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Levi Coffin's Underground Railroad station


...Soon after we located at Newport, I found that we were on a line of the U.G.R.R. [Underground Railroad]. Fugitives often passed through that place, and generally stopped among the colored people.... I learned that the fugitive slaves who took refuge with these people were often pursued and captured, the colored people not being very skillful in concealing them, or shrewd in making arrangements to forward them to Canada... I was willing to receive and aid as many fugitives as were disposed to come to my house. I knew that my wife's feelings and sympathies regarding this matter were the same as mine, and that she was willing to do her part....

In the winter of 1826-27, fugitives began to come to our house, and as it became more widely known on different routes that the slaves fleeing from bondage would find a welcome and shelter at our house, and be forwarded safely on their jouney, the number increased. Friends in the neighborhood, who had formerly stood aloof form the work, fearful of the penalty of the law, were encouraged to engage in it when they saw the fearless manner in which I acted, and the success that attended my efforts....

...the Underground Railroad business increased as time advanced, and it was attended with heavy expenses, which I cound not have borne had not my affairs been prosperous. I found it necessary to keep a team and a wagon always at command, to convey the fugitive slaves on their journey. Sometimes, when we had large companies, one or two other teams and wagons were required. These journeys had to be made at night, often through deep mud and bad roads, and along by ways that were seldom traveled. Every precaution to evade pursuit had to be used, as the hunters were often on the track, and sometimes ahead of the slaves....

I soon became extensively known to the friends of the slaves, at different points on the Ohio River, where fugitives generally crossed, and to those northward of us on the various routes leading to Canada.... Three principal lines from the South converged at my house: one from Cincinati, one from Madison, and one from Jeffersonville, Indiana. The roads were always in running order, the connections were good, the conductiors active and zealous, and there was no lack of passengers. Seldom a week passed without our receiving passengers by the mysterious road....


Levi Coffin, Reminiscences of Levi Coffin (Cincinnati, 1876)

Eyewitness: The Negro in American History, Touchstone Edition, by William Loren Katz, Ethrac Publications Inc., 1995





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