Other Travelers Part 9 –
The Underground Railroad and Me;
My Ancestor Thomas Campbell was an Abolitionist!
(Part of an On-going Series – “Other Travelers”)
by Vicki Ruthe Hahn – SGS Stateline Genealogy Sorter
June 29, 2017
My paternal Grandmother Muriel Ruthe’s maternal Great Great Grandfather Thomas Campbell (1786 Pennsylvania – 1858 Morgan County, Ohio) was an abolitionist, i.e. “one who before the Civil War had agitated for the immediate, unconditional, and total abolition of slavery in the United States.” The July 1787 “Ordinance of Freedom” for the Ohio Territory, Article 6 stated that there would be no slavery, but that slavery owners could claim their runaway slaves in Ohio.
From about 1820, Morgan County was part of the Underground Railroad. In 1842, 16 slaves were escaping from Wood County, Virginia. They stopped at a Station near James Coles on the river near McConnelsville. They also hid in Jehu Coulson’s tobacco house, Issac Clendenin’s house, Joshua Wood’s house and, Esquire Lint’s office. Their owners, Mr. Henderson, and O’Neil Summer of Virginia, offered a $3,000 reward for their capture. They requested a search warrant.
Several men from the area stalled the owners by talking, and about 30 rode horses in opposite directions to confuse the pursuers, while the slaves escaped. The owners, and their men, posted guards west of Deacon Wright’s, and at Campbell’s Mill to keep watch at the junction of two main roads. (Thomas Campbell and Henry Moore had an early mill on Island Run.)
The slaves were led on a branch route a short distance down from Island Run, then up to the head of Brush Creek, and then to thick brushwood near the mouth of the Moxahala River. There they were met by an Underground Railroad Train Conductor from Putnam, and got away.
From 1842 – 1861 Morgan County assisted 285 “Negros” to gain freedom! (I think Thomas Campbell, even though old and slower then at age 56, either rode with the other men to confuse the pursuers; convinced the owners to set a guard near his Mill because he knew a shortcut behind it for the slaves; or maybe led the slaves partway on the shortcut to continue to their freedom. I am very proud of him.) Who knew Ohio was such a hotbed of abolitionists?
This information is from Morgan County, Portraits and Biographical Sketches of Some of It’s Pioneers and Prominent Men”, by Charles Robertson, M.D., revised and extended by the publishers, Chicago, L. H. Watkins and Co, 1886. It took reading most of the book to glean the 2 historical references to my ancestor Thomas Campbell. He was not prominent enough to pay for a separate biography. I found the book at the Wisconsin Historical Society Library in Madison, WI. It is time for another trip to Ohio and Pennsylvania, etc. via (WHS) Wisconsin next year.
Hint – read about the history of your ancestor’s places, and you may find them! And photocopy, photograph, scan, or take neater handwritten notes than I did. There may be some mistakes here, as I had very little time before the library closed, and about 400 pages to skim through. I was so happy to find it, and love Historic County Histories. Look here for the WHS catalog to see what else they have.