
     angered the anti-slavery forces who contended that once slaves reached "free
     soil" they were free.

2.     Cotton Gin Invented in 1793.
     Interest in owning slaves seemed to have diminished during the 1780s, and it
     seemed possible that even the Southern States might abolish slavery. However in
     1793, Eli Whitney invented the Cotton Gin, a machine that could remove the
     seeds from cotton fifty times faster than human hands. This allowed for a huge
     increase in the cotton market and a huge increase in the dependence on slave
     labor in the Southern States that produced cotton.

3.     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 of
     Canada abolished slavery in 1793. This created the International border with the
     United States, that allowed Canada to become a sanctuary for fugitive slaves from
     the United States.


African Slave Trade Banned in 1808.
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

Fugitives Slaves.
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 Railroad.

Washington County's Underground Railroad Stations.

1. Little Hocking Station
 Curtis - Sawyer House ,   [National Register of Historic Homes, (built in 1798)].
 Little Hocking is in the extreme southeast corner of Washington County.
 This is the "oldest" Underground Railroad Station standing in the Northwest
 Territory. Horace 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
 Washington County. William Smith and his family operated this station from
 around 1825 until 1861.

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.
 Ephriam Cutler 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
 Cutler Station 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
 immediately began 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
 Monroe County, Ohio joined James Lawton Sr. and the other  abolitionists at
 Barlow sometime during the 1850s.

6. The Bartlett Station
 Located in the western part of Washington County north of Cutler, the Bartlett
 Underground Railroad Station operated by Uriah Bailey, and a number of "free
 mulattos" that 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
 Extreme emergencies, fugitive slaves were rushed to the Tunnel Station.
 Ordinarily, Conductors 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
 the Underground 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
 were  African 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
 professional people who used subtle ways to help fugitive slaves.
 Across the Ohio River from Marietta, in Williamstown, Wood County,
 Virginia (West 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
 Underground Railroad 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 Township.

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
 Waterford Station of the Underground Railroad. The story starts with the
 questionable Aaron Burr/Harman Blennerhasset Conspiracy to invade Spanish
 Territory in the southwest. The plot was foiled and Blennerhasset Island
 Plantation was burned to the ground in 1806. Micah Cujoe Phillips was a slave on
 Blennerhasset Plantation. When Harman Blennerhassett was arrested and taken to
 Richmond Margaret 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
 rejected. Fugitive 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
 Newport, founded 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
 Pleasants County, 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
 Township. Fugitive slaves from Belpre, Porterfield, Little Hocking and Portland
 were sometimes sent to Vincent, the forwarded on to Bartlett. The McVicker
 family was particularly active with the Underground Railroad.