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The Underground Railroad in Boone County

Escape Locations & Key Players

Richwood area: Margaret Garner Escape Attempt <html><img alt=“Margaret Garner Escape Attempt” src=“” width=“100” align=“right” title=“Margaret Garner Escape Attempt”></html>

Margaret Garner, along with her family, escaped across the frozen Ohio into Cincinnati in January 1856. Some of the group made it to Canada, but the Garner family was caught in Cincinnati. At the time of capture, Margaret killed her youngest child and appeared to attempt to kill the other children. A lengthy trial ensued to determine if Margaret would be tried for murder by the free state of Ohio or returned to Kentucky under the laws of the federal Fugitive Slave Act. Prior to her escape, Margaret was held by the Gaines Family of Maplewood Farm in Richwood and was a member of Richwood Presbyterian Church.

Big Bone: Dr. Thomas Trundle

Dr. Thomas Trundle was born in Bourbon County and moved to Boone County in the 1820s. He purchased land in the Big Bone and Mudlick areas. Trundle frequently bartered with patients for his medical services, and provided loans through mortgage for many local landowners. As a result, conflict arose between Trundle and the many people who owed him money. He married Martha (Utz) Black in 1852. Martha had been a battered wife previously and was a neighbor of Trundle. Trundle was arrested in 1853 for “enticement of slaves”. Fearing for his life, he asked for and received a change of venue to Kenton County, where he died of mysterious causes on the morning of his trial. Conflicting news reports claimed Trundle was either an abolitionist or “slave stealer” who sold enslaved people south for financial gain.

Rabbit Hash & Rising Sun <html><img alt=“Laura Haviland” src=“” width=“75” align=“right” title=“Laura Haviland”></html>

  • Laura Smith Haviland: A well-known anti-slavery activist and daughter of Quaker parents, she founded the Raisin Institute in Michigan with her husband. In 1847, she attempted to extract John “Felix” White’s wife and children from the Stephens’ farm in Rabbit Hash/East Bend area.
  • John “Felix” White: Escaped from George W. Brasher in 1844 and attended Haviland’s Raisin Institute in Michigan. After Haviland’s aborted attempts to extract his wife Jane and their children, White attempted to extract the family himself and they were captured by slavehunter Wright Ray.
  • Rising Sun, Indiana: A river town established in 1814, it was a well-known crossing point for Underground Railroad. The town was also the home of two key African American conductors: Samuel Barkshire and Joseph Edrington.
  • Universalist Church: Congregations located on East Bend Road in Boone County, Rising Sun, Indiana and Patriot Indiana. Universalists were staunch abolitionists who established antislavery doctrine by 1840’s.

Petersburg, KY <html><img alt=“George Brasher” src=“” width=“80” align=“right” title=“George Brasher”></html>

  • George W. Brasher: In addition to being a wealthy landowner and state legislator, Brasher was a notorious enslaver who hunted freedom seekers and sold enslaved people for profit. He owned several town lots in Petersburg, all near the public landing. Some of the lots may have been used as holding “pens” for the enslaved people he intended to sell in the southern market. Brasher was involved in Kentucky raids in Cass County, Michigan and aggressively pursued freedom seekers.
  • Elijah Anderson: Anderson was a Virginia-born free African American, blacksmith by trade, active agent and conductor on the UGRR. He was known for helping enslaved people escape in great number. Anderson arrived in Cincinnati in the 1830s, moved to Madison, IN in 1835, then to Lawrenceburg. It is suspected that hundreds of enslaved people held in Boone County found freedom with his help. Arrested in 1856, Anderson died of suspicious circumstances in a Kentucky penitentiary in 1861, on the day he was due for early release.
  • Cincinnati 28: the story of 28 freedom seekers enslaved by Boone County’s Parker and Terrill families, who escaped through the Cincinnati area to Canada in 1853. They crowded into three skiffs to cross the Ohio, with one of the boats sinking along the way. They were assisted by the following key people:
  1. Washington Parker: One of the freedom seekers, who was a leader within the group, who reportedly read Uncle Tom’s Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe, and was inspired to action.
  2. John Fairfield: A daring agent/conductor from a Virginia family who held enslaved people, known for his risky (but effective) methods.
  3. Deacon John Hatfield: A free African American agent in Cincinnati, who came up with a plan to stage a mock funeral procession toward integrated Wesleyan Cemetery.
  4. Levi Coffin: Known as the “Superintendent of the Underground Railroad” in Cincinnati, who helped provide dry clothing, and food He also organized a route for the group.

North Bend, KY <html><img alt=“John Cleves Short by the Smithsonian Art Museum” src=“” width=“80” align=“right” title=“John Cleves Short by the Smithsonian Art Museum”></html>

  • Mat Bates: African American man, formerly enslaved, who lived with his family in the North Bend area of Boone County in the 1850s. Bates was accused of helping freedom seekers escape local enslavers.
  • Almeda Phillips: Formerly enslaved Boone County woman who lived and worked at the home of John Cleves Short in Addyston, Ohio.
  • Jones vs. Van Zandt Supreme Court Case: Boone County enslaver, Wharton Jones sued John Van Zandt for helping in the 1847 escape of nine freedom seekers. Van Zandt was an abolitionist and conductor on the UGRR. The case ruled in favor of Jones, citing the constitutionality of the 1793 Fugitive Slave Act.
  • Ed Moxley Narrative: Moxley was one of several freedom seekers who fled Boone County through North Bend in 1837. In an interview conducted in Canada, in 1895, Moxley gave his account of his escape from the Hamilton family of Boone County, KY.

More Information

the_underground_railroad_in_boone_county.txt · Last modified: 2022/01/11 16:54 by hdelaney