“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Harrisburg in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

Underground Railroad

Underground Railroad Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Pfingsten, March 21, 2008
1. Underground Railroad Marker
Inscription. Harrisburg's prominent role in the advance of the Union cause leading to the Civil War was particularly evident by its sympathy in harboring former slaves who had escaped servitude from the South. As early as 1836, the Harrisburg Anti-Slavery Society was founded. So influential was the group that it brought noted reformers William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglas to hold a rally at the Dauphin County Courthouse in 1847. During this period, Harrisburg became a key station in the "Underground Railroad" which stretched from Maryland northward to Canada. While many secretly opened their doors to provide haven to escapees who under federal law could be reclaimed by their "owners," sections of the old Eighth Ward neighborhood, which once stood behind the Capitol Building, and homes on Tanners Avenue in particular, became later known as a nucleus of this activity. Located at the corner of Tanners Avenue and South Street, near the present southern entrance to the South Office building stood the church of Harrisburg's oldest African American congregation, the Wesley Union A.M.E. Zion Church. Founded in 1829 from an earlier organization dating to 1817, the congregation first met in a log building at S. Third and Mulberry Streets. Its presence at Tanners Avenue and South Street was first established in 1838 when a one-story brick building was constructed. This was replaced by a larger building in 1862 that was remodeled in 1886. The final church at this location was built in 1894, although demolished in 1915 for the expansion of Capitol Park. After two additional moves, Wesley Church survives today at Fifth and Camp Streets in Uptown Harrisburg and continues its tradition of community outreach and service.
Top Photo
Tanners Avenue looking north from Walnut Street circa 1912.
Bottom Photo
Tanners Avenue looking south toward Walnut Street circa 1912 with Wesley Union A.M.E. Zion Church at left.

Erected by The Harrisburg History Project Commissioned by Mayor Stephen R. Reed.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Pennsylvania, The Harrisburg History Project marker series.
Location. 40° 15.777′ N, 76° 52.861′ W. Marker is in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in Dauphin County. Marker is at the intersection of Walnut Street and Fourth Street, on the right when traveling east on Walnut Street. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Harrisburg PA 17101, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Walnut Place (a few steps from this marker); a different marker also named Underground Railroad (within shouting distance of this marker); Technical High School & Old City Hall (within shouting distance of this marker); Leaders, Stewards and Advocates (within shouting distance of this marker); Original Capitol Complex (within shouting distance of this marker); Trailblazers (within shouting distance of this marker); Mexican War Monument (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); 104th Cavalry (about 400 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Harrisburg.
Also see . . .  D is for... Frederick Douglas - Chester County Historical Society. (Submitted on December 9, 2011, by Keith S Smith of West Chester, Pennsylvania.)
Categories. Abolition & Underground RRAfrican AmericansChurches, Etc.
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. This page has been viewed 1,675 times since then and 91 times this year. Photo   1. submitted on , by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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