Springboro, Ohio – on the route to freedom

A Scoot and Shoot event.

Being located on the Ohio River just across the water from Kentucky, Cincinnati in particular, and Ohio in general were heavily engaged in the Underground Railroad and former slaves’ journeys to freedom. A small town just north of Cincinnati called Springboro was founded by a Quaker named Jonathon Wright in  1815. The Quakers abhorred slavery and Springboro became actively involved in the Underground Railroad. Quaker and non-Quaker residents of Springboro risked legal consequences from their illegal activity of aiding slaves on their way to freedom. Many of the homes and businesses of these courageous individuals are still standing on or near Main Street in the small downtown strip of Springboro, Ohio.

28-Springboro-2013-11-21- _42

Unfortunately, even though I had a brochure that described the various buildings, I am not able to match the exact buildings to the descriptions I have. We started the tour somewhere in the middle, later crossed the street, and ducked into the Wooly Bully Yarn Company at one point. Which, by the way, had an awesome selection of yarns. On these Scoot and Shoot events my companions are more interested in taking photographs than in writing journalistic reports. And sometimes I am too.

45-Springboro-2013-11-21- _81

At 200 South Main Street the Jonah Thomas House has a documented connection to the Underground Railroad.

17-Springboro-2013-11-21- _23

Jonah was a Quaker and a conductor on the Springboro leg of the Underground Railroad.

10-Springboro-2013-11-21- _13

I think this is the Joseph Stanton House at 250 South Main Street. According to the Springboro Chamber of Commerce brochure, “This building was a stop on the Underground Railroad which may have been known as the ‘Quilt House.’ Quilts hung in back of the house told runaway slaves it was safe to enter. The basement hiding space extended westward under what is now the side walk.”

I’m patting myself on the back that I was able to bring you two buildings that were involved in the Underground Railroad, but instead of trying to read illegible house numbers, or match my photos to small black and white thumbnails on the brochure, I’m just going to throw in a slide show of some of the buildings and details I saw along Main Street in Springboro. Perhaps you’ll take the walking tour someday if you find yourself in the area.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I don’t know about you, but I have always been enthralled by the idea of an Underground Railroad. The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center stands on the riverfront in downtown Cincinnati and teaches about not only the path to freedom through this area, but also about current locations where freedom is still out of reach. It’s worth a visit if you are in town. Maybe I’ll visit there with my camera, and a notebook, sometime soon and share my identified pictures with you.

Do you live where an interesting part of history took place?

Weekly photo challenge—Light

Church of the Immaculata, Cincinnati, Ohio

The Church of the Immaculata sits high on a hill called Mount Adams in Cincinnati, Ohio and overlooks the Ohio River. On Good Friday pilgrims “pray the steps” leading up the steep hill to the church.

The narrow, steeply sloped streets of Mount Adams are lined with the distinctive narrow homes pressed side to side, so prevalent in the older neighborhoods of Cincinnati. The entertainment district boasts unique shops, bars and restaurants. It is a trendy nightspot.

At the top of the hill sits the Church of the Immaculata, built in 1859 just before the Civil War.  And maybe that is why I once heard the legend that the Immaculata was involved in the Underground Railroad. The story went that if it was safe for the slaves to cross the Ohio River to Cincinnati, a light would shine from the church.

I have not been able to corroborate this legend in my brief search through the internet this morning.

But I can say that Cincinnati has a rich history with the Underground Railroad and now sports the National Freedom Center downtown near the river.  The Harriet Beecher Stowe House is here. The tragic and desperate event that inspired Toni Morrison to write Beloved happened right across the river in Kentucky. Visitors to Cincinnati and southern Ohio can tour sites that were used as stations along the Underground Railroad.

I don’t know whether a light shone from the Immaculata Church signaling safety to escaping slaves. But I do know with or without lights, the slaves crossed the broad and sometimes rapid waters of the Ohio River to the shores of Cincinnati and freedom.


See more posts about Cincinnati.