Logan County played a very important role in the Underground Railroad in the years leading up to the Civil War, with over 100 stations or stops in the county. Numerous Logan Countians hid runaway slaves in their homes or on their property, while others helped lead the refugees on their escape. The exhibit in the Logan County Museum room details some of these people and their efforts in this secret and illegal system.
The furniture in the room belonged to Obadiah and Sarah Williams who were active on the Underground Railroad in both Logan and Hardin Counties. Escaping slaves slept in this bed while staying with the Williams’.
The desk is from Geneva College in Northwood, Logan County. Students at the college assisted the slaves on their way north.
The ladder in the hallway across from this room was used by runaway slaves to get in and out of a cave on the Isaac Patterson homestead near Northwood in northern Logan County.
THE FEW WHO ARE DOCUMENTED
HENRY PICKRELL: Henry Pickrell built a house on County Road 28 north of Pickrelltown. The house had four secret hiding places behind the walls and one in the cellar. Pickrell's house served as the next stop for slaves coming from another site in Champaign County or from West Liberty. The route from West Liberty did not have a pilot (someone who guided the slaves from one site to another). Instead, the slaves followed a path marked by nicks in trees that told them which way to go. Most escaping slaves that Pickrell and his son, a pilot, helped went from the Pickrell home to another stop in Rushsylvania.
WILLIAM STEPHENSON: William Stephenson used his home just east of Rushsylvania as a stop on the Underground Railroad. This house had a secret door to a basement underneath the front of the house. Slaves also hid in an upstairs room, underneath a rock bridge on the property, and in a cave in the farm's rock quarry. Slaves went from Stephenson's home to stops in Kenton, Sandusky, or Northwood.
ISAAC PATTERSON: Isaac Patterson operated a station in a cave near Northwood. Runaways could stay here for several days or even weeks until the authorities quit looking for them. Slaves had to use the password "Boston" to get into the cave. The next stop on the railroad was in Kenton. Many times, students from the nearby Geneva College guided the runaways to Kenton.
JAMES TORRENCE: James Torrence also lived in Northwood. He shipped grain and feathers north to Sandusky. Sometimes he hid runaways in his wagons to help them get farther north.
JOSEPH AIKEN & WILLIAM AIKEN: Joseph Aiken of Northwood sheltered slaves in his house and his brother William acted as a pilot.
There were probably other people in Logan County who took part in the Underground Railroad that we do not know about. Since it was a secret system there are few written records about its activities. Historians can only study the system by using oral histories passed down from generation to generation. Yet there is no doubt that Logan County played an important role in helping many slaves escape to Canada.