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Marion in Marion County, Ohio — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
 

The Underground Railroad / The Marion County Trial of Bill Anderson

 

—The Second of Two Identical Markers —

 
The Underground Railroad Marker image. Click for full size.
By Rev. Ronald Irick, May 27, 2016
1. The Underground Railroad Marker
Inscription.
The Underground Railroad

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 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.

The Marion County Trail of Bill Anderson
Runaways sheltered by friendly abolitionist communities often believed that slave-catchers could not touch them in the heart of Ohio, but they were wrong.

Such was the case in 1838 in Marion County. A black man by the name of “Bill Anderson” or “Bill Mitchell” fled bondage in a Virginia salt works and settled near Marion but he was soon recognized there. A mail dispatch sent to Virginia caused the alleged slaveholder to demand Bill’s incarceration by local authorities.

Forty days after his capture, six strangers appeared in Marion claiming ownership of Bill

The Marion County Trial of Bill Anderson Marker image. Click for full size.
By Rev. Ronald Irick, May 27, 2016
2. The Marion County Trial of Bill Anderson Marker
and brandishing bowie knives, pistols, and clubs. During the trial, the men, one identified as “Smith” produced notes of sale showing that three of them had purchased “Bill” at different times with “John Smith” the most recent buyer. After lengthy preamble, local UGRR stationmaster Judge Ozies Bowen rocked the courtroom by announcing, “Mr. Smith and John Smith might be two different persons, therefore I shall decide in favor of the prisoner.”

Pandemonium erupted in the courtroom after the ruling was announced and the Virginians refused to accept the verdict. They drew weapoms; Bill was jerked back and forth in a vicious tug-of-war, while clubs and pistols pummeled bodies. Several Quakers gave as good as they got. A local black man helped Bill escape, and Quakers escorted them both to the Ruebem Benedict home near Marngo, Morrow County. After a long and anxious night, Bill was on his way north to Oberlin, a noted Lorain abolitionist stronghold, and then to freedom in Canada.
 
Erected 2004 by ODOT Friends of Freedom Society.
 
Location. 40° 35.33′ N, 83° 7.722′ W. Marker is in Marion, Ohio, in Marion County. Marker is at the intersection of North Main Street (Ohio Route 423) and Center

The Underground Railroad Marker image. Click for full size.
By Rev. Ronald Irick, May 27, 2016
3. The Underground Railroad Marker
full view of marker. North Main Street is at the left.
Street (Ohio Route 309), on the right when traveling north on North Main Street. Touch for map. Marker originally stood at the Marion City Hall, but has been refurbished and reset at the Marion County Courthouse. Marker is at or near this postal address: 100 North Main Street, Marion OH 43302, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Marion County Courthouse (within shouting distance of this marker); Norman Mattoon Thomas (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Old Marion Cemetery (approx. 0.2 miles away); Cummins Home (approx. 0.4 miles away); Home of Warren G. Harding (approx. 0.4 miles away but has been reported missing); Jacob's Well (approx. half a mile away); Marion Steam Shovel (approx. 0.7 miles away); Harding Memorial (approx. 1.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Marion.
 
More about this marker. An identical marker is at the US 23 rest area, south east of Marion. It is described in a previous HMDB page
 
Additional keywords. Underground Railroad
 
Categories. Abolition & Underground RRAfrican Americans
 
The Underground Railroad Marker image. Click for full size.
By Rev. Ronald Irick, May 27, 2016
4. The Underground Railroad Marker
The Marion County Courthouse. Looking north across Center Street. The marker can be seen at the lower left.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on May 27, 2016, by Rev. Ronald Irick of West Liberty, Ohio. This page has been viewed 202 times since then and 51 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on May 27, 2016, by Rev. Ronald Irick of West Liberty, Ohio. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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