The Underground Railroad in Boone County
Escape Locations & Key Players
Richwood area: Margaret Garner Escape Attempt
Margaret Garner, along with the rest of her family and other Boone County slaves, escaped across the frozen Ohio into Cincinnati in January 1856. Some of the group made it to Canada, but the Garner family was caught in Cincinnati. At the time of capture, Margaret killed her youngest child and appeared to attempt to kill the other children. A lengthy trial ensued to determine if Margaret would be tried for murder by the free state of Ohio or returned to Kentucky under the laws of the federal Fugitive Slave Act. Prior to her escape, Margaret was held by the Gaines Family of Maplewood Farm in Richwood and was a member of Richwood Presbyterian Church.
Big Bone: Dr. Thomas Trundle
Dr. Thomas Trundle was born in Bourbon County and moved to Boone County in the 1820s. He purchased land in the Big Bone and Mudlick areas. Trundle frequently bartered with patients for his medical services, and provided loans through mortgage for many local landowners. As a result, conflict arose between Trundle and the many people who owed him money. He married Martha (Utz) Black in 1852. Martha had been a battered wife previously and was a neighbor of Trundle. Trundle was arrested in 1853 for “enticement of slaves”. Fearing for his life, he asked for and received a change of venue to Kenton County, where he died of mysterious causes on the morning of his trial. Conflicting news reports claimed Trundle was either an abolitionist or slave stealer who sold slaves south for financial gain.
Rabbit Hash & Rising Sun
Laura Smith Haviland:
A well-known anti-slavery activist and daughter of Quaker parents, she founded the Raisin Institute in Michigan with her husband. In 1847, she attempted to extract John “Felix” White’s wife and children from the Stephens’ farm in Rabbit Hash
John “Felix” White:
Escaped from George W. Brasher in 1846 and attended Haviland’s Raisin Institute in Michigan. After Haviland’s aborted attempts to extract his wife Jane and their children, White attempted to extract the family himself and they were captured by slave catcher Wright Ray.
Rising Sun, Indiana: A river town established in 1814, it was a well-known crossing point for Underground Railroad. The town was also the home of three key African American conductors: Benoni Dixon, Samuel Barkshire and Joseph Edgerton.
Universalist Church: Congregations located on East Bend Road in Boone County, Rising Sun, Indiana and Patriot Indiana. Universalists were staunch abolitionists who established antislavery doctrine by 1840’s.
George W. Brasher: A slave hunter and trader from Louisiana, Brasher moved to Boone County in the 1820s. He owned several town lots in Petersburg, all near the public landing. Some of the lots may have been used as holding “pens” for slaves he intended to sell in the south. Brasher was involved in Kentucky raids in Cass County, Michigan and aggressively pursued runaways.
Anderson was a Virginia-born free African American, blacksmith by trade, active agent and conductor on the UGRR. He was known for helping slaves escape in great number. Anderson arrived in Cincinnati in the 1830s, moved to Madison, IN in 1835, then to Lawrenceburg,where he immediately began affecting Boone County’s slave escapes. Arrested in 1856, Anderson died of suspicious circumstances in a Kentucky penitentiary in 1861, on the day he was due for early release.
Cincinnati 28: the story of 28 freedom seekers enslaved by Boone County’s Parker and Terrill families, who escaped through the Cincinnati area to Canada in 1853. They crowded into three skiffs to cross the Ohio, with one of the boats sinking along the way. They were assisted by the following key people:
Washington Parker: One of the freedom seekers, who was a leader within the group, who reportedly read Uncle Tom’s Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe, and was inspired to action.
John Fairfield: A daring agent/conductor from a Virginia slave-holding family, known for his risky (but effective) methods.
Deacon John Hatfield: A free African American agent in Cincinnati, who came up with a plan to stage a mock funeral procession toward integrated Wesleyan Cemetery.
Levi Coffin: Known as the “Superintendent of the Underground Railroad” in Cincinnati, who helped provide dry clothing, and food He also organized a route for the group.
North Bend, KY
Mat Bates: Freed African American slave in the North Bend area of Boone County in the 1850s. Bates was accused of helping slaves to freedom.
Almeda Phillips: Boone County slave who went to live with John Cleves Short in Addyston, Ohio.
Jones vs. Van Zandt Supreme Court Case: Boone County slave holder, Wharton Jones sued John Van Zandt for helping in the 1847 escape of his nine slaves. Van Zandt was an abolitionist and conductor on the UGRR. The case ruled in favor of Jones, citing the constitutionality of the 1793 Fugitive Slave Act.
Ed Moxley Slave Narrative: Moxley was one of several slaves who fled Boone County through North Bend in 1837. In an interview conducted in Canada, in 1895, Moxley gave his account of his escape from the Hamilton family of Boone County, KY.
Timeline of Events