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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Columbus in Franklin County, Ohio — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
 

The Underground Railroad / Black Conductors of Columbus

 

—Historic Underground Railroad —

 
The Underground Railroad Face of Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, July 12, 2008
1. The Underground Railroad Face of Marker
Inscription. The Underground Railroad was neither underground nor a railroad, but a system of loosely connected safe havens where those escaping the brutal conditions of slavery were sheltered, fed, clothed, nursed, concealed, disguised, and instructed during their journey to freedom. Although this movement was one of America’s greatest social, moral, and humanitarian endeavors, the details about it were often cloaked in secrecy to protect those involved from the retribution of civil law and slave-catchers.

Ohio’s history has been permanently shaped by the thousands of runaway slaves passing through or finding permanent residence in this state.

Black Conductors of Columbus. Early legislators did not want slavery In Ohio, nor did they want Blacks to settle here. Declaring people of color a menace, they passed the Black Laws. Outside the Statehouse, Blacks went unnoticed. The turnover of black waiters and porters at the Buckeye House aroused no suspicion. White customers overlooked barbers James Poindexter and Andrew Redmond. No one saw John T. Ward, clerk at Zettler’s. These men were invisible to all but the desperate faces secreted in attics, barns, smokehouses, and in wagons traveling northward at night to Clintonville. Teamsters Louis Washington and his son Thomas were drivers. “The
Black Conductors of Columbus Face of Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, July 12, 2008
2. Black Conductors of Columbus Face of Marker
UGRR was actually going on here in Columbus when I came in 1828,” recounted James Poindexter. Conductors David Jenkins, NB Ferguson, and John Bookel were all members of Poindexter’s Antislavery Baptist Church.

In 1842, John T. Ward began assisting Shepherd Alexander to convey runaway slaves through Columbus. William Washington, William Ferguson, Jeremiah Freeland, and others were involved as well. “Some one or the other of us was with Alexander on every trip,” stated Ward.
 
Erected by OHDOT (Ohio Department of Transportation) and Friends of Freedom Society.
 
Location. 39° 57.732′ N, 82° 59.886′ W. Marker is in Columbus, Ohio, in Franklin County. Marker is on 3rd Street south of Broad Street (U.S. 40), on the right when traveling south. Click for map. It is on the grounds of the Ohio State House, on Capitol Square. Marker is in this post office area: Columbus OH 43215, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 12 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Trinity Episcopal Church (within shouting distance of this marker); The Ohio Statehouse / Lincoln at the Statehouse (within shouting distance of this marker); The Breathing Association (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Peace
The Underground Railroad / Black Conductors of Columbus Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, July 12, 2008
3. The Underground Railroad / Black Conductors of Columbus Marker
(about 300 feet away); Here Stood Lincoln (about 300 feet away); James A. Rhodes (about 400 feet away); “These Are My Jewels” (about 500 feet away); Ohio World War Memorial (about 500 feet away); a different marker also named Trinity Episcopal Church (about 500 feet away); The Spirit of ’98 (about 600 feet away); Charity Newsies (about 600 feet away); Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Oak (about 600 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Columbus.
 
Also see . . .
1. Underground Railroad. Page on Ohio History Central (Submitted on August 14, 2008.) 

2. Columbus, home to 22 “stations” on underground railroad. 1999 article by Abby Denny in The Lantern Ohio State University newspaper. “There is a tunnel in the boiler room and throughout the house, said Donni Digeronimo, president of Kappa Sigma. Supposedly, the tunnels crawl under the Pi Beta Phi sorority house at 1845 Indianola Ave., and reach all the way west to the Olentangy River...” (Submitted on August 14, 2008.) 
 
Categories. Abolition & Underground RR
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia. This page has been viewed 3,569 times since then and 10 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on , by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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