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

Lancaster's 'freedom spies'

Rauch, Boston helped Thaddeus Stevens thwart slave catchers, circa 1850

Lancaster's 'freedom spies' Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), July 7, 2019
1. Lancaster's 'freedom spies' Marker
Inscription.  In an upper floor office this square at No. 8 West King Street, the notorious George Hughes operated a business that supported bounty hunters who came here from Southern states tracking formerly enslaved Africans living and working in relative freedom from Lancaster City and surrounding countryside. The work of Edward H. Rauch and Robert Boston illustrate how the Underground Railroad Movement operated secretly across racial lines.

Rauch (1820-1902) was a white employee of the County Courts. He "moonlighted" by serving as the office assistant for the illiterate Hughes and recorded the slave catchers' plans. Boston (circa 1814-1888) was a barber of African descent whose shop was near here. He could see who was coming and going at Hughes' office.

Boston and Rauch were in league with Thaddeus Stevens (1792-1868), Lancaster County's U.S. Congressman. Together they relayed information to the anti-slavery politician, who lived one block south of Penn Square. With inside information, Stevens dispatched horsemen to warn Underground Railroad "Stationmasters" that bounty hunters were planning to raid a particular property. These
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actions show the extent to which Stevens and his "freedom spies" supported the network of families who sheltered the formerly enslaved who traveled through this area, and those who were living and working on farms in rural Lancaster County. A series of local and national news accounts in 1883 first disclosed the details of these secret operations.
Erected 2018 by Historic Lancaster Walking Tour Corp.; The African American Historical Society of South Central Pennsylvania; &
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Abolition & Underground RRAfrican Americans. A significant historical year for this entry is 1883.
Location. 40° 2.282′ N, 76° 18.357′ W. Marker is in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in Lancaster County. Marker is on Penn Square. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 38 Penn Square, Lancaster PA 17603, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Soldiers and Sailors Monument (here, next to this marker); Old Courthouse (here, next to this marker); Old Center Square (Penn Square) (here, next to this marker); Central Market (here, next to this marker); Early Transportation Routes (here, next to this marker); Penn Square (a few steps from this marker); The Revolutionary War
Lancaster's 'freedom spies' Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), July 7, 2019
2. Lancaster's 'freedom spies' Marker
(a few steps from this marker); The War of 1812 (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Lancaster.
Credits. This page was last revised on July 10, 2019. It was originally submitted on July 10, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 413 times since then and 116 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on July 10, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.

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Dec. 10, 2023